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Entries in priorities (18)

Tuesday
Oct052010

Technomessiahs, Redux

A week ago on my local PBS radio station I heard this show on Geoengineering—the range of ideas concerning global efforts to take some mighty heroic measures to combat the looming prospects of damage from climate change. Anytime I have heard this topic come up in the last year or so, my skin crawls and my stomach feels ill. It presents itself to me as science fiction, and dangerous fiction at that. To me it smacks of hubris on a level not ever seen before, except in some parallel movements in genetics and economics which are pushing into dangerous territory once regarded as the domain of the divine. It seems the kind of ambitious technological overreach that elicited a response from the Lord in Genesis, who watched humans building the great tower, something which was met with the confounding of language, meant to at least make it hard to get such ideas off the ground.

The technological genie has been out of the bottle for a couple of centuries now. Geoengineering is one more prayer for what I call the "technomessiah" to come and save us from, ironically, the other technomessiahs who have come in ever-accelerating fashion. The soul work associated with loosing ourselves from the technological straitjacket is too hard to do, it seems, so the de facto answer is to keep charging ahead into the same thing we desperately need to escape. I think I encountered the idea in Richard Heinberg's work, that civilization is one big unintended consequence of our first dabblings in toolmaking. The makers of flint axes could not have imagined our dilemma today, but it was a slow climb up a long ladder for millennia, with a quite noticable acceleration in the last 250 years ago, and certainly in the last century. What does it take to dare look down in preparation for a retreat from these dizzying heights?

Today the news let me know about the red tide of toxic sludge flowing through Hungary. The devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still wreaking its havok. These are just two examples of humanity not having control over its technology. We're adolescents still, thrilled with our ability to make stuff, but seemingly unable to harness it. To be clear, I am not against technology per se, nor am I against invention and progress. I should be clear about that. But I do criticize the automatic reaction to meet problems with more advanced technology in lieu of maybe stepping back and changing priorities. Appropriate technology for a job is quite fine, but it takes discernment to know what that is, and not to automatically run to whatever is the latest and (supposedly) greatest. What I think has been a dangerous combination is how technological development has been taken to market for mass production even before we have a chance to understand what could follow. Most of the things we use now have no big impact if they were the only ones of their kind, but they are not—they are mass produced consumer goods that draw down resources and when used by individuals according to individual priorities, and not social vision, will bring us to where we are now.

The answer that keeps presenting itself to me is to revisit and learn from the great spiritual traditions that guide us in how to relate to one another, to creation, to our creator. What is needed is literally a counter-cultural response to our great dilemmas. A counter-cultural response might emerge from any of the great traditions that predate our love affair with our technological development in the industrial age; those traditions have a memory of a life before the creative explosion that has paradoxically led us to the crisis of our time that is being met in certain circles with the grandiose ideas of geoengineering. Those traditions are the only things that frame life as inherently hard, and that instruct people in possible ways to move gracefully nonetheless. Our love affair with technology has much to do with our aversion to difficulty. I guess one thing that bothers me about the geoengineering ideas is that they presume an inability to change the fundamentals. They don't require the soul work to change the underlying problem. We might embark on a project like that with the unbridled expectation of economic growth, even though that has been the leading cause of our greatest problems.

The soul work of relinquishment, humility, love for others is all hard work but I feel it is the work that will draw us back from our dangerous place. Tapping into that consciousness will be the liberation we need from the thought structures that have brought us here, a place of neurosis, unable to cope properly with the technological genie we have loosed on the world. We're really quite miserable this way. Isn't it time for something else?

Friday
Oct012010

Mileage, Through 3rd Quarter

Time sure flies when you're staying parked for the most part.

  • January 1: 211,401
  • July 1: 212,694
  • October 1: 213,267

That makes 573 miles for the the 3rd quarter and 1,866 miles for three quarters of 2010. Okay, I passed the 2009 tally already, by about 320 miles, and I still have a quarter to go. But I think this year will be wrapped up at about 2,300 miles, which I hope all of you will be satisfied with. A bit of lazy driving has crept in, but was perhaps offset by a summer of reduced activity outside the house. I skipped a lot of church related stuff during an intense two months of web work and other such stuff. Some of these summer days were either just too hot, or, in a couple cases, I drove to work in order to prepare for picking up a bit of gear that I expected would come to my audio retailer, but was delivered a week late, therefore my driving was rendered needless. Ditto on the days around when I was expecting my computer delivery. Oh well. Kelli and I made one senseless drive for a scenic tour up to Orange County and back down, using some of the rural roads that we ordinarily wouldn't have occasion to use. It got me from the computer, her out of her chaplain's mind, and us on a small day of togetherness on our anniversary.

Thursday
Apr152010

Nineteen Ninety

Holy Hell. Twenty years ago I was 16 years old. What you are about to read is more than half a lifetime ago. Gasp! I'm not sure if any of it is worth recalling or reading but for those of you brave enough to soldier on, here goes another chapter in the rites of passage-plus-twenty series here on TAPKAE dot com. I guess it functions as a test of memory if nothing else!

I guess if I had to offer a synopsis of the year, I'd have to just use the words drums, Rush/Neil Peart, Shelby, driver's license/accident, depression, Hobby City, junior-senior year, church, and finally Kelli. I guess it was quite a year, but who would have guessed so at the time? At that time I was just an awkward teenager only barely dabbling with coming out of a shell and daring to do some new stuff or meeting new people. Much of the narrative is helped along by the presence of drums in my life; that was my budding interest then, sort of like bikes are now, and the catalyst for new social steps. I guess I have to tell a few stories about loud cylindrical shaped items and things that go thud and boom.

ed at the drums in 1989 on his 4 piece ringo kitMe with my first kit, late 1989I started the year wanting to get a "real" cowbell for my kit that, in August 1989, I had dusted off and set up again after about four or five years of not playing. After the basic Ringo type of kit, the cowbell seemed to be a pretty useful accessory. I actually had one of those souvenir cowbells that you can get in Switzerland but it was not intended for this kind of use and was promptly bent out of shape after a few weeks of playing. I'm not sure that was well received by my dad. So in January, after some time of anticipation, I talked my grandmother into taking me to Music Mart when it was down on Morena Blvd. by the San Diego river. (That proved to be a fateful trip; I met salesman Dave Flewelling there that day, and he figured into a mentor for a while, and later on still I worked as a tech and rented stuff to him from time to time. Then once he came and rebuilt the electrical in a room I was remodeling.) I got my "real" cowbell, one made for drum set use, and a mount and some other goodies, and was immediately trained to expect the "bro deal" at music stores. Weeks later, I sold that silver wrapped kit (a real generic Taiwanese Pearl style ripoff) and bought another kit that, in retrospect, was not really any better except that it was a five piece with a deeper steel snare and maybe had better hardware. I had lusted for this kit for months, and just about this time in 1990—March—I plunked down about $350 (I think) for it. I got it at New World Music and Sound, a music store just two blocks from my house that mainly dealt in high end electronic music gear, but stooped to sell a good range of acoustic kits too, including a bunch of Premier brand drums that set me keen on that brand, well in advance of my owning my present Premiers. (More significantly, this is where I discovered King Crimson a couple years later—a case of aural assault, but in a good way.)

I took this new kit and kept it in my room, one with single pane windows and louvered windows above. They were naturally loud in a room that was woefully unfit to contain them. The matter of volume got to be contentious pretty fast. My old man had an oft-repeated chorus of "the drums don't belong in the house." He was willing enough to put up with a couple hours a day of my jamming to the few artists I had recordings of in the first year of my drumming era: Tull, Def Leppard, Fairport Convention, Aerosmith, Rush. He was sort of okay with that, but the neighbor's patience was always wearing thin and I think he wore down the old man as often as he could. Another almost hilarious episode involved my setting up the drums in the garage once, just downstairs from the studio apartment that we rented out. The tenant that year was this uptight middle aged dude who didn't get humored by all this, even though I played in the middle of the day on the weekend or something. He complained to my old man, who in turn offered him a set of earplugs (this was one of the very few times my old man stood up for my interests in music). Tenant boy wasn't amused so he sued for some money, and I guess he left. This was the beginning of the end for my house-bound drumming days. After that it was never to be taken for granted, and usually when I did set up and play it was on the sly, or almost intentionally to mess with our neighbor.

All that year and for years to follow, the drumset was like an ever-unfinished sculpture. I fantasized about "finishing" it but that never happened until I sold it in 1997! I found that money flowed toward the kit, always messing with hardware options, cymbals, heads, pedals, etc. Oh, and more cowbells! (Cue the Christopher Walken SNL episode.) Here is where I must tell the story about getting a job.

The job called me out of the blue one day, but it was only because I had made my face known for a couple years before as a sycophantic kid who just had endless time to hang out on the weekends. So one day in April of 1990, Mark Bahlmann called me and offered me to work at the Command Post, one part of a larger hobby store called Hobby City. By that time, I had almost completely left the model building life that was my consuming interest until I got into drums in August 1989. But he knew I knew enough to come in and be helpful for something like $4.25 an hour, 15 hours a week or so. I had helped them move to that location in Kearney Mesa, working for free product. He called me on a Sunday and wanted to know if I could fill in that day. I had my reservations about working on Sundays, coming from a family setting that had never demonstrated that and actually urged me against it, and also regularly going to church of my own volition. Anyhow, the job was mine for the taking and I did weekends for a while till the summer came, then I did a few short hours till Jeff came in once his school hours were over. It was never as fun as when buddy Ross Shekelton worked at the old location in the glory days (when I spent literally nine hours a weekend across two days, and for eight months in a row! I was the guy who fetched lunch and stuff to be paid for in product.) In 1990 though I was paid each week, and it was so little that they could just pay me out of the register if I cashed my check there—about $85 or so. This was heady stuff. My first job.

The joke of all these things was this: there was a physical layout you need to envision to enjoy how I justified spending all my money on drum stuff that summer. The Command Post was on Convoy Ct. and is the northernmost point of my illustration. Music Mart had moved that summer up to Convoy St., just about a block south from Command Post. (That area of town was a form of heaven then, or would have been if I did both model building and drumming at once!) Then, there was a Union Bank (not my bank) that was immediately next to Music Mart, but just south of it. The three places form almost a straight line. I used to joke that I spent all my money at Music Mart on the way to the bank on payday, because the trip from work to bank was interrupted by the music store! Hah! I spent enough time at Music Mart that the whole Command Post experience of old reconstructed itself there: I got to know product, learned the craft, met the personalities, and ultimately got a job there some years later. (These days I tend to do the same thing at the bike shop—some things never change!)

Now, all this solo drumming stuff is just enough to annoy the neighbors, so sooner or later I needed to apply it. Just as if according to plan, there was a rock concert put on at the school, featuring five bands that played a range of styles: metal, reggae, prog, funk-fusion, Christian rock. The band that loaded up on prog stuff played a couple Rush songs that I was just then getting into. They were the most impressive to me in terms of sheer musicality, though my understanding of that was not great then, my understanding that Rush was an act to respect was firmly in mind. It turned out that one of the drummers in that show, Mike Bedard, became a friend later on and of course, played on recordings of mine. At the time he was playing in the band that did mostly Metallica covers, and I was not impressed at all. But the band that played the Rush covers—Tom Sawyer and 2112—left an impression on me and I went in search of Rush music finally, after a couple years of being urged along by Command Post big-brother-buddy Ross.

That show also influenced a couple other guys who sat in the same audience. Tomas Enriquez and Shawn Zizzo approached me later on about playing drums in their AC/DC and Zep influenced band they were starting. We did one Memorial Day weekend jam at my house, and because they weren't Jethro Tull, I wasn't interested! Having no bass was odd too, and so we shelved that idea for about a year till there was a talent show in our senior year. When we did play together finally, we played the Run DMC take on Walk This Way—on the same stage as this 1990 concert, this time able to have some senior class fun putting on a memorable show involving white boys emulating their black hip hop heroes. That experience was perhaps the high point of my high school experience.

It was about this time when I started recording my drumming for the sake of being able to review how I was progressing. I grabbed whatever tape deck was on hand and put it to use. I used to record aimless improvisations and my attempts at the songs I liked from the few artists I know of and was listening to then. More notably, I made little cassette cards with the essential information on these performances. I used a copy machine, clip art, and my typewriter to tease myself that this stuff was a proper recording. This is the start of my recording career, and the start of my graphic and layout interest. These days, after progressing through this cut/copy/paste paper work, and later on to digital covers for tapes and CDs, and ultimately for a glass mastered and commercial ready CD, it is charming to see how it was important for me not only record something but to explain it too in some text and graphic presentation.

rush album presto band portraitRush, taken from the Presto album cover, featuring Alex Lifeson and the hair that I decided I wanted but never had the time or talent to maintainThe drama and theater class teacher (Dennis Hollenbeck, who put the talent shows on) had a brother (Geoff), who was my English teacher one year. I dropped in on him periodically because I had a good rapport with him. Geoff somehow had a copy of Rush's new album (on vinyl!) Presto just sitting there at his classroom desk. He let me borrow it for a week or so, and I devoured it. It was several songs from that album that I was playing on the day when our studio apartment tenant got fussy. This one album launched me into getting into Rush that year, about as fast and furious as the year before when I bought nearly everything from Jethro Tull. (Somehow, I was in a mindset that once I started a band's catalog, I thought I had to finish it all.) About as fast as this was happening, I got some Neil Peart posters that Ludwig drums put out as promotional fodder. I was, as it seems to happen with drumming kids about this age, in my Neil Peart phase. The secret handshake in musical circles involved asking "can you play YYZ/Tom Sawyer/La Villa Strangiato?" The effect on drum tuning was that my snare was tight as could be, and my toms also were too high. I literally had, by the end of the year, built up my version of the cowbell tree that Peart had made famous. Seeing his enormous kit of course sent feelings of inferiority through me, and the answer was to gear up and buy more stuff!

ed playing borrowed bass guitar. not very well.Sort of playing a borrowed bass, but notice the Neil Peart posters that Shelby tormented me aboutThese days it is all good for a chuckle, but back then it was a voyage to manhood. A rite of passage. It was important shit, learning every one of Peart's licks and having too big a kit to wail on. But some saw through it. My odd friend at the time, Shelby, always into everything that is anti-prog—Beatles, folk-rock, punk, goth, whatever—visited my room just in the peak of this period, about May of that year, and she gave me nothing but hell about it for years to come. Years later when she wanted to put me down, she just had to remind me of the Neil Peart posters on my wall for about a year or two back in 1990-1992 or so. And those were—as much as ever—the glory days of our friendship. That semester, she used to come up to my area in Clairemont to take a night class while in high school. She got dropped off at my house and we walked a couple blocks to the school. That was about as much time as we routinely had to spend together, and a chunk of it always garnered some crap about the posters! Shit.

Despite this humiliation, I was determined to make moves on her in my naive and awkward way. I don't remember the full details of how all this went, but one thing was that I wrote a personal ad in the Reader. This was when you had to type 25 words or less on a card and mail it in the old fashioned way. It wasn't poetry or anything, but it took all this energy I had for her and put it somewhere, and committed to at least one statement. And it was promptly dismissed. All I needed to know about her was learned that spring of 1990 when such a great gesture was knocked down so swiftly. I guess I was too enamored with what had already passed into history between us to realize there was wayyyy too much difference between us. Later on she chewed me out for being condescending and for "misrepresenting the terms of our friendship." Hey. It's not like the whole Peart poster thing didn't smack of snark from her! It only took me another ten years to get her out of my system, by finally spelling out exactly what was on my mind all that time.

Okay, so 1990 was not the year for girls. Sort of. But explaining how it sort of was requires plenty of backstory. I'll get there. I promise.

The summer of 1989 was the first time when I actually found a great life in going to church and inhabiting the community there. All that was in full swing as we moved into 1990. I had done most everything that a 16 year old could do there, and was enjoying it greatly. In the early part of the year, I was nominated to the board of deacons, my age being quite distinctive for that board. The deacons were the more spiritually nurturing body and I know the folks who nudged me into that position wanted to cultivate that side of me, so giving me a place as a church officer was one way of doing that. The confidence of the congregation was nice, but really, by the late spring and early summer I was feeling spread too thin there, and so in September I resigned my post as deacon. I think that feeling coincided with getting my first job which I remember leading me to a divided mind about my priorities. I found myself in a blue mood that season, as I think I was going to church for the morning then heading to work for the afternoon. This was something I was warned of by my family. And in the recent years, I've dared to return to my roots in my conviction to not willingly work Sundays. But at that point, there was friction inside me as two very different worlds sought my attention. I ended up being led toward the commercial work more than the church life for many years. This one spell however was a teaser because my time at Command Post was only about four or five months, and it was over a week before I went back to school in the fall. That allowed me to return to a life around church activities, but by then, the cat was out of the bag in terms of my emotional life. Drumming was my main attraction, but unfortunately, that often had accompanying it a tendency toward retail-induced therapy, the short-lived thing that that is. I also realized that since this summer was the first to not be a supervised time during the days, I was left to my own devices at home for most of the days, not really sure what to do if I wasn't at work, hanging out at the music store, or actually playing drums. I found it to be a new thing, this feeling of isolation from folks.

I had been biking around since a kid and this was the first year I was able to take driving lessons. That had a teasing effect because I had no car nor any plans to get one. All summer long as I was buying various stuff for my drum kit, I remember riding the rather risky road across Clairemont Mesa Blvd., crossing the freeway cloverleaf, all while carrying whatever I could while pedaling the bike—cymbal stands, cymbal set, who knows. I finally took my driving test and passed it on the third of July, after a rather dumb turn-on-red instance disqualified me from a first go around a week earlier. Then, just under one month later, I had the indignity of having an accident in my grandmother's sedan while on the way home from a church picnic. The other party, Jennifer, was another of my youth group—the daughter of our associate pastor and youth leader Judy! She and another member of our group were leaving from a picnic at Mission Bay, and driving to her house up on Mt. Soledad. I was in the lead and missed the left turn I meant to take. Thinking she was farther back than she was, I yanked a late left turn and she came around that same side and hit my car in the front fender area. It was odd explaining how the car behind me hit the front left of my car. Like me, Jennifer had just gotten her license just a couple weeks before. It made for an interesting tension that year, as my driving privilege was revoked as soon as I had earned it, and it was awkward between my family and Judy until all that got resolved.

To add to a complicated time, I discovered just a couple weeks after that that I had a cyst on my chest. It decided to make itself known while at a church lock-in event when we hosted a congregation from Arizona. It was supposed to be a good time but I just remember it being a downer as I had to wonder what that lump was, and avoid hitting it (a bit hard to do when you'd rather be all active and playful and stuff). It was something I had to live with. No doctor said it was cause for alarm until two years later when I finally had surgery to get it excised.

kelli in 1992 or soKelli, circa 1992But on to happier things. It was also this summer that perhaps the biggest thing happened, though it did not seem so at the time. It didn't even seem so ten years later. In the midst of all this church activity in our rather small church family, we had a couple new faces turn up one August day. Two people—a mother and daughter duo—by the name of Kay and Kelli turned up and before long announced they had been regulars there years ago. I didn't recognize them, but they seemed like nice people. They were likely to be found wearing flowing garb, colorful stuff. Denim or overalls, tee shirts with left-leaning political statements or tie dye, quilt skirts with interesting patchwork design. It was as if they emerged out of Northern California. Not quite. They said they came in from Florida after a seven year stay there. They were different enough from anyone at church. Kelli, only 14 at the time, was into classic rock and protest and folk music. I dared speak the name Jethro Tull and she didn't run the other direction or smile and ignore me. Kay promptly got into singing in church, accompanied by her autoharp or guitar, and she sounded like an angel. Kelli had an immediate rapport with certain of our youth group because she indeed knew a number of them from the days—seven years and more before—when she used to be there at the church all the same as them—and me, sort of.

The story goes that she used to bug me back in Sunday School. I guess I was about eight and she was five or so. That is, I did not attend too regularly, but apparently we were there as kids, and Kay was, at times, my Sunday School teacher. Even though I didn't really recognize these two, they joined into the current church life and I found myself befriending them. Little did I know that 14 years later, I'd marry Kelli after all that time, both in and out of church life, mostly spent as emotionally close friends, but usually at some physical distance. (But in that blue summer of 1990, nothing led me to think I would marry a nice church girl, and particularly not the one who later really went the "church girl" distance, right now as I write, awaiting her chance at ordination! No, in 1990, my heart was set on Shelby. Ah, youth.) As the years progressed, I moved house for Kelli many times, but the first of such instances was done that first year as they got established here in town. It was one way that we established a type of relationship that was rather unlike the more established families at church, folks who I didn't get to know in this way.

ed senior photos, posing like a cool artist with his chrome snare drumOne of the portraits from my senior year photo session

Alas, that summer had to come to an end. It was made a bit more bitter by the loss of the job at Command Post, a move which was really just a release of my services by Mark Bahlmann. Just as well, it came at a time when I needed to go back to school. Also happening just before school was the last attempt to get my senior photos done. I had a chance to do that in the early summer but bypassed it due to my downer mood, and never really wanting much of my school life but to do it and get through it. Finally, I did go for the photo session in the studio. I took my new Premier snare drum, decked out in its diamond chrome finish. That figured into at least one pose. Another was another casual pose still involving a drumming theme, and then there was the official yearbook pose. The photographer was really a hoot to pose for. She was drawing something out of me that had been dormant for months. I had fun. I was not into it going in, but by the end, I was ready to face that last year of school, refreshed somehow. It was my turn at being a senior. Eventually, I got the portraits back, and because I had waited till the last minute, other mysterious figures in the shadows got to pick my yearbook picture. Unfortunately, they selected the dorkiest one of the bunch. There were some that were without glasses, better hair, a nicely relaxed but mature look—but no!—they picked the one with bad droopy hair, glasses, and a half cracked grin. Ick. That is how I shall be remembered for all eternity!

One thing that was different was that after that summer of work, I had some money to buy my own clothing, instead of enduring the agonizing annual ritual of back-to-school shopping for school clothes. This was the first year I had this option, and while I didn't go out and buy all sorts of rebellious garb, I did at least have the dignity of getting stuff I liked well enough. It is hard to convey what horrible times I had (as I fought and usually lost the battle with my old man) every August until then, particularly in high school. I started my senior year feeling more relaxed.

daniel and kelli do prom, 1994 or so.Kelli with Daniel, our fallen friend, all of us members of the Shalom Community at our churchI seem to remember the emphasis shifting a bit away from the church life I led quite keenly for about a year, and more toward my life at school. I didn't leave church life but since senior year is a time filled with many distractions, I think I lost the focus on church life. I remember participating still in the youth group, specifically a subset of that group called the Shalom Community, where the high school age kids had a great open but confidential forum to address issues candidly and with some adult perspective. By the time I started school in 1990, the Shalom crowd was welcoming a second wave of members, but since our church was small, some of those were siblings of kids who started the Shalom group a year before, and so the dynamic was thrown off. I remember the second year was not as engaging as the first, in part for that reason. It is through this group that Kelli and I both saw the early glimpses of our inner lives, giving us the start to our (now nearly 20 year) relationship. At that time of course, nothing seemed exceptional or suggestive of a history such as we've now racked up. But that is essentially our humble beginning as friends, and the basis for what we have now.

Back in the school life, it is important to at least mention the early days of my friendship with Stephan Rau from Germany. He appeared in my government and economics class with Harry Steinmetz, a teacher I had once before for public speaking, and once a decade and more later for another public speaking class at Mesa College. Stephan was the token foreign exchange student that year. I suppose he and I sat pretty close to one another then, probably got situated in small groups for certain things, etc. I remember we used to get lunch together, among some other people that I can't remember now. Sometime early on we discovered a wacky news broadcast on KGB-FM that we both liked. That was one of the things that got us laughing together, and kept us in some humor for a time to come. But that first semester was not really the time when we really thought of each other as good friends—that will come later in the second semester, so stay tuned till early next year or so.

With the status of senior classman, I did get a small ego kick. Whether I sought it or not, I did notice that it came with a change in social acceptance. I actually enjoyed my senior year, and I wasn't one of those who badmouthed the whole experience from the start. I did get a bit of senioritis in the second semester (therefore not part of this chapter) but for the most part I didn't mind the experience because in general, I came to like school more as it went, rather than less. By the fall semester my depression had subsided in the face of back-to-normal activity in a school setting with people who generally afforded me more respect than I had come to expect to that point.

As for the rest of the school experience, it sort of has clouded over. The senior year experience did finally jostle me to open up from a pretty closed shell in years prior. I remember joining a club—the Future Educators club—and attending some meetings. I don't remember what all went on there but I still do fancy myself interested in education, but am woefully behind in getting any sort of credentials. I was on the school newspaper, the Talon, that year. I really was ho-hum on that for a while, and quite mediocre at it but it was a distinctly different class experience. Mostly I talked Rush and drums with a sycophantic underclassman named Derek Vigeant, who later got madly into Rush and then also seems to have since made some name for himself in the world of comic books. I remember letting him come over to play on my drums on occasion. In my British Lit class, I remember having this ability to totally sweet talk my way through things. I did do the work; but I was the darling of the teacher and the TA because I actually liked the subject, and used to bring in Fairport Convention music and compare that to the stuff I was learning in class. In Steinmetz's  government class I had a friendly rivalry with a certain Robert Asimovic, the likable guy who seemed to ace everything he did—academics, sports, drama, etc. To even hold my own against him was good for the ego. (I still run into him once in a while in town; he has managed restaurants around here, and last I saw of him he was managing one where I made deliveries. We've even met while getting haircuts.) I took a computer class that year—programming, I guess—I hated it more than I thought possible. I think that within the year I also engaged in my first computer chat from one machine to another while doing newspaper work. I totally didn't see the point but thought it was fun BSing with a buddy across the room. How things have changed. I guess a bit of that early newspaper experience helped form the basis for my web work. Interesting thought.

One night early in the first week of the school semester I didn't get to sleep before having a sustained vision of myself as a lecturer at a school assembly, possibly speaking to a bunch of kids from about fifth grade on up. I saw myself speaking about relationships, family, friends, peer pressure, and so on. It was some heartfelt inspirational stuff. (I'm sure it would be embarrassing now but it clearly demanded my attention that night.) I suppose having envisioned myself in that sort of role, I've acted out some of that in smaller venues and in various relationships since. There is still a lingering desire to be thought of as a teacher, but not one who "just" teaches a subject in school. So I suppose it was that sleepless night that drove me to go to see if I could connect with Charlotte Eastland, one of the elementary school teachers I liked and who was an advocate for me back when I was in third grade. I went over to the school after hours one day and found her (this was so far before the 9/11 paranoia about people walking on to school campuses). We struck up a conversation that lasted a couple hours. After talking for a while about all that had happened since third grade, she took me to a faculty room and dug out a yearbook from 1972-3. Part of what I had to report that day was that I had in those years finally "met my mom" a few years before in 1986. I'm not sure that I could have known this—only that she seemed to have some great understanding of me when she was my teacher—but she had once been teacher to siblings of mine, back in the early 70s. (I can't remember if it was sister Chris or twin brothers John and James but the twins seem to be the right age.) Yep, they were ten and eight years older than me, respectively, and plain as day there they were in that yearbook. They seemed like vastly different people in those pictures—ones I had never seen because of the politics in my family. Anyhow, Mrs. Eastland was finally able to come clean on this morsel of information that was probably squelched when I was a kid. It didn't magically transform things for me. By that point, I was already done with what became known as the "first period" of my relationship with my mom's family (the one started in summer 1986 and sputtering out by late 1988 after some difficulty and silence), and there was not yet any return on the horizon. Eventually of course, history played out so there have been four such periods. Mrs. Eastland's revelation did do something to set my mind thinking about larger life events, and for that, I am grateful. On a few occasions during my senior year, I dropped in and talked a bit, but also was given the chance to come in and volunteer in her class. I'd have to say she left me with more of an education than you might expect of a third grade teacher. I sort of hope I get to tell her sometime.

Now I am pushing the boundaries of my memory, trying to recall what made this year worth reporting on. This is the last of the calendar years before I began journaling and keeping a calendar. In 1991, on the occasion of graduating from high school, I began my journaling period that covered a pretty solid ten years. But in 1990, I guess I was only beginning to have the sorts of experiences that I deemed noteworthy. In 1990, who would have known where the blue mood was leading to, or that it presaged many depressive episodes to come? In 1990, who knew that some animated tie-dye wearing folksy chick from Florida would become my wife? In 1990, who knew that my first experiences working on Sunday would lead me to working with a non profit organization that places the Sabbath at the center of an alternative vision of the world and economics? And in 1990, who would have known that I might be the facilitator of a young adults group at church, where in some ways I do function as teacher, but more so from experience gleaned from the Shalom Community, try to take whatever insight about life and relationship and inner life, and put it to some use so that it isn't something that just keeps me wallowing in depression?

A few years ago Kelli gave me a book by Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak. It is a great book about allowing yourself to open to what your true vocation is, what you're meant to do in life. He points out that the clues are littered throughout life, and only after what seems like a scattered life does one have the chance to find out what all that builds to. Jobs, hobbies, other things like volunteer efforts and the roles we play in our lives all have some clues. Some things are very clearly not meant to stick but contain some aspect that has enduring significance, and when seen in the midst of other roles and interests, things come into some focus, suggesting further direction. My favorite chapter dealt with depression, and that it is a time like that when your real soul work has its chance to be done, that it is not an enemy trying to crush you but a friend pushing you back down to ground where it is safe to stand. Nineteen Ninety is a year when a lot of seeds were sown in my life, and, like in the case of the visits with Charlotte Eastland, other earlier seeds were watered. Even depression has its role to play; this was just the first of the times it took to my stage. We're entering the period of my examined life, the life outside Eden. This was a year when I tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Some of it was sweet, some bitter, but all of it ushered in a new life that is unfolding still. What, twenty years later, does it say to me?

Sunday
Jan172010

De Ja(nuary) Vu

The winter time, particularly in January, brings a slowdown to a lot of industries including mine. It certainly doesn't help that the economy is what it is, but I have seen that coming for years now. Kelli isn't working right now so I had to bite the bullet and reprise my schedule at work like I had last year at this time. Since the days kind of sputter out after 3-5 pm, my shifts have all had to struggle to even reach my eight hours, never mind surpassing that by much. I've been a squeaky wheel about needing to maintain 40 hours so fortunately that was granted but to do it, I had to take the 6 am shift again. Last year's spell doing that was recorded here—cold times on the bike in the pre-dawn hours. This year I hear we have storms that might press me to drive to work. In a highly unusual concession to my present need, I am working today, a Sunday. I will feel cheap and used. The last Sunday I did was in April and I had the indignity of having a parking incident with some guy who would not move his car though able to. I ended up tapping his bumper and he got all inflamed. Meh! All the commercial spots I routinely expect to find are open season for all. Easy work, nasty parking in downtown. No church for me today. That is the real bummer of all.

Friday
Jul312009

Wisdom To Spare, Redux

Here we go again. Time to go to the oral surgeon's office to get my wisdom teeth pulled. Only this time, I actually DID get it done. The evidence:

four of my wisdom teeth on the gauze. it only took 13 years to get to this pointSo much wisdom, so little space in my head

The background:

It was in late September of last year when I thought I would be getting my wisdom teeth pulled—all of about 12 years after I was first told to do so. It was the very thought of that procedure that helped condition me to stay away from dentists for um, let's just say, years at a time. Finally, the whole thing caught up with me, and for the avid readers of TAPKAE.com, you know it was a hell of a summer in 2007 which led me to getting gum surgery and all that. The plan for gum surgery was partially derailed by high blood pressure. Not surprising considering the whole dental chair phobia runs deep in me, and that year was just devastating to me. But it got done—in 4 procedures, not two—and I lived. So last summer I finally was told to get the wisdom teeth out so that other problems would be headed off.

But, the blood pressure thing reared its ugly head again, and this time it was enough that the doc couldn't operate. (You can read last year's anticipatory blog entry here.) Last year it was high enough that the surgeon said it was not just because I was in his chair, and that I'd have to get it looked at just to be in general health. It was a huge letdown that the surgery didn't go forward but it helped shine a light on some systemic problems that needed fixing. The answer was to get to work on doctor's visits at an office I had only gone to once before, biking, diet changes and all that, various aspects of which I have written about. A while ago the doctor seemed to think that it would be okay to revisit the oral surgeon. So, since then there has been barely a pizza or two, barely a burger or two, no sodas, far less cheese. That tackles some of the worst offenders, and I have been keeping track of the BP daily in addition to taking the meds. The biking is obviously more blog worthy than that routine, so you see more news about that here.

Anticipation Part 2: The day before

I do know that the vigorous 10-20 mile bike rides help, but those aren't the usual rides I do. The busy days at work and the commutes keep general activity up, as does a dog walk most nights. I took a ten mile ride home tonight for my ostensibly three mile commute. But still, with regards to tomorrow (July 31), there is still anxiety about meeting my demons head on finally. My escort tomorrow is a woman from church named Marla who perhaps knows a trick or two about relaxation and stuff, being into fitness, Tai Chi and other such things. This time I think I will take my relaxant pill earlier than last year. (I couldn't help but wonder if I had indeed taken it too late to do any good. By the time I was rejected and out taking care of other business an hour later, it seemed to have me pretty knocked out.)

And then, the good part...

This day started off with me taking the pre op meds at the right time, two hours in advance. I prepared a veritable cocktail of prescription meds between the antibiotics, ibuprofen, sedative-relaxant, and my usual couple for BP and cholesterol. I cleaned a little house to help keep my mind on other things. Last night's BP reading was a bit high so I was bracing for last year all over again, but trying to remind myself of how different today is from last September. Marla picked me up on time and we got there just in time to sit but not dwell for long, then I was in.

The room was cold which usually I would like but today I took the blanket they offered. There was the dreaded BP moment to contend with but no one mentioned any numbers. At least I didn't have to do mental math to compare to last night or last year or any of that. They let it go for another test cycle a few minutes later and I guess it was in the clear, particularly after I said that this was 13 years in coming and I had to get this out of my way finally. So the IV started up and I heard them busying themselves as I kept my eyes closed to be in my own world. I brought my stuffed pig Luau (a pocket sized piggy) and me and Luau were listening to the music. I was counting time as if I was playing the stuff myself. The next I remember I was having my jaw prodded a bit with gauze being crammed in, revived, and whisked off to the post op recovery room being told not to fall asleep. Marla joined me and collected my gift bag of teeth, gauze, and other stuff. Then it was off to the car, a bit groggy like a night of boozing perhaps, but on foot.

The post op time was hardly touched by pain. The greater annoyance is the numb and rubbery lip and tongue that seemed worse a case than the gum surgeries in '07. But as I write this just after midnight, all that has subsided. I took two vicodin at once in the afternoon before the initial anesthetic wore off. I took the antibiotic drug a few times. But the best part was that I got to gorge myself on yogurt! I think I had five cups of frozen stuff which, being numb like I was, barely seemed frozen. I had a couple regular cups too. Later on, as in '07 I had some dinner of mac and cheese with the girls (while they ate the bowtie pasta and seafood mix, I went lowbrow, but nibbled on their mix too).

Rinses have now been pretty clear, numbness is mostly gone, only two vicodin have been used so far. While it isn't a pleasure cruise, it does not seem as dreaded as it was for all those years. Tomorrow I start on salt water rinses and the prescription stuff to keep clean, but so far it has been surprisingly bearable. I get a four day weekend to boot.

Monday
Jul272009

Fixie Fever—Prescription

Just a couple posts ago I was talking about a pending foray into fixed gear biking. Well, here is what it has come to:

my new torelli bikeTorelli Tipo UnoIt isn't every year I get two bikes, but this is an exceptional year, you see? After many months of consideration, I decided I'd have to jump into the pool and get wet, come what may. I wrote in the other post about how its hard to walk into a shop and try more than a couple fixies that may or may not even be the right size. So when this one came onto Craigslist, I had to have a look. I gather it has enough off-the-shelf value to start me off until maybe I get snobbish about components. The brand is known for their racing bike frames and this one is the only complete bike they sell. Even new it is $850 but this came to me for $625 used, not too very different from the Specialized from earlier this year.

As you can see, I didn't go for the ultra modern aesthetic here like last time. I made my peace with drop bars when I had to face the fact they offer more options for leverage and positioning which enables the single speed riding some assistance. The bike has a road friendly geometry that is not as tight and close as a track design. The hub has both fixed and freewheel options. The ratio is rather steeper than my Specialized; this is 46x17 compared to the 38x16 of the Specialized. This may change if the hills are too hard, but I shall try to meet this thing on its terms. I bought it from a guy in Point Loma, and for my test ride, I rode a section of Talbot Street which was manageable in its general incline but almost brutal in a few steeper sections, forcing me to concede this would be a challenge. Not having the freewheel also was biting off a big chunk. But I shall keep on.

There was a bit of drama to begin with. I took it to my bike shop right after purchase and had them look it over, and immediately we decided to get a better lock ring on the cog. No prob. I was going to leave my truck in near the bike shop in Mission Hills and bike back home, with a return trip to get my truck at a later time when I did my volunteer delivery later on today. I started on down the hill near the shop and got less than a mile away and blew a tire! At least there was no problem. It happened fast but I was already in a slowing trend. I walked back to my truck and the bike shop and promptly bought two new tubes just to have them. Usually they'd work on my other bike for nothing, but since this wasn't their product, I didn't want to push for free bench time, so I just took the tubes and went home and for practice, patched the rather badly busted tube. It has held, so I call it good. It was a bummer beginning though, but it gave me time to bond with the baby, I guess.

I've been kicking around the neighborhood streets with their mix of flat areas and inclines of various types, getting a feel not just for the power needed to ascend, but the new sensation of trying to fight the downhill slopes. It is a nice feeling cruising steed; a nice ratio that goes fast if you push it but smooth and graceful at a cruise. Quiet too. My anxiety is more about the new business of road tires and their light feel and tolerance for road debris. It is a bummer that most of my riding has that to contend with. I just recently got better prepared for all that with the requisite box wrench and flat kit and pump and other paraphernalia.

Justifying the cost is pretty easy. Today, after seven months of 2009 and 820 miles, I went to the gas station for just the fourth time. I have used only about 49 gallons of gas this year. The price has ranged from $1.93 to $2.69, and my total bill has been just $117.09! Kelli and I were even getting to the point of entertaining a one car household, possibly retaining use of my truck if she wants to relearn how to drive stick.

So just like all the other consumer items, there is no being perfectly happy. Of the complete fixie bikes this one seemed least gimmicky and had a decent pedigree and worthwhile parts to start with. It is good enough to continue my quest for the bedrock of biking. The education I've gotten about bikes has been a good side benefit.

Since I had the camera out, here is what the other bikes are looking like right now:

my pretty darned new specialized globe bike, a lot more futuristic looking with its more beefy frame and zippy looking geometry.The San FranThe Specialized San Francisco dressed up as my main get-around steed for this year. This one got me a lot more confident about riding to get places rather than to just kick around. Pump and patch kit are new additions after having to borrow some assistance and a tube to get home from a social ride recently. Tires are rather new after obliterating the stock set with a shortcut through a patch of briars. The brakes have been dialed in nicely. It involved setting them on fire for a moment. Really.

my old commuter comfort bike in its quite remarkably rebuilt form.My old Nirve made new with a complete rebuildMy older Nirve comfort bike which I got in 2003 to help fight depression. Now it has been my project bike to throw money at for no good reason. Actually, after replacing damn near everything on it, I enjoy it a lot more. It is just that I enjoy singlespeed even more now, and am on a dare to myself to ride singlespeed as much as possible. But this one is fun to get on once in a while to see how the rest of the world gets by. Seriously, I began to swap out components on this shortly before getting the silver bike, and haven't stopped. The entire drive train is new, including the back wheel, cassette, crankset, shifters. The seatpost and saddle, stem and handlebars got swapped out to more closely match the geometry of the larger San Fran bike (21 inch), which made this one feel rather cramped and short at its 19 inches. There was just enough space to fudge the geometry to get things comfortable.

Yep, that's my world on two wheels.

Friday
Oct262007

Tonight

The Moon, big
The Air, sweet
The Breeze, cool
The Sky, misty

Golden ball gives way to silver glow
Heat caves into cool
Smoke retreats to desert shores
Eastward, eastward
From whence it came

The Night, long
The Fear, subsiding
The Questions, answered
The Earth, God's

Wonder wonder everywhere
Encircling us always
Almost too much to bear
Rhythm of time persists
Only we dare to complain...

Wednesday
Oct242007

Getting The Message Yet?

I picked up a copy of the San Diego Reader on Friday but didn't get to reading it until this early Wednesday morning after a few days of fires have wreaked havoc in my county. The cover story was about how dead and dry our back country is getting, and how the drought is killing off some old oaks and that even the sagebrush and other hardy local vegetation is dying off. San Diego-as-paradise is going to lose its lease given our utter dependency on foreign water. The oscillating patterns of La Nina and El Nino were discussed.

A question posed to one expert asked if the Cedar Fire of 2003 could be repeated. Hmm. What do the past few days tell us?

Wednesday
Jul112007

Rich Broads And Their SUVs

Here I will convey some encounters from the gigging life as a driver/distribution professional.

Figure A: OPEC Lady

One day I was wearing a shirt that was given to me in the height of my peak oil awareness days. It boldly emulates the well known "I [heart] New York" shirts and stickers, but instead of loving New York, it proclaims love for OPEC. As I leave work some days, I make a late run to FedEx just before they close. The last minute rush of getting stuff to FedEx leaves me a little forgetful of what I am actually wearing, so when some lady stopped me in the driveway of the drop off site, and asked to know if I really loved OPEC. I was caught a little off guard and stammered that it was just a shirt. She pressed me to tell her where she could get a shirt. Now this is a 60ish lady driving a hugely expensive SUV of some sort—Land Rover or something in the too-rich-for-my-blood category. She didn't really seem to share my sarcastic take on things. Anyhow, I was mildly amused that anyone bothered to comment on the shirt. But when I went in to the shop, the guys at the counter were chuckling a bit at the shirt. One asked me what the woman had said in the driveway. They were amused then told me that this lady was sort of annoying in her announcement that she was an heiress to one of the major oil companies, and that she was almost giddy in the rise of gas prices. Or, as she apparently relayed, "hey, that's just great for me! More money!" Okay, that is to be expected, I guess. Maybe a bit crass and blunt but not as piggish as what the guys told me next. They went on to say that she had the gall to protest the price hikes in FedEx's services! Waaahhhhhhhhhhhh. Cry me a fucking river, lady.

Figure B: La Jolla Lab Lover Lady

In another instance, while on an actual delivery in La Jolla to the corporate offices of a boutique restaurant mini-chain, I turned down a side street adjacent the building. I had to U-turn to actually score a green zone space that was one car length from the corner I had just turned at. I pulled up to the space but end up behind this big Toyota Land Cruiser (maybe Land Hogger would be more apt?) which to all appearances is at the limit line and ready to turn or go straight through the intersection. Since that part of La Jolla is always busy, crossing or turning would take a little while. So, with radio on and looking out and about for the entrance to the building, I sat there for a moment waiting for what would be her turn to go, and my turn to take a bit of space to parallel park in the space that I was aiming for, and was blocking at the moment. Then after what could not have been more than 15 seconds of this, this 50 something broad gets out and starts chewing my ass out for taking her space, and she's trying to back up. I try to tell her that I was working and had to park here, and she looked like she was turning or something at the intersection. She gestures that there is a space some ways down the street that would suit my small car. I told her, I am already at this space now. She makes a stink that she can't park her (admittedly) big SUV there herself. To which I am thinking of my long-simmering comeback to that sort of statement: if you can't maneuver this thing, why the hell did you buy it? I didn't say anything to that, but she was just on fire. She asked me if I was trying to be a jerk, then answered her own question by proclaiming I was one. Then she demanded to know who I worked for, and she poked her head around to see any logos, numbers and all that, which she clearly did. Then, she takes down my license plate number and gets on her phone. While occupied with that, I just went ahead and took the spot so I could make my delivery, and wished her to "have a nice day." What silliness. In the time it took to do her little song and dance, she could have circled the block a time or two. Anyhow, I take the walkie talkie into the office with me and on the way out, call my dispatcher to give him the story first before it blossoms into godknowswhat. When I came out, the lady had mostly blocked me in, and made some comment about how much fun she would have with all this. I walked by again, and she was still on the phone, and I again wished her to "have a nice day."

Then, when I got back, after fretting some that she would tell all sorts of fanciful tales, I was called into the office at work and the boss advised me to play it safe, not for the benefit of this lady, but because with the world being just too weird and small, that we can't risk one of these wackjobs (my word) being the client's wife, or something else like this. He did tell me though that it was these types of moments he sought to avoid when he decided to not have company signage on the cars. He did tell me that the woman had some concern about if I had gotten any information of hers and how I might use it. Too bad I was too clumsy on the phone camera to get her face and license plate here in one frame. Almost. Apparently she was a Labrador dog lover—enough to have a custom plate and frame. So, if you ever see a black Land Cruiser in La Jolla with an obvious Lab fetish, you know what to do.

What I didn't get a chance to do was tell her that Jesus loves her. Or to ask her instead, "Do you love Jesus?" or "Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your life to be your personal lord and savior?" If it doesn't actually silence such nonsense, it might at least "juke" them as my Subway buddy used to say way back when the movie Clerks defined our lives, and was mirrored in our own approaches to life.

Thursday
Jun282007

Walk The Talk?

Lest anyone think of me as a dreamer/idealist and possibly a hypocrite when I speak for the need to be more sensible in our daily habits, here is my report on certain efforts to pinch my pennies (not pinch my penis—that's a whole other activity) and possibly steal a little less from the future than others who don't yet see the point and therefore don't really do anything to conserve.

I got my truck when it was about 79,000 miles old, but let's call it 80,000 for this demo. It turned 200,000 on the last day of 2006, and I parked it that day when it read 200,006. How clever, eh? Anyhow, that date was only a few months after my anniversary date of purchase. For the ten years I had it, it was driven about 12,000 miles a year. As for this year's driving—half a years' worth at this point—I have driven about 3,300 miles only. If that trend continues out to about 6,600 this year, that will be about half my average for the previous ten years! Of course, I didn't just cut my driving down by almost half in just the turn from 2006 to 2007; I had been paring it down rather well for the past few years, with 2002 being the first year when I became sensitive to conservation enough to start to practice it. In the recent past, I found my mileage is about 23 miles a gallon, with a slight variance. Recently, I got 326 miles on what seems to be a 14 gallon tank. People talk about getting a new car that uses less fuel because they can't bear the thought of using their existing car in a smarter, more intentional way. I don't consider it a good idea to sign up for debt for the next several years. I never liked that idea and hate it more given our rocky economic picture ahead. To me, it makes better sense to just drive less, drive smarter.

As for water habits, I don't ever use a dishwasher at all. Never have except maybe as a guest at someone's house. So call me old fashioned. I fill a sink (if I fill it at all) with some water, then do a bunch of dishes, and turn the rinse water on as little as possible, often turning it off between dishes if I can't smoothly move them through fast enough. More and more, I try to capture cleanish rinse water (or water for boiled eggs) and use it to throw to the garden. In the shower, I have low flow hardware and take the three minute shower if possible, though shave days are a bit longer since I have yet to really change that habit. But I do it only twice a week if possible. I am quick at the sink with hand washing, and turn off the tap when I brush my teeth. Some may think it is gross, but the toilet habit (possibly the worst offender, both in redundancy and volume) is to flush less when it is not obviously necessary. So it can be a bit unflattering to the uninitiated. So what. This is more important than image. The site at Humanure.com tells us there are only two types of people in the world: those who shit and piss in drinking water and those who don't. So, at the risk of being a little uncivilized, but possibly in a good way, I try to cut the flushes a bit. An open window is always a great help too.

Now that I have a garden, almost all the scraps of food that can be composted, are. And interestingly enough, I eat more food now that can be composted. I've not actually turned vegetarian or anything, but there is far more plant matter around the house now, some in the garden and some on my table. The veggie scraps are compost delight. So are the recycled paperboard egg cartons, bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. So it all goes in. I got some nice looking rich compost now. It is a far more useful way to use garbage than to just send it to Miramar. The garden does take watering, but whenever I can, I try to claim back water from partially used drinking glasses, sink rinse water. (And one day, when I actually do so, the shower water while waiting for it to heat up, but mercifully for me, the water heater is just outside the bathroom and so therefore it comes on hot in less than a gallon or so.) The garden usually gets watered in the morning, hopefully not timed so that it all evaporates before it actually does any good. I open up the soil a bit periodically so it has some inroads.

I personally only do full laundry loads, and still use the dryer a bit more than I should (usually because I do laundry at the wrong times of day), but Kelli has taken to using lines outside for more and more of our laundry. There is something nice about that task of putting it out and taking it down. It is sort of meditative time. I don't have a problem doing it, but for the clumsiness of sometimes dropping things to the dirt and therefore needing to rewash things. Whatever I do of the laundry, I usually do heavy loads so things aren't running forever. Still a work in progress though.

I have all my lights running the compact fluorescents now, but for one little 4x20 watt halogen swivel bar, which equates to less than one 100 watt bulb, so I let it slide. It's my mood light/spot light for wall art. I try to be attentive to things being on, but admittedly there is some slop. My whole house now is a lot smaller so it takes less to light it. So far, we've only turned the heater on a time or two to see what it would do, but we find that closing the doors and windows is good enough to keep it comfortable. Two of the three computers sleep; one refuses to sleep without crashing in the process, so it stays awake, but has an LCD screen which is a bit more sensible than a CRT, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately for us our oven is a classic electric oven and energy pig, but we don't use it but for things that simply don't fit in the far more commonly used toaster oven. Our microwave went on the fritz a few months ago, and after cursing our luck, we decided to put it in the garage and see what happened. Life did not end. Suzanne has one in her space, but we hardly ever use it, and when we do it is to defrost some meat or something. I still think we need to plan to use fewer appliances, but the ones we do use are pretty direct in their heating—a tiny George Foreman grill; a veggie steamer; coffee maker; toaster oven; rarely used blender; almost never used Crock pot. I find that I prefer a side-by-side fridge because more stuff can be put at eye level, but that is not the type I have now, so I admit to some bad fridge habits of having to search by opening the thing too often. Since I have mostly abandoned my musicianly alter ego, the studio is not put together now and therefore, there must be several pieces that sat idle for long periods of time that now are in crates and boxes.

So, there it is. A work in progress and still more to do, but I think I am off to a decent start. I think that if further conservation is called for, it will be less shocking to have accepted it and practiced it to some degree than to just start from a lifestyle that made no prior concessions to sensible use.