Tag Archives: Chaos

Password for Fix is Yardwork

Montara manzanita is a native plant that lives along the coastal range mountains south of San Francisco. I took a chance on one and brought it home. My one-year-old relationship with my manzanita is going better than I could have ever imagined it would— first and foremost I know next to nothing about gardening and that plants a gardener grows— I’m not just a novice I am ignorance of all things to do with what we sometimes refer to as yard work. The Montara manzanita is adapted to our climate it thrives on little water and sunlight. The megadrought we are suffering turns out to be the perfect civilization threatening weather for my new companion.


When inventorying my plans for the day, schedule for the week, what I’m going to do next month, next year, there are even plans for the next decade that I have included on an ambitious list I’ve set to complete before I travel on from this planetary outpost.
Autopiloting a Tesla wasn’t a must-have experience, but here I am and now I’ve had it. My favorite time to use this function is in bumper to bumper traffic, especially when the going gets tough. This technology works better than I do because it is paying attention and that is a problem because that is not what I am always doing when cornered by gridlock.

Superchargers along Interstate 5 shade is extra good for walking


Returning from LA Sunday I played with the autopilot function while blasting north on Interstate 5. One of its safety features is that you must tug on the wheel every minute or so to indicate you are still there and not somewhere else. Interrupting my daydreaming makes the function somewhat less than fully automated.


Our Tesla is a standard range plus, this is the smallest battery pack version you can buy, and that’s fine, 90% of the time the vehicle is used to buzz about for local errands or the short hop over to San Francisco and back. The longer road trip meant more stops but that’s fine there were plenty of charging stations and we’d plug in and take a walk, by the time we got home we’d gotten in our 10,000 steps.


For those keeping score at home had I driven the Volvo it would have cost $240 to go round trip to LA and back, the Tesla was like $60.
There was an excellent autopilot on the boat I helped deliver to Southern California last week. This is a hydraulic ram style affair that attaches to the steering quadrant below decks to keep the boat on course. The technology is connected to both the wind speed and direction instrument, speedometer and chartplotter (you’ll need a rudder angle sensor to complete this trick of steering the autopilot by wind angle). You can select a point on a map and tell the autopilot to steer to this specific spot. You can go by compass course, or you can press a few buttons and direct the autopilot to steer by wind angle (in this case you’ll need to course correct while underway to your waypoint). Best of all the technology works better than a human being, especially at night when it is harder on a pitch black sea for a sailor to keep a boat on course.

You wouldn’t expect 7 wires would take so much effort


I’m finishing up the installation of our heater/air conditioner unit we’re installing in the small writing space we’ve built in our backyard. I’ve a few wires to connect, then I’ll vacuum pump the 15’ circuit before releasing the refrigerant into the system. I didn’t want to do this job, but I got a $3000 quote from an installer and that settled the matter. I’ve had to buy a pressure gauge, crowfoot wrench set, those two items set me back about $200 but it was still cheaper than the alternatives. Once this whole system goes up, I’ve got a company that will certify my installation for $275. I turn the documentation into the city’s building permit department and I’m done.


The Thompson seedless grapevines I’ve planted need attention. Planted last year the vines require some guidance. This is all new terrain for me. I spent a few hours reading through a PDF file put out by the agriculture department from University of California-Davis. Not sure how any of us did any of this in the days before the internet.


Maurizio is a sage irrigation specialist. He’s helped rebuild our drip system and taught me how to add a circuit as the garden expands. He’s close to retiring and dreams of returning to Mexico to live out his last years in the village where he was born. My work is plodding, slow and my inexperience shows through, I am a rank amateur compared to Maurizio. His English is good, his accent is thick, we spend a lot of time completely in the dark, he doesn’t understand me and I am absolutely convinced I would never understand him even if I was fluent in Spanish. This is a trivial matter since we seem to somehow figure out what each other wants, in this respect our relationship remains on the best of best foundations. Maurizio knows how much I respect him. The old man works in gardens because it is his calling, it is his passion, helping others in their gardens is a matter of great consequence. Gardens help people on their path, gardening among other things brings us closer to the mystery of sunlight, seed, soil and water.

Pretending like we have time for any of this


I’ve ordered double braided polyester dock line from Fisheries Supply. I’ll put eye splices on the end of 6 different lengths of line I’ll use to secure our boat to her new berth in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. If you haven’t seen how an eye splice is made surf over to YouTube and have a look-see for yourself. I’ve spliced before, but I’m a rank beginner, each splice takes everything I’ve got, most sailors parcel this work out to a rigging shop. Last week I spotted a boat berthed in Marina del Rey, the boat was a beauty, and not one piece of her was slipshod, there was a consciousness to each detail, a lot of effort was put into her dock lines. I’d had something similar in mind and now I no longer have to imagine I took pictures and will copy these boats mooring line system.


I’m juggling in the backyard. I had been away from my juggling equipment during the pandemic. After juggling nonstop since 1973 a sabbatical was in order. I was burnt out, juggling had become a chore, and that is the saddest thing to make what you once loved into a grim dutyBest of all my time off has allowed my appetite to return. I’m feeling voracious again, especially good news for a juggler of a certain vintage, my arms and shoulders appreciate the workout. For those unfamiliar with juggling, it is also a mental workout, the right side of our brain controls the left side of our body and vice versa, in other words juggling also scratches at parts of our intellect that can be difficult to reach without juggling.

Guru doing more spiritual practice


As guru’s go there is none better than Tom Varley. First off his guidance pertains to all things to do with sailing, Volvo’s or Jack Russell terriers. One look at the engine room aboard his sailboat Spirit helps the uninitiated to understand why I’ve made this man my go-to advisor. In vain I tried to revive my 23 year old wind speed indicator, I did as told down to each and every detail, but the wind meter has evaded my every effort of allowing me the satisfaction of bringing the old piece of gear back to life. The hours invested, the money spent on parts, none of this matters, it is the fixing that is most important, because you fix something for reasons that transcend the thing being fixed. This is the fix we are all in, fixing is the opportunity to get out of bed and falling flat on your face before you’ve even had time to make your coffee. It is in this corner with the greatest of trepidation that I’ve inched closer to buying a brand spanking new wind speed instrument knowing that there is every chance that if something could go wrong something will go wrong during the installation and that it cannot possibly be as simple, easy or as inexpensive as it appears to be.


I am sure you’ve a garbage disposal on the fritz, a button to mend and a spouse to amuse— there is not a moment to waste unless you want to contemplate how it is some guy with the last name of Shakespeare did what he did like none before or any these many centuries after. You have to wonder if by some quirk of fate Shakespeare showed up in this century and gifted the world with new fresh piercing plotting and dialogue if anyone would even take notice. It must be asked if this great writer would find his writing clicked on, forwarded, or if it would like so much of this digitized era go lost among the riot of information rushing toward us all.


I really don’t have time for this. I’ve discovered the olive tree has leaned away from a towering Italian pine and has pushed up against our mailbox and broken through one corner rendering our mail wet when it rains. I’m going to affix a post to the existing post and move the mailbox over about one foot. Then I’ll restrain all the wood making the project look properly finished and of course we can then enjoy our life knowing the olive tree may now harmlessly continue growing as trees are wont to do.

Near bliss state perhaps just an edible— you choose


This is how it is how has always been and will always be. I thought when Sears folded so would much of the rest of all this nonsense, but no that isn’t true at all, nature abhors a vacuum and all the tools required to keep all that open and free time on your calendar fully crammed with otherwise thankless tasks and idiotic fixes to things you would not miss for one single second. If you can prove me wrong you’ve much too much time on your hands and need to get an untrained puppy and begin at the beginning.

Making it Real

Laura is a Category 4 hurricane barreling through the Gulf of Mexico’s overheated waters taking aim at East Texas-West Louisiana. The timing of Laura’s arrival is a national nightmare. Predictions are for tidal surges to reach up to 30 miles inland.

Driving through Oregon and Idaho Sunday and Monday I was in thick smoke from wildfires. The haze stretched 400 miles. The scale of our disasters, both political and environmental are unbound.

Patriots that gave their lives for our freedom

Fight like your life depends on it. Don’t think for one second if the current executive office holder can cage those children that he won’t eventually get around to caging your children. Authoritarians don’t play nice. You get on the wrong list and your share of nice is coming to a startling end. Guaranteed by 180k souls that have already found out.

Wildfires are bigger, hurricanes more powerful, our newest pathogen is easily spread, it kills, hospitalizes victims, wreaks havoc on internal organs. Somehow we have gone merrily along the road of denial as our world becomes ever more unmanageable.

Our most populous state, California has in the last five years been terrorized by the largest fires in its history. In 70 years California’s population has gone from twelve million to forty million. Arriving with this rising tide of authoritarian sympathizers and left coast liberals is a mentally deluded leader with no talent for confronting reality.

Look it is now only a matter of time before one of California’s wildfires comes racing down the hillsides toward one of our treasured places. Berkeley, Palo Alto, Mill Valley are all in harms way. What does the day after we lose the fight to save one our city’s look like?

We must not surrender what so many sacrificed to preserve

Like pretending that a highly contagious pathogen wouldn’t emerge crossover from wild animals to infect mankind was to put it succinctly just dumb. And then there is the matter of how deadly a new pathogen might be.

So as we try to scale our troubles we might well consider the corner we are in and how best to extract humanity from this tight spot. First we’re going to have to fight this virus. Getting this bug under control will be no small or easy task but we can’t do much else until we do. Second, we’ll be digging out of a horrible economic collapse and like FDR we’ll need to put millions back to work building an energy system for the 21st Century. Third, we’ll be busy prosecuting the cult that erupted in our midst and followed their dear leader over the cliff. In the midst of all of this we’ll be fighting wildfires and seeking emergency shelter from gargantuan climate emergency fueled hurricanes.

We start by voting. Don’t vote for people that like caging children, want to take health care away from citizens, like to cut taxes on billionaires and send the working stiffs off to foreign wars. Use your head and get a grip about the superficial color of another human beings skin. We are out of options and fascistic alternatives make matters that much worse.

Time to not just be safe but to get real.

Two Hundred Miles Downwind

Morro Bay Amel Ketch

Tranquility as harbor

Coffee, always hot black coffee. No cream and no sugar, no thank you. Still even with a cup of fresh brew the skipper and crew were both bone tired. Anchor was hoisted at the top of the day. Deeper water was found as we dodged the kelp taking a course south and west . The jib was unfurled . We set course for Morro Bay twenty miles south.

Here would be our first chance to set foot back on land for more than just fuel. The harbor in Morro Bay would be the boat’s keeper. Her now worn crew needed to stand down. After two days we needed to tie the boat to a dock and once relieved of duty not consider for one second about the change of weather or state of the ocean’s surface. Shore side leave was the order of the day.

We docked at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I dropped the radar reflector and hoisted the burgee of the Emeryville Yacht Club. Sweet Seas and crew were welcomed guests. We showered and shaved. Down the Embarcadero along the waterfront we took a stool at Windows on the Water. I drank one martini before and a glass of red wine with my fresh shucked oysters, garden salad and chunks of sliced bread. I was back aboard on my bunk and asleep before ten bells had sounded.

Richard Santos Best

Richard Santos- Longtime friend and crew

In the morning the ketch rigged vessel Spirit came alongside the pier. Her captain Tom Valery hailing from Ventura had come from a mooring ball to the dock to spend the day cleaning his 50’ Gulf Star. The one time Newport, Oregon native and musician now attended to an evolving set of new careers. The witty eyed sailor had plotted a post high pressure-high stakes musical career for the chance to go drifting from port to port in pursuit of his own next chapter.

There was a weekly Wednesday night barbecue at the club. Beef, turkey, salmon and veggie burgers were on offer. Six bucks got you all the fixings plus homemade side dishes whipped up by the clubs talented cooks. Conversation ran the gamut from dragging anchor to near misses in dense fog. The sailors with real sea time logged could not be worried about the inherent risks that come with going to sea.

vest

Skin in the Game

Seafarers understand the compact they’ve entered into. There is not much else to say. What choice does a mariner have? By my reckoning there are some risks in life that are best categorized as necessary. You stick your neck out because you’ll never live with yourself if you don’t. Rough weather is not much worse than a bad marriage, traffic citation or a beat up pickup truck with a broken starter. They’ll all make you cuss, drink whiskey and pile on more regret to the pile of mistakes you’ve already been carrying to this fated point in your life.

A yacht club is a collection of stalwart women and men who have some notion that a boat affords them a chance to take a chose shave with their life. There are all sorts of distracting dreams and destinations in the mix, but regardless of the aim or final port there remains the matter of surviving the getting there, even relishing that passage, making the voyage with skill and grace no matter the circumstances. Somewhere in the thing we know as sailing is a soul who needs to see an end to putting off the unavoidable.

gulls and seals

Time spent ocean sailing over the course of my thirty-eight years has been low. Most of my sailing has been in protected waters. I’ve done enough time offshore to have seen plenty. This stint is my longest yet. We’ve arrived in Morro Bay having now logged two hundred miles. Now we are just more than halfway. By my count I’ll have near nine hundred sea miles under my sailboats keel by the time I arrive back at my home port. By that time I’ll have a more intimate view of what my boat and what parts of my insides I’ve not flushed out into the open prior to this challenge. Sailing the coast of California turns out to be both a beautiful and hard won task.

More…  Edited Red Star

Four-Seven-Eighteen Saturday Californian

Buy a book, book a show. You can find things out just by clicking around. No mystery, no hyperbole, just straight prose and performer as unmasked and as native Californian as is appropriate.

Misty Saturday Morning,

Bay Club- San Francisco

 

I’ll begin with a quick dispatch from Fox’s Tucker Carlson dissing us this weekend via his tweet cage.

Yes, real estate is too expensive but it isn’t the fault of the lunch bucket crowd. Those card carrying Teacher Union members don’t buy houses and don’t set policy.

For starters California is widely popular. We have beaches, mountains and desert. We have Hollywood and North Beach. We have redwood trees. We make many of the best wines and movies in the world. Facebook, Google and Apple all make their home offices here. We make the world’s most important automobile  here. It is called Tesla.

But, come on dude, Dana buddy what? You going full provincial on us? Not at all. The entirety of the West Coast, my favorite Left Coast has shown the rest of the country how. Work opportunity, education, health-care, social security and Medicare are all supported by large majorities. We want clean air and water. We want to solve anthropogenic climate change. We want nuclear power shuttered and a 21st Century renewable energy system deployed.

That’s us in a progressive nutshell. We want to make good on our promise. We want to weave our citizens into a unified patriotic mosaic. We want peace, freedom and women to have robust access to equal pay, family planning services and the best education we can provide them.

This kiss up and kick down thing doesn’t work. Massive tax cuts to an out of control elite  invited most of the kicking. Tucker bites at California’s progressive wave. We are a cleansing wave of purer purpose. We advocate for a more fully empowered middle class. A busker knows a lot about playing his act to a lunch bucket crowd. They’re known as the people. Let’s rock blue wave friends and roll… time to take back our country.

From California with Love

Vulgarians of the East

Bay Bridge

Beauty as Bridge- Beast as Brute

Back East was once sufficiently far away. Arriving on the opposite coast by cannabis infused Volkswagen bus was enough sudden enlightenment for a few spare decades prior to now. I didn’t need to arrive since I had been born here in Oakland by bright pre-enlightened East Bay Area breeding stock.

A good shingle-sided two story in the Berkeley Hills, a rough idling Peugeot that needed brakes and willowy denim clad unshaven woman that didn’t need brakes was all the fashion, the rage, we were the famous coyote she sought to know horizontally.

Fog was customary, winters more or less arrived on the clock, as did spring and the fierce belief that parking tickets would as if by magic just go away.

Michael Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop arrived and remained. Lydia Pense fronting for Cold Blood replaced our Janis jones. Weekends were spent in Mendocino. Weekdays we toiled as little as least as was possible. The sun-washed deck at Sam’s in Tiburon for lunch an ache in our voracious appetite for lazily crafted cocktails. Before good booze there was strong booze. The hangover and squandering of wages and time we deluded ourselves into believing cost us next to nothing.

There were the years we had Jerry and the years we didn’t. There was a dot-com bubble, fern bar and the arrival and departure of the Fillmore to do. We did a lot of doing. Counterintuitively we altered the course of history first with Nixon and then Reagan. William F Buckley’s ruling class was rendered monosyllabic. There was only one word left- taxes. Education and science once identified as progressive ghettos have been squeezed by conservative tourniquet.

The summers in the Loire were splendid. Returning again and again to the crumbling ruins of our streets and bridges, what passes as infrastructure, the remains of our once great nations vaunted upward trajectory now frozen in squabbles between the have’s and have mores.

This and other circumstances we are no are longer in control of- take your pick- we have so many unsolved problems to ignore.

I am imagining the wildfires while inconvenient will eventually after incinerating most of the what remains of California will go away. On the other hand our nations capital inhabited now, whether you voted for him or not, all agree I should think it unanimous, the current man about town has proven to be a particular kind of billionaire. We have elected a vulgarian. Foul-mouthed, uncouth and loutish are terms that come to mind. Over sixty-million of our citizens thought it was time for a puppet preferred by Putin to follow the black man so that instead of solving some of our more pressing problems we could ferment the mother of all constitutional catastrophe’s to be triggered by the firing of this rumpled suited honcho with the last name Mueller.

This is that famous moment when we realize that this is the long spoken of hot water and we are all that unconscious amphibian resting in this pond of our own making as the temperatures rise. I’ll break it to you gently, whisper into your ear, as gently as I can, in case you didn’t yet know, just one word… it’s time to—  jump!

knocking it out of the park

There Really is a Better Way