Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ghost Busters

Weekend trip to SF, and arrived in a glorious warm October afternoon, with sun too bright to not have the shades. Lunch and the a long walk up Dolores past where Judie, Eric and Barb S lived after The Farm, during my dark phase, post Farm. They were cool, and better jobs, were figuring out their futures, and I was lost, post bad relationship, need more medicine, always or so it seemed and on the downward spiral. Even now when I come to SF, there are always the ghosts that come up.

Loss, addiction, uncertainty, insecurity, will I see some of the Ghosts, why was the attraction so strong, is it still or is it curiosity, and I don't need more shit in my life, feeding into that crap and tsuris, but I've really got it all, more than enough anyway, so like why bother? Shouldn't really. Instead let it go. Dig up the past and get dirty. Real dirty.

Let it go. What I've got is pretty doggone good, and I'm a lucky kind of fellow.

Sam D is a supremely, quintessentially nice guy who continues to draw a bad hand, special needs daughter, son now with health problems and his own special needs, but Sam is genuine, the pizza is good, and the Pie and the Big Lank and I have a great walk home, after some of the best ice cream on the planet at Bi-Rite. Overheard, "I'd be down with Big Mouth Burger", an announcement to the Big Hipster's date, and SF is almost one big hipster amusement park, and a great town, but then there are the Ghosts for me to deal with.

Coffee in the neighborhood in the morning, listen to this morning's Techno Hipster conversation, "So we got about six month's more money before we go back to San Jose to get more, or have layoffs. We need to build revenues and then go public...at least that's the plan..." How different is this from the 49ers' conversations about hitting the Comstock Lode, or the Lost Dutchman's mine, overheard on the Barbary Coast 160 years ago? Who were their ghosts?

Going to the farm brings more of them back. Beautiful, idyllic setting, under the eucalyptus trees, great BBQ tailgate picnic, but it's the Farm, and wouldas, shouldas, couldas, there is SO much money and they are all so beautiful and smart, too smart for their own damn good, Judie would later say while we reconnected about friends who won't ever attend the reunion. Was is snooty? Not according to Rob. My friends weren't! Look around! He's right, but other ghosts are there. Medicine. Want one? When did you stop? I've got a card. A license to buy retail. One wouldn't hurt. Wonder if he can share? Top of the proverbial slippery slope. "I'll send Otis back to the car....". No, really, it's okay. More than okay. Been there. Play that movie all the way to the end.

The new stadium is beautiful, the Incomparables, well, incomparable, Thunderchickens humiliate the Dawgs, and afterwards, O-Burgers. Goodbyes, let's do this again next year in Oregon.

Ghosts exorcised? Somewhat.

Next day, coffee place and overheard, "That's why I go to meetings!" with her fat fingers pointing. Okay then!

Brunch at the great Mexican place, with chiliquilas con huevos, que rica, but at the end, a large rat scurries out of the corner and out the front door, causing much alarm, grown man with sandals on climbs a chair, and I offer a helpful, Necessitan un gato!

After offering the perspective of the ages, and helping the nephew deal with his own ghosts, we all got 'em, an absolutely wonderful walk over the hill though this charming part of the city, into the park with the smell of eucalyptus, coyote warnings, flowers and hawks circling, realization that the daughter is doing quite well, that the ghosts are that, just ghosts and part of all the memories, not to be ignored, denied or sublimated, but are just a small part of a much larger whole, and perspective, time and health all serve to put them in their place.

It's a good place to be here now, looking back, looking around and smiling, and looking forward. Not necessarily self-satisfied, but recognizing good fortune and self-aware.

Thanks for the help, Pie.

Ship Canal Trail - Part II

SDOT says that it's coming soon!

Can't wait to ride the Missing Link under the Ballard Bridge and avoid the nonsense on the bridge over Interbay once and for all!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First Real Fall Ride - 2011

30 miles today in the first full-glove, long johns ride of the fall. Eastlake to downtown to Westlake Park, where I stopped to check out the rag-tag Occupy Seattle crowd. Maybe 100 - 125 people, plus lots of gawkers and photographers, were in place, and the Seattle Police, on bikes, were circling the crowd, taking cell phone pictures, and seemed mildly amused by the group. At least while I was there, they were unremarkable, chanting 'Ommmm,' carrying handwritten signs that seemed to lack a sense of humor or much else of note, save that they were mad as hell, rightfully so, and not going to take it anymore. Grant's views of the NYC crowd seem more noteworthy.

Zeitgeist, then a trip around the stadiums, out to the locks, up the Golden Gardens road, and then back to Green Lake where the sun finally came out and it warmed up a bit. Toward the end, I bonked a bit and that only reinforced my lack of training and low miles this year.

Still, it's going to be a long time before I'm riding in shorts and short sleeves again. But, the goal is to keep riding through winter to be able to ride more in 2012.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First Snow of the Season

My car route to TLF takes me up I-5, and then to the 220th SW exit in Mountlake Terrace. There were storms overnight, but the morning sun revealed snow on the Olympics as I headed west.

We're only a couple of weeks into fall. Is it going to be a long, long winter?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wet Half of the Year.

47.5 miles around the south end of Lake Washington, and I'm feeling it this a.m. I'd like to build miles during the wet half of the year, having not ridden as much in 2011, despite the best of intentions at the start. I rode down through Leschi and over the I-90 bridge, which is still the treat that it always has been, glassy water, mountains and freeway noise, but safely separate from those in the metal cages. Then, it was a right turn onto Lake Washington Blvd, past the spot in Factoria where the commuter was shot with the pellet gun, (they're out there) and began to look for the turn to the May Valley Road.

Pedaled past what I thought was the turnoff, and pulled out the map to check, but decided it couldn't be, and then was alongside Seahawks Headquarters,a and kept going down to Gene Coulon Park, for fish 'n' chips at Ivar's.

The return through Seward Park and the Arboretum was uneventful, save for the detour to Madison Park, but as I build the miles, and perhaps with more thoughtful planning, alternating workouts with rest days and stretching, the rollers won't hurt as much and I'll have more gas in the legs as I build distance.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scenes from the last few weeks

I'm reading Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude…..‘Time put things in their place.’

It’s Shofar time, Days of Awe, time for renewal, changing of seasons, back to school, end of baseball season, beginning of new year, reflect, get right with the universe and all the rest...

I'm growing into a new job/role as dean, administrator, with few carrots and sticks, but power of connection and communication. The task calls on talents, skills and abilities that are surfacing or below the surface, to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, to let it go, to focus on big picture while getting caught in the details, and to manage the humanness of The Learning Factory. Who are these people who stand in line to pay for their education? Why don’t they pay on line with a credit card? Because they can’t! Because they live on the margins of the society, not mainstreamed into jobs, careers, home and family financial equity, and they believe that the college will help plug them into that network. These are who the institution serves, and will serve, in 20/20. We need to focus on them, organize our systems, delivery, content and network on them, and will be successful to the extent that we can bring resources and opportunity (how to plug into the network) to them, while our resources continue to contract.

At end of summer, served on Seattle Municipal Court jury duty, and so spent several days commuting to downtown and to magnificent facility for jurors, with spectacular views of Elliott Bay and Seattle. But, very odd, telling and even emotional to be there downtown, to walk where I first came to Seattle, to walk by MORS, now completely changed, no more mezzanine where I landed after bailing on First Hill, such a sense of passage of time, and having that in the distant rear view mirror, first showing up for interviews with Clute, Carey, and later, Sheeley, Carriveau, Maguire, and others, square peg and round hole stuff, "A kind of idiocy that had no past," and instead now grateful for being with ‘those in line who are not mainstreamed,’ and those who help them.

Sure, I missed going to lunch at Three Girls (it's not as good as when Jack and Zelda made the sandwiches!) with fellow bankers Chamberlin, Politakis, from Central Branch, or even from 5th and Union, but that was so long ago, and a little Googling to see what they are up to (still taking care of the wealthy, privileged, selfish and narrow-minded), and nah, no real need to get together and catch up. Time marches on, evolves, and much healthier, albeit older and wiser, perhaps.

Being downtown and a public transit user for a bit, I noticed that many, many of the fellow travelers watched their handhelds, listened to their pods, talked on their phones, and ignored or pretended to, their surroundings. On the bus, in the buildings, on the street, in the Bus Tunnel, in their cars, at their desks, everyone seemed to be plugged in to their iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, other Smart Phones, and distracted from the immediate world and the people around them, They wore their Muni Faces on and kept silent as a result. Are we that fragmented? Are we that distant? Are the barriers up that high?

Audrey, a sweet old dog who became a strong part of our family, protected us from intruders and passers by, who learned to make a beeline for those at the Dog Park with treats, and who was on a never-ending quest for the tennis ball (and usually found one in the bushes!)

Here’s how I told the family…

‘We had to put Audrey down this evening. When I took her and Brownie for their walk at the dog park this afternoon, Audrey was not able to keep up nor to make it more than halfway to the lake. Her breathing was labored and she was very tired. At home, she wouldn't eat.

When we got to the Vet, they immediately gave her oxygen and medication, diagnosed her with congestive heart failure and probable pneumonia, and suggested that the best thing for her was to put her down, rather than start an extensive medical intervention with limited chances to make her feel better. I was with Audrey the whole time.

Needless to say, we are sad and it's a little quieter here. Plus there are all these tennis balls around the house and in the garage.

Auntie Susan and I talked, and she was quite upset, but thanked us for taking care of Audrey and welcoming her into our home. ‘

But, more needs to be written. When it came time to do the deed, the nurse brought Audrey into a small room with a metal table, and laid her down. The pup had oxygen from a tube, but was clearly anxious, struggling and in distress. I put my hand on her head, spoke to her, stroked her face, and tried to speak reassurance and comfort, and kept my hand on her as the doctor administered the drug, injected her with the poison through the IV, gave her the calming medicine, how do you describe what they did? Put her down? Killed her? Put her out of her misery? Ended her suffering? Or just, the medicine entered her body, and the anxiousness ebbed, the struggling quickly stopped, and the distress ended. She was something, breathing, panting really, nervous, and not happy, and then that was over, and she was for the ages, with the Angels, with Tony as he lay there in his suit and tie, like he was ready to go to Temple Hollywood, and she was no more. An absence of life is death. The doctor said, ‘She’s gone.’ And she was. Still warm, but still.

I left the room quickly, thanking the staff for their kindness, but was not prepared for the emotion that swept over me. I remembered the paw print, and returned to the desk, where the nurse told me she was sorry and then said that it would be in the mail. The Print is here, and I’ll take it to Susan. Then the Doctor came out with Audrey’s collar and tags, gave it to me, and then followed with a much-needed hug. I said, “Life is precious,” She said, “And, it has to end.”

And life needs affirmation. It needs the dinner at the Greek Festival, once a year at this time, seeing new and old friends, listening to the loud music, feeling the first of Autumn. It needs the return of students and faculty to TLF, to get on with helping those in the payment line. It needs the end of the baseball season, the last trip to Safeco to watch them play out the string, a long, long season that began for me in the desert with Brad, “Willie Mays picked up the baseballs, and he’s in the Hall of Fame!” Killebrew, Kershaw, Lincecum and Huff, Ichiro, it just continues and is a constant. And, a thing of beauty, grace, silliness and the serious and solemn. Wait until next year, again. But, pleased to do so. Maybe life has to end, and it does, but maybe it goes on as well, and what we do is move it a little farther along, better for those around us, especially if we unplug the headphones and look up and talk to those around us and help make better connections to each other and the Big Network.

Biking With Brad: Snoqualmie tunnel

Note comment, "Blogger is Stupid..."

Biking With Brad: Snoqualmie tunnel with two stylish women and four awesome kids:

Tara Alan and Tyler Kellen Came Slowly Home | The Bicycle Story

Note link to American culture is completely insane.

Tara Alan and Tyler Kellen Came Slowly Home | The Bicycle Story:

'via Blog this'

Us vs. Them

So, who are they? Them? Administration? And why do they control us? Why do we let them control us? Why them vs. us?

Them was a great '50s Sci Fi apocalyptic movie, radioactivity, giant ants, Los Angeles destroyed, and metaphorical for the Red Menace.

But, when we use language like 'them,' when faculty refer to administration in the objective and singular, the writer or speaker separates their humanity from the other. They relinquish responsibility for the collective. They become the 'wicked child' who isolates themselves from the group. They embrace victimhood and then can easily blame the others. Us vs. Them leads to 'it's not our fault,' and 'it's not my problem/job.'

The 'Us vs. Them' perspective is a passive/aggressive way of not having to do the hard work of communication, compromise, understanding conflicting goals, mutually exclusive options, weighing alternatives and accepting and supporting imperfect solutions in an imperfect world, while trying to do the best we can with the information we've got and the resources we can muster, knowing full well that circumstances will change and that there will be unforeseen consequences.

Us vs. Them is a cop out, it's immature, and it's destructive.

It's not them. It's us. I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together.