Tuesday, August 22, 2017

... neither solemn nor celebratory

(Child of the moon)

There was, of course, more than I relayed yesterday. Much of the sensation was that of disappointment afterwards. It all happened so fast. Its ending abrupt and final, or so it seemed. Its semi-circular transition continues across the sun, though nobody much cares. Everybody disperses, returns to looking at one another; faces lined along the horizon. This large orbital body moving in perpetuity speaks somehow to the brevity of all lifetimes. My lifetime first, then everybody else's, moving outwards from those that I know and love to others, to all of humanity whose story barely stretches back to a portion of that of the lunar. This odd inversion of the role of the moon - darkening daytime rather than lighting night - arrives unexpectedly and brings with it also a reversal of feeling.

It is easy enough to understand why people have believed that this was a malediction from the gods. It is. It works on skeptics, cynics, and nihilists alike.

I mean me.

My dreams last night were troubled, scattered and informed by fears. In everything there is a profound sense of futility, yet we do things anyway. We fill our lives so that they won't seem empty. At our best we create memories which dissolve in time, dragging feelings along with them into the abyss. It is one thing to claim that the universe is indifferent to our suffering, quite another to sense that in the moon, our moon - the almost binary brother to earth, our lifeless and beloved sibling. Even now, speaking of it in the possessive I know that I am wrong. If anything, I belong to the earth, not the other way around. Do not trust the Christian myths.

The mind can accept the basic mechanical fact of an eclipse, though its temporary blocking of the sun plants some dark seed that grows the fruit of mortality which ripens in sleep. Lunacy grows with all other things in the freedom of the mind.

As it happened I was neither solemn nor celebratory. I made no promises, and do not remember thinking anything specific. I felt only fascination. It was later that I sensed a trembling of dread - more and more mortal, less and less permanent, I. Nothing is fixed, nothing lasting, all things only returning in different forms, at different times. 

I'll try to never say I hope to see this thing before I die. It is a dangerous way to think, it seems, placing the focus on the menace of life's constant and inevitable opposition. I'll try to remember that the opposing face of that blackened moon was just as bright and unfamiliar to the eye as ever. From that perspective nothing would have appeared differently at all. How powerful and lasting are the shadows, the phantoms that we find.

... and try to remember that the moon isn't about me.

O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circle orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable. Don't swear by the moon.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Great Bright Ring In The Sky

It was cool. I'm glad I saw it. 

None of the emotions that might have occurred happened for me. Rhys hid in the car when it started, though he didn't seem scared by it. 

It unfolded as I had guessed that it might, fascinating nonetheless.

Weather: Neskowin, Oregon - mostly foggy, partially cloudy

Today is the day. There is an early morning fog cover, but the weather site says it will burn off. 

I'm not sure what I am expecting the experience to be. It seems that it should be easy enough to imagine, and many must make that assumption easily enough, though no one that has ever seen one before seems to feel that way, though perhaps they just don't bother writing about it if they do. Who knows. Whatever my feelings about it are they will occur quickly. What I will have to deal with will come afterwards, it seems, not entirely dissimilar from the earthquake though with this it is something that I know is coming. 

I read that the difference in the sun's luminosity between a 99% eclipsed sun and total is approximately 10,000 times in magnitude. The stars and planets become visible in the daytime and the entire horizon appears to be experiencing a sunrise or sunset. We are on a hill on the coast so we will, if we are paying very close attention, see the shadow of the moon moving across the waters towards in the split second before totality. It will be moving fastest here, approx. 2400 miles per hour.

Did I write about that yesterday? I think I did. I had to delete part of yesterday's post. I was angry and worked some of it out of my system, but I recovered. 

We spent a day at the beach yesterday - the boy, Rachel, and myself. 

Okay, we just checked the weather. It is mostly cloudy today and there is fog cover, both of which might not clear up or burn off until just after the eclipse. We might be getting in the car soon, though I suspect that is what many others will be doing now also. 

I've often preferred being in the shade, have never spent so much energy preparing to chase it. 


Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Letting the days go by..."

We are four days into a week long vacation and we haven't done anything at all yet, or very little. We have spent our time driving from place to place, going to the grocery store, making coffee. I know that we weren't really planning on doing much of anything, except arranging all of our other time around a very specific two minute event. 

It is worth taking the time to read Annie Dillard's take on the total eclipse experience. She describes the terror and fascination with it, then of course the letdown afterwards. I suspect that I will experience a version of those feelings as well. 

I'd like to see the moon knock the sun like a billiard ball across the sky, banking across some unseen bumper and then down into the ocean at what I must assume is a side pocket. Perhaps the earth is nothing but side pockets, no matter what the fools who use the four corners cliche would like to believe. I want to see the moon sink the flaming eight ball. Anything less will be the source of my celestial disappointment. 

Today I will try to spend my time as if I'm on vacation. I will read a book of short stories that I brought with me - Sam Shepard. I am trying to remind myself of his writing before it disappears into the past. He was not a writer that I read when younger, but has grown on me in the last handful of years.

By the end of my life the name Hemingway will likely seems as remote as did Balzac's in the last century - writers whose genius and impact is only vaguely acknowledged by those familiar with the name, rarely felt or intimately understood. It doesn't seem that people are developing the same type of cherished connections as they once did in the world of published works. I don't believe that a download has the same effect on a person as does holding a book, but that is maybe the silliness that a person feels at the passing of their own years. The romance of a thing happens in time, is then felt that way as a preference for the things of the past.

My hope for the eclipse tomorrow is that for that brief moment I am able to feel both alone with and part of the universe. That seems easy enough.

Where we are in Oregon the moon's shadow will be moving at about 2400 mph. Whatever it is that I hope to experience it will pass almost more quickly than the senses can process. If you are staring out at the Pacific waiting for it, a single blink will prevent you from seeing the moment when day seems to become nighttime. A curtain of darkness descending across the face of the waters.

Imagine a shadow that stretches the length of the visible ocean moving towards you at three times the speed of sound, then also way from you at that same stunning pace a handful of seconds later.

Nothing in the world can outrun it for very long, nothing can stop it, yet a single unluckily positioned rain cloud can prevent us from seeing its full effect.

When it's over I imagine I might feel disappointed, having cared so much and waited so long. What other possible outcome could there be.

Is there anything more piteous and dispiriting than to structure a portion of your life around the phrase once in a lifetime?

I suppose that adding the phrase not even would do it.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

How I distanced myself from virginity

We arrived at the house in Oregon. The picture above was the first that I took when we arrived. Those are horses on the beach. Well, horses and people. We will likely go riding today or tomorrow. I don't believe that I have ever prepared so much for such a short event, except maybe if you consider the handful of years I spent planning to rid myself of virginity. Three or four years translated into ~90 seconds of pure ecstasy. 

It was the longest I've ever lasted, a lifetime personal record. I don't understand why people spend so much time having sex. If you close your eyes and really concentrate you can finish in under one minute, if you're like me and have a visual memory.

That's just science. 

Ok, my buddy from up in Bellingham, WA just let me know that he has cancelled his plans to drive down to Eugene, OR to see the solar-lunar-earth event. He has encouraged me to write about Bhagwan Baba Sri Rajneesh this morning, but I have yet to do my abbreviated version of research.

I vaguely remember hearing the name, possibly from my buddy's mentioning of it. Rajneesh used to promote sex and drugs and every now and then also some religious thought. He amassed millions of dollars of course and drove around in Rolls Royces, was involved in all manner of things that the unenlightened seek to resist.

But not me, I'm always on the side of the guru with all the ladies. How else is one expected achieve a form of enlightenment that exceeds the 60 second mark, if not through unorthodox medication and excellence in tax evasion? 


Friday, August 18, 2017

May the shadow....

We made it to Oregon. 5+ hours in a car with a five year old who asked How much longer? from the time we left Sonoma until the moment we pulled off of the interstate. 

Beautiful drive, though. Mt Shasta is really something. It seems to emerge from practically nowhere, dwarfing all of the other hills around it. Now, there is another ~5 hour drive to the airport then to the house on the beach. Then, rest and relaxation, waiting for two minutes of shade.

I like road trips, and I miss taking them. There is a rhythm to the road that has been written about much better than I can attempt this morning. I am sitting in the dark and waiting for everybody else to wake up. And I am waiting for coffee. 

Okay, that is my quickly scribbled travel update. I haven't told anybody yet but I'm going to try to find away to worship Satan during the eclipse. I only have about two minutes for it. I like to think that he's listening when I speak. 

I haven't committed to anything yet. I might also try to poop my pants for it. I could get dressed up like that astronaut from Houston who was prepared to poop and kill. I just want it to be special. Who knows, maybe Satan won't mind if I try to do both.

I'll ask him: Oh great red Satan with the trident and bifurcated tail...  make Hades great again. But give me a sign, anything at all! Like, blocking out the sun would be fucking radical.

Who knows, maybe I can rub one out in public, also. If I was ever hoping for a diversion in which I might not be noticed then I can think of no better celestial opportunity. I wonder if its possible to cause an eclipse in the women's lingerie section of Nordstrom.  Now that would really be something.

It is the message that is written in the moving shadow of the moon: pleasure thyself.

I wish the bible had been more clear about the sin of spilling your seed in the shade. How are we supposed to know whether that's either wrong or just fun.

Commandment #11: Thou shalt not lie with thyself during an eclipse.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Black Hole Sun

I'm on vacation again for a week. That's two weeklong vacations in two months - Florida and Oregon. I wonder if I'll notice any differences between the two states. 

Few people know this, but Florida has never experienced any lunar blocking of sunlight, or any other kind of solar protection, for all of human history. Even their darkest rain clouds are built to amplify the sun's most harmful rays. They like it that way. The sunscreen they sell there is only tanning accelerator. There is a massive sun bathing light that hovers over the state for use at night. NASA helped them put it into orbit. It runs on power siphoned from the grid and teleported to the great tanning bed in the sky by a special team that Elon Musk and George Soros funded. 

Please don't tell any of your right-leaning friends. They have too many conspiracies to wrestle with as it is. Did you know that the Charlottesville event happened on George Soros' birthday? What more proof do you need that white supremacy is a liberal conspiracy, designed presumably only to make racists look bad by being associated with liberals.... 

Seriously. I saw people trying to merge the KKK / neo-Nazis with the progressive philanthropist who actually survived Nazi occupied Hungary. People are desperate when desperation is what their heart needs - a conspiracy to denounce thought that differs from their suspicions. 

Speaking of, I was thinking of the things that separate nationalism from white nationalism and I couldn't find any. That's because nationalism is just a slightly watered down version of abject stupidity. I'm not talking about being proud of the principles upon which your society was built. I mean jingoistic flag waving and empty sabre-rattling patriotism for your nation, regardless of its glaring errors. 

Trump has successfully blurred the distinctions between his own voting base and the KKK. He really has. His equivocation and support for white nationalist causes has lumped them together whether they like it or not. The big man with the president pants has, without anyone asking him to, pushed the rock off of himself and his cabinet to reveal what they were not quite able to crawl out from under on their own. The only way for a person wearing a bright red "Make America White Again" hat to recuperate now would be for them to take that stupid fucking hat off their head and to start speaking out against the monster that they have made, and what has become the clear intent of his presidency.

Many have already said it, but that man needs to go. What more can he possibly do to advertise his intention to aggregate power, disrupt democratic norms, and destroy any opposition. He is becoming the very dangerous populist that about half of us knew that he would. 

He said it best the other day, Where does it stop? 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Lost Cause

(Honesty is the first chapter...)

Everywhere I look I see indignation and strong opinions in support of what is presumed to be justified. Journalists are falling over themselves to find just the correct note of prevarication. Violence is wrong! Unless it's a leftist militant group employing it against neo-Nazis, then it becomes neo-necessary. That's an easy enough justification to make, it seems. It need not tax one's rationale too heavily. 

Why can't they just say that they're not really against violence, they're just mostly against people trying to use violence to advance a cause that is plainly stupid or counter to their own. Why are the ideas of others always so tedious and dangerous, we openly wonder. People can't seem to admit that they're not pacifists, they just prefer things to be peaceful.

They want the president to denounce neo-Nazis but he doesn't really have it in him to do so, which should surprise no one. Trump's father held sympathies for the Klan. Yet when it comes to addressing the unfortunate fact that leftist militants were engaging in violence also some want to compare the violent histories of one group to another, as if the morality of pacifism is somehow dependent upon a winning score, measured by fewer injured and lower casualty numbers. In a cultural war perhaps victory is determined solely by the successful inversion of fact. 

What did Patton say? You don't win a war by dying for your country. You win a war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his.

Or hers.

The violent resistance from Antifa seems justified when you hold it up to the fact that a white supremacist drove his car into a group of people, injuring many and killing one young woman.

At this point I should probably make it clear that I am only a pacifist insomuch that I believe unprovoked violence and war are unjustifiable. Beyond that, I have always claimed that if there is going to be violence then I want my side to be prepared for it. I want my side to win. You will find that this is also true with all other pacifists. I am a pacifist only when peace is the best option. After that, like most, I want the defeat and surrender of the enemy.

Didn't the south already surrender, though? The neo-Nazis wish to preserve the history of Robert E. Lee but they're not honoring his memory very well this way. They should have been whimpering at Appomattox rather than killing in Charlottesville. That car didn't look like a surrender flag to me.

Nazis are great at preserving history, by the way. We might not even know about the Holocaust if it wasn't for them.

And Mr. President, can you tell us specifically which Jews you believe were responsible for the Holocaust?

We live in crazy times, everybody notices it but the far right seems better poised to try to take advantage of the chaos.  This also should surprise nobody - resentment lurks and grows, stupid people need dearly held certainties to sustain them. Some convictions function best when unsullied by fact.

You cannot witness a national decline in education and then wonder where the wellspring of intolerance and racism bubbles up from. It comes from fear paired with ignorance. This is precisely the national conversation that America has earned, and the one that these poor dumb souls have been preparing for.

Everybody seems to agree that fighting Nazis is justifiable violence. When it comes to fighting white nationalists the argument drops down to an "only when necessary" status. Then for rednecks it's "whenever it's either convenient or funny," and especially when they're doing it to themselves.

Violence is never the answer! say some. I suspect that these white angry fellows in Charlottesville feel quite differently on the matter. Violence is an option-able answer when it advances your ideals. Some people conveniently forget that people do engage in violence to secure political or social goals, they always have. You know, when a group that is arranged upon racial or national boundaries attempts to annihilate another race or nation from existence then violence seems pre-justified. Beyond that, violence should only be an option.

Yet black people don't get to kill cops in self-defense. I'm waiting for that case to hit America. A Philando Castile situation in which the cop that pulled his gun gets shot dead by the citizen in an act of self-defense. I can't wait to hear the ever-nuanced arguments from the NRA about how defending yourself is appropriate when it's not a cop, or if you're a white gun owner. Their prolonged silence in the Castile case says everything that you need to know about their core beliefs.

That's one reason why cops won't fuck with the neo-tards when they are assembled. They know they'll get shot in front of a hundred witnesses that will testify that it was entirely in self-defense. The other reason is that's where their sympathies can best be found. Cops mostly only kill the people they can. In that they're not very different from any other like-minded group, those that are loosely organized around the strict principle of order and the swinging noose of consent.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Are you?

Florida is not really the south, and perhaps I could have chosen a better set of nouns than liberal and conservative to advance my soapbox to the next round. That being said, conservatives are enabling this disaster. In that I rightly align them with the white nationalists who also think the republican party is finally doing things right, and once and for all getting America white on track

Well no, of course we all know it isn't that simple. You can't blame republicans for the population of the republican base. But isn't it that simple, really? You can blame the republican party for this. It's easy, just give it a try. Every accusation seems to fit now.

You can also blame the implosion of the democratic party for part of this, but it really is the republicans that should be having him removed now. Everybody knows this, but no... there are still a thousand or so more federal judicial appointments they want to slip through before the turd dirigible ignites his entire helium operation, somewhere out in a New Jersey field. 

I suppose that my logic could also be used to align democrats with domestic left-wing or eco-terrorism. 

Maybe categorical thought and falsely manufactured associations really are a problem...

Just because I'm bored of neoliberals doesn't mean that I am a white nationalist, at all. In that same way, I long ago grew tired of the misapplication of feminist rhetoric and reduction of feminist theory, but that doesn't hold that I believe women deserve anything less than equal rights and equal opportunities. Having reservations about a movement or political affiliation does not automatically pit you against them by magically assigning to you the most extreme and repugnant opposing view. That is a bullshit byproduct of social media, nothing more.  One can still be a liberal and expect better, more robust, liberalism out of those that claim the affiliation. Likewise, noticing the tremendous ideological chasms that neoliberals have carved out for themselves does not make you a bigot or a racist.  

Even if the neoliberals did want to corner the market on moralism and inclusiveness they would have an impossible leap to claim a monopoly or even a market share on tolerance.  The liberals I am now meeting have anything but tolerance for intellectual outsiders. 

I mean, I get it: I scare the kids. But that doesn't mean that we haven't harvested a nation of undereducated liberal pussies. Everybody's a liberal until they have to act on it. The neos have tried to advance the vague notion that even having a sense of humor about any of their pet-left subjects is tantamount to bigotry. To respond with anything less than extreme self-righteous indignation to every social injustice that can be forced into a 30 second video clip then you must be a white nationalist, also. 

Criticizing the resistance does not put you on the opposing team. It just doesn't.

They became so good at making people cower at the charge of racism that they have diluted and deflated their own imaginary values and message, so they have to up the game or the bubble bursts. If you are not a frothing online neoliberal ready to pounce and denounce every micro-meaning then you must be one of those white folks that uses that funny but rigid salute. 

You know the one.

To wit, last night a friend texted me about the value of independent thought and how I am perhaps misunderstood by many. Then, he texted again to let me know he "didn't mean that in a white supremacist way." That's the dynamic we live in now, if you're not towing the liberal or conservative line perfectly then the immediate assumption is that you must have sympathies that align with the very worst of those of the opposing side. It's as if the entire liberal world suddenly joined PETA in the last ten years and they want to make sure that everybody knows that liberalism now is going to be a single issue platform. 

Again, I'm not against PETA. I am using them as an example of an ideology. Doing so does not mean that I oppose them, nor that my sympathies and support are against them in any way. I am simply enjoying the liberal application of sarcasm.  

Oh, I don't even know if any of it is worth explaining any more. It has occurred to me that most of the self-described liberals that I knew growing up didn't really seem to grasp what it means to be a liberal anyway. So when neoliberalism came along they were herded right on board, thinking: Well, this liberal thing is finally gaining some traction. The best thing that I can probably do for my country right now is to post articles from The Guardian. 

One of my favorite things that I used to say to my friends on the left was: So, are you an activist or a pessimist? It would get a chuckle out of my comrades, but not so much any more. Now, it's heard as the accusation that it is, and might be met with a series of articles posted about the strides that activists have made and all of the positive changes they have evinced from within our society.

So, I've changed it up a bit: Are you an activist or an optimist? 


Monday, August 14, 2017

To the jail bait who stole my life vest:

Okay, I stole a photographer from CS for my image this morning. He won't mind. I like it, and CS is good at sharing the names and work of other artists. 

There is no reason that I can't be making similar images to the one above, except that I don't own Photoshop, Lightroom, or any other photo editing software. I think that I have a copy of Apple's one. It is discontinued now, I think. Henson's other images would not be so easily imitated, I do not think. A soft focus lens will help, but will not carry the conceptual burden of the work through to completion. 

I think; I think

Aperture, that was its name. I just checked on my computer, and yes, there is a prohibitory sign that lets me know that it will not be used on their new and improved platform, along with a bunch of other software. That is a company that is always looking to future revenues, and one way of getting there is reselling software to users. Companies must be shitting themselves with joy over the idea of software as a subscription. Why sell anything when you can just charge people in perpetuity instead.

We're so happy we can hardly count... 

Cato told me that I was on my soap box recently, so I'll stop. 

I would offer my opinion of the weekend in Charlottesville, but for what purpose? 

Oh, fuck it, I have a couple minutes for soapboxing:

Liberals do not like to be told they are acting foolishly. Conservatives are used to it, though they'll still kick your stupid fucking ass for it. That's where liberals are out of their depth: violence, either understanding it or with dispensing it. I don't gravitate towards it but I have come to expect it. I grew up in a place and time - the south in the 70s and 80s - in which a challenge of almost any kind was met with a fist or several arriving in rapid succession, and not always from the person you thought you were fighting. 

So, you learned to speak in such a way that the dullards couldn't understand you, or you learned to take a punch, or dodge one. I settled on a little bit of each of those strategies, but I never expected to think that punch wasn't coming when I was either being a smart-ass or if I was in somebody's face reminding them how vile, wicked, and stupid they are. There are better ways to demonstrate that fact. One way is to just stand back and let them establish it all for themselves. It rarely takes very long. 

If you're going to challenge what people have come to believe are their traditions, with the intent of destroying those presumably esteemed traditions, then you had better arrive with something other than just a handful of liberal ideals. It's true that the only thing that can beat a bad idea is a better idea, but the same holds true for fists and boots. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

A couch continuum

(Cato and the boy)

A new couch really changes things. I needed one, badly. I was being a guy about it and allowing the one that I had to be good enough. I wasn't wrong. I was maybe just allowing the convenience of not buying one partner with purely utilitarian impulses. A local friend whose son makes his way on here every now and then (below) offered one online and I was spared the indignity of shopping for something expensive when I don't know what I want. It's perfect. I want someone to sit on it. 

I want a new kitchen table and chairs, also. I am a little bit envious of CS' new cabinet.

That concludes the furniture discussion section of today's post. 

I went into the city last night to visit a friend. Well, a group of friends. I had no plans on staying in the city, but that's what happened. I awoke on a couch, miserable from the beer. Cato likes to eat every hour when he's drinking, cheeseburgers and fried potatoes, so there was that, also - a food hangover.

We went to breakfast early this morning, Cato and I, and there was more. A pork hash thing with eggs, sunny side up, which I ate until there was no way to eat any more off of the plate. 

(The couch)

Rachel just called and was laughing at me because I was writing about the new couch while lying in bed, rather than sitting on the thing itself. I'm still in bed, of course. I'll wait for a night with the boy here and we'll watch a movie. Maybe Star Wars.

At some point I'll need to nap on it. Is there anything that floats in time better than does a Sunday siesta?

(My buddy, the couch kid)


Saturday, August 12, 2017


These pictures were not quite taken in the dark, but not very far off either. It was dusk. I had to crank the iso up to 12800 and lower the shutter speed to 1/20th of a second on a 17mm  f2.8 lens, which is why they are grainy and just a bit blurry. I've been pushing my D810 to its stated limits, perhaps so that I'll have a good solid reason to buy the D850 when it comes out. It has native iso that is a full stop above the model I have, at 25600. Who could ask for anything more?

Well, the Nikon D5 of course. It goes a full two stops above the D850, but costs twice as much.

Camera reviews distort your desires, not entirely dissimilar from the way that a wide angle lens produces perspective distortion, forcing a narrowing of the visible space onto the camera's sensor. There is a lot of information that is forced onto the eye, where the mind interprets it as it is best accustomed to.

I don't need a new camera body. As always, there are more lenses to buy. If you buy enough lenses then eventually you are forced to buy a new body every five years or so. It has been less than two since I bought my D810

I don't know why I ever write about camera settings here. It's not as if I have a group of friends with whom I discuss the technical aspects of photography, nor the published specifications of cameras. CS will sometimes discuss processes with which I am wholly unfamiliar, every now and then offering a little hint of something I had not known, but for processes which I am unfamiliar. Everybody else just asks me when I'm going to jump ship from Nikon and switch to Sony. Apparently the smaller body is the greatest technical feat that can be accomplished. Convenience matched with image quality seems to be the best of the combined selling aspects. 

I'll admit it, also: I love my Fuji for those reasons. 

Remember a post from a while back in which I relayed that my son and I were looking at the sun with eclipse glasses? I just received a very important safety email from Amazon informing me that the glasses they sold me as being "solar safe viewing" and advertised specifically as being ISO 12312-2 international safety standard compliant have not received confirmation from the seller that those glasses are as such.


Now, I did look at the sun for up to 10-15 seconds at a time with them on and only noticed floating blurry spots in my vision the week afterwards, and possibly a few headaches. Who knows, maybe these images are not grainy or blurry at all. Maybe I have always had an advanced case of blindsight.

I am going to go for a nice bike ride this morning, 25 miles or so, straight up the valley to St. Francis vineyards.

Yesterday, I rode up the hills to the west of here, to the point at which Sonoma valley becomes Petaluma, where Sam Shepard wrote much of his Motel Chronicles.

CS wrote touched upon the American male mythos this morning, a thing that is quickly becoming pathos. We are told that the male vision is sickened to its core, has poisoned the wellspring of our otherwise perfect society, a condition which no liberal openly wishes to save the American male from. The self-described enlightened (a word replaced by woke) that I know wish to distance themselves from every possible aspect of maleness. Like their female counterparts they've been reading just enough feminism to ruin themselves. The titles of books freely replacing opinion in a magic act of jingoist exchange.

They generously apply the historic sins of patriarchy to every individual male they encounter, starting off with their all white friends and then tapering off sharply when confronted with anybody mildly ethnic, never confronting a latino about the problems they feel and understand with patriarchy. Each feminist finding there, or wherever else, the sliver of evidence they need to denounce the individual as being not only a product of the presumed sins of history, but its sole and privileged beneficiary, never quite digging far enough back in history to discover the roots of the liberalism they claim to embrace.

The protective capacity of a given patriarch has likewise been denigrated as a value. Let's see how the world unfolds populated only by strong thinkers, you know, the enlightened entitled.

Males can't do anything right any more. They should have never written their history. What the fuck were they thinking? It's used against them the way that this site will one day become part of a lengthy court document. Now hearing Q6 vs. Q6. I'd like to call my first and only witness, the accused. Each person digitally functioning as their own prosecutor and defendant.

I mean sure, maybe it's all true and it really was males that have caused all of humanity's problems. It can sure seem that way, especially if you look closely at the prospect of its destructive embodiment in a global nuclear exchange, or even a local one.

Beyond that, some of us can be very nice, also.

Tomorrow I will ride somewhere else.

You know, where ... good intentions and running away was always the cure.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Century MM

Little poems for the eye, some syntax from the past.

(Elliott Erwitt)

The images remind me of books I used to read, in the 80s. Books mostly written in the early part of the 20th century. I'm not sure why, other than them both being from the past. Each thing, in its way, focused on some unique component of a moment. As I was reading much of that stuff I felt as if I was a little bit of an outsider, or cultivating an outsider persona, nervous that girls might not notice. Maybe I was too charmed by the past as somehow being more authentic than the time I felt trapped in.

Knowledge of those books will begin to mean less and less. It's not as if there is anybody around now that I discuss Celine with. Well, that's not true. There is Cato. That's how he got the name, not for Celine, but I want to say it was him trying to find out if I knew the differences between William and Henry James. Pop quizzes about everything he was learning. Jesus, what is Cato going to do when I get old?

He asked me about buying a house today.

People still buy houses?

(Elliott Erwitt)


a lot of
it's not
either to
or even to

- Bukowski


Thursday, August 10, 2017



Running to pick the boy up from summer gymnastics class. No time for thoughtfulness. The world is a busy place, and me keeping step with it when I can. More and more there is less and less. Or rather, oftener there is. I am lucky to read, or play music, or to listen to same. Everything is happening as it is supposed to, a thing I could never quite see before. I worry about the future here and there - it's arriving faster than expected. I brace for the changes. The tempests are made of decades. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017


I think the boy has grown bored of me being his father. He has shown signs of outgrowing my parenting methods. Kids have more energy to test the borders of behavior than a parent has to secure those borders. Wait, am I somehow Trump in this analogy? I'm going to build a fort in his room and make him pay for it. The next time I see the boy I'm going to insist that he prove that he's an American. I'll make him start carrying his passport with him everywhere he goes. I want his voter records! 

I've been looking for any early signs that he might be leaning towards conservatism, so that those impulses can be met with the appropriate derision. I picture all of my friends circling him, taunting, chanting: Rhys is a republican, Rhys is a republican...!!! 

I should be careful, one day that kid is going to beat me up and take my lunch money.

Doesn't getting your ass kicked suck? I remember a few fights from when I was a kid. They were awful.

To this day I think about how, with a little training, I might have lost those fights differently.

I spend as little time as possible in my kitchen trying to discover things that can be eaten with as little effort as possible. Today, I opened a can of barbecue beans and a jar of blue cheese salad dressing, then I wiped two spoons reasonably clean with my t-shirt.

You can just guess what happens next: lunch.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Another Green World

So far today, again, this is all that I have listened to - Eno. Everything about it is artificial, except perhaps the feeling it evinces, which is unique among the Eno albums. No easy feat. 

I'll try to wrap up at work and go for a bike ride before I lose my mind and attempt the lofty turd dirigible of Floyd's Live at Pompeii again. That is some weird shit, man. I've been reading about music lately. I found an article that contained some good writing and observations, a rarity in what passes for music journalism. I wanted to print it out to read it, to savor it, to feel the written word in my hands. 

Bowie embezzled a fair amount from the above album, at least musically. Few, I do not believe, would ever bother imitating Eno's vocals. Yoko Ono, maybe, and that damned Peter Murphy. Actually, that would have helped Ono's vocals tremendously, had she only tried to imitate somebody. It was her unrestrained and untrained nature that has made her so enduringly unbearable. Fuck Yoko. How did I start writing about her? She has one song that I genuinely love, and a small handful that I'll tolerate. The rest is rubbish.

So yes, Bowie was a clever thief. He had the paranoid wherewithal to at least enlist Eno's talents in the heist as it was happening. Classic coke-head maneuver. Who better to flatter with thievery than the owner of the pieces to be stolen? Bowie tried to do it himself on Station to Station but must have just given up and decided it would be much easier to lift bits from Eno than it was to ever try and imitate him. 

Low, Heroes, Lodger; repeat. 


Monday, August 7, 2017

I swear

I've had the music of Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii playing on loop, interspersed equally with Brian Eno's Another Green World, all day, back and forth like seven or twelve maniacs all arguing their odd cases. I don't often listen to such demanding music while I am working, it becomes too distracting, but I read a couple things this morning that made me curious about the past again. The two recordings are very different artifices of affectation, such that nothing seems quite real to me any more. And all I'm doing is sitting here, as clear headed and vacant as I've ever been.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Forever's gonna' start tonight...."

(Sonoma - May 20th, 2012)

1979 - I remember desperately wanting my family to go the the Pacific Northwest to witness the eclipse.  The network news outlets announced at the time that the next one of its kind in America, a total eclipse, wouldn't be until August of 2017. I thought there was no way that I would live long enough for that one, or that I'd forget about it, and maybe people would be so busy with their flying cars that everybody would forget, and then I'd miss that one also. But, here we are. Flying cars have not completely occupied everybody's attention just yet. 

Well, in truth, the one that is happening in August is unlike the one in 1979 as it will be going from coast to coast, something that has not happened in 99 years in America. The news later reported that most people in Portland could not see it, the one in '79. The weather had been very bad in the region and all that many people were able to see was that it went from gray to darker gray for a couple minutes. I was a very disappointed ten year old boy. 

I know that it seems unlikely, but what you are seeing above is a color picture. Rachel and I were both at home at the time that it was happening. You couldn't look directly at it for very long, perhaps only a second or two, though you could see the dark orb overtaking the sphere, creating the crescent. We had not prepared by buying eclipse glasses. Rachel walked upstairs to our bedroom and suddenly yelled for me to come up quickly. I grabbed my point and shoot camera because I knew there had to be something phenomenal. There on the wall, dancing with the wind, was the shadow of the eclipse coming through the leaves of the trees that were outside our bedroom window. I snapped a few shots. The windblown evidence of the orbital event moved on quickly. Of the ten or so pictures that I took the one above was the best. Had I had time to adjust the cameras settings then I would have reduced the shutter speed a bit. There is more blur in the image than there was in reality. The crescents were crisp to the naked eye.

So, we will go to Neskowin, Oregon for the full solar eclipse this August. We have rented a beach house for the week. We are hoping for clear weather, of course, and have not yet talked about a backup plan. Being in a small town on the Oregon coast, there can't be much of a backup plan, we'd just be stuck in traffic like everybody else with a backup plan, so this is a go-for-broke shot at seeing it. It will last less than two minutes. 

Yesterday, I walked outside and put on a pair of the eclipse glasses, looked up at the sun. It was all that I could see, orange and very round, much smaller in the sky than it seems otherwise. There was no question about it, it looked hot and bright. I put the glasses on my son and he also got a first chance to go blind in the event that the Amazon reseller of these glasses was not the reputable sort. Afterwards we were both able to see, the infrared radiation did not seem to burn our retinas permanently, which was good and made me a happy father. One has to wonder how many people, children in particular, will go blind in America by the evening of August 21st, 2017. 

I am not going to nerd out and try to photograph the event. I had considered it, but there will be many others with much better equipment for such things. I lack the adequate focal length lenses, and the ND filters, and a tripod that can sustain the weight of all of that. I'll probably regret it, but as CS always says: Why? There will be others who already own that equipment and live for these moments. Their pictures will be available freely online almost in real time, which will allow me to just stand there and stare.

The below image being a substantial crop of what I was able to get out of my D7000 and a 24-85mm f2.8-4 lens, standing out on the sidewalks of New York, alone in the middle of a cold winter night, December 2010, for a full lunar eclipse. 

Once upon a time I was falling in love.

Little known fact about the above linked video: That was a musical side project of Princess Diana, and is the main reason that Elton John was so distraught at the conspiracy surrounding her disappearance. She was just a candle in the solar wind. She didn't even bother wearing a disguise for the video shoot, and she gave equal screen time to her stunt double as she took for herself. 

She is like that. Oh, she's still alive. She was not the sort of princess that would have ever died.

(They don't know what to do, they're always in the dark)

Turn around bright eyes....

And I'm not sure what the trouble was 
That started all of this 
The reasons all have run away 
But the feeling never did 
It's not something I would recommend 
But it is one way to live 
Cause what is simple in the moonlight 
By the morning never is 
It was so simple in the moonlight 
Now it's so complicated 
It was so simple in the moonlight, 
simple in the moonlight, 
simple in the moonlight

- Bright Eyes, Lua


Saturday, August 5, 2017

... with whom a person has ...

I had a date last night, it was lovely. Indian food - lamb and goat cheese appetizer, lamb korma, a creamy curry chicken, garlic naan, Kingfisher beer, glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon after that. Rosé out on the back patio with friends after dinner, the friends who had watched the boy for us and made the date possible. 

They had just come back from Vegas for their ten year anniversary. They renewed their vows with Elvis and danced underneath the sign that says, "Welcome To Fabulous...." 

It's almost odd - Rachel and I being alone together again after all of this, when she's not occupied being mom, and me not necessarily being just a dad. We had almost forgotten what that was like, I think. I had. We went dressed a little well, held hands when crossing the street, kissed while we were laughing. 

Who would have ever guessed? 

I have a girlfriend


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Pappa Lazarou

(What the true love of a vineyard looks like)

Well, my price was way off on the Nikon D850. I guess I don't understand how €uros work, or currency exchange, or math. The retail price will be closer to $3800 than $4400, which saves me around $600 before I buy extra batteries and memory cards. The D850 takes both XQD and SD cards, so a 256 GB XQD will cost about $340 and the 128GB SD is about $220.

So, there goes all of my savings.

Ah well, the D810 seems to be holding its resale price for now. There is a chance that I will have grown bored of photography before the new model is released. I'll be forced to buy it anyway, to try to save the relationship. That always works. The surest way to stay in love with something is to spend more money on it. 

We'll see. I almost bought that painting above recently during lunch at a local cafe. $300. I couldn't decide which room to put it in amongst the many to choose from in our palatial upper-westside Sonoma suite. The purple hair of both of the two semi-human subjects as well as the grapevines along the edge clashed with all of the other decor that I have used in the room so far. I am trying to establish a fan pay sanctuary / highway rest stop as a sort of mortuary or mausoleum dedicated to the success of Prince's seminal 1984 album, while also acknowledging the unfortunate and unexpected accidental drug death of its creator. Patrons would pay by the hour to sit and listen to the album played on rotation.

I'm checking with the city to verify that we are zoned for such commercial traffic.

Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin'
It's time we all reach out for something new
That means you too....

At this point the current mourners will be prompted to pay again if they wish to hear the album repeat in its entirety. I'm trying to get Madame Tussauds to make me a wax effigy that I can put within a hyperbaric coffin, like Vladimir Lenin, but dressed in purple.

Ok, I have run out of stupid ideas, but never for very long.

Sit back and try to enjoy this motivational video from the world's most famous motivator, Tony Robbins:


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

One more cup...

(A man for all seasonings)

I cleaned the coffee filter, set it up to make a pot of coffee, pressed the button, walked away listening to it chew up fresh coffee beans and then drop them as a mound of powder into the basket below. When I came back the thing wasn't making its tell-tale percolating sounds. So, I looked - forgot to add water. I did that, pressed the "make coffee" button once more. I heard the sounds of the grinder chewing up the coffee beans again, telling myself that maybe I'd need to "water" this coffee down with extra cream, it being at least double strength now, maybe more. The increased effects of caffeine seem exponential rather than fractional or linear. 

Once the pot was partially done I poured a cup and added a slight bit of sugar, then poured in the cream which immediately curdled. I stared at the spinning mess, a little galaxy in trouble. I dumped the dairy out, rinsed the glass, tried again with the remaining bit of milk that I had left.

The entire process netted me a single cup of strong coffee.

We'll see. Maybe my refrigerator is not cold enough. Industrial products are maddening at their convenient impermanence. It seems that it has never been easier to condemn the things we buy, or things we have bought. A computer analysis (I believe) was done of Bob Dylan's lyrics. The assessment that the computer came back with for the content of his songs was: time passes; love fades. They did the same for Elvis Costello and the result was: your coffee machine will malfunction when you need it the most, cream curdles in the night. 

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight, your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie

But I don't sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go
To the valley below

Your daddy, he's an outlaw
And a wanderer by trade
He'll teach you how to pick and choose
And how to throw the blade

He oversees his kingdom
So no stranger does intrude
His voice, it trembles as he calls out
For another plate of food

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go
To the valley below

Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You've never learned to read or write
There's no books upon your shelf

And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go
To the valley below



Monday, July 31, 2017

Nikon D850


This yet to be released camera sounds as if it will be much closer to the camera that I wanted from Nikon when I bought my D810. There are a few problems with buying it when it is released, though. The predicted price at $4400 being but one of them. I love my Nikon lenses, though I'm not sure that I love them that much. I'd be lucky if I could sell my D810 for $2000, which leaves a significant gap between those funds and the funds that would be needed to upgrade to the "mini-D5." 

Sometimes I wish that I would have never bought my Fuji X-Pro2, though not very often, and mostly only when I am looking at other things that I want to buy. I shoot with it more than my Nikon, though that is mostly a matter of convenience. The Nikon is more versatile and creates better images, though there is a quality in the Fuji that I like, especially how it handles skin tones in the jpeg conversion. Fuji is, after all, a film company. Lifting the Nikon to my eye to take an image is a bigger act. It's like powering up the Death Star's laser beams and pointing them at Alderaan. It's nearly impossible to take pictures with it discretely, so it struggles as a street camera, one that people barely notice. But it does great when there's no question about whether or not the subject is having their picture taken.

I think cops should start shooting DSLR photographers. It will bring some much needed press to our struggle. 

There is a prime lens that I still want for my Fuji, which is much more cost effective than considering the new Nikon body and would "complete" my set of prime focal length equivalents - 24mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.2. Though some would argue that with a 24 and a 50 I don't really need the 35. Some people....

A normal person can not reason with a lover of lenses. Lenses permit the world to be viewed and framed, reduced down to parts that speak something within a context that can be felt if not always understood. Most people don't know where or how to look, or what to see when they do. When I am looking through the viewfinder and scanning the world around me, prepared to press the shutter release, I think that a part of the world might not disappear, that this framing might preserve some small part of something that may or may not matter.

Later, when transferring the images to the computer, there is often a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Parts were preserved, some unexpected, some lost, some as you remember them being - a stillness that invites a kind of reflection, an undisturbed moment where there had been motion and perhaps even chaos before. 

The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.  
- Susan Orleans, The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Love and Obsession
I would argue that it might be easier to endure loneliness than to endure the idea that you might disappear. - (Ibid)


Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Lake of Locusts

(Birthday party went well)

The only reason people come to Sonoma is to drink, it seems from the inside. Some people, I assume, must come to Sonoma to crawl closer to God. They want to fight their guy's sworn enemy on his own turf. Meet him face to face, if you will. 

I'm not sure if it's a great place for spiritual battles of that or any other sort, but it does offer some great backdrops for the battle scenes, particularly if spiritual battles are mainly surface to air confrontations with a lot of surprise counter flanking. 

The land itself is a metaphor, though everywhere feels that way. It's something that has out-streteched itself, a bit, especially the wide open parts. There seems to be only one possible use to ever pointing out such a thing - to see it again. 

A friend just texted. He is not here to find God, I do not believe. He is at Gloria Ferrer with friends and drinking champagne. We will meet for lunch soon, I believe. I will try to be quiet about the framing and composition ideas I have for the nighttime fight scenes over the vineyards. It makes no sense - there is a limit to what listeners of unexpected conflict can be expected to endure. 

Though, if it were to me, I'd have the dragons up in the skies doing their skirmishing and clashing. 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hello, climacteric

I'm feeling sentimental lately - old songs in the car, thoughts of people from the past. I happen upon wandering memories trapped in old photo apps. I'm not sure if I miss New York or the group of friends that I had there, but I'd like to go back and find out. Though I suppose there is only so much separating of those two things - places and people. Could I go back to New York and sneak in and out of the city? I wonder what that would feel like. Perhaps there are better cities to try that in than in New York. At some point that plan would break down. During the phone call when I am booking a hotel room and I am about to provide my credit card information for a the smallest room they have at $350 a night, it will occur to me that I've always preferred to visit with my friends. What sort of a monster would deprive my friends of me.

How did I go from feeling sentimental to trying to visit NYC without seeing my friends in one paragraph? It must be menopausal - these waves of fluctuating impulses. Maybe I'll start crying here in a few seconds. 

It frightens me when women laugh while putting on lipstick. It seems nearly diabolical, even at its most innocent. 

I imagine that there are some people who have lived their lives in fear of not having enough money. Not me. For me, those feelings just started, right as I parallel park into my fifth decade. I haven't had to endure those feelings for most of my life. which worries me a bit. Is it too late to worry? 

No, it's never too late to worry. It's only ever too late to act. One can always squeeze in a little emergency concern. Among all of the other great things about youth, it's the capacity for capriciousness that I tell myself I miss the most. 

Starbucks should make a Caramel Capriccino, but only when they feel like it. 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Automatic Slims, circa 2003

She wore cutoff denim shorts tonight, a white summer top - Rachel - everywhere herself. 

She came tonight for dinner. I could have exhaled more. It seems so easy, dandelion dressed in cotton, then me with practiced strong cardio. Dandelioness - the sparkle parts, also spherical flower; meant for winds, awaiting breath. The abandon that breath offers - unstated escape.  

I had bought the boy a little chocolate cake that said RHYS in cursive font across the top in orange flavored frosting. Tasty curlicues where the letters might otherwise have begun or arrived at their frosty corkscrew end. 

For dinner, a chicken roast with quartered potatoes - butter, lemon, and lots of vampire denying garlic. From a recipe book the famous and enduring household name in housing, Sasha, gave me. He is an enviable cook. I miss living within walking distance of his kitchen and wine closet. Once I had robbed his wine cellar, we would talk casually about music in abstract terms with the occasional agreement on the specific goodness of certain new artists - to self-guarantee that we were and always had been serious about our tastes.

How long should I heat butter up, with which foods, prepared howAnd, what about the.. when do I know.. when.. the butter is it to bubble, is it? to sweeten, toffee, or burn? One can't ever truly know a stove, because of that Love Song. Is there no way back, once the butter fat has bubbled away from the flat heat of the pan? Is it just gone, was that the initial smell that you were pointing at when it happened?

Eventually I would try to convey to him a sense of my deep and abiding love for country music, or maybe jazz. Our culinary agreements could no longer hold us together in coherent conversation after such a blundering series of unshared assumptions. I blame gerrymandering, along invisible cultural lines.

Ah well, I love him nonetheless. 

One time, after a bitter and terrible late-night confrontation, I wooed him back to being buddies with a song.

In the beginning, middle, and end... friendships are luck that agrees upon itself, even after the worst arguments you can both offer against it. 

If your arguments keep failing then you just might be worthy of love.