Saturday, May 01, 2010

Photo of the day: Soldier of the Cross

I love stained glass. This was in a mausoleum at the local cemetery. When rich people die they do it right.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo of the day: Obelisk

From Holy Cross Cemetary

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photo of the day: And On Your Right...

This particular flotilla of ducks (actually, I think they're scaups) reminded me of a tour group. The leader in the front pointing out the interesting bits and the crowd keeping up, looking around them with cameras at the ready. Only I was the only one with a camera.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Hemlock Viper

When we were in high school the popular make-out spot was up along Tyler Ridge Road, along the reservoir. There you could actually get away from lights to the point where you could see stars – that is if the windows weren’t too fogged up.

But it was also a popular space to just go and “be.” The spot seemed to be the sole province of the high school. We’d go up there after school with ice cream to look at the water and dream about the future. We’d go up there at night in groups to star gaze, tell stories, or drink wine we’d stolen from our folks.

Now it’s closed off to traffic and a walking trail, but back then it was a quiet spot, perfect for doing things you didn’t want your parents to see. Not necessarily “wrong” things like making out with Mike Columbo or trying your first cigarette (for the record, I didn’t like either of these two activities), but also perfectly innocent things, like talking.

Sometimes I think that we use our brains more between the ages of 17 and 20 that we do any other time of our lives. Forget college, or the rigors of the work world. But those last few year of high school and those first few years of university are when you tackle the problems of the world. Politics. Religion. Equality. You debate the responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of arts. You find yourself discussing all the serious topics of life with such gravity that you’re convinced your generation will be the one to save the world.

At that age, we were the future. And we were determined to make our mark. But you don’t want adults to hear you, because they’d only laugh. So you go up to Tyler Ridge Road with your best friends and you talk about how you’re never going to take things for granted and how you will spend a year in Africa helping them end starvation. And you eat an entire package of Oreos doing so and come away convinced you are a magnificent person.

One night I was there with the two people I was closest with in the entire world, my friends Sean Logan and Carmen Martinez. We were in the midst of an early fall heat wave. It was a Saturday evening, one of those delicious nights where the sun seems reluctant to set and it’s light until nearly nine. We were high school seniors, with all the answers to every question in the universe, plus a large vegetarian pizza and a 6-pack of Coke.

One of the reasons why Tyler Ridge is now closed to cars is because of the wildlife. There’s a lot of it up there. Deer. Raccoons. Skunks. Squirrels boing-boinged through the leaves and possums skulked shyly among the eucalyptus. And then there were the snakes. None of them poisonous, mind you, but there. And many people, including Sean and Carmen, have a horror of these critters.

Well on the night in question I was sitting opposite the two of them when I noticed their eyes straying from me to something about five feet to my right. Sean actually screamed. Carmen, if I recall correctly, started reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish. “Oh God,” I thought, “it’s the Zodiac killer!”

Nervously I look over my shoulder….and see absolutely nothing. “What?” I ask as they continue to stare past me. Then I follow their gaze and saw The Snake That Ate Silver Creek.

The creature couldn’t have been more than six inches long, but Sean and Carmen reacted as if a giant boa constrictor with three heads had just slithered out of its den and was about to swallow one of us whole. I honestly thought they were kidding, so I started laughing. But no, they weren’t kidding…they were honestly terrified.

I knew what it was, a striped racer. These are dark, slender snakes with a white racing stripe down their backs. Perfectly harmless and, in fact, now endangered in California. At this point it had done nothing more than appear out of the leaf cover and make for the road and was at least 10 feet from them. We were more in danger of heartburn from devouring a large Cimino’s Pizza than we were from this poor little guy. But to my friends it was as if Cerebus had come from the underworld to slay us.

Apparently stunned into stupidity by our visitor, Sean and Carmen sat immobile for a minute starring in horrified wonder before suddenly remembering that they, unlike the snakes, had legs. So they collected their legs and ran. This just made me laugh all the harder because it was such a cartoon reaction.

“Hey!” I called after them, “come back, it’s harmless.”

“How do you know?” Sean asked. “You’re not Marlon Perkins.” But he stopped running anyway.

I walked over to the snake and picked him up. Sean screamed again.

“Put it down before it bites you!” yelled Carmen.

“Uh oh…” I said.

“What? What is it?” Sean called out in concern.

“Well, I thought it was just a harmless racer, but it’s not. The markings are wrong. I just picked up….” I paused dramatically while I thought up a name. “…a Hemlock Viper!”

This time Carmen screamed.

By now the little guy had wound himself around my hand, not too alarmed and pretty sure I wasn’t going to eat him. He was actually very cute.

Sean asked if he’d bitten me. Carmen asked if they should go for the cops. Not even my desire to tease them could survive the question. The cops? She thinks I’m holding on to a poisonous snake and her idea is to have it arrested? My sense of the absurd won over my sense of evil and I had started to laugh again. I put down our visitor and he went back to the leaves, no doubt eager to tell his pals about his adventures.

My two friends came back slowly, cautiously. And when they were close enough to gang up on me, they did.

The phrase “Hemlock viper” remained in our personal lexicon as a shorthand trigger to a wonderful memory.
The Death of Job Satisfaction
I know that many people are dissatisfied with their jobs. I know I was at my last one, and that's why I quit. One thing that's been stuck in my head lately is the idea that people are unhappy at their workplace because nobody really has anything they can take pride in any more. Bear with me here...

It used to be at the end of the workday you'd have something to show for it. A roof put on a house. 500 shirt collars sewn on. 300 cars down the assembly line. An entire acre plowed.

But today there's very little tangible at the end of the work day. Most people I know work in the high tech community of Silicon Valley, where I worked myself for over a decade. And after your average 9 or 10 hour day, what do you have to show for it? Nothing, really. Another day's progress towards a project that will take a year to see light of day and be obsolete the day after it debuts. The delivery of words on a web page that will only be in existence for 24-hours. Four meetings for projects that may never come off.

People today don't have job satisfaction because, in many ways, there's no satisfaction to be had. You can't head home for the night thinking proudly of the engine you built or the supplies you delivered. Nothing is done in a day anymore. Everything people do is now tiny pieces of big puzzles. And (keeping the analogy going) you don't even get to put the puzzle together yourself. You work on the piece, pass it on, and someone else gets to tap it into place. So even the joy of getting that one piece in is denied to you.

I know many people still work the jobs where they can clock out and see the fruits of their labors. There are still people on assembly lines or construction sites. Still people who drive trucks and install kitchen cabinets. But for a huge chunk of the population, work now means just one day in an endless series of days.

No wonder people are unhappy.
Photo of the day: America's Pastime

Not, by any means, an artistic shot. But we had such great seats and such a wonderful time that I wanted to share our day at AT&T Park with you. Sadly, the Giants lost on Sunday. But we had a fabulous day. (Thank you, Husband.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photo of the day: Hore

OK, the station is actually Bayshore. But from the angle of this shot, it looks like we stopped in beautiful, downtown Hore on our way home from the baseball game.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hello. I'm Lost

Have any of you seen Lost? I haven't. It has a hugely loyal cult following in spite of the fact that it makes absolutely no fucking sense at all. Husband watched it. Stopped watching it. Watched it again. He gave up when he lost the will to follow it anymore. Then they dragged him back in. He still doesn't understand it, but he's going along with it.

What cracks me up is hearing people try to summarize it. They've watched it non-stop, try to make sense of all the nonsense, try to predict how it will all end, and end up proving that nobody understands it. So I thought, since I've never seen anything more than 5 minutes of the show at a time, I thought I'd try to summarize what the show is all about.

So hereby I give you Decca's Guide to Getting Lost:

- There was a plane crash.
- There was an island.
- There was a handsome doctor guy who is either good or bad, depending upon the episode.
- There is this hot con woman chick who is either good or bad, depending upon the episode.
- There is a bad guy who may or may not be either good or bad, depending upon the episode.
- There is a fat guy who is always good.
- There is a Middle Eastern/Israeli/Indian spy guy who is either....well, you know.
- There is a formerly crippled bald guy who seems to change personas every scene. And who may or may not be god/satan/or a pillar of smoke/his own father.
- The island has a hatch with cryptic stuff inside, like a count-down machine and a completely different plane of existence.
- The aforesaid plane of existence seems to have also experienced a crash.
- In addition to polar bears and palm trees, this island comes complete with other communities, torture cells, and endless supplies of flashbacks, flashfowards, flashsideways, flashdowns, and flashups.
- It is apparently not a good idea to either have a kid or be a kid on this island.
- It is also, apparently, not a good idea to be Korean.
- Laws of time, relativity, space and logic are not observed on the island. According to the island any of us could be leading any number of parallel lives at any place and any time in our own special way.
- On the island it is extremely important that you notice every single person you come across in your day because the fact that the woman who works at Starbucks looks exactly like the woman who sat in Row 47b is a clue to who you are and what is going on around you.

The funny thing about all this is that I don't make any less sense in this synopsis than one written by anyone who is loyal to the show. No....really!
What the...?
So I went to Amazon today. On my home page was one of those "based upon your viewing history you might also be interested in..." notices. And I saw this. (Go check it out....I'll wait.)

So what in the hell did I look at on Amazon that made them think that item was something that might interest me? I've never bought books on medicine. True, I did buy some vitamins, but that's the only health product I've ever gotten from Amazon. Books and music, that's my stuff. Maybe DVDs. But none of that should have given them the idea that I wanted the mystery item.

Odd as it was, it made my day.
Photo of the day: Through a Glass Murky

A rusted car on a siding while our train was pulling into a station. I'm a big fan of rust.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Photo of the day: Gears

When you look at modern bicycles...if you look at modern bicycles...they've evolved ages since the days of the old Penny Farthing. They are engineering marvels. All those gears and spokes. All the shifting and aerodynamics.

I don't have a bike, though I wish I did. Not a fancy racing bike, just a little something to ride in the sunshine. But I liked the symmetry of this shot.