Archives For California

A Tale of Two Cabbies

April 11, 2010 — 1 Comment

A 3-week long business trip a few weeks ago began in early March at 6:15am when Scotty pulled up to the house in his taxi. I got into the back seat and, having used Scotty’s airport service several times, asked Scotty how he was doing.

“I’m cold, man!”

“Yeah? How cold is it?”

“I don’t know. It’s freezing. It’s like 42 degrees or something”.

Scotty’s a great, affable guy. If he didn’t tell you, you’d be able to guess in 5 minutes that he’s a Redwood City native, born and raised.

I said, “Are you kidding? I’m going to Chicago! Don’t complain to me about being cold!”

Hours later upon exiting the airport in Chicago, I met Jonas. Jonas is a taxi driver my parents use often and speak of highly. I had never met him and, not having any other options, I had arranged for him to pick me up. He pulled up to the curb and shook my hand vigorously.

As he put my suitcase in the trunk he said, “Welcome to Chicago! You’ve come on an absolutely beautiful day–it’s like 42 degrees or something!”

On To Two O One O

December 31, 2009 — 5 Comments

Most of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances found 2009 a harder year than years past. The global economic downturn and its residual effects of course weighed heavily on all of us—some more directly than others. For me, 2009 really wasn’t bad, and I’m going into 2010 with some good momentum.

The Could’ve-Been-Better

2009 was a bad year for the Nayar dogs. Both Sadie and Lakshmi passed away, and their absence is palpable. I can say without hesitation that Lakshmi’s death was the low point of the year for me.


Other than at work and in regards to PS3 game trophies, I was spectacularly unproductive this year. In woodworking, I tried a lot of new things (like turning) and have honed some essential skills over the last year, but in service of nothing productive (sans more shop furniture). I’ll endeavor for more tangible results in 2010 and already have a list of pieces I hope to build in the first half of the year (and yes, dear, your side tables are on it smile). I’m also empty-handed when it comes to etherfarm developments–I had grand plans for this site this year, but at the end of a day staring at screens and talking with people who stare at screens, after Ray goes to bed I find I’d much rather be at my lathe or at my bench in the woodshop than in front of HTML, CSS and PHP.


Sadly, though, I more often ended up with a videogame controller or mouse in my hands rather than a tool. This I lament, even though there were some amazing games in 2009, some of which I even found inspiring.

The Good

My work travel was less than 50% of my 2008 corporate globetrotting. That didn’t necessarily translate to more time at home; I spent almost all of my vacation days in Illinois. Which, for a variety of reasons, is a splendid place to be.


I might be one of the few people I know who likes their job. I took on a new role at work this year, and it’s full of new and interesting challenges. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel that when I’m engaged with what I’m doing, I can end just about every day having learned or done something new or having found new ways to apply the one or two things I actually do know.

I spent a lot of time with friends this year–old and new, near and far. Last year, my tolerance for West Coast Flakiness achieved a critical mass and I more or less went into seclusion. This year, a few of my friendships in the Bay Area seemed to take root and it somehow worked out that I had more quality time with friends in other locales. It perhaps goes without saying that I ate a lot of good food with some of these good people in 2009.

And to counter all that good food, I managed to swim at least 3 times a week all year this year (with just a few exceptions due to travel). This wasn’t really a goal (it’s an unintended accomplishment) but I’m ending 2009 feeling much more healthy than I have in years past. Which is nice, because despite my relatively low number of years on this planet, I’ve felt physically old and decrepit since my back surgery in 2003.

We transformed the front and back yards from worthless patches of horrible, clumpy grass to wonderful outdoor rooms. I admire them every time I leave and arrive home and probably will until we leave this place.

Before: Front Yard
From Garage Door
Back Porch

And of course, there’s Ray. I go on and on about him, and I’ve found that those who meet him tend to go on and on about him as well. It’ll suffice to say that in the last 365 days, he’s gone from toddler to little boy, and I find joy and poetry in almost everything he says and does.

Obviously, in balance, I really can’t complain about 2009—to do so would be absurd. It has left me exhausted in a good way, like being “just full enough” after a great meal. And I’m optimistic about 2010 for a variety of reasons, but Nara has the biggest one in development:

If all goes well, Ray’s little sister will arrive in early June. And if that’s not a reason to look forward to 2010, I don’t know what is.

Maker Faire

June 8, 2009 — 2 Comments

My family has been attending the SF Bay Maker Faire every year since its inception. It’s relatively easy to describe what The Maker Faire is—unsurprisingly, it’s a gathering for people who make things—but it’s very difficult to articulate its scope in a way that can be understood for those who don’t or can’t attend.

The horizon of creativity witnessed at the Maker Faire is mindboggling. In attending the faire one imbibes equal parts art, science, craft, hobby, delusion, and obsession, witnessing everything from master yo-yo performances to roving squadrons of cupcakemobiles to battle robot arenas to pipe cleaner art. I think of the faire as a local Burning Man but one which, in ways I find refreshing, substitutes the pleasure and delight of “just making stuff” for the increasingly annoying pretense of “being cool”.

Only at the Maker Faire

One of the things I love about the Maker faire is that it’s so incredibly kid-friendly. This is really the first year that Ray is substantially cognizant in his exploration of anything, so even days later he’s still raving about the giant hydraulic hand (he’s fascinated by hydraulics–go figure) and the lego trains and the underwater robots.

It’s fair to say that despite the flashing lights of walking robots and the spectacle of flamethrowers, the highlight of the 2007 faire for us was this gentleman, Zach Houston, who ran a “Poem Store” in the expo hall.

Poem Store 2007

For whatever you think a poem is worth and on whatever topic you fancy, Zach will bang out a short poem on his tiny typewriter. In 2007, when Ray was just 1, we spoke for him, and the topic we chose was of course, Ray. Zach tapped out the following:

We looked for Zach in 2008 but unfortunately could not find him. We were thrilled this year, however, when we found him sitting under a tree, and we immediately queued for a sequel. When asked what topic Ray wanted for his poem, he thought for a few moments before saying, “ticket” (?!). Zach went to work:

Thanks, Zach. We’ll see you next year.

Here’s a bunch of photos from this and previous years compiled into a Maker Faire Flickr photoset.

Embracing Dude

July 20, 2005 — 8 Comments

I’m approaching my six-year anniversary of moving to California. Given the new job and some new digs, it looks like it’ll probably be close to a decade-long tenure before I and the wife (and whatever other beings for which we become legally responsible) start looking to move elsewhere on the ol’ globe. I have mixed feelings about this; there are many things to like about (northern) California, but in no way do I consider it the pinnacle of civilization that its real estate prices would suggest. The fact that real estate prices in the Bay Area rose 22% last year evinces the kind of self-delusion a place which serves a tofu-everything can induce. It won’t be too long until the only people who can afford to live in the Bay Area are the CEOs of Apple, Oracle, Google, Adobe, Industrial Light & Magic, and Yahoo, all of whom will feast daily on a diet of ego and wheatgrass, and use the houses of regular schmucks like myself as mere parking sheds for their fleet of Segways.

Much has happened to me while in California throughout the last six years. I no longer check the “Single” box on forms asking for my marital status, for starters. My thoughts on a career in the academic humanities were whittled from idealism and passion down to cynicism and a kind of embarrassment for the whole profession. I drove a car and rode a couple of bikes. I gained a few pounds, started a little website called etherfarm, made and lost a few friends, developed an almost criminal affinity for Vietnamese food, and um, gained a few pounds.

Most surprising, though, is that in the last few months, I find the word “dude” causing hairline fractures in my anti-California-culture protective shield. There was a point in time when I preemptively asked people not to call me “dude” and when I wouldn’t respond to sentences beginning with, ending with, or containing “dude.” The first postcard I sent from Santa Cruz read something like this:


Dude. Dude? Dude!


I was using the term in jest, of course, but the sad truth is that in Santa Cruz, I’ve overheard whole conversations which consist almost entirely of the word “dude”. It’s said that eskimos have eleven words for snow. Similarly, there exist myriad inflections of the word “dude”, all of which apparently have a specific meaning and appropriate usage, none of which made sense to me until recently.

A month or so ago, I caught myself using the word “dude” without any irony whatsoever. It just rolled off my tongue without shame and without warning. Then about a week later I used the term “dude” in writing during an online chat with a colleague. The last two weeks of my linguistic activity have been peppered with “dude”. Just last week someone told me that they never thought they’d hear me say “dude”, and they told me as if they were proud of me, the way a parent might praise a child for speaking their first word.

Anyway, I think I’ve come to terms with dude. I can’t say it’ll make it into my lexicon as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a preposition, and as a gerund, as it has for many other residents of California. I can say this, though: if the first word out of any future child of mine is “dude”, dude, that kid’s going straight to an orphanage.

Gone Corporate

May 8, 2005 — 7 Comments

I have a confession to make. I have gone corporate. At the end of January I took a contract job with a large software company. I love the job, really enjoy the people I work with, and was made a good offer, so I’m staying on as a full-time employee. I don’t yet know how this will mix with the dissertation, but I hope that once things settle down on my current project at work, I can work on the dissertation in parallel. In any case, it was no secret that my nihilism regarding the academic humanities was reaching critical mass, so after some serious deliberation, I ‘spun’ a unique job opportunity into a hiatus from expending mental and emotional energy to live under the poverty line as the equivalent of an intellectual serf.

This isn’t the kind of job I blog about, but I will mention a couple of things:

  • I work right across the road from a little experimental laboratory called Xerox PARC. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
  • The perks such as free lunches and espresso drinks haven’t gone to my head nearly as much as the whiteboard cleaner.
  • Every once in a while I get to wander on leisurely paths between buildings on campus, wondering the whole while whether I’ll be eaten by the mountain lions which are occasionally seen in parking lots.

In my head, I also spun the new job as impetus to purchase a new car. I’ve never had a new car; I’ve had new (very) used cars. My last car I gave up at 227,000 miles (365,321km). Whereas my previous new (very) used cars smelled like people or pets I had never met, this car smells like new car. Between the new car smell and the huge (and frequently clean) whiteboard in my office, it’s no wonder I’m a pretty happy fellow these days.

Why a new car? Well, a 27-mile mountain highway previously known as Blood Alley constitutes the majority of my commute. When it’s dry, many Californians choose to take this road at ridiculously fast speeds. The image below is a rough approximation of what it looks like driving Highway 17 at night.


Notice the lack of taillights

If you’re driving too slow, Californians like to velcro their front bumper to your rear bumper–always a good thing to do on a windy mountain highway which occasionally features slow-moving semis. 

When it’s wet out, Californians also like to drive this highway at breakneck speeds. I decided to get a new car one day when heading back home after a very light drizzle. I passed eight accidents. If you pay attention during the day, you’ll see all sorts of shrapnel on the sides of the road–tail light lens fragments, a bumper or three, a steering wheel, a charred passenger seat. I’ve personally witnessed six accidents on this highway, and a friend of mine a few weeks ago said he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a car in the air.

So I got a Volvo.


Anyway, things will settle down a bit on my project in the very near future. I have a bunch of photos to post and just haven’t had the time.

You lead, I’ll follow

March 1, 2004 — 9 Comments

As a followup to the last post, I’d like to offer the following responses to the responses and the following comments to the comments. I’ve waited until the first of March to post a followup so my bandwidth quota would reset.

  1. Thanks to bakerm45 of span fame for informing me that the real name for New England is Back East. I really should have known better. My god I’m a moron.
  2. There is no “The South” in the map for precisely the reasons given by Jersey Girl. Thank you, Jersey Girl, for articulating what I did not.
  3. I am from Chicago, which, for those of you from the coasts, is located in the state of Illinois. I have also lived in Maine. I do not consider myself Californian, and in the words of Jon Stewart, I am nobody’s “dude”. I am not the Californian to whom the depicted conception of the continental U.S. belongs. It belongs to a Frankenstein-ish Californian, pieced together from conversations I’ve had with geographically-challenged Californians.
  4. It’s a pity that this needs to be said, but the goal with the map was humor and sarcasm, not maliciousness or verisimilitude. Those of you who took offense (!:#@!) to aspects of the map (and took the time to tell me) really need to get a life. Maybe a life will show up in your Amazon Gold Box, and that way you won’t have to leave your house to get one.

I’m so happy that after reading my post, the Governator has decided to implement a maps-for-guns program in urban and suburban California schools. I’m even happier that my post made so many people laugh at themselves and at the geographic myopia which plagues the world’s fifth largest economy. I have to say, though, that nothing’s more satisfying than seeing a commenter named jack make some friends. It warms the proverbial cockles to know that the League of Extraordinary Misanthropes has found their way to etherfarm. Thanks, Jack!

Lastly, I’d like to offer a brief rant against specific, clueless, Livejournalers who insist on hijacking bandwidth. I’m grateful to my webhost for conveniently providing “hotlink protection”, even though that nomenclature makes such protection seem like some kind of energy shield which prevents gruesome bodily violation from rogue sausages. There’s a function which allows you to direct rogue links to an alternate URL, but I couldn’t seem to get it working. But in the interest of full disclosure, here’s the image I prepared:


If all rules which govern the short-term memory of the blogging world apply to this site as well, all this attention will blow over in a matter of minutes and I can continue my regular stump speeches to the 2.5 regulars which comprise my regular audience. Thanks for visiting etherfarm, y’all.

whither whatever

February 24, 2004 — 154 Comments

I received no fewer than four less-than-savory emails from indignant southern Californians responding to my last post, which of course was the perfect inspiration for this post.


When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was a wooden puzzle of the United States. Each piece, painted in a single bright color, corresponded to one of our 50 states. I’d generally go from east to west, placing Maine first–a ritual which I think imbued me with a fascination for that state, then Florida–because that’s where my grandparents lived at the time, then fill in the rest piece by piece. I often wonder if that puzzle still exists in my parents’ basement; it’s the kind of toy I’d love to give to my children someday.

It’s no secret that Americans suffer from complete ignorance regarding the topic of where-things-are-in-the-world. There are many causes for this; for starters, our media tends to ignore anything happening outside the States. Also, quite frankly, most Americans couldn’t care less about the rest of the world. A red-blooded American (a phrase I’ve never understood, unless in the context of Star Trek) will proudly proclaim that America is “the greatest country on earth”, so why bother looking past its borders?

Despite my public complaints, California is a wonderful place. Its topography is among the most varied in the country, the weather in most of California is by most folks’ standards absolutely perfect, and it’s the birthplace of many global cultural and economic trends, a fact which may not make the state wonderful but does certainly make it both dynamic and important. So, despite my protestations about living here, I wholeheartedly admit that as places on the planet go, California ain’t so bad.

The people though, fall victim to a kind of provincial snobbery unsurpassed by pretty much everyone except the French. When I tell people in California I’m from Chicago, they look at me with pity. When I tell my Californian students to travel around the U.S. after they graduate, they look at me as if I’m insane. I once was complaining about how poorly many Californians drive in the snow and my soon-to-be father-in-law responded “why on earth would anyone want to live in a place where you have to learn to drive in the snow”. This from a man who spent most of his life on the volcanic, lava-spewing island of Hawaii and from a man who currently lives only a few dozen miles from the San Andreas fault. All this to say that most people who call California home–red blooded Californians, or perhaps more precisely, almond-soy-triple-foam chai latte Californians–suffer from a more localized version of geographic ignorance than most Americans.

Apparently the U.S. puzzle I played with as a child was never marketed in California. When I talk to Californians about my many road trips, I’m always totally amazed by the comments and questions I get just in response to my comments about geography. I’ve compiled these reactions and synthesized a map of the United States which corresponds to the twisted geographic perception most Californians possess.

A few prefatory words. Maps are fundamentally about shapes. I assume that Californians are aware of the basic shape of the U.S. I also assume that Californians know that there are 50 states and that Alaska and Hawaii are generally not considered part of the continental United States.



  1. California. Unsurprisingly, California remains intact.
  2. This is the state of Reno, which is easy to spot because it’s just outside the “Tahoe Region”.
  3. The state of Vegas.
  4. All Californians know that their neighbor to the north is Oregon. They know this because Oregon is where Chai was invented.
  5. This is the state of Seattle unless you’re really wealthy, in which case it’s the state of Puget Sound. This is where Starbucks comes from. You’ll note that both Oregon and Seattle span the space between the west coastline and the I-5 corridor.
  6. This is Death Valley. It’s hot here. Except in the winter, when it’s cold.
  7. This is the state of Aspen. From the state of Aspen, you can ski straight into state #9
  8. This state has two names for Californians. If you’re from Northern California, it’s known as “That Bastard of a President’s Ranch”. If you’re from Southern California, it’s called “The Alamo”.
  9. The Midwest. It’s a huge state, as you can see, and for Californians, Midwest inhabitants on both sides of the Mississippi live on a strict diet of iceberg lettuce and Budweiser, which is why they have such big hair.
  10. The blue vertical line is the Mississippi River. Californians don’t actually know where it is, they just know it’s in the middle of the country and that it runs “up and down”.
  11. 11 points to the state of Chicago, which is a convenient home to the city of Chicago. [I can’t begin to tell you how many Californians think Chicago is a state].
  12. This is Florida. It’s home to Disney World (which is just like Disneyland) and a lot of Cubans, like that Ricky Martin.
  13. This is Back East, colloquially known as New England. It contains most of the 50 states because the Pilgrims thought small. That’s why they’re so rude Back East, you know. They don’t have room enough to spread out their yoga mats and become one with the universe.
  14. New York, where the official state animal is the bagel.

In closing, I’d like to remind Californians of the phrase ”tongue in cheek”. C’mon, Californians! Learn to laugh at yourselves, and you’ll find that everyone else is laughing with you, not at you. Because we all take the governor of California very seriously.

All’s well that ends…

February 17, 2004 — 19 Comments

My relative absence from this site can be attributed to a very busy week last week and a weekend trip down to the City of Angels this last weekend. I was summoned by the Grammy–not the award given to musicians who have successfully sold out–but by the Real Grammy™–Poog’s grandmother. On this issue the User Manual for PremarItal RElations (UMPIRE®) is quite clear: when the Real Grammy™ summons, you go. Unless, of course, you meet the criteria specified in Chapter 6, Section VI, Paragraph B of UMPIRE®, which exempts those being summoned by a Real Grammy™ under the influence of senility, drugs, booze, Perry Como, Lawrence Welk, Richard Nixon, or Betsy Ross. UMPIRE states unambiguously in Paragraph C that should such a summons occur, the only recourse is to change your phone number.

My dislike for the state of California is legendary among the four people indiscriminating enough to consider me a friend. I’d now like to make public my dislike for Southern California.

To “fall in love” with SoCal, one must conform to no less than three of the following criteria:

  • The individual must prefer wonderful weather 360 days of the year. The individual, however, must be willing (and able) to piss and moan loudly about the remaining 5 or 6 days of the year, on which light drizzling is experienced for 10 minutes during business hours or the temperature falls between 1 and 5 degrees outside its normal range of 60-72°F (15.5-22.2°C).
  • The individual must be clinically insane.
  • The individual must be able–at a moment’s notice– to choose correctly between any one of four Starbucks Coffee retail outlets at a given intersection.
  • The individual must have a car capable of driving at least 90mph (144.8km/h) in a school zone. Both turning signal lights on the individual’s car must be permanently disconnected.
  • The individual must be able to filter out the following from all visual perception: Hummer H2s, spandex shorts four sizes too small, gravity-defying breasts four sizes too large, superfluous use of fabrics such as velour, velveteen, and see-through anything.
  • The individual must abhor walking and public transportation. Walking is a crime punishable by being gawked at. Attempted use of public transportation will result in many hours of waiting for one of five buses which service the entire LA metropolitan area.
  • The individual must be clinically insane.
  • The individual must possess criminally excessive levels of cynicism.
  • The individual must wear eyeglasses which cover everything in a vertical gradient from clear to green, blue, yellow, orange, pink, or, preferably, all of the above colors. This eyewear will not be referred to as sunglasses. It will be referred to as moodglasses.
  • The individual must be clinically insane.

This diagnosis of SoCal inhabitants is, of course, totally cliche. But so is SoCal. I’m increasingly frustrated by the notion that the phrase “nice place” in the U.S. (and, even more tragically, in developing countries) basically translates as “I can buy the same shit there as I can at home.” Chain retail outlets in and of themselves constitute both material and aesthetic culture in these places, and I always leave wondering how such a culture can sustain itself. It’s more than fitting that SoCal culture is the backdrop for the canned TV crap culture exported the world over.

None of this to say I had a terrible time in SoCal. I met some new friends and saw some old friends, and “friends” is a commodity trading in short supply these days (I’m in kind of a hermit phase). I ate some good food. And I took in a year’s supply of irony.


Here’s a sign found at the foot of the stairs at the hotel in which Poog, I, and the kids stayed. I’m tempted to reword it in Photoshop, but the possibilities are endless. Suggestions are welcome.

They come in pairs

February 6, 2003 — 4 Comments

Got pulled over by a cop while I was riding my bicycle today. The conversation went as follows:

cop: “Pull over.”

me: “OK”

cop: “You go to school here?”

me: “Yes”

cop: “They teach you how to read at this school?”

me: “No, I learned that a long time ago.”

cop: “Perhaps you can tell me what S.T.O.P. means?”

Let me interrupt this conversation by saying this: I’m a stickler for safety. In the bike world, I guess that means I’m a geek. I wear a bright yellow helmet, a bright yellow and reflective jacket, my bags have reflective tape, I wear gloves, I don’t exceed the speed limit–even on downhills, I put on both front and back lights even if there’s a little sun left in the day.  I generally stop at all intersections, particularly in residential neighborhoods. That I didn’t stop at this one was a lapse in judgement caused by the fact that there were no cars around. Except for the cop, I guess…I have no idea where he was hiding. We return to our regular programming:

me: “It means to cease forward movement.” OK, I didn’t really say this, I kind of mumbled it.

cop: “huh?”

me: “It means to stop.”

cop: “That’s right.”

me: “Look, officer, I’m dressed in yellow, I’m wearing a helmet, I’ve got gloves and lights on my bike…obviously I’m not unconcerned with safety. I signaled to indicate my turn even though there were no cars around.”

cop: “…”

me: “There was a mountain biker in front of me. He didn’t stop either.”

cop: “Yeah–he did the right thing, he jumped the curb and made a right using the dirt path.”

me: “? OK”

cop: “Come to a stop next time.”

me: “I usually do.”

cop: “Thanks for pulling over for me.”

me: “Sure.”

The owner of a bookstore downtown has a book set aside for me.  Coming to this store almost always involves a nice, cordial chat with him, and quite some time has passed since I was there last. As I lock up my bike to the post outside his door, I think I hear shouting in the store. The windows and door are closed, so the sound is muffled, and I write it off as an idiot in the sports bar above the bookstore.  The bookstore sells only academic books.  While they probably have a philosophical text on shouting, it’s about as far from ‘a rowdy joint’ as Dubya is from ‘smart’.

I walk in and David, the owner, looks pretty stressed out. A man who vaguely resembles a portly Rasputin is leaning over the counter, staring at David intently. David utters an exasperated “Hey.”

I say “Hi, David.” I pause, thinking he’ll remember he has a book on hold for me. A few seconds pass. He remembers.

“Ah, yes, Marx. Just a second, it’s in back.” He gets out of his chair.

Rasputin chortles. “Marx! Marx! That’s a laugh!”

I think, “Oh great, he’s a psycho.”

David tells him very calmly, “Get out,” then wanders towards the back half of the store to get the book.

Rasputin starts lumbering towards me. “I love that idea and I love you, man. In fact, I love you so much I want to kiss the bottom of your shoes. In fact I’ll do it right now!”

He really does look like Rasputin.  He’s got those eyes. I say, “No thanks, I’ll pass.” I look towards the back of the store for David.

The next thing I know, Rasputin is on the floor, grabbing my leg tightly at the calf, trying to lift it up. The fucker is serious. He really does love me so much that he wants to kiss the bottom of my shoes. I start losing my balance and I say, with increasing volume, “Let go of my leg. Let go of my leg!…LET GO OF MY LEG, GOD DAMN IT.”

He doesn’t let go. David rushes back to the counter and tries to pull Rasputin off of me.

I’m not a violent person.  I’ve never “kicked anyone’s ass”, though I did fracture some guy’s ribs with a croquet mallet once (it was in third grade, he was a bully, and he had beaten me up many times before that). I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a punch. I’m about as far from ‘violent’ as Dubya is from ‘articulate’.

But I’m hopping on one leg, the other leg in Rasputin’s over-amorous grip, and I’m pretty close to falling over. I see that my shoe is right smack dab in front of his dirty puckered face.

It’s at this moment that I realize I can literally shove my foot down his fucking mouth, and I’m not abusing the term ‘literally’. As Rasputin muscles the sole of my shoe to his lips I visualize–really, I do–my foot retracting from the bloody aftermath of his kicked-in face. The image starts to suck me in, like a daydream, but in his boundless love for me, Rasputin is twisting my leg in ways not conducive to me remaining upright.

David pulls him off by the coat and shoves him out of the store. He apologizes to me for having to deal with it. He says, “The guy’s a psycho and he comes around here all the time. I don’t have the heart to call the cops on him. He doesn’t know what he’s doing most of the time.” I tell him as he rings up my purchase that it wasn’t a big deal, that I just hope the guy doesn’t come in here and cause some real trouble.

I leave the store and as I’m unlocking my bike, the bloody face image comes to mind again. It occurs to me that I think I would have done it, I would have gone mad-stompy on his visage if the scene lasted any longer than it did. I didn’t think I was in danger, really. It wouldn’t have been an act of self-defense.

This thought is a very sombering one. I have to walk my bike down the street to the corner before I feel like riding it.


This photo was taken while picking my friend up from the airport today.  Note, if you will, the juxtaposition of palm tree with snowy mountains. In the summer, there are brush fires in the mountains surrounding this city.