Everything’s Gone Green

Green HatAfter interviews I’d often be so wound up I’d hop in a cab on Market Street and tell the driver to take me to the far side of Golden Gate park where he would drop me off and I’d walk back to my truck parked back down town.  The wandering walk sometimes takes several hours, and I often return after sunset.  I watch the city age over years.

I exit the park and start up the curved sidewalk that leads to the MacDonald’s marking the entrance to Haight.  Today my back sizzles with stripes of pain wrapping testicles and toes.  I walk as fast as I can.  I approach the Anarchist Bookstore and enter after ignoring it since my first and only visit more than 15 years ago.

It looks the same.  A grey slim man with a sparse beard is busy under a pair of headphones.  I walk past him and pick up a book containing line drawings of female reproductive anatomy in the form of a coloring book.  I’m amused, and I put it back to reach for another that claims to be one that kids should have but would never be allowed.  It contains drawings of monsters and unicorns having sex.  I drop it back on the shelf with a thwack and turn to see if the man behind the counter is disengaged enough to help me.  He’s still busy.

The desire to consume language is overwhelming.  I do not enjoy wasting my time with words that do not matter.

I wait for his focus to break so that I might get a pure unmolested-by-bother answer.

He removes his headphones while I’m browsing the store’s most insincere and humorous magazines.  I approach the counter.  He smiles and asks how he might help me.  I explain how painful events have answered many questions but left me with a new interest:  I want to go back to the beginning and use my new eyes.

He nods and smiles.  And says:

‘I see.’

I follow him five or six feet to the bookshelf beside us.

‘This.’

‘Thank you.’

I do not look at the book.  I pull out my money to pay.  He returns to his position behind the cash register and smiles.

‘How long have you been here?’

‘Seventeen years or so.’

‘Do you own this place?’

He laughs out of the side of his face.  I asked the wrong question.

‘It’s a collective.  We all help out.’

I smile and grab my change.

‘Thank you for your help.’

I exit the bookstore and turn right toward lower Haight.

Very far from pursuing the natural order from the lower to the higher, from the inferior to the superior, and from the relatively simple to the more complex; instead of wisely and rationally accompanying the progressive and real movement from the world called inorganic to the world organic, vegetables, animal, and then distinctively human-from chemical matter or chemical being to living matter or living being, and from living being to thinking being-the idealists, obsessed, blinded, and pushed on by the divine phantom which they have inherited from theology, take precisely the opposite course.

They go from the higher to the lower, from the superior to the inferior, from the complex to the simple. They begin with God, either as a person or as divine substance or idea, and the first step that they take is a terrible fall from the sublime heights of the eternal ideal into the mire of the material world; from absolute perfection into absolute imperfection; from thought to being, or rather, from supreme being to nothing. When, how, and why the divine being, eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect, probably weary of himself, decided upon this desperate salto mortale is something which no idealist, no theologian, no metaphysician, no poet, has ever been able to understand himself or explain to the profane. All religions, past and present, and all the systems of transcendental philosophy hinge on this unique and iniquitous mystery.1 Holy men, inspired lawgivers, prophets, messiahs, have searched it for life, and found only torment and death. Like the ancient sphinx, it has devoured them, because they could not explain it. Great philosophers from Heraclitus and Plato down to Descartes, Spinoza: Leibnitz, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, not to mention the Indian philosophers, have written heaps of volumes and built systems as ingenious as sublime, in which they have said by the way many beautiful and grand things and discovered immortal truths, but they have left this mystery, the principal object of their transcendental investigations, as unfathomable as before. The gigantic efforts of the most Wonderful geniuses that the world has known, and who, one after another, for at least thirty centuries, have undertaken anew this labor of Sisyphus, have resulted only in rendering this mystery still more incomprehensible. Is it to be hoped that it will be unveiled to us by the routine speculations of some pedantic disciple of an artificially warmed-over metaphysics at a time when all living and serious spirits have abandoned that ambiguous science born of a compromise-historically explicable no doubt-between the unreason of faith and sound scientific reason?

It is evident that this terrible mystery is inexplicable-that is, absurd, because only the absurd admits of no explanation. It is evident that whoever finds it essential to his happiness and life must renounce his reason, and return, if he can, to naive, blind, stupid faith, to repeat with Tertullianus and all sincere believers these words, which sum up the very quintessence of theology: Credo quia absurdum. Then all discussion ceases, and nothing remains but the triumphant stupidity of faith. But immediately there arises another question: How comes an intelligent and well-informed man ever to feel the need of believing in this mystery?

MB. God and the State.

Trinket or Charm

Ball Hole HellI notice the fabric of incidents is woven a little too tight.  My synchronicity sensors start screaming at me: ‘Wait, this can’t be!’

I hand the photo over to Mr. Private Equity and say ‘This is why I do it.’

‘What?’

‘This wall.  This is a symbol.  Of why I do it.   This wall is part of the playground of the elementary school where my kid’s soccer team meets for practice.  What does it look like to you?’

‘I don’t know.  Some sorta barrier or something.’

‘Right.  It is.  It’s a dodge ball wall.  But that’s not the most interesting fact about this wall.’

If I pause too long between sentences I begin to fear the phrases coming out of my mouth are meaningless.  Just words in random order.

He looks confused and maybe even a bit threatened.  I feel the hair on the back of my neck go on end.

I ignore his twisting face and continue.

‘This wall is made of one-inch plywood.  And that hole in the middle.  It’s completely worn through.  It’s about the size of a torso of an eight-year-old child.  How many dodge ball games do you think it took to make that hole?’

He becomes agitated.   I do not give up.

‘And, my next question is, how many kids did those dodge balls wear through before making a hole like that?’

He’s now fully aware that I’m naming him as an accomplice.  I wonder if he will imagine acts of revenge later, after I’m gone.

‘That’s why I do what I do.  I’m always at war with those human traits that wear through children.’

Nothing to fear here.

‘Now, how does that stack up to what you are asking me to do?’

He leans back in his seat.  I put the photograph back into my backpack and finish my iced tea.

 

Three

dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son job dad son

Demonstrate. Part Two.

Joker Howard Sicore

Howard Joseph Sicore 1940-2014

 

My father’s father was always a painful subject, but he brings him up as we enter a room of brown chairs filled with despair.

‘My dad never taught me anything.’

He describes how alcohol ruined his family.  That Roger, his brother three years younger, was his father’s favorite.

‘Always gave him things like cars.’

A woman interrupts to ask something, but before she can finish he blurts, ‘Howard Sicore.  Seven.  Twenty-one.  Forty.’

Dexamethasone.

Kytril.

Etoposide.

Carboplatin.

He’s receiving drips while sitting in a repulsive brown chair like those found in a delivery room for the husband to sleep, a recliner, with a side table for coffee.

‘These are all good people here.’

Everyone laughs.  A man is wheeling over his tri-mix of drips to grab a couple of bags of free potato chips.  Howard interrupts him.

‘Having fun yet?’

‘It is what it is.’  Says the stranger.

My father smiles and returns to his normal state of introspection.

‘I’ve a log cabin in mind, and someday it will be real.  And a 1937 Ford two-door sedan.  A kind of red.  Tinted rear windows.  In my three-car garage.  Two stories.  Bedroom, bathroom upstairs.  If I can get this floor covering project going.  I’ll keep investing more and more from the sales.’  He pauses, characteristically rubs his chest, sighs and looks down.  ‘Just dreams that I have.  You just don’t know if it will work or not, you know?’

He acts immortal.  I’m just listening.

‘It’s nice to have dreams.  It’s fun to think about things.’

He talks of his hair and concedes it’s time to get a haircut.  Later in the day he will walk into a beauty school, where the young women there will treat him with dignity as they trim off all that remains, a few half-grey finger-sized strands of hair, and his sparse beard, down to stubble.  When he stands to walk out of the salon, he looks just like his father.  I do not tell him this.

‘I met your mom in a pool hall.  The Blue Boar.  I was friends with this heavy set guy, but he got mad at me because I talked to her first.’

He describes their circle of friends during their dating years.  There was Pat Rogers in Fort Worth.  And Jim and Carolyn.  His brief descriptions of them leave more questions than answers.

‘I don’t know why she said this, but Carolyn said his penis was too small.  Can you believe that?’

‘Jim’s?’

‘Yes!’

He is enjoying this.

‘I met your mom, and we’d gone over to my apartment.  It was the first time that I kissed her.  I just turned around, and I held her, and I asked her, ”May I kiss you?” And she let me.  Ask her about that.’

This is one of his most valued memories.  He is genuinely happy.

The subject returns to his brother.

‘Roger turned gay.  When we were kids.  I found them alone by the Santa Anna river.  Well, I won’t say any more.  George Herman.  That’s who he was with.’

He says he never told anyone this happened.  He protected his brother.

Happy birthday, Dad.  I miss you.

Clyde

Eight months old today, he has had various forms of seizures, up to hundreds per day, since myoclonic jerks sent him to the hospital in March of this year.  But the infantile spasms that began later—small crunch-like postures that happen in clusters throughout the day—erased his ability to smile, to hold his head up, and to roll over. He’s now a huge tank of a seven month-old boy. Handsome. Gorgeous rolls of baby fat. Smells divine.  But he has a life-threatening and limiting condition that will never go away.

In April, after months of tests, the neurologists agreed that Clyde was environmentally insulted by either a virus (like CMV) or a random ischemic event as a fetus in the second trimester that affected the formation of his brain. In patches, generalized and widespread across both hemispheres, and in every area except for the occipital lobes, neurons failed to migrate to the cortex. They call this polymicrogyria: many small folds.  There is a spectrum to this disorder, and Clyde has the most severe type.

We try to ignore the prognosis.  Yet, we must write it here, because we are thinking it to ourselves every day:  He may never walk, talk, or be able to care for himself independently. There’s a ten percent chance he could die in his sleep, and a greater chance that he will ultimately be taken early by cumulative bouts of aspiration pneumonia. He already shows signs of spastic quadriparesis, global motor delay, severe cognitive impairment and refractory seizures.  He can’t use his hands.  Just now trying to hold his head up–an ability that disappeared when he was two months old, at that same time his smile disappeared–he simply cannot smile.  He appears content.  As his parents we’ve learned to recognize this, or so we hope.

Again, ignoring the prognosis:  He seems to change every day.  Tiny eye movements during a touching moment show he’s smiling inside.  A random thrust of his arm seems to mean he’s reaching out.  A furrowed brow shows some intent.  And that is hope.  We are holding his hand through life.

We’ve been mostly quiet because we needed time to understand what was actually happening to Clyde, grieve for the passing of Damon’s father, and deal with job and healthcare loss and delays.  To grieve for Clyde.  Throughout, our friends and family have been our anchor and our levity.   We are thankful.

Demonstrate. Part One.

‘You always lie to me.’

‘I do not. Why do you say that?’

‘Yes you do. You don’t tell me the truth when something is wrong.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You don’t tell me everything.’

‘Do you mean I don’t tell you how bad it really is?’

‘Yes.’

The boy stared at something around his feet and kicked a t-shirt into the air from the clothing-strewn floor. He watched the boy’s face.

‘I see. I understand. And, you think that I’m not telling you everything now?’

‘Yes. I think you know it’s bad, and you aren’t telling me everything. It’s going to be on both sides. That’s what I think, and you will see that I’m right.’

‘We don’t know that yet.’

‘I know it.’

He stood up from his son’s bed.  The length of his hand dropped over the boy’s shoulder, and his fingers bridged the gaps on both sides of the boy’s collar bone.  He noted how fragile the structures seemed under his hand.

‘We will see. Now get some sleep.’

‘OK. Goodnight dad.’

‘Goodnight. I’m proud of you. We will make it. You will see.’

‘OK.’

 

Anomaly

Anomaly

‘Can he see us?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you think he recognizes us?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘I think he recognizes me.’

‘I think if he recognizes anyone it would be you.  You have a beautiful face.’

‘What about you?’

‘I don’t know anymore.’

‘I don’t want him to be in pain.  I want him to know us.’

 

Hoo Haa

“On the concrete wall behind them, a very fresh-looking billboard depicts a dark fist upraising a bright Kalashnikov rifle over Arabic script: THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH AND MOHAMMED IS HIS PROPHET.”

Johnson, Denis (2009-02-20). Seek (Kindle Locations 1128-1131). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition

My deadly notes reigns supreme
Your fort is basic compared to mine
Domino effect, arts and crafts
Paragraphs contain cyanide   — Cappadonna, Wu-Tang

True pride is humility.

Quantum Foam

Abstract

Quantum foam (also referred to as space time foam) is a concept in quantum mechanics devised by John Wheeler in 1955. The foam is supposed to be conceptualized as the foundation of the fabric of the universe.[1]

Additionally, quantum foam can be used as a qualitative description of subatomic space time turbulence at extremely small distances (on the order of the Planck length). At such small scales of time and space, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle allows energy to briefly decay into particles and antiparticles and then annihilate without violating physical conservation laws. As the scale of time and space being discussed shrinks, the energy of the virtual particles increases. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, energy curves space time. This suggests that—at sufficiently small scales—the energy of these fluctuations would be large enough to cause significant departures from the smooth space time seen at larger scales, giving space time a “foamy” character.

With an incomplete theory of quantum gravity, it is impossible to be certain what space time would look like at these small scales, because existing theories of gravity do not give accurate predictions in that regime. Therefore, any of the developing theories of quantum gravity may improve our understanding of quantum foam as they are tested. However, observations of radiation from nearby quasars by Floyd Stecker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have placed strong experimental limits on the possible violations of Einstein’s special theory of relativity implied by the existence of quantum foam.[2] Thus experimental evidence so far has given a range of values in which scientists can test for quantum foam.

The fabric of space time is a mess of probabilities out of which everything you know and love takes the form of a wave through time.  You are not who–or what–you think you are:

Studies at the Oak Ridge Atomic Research Center have revealed that about 98 percent of all the atoms in a human body are replaced every year. You get a new suit of skin every month and a new liver every six weeks. The lining of your stomach lasts only five days before it’s replaced. Even your bones are not the solid, stable, concrete-like things you might have thought them to be: They are undergoing constant change. The bones you have today are different from the bones you had a year ago. Experts in this area of research have concluded that there is a complete, 100 percent turnover of atoms in the body at least every five years. In other words, not one single atom present in your body today was there five years ago.

Thinking back to my post on Triggers, how is it a fragrance from a flower shop takes me back to the frigid room I played in as a child, if I’ve literally been replaced several times over?

Religion of Light

John Muir Trail

On John Muir, who’s name marks the trail Jolene is exploring above:

Of sensory perceptions and light

During his first summer in the Sierra as a shepherd, Muir wrote field notes that emphasized the role that the senses play in human perceptions of the environment. According to Williams, he speculated that the world was an unchanging entity that was interpreted by the brain through the senses, and, writes Muir, “If the creator were to bestow a new set of senses upon us . . . we would never doubt that we were in another world. . . “[41]:43 While doing his studies of nature, he would try to remember everything he observed as if his senses were recording the impressions, until he could write them in his journal. As a result of his intense desire to remember facts, he filled his field journals with notes on precipitation, temperature, and even cloud formations.[41]:45

However, Muir took his journal entries further than recording factual observations. Williams notes that the observations he recorded amounted to a description of “the sublimity of Nature,” and what amounted to “an aesthetic and spiritual notebook.” Muir felt that his task was more than just recording “phenomena,” but also to “illuminate the spiritual implications of those phenomena,” writes Williams. For Muir, mountain skies, for example, seemed painted with light, and came to “…symbolize divinity.”[41]:45 He often described his observations in terms of light:

“. . . . so gloriously colored, and so luminous, . . .[44]:4-5 awakening and warming all the mighty host to do gladly their shining day’s work…[34] to whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.”[34]

Mural Room

Mural Room

When Jolene walks into a room she tries every seat, just to see what it’s like.  I think I will start doing the same again.  At what point in life does one stop doing that?  Isn’t it better to gather all the different points of view?

Erratics and Invasives

Acacia flowers.  A tree in our back yard, next to the tree house in an olive tree.  On the acacia:

For the same reasons it is favored as an erosion-control plant, with its easy spreading and resilience, some varieties of acacia, are potentially an invasive species. One of the most globally significant invasive Acacias is black wattle Acacia mearnsii, which is taking over grasslands and abandoned agricultural areas worldwide, especially in moderate coastal and island regions where mild climate promotes its spread. Australian/New Zealand Weed Risk Assessment gives it a “high risk, score of 15” rating and it is considered one of the world’s 100 most invasive species.[24] Extensive ecological studies should be performed before further introduction of acacia varieties as this fast-growing Genus, once introduced, spreads fast and is extremely difficult to eradicate.

Earlier this week I was inspired by a blog I discovered which includes a compilation of what the artist calls Erratics and Invasives–Glacial erratics, invasive species, and other erratic and invasive things.  A simple concept.  Pictures of rocks carried by glaciers throughout North America and invasive plants.  Things that are just out of place.  It really clicked with me as it’s in the same vein as what I’ve been experiencing lately.  Specifically, we’ve visited many interesting geological sites, studied them, and also learned about the plant species in the area, often seeing things that aren’t supposed to be there, if that’s even possible.

I’m particularly interested and inspired by geology due to the vast time scale represented.  Time too big to comprehend.  Throw in things like unconformities and erratics and it’s like salt and pepper on a juicy steak–it gets more interesting.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve encountered a boulder that just didn’t fit the scene.  I’d stop, look around and see there’s no other thing like it nearby, and ask myself, how the hell did this get here?  As a kid in Wyoming, I’ve seen plenty of this.  Now, such experiences are even more interesting because I’ve the maturity to know the value of the pause involved when hit with these discoveries:  It’s a moment to stop and think about just how short our time is here in relation to all that’s happened before we existed.  A boulder that traveled sometimes hundreds of miles on a sheet of ice, thousands, if not millions, of years ago, only to land here of all places?  And, it was just waiting here to be seen by me?  Right now?  Surrounded by shitty shopping malls and mouth breathing motorists?  It’s enough to turn one into a solipsist.

As mentioned in an earlier post, this weekend was beautiful.  Amazing weather enabling us to hang out in the tree house and work in the yard.  Here Jolene adds some sparkle to said tree house:

We originally planned to head up to the mountains, but the masses cut us off, taking up all possible places to stay.  We didn’t plan ahead.  Second choice was to visit the Western Pinnacles–the other side of Pinnacles we haven’t seen.  However, we became distracted and had other work to finish first.  Not enough time.  Instead, we took moments here and there to enjoy a great morning, have a good breakfast at the Southern Kitchen in Los Gatos, and play in the park.

Chas downtown:  “Jolene, are you listening?”

And, on the walk home, Chas takes every detour possible:

There will be time for another day out in the countryside, scanning for erratics, and in the meantime, there are plenty of invasives around to catch our attention.

Nummy Lift

Last run of the day at Badger Pass.  Chas, behind his board, is making and hoarding a battery of snowballs in preparation for Ford’s arrival off the bunny slope under the Bruin lift.  Chas refused to eat all day due to excitement.  So, he was punchy as hell.  On this day, both boys learned to snowboard in under two hours–now they take the lift on their own and make it down the hill without falling.  Not bad.

Jolene hit her wall and dropped her boot to get some end-of-day nummy.  There was nobody around to bother us, so Steph plopped down on the bench under the running lift.  We had several minutes to ourselves before Ford arrived to receive Chas’ surprise attack–a success.

The history of winter sports in Yosemite National Park is unique. Following the building of the Ahwahnee Hotel in 1925–1927,[4] came Yosemite’s first ski school in 1928 with Jules Fritsch as instructor.[5] Fritsch, a Swiss ski expert was part of a trained staff of winter sports experts available in Yosemite. Fritsch and the staff led six day snow excursions in Yosemite from the Ahwahnee to Tenaya Lake to bolster the ski school. Many believe this ski school was the first in California. In conjunction with the Curry Company, one of the first projects was the 1927 construction of a four-track toboggan slide near Camp Curry. Dr. Donald Tresidder, the first president the Yosemite Park & Curry Company and its guiding force, saw the visitor interest in winter sports and immediately formed the Yosemite Winter Club.[6] With the club’s enthusiast support, a small ski hill and ski jump near Tenaya Creek Bridge was built in 1928.[7]

 

Absorbing 10 Million Years

The boys take a few minutes from scrambling talus to warm themselves in the glow of 10 million years of batholithic uplift.  We arrived the previous evening with just enough time to hike up to one of the ephemeral waterfalls near Yosemite’s entrance, but they couldn’t keep up with me when I climbed up to the base of the falls.  At the the lower Yosemite Falls above, they were able to get much closer.  Close enough to scare the tourists.

When I saw the boys lounging on the rocks while everyone was sweating bullets watching them (seriously, people need to get out more), I snapped the photo, turned to Steph, and said “that photo just made the trip for me.”

Starting 10 million years ago, vertical movement along the Sierra fault started to uplift the Sierra Nevada. Subsequent tilting of the Sierra block and the resulting accelerated uplift of the Sierra Nevada increased the gradient of western-flowing streams.[54] The streams consequently ran faster and thus cut their valleys more quickly. Additional uplift occurred when major faults developed to the east, especially the creation of Owens Valley from Basin and Range-associated extensional forces. Uplift of the Sierra accelerated again about two million years ago during the Pleistocene.

The uplifting and increased erosion exposed granitic rocks in the area to surface pressures, resulting in exfoliation (responsible for the rounded shape of the many domes in the park) and mass wasting following the numerous fracture joint planes (cracks; especially vertical ones) in the now solidified plutons.[41] Pleistocene glaciers further accelerated this process and the larger ones transported the resulting talus and till from valley floors.

Numerous vertical joint planes controlled where and how fast erosion took place. Most of these long, linear and very deep cracks trend northeast or northwest and form parallel, often regularly spaced sets. They were created by uplift-associated pressure release and by the unloading of overlying rock via erosion.