Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Happy and Furry New Year

To celebrate in style, I present a review of the cats who welcomed me into their homes on my recently completed road trip.

Midnight & Socks - Weed, CA.
Alley - Shakopee, MN
'You Crazy Cat' - Hinckley, OH

KC - the new kitten in Florida

Little Bit - the even newer arrival

Gus & Gordo - Austin, TX

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reflections from My Window

Regular readers know I live with a truly amazing view out my windows on the San Francisco Bay. Previous photographic evidence may be found and fondly remembered here, here, here, here, and, of course, here.

But there is also a neighborhood below my view. Just in the last week I have had several quixotic experiences through my personal looking glass. First came the new municipal lighting. Berkeley changed out all the old sodium street lights with LED canisters. The savings in electricity apparently was well worth retrofitting the entire city. Good for the earth but a side benefit is that all of the LED illumination is direct downward to the street. Up here on the eight floor it is suddenly dark at night. No, not out in the forest dark, but much less bright than before.

I came home christmas day to find a colony, not a flock, of seagulls wheeling around outside my window. Being close to the Bay, it's not uncommon to see gulls in the sky but this was at least twenty birds. They were all engaged in some swirling flight pattern over the adjacent buildings. Since I live in the tallest structure in the neighborhood, the aerial display was both above and below my floor. The contra flight went on for fifteen or twenty minutes before a loud cacophony of squawks and cries heralded a disbanding. The colony flew off in all directions.

Brief internet research turned up no explanation for the behavior.

Directly below my windows, eight floors down are two parking spaces, designated for contractors and/or maintenance staff. Early last week a thirty foot dumpster was delivered to that space. One of the units in the building is being emptied of old furnishings prior to being completely remodeled. The bin is half full of old furniture and detritus of someone's life. This next week deconstruction refuse will fill it to the brim.

But work slowed over the holiday week, which means that the discarded stuff would be picked over by any number of scavengers, urban miners and street people. A few days ago, I heard a loud conversation and looked down to see that one such scrounger had been surprised to find an obviously homeless man nested in one end of the dumpster. He had built quite a cozy space with discarded chair cushions for his bed and the chairs as windbreaks. He had a meal from KFC and then settled in for a long day nap.

A hour or so later, I was down in the garage and dropped him a twenty with wishes for his new year being more stable. He thanked me, our brief interaction finished.

Two nights later, I was reading and heard a shout and a thump. Now my building is all concrete, I hear nearly nothing from neighbors above or below. So hearing the noise was unusual. The sound was metallic, heavy metal even. I thought of the dumpster but at night the area is pitch black. From eight floors up I could see nothing. I watched and waited but still not a sound, until I started to slid the window shut -- then there was a low moan.

Shoes, jacket, keys and a flashlight, I went down. Different guy. Disoriented, couldn't tell if it was his normal state -- off his meds or perhaps the side effect of the lump on his forehead. Either way, I offered to drive him over the the ER. He declined. I asked him if he could stand up. He did and fell back into the trash. "Maybe I should go to the clinic," he said.

Don't know where the clinic is but there's a hospital ER three blocks away. I got us there and got him inside. He gave terse, rambling answers to the nurse at the desk. The second in charge gave me a sign to step aside and deliver my side of the story.

They took him right in, it could have been the six inch knob on his forehead or not, but they were going to find out. As soon as he disappeared into the treatment area, the security guard asked me to move my car out of the entrance lane.

"Go home," the nurse told me, "we'll keep him for observation until morning. You've done your holiday good deed. Go back to your book."

How did she know I was reading?

-pictures from Pinterest

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wish I was back in Florida . . .

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer and VIXEN
On Comet, On CUPID, On Donner and Blitzen

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Long and Winding Road

With apologies to my several New Mexico, desert and Los Angeles friends, I got road weary and certain pressing personal items beckoned to me for an early return to Berkeley. I'm back in the Bay Area. Holiday order placed with Whole Foods. Friends here to be visited and many, many, so many words to write.

Many thanks to those who put me up in places all over the Midwest, South and Southwest. Purrs and pets to all the felines who welcomed me, official pictorial recognition is coming.

Again, apologies to my missed friends, hope to see you all soon.

Total trip Sept. 8 to Dec. 15th - 6700 miles

photo credit: National Geographic

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spreadsheet Sex

While I'm tempted to say -- "Now I've seen it all." I know better, we ain't seen nothin' yet. But this is one hell of a giant leap into the strange and prurient arena.

The Spreadsheet App measures several aspects of sexual performance. You load the app to your smart phone and then toss it on the bed next to where you plan to do the dirty deed.

The app measures duration of event, total number of thrusts and decibel peak. Screamer, you know you are a screamer. For any ladies in my immediate future -- no, I do not have the app. For everyone else out there in the wide world of sexual experience. Be very careful when your lover tosses his or her phone on the pillow, your performance might well be posted on the internet.

I mean we all have off nights . . .

But what if you're sleeping alone you ask. Well, there's an app for that too! I mean doesn't everyone need their personal sleep score . . .

Addendum: are there even stranger sex apps out there? You bet, take a look, if you dare.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Flight Behavior - Book Review

Another audio road trip book review. This time I listened outside of my normal comfort zone. Barbara Kingsolver is not my type of author and her subject matter is not in my wheelhouse either, but the reviews were good and I took a shot.

One reading experience I truly enjoy is when the lead character is very introspective, that is certainly true of Flight Behavior. Set in the hills of Carolina among "regular folk," I found the interactions between the various characters to be compelling. The story itself around separation, bad decisions and monarch butterflies was more than enough to hold my interest.

I found the opening chapter to be completely misleading and therefore a truly inventive introduction to the work. My only criticism is that after a wonderful story the author had to go to a big Ta-Dah ending. It was rushed and just too over the top to fit with the rest of the story. She had it nailed just a scene or two earlier but had to go for a wee bit more.

In any case, I give it a recommended for audio time-distortion while on the road. Next CD launches when I leave Texas for parts even further West.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Austin, Texas

After a most successful gaming weekend in Biloxi, the trek has moved further west to Austin. I have a few friends to visit here in Texas. Starting first with a stay here at Amy & Eric's place. Gordo and Gus pictured above are also in residence, though Gordo has yet to accept my presence.

For the poker boyz, a final trip report. That's me in my gaming hoodie about to take out the third place player on the way to a two-way chop of the PLO event.

Road Trip to date: 5,925 miles

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Biloxi, Mississippi

The little grey Cube has at long last turned West.

On the way from Florida to Texas and eventually California; I just had to stop in Biloxi, Mississippi to see my red-neck, libertarian, Tennessee fanatic and poker room boss extraodinaire -- Mr. Johnny Grooms.

A few of my poker buddies have joined me for a weekend of poker, war stories and debonairs. For those familiar with skill game which is poker, our report is as follows: bubble, suck-out, bubble, bad beat, asshat, bad beat.

Total Road Trip to date: 5,350 miles