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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Belated Sympathies

My latest bout of blog-avoidance has caused me to be unaware of some difficult passages being endured by two of my favorite bloggers. That would be Elaine of Kalilily and Jordon Cooper.

Coop’s been ill and, according to his wife, Wendy, suffering a lot of discomfort. Elaine is struggling with moving both herself and her declining, 89 year-old mother, to a new home.

These are two extra-strong individuals and their considerable inner wherewithal will, I’m sure, get them through this. But they are both in pain, nonetheless.

I’ve sent my belated sympathies. If you admire Elaine and Jordon as much as I do, and have forgotten to get in touch with them—or, like me—were previously unaware, please let them know that you care.

Local Loons

Former resident Frank Paynter requests some Berkeley updates. “How are things going in the Peoples Republic?” he asks.

No need to wonder, Frank. The looniness is alive and well. The latest exercise in more-politically-correct-than-thou finds a passionate movement afoot to change the name of Jefferson Elementary School. After all, Ol’Tom was a slave owner and its time we got his name off the building, etc. etc.

In heated school board meetings, less important matters like graffiti on the walls, trash on the grounds, and, oh, budgeting, got tabled so that this dire situation could be addressed.

Some poor contrarian soul had the temerity to stand up at one of these simmering meetings and observe that since we have a school named after Malcolm X, recognizing that his greatness is more important than the unsavory parts of his life, why couldn’t we accord Ol’Tom the same?

Well, as you can imagine, this hapless soul was practically hounded out of the hall. He may have even needed a bit of police protection in this presumably peace-loving burg.

The board, bless their hearts, was brave enough to vote down this nonsense, three to two, and the air is thick with outrage. A recall movement will likely be the next chapter, further deflecting attention from matters that count.

How often have these kinds of scenarios been played out around here? It’s like a broken record. If you want to see a municipal government that truly doesn’t work, just come to Berkeley.

The other piece of current insanity around here is the narrowing of Marin Avenue—a street which I’m sure Frank remembers. It’s the primary artery of North Berkeley, a crucial commuter route for thousands of residents making their way to and from work every day.

Under the appellation of the euphemism to end all euphemisms, “The Traffic Calming Project” (I’m not kidding), Marin’s already packed four lanes are being reduced to two. One can only imagine the chaos that is going to ensue.

In the Berkeley mindset, the hidden agenda behind all this is that if you can make driving unpleasant enough, you will get people out of their cars and they will start bicycling to work. Yeah, right.

It might be worth a try if they all worked in Berkeley, but those already-stressed guys and gals tooling down Marin Ave. toward the freeway ain’t working around here, that’s for sure. Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear lord, for letting me be semi-retired and working out of my home.

If it wasn’t for the physical beauty of this area, the climate, the great food, the cultural amenities, and my wife’s reasonably thriving local practice, I’d be very tempted to get the hell away from this madness.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bloggerhood/Age/Family Pride

Time to get back to the old blog again. I won’t go through any convoluted explanations or rationales about my most recent absence from the blogosphere--as I used to do after previous protracted silences.

I mean, what the hell? Lots of bloggers that I enjoy go through silent periods and then return—without explanation. It’s no big deal to them, so why should it be for me?

Well, actually, I do know why--at least in part. It’s because I start falling into a thought pattern that concludes that no one reads this blog anymore, so why take the time to keep it up? Well, as I’ve said in the past, blogging, among other things, is a commitment to communicate. Lose the commitment and lose the right to wear the moniker, “blogger.” And, I might add, become more isolated.

Maybe the real test of one’s “bloggerhood” is one’s willingness to go back at it after losing most of one’s readers—or fearing that they’re lost.

So here we go again. My return has been prompted by a couple of factors. Frank Paynter sent an email the other day to let me know about his nice write-up in a wonderful blog heretofore unknown to me. (Shameless self-promotion allowed in your case, Frank).

I’m referring to Ronni Bennet’s “Time Goes By.” Her tagline is “what it’s like to get older.” Well, that sure got my attention. I haven’t actually written that much about the experience in this blog, but, goddam, I am indeed right there in the middle of it!

I couldn’t agree more with what seems to be her general perspective on being in this stage of life—i.e., that it’s an un-heralded, under-appreciated, wonderful time—not without its downsides—but what stage of life isn’t?

Ronni’s writings are inspiring me to go through my archives to see what I’ve had to say about the subject, and maybe putting the relevant posts in a category link over on the sidebar.

There was one more factor that encouraged me to get the blog going again. It’s the emergence of my nephew, Jason, as a blogger. He’s been chronicling his semester abroad in New Zealand with some exceedingly good reads. Jason is hands down the best writer in the family. I’m thrilled to see him working his chops in the blogosphere. Way to go, J-O!