Island Life: July - Dec. 2020

(Silvan Acres)

Vol. 23Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2020

Welcome to the second half of year 2020, which began in 1999. The year's content is split into two parts to allow easier page loading for slower browsers. Each year tends to approach the equivalent of 380 typewritten pages.

Selected issues have been re-written for aesthetic reasons and proofed before being place in the Stories section.

To go to the present time, click on this hyperlink: NOW!


PREVIOUS EDITIONS

ARCHIVES


December 27, 2020

STARRY STARRY NIGHT

The conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter is seen over Sausalito.

JUST A CHANCE FOR BETTER DAYS

It has been quite a year on the Island, my hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

The bicycle people had only just begun to enjoy their triumphs in lane re-routing, painting of dedicated lanes, installation of concrete berms when the big COVID hit the entire World, extending its fingers even into insular places like the Island.

Fires raged across the Golden State, which affected many of us here who owned farmstead property going back hundreds of years or who had family that had retired to the foothills of the Sierra. All of us knew friends whose homes were consumed as entire towns were laid waste.

Then came the disease. Pooh-poohed by some because this pandemic was politically and socially inconvenient, the pandemic swelled around the world from its first observation in the US in December of 2019, with the federal government slow to respond until March to acknowledge there was a problem.

Then, on May 25th, while the nation was dealing with local lockdowns due to the pandemic, a young man named George Floyd was brutally murdered while under police custody in Minneapolis, igniting a nationwide rage of protest. Black Lives Matter became a phrase common even here in our Bay Area Bubble.

While the Nation mourned and locked down, to greater and lesser degree depending on the reddishness of the State, and protest raged the Island held its own special course.

The largest impact upon daily Island-Life was the Pandemic. COVID19 quickly divided an easily divided people into two camps: the Maskers and the Anti-maskers.

Mr. Howitzer belonged to the Anti-masker group, formed by an allegiance to the White House Baby Boobie who naysayed and derided masks and the significance of the disease. Some time in June he held a Spring Fling party during which poor Dodd was the only person present who wore a mask and gloves. Dodd had no illusions about the virus and what it could do. Mr. Howitzer invited the usual financial Elites and even included a few rock-ribbed Republicans, most of whom had stepped back from supporting the GOP in view of the bad behavior and foul language erupting daily from the White House. While the Neocons shook bare hands, embraced one another and kissed one another's cheeks all night, Dodd remained behind the hosted wet bar and disappeared towards the end of the affair to emerge for cleanup once the majority of the guests had left around midnight.

Of course during the event Dodd was briefly talked about. Talking about people who are not in a position to defend themselves is a trademark of NeoCons.

"I see the manservant is wearing the Liberal Flag over there," said Mr. Tuckus of Tuckus, Dithering and Quibble, esq.

"Drank the kool-aid, yes," drawled Val Locust.

"I hear the disease is not much worse than the flu. My nephew Barnaby got it and was right as rain after a week of headaches and sniffles."

"Clearly a leftist conspiracy to increase the power of the government over individual rights. Damned Socialists!"

Two weeks after the party fully two-thirds of the guests had come down with COVID19. For a few individuals it was indeed like the flu. For the rest . . . it was not. First the diarrhea. Then the eyes inflamed like burning coals. O2 counts dipped below 89 which is worse than experienced by a mountaineer ascending Everest. The Blathers got put on respirators. Massive amounts of steroids were administered to the entire law firm of Tuckus, Dithering and Quibble. Blood clots in Mr. Stanchion led to DVT requiring Xarelto and in Mr. Tankk, Warfarin. Yes, that stuff which is also used to kill rodents. As the symptoms wore off, leaving quite a few people dozens of pounds lighter, the aftereffects began. Blood pressure readings of 201/119. Toes turned purple. Blood tests indicated liver, spleen, kidney and lung permanent damage from the sepsis caused by the virus.

Then, weeks later, the teeth started falling out of people's heads - COVID attacks the fine capillaries systems that nourish the maxillary regions. Mrs. Cribbage had to have an entire set of dentures made for her at age 42.

As for the Hoi Polloi, Marlene and Andre's Household was not exempted from the ravages of the Pandemic. Packed in to confined spaces in the old rehabilitated farmhouse, the disease quickly raged through the inhabitants much like it does in the poorer communities where people have no place to practice social distancing. Not when six people are sleeping per room. Mancini, Pahrump and Denby built the first quarantine shack for the first victim, Jesus. Martini quickly had one built for himself while still healthy, and then followed one after another shacks for Suan, then Tipitina, then, in May Denby himself, each shack becoming a little more rickety as the Household lost person-power to build them.

Pahrump built himself a dugout lodge of pine and redwood boughs, figuring the old ways were the best and he bathed in the dwindling waters of San Geronimo Creek.

Spring revolved through a very hot summer into the hottest autumn in memory.

On the Island Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez held their self-quarantine up in the 2nd floor apartment on Central Avenue across from the Mastic Center. Mr. Sanchez built a small office to work from home and made another for Mrs. Sanchez so she could continue to give instruction to her Longfellow students remotely. The one benefit here is that this situation allowed the new parents to care for their newborn infant without concern for daycare issues.

Others who have survived the Angry Elf Mafia attacks have bunkered down in their respective abodes, Zooming and Chatting like mad whenever possible and relying on the new system of take-out for diversion.

Some businesses have become quite innovative. Many of you might have enjoyed the Zoom Pizza Webinar, in which the main Zoomer arranges for pizza\sandwiches\Mediterranean food to be delivered during the Webinar. Borg Rubbitsom tried this on behalf of his business A Touch of Wonder, but somehow massage webinars did not go over so well as other subjects. "Now breath deeply with your eyes closed and imagine Brunhilde's fingers pressing . . . here . . . ".

The self-quarantine situation works better for some than for others. The Quirkyalone club has been going gangbusters since self-isolation has been enforced. If you think about it, Zoom and Webchat are the best venues for people who do not want to engage in any risk of icky exchange of bodily fluids. It is all about flirting with no sex ever involved. Just like Freshman college.

Others who are more driven need more direct outlets. Mr. Burby, solid East Ender and eminent Rotarian, found himself at 62, divorced and devoid of prospects in the era of COVID where Huggin' and Kissin' is Prohibited.

So Mr. Burby researched the available options and landed upon one solution that seemed to resolve all of his problems.

On a cold day in December the UPS man dropped off a long box that Mr. Burby quickly brought into the house via the garage. With the shades drawn and inquisitive neighbors rendered dormant, Mr. Burby unpacked what was to be his future wife: Elise, the Realdoll.

The camera pulls back from this scene to reveal the Editor reviewing the detritus of the year's end at his desk with the little lamp sending out such light and warmth as it could.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

DECEMBER 20, 2020

DO YOU HAVE TO LET IT LINGER

Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan of the Cranberries said it best.

THE SHORTEST DAY

So anyway. It has been quite a year on the Island, my hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

This year has been one of which we can say with unfortunate dismay that we have lived in interesting times. It is pretty sure that not much is going to ever be the same going forward and there will be no going back to normal. If going back to normal includes the murder of people like George Floyd and Breanna Taylor then so be it.

This year began with the onslaught of the worst public health emergency since 1918. Minimized by the Executive Office continually and even to the present moment of a Dark Winter, we have seen hundreds of thousands of Americans die and many more take sick with continuing medical complications.

Fires have ravaged the West, obliterating cities, while floods and hurricanes have destroyed entire towns in the Heartland, the South, and the East.

The legion of homeless has become so large that areas of safe encampments have been created to allow people with no place to live a place to occupy for the moment amid this national crisis of unemployment, housing crunch, mental illness, and widespread social failure.

The standing of the Nation before the world has plummeted to the point that most nations of the world have written the US off as a country of any consequence. We are left bare and bereft of economic friends before the colossal bear of Russia and the swelling giant of China.

The problems of immigration remain unsolved and descending into conditions of inhumanity at our fragile borders. Families are separated, people are suffering and the idiot idea of a massive wall languishes, largely because massive walls have never worked in the past nor will they in the present or the future.

These and many more human disasters attend the events of the past four years, especially recently as the Impeached Executive Office has pursued an approach that is ever more distant from reality.

How these events work out on a human scale goes as follows:

Mrs. Sanchez cannot go to work as a teacher at Longfellow but has to work out remote sessions via computer and Zoom with her students, those that can afford computers. Of course the libraries are all closed so those resources are not available.

Denby goes to work at the hospital, pushing brooms and tinkering for Facilities while Mancini remains laid off from the Factory.

It's the day and the night before the shortest day, the longest night of the year. It is the official start of Winter. Now is the time of leaden, overcast skies, sodden light seeping through the gelid air. In some parts of the country they are seeing record snowfall. We are seeing clouded skies, fog and impending rain.

The Editor mulls over these things while sitting at his desk. The self-quarantine stay-home orders do not bother him so much as he has always been a solitary man with desklamp and the pool of light there while all around hang the curtains of darkness beyond which there could possibly be a like mind. Just about everyone he knew at one time is now dead and so he gets to work, doing all for Company.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

December 13, 2020

HELP IS ON THE WAY

Turns out the title above has been used by quite a number of bands: Little River Band, Quicksilver, Rise Against, and of course, the Grateful Dead.

Found this little installation down the hill in San Anselmo. Seems in these dark times any ray of joy is a good thing. The vaccine is coming . . . .

NO MATTER WHAT

So anyway. The skies clouded over as a prelude to welcome downpours refreshing the streams and lakes of Marin and healing the burn scars of Sonoma. We had no real Fall to enjoy around here, not a weeks long segue nor a warmish Indian summer, but an abrupt shift from triple digits to the 40's and 30's. Now the rain clinches the deal and we are deep into Winter but this time with no Revels to help us pass through the year's Longest Night.

With COVID we have all had to make adaptations. Luther's courtship of Jacqueline continues -- as it has for years -- but with the added despair of no possible kiss, no potential embrace. As owner of the Pampered Pup hot-dog stand there on Park Street he has always been open for takeout or takeaway, but Jackie's Hair Salon had to close down, then reopen under conditions, then once again close down and so this long, long courtship now takes the place of hours-long phone calls each day, wired flower deliveries and the small acts of devotion enabled by imagination and distance.

The Quirkyalone Club run locally by Amanda Stilts is enjoying an influx of new members, many of which pose the same question: "How do you guys all . . . function?"

"Beg pardon?"

"I mean, with no SEX? No sex possible at all!"

"Fortunately Good Vibrations has been deemed an Essential Business . . .".

Which brings us around to the issues that face all of us right now. How goes Love in the time of COVID? All the bars and movie theaters are shut down. Restaurants are restricted to take out. How for the love of anything can one conduct a Dating operation?

This much concerns some members of the Household. Suan, a poledancer at the Crazy Horse should have had no problem with poledancing where touching the stripper way up there on a remote stage has always been strictly verboten. But no one is allowed to gather in cheering throngs so the place is shut down.

On the tamer side, there is no meeting for coffee in a diner. Instead those long walks on the beach have become a reality.

Javier, accustomed to looser relationships is experiencing a dry period. Perhaps this may encourage some self-discipline.

Duane, a computer nerd with the Livelong Medical Group has his own issues. Love with nerds tends to be mostly hypothetical and determined by algorithms that remain out of direct control.

Darwinism should have eliminated nerds from the gene pool long ago, simply through ineptness and lack of ability, but women generally have long been experienced with handling male ineptitude and dealing with impossible situations over millions of years. That is another function of Darwinism.

Duane imagines he has fallen in love with Miriam, the same nurse that Denby fell over with disastrous consequences for himself. Now, let us admit that nerd love is not very attractive. Duane, a sort of chubby, balding Dilbert character was poles apart from his Love Object, the tall, attractive, slim, liberally tattooed nurse.

This just returns us all to the same problem: there is no "dating" per se as usual. No coffee shops, no movies, no dinners by candlelight and certainly no huggin' and kissin' in this time.

Duane sits down and talks to Denby about his troubles in the Break Room, which due to COVID rules may have only two people at a time and be vacated between occupancy for four hours. A lot of people have been lunching in the parkinglot due to this rule.

"The problem with Miriam is that she has a dog," Duane complained.

"Do not talk to me about women and dogs," Denby said. "I have learned that if she has a dog she has a better companion than any man and besides the dog would quickly learn to hate you and you it."

"Denby, you are being cynical."

"I am not cynical. A fish does not need a bicycle. A woman with a dog has already supplied her needs. And keep in mind what they do to dogs kept as pets in this country."

"The dog is a female named Ladybird."

"Dude, you are way out of the running. Give it up."

"A guy can hope."

"Of course a guy can hope all he wants; hope gets you nowhere. Abandon all hope ye who enter these gates beset with Puti, those winged cherubs of yore. Personally I think you should take up a healthy sport like skirling to distract you from these unhealthy attachments. Do it while it is safely Winter and nothing is possible. "

"Denby, you are a cynical bastard."

"Stating the obvious will get you nowhere. Besides, you are going to get nowhere in the age of Quarantine with Miriam, and that is a fact as well. Aint no huggin' and kissin' in the Time of Close Contact Forbidden."

As far as that rule goes, it applies with qualifications to the Island's two official streetwalkers. The Island has only two ladies of the night because a walk down the main drag of Park Street in boots with high heels takes only 15 minutes at midnight and there is only so much traffic to feed business. So Rosalie and Candy have agreed between them in their private gig economy to work in shifts and with certain rules. Rosalie carries a printed menu of abbreviated services that do not involve being face to face. Masks are as mandatory with her as other protections. Yes, even the flushest john must wear a mask or its sorry buster, no play.

Leave it to the Island to host hookers with ethical concern for public health safety.

Now it approaches the annual Horror Days, kicking off with the Festival of Lights, Chanukah, and descending rapidly into the rampant consumerism that is the prelude to December 25th and the massive orgy of consumption that ends with great relief after January 1st.

The neighborhoods are all defiantly lit up with strings of bulbs and animated deer and at the Household of Marlene and Andre Mancini cobbled together festive lights made from LED's pulled from old circuit boards to string around the house.

The Editor strolls down the aisles, marked with six foot distancing tapes, long after the staff have gone home. Lately he has been putting in long hours and getting little done with all the shutdowns and quarantines and such. So has Denby, as he is a classified Health Care Worker. Suan had the idea of performing one of her pole dance routines since the Crazy Horse, to everyone's surprise, is not considered an Essential Business. This, of course is a matter of dispute by many. But everyone had to remain 8 feet distant, wear a mask and remain distant from one another, so it kind of did not work out well. Since everyone is out of work, there were no tips. Everyone else has been sitting around the Household, playing mumblty peg and other appropriately socially distanced games.

The night was cold -- cold for NorCal -- and so the glass of the sliding door that led to the back fogged over as the Editor stood there. The lights Mancini had draped over the quarantine shacks, some of which had been insulated with foam and were now occupied to keep the Household population down in the middle of the pandemic, sparkled along with the houses built high up on the far ridgeline, artificial stars and planets rising up to meet the heavenly vast blanket pinpricked with millions of holes punched in it. Soon the comet would appear to the southeast.

The right pair won the election and by a convincing margin. The old, detested year of 2020 would soon end even as the vaccines arrive. Life is filled with savage brutality, suffering, and inequality. But help is on the way.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

NOVEMBER 29, 2020

CAT DANCING

Living in Marin we get to enjoy the Wild Life. Sometimes to the detriment of our pets. Here a Bobcat uses a fence to cross the property line. Maybe this fellow knew the Poodleshoot was about to begin . . ..

THE 22ND ANNUAL POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

What with all the fires and power outages in NorCal, the Annual Poodleshoot report has been delayed. But this being the 21st Poodleshoot on the Island, there is no rushing to press on this.

It is hard to imagine that 20 years ago a daft group of lads decided to hold a humble Poodleshoot in defiance of misdirected sentiment, obnoxious aesthetics, and hideous twisting of values where an asinine species we will never truly understand gets more attention, devotion, and preference than members of our own species. It can be argued that in this present day in the 21st century we still have problems understanding each other, let alone another species.

20 years of Poodleshoots and still people lavish more attention and affection upon a miserable scrap of fur and teeth than suffering fellow human beings. Well, that is why the Poodleshoot came to be.

All that aside, the 20th Annual Poodleshoot proceeded as follows.

The annual Island Tradition took place again, beginning with the usual, traditional ceremonies.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 20th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, woolly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

Her fingers becoming rays of sunlight, turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Then Dawn reared back with her rosy fists upraised and brought them down heavily to smite Padraic a mighty thwack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove.

The ceremonies began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble. This piece has been favorably compared to John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell March, with which work the modality is inextricably entwined..

This was followed by the devilish meisterwerk composed by Marie Kane entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor at the pleasure of any municipal governing body.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with former Councilperson Frank in his basso triste "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie by Brooks and Dunne.

Vice Mayor John Knox White adopted the key of obsequious for her duet with Roger Dent of Jamestown Properties in "It's a Shopping Mall by Any Other Name."

John Knox White also Tony Daysog performed a lovely duet as well as a lovely pas de deux in pinstriped pinafores with nunchucks. The two sang "Our Town" and "I got you Babe with astonishing verve.

This year, with the change in venue from the Island to Marin, featured a number of local dignitaries. There were also some modifications to the Official Rules in deference to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish, and quite a pastiche. The East Bay Express found "this game of smoky backrooms is too much to believe." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe it goes on. And on. And on still more," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most dreadful rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We miss Trish Spencer performing as City Mayor, a role she continued to adopt with nearly convincing theatricality. Mayor Izzy Ashcroft is far more persuasive although less a comic genius."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

The East Bay Express got the dates wrong on its Calendar section, so they had no review.

The Examiner, as usual, ignored Reality and talked about the batboy who had been abducted by space aliens.

Lauren Do, of Blogging Bayport, called it "The County Horror Show", and said that she was shocked. Simply shocked. And she hoped there would be no more performances this bad on the Island ever again although she did approve of anti-poodle incendiary devices when applied judiciously.

This year, with the change in venue from the Island to Marin, featured a number of local dignitaries.

For the Event Impromptu Performance, Nancy Pelosi showed up American Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley with newly re-elected Jared Huffman of Marin performed PJ Harvey's "Victory", which was received with loud applause before the DC contingent boarded a helicopter to loud cheers.

In any case, after spirits had been revived with a sloshing round from the kegs, the Hoophole Orchestra launched the proceedings with spirited instrumentals. The elaborate instrumental section performed Sousa marches and works by Debussy in true Island tradition, and featured vocals as well as strings, horns, thorns, woodwinds, and bloodhounds.

John Kelly of Berkeley marched in circles playing the bagpipe-tuba in the key of F## while the horn section played in the key of B13 the largely unknown piece by Eric Satie titled "Symfonie du Malderor."

Also from Berkeley, the RESPITE nurses chorus did a rousing barbershop version of "We Get the Mushroom Treatment", by Johann Sebastian Pilzen and led by baritone Amanda Jones.

Brian King and Toshie of Park Avenue performed upon the Mendacious Dieben and Sneaky Pete while Little Nichtnutz executed the Shoplifter with Stolen Keys until the Tac Squad entered with fanfare and removed them for questioning.

Mill Valley, which has been courting the Island on a number of issues, sent a former Mayor who performed "The Little Chick goes Cheep, Cheep, Cheep," to a mixed reception of bystanders, who saw this rendition as a sop against MV's notorious wealthy exclusivity.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied this year by Dr. Marta Rose, who also performed the Effexor Waltz.

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done to everyone's great relief, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their traditional invocation decantation by the Native Sons of the Golden West, led by Jessica, daughter of the late Doyle McGowan of San Francisco, and chanted in the language of E Clampus Vitus.

The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" before all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by David P. Donery, the Town Manager for San Anselmo, and Tally, the official Parrot of Marin, upon which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned home-made bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot with overcast weather that soon turned quite chill although sunny.

This year the official delegation from DC once again featured Rudy Guliani, spearheading a phalanx of lawyers that shot randomly at everything in sight as Rudy waddled across the greens with his Poodle Blunderbuss Cannon, destroying household pets and crockery and the Truth with great abandon.

All of the scandals in the past year in the Crystal City of DC produced quite a number of Poodleshoot candidates, however those that did not go to jail turned out to be in the process of disassociation with the current Administration and so none of them were available for the Poodleshoot.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic certain new rules were put into place. All participants had to wear masks, which the DC contingent of course refused to submit, although it has been said one must only submit to avoid the wrath of the Police in most circumstances, so it seems in many circumstances the rules to not apply equally to all.

Some from the Liberal side were surprisingly okay with the rule deviation, citing the Darwin Effect would soon make the issues moot.

Things went swimmingly until the Flat Earth Society folks, who had been heavily infiltrated by Trumper enthusiasts, Neo-nazis, Climate-change deniers and anti-vaxxers got into a brough-haha over a disputed "kill" near Red Hill Centre with the AOC Squad supporters who had shown up, not so much to kill poodles as to give support to the AOC who they knew would arrive and surely attract opposition.

The FES folks seemed to vastly outnumber the other contingent, largely because this group has always been much louder, but the AOC was soon bolstered by intelligent members of the IEEE and the Union of Concerned Scientists, who usually do not participate, but often conduct studies on the various RF phenomena attendant to regional disturbances of this type, where large amounts of invested energy paradoxically seems to be converted to inert mass in reverse of all previous theoretical constructs.

The Poodleshoot, like all NASCAR events, is a singular event in which a great amount of industry results in a lump of useless "stuff", which has yet to be fully analyzed in terms of subsequent emissions.

The FES has tended to resist scientific analysis against its firm set of unfounded beliefs that the entire Earth is flat with compass points determined by loci identified by the names of cities named Springfield scattered around the ... map. There is no globe.

This group has remained fertile territory for Trumper-Rumpers, who sometimes are called Trumper-Rompers after the diapers they affect to wear. The Trumper-Rompers wear diapers - under their overclothes of course -- so as to emulate the Big Baby whom they adore without reservation.

So anyway, the FAS ran up against the AOC and thence commence a great fight. Amidst this fight lay the carcass of the slain Poo, not unlike the ancient battle described in the Iliad over Patroclus.

This Poo had been owned, btw, by Mimsy Hackensack of Fairfax, who said, "He pooped all over the place, yapped incessantly and bit the postman. I am glad he is gone; good riddance."

Nevertheless the FAS had a motto of "Leave no Poo behind," and so they commenced an assault that resulted in the AOS troops taking cover on the north side of the Red Hill Centre behind buildings and fortifications while the FAS occupied the Parking Arcade and the frontage roads along the south side of Sir Francis Drake.

The Sheriff's department would have had a say here on the goings on, but they were driven off by blasts of the hot air guns of the FAS, which had cultivated this technique for many year.

The AOS were sort put given their tenuous positions and low enlistment in the Walgreens and Safeway parkinglots, but a figure appeared at dark along with an host of reinforcements who turned out to be the Perfidious Media, a name defined by the Trumper-Rumpers and the distant Nazis, whose influence over the Trumpers could not be denied.

At dusk the figure appeared before the embattled AOC, guardians of truth, and spake as thus as in ages past, "Look for me on the 3rd Day. Goodnight and Goodluck!"

The Second Day was filled with accusations of Lying Press and Traitorous Infidels coming from the FAS who had quite usurped and overtaken the Poodleshoot as all hunters flocked to one side or the other, becoming as such a Nation Divided.

The Media send fullisades of Truth against the stoic battlements of the FAS coalition while the Coalition blasted back with outrageous accusations. Their Chieftains, Hannity and Guliani spread devious fogs of disinformation and false accusations and numerous writs most unfounded. They summoned dragons of deceit and castrated those who would be truthful kings.

Someone said, "Isn't this nonsense like a TV show?" and was promptly beheaded.

That night the air descended into freezing temperatures and all who manned the barricades and there was much suffering among the Truthful and the Scientific for they were not used to the self-denial of soldiers on the battlefield.

But lo! In the East as the sun arose there appeared a figure mounted upon a great steed all shining of silver. Behind him was an host of people from all walks of life bearing what looked like ballots. Down the figure descended, carrying above his head a shining spear that appeared like a great, golden pen.

"See it now!" shouted the man as his host descended from Red Hill onto the FAS line and overwhelmed them with votes and the truth.

Minions of the FAS fought back with denials and lies, but they were overwhelmed and so it was even as an FAS exclaimed, "We won!" amid their debris and their dismay, a child stood up and shouted, "SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!"

And so the followers of the Flat Earth Society were cast down, and the Trumper-Rumpers fled with poopy diapers, and order was restored on the final day of the Poodleshoot.

Given that few poodles were taken, Padraic and Dawn threw another Ahi on the Barbee and so all were fed and a thankful time was celebrated in this year of our Lord 2020, which marks the 22nd Poodleshoot and BBQ.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 15, 2020

ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN \ AND THE SKY IS GREY

Well not all the leaves are brown, but perhaps that is because it is Fall and not yet Winter.

WHAT'S UP PUSSYCAT?

Finally got all the stories updated for 2019 in the Stories section, so now you can read about Javier's birthday, the annual V-Day disaster for Denby, the 21st Poodleshoot and the 21st Crossing as it happened last year.

Hopefully we will be able to get 2020 updated before we are too far gone with 2021.

NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

So anyway. After the entire election of the TreeTop President among the Pathfinders was over, the incumbent President Baby Boobie refused to come down from the official Pathfinders treehouse in Silvan Acres, insisting there had been massive election fraud and despite the vote count of 105 to 3, he had still won and deserved to sit upon the Pathfinder's Oval Throne, which was a golden toilet someone had found in an abandoned hippie shack a few years ago and hauled up to the treehouse fort, which sat massively overbuilt with immense redwood timbers in the forks of a great oak that must have been over 200 years old, planted by the Spanish Colonial forces during the time of the haciendas.

The kids all gathered at the base of the oak and some simply wandered about and some played mumblety-peg and some stood there shouting for Baby Boobie to come down. The kids who did not care belonged to the GOP, the Grand Old Poopers, and they were fine with Baby Boobie staying up there as long as he liked, for that meant that the ice cream was all theirs when it came around.

Eventually, Baby Boobie's mother came out to demand he come down for supper, but the kid refused adamantly, knowing that once he vacated the residence, his defeat would be assured.

NO WAY DUDE!" Baby Boobie twittered. "I ALONE CAN RESOLVE THIS CRISIS! IT HAS ALL BEEN FRAUD. FRAUD FORCED BY BABY FAWCHI!.

"Dude?! I am your mother! Come down now!"

"NO WAY! I WON! I WON! Y'ALL ARE LOSERS! LOOOOOOOSERS!"

"Baby Boobie," said his mother with determination. "If I have to climb up there and take you down you are going to experience such a paddling you never experienced before!"

Baby Boobie hitched up his diapers and declaimed through the microphone held by his chief sycophant, Rudy with his secondary sycophant Baby Barr standing by in his finest Huggies, "I AM A VERY STABLE GENIUS AND EVERYTHING I HAVE DONE UP TO NOW PROVES I ALONE CAN MAKE THE ISLAND GREAT AGAIN!"

A great number of kids wearing red MIGA hats raised up their tiny hands in cheers. Some made fists and some salutes featured the open palm of the 1930's.

And so Baby Boobie categorically refused to come down from the treehouse to face the reality that he was just a big baby in an adult world and nobody was going to recognize his baby leadership.

Meanwhile the rest of Silvan Acres dealt with the ongoing Pandemic, which Baby Boobie declared to be an entire non-emergency.

The torrid temperatures of October have finally subsided to cool nights with the promise of rain coming on. Bear has parked his 1952 panhead Harley in the livingroom again to "winterize" the machine. Silvia "cyclized" the carpet prior to this with layers of tarp and old towels.

Each prepares for the change in seasons in their own way. Mr. Cribbage had his gutters cleaned out, but this time engaged professionals to do it for he still suffered back problems from the time he had tried to save money by doing it himself only to suffer a ladder contretemps.

He still tried to save money by hiring N. Eptitood Contractors (Make Your Armoir Great Again!", Mike and Neal DePuglia. The pair are about as proficient at plumbing, furniture reconditioning, and auto repair as they are at installing gutters, but this never stopped them from causing an expensive screw-up in yet another field better practiced by experienced and licensed professionals and it was four hours before they realized they had bolted on the gutters backwards so the drain spout blocked the side door entrance.

At the Old Same Place Bar Dawn and Suzie have been serving up the Gaelic Coffees, a beverage known by another name in other places, but Padraic insists that "na daycent Irishman would soil the honest Water 'o Life with debased ingredients like sugar and whipped cream". The bar has become a take-out only through a special window with brief stints in which only a maximum of three patrons were allowed to sit a good eight feet apart inside and out on the "patio" beside the dumpster out back. Talking was forbidden and every drink came with a mandatory straw to be used with mask on. A set of barbells sat on each table to support the appearance of an athletic club.

Those efforts plus a free donation to Officer O'Madhauen of a case of Jamesons kept the place in business.

This was helped somewhat by shuttering the windows and allowing entrance through the rear only.

At the Island-Life Offices the Editor stood at the back porch, looking at the clouding night sky. These are difficult times, he thought, full of suffering and fire, disease and contention. We have self-deluded maniacs steering the ship of state. And the Editor who was not a religious man, prayed for rain. Just then, the first drop struck the bridge of his nose.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 8, 2020

FISHING

A brisk morning in late Fall. The trees turning and the light golden on the lake while a man engages in the old art and sport of fishing for bass or trout.

OH, LEAVES WERE FALLING \ THEY'RE JUST LIKE EMBERS

A few days ago, Democracy gave promise that it would survive Autocracy and foolish, vainglorious rule. But Democracy is not something that is a given. It has been threatened before and it wants fighting for and we are collectively in it for the fight of our Century as the Baby Bubba chunks his fits of lawsuits and denials and lies.

Nevertheless the present joy is real. We won in the popular numbers and we won in the creaky antiquated Electoral College; no one can seriously deny it, short of some people living in a fool's paradise of self-deception. There was no collusion this time.

Mr. Trump, YOU'RE FIRED! Take your stuffed teddy bear and go home while the adults clean up your messes.

So anyway, the heat wave has come and gone and the buckeyes are all gone sere. Mornings and evenings the pogonip drifts in over the hills.

Yes, that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk with scents of apples and chimney smoke and thoughts turn to traditions and season rituals. Dick and Jane go gaily scampering through the fallen leaves with ruddy cheeks and panting breath hand in hand, leaping over babbling brook and fog-damp fallen tree, each dreaming of popping a few rounds into a Fifi, blasting the stuffing out of a silver-haired poo with a brand new, polished thirty ought-six.

God! It is such a magical time! It is glorious America in Fall! Praise the Goddess for the Red, White, and Blue!

Yep, that much anticipated Island event is nigh upon us once again, the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 22nd year that the 'Shoot has taken place and first time it will be held off the Island after it moved to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers and so provides splendid opportunity for Red-blooded American Sport. To commemorate past glories a small ceremony will be held on the Island which still holds the Old Same Place Bar that funded much of the beverages. It is, in short a Tradition, and around here we are big on Tradition.

Each year avid gun-nuts and hunters have gathered in the Bay Area for the Poodle Hunt, renowned throughout the world as having few events of such magnitude and utmost serious rivaling NASCAR races and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Now is the time of waking up before the dawn and early sunsets, long shadows in the afternoons and people walking hurriedly along the pavements, all bundled up in scarves, hats, overcoats and boots. Autumn never happened around here. We leaped from triple digit temps to frost warnings in a few days. Rain is in the forecast, the Editor thinks as he looks out at the sere buckeyes, the oaks and acacia that have been cut back. He returns to his desk with all the lights off save for the one pool of light spilled by the desklamp and he sits down. The night passes as he continues to work as he has for the past 21 years, face lit by that lamp and his remaining hair flying about his head in an aureole, surrounded by the curtains of darkness and the sharp longing that somewhere out there must be a like mind filled with piercing desire for a monad of ecstasy, also pursuing these failed meditations, and so he continued doing all for Company.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

November 1, 2020

DEER , WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME?


WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway, the days are bright with sunshine although the oak trees have gone sere and buckeyes have lost their leaves, the bare branches heavy with pendulous fruit and the nights have gotten chill. It is the time of the full moon again, and the last day of Los Dias de los Muertos showed up as an apparition or an omen a day before the national election.

The time came for Denby to make the annual crossover, which had remained as a Tradition even though the offices and the Household had been transplanted by force during the Night of Shattered Fires. Tradition has its own powerful force as some of you may know.

The sun descended and shadows grew long across the little avenues of Silvan Acres. Because of the creek passing through, and then the long absent train line and now the road, this place had been a traveling place for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The Editor said, "Go now," and so Denby took his walking cane and went out to the uplift where the earth was embanked higher than in other places along the road.

A train came trundling along the way beside the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, even though Denby could not recall such tracks ever having been there.

The machine heaved to a stop with steam and groaning and Denby climbed aboard and took his seat in a cabin with no other passengers in the car. The train proceeded down Sir Francis Drake, stopping at Yolanda Landing and various points not known to Denby and then proceeded south and east through a dense fog that made identifying landmarks difficult. For a long time everything outside the windows was entirely black and Denby assumed they were somehow crossing one of the bridges.

"Endstation! Endstation!"

At one point the train stopped and the conductor, a gaunt man wearing a robe, came down the aisle announcing in a foreign accent "Endstation! Endstation!"

Denby disembarked to find he was on the Shoreline Road on the Island. He walked along the path there that bordered the brightly lit condos and the seawall until he came to the Iron Gate. He undid the latch and was greeted by any owl. "Who? Who are you? Who?!"

An iron bell began to clang and then he saw the vast expanse of bonfires lit upon the beach. Those bonfires lit by the souls waiting passage to redemption or eternal fire.

A distant dog or set of dogs set up a jarring sound of barking.

He used his cane to push open the gate and so step through a veil of mist to the Other Side where a long reach of strand with bonfires extended to north and south, broken only at this height by the extension of a stone landing.

As in years past, as he approached the Portal, the Voice bellowed to him from some echoing deep cavern.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had for the past 22 years.

For pete's sake. As per Tradition, dammit, Denby muttered.

A large owl, about two feet tall, perched on a piling scolded him with large owl eyes.

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

"Hooooo!"

On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but he could not see the far lights of Babylon's port facilities or the Coliseum. A dense, lightless fog hung a few yards offshore, making it appear that the water extended out beyond to Infinity. The sky above was filled with black cloud and boiling with red flashes of lightening and fire although not a drop of rain had fallen.

All up and down the strand he could now see that countless bonfires had been lit, as is customary among our people in this part of the world to do during the colder winter months along the Strand, and towards one of these he stumbled among drift and seawrack.

Sitting around that fire, he recognized many faces. And many more all up and down that beach.

"ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta"

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of echos into eternity

A small child, barefoot and wearing a nightdress ran past and disappeared as quickly as she had come.

A glimmering figure appeared before him, a blond woman shining with internal light and gauzy fabric blown by an invisible wind.

"Denby!" said the woman. "Here you are again!"

"Hello Penny," Denby said. "Back again."

"A year has passed up there in your world, I guess. Here another year is all the same for waiting. There are several here who are new and they would like to speak with you."

Several little girls, all between the ages of six and nine, wearing pinafores ran barefoot across the sands between them and vanished into the misty beyond.

"There are a couple people you need to meet very soon", said Penny.

"I figured as much," Denby said.

From up on high a man came down the beach with an retinue, singing in a loud and lusty voice.

"I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day . . ."

He was followed by others and they were all headed towards the stone jetty that extended out into the stygian dark waters.

He was followed by two men, walking together, looking like statesmen by their mein.

"I'd rather be dead and in heaven than afraid to do what I think is right, said the one."

"Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America," said the other.

After them came two more men, one carrying a guitar, but not singing. The first said with a kind of Country accent, " If I can make myself laugh about something that I should be crying about, that's pretty good."

The other burst into song.

"Some ... times in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But ... if we are wise
We know that there's .... always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on."

A man carrying an electric guitar followed him down to the infernal docks along with so many others, including musicians, actors, statesmen, journalists and leaders of all kinds.

A wizened man came down the way, saying, "Have you seen my Ring? I seem to have lost it. I would like to see it back. Hold it in my hands once more. It was so Precious... O, I suppose this coin will have to do."

And so the company descended to the docks to wait for the Ferryman.

Two figures appeared before Denby. A matronly woman with a 1950's set of curls on her head and a tall, lean, bald man holding her hand. They appeared to be ageless.

"Hello Sonny boy," said the woman. "Denby, there you are." said the man.

"Hi mom. Hi dad," Denby said.

A group of young girls ran scampering out of the darkness and surrounded them with shrieks of laughter and dancing. The old woman grabbed the hands of a couple of girls and danced with them, sticking out her tongue in mockery.

"All of these could have been yours," said the old man. "Why did you fail to make a family so badly." His sentence was more a sentence than a question. It was an accusation.

"Guilt has always been your position," Denby said. "I had regional impedence, and the influence of a petty mafioso from Brooklyn."

A phalanx of girls ran between them shrieking into the dark beyond.

"Excuses, excuses. . . ".

"There was also your own deceptions. And control efforts from afar. I could go on."

From a distance the glimmer of the Ferryman's eyes advanced across the dark waters. There was no more time for discussion, or reconciliation, if ever there had been. What had been done over the decades was done and forever now buried. Soon the Crossing.

"You are going to have to go now," Penny said to the old couple. "This discussion will have to occur at another time, another place."

"There never is time," said the older man.

"In life you did have the time, but you did not spend it. Now you have one coin for one passage and must use it now," Penny said.

The man took the obolu out of his mouth and said, "I suppose you are right. I certainly wish my son had married you, for you seem a very reasonable girl."

"Ah, well, that opportunity has passed long ago," Penny said.

The skiff with the Ferryman docked at the landing below and the souls waiting there began to board.

"Bye-bye Sonny Boy", said the woman who descend along with a pageant of pinafore-clad girls, scampering and dancing right up to the terrible concrete blocks of the jetty.

"You can have my car; it is being shipped to you in California where they hate big, bulbous Suv types of things. Enjoy!"

The old man turned and descended to the dock with his fare in hand and so stepped aboard the skiff that would take him to some other place which he had either earned or deserved.

A flurry of children swirled around Denby and Penny as the skiff pushed off into the dark.

"Your mother seems to have been a sort of care-free sort of spirit," Penny said. "I wish I had gotten to know her better."

"Well, carefree appearance can hide a great deal of suffering and despair," Denby said. "Which is a common thread throughout her generation. But that is all over now."

"All over now," Penny said. "For many things."

The iron bell began to clang.

A little girl ran up to Denby and spoke. " Hey Papi! I am Sapphire! Remember me! You named me last time! I am not born yet, but maybe I will be some day!"

Denby got down on his hunkers to face Sapphire. "Hi Sapphire! I hope you have been good all this time I have been away."

Sapphire nodded vigorously. "I have not been born yet. I cannot tell a lie! Maybe after I am born!"

"Well I am 62 so we will see about that."

The iron bell began to clang insistently, calling the faithfull to their knees to speak the softly spoken magic spells. And close the gate between the worlds at the time the veils between the worlds are thinnest.

"Time to go, Denby. This one has been quite the family reunion."

"Yes."

Reluctantly Denby turned to go up the slope.

"Denby." Penny said simply and he paused as a wind kicked up with gusts.

She reached out her hands to cup his face. Cold, so cold. He felt a wetness on his lips, on his face. Perhaps the slap of saltwater from the Bay carried by the wind.

"Good-bye. Until next time."

He ascended the slope as the sound of the bell and three dogs became more insistent until he stumbled through the gate which slammed shut behind him. There, an open door to a train compartment waited for him and he climbed in to plotz into a seat in an otherwise empty railcar with salty, wet cheeks. On the return journey, he reflected Penny had become in the afterlife what she had been before. In life she had been a nurse during the height of the AIDS plague whose job it had been to handle the affairs of patients who had been sent home from Hospice as they lapsed and eventually died and allowed her to handle the paperwork of such things, there always the angel to usher souls to the door and through it to the next form of existence, if any, beyond.

The train passed through shadowy regions of smoke and the skeletal forms of houses and the smoke of spooks until it passed Yolanda Landing and eventually to the San Geronimo Station, where Denby disembarked. From there he went dutifully to the Island-Life offices although he felt exhausted unto death.

The Editor awaited him as in years past.

"So this is the 22nd time you have crossed over," said the Editor. "How was it this time?"

Denby fell into a plush chair Martini had snagged from a For Free roadside pile. He gave the Editor the one thousand yard stare.

"I can tell you are wanting a drink. And by just the look of you, so am I." The Editor reached into the desk and pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich and set two glasses on the desk before pouring more than two fingers into each glass.

"Any idea how the elections will go this time and what will become of the Country? Just exactly who is going to become President. You did ask, did you?"

"This time there was no time," Denby said hoarsely.

"That is par for the course" said the Editor. "Anything else?"

"There is nothing else to say," Denby said, his thoughts now far away. The thousand yard stare.

"I suspected not. It is all according to Tradition. At least we have that. Cheers."

"Cheers. Slainte." Denby said.

They sat there until the first glimmering of light appeared above the eastern hills. And so ended the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 25, 2020

ITS A DEAD MAN'S PARTY

Despite COVID, people are still decorating their yards with delightfullly frightful decor. Despite all odds, the Bay Area is determined to resume in some form its most favorite Holiday period which features costumes, fantasy, role playing, and candy of different kinds, some sweet and edible, some rough and physical. Halloween and Samhain are upon us. Let's pass around the jujus and the nipple clamps.


MUST BE THE SEASON OF THE WITCH

So anyway. She made arrangements down the hall with Carol to have Henry cared for and then packed her overnight bag and set her travelling hat upon her head and stepped out into the hallway of the St. Charles Home for Wayward Souls and Demented Managers and locked her door, knowing that locked doors in that place had no special significance among the nest of thieves and lockpickers that inhabited the building. Nevertheless, one must put on a show of defiance.

From the front doors of the St. Charles Infirmary, Rachel walked down in the early afternoon to the bus stop on Central to catch the last bus heading out to the Ferry Landing. There, she waited an half hour until the ferry came to deliver her to San Francisco's Ferry Terminal. There she wended her way to the landing that allowed her to board the ferry to Larkspur after some 45 minutes playing Hero Wars on her iPad.

Rachel took the bus from Larkspur that dropped her at the Red Hill Hub and from there took the Point Reyes bus that brought her all the way to Silvan Acres in the San Geronimo Valley

She strolled in to the Offices, dropped her bag and the Annual Drawing of Straws began. By the rules, anyone who draws the shortest straw is commissioned to cross over to the Other Side on the last day of El Dias de los Muertos, the days when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

That Rachel is appointed as the Straw-bearer is a matter of Tradition. That the Drawing of Straws occurs in mid-October had been a matter of Tradition these past 20 years. That the end result is always the same, is also a matter of Tradition, but nevertheless, Rachel must make this long journey, leaving behind dear Henry the cat to be cared for by apartment hallmate Carol so as to preserve Tradition.

In the new Island-life offices that were created in the space of a former barn by the labor of Pahrump, Denby, Mancini, and others, the surviving staff gather for the annual ritual.

As in the 20 past years, Rachel walked around with the hat filled with straws and each member of the staff drew so as to determine who shall be the one to cross over to The Other Side, their charge being to inquire about the possible future.

As Rachel walked down the aisles, each staffer drew a straw with great hesitation, sweat beading out on the brow, nervously clutching the straw until it was revealed to be longer yet than any other to that person's great relief. Even Festus was made to draw -- nothing is uglier than an anxious, sweating hamster -- but it had to be done for the sake of Tradition.

Finally it came around to the reluctant Denby, who, as Tradition dictated each year, drew the shortest straw.

"Why must it be me each year," Denby lamented.

"Because you are Chosen," Marlene said. "It's just it is not always to advantage to be Chosen. Okay everybody, tea and coffee and cakes on the verandah!"

And so they all filed out, clapping Denby on the back congratulating him on his good fortune while muttering under breath as they exited the door, "Thank god it is not me, poor sod!"

Mancini put up Rachel for the night with a space heater in one of the better quarantine cabins.

Finally Denby was left alone with the Editor.

"So I guess the infernal train shall arrive on schedule to take me there as usual," Denby said.

"Right you are." the Editor said, huffing on his cigar. "You can see that the way the Election is going we need to know what is going to happen."

"This organization is entirely too much like health care," Denby said.

The Editor removed his cigar for the first time in a long time. "What the heck do you mean by that?"

"If you are not a licensed professional with the Board you can just Go To Hell," Denby said.

The Editor lit up his stogie. "You have your charge. I expect thorough professionalism and the utmost order of quality response in all efforts."

"Just like health care: you can have all you want, just so long as you pay for it." Denby said.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 11-17, 2020

YEAR OF THE CAT

This image comes from a neighbor observing a bobcat observing the possibilities of a meal in the yard. Fortunately Fifi and Mr. Smith were inside at the time.


LOVE IS A LIE

So anyway. The skies have turned clear and cloudless and the oppressive heat wave which eased this past week seems hell-bent on return. It is hoped the few drops of tears from above will dampen the fires that have destroyed 4.2 million acres of California this year. And what a year it has been. Fire, drought, feverish pandemic, and the occasional shaker to remind us that not even the ground under our feet is secure.

The air soothed a brief while before the spears of the angry Sun god pierced the earth in a unholy hail of firey dissent. Again the fierce weather assailed the scortched earth of NorCal until people who had sworn to remain here 3 generations deep began to pack up and move to places less likely to burn under their heels. Mansions that went for two million a year ago went on the block unsold for $800K. Businesses that had survived hardscrabble times were shut up, closed out, and for rent signs put into their suddenly empty storefront windows.

A triple threat becomes a quadruple threat. Followed by more of a new misery. First the terrible fires destroying over 4 million acres of land and people. Then the terrible plague of disease killling and maiming thousands in the Golden State. Then the terrible drought turning vast regions of once green landscape into dustbowls. Then the blasted weather turns against us with triple digit temps scouring the land even more. What next disaster shall unfold from the wretched political machinery that creaks with loud imprecations towards a miserable armageddon?

Mr. Blunt of Railroad Way, sought to ease the pains of this heatwave by installing a sprinkler system in the yard that would shower guests with supposedly cool streams, and then a number of swamp coolers in the rooms of his mansion, as no one had ever considered the need of house cooling in the days prior to Global Climate Change as the Bushy President was much believed back in the day.

Despite the unseasonal heat, the trees all along San Geronimo Blvd are turning a golden shade, as the days get shorter and the dawn postpones itself more and more each morning. The time is coming when tiny monsters shall appear in doorways and the hedges begin to display creepy drapings of spiderwebs. Vampires shall stalk the crepuscular light and ghouls shall march upon the streets and in the formerly staid houses of Parlement.

Speaking of vampires and ghouls, there is an election coming on, should anyone have been living in a dark hole and not know it. The Island has its usual candidates Papoon of the Meekly Liberal Party (MPL) contending against Babar of the Conservative Orotund Party (COP), sometimes known as a the Greatly Ovoid Party, and the incumbent Rupert "Bobby" Strumpf of the party he seems to have entirely invented himself out of the detritus and discards of the GOP called the Shrieking Obese Party (SOP).

The hustings have been highly fractious this time around to the extent that Strumpf has said several times that if Papoon, now leading in the polls, wins the election Strumpf will leave the country to inhabit the pleasant dacha prepared for him in Minsk by his devoted friend Vladimir LaPuta. As Strumpf owes quite a bit of money on the heavy borrowing he has done to prop up his failing businesses, this might be an excellent way to skip out on paying a bill that many estimate to be in the billions of dollars.

Papoon and Strumpf held one debate which started out okay, but due to Strumpfs seeming inability to maintain civil composure the affair degenerated quickly into a shouting, insulting orgy of verbal violence followed by a rushing of the stage and physical assaults among the defenders of each party, with the Secret Service having to step in and use all their martial arts skills amid a savage whirlwind of atavistic chaos which shamed the entire Island and the Nation as a whole.

Of course besides the Election, we have a couple Island-Life traditions coming up. Next week Rachel shall inform Carol down the hall that she will be gone for a day or so to take care of Tradition doing the You Know What and would she mind tending to Henry the cat. Rachel will then put on her hat and board the bus to the Ferry and from the Ferry she will board another infernal bus to take her to the new Island Life offices in Silvan Acres to pass around the hat of straws, as she has done each year for the past 21 years.

The loser in the annual Drawing of Straws shall be the Staff delegate to cross over to the Other Side during the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest --the last day of Los Dias de los Muertos.

In the Offices of Island-Life the Editor and Staff prepared the Newsroom for a properly socially distanced event next week with the now familiar yellow tape on the floors marking off the six foot barriers and sanitizer dispensers at the doors, disinfectant wipes and packages of masks.

At the end of the day the Editor watched the sun set in the ruddy West made more opaque by the Woodward fire at Point Reyes. The fire had been banked back but recently had seen a flare-up as these things sometimes do. This has been quite a year and it is not over yet. Life already has changed forever for the current generations.

Martini came out from the quarantine shed he had converted into a sort of one room studio\office. "Got anything for me boss?"

The Editor removed the eternal cigar from his lips. "We are done tonight, Martini. Get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day."

"Right-o!"

The factories had re-opened after the pandemic closure and Martini had returned to his job as sawboy at Veriflo, cutting 50 foot long alloy rods into six-inch blocks with a special saw. But he still did the handyman's work around the place, fixing the electrics so they did not resemble dangerous Marin hobble-horse jobs while building the occasional shelf where needed.

The Editor knew that he was gifted with oversight over good people. And tomorrow was another day.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 27- OCTOBER 4, 2020

WHEN THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER PRICKS MY FINGER

This image is of a garden wall down the hill in Fairfax.

THE STATE OF THINGS

These past few months have been quite something here in Alta California and we are not nearly done yet. The largest fires in the history of the Golden State have flamed out one after another with the biggest one near Oakhurst only 39% contained as of this report, having ravaged 302, 800 acres.

On the COVID front, our organization had to slow testing due to poor air quality in recent weeks. Our numbers were hovering around the 7% positive detection rate. State-wide we see 802,300 cases, up about 4,071. Fatalities look about 15,587, which although dismal is encouraging in terms of percentages overall. Alameda county saw a slow uptick of 20,000 cases and a corresponding decrease in death percentages as we develop better coping mechanisms for ICU inducts.

Flu season is approaching and everyone but everyone is urging flu vaccinations at this time. Most pharmacies and health care centers are offering free shots.

From the Department of California Health:

Should I wear a mask?
California’s public health officials released updated guidance on June 18 on the use of cloth face coverings by the general public worn outside the home. It mandates that face coverings be worn state-wide in the circumstances and with the exceptions outlined in the guidance. It does not substitute for existing guidance about social distancing and handwashing.

The use of cloth face coverings could reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by individuals who do not have symptoms and may reinforce physical distancing. Public health officials also caution that face coverings may increase risk if users reduce their use of strong defenses such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

As an addendum, we did a literature survey of 95 studies conducted between 1865 and the present day, finding with N values > 25,000 each and error theta of better than .001 that use of masks significantly reduces spread of virus contamination.

Reviewed surveys published in Lancet as of last July are available online. These are peer-reviewed articles, not PrePrints.

YOU'RE SO VAIN

The expected happened; there was no real October Surprise. A bunch of people acting cavalier and foolish amid the largest health emergency since 1918 got sick. Well what the hell did they expect? That wealth and priviledge would be enough to insulate themselves from viruses?

There are many good things which can come out of this COVID outbreak at the White House. Numbskulls will come to face Reality sufficiently to enforce policy that just might start to save millions of lives. And just perhaps seeing this outbreak, die-hard Trumpers and manic Libertarians will begin to act rationally by way of wearing the mask in public, avoiding crowds, and practicing social distancing so as to protect the rest of us from wider contagion until a real vaccine can be developed.

Of course a real vaccine might never be developed since the antibodies seem to flush out of a person's system within weeks or sometimes the infected person never develops antibodies at all. That is how vaccines work -- they cause the system to produce antibodies.

We do not care if Trump never gets well again; it does not matter and he never cared about anyone else for all of that. We are just sorry we will not see another chaos of a debate as the guy clearly does not want to give Joe Biden another opportunity to say, "Oh shut up, man!"

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

So anyway. Pedro has been pulling in his boat through a soup of fog and smoke each day, returning to the docks of Princeton-by-the-Sea and Oaktown under dark skies although the time had advanced beyond 11:00. Ferryboat sniffs the air and does not like it one bit. Commerce has resumed between the docks and some restaurants. As a small-catch fisherman Pedro's market remained the fresh fish locals, where the massive trawler operations supplied fish to the big national chains that often enough ground up the fish into processed fish sticks and canned tuna and pet food.

Still all the contacts remained masked in this time of contagion. Of course there were some who worked unmasked but the Union forced them to obey orders or stay off the line. You have your rights to refuse and you can stay off the line if you do so as to protect the Rank and File. The job of the Union is to protect jobs. You want a job; put on the damned mask, just as that FOX commentator said recently. That is just the way it goes; safety first.

Meanwhile we have new fires blazing around Napa and Calistoga. These started as pocket fires from existing complexes. Now five winerys have been destroyed and the town of Calistoga evacuated once again.

Welcome to the new world order. It seems light-years since Dubbya said the Global Climate change was a leftist conspiracy. Now it seems light-years since the Right declared the COVID pandemic yet another conspiracy. Now millions have died of the virus and thousands have died due to hurricanes, floods, fires and god knows what else and nobody is talking about conspiracies any more. Except for Qanon, which is another nuthouse planet heard from.

With all this shelter-in-place it is darn difficult to find activities with which to occupy oneself. This has severely impacted Javier's normally risible romantic activities. It is not like one can just go out to a movie or a concert anymore, followed by a candle-light dinner.

In fact, the dateable singles all over the Bay Area are put into a difficult position when the doctors are recommending wearing a mask during sex.

This makes some positions untenable and seems to encourage more Dark Passage acts than in other times.

Certainly with the prohibition on kissing and hugging, we are having to resort to doggy-style reach-around techniques to satisfy our partners. Of course there is always M&M via Zoom chat, but that feels rather unsatisfactory. This COVID thing certainly puts a dint into romance.

The Editor came out onto the back deck at the end of the day. The recent heat wave was giving in to cool front and the burnt air, although not entirely fresh from smoke, was soothing. Due to Social Distancing, the usual busy hive of the Island-Life newsroom has been reduced to people handling reports filed from their cots and rooms where-ever they may be. Martini converted his quaratine shack into an office, while Jose has built a platform 60 feet up a coastal Sequoia and he has taken a MiFi with him which he charges at night when he comes down. He says he gets better cell reception there than down on the ground.

This whole COVID thing has certainly made people creative with their adaptations, especially given the lack of Federal guidance.

The country is divided about as bad, or worse, as the time of the Vietnam conflict. Race relations are in a tailspin. Respect for the police is in the dumps. Immigrants and seasonal workers are being savaged. There is an international health crisis which is the worst seen since 1918 and many people choose to ignore the simplest precautions against it for themselves and others.

In the Waifsay Grocery downtown Fairfax the Editor heard the following exchange between a maskless shopper and an employee.

"You say there is a store policy that all shoppers must wear a mask. How can you enforce a policy that is against the law?"

"Ma'am, wearing a mask IS the law in Fairfax. You can be fined. Wear a mask or get out of my store. NOW! Ma'am!"

A little while later the maskless individual who insisted on her personal rights over collective safety was seen walking to her car with no groceries in hand.

If we still had crowded movie theaters you never had the right to stand up and shout "FIRE!" in the middle of a showing. There have always been restrictions on personal rights for the good of all. Why is this event suddenly different?

Your right to stand on your Rights does not include a right to stand on mine and my safety and the safety of my family and my community. It has been that way ever since 1616 in this land.

The Editor calmly observed the massive Blue Moon appear above the horizon, a welcome change from the swellling red ones of late caused by the fires.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

ALL UNDER A BURNING SKY

Shot taken downtown SF mid-day last week.

TAKE A BREAK

Hamilton would have found our present-day work-patterns to be ludicrous and out of touch with what was then considered an harmonious whole as envisaged by Michealangelo. Nevertheless here we are, plunging daily with "locamotive breath". The Island-Life staff has gone on sabbatical after working non-stop for over two years on the healthcare front, although plans to extend into the high country have been cancelled for this year due to the fires, primarily the Creek fire now overwhelming the South Fork of the San Joaquin, Shaver Lake and advancing upon Oakhurst after destroying nearly 300,000 acres of forest and wildlands as well as several mountain communities.

COVID 19 UPDATE

From the LIfelong Medical Care weekly release.

In a somewhat encouraging trend, new cases and hospitalizations in the Bay Area have declined from a peak in the first half of August. However the highest rates of COVID-19 remain in the Latinx population and the highest death rates are among African Americans.

Nationally, 6.38 million people have been diagnosed with the virus and 191,000 people have died; 749,000 Californians have had the virus, and there were 13,990 deaths.

"Life and Death Betrayal"

This week Washington Post editor Bob Woodard released audio tapes of Donald Trump confirming that back in February the president was well aware of the lethality of the virus and its airborne spread, even as he assured the country that it was no more harmful than seasonal flu and would disappear miraculously.

Trump said he was trying to keep Americans from panicking when he referred to COVID-19 as the Democrats’ “hoax” and downplayed it for months while thousands sickened and died. Reaction was swift.
“It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said. “It’s beyond despicable….He knew how deadly it was. He purposely played it down. Worse, he lied.” Biden said that Trump’s deceit “caused people to die.” Congressman Ted Lieu of Los Angeles declared, “This is reckless homicide.”

Trump has repeatedly hinted there will be a vaccine before the Nov. 3 election, but it appears that most Americans won’t trust it. In a CBS poll, just 21 percent of voters said they would get a vaccine as soon as possible; two thirds said they would suspect that a COVID-19 vaccine offered before the end of the year will likely have been rushed through without sufficient testing. Just 34 percent said they trust Trump to make sure a vaccine is safe.

This public distrust prompted an unusual pledge from nine drug makers promising not to seek approval of COVID-19 vaccines until they have been shown to work safely through late-stage clinical testing.

Relief Package Doubtful Again

After a long hiatus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a coronavirus relief bill that was promptly voted down by Senate Democrats. Prospects for a bipartisan package appear dim. In May, the House approved a $3 trillion package, and the Senate later offered $1 trillion. Negotiations with the White House broke down a month ago, and McConnell’s new offer was for $500 billion. It included funding for small businesses, enhanced unemployment insurance, child care, the post office, coronavirus testing, and schools.
Even before the Senate vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a joint statement that the bill “doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere.” Despite their differences, both houses have to agree on a government spending bill to avoid a shutdown in October.

No LifeLong Testing Data This Week

We are in the process of remapping our entire COVID report to ensure the best capture of data points from our various sources. These changes will be completed sometime next week. Unfortunately, that means no report for this week. However, this week’s data will be included when we republish.

In recent weeks, we’ve had a slowdown in the number of people seeking testing. One reason could be bad air quality due to multiple wildfires throughout California. We are continuing to monitor air quality and will close outdoor testing whenever the air is unhealthy.

Unemployment Insurance Boost

LifeLong Human Resources Director Carmen Jones-Weaks announced last week that the federal government, through EDD, will begin issuing an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits.
Those who are currently receiving benefits who indicated to the Employment Development Department they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 will receive the additional payment automatically.

People who did not inform EDD that their circumstances are related to COVID-19 will be required to submit a one-time certification. The payments will be added to the regular unemployment amount for any eligible weeks

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

So anyway. Mr. Howitzer's Social Engagement service has had to cancel all of the Summer and Fall garden parties, along with the Realtor's Conventions that normally turned the Howitzer mansion into a buzzing hive of remunerative activity. Instead his group has held Anti-covid Garden Rallies in which all persons, save Dodd, have refused to wear masks as a mark of their individuality and expression of Freedom.

These rallies have suffered a recent hiatus as nearly everyone who attended has fallen ill to one sort of ailment or another and a number of individuals have actually died, which is a terrible faux pas in the eyes of some. "He should not have died; that was a bad choice and so unpatriotic, "Declaimed Ms. Dudgeon. "He was otherwise quite a useful Conservative."

Pedro, in his fishing boat El Borracho Perdido, coursed upon the waves made in this interim time between summer and fall through the banks of fog that announced some seasonal, natural changes remained intact and on schedule. He came out in the early morning to find everything beaded over with dew, something which had been long overdue.

Out upon the fishing lanes he cast his nets, the crabbing season having taken a nasty kibosh due to the Covid lockdown. The fish he took in were all warm water fish; it would be a while before herring and mackerel would return in shoals. He had the same problem as farmers in the heartland now standing knee-deep in far too early snow and wondering what on earth to plant now that Nature had gone crazy. Pedro could only handle what he had pulled in and sell that to the restaurants that now were serving take-out. sometimes elegant take-out with white gloves, but take-out none-the-less. Pity the poor chef constrained to a waxed white-box presentation that was likely to be shuffled around on the car seat on the way home.

Let us not even begin to speak of the horrors done to sushi in this manner.

The Editor, with no Sabbatical to occupy his mind, returned to the cubicle at work but told no one he was there and each day he watched the news outlets do their thing, with Fox news continuing to be Faux news, and MSNBC becoming ever more shrill and CNN trying to report the increasingly strident and nonsensical news without going crazy, and the entire country acting like there is no civil war going on in which it will be clear that there will be only one heavily damaged victor with no advantages to having "won". Nobody is going to win the abortion thing. Nobody is going to win the gun thing. Nobody is going to win the healthcare thing. And all of this is because nobody seriously involved gives serious flying fuck all about any of the issues because it has all become an atavistic, snarling melee about seizing absolute power, which state the Constitution forbids and the country is too divided to allow that. So all this melee is for nothing.

Out on the back deck a gentle breeze brought a coolness to ease the day. Above, a smattering of clouds floated amid a scattering of stars. Many were fleeing the Golden State and its new normal of fire with devastation.

The Editor plotzed into a deckchair to stare at the woods being trimmed by crews each day. I am too old to shift from fire to some place that suffers floods and obdurate Republicans.

Here I stay and here I shall remain like generations of Californios before me until I am killed by the Angry Elf gang or burned out. He was the man who wandered many paths of exile after the sack of the Island's sacred citadel. He saw the cities of man, mapped the minds of many; and on the sea, his spirit suffered every adversity -- to keep his life intact, to bring his comrades back home safe to land.

Marlene found him there asleep in the chair and she returned to lay a coverlet over his old knees as a token of kindness, for kindness is a strange brooche in this all-hating world in which we now live.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 06, 2020

SUNDOWN


THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

So anyway. Bay Area were more than 75 percent contained as of Wednesday night, and a third was nearing the halfway mark, according to the California Deartment of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of 7 p.m., the SCU Lightning Complex Fire had consumed 391,578 acres in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties, and was 76 percent contained, Cal Fire said. Five injuries have been reported. In addition, the fire, the second-largest in state history, has destroyed 105 structures and damaged 17 others.

Containment of the 375,209-acre LNU Lightning Complex Fire, meanwhile, rose to 78 percent, according to Cal Fire. Five deaths and four injuries have been reported. The fire, the third-largest on record, has also destroyed 1,464 structures and damaged 231 others.

Finally, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire had scorched 85,467 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, and was 46 percent contained as of 7 p.m. Wednesday, Cal Fire said. One death and one injury have been reported. In addition, the fire has destroyed 1,490 structures, including 925 single-family homes, and damaged 140 others.

The Woodward fire in West Marin is 25% contained with the novel help of drones. The San GeronimoValley is filled with an haze of smoke.

GOODBYE MY LOVE

So anyway again. The Editor stepped out on the back porch after another nightmare day of grey pall concealing the blood orange sun and veils of smoke shrouding the surrounding hills and the continuing Pandemic. A day ago after 120 days of record Spare the Air days the air smelled durable if not sweet again.

Now the air is superheated by flaming belches of lava heat pouring down upon the sere California countryside. It hit 105 in Santa Rosa. The temps jumped 110 in the East Bay Valley. The San Geronimo Valley registered 115 degrees. An angry God was come striding through this countryside with a flaming sword, bringing down arrows and slashes of violent heat even as more intense fires erupted across the scortched body of California, writhing under this torture of flames.

In this time the Angry Elf gang has been stewing for lack of opportunity to torture other people, save for the obvious and unsophisticated method of starting fires here and there. Right now starting fires, whether they be car fires or dumpster ignitiions has a high degree of risk due to increased vigilance and this irks the noisome crew.

"How can we frighten the goobs with all these cell cams and surveillance going on," complained the Cackler. "Its not like the good old days of terrifying the accountant."

Pity the poor petite mafiosos. They are so self-limited.

"Spike the tires and do the usual home invasion," Neal the Angry Elf said. "I don't care so long as the money flows. We will get back to fire and the fun stuff when all this COVID crap is all done. Meyer Lansky, now there was a gent who knew how to get things done when things got tight. Never got caught that Lansky. God blessed man and idol of mine!"

Mr. Howitzer on the Island has seen a retrenchment in property sales -- seems fewer people from Urbana are wanting to buy land in a place that smells like a rubber factory and has the high potential of erupting in sheets of flame. Those people much prefer the quixotic behavior of tornados when it comes down to this climate change thing.

"Dodd! I want the monthly report on my desk by noon!" shouted Mr. Howitzer, who had the money to install an intercom system in his mansion, but preferred to resort to old-fashioned bellowing in the house to get things properly communicated. What was good for the liege of King George was good enough for the modern age.

Right at this moment it seems the Nation and the Golden State have entered their Darkest Hour. A fiend howls imprecations against all that is holy in our country from the White Tower in the East. He denigrates the valor of the men and women more valorous than himself in times past. He insults the leaders of any number of members of the Free World while defending tinpot dictators and cruel tyrants. He shrieks division among us to inflame the worst who uphold cruel and inhuman ideologies that result in death and destruction far and wide, and so by doing weaken our Nation at home and Abroad. In the West the Balrog is marching in legions across the land with no restraint bearing whips of fire, causing fire and grief and loss of life and property far and wide.

Out on the shipping lanes to which Pedro has returned with his boat El Borracho Perdido and his trusty mate Ferryboat, the early pre-dawn hours merge into the day with their usual seasonal pattern at this time of year.

We have passed beyond the longest day and are heading steadily, COVID or fire or not, towards the longest night. The next full moon, always a moment of joy for Pedro, is scheduled for October 1, with the darkest night slated for September 17. These passages were always noted by the farmers in the heartland and by the fishermen upon the sea, although they did not often converse much amoung themselves.

Perhaps it is time now that the Norwegian farmer up north come down to converse with the fisherman of the south so as to find and determine some commonalities here, for the Nation is grieving by its division and wants some reconciliation. Let us remember that Founding Fathers did say at one time, "A divided house must fall." and "We surely must hang together for otherwise we surely will hang seperately."

The Editor walked through the aisles of computers laid idle by the COVID distancing, and stood at the end of the porch. Island Life will continue after this episode. We have survived many fights. We shall continue after this one and will continue to uphold and support the underserved in this Golden State.

So help us God.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

AUGUST 9, 2020

HURTS 2B HUMAN

The pink ladies are suddenly all in glorious bloom everywhere, as they always do when the weather gets hot and dry. Here is a spread just getting started down the Hill in San Anselmo.

Pink, the performing artist, is one of those who surprises by her depth the closer one looks.

Pink is an animal-rights activist and a prominent campaigner for PETA, contributing her voice toward causes such as the protest against KFC. In conjunction with PETA, she criticized the Australian wool industry over its use of mulesing. In January 2007, she stated that she had been misled by PETA about mulesing and that she had not done enough research before lending her name to the campaign. Her campaigning led to a headlining concert called PAW (Party for Animals Worldwide) in Cardiff, Wales on August 21, 2007. In 2015, she posed nude for PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur", campaign

Pink is also outspoken about LGBT rights and supports same-sex marriage. In October 2012, Pink told The Advocate that she does not define her sexuality saying, "I never felt the need to."

Pink is also involved with several charities, including Human Rights Campaign, ONE Campaign, Prince's Trust, New York Restoration Project, Run for the Cure Foundation, Save the Children, Take Back the Night, UNICEF and World Animal Protection. As of May 2008, Pink has been officially recognized as an advocate for the RSPCA in Australia. On February 16, 2009, Pink announced she was donating $250,000 to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal to aid the victims of the bushfires that swept through the Australian state of Victoria earlier that month. Pink stated that she wanted to make "a tangible expression of support". Pink also donated money to Autism Speaks.

As for her performance, she has been accoladed as one of the few pop female vocalists who can actually sing with commanding prescence and accuracy.

EVERYBODY HURTS

So anyway. The past few days featured blistering temperatures and early morning pyrotechnics as thunderstorms lit up the skyline in NorCal. Novato saw temps hit 110, a record that has not been seen by anyone in memory. Grim visaged Moloch bearing a fiery hammer stomped across the land to slam the earth with heavey metal heat. Flaming spears rained down upon Alta California causing the electrical grid to spark, short and fry out for hours Saturday.

"Got the COVID lockdown blues. Just about everybody I know gots the same thing too."

This came from Sunnyside Fats Ferguson, who was holding forth outside the Good Earth grocery where they have a bench there on the sidewalk. But when the heat wave struck people scattered like beetles to any place with shade or AC. The heat just might be the one thing that forces all the rationalizing, mask refusing, deniers into self-quarantine and so causes the First Phase to finally end.

Mr. Blatt was out there in the Fair-Anselm parking lot, irritated at the closures in the Mall there and refusing to wear a mask and declaiming, "Its all a conspiracy to rob us of our rights! There aint no proof that masks work! You are all a lot of silly worryworts anxious about something no different than the flu!"

Mrs. Standish, walking her dalmation Decameron, pointed her finger and spoke succinctly for many people passing by in a voice rendered rough by 72 years of drinking Tom's Hard Lemonade, "You, sir, are an ignorant ass!"

"Old biddy!" shouted Mr. Blatt as CMP pulled into the lot in a Ford Charger with lights.

"Citizen, where is your mask?" snarked the loudspeaker.

"I don't need no mask.," said Mr. Blatt. "The mask gives me 90% hypoxia."

"Put on a mask immediately," said the loudspeaker.

"Hell no! You have no right to tell me what to do! I am a free citizen of the United States of America!"

"Not anymore. You are arrested and fined," said the loudspeaker as cops boiled out of the Charger to cuff the protesting Mr. Blatt,who unfortunately did not immediately submit as so many White People demand of Black people in similar circumstances. In this circumstance, the results were bloody in outcome.

For it is true; in Marin it is now a crime to go about without a mask, and that law is for good reason. And everyone, without exception, needs to treat the Central Marin Police with respect, whether you agree or not.

At the Household folks were dealing with the heat by playing a form of dry land water polo that involved running through streams of water diverted from San Geronimo Creek by Martini via ingenious pipes and troughs that ferried water up to the backyard and then down again. For pumps, Martini used discarded lawnmower engines which are the same units used in your expensive power generators. Kids used to grab those things so as to power go-karts they built out of old bedframes and hand-cart wheels with rudimentary brakes made of crowbars and blocks of wood. It is amazing how few of us killed ourselves in those days, racing around on city streets in vehicles that had not one iota of approval from any DMV or NHTSA agency. In Marin, however, the kids get hobby kits or pre-assembled units powered with low-torque electric motors that are deemed safe by Concerned Parents.

Concerning power generators. Everyone who has a truck has been seen filling up these five gallon jugs at gas stations all over the place since the power went out for a few hours. Now seemingly everyone has a Honda or a Predator generator ready to keep grandma's lasagna frozen and the internet Netflix producing more zombie apocalypse movies to get us through quarantine.

Mr. Cribbage had N. Eptitood Contractors hook up a fully engaged generator to his mansion to supply emergency power via a large unit sitting in a sort of gazebo to make it look nice and less utilitarian. Combined with this enterprise, an enterprise scaled transformer was installed, which involved shutting down power to the neighborhood for blocks all around. Many people will know this is not a trivial project, but Mr. Cribbage had many connections in local and State government entities. Nick and his crew did hook everything up well enough with a shunt so as to avoid killing PGE workers, even though many people felt that killing a few PGE people might be a really good thing right now, as they have killed any number of us citizens, and so getting even is really much on people's minds.

But Nick is not really an electrician; neither are any of his crew. He and his crew are primarily sheet metal fabricators and so not all the rules for proper grounding were followed. When the shunt was thrown - that part had to be inspected and certified by the City, so it was done properly -- the ungrounded house-end anode of the transformer took on charge over the course of an hour until it abruptly discharged, blowing out most of the circuit breakers - where a number of cost-cutting measures had unfortunately been implemented, power strips and the Smart House Closet in showers of sparks. The distal end of the transformer did the same, for many cost-cutting measures had been applied there as well, as people scrambled to assess what had happened without shutting down the generator. Since the house side of things had no way to relieve the potential built up, the far side exploded out the side of the gazebo, sending parts and carbon out over the pool.

Nick shut down the $10,000 generator and said, "This must be a defective unit."

Mrs. Blather, visiting for scones and tea, commented, "The garden looks fabulous; I see you put a lot of resources and effort into it, and the gazebo -- other than the hole in the side -- looks divine! All the Visuals are just perfect! Too bad about the electrical, but who seriously looks at that tedious stuff?"

Knob and tube is perfectly fine, " Nick said. "The lamps come on and that proves it is all alright."

Still, there is the problem of the blown subpanel and the damage, indicating that is not all alright.

As night fell, bringing scant relief from the oppressive heat, the Editor took a walk out back where the "water polo" games had taken place during the day. People needed a relief from the anxiety of the continuing CORONAVIRUS pandemic which showed no signs of letting up. The insanity of the current Presidency unfolding. In the wee hours of the night with the Editor still at work, he pleaded to Company for connection. Always a plea in vain. We are here in this pool of darkness surrounded by the muttering curtains of black night with only a pool of light as our only link to consciousness. And still we do all for Company. In some wan hope that in one monad, all shall be healed. All shall be healed, including Racism.

Moths banged against the screen for a while then gave up, leaving all a humid silence lit by distant lightning flashes and the following rolling thunder.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

AUGUST 02, 2020

THE OWL AND THE PUSSY CAT

This image of two young Spotted Owls was taken over the Hill in San Anselmo. There is no kitty cat here, but the Owl and the Pussy Cat is a poem by Edward Lear which provided the title for a 1964 play that got made in 1970 into a movie starring Barbara Streisand and George Segal.

The poem lyrics have been adapted into song by various people, including Katy Perry. You will not find her version on youtube, however, for the censors have found the song to be too . . . risqué. For a medium that includes the full Rolling Stones canon, Donna Summer's famous marathon, and Liz Phair's Hot White C*m, we are puzzled what the bluehairs found wrong with this children's nonsense verse set to music. Perhaps there is something about this innocent story that caused our dear BarBar to portray a foul-mouthed hooker and girl-next-door Ms. Perry to get banned. Here is how the poem begins:

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
words by Edward Lear, 1871

O Edward, how sweet!

NEW TIMES! NEW TIMES! NEW, NEW, NEW TIMES!

This week we have a single item PSA. It's all about the Mask. There's much disputation about masks and the other day an otherwise intelligent man argued there is no scientific evidence that masks help prevent the spread of COVID 19.

He is wrong. There is abundant evidence going back quite a few years. If you are a doubter or someone who needs ammunition to prove a point, no need to google any number of conspiracy theories and crackpots in your cherry-picking "fact" search. Working for a medical institution has some advantages and so straight from the mouth of Medical Science comes this.

"Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review", was presented to the National Academy of Sciences by 19 distinguished doctors from around the world, citing over 95 studies proving that face masks "significantly reduce" inhalation and exhalation of virus-laden droplets and aerosols for coronavirus, rhinovirus, and influenza type virii. PNAS | April 10, 2020 | vol. XXX | no. XX.

For the online preprint version, go to PREPRINT. There are two versions.

Well, that is a Preprint which has not been peer-reviewed yet.

Okay, how about The Lancet, Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Volume 395, ISSUE 10242, P1973-1987, June 27, 2020.

Note the pub dates for both articles. They are so recent few people know about them, hence the argument that "no study has been done on COVID-19 transmission" was technically true although previous studies have proved mask efficacy against spread of coronavirus-type virii.

Ok young Warriors of Health (WOH!) and be armed with the truth.

As for people who claim lower blood O2 levels with masks, normal levels range from 75-100 mm Hg, with oximeter levels below 90 considered "low". Below 80% is considered dangerous to internal organs. We go each year to altitudes of 4,000 meters, and momentarily higher, with O2 levels dipping below 90. When that happens you experience symptoms greater than just shortness of breath. There are headaches, lassitude, some confusion, mild edema, and a few other things. You most certainly will not experience that kind of hypoxia wearing a cloth mask. But you will drop to 80% if you get sick, and there is no coming down from the mountain which can fix that.


NOW YOU ARE SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW

So anyway. The fourth month of the pandemic rages through the world. Millions have died and still we await the 2nd wave. Still, life goes on. Life is changed forever now, but life goes on. Seeing as Silvia was now in the family way and also determined to go on with it, Bear sought fit to formalize things and so the couple went to the newly reopened county courthouse where procedures had been revised. Now, not only was there the weapons check and the scanning machines but also the mandatory temperature check.

After passing through that gauntlet and the guards snickering over Bear's red and blue tennis shoes, red on the left foot and blue on the right, they found the Clerk in the Assessor-Recorder Office in the Civic Center. Now the process of getting married in the County of Marin has its unique hoops through which the couple must jump. The Clerk does not usually perform the actual ceremony, but helps the couple complete an application for a permit to get married. Of course, subsequent to paying for the permit, Marinites can always pay another $54 and have the Clerk do it by scheduled appointment in the Civic Center Garden or room 234, but there will be no throwing of anything like flowers or rice. That is against the rules.

As Mr. Scuffles, the Clerk behind the glass explained, the permit is good for 60 days. You present the permit to the one officiating the marriage, typically a member of the clergy who has been deputized in another bit of bureaucratic red tape involving fees and temporary permits and all kinds of written assertions, swearing in, and attestations. Typically the minister or priest applies for several permits to perform weddings, each permit good for one wedding only, and to save money lines up a number of happy couples on a schedule to bang out one wedding after another in a sort of ecclesiastical assembly line.

Of course there is medical stuff where both of the people involved need to go get inspected, injected, detected, tested and otherwise phlebotomized in the most intimate fashion along Hipaa regulations.

No wonder people run off to Vegas to the Chapel of the Sanctified Elvis.

So, finding out it was a bit more involved Bear and Silvia filled out the forms and paid the fees and got tested and with tears in their eyes drove off into the sunset to find somebody duly deputized, authorized and sanitized, and sanctified to hold a small wedding with everyone standing six feet apart for they were in need of a witness or two.

As it turned out Rev. Jason Arrabiata, CFSM agreed to perform the rites and so the backyard of the Household of Marlene and Andre got the wedding treatment with illegally picked wildflowers and roses from the neighboring gardens, and cafeteria chairs got borrowed from the Lagunitas middle school by Pahrump and Martini who employed his lock-picking skills well. The chairs got all placed six feet apart with markers and, since clearly all of this took some preparation what with blood tests and all, Mrs. Bear was called down from the Hells Angels nest near Weed. And seeing one of their Bro's was getting hitched, even though Bear had always been an Independent Biker, his mom was a Daughter of the Regiment so to speak and so she had quite the entourage down Highway 5. They camped out in the empty corralled area off Central Avenue and there was nobody that was going to tell them no. In fact the rowdy crew caused a small Valley economic boom with buying beer and ice at the market along with supplies, and eating at the At Swim-Two-Bird cafe and the Indian restaurant in Lagunitas.

Wisely, Marvin the County Sheriff made himself scarce for a few days. And a couple days was all it took.

The two flower girls, Aisling and Jasmin, were the neighbors who had first greeted the motley crew a few years ago as they had stumbled shipwrecked and lost into the Valley. Bear's mom led him up the aisle. Since Bear's sire was an unknown cipher and both of Silvia's parents were Locust Valley denizens of New York who had long ago disinherited their wayward daughter and certainly would not have approved of much of anything, Andre stood in as token Father of the Bride. Denby then provided the music. The Congregation took their seats. Among them were Pahrump, Sarah, Tipitina, Occasional Quentin wearing a bowtie, Wootie Kanootie the moose tamer, Little Adam with Marlene, Xavier, Pedro, Piedro, Suan, Jesus Contreras, Snuffles the bum, Februs the hamster, Marvin of Marvin's Merkins, Ms. Morales and Mr. Ramirez, Suzie Maldonado the bartender at the Old Same Place Bar on the Island, neighbors Gruffman, Tink the crazy man and Missy Moonbeam. Since their business, A Touch of Wonder, had been closed for four months, Borg Rubbitsom attended along with Betty and Brunhilde. Mancini took photographs.

Missing were any members of the Angry Elf gang, but then, all those creatures had been described to the Hells Angels and those boys were sure to treat any intrusion with Ultraviolence.Grump hefted his short baton and rumbled, "Where's this Neal Sh**? I'd love to meet him."

It is enough to dispense with reporting the usual apologias and speeches. Every wedding is the same in that all of that stuff is entirely forgettable.

Well, so it turned out to be a larger affair than either Silvia or Bear had anticipated. The Hells Angels. The entire Household. Many friends from the Island. Many neighbors.

So anyway. The moment came after Jason had arrived in his vestments, which consisted of a plain shirt, a metal colander for a helmet, a pasta twaddler in his right hand and the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in his left and had delivered his Sermon.

Let's skip the Sermon. "Okay now, I now pronounce you Man and Wife. You may now remove your masks and briefly kiss the bride."

A tremendous cheer went up that was so loud the entire Valley heard it.

The passionate kiss went on a bit longer than usual, and Jason had to intervene to disperse the multitude and get things going. "All right now. All right now. Let's get on with it so we can fall to at this marvelous buffet."

Fortunately the Weed chapter of the Hells Angels saw the situation and so forked over cash from a kitty to pay for catering, which is one thing that can be handled with appropriate social distancing and special sneeze guards for the tables. The caterers stood behind the guards, the people pointed at what they wanted and the plate got slid underneath the slot.

A number of incidents took place and in the repost we will talk about the wrestling match and the honeymoon at the At-Swim-Two-Birds and the actions of Mrs. Bear which caused some embarrassment.

The night fell and cooled the heated air of the day which had reached the low 80's. To the northwest the comet Neowise appeared among the stars, which since the closure of so many industrial activities had become even more pronounced. The Editor, who also had attended these festivities returned to his office to work. On his desk he had a death report of a worker due to COVID-19. And today he had witnessed the beginning of new life with rumor of yet another new life in the works. Got a bun in the oven so to speak.

His own life had been without issue and there was some regret about that. But now the window had slammed shut. There would be no Little Editor to whom to explain Strunk and White and why it is important to get things right. So he was left to his monkish existence.Trying to provide a path to others for their own apotheosis. Trying to create the monad of one unification with the Essential, for lack of a better word. Doing all for Company, since he was entirely alone in the muttering darkness, hung all around with the black curtains of night. Once again he took his blood pressure. 158\95 - 69bpm. There might be a like mind out there beyond the pool of light cast by his desklamp, but he was fast running out of time.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 26, 2020

THE COMET CAME, THE COMET WENT

There actually are not that many songs that mention comets. Laurie Anderson has a few. And a number of bands included the celestial phenomenon in their names. This song reference is in Richard Shindell's song about man mulling memories of an illicit love affair finished many years ago, A Summer Wind, A Cotton Dress. Image below is of the comet Neowise over the north ridge of the San Geronimo Valley.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

Everyone is talking about COVID 19 and the novel coronavirus. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there so each week we are going to bring ultra-brief reports straight from the Front, one of the East Bay's healthcare consortia. No more "facts" peddled by self-imposed pundits who instead of having a medical background present solid credentials in things like finance.

To begin, we present straight from the COVID taskforce of Lifelong Medical Care the following quote.

Responding to the continued surge in new COVID-19 cases, Governor Gavin Newsom this
week ordered a dramatic rollback in the state’s reopening plan. Restaurants, movie theaters,
museums, wineries, hair salons, and fitness centers that had opened in some parts of the
state were told to shut down their indoor operations, while bars and restaurants were
ordered closed for outdoor service.

Here in the Bay Area, Alameda County became California’s 30th county to be placed on the
state’s watch list due to growing concerns over the rate of people testing positive for the
virus. Contra Costa County, also on the watch list, is dialing back reopening by prohibiting
indoor activities including worship, cultural, and protest gatherings. Face covering is
mandated in businesses and areas where people wait in line to enter businesses. With
positive rates increasing, the county health department has concerns about ICU capacity,
which this week was at 50 percent.

Local school districts have decided that they begin instruction in the fall with Distance
Learning (on-line) instruction, only moving to a hybrid including in-class teaching when it is
deemed safe by the Public Health Officer.

From Marin's HHS department (Marin got added to the watchlist when it was just 15 counties due to a massive surge) we have this old information from 7/17/20

Updated Total Persons Tested Total Cases Total Recovered Total Hospitalized Total Deaths Total Percent Positive
7/17/2020 41,762 2,088 1,633 87 30 5%
Change Since Yesterday 1,279 73 271 2 [NA due to errors]

San Quentin Inmates(reported seperately)

This information shows summary COVID-19 statistics about San Quentin inmates provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation including active case count, active cases released into the community, and COVID-19 death count. Note, this table is only updated one time per day.

Updated Active Cases In Custody Released While Active COVID-19 Deaths
7/17/2020 1,118 38 12

There have been two more deaths of inmates on Death Row since these figures.

Informally, from the All Staff Report at LMC, out of c3,800 "recent" test cases we see a surge of an astonishing 36% of youths 16 and under while the older cohorts hover around 4% and 6% testing positive.

Now there are statistics and there are damned statistics. All stats are indicators of points in time. What is true one week might not be true in the next and we are always lagging behind in compilations due to any number of reasons. You cannot point to test positives and deaths or recoveries as a blank ratio because recoveries might include any number of people left with permanent organ damage. No one is tracking that. Yet. COVID does not just make it difficult to breath for a few days; it assaults all the organs of the body and can induce sepsis, which informally speaking, is a medical horrorshow.

Just wear the mask. Do not listen to idiots who say it does not work.

12 MONKEYS

So anyway. Life in the time of COVID. People are going to look back on this time and wonder just what the hell some people were thinking. China is not the Great Devil of Trade. Immigrants are not the Great Evil source of unemployment and crime that needs a massive Border Wall to rival the East German complex of that era. And we see how well that Wall worked in its time. Not even the Taliban is that important a threat to the so cultured West.

A tiny little thing is our enemy, produced deep in the jungles of South America in bats brought in to serve starving people who can not afford steak and chicken meat at the markets. Bush meat it is called. Typically it is brought in live to the markets and slaughtered on demand for a fee.

The Editor stumped up the steps, his cigar clenched in his jaw, his mask pulled down to his chin. The summer of 2020 had become one of precedents and first times. The high school class of Drake had no Homecoming, no Commencement with the horrible music of Elgar that generations of students had endured. There was no annual prank to bother Superintendent Mr. Burgee on the Island. None of that had happened according to Tradition, and when you violate Tradition, things do not feel right at all.

Now Summer had assaulted the world with bad weather and no one was allowed to go to the beaches. The Editor hated hot weather. It reminded him of horseflies as big as crows and mosquitos large as Cessinas flying all about Bear Lake in Minnesota where his family had wanted to vacation despite the obvious common sense to remain in air conditioned St. Paul. In Marin he was pleased to find not a single horsefly and few mosquitos, which he imagined the tony Marinites had dispensed with long ago. The Island had suffered a fair amount of mosquitos, but those people belonged to the hoi palloi, which might account for much.

Oakland had few insect life of that derivation. This had nothing to do with income, but everything to do with the ravenous nature of rats and roaches who are apex animals on the food pyramid. In other places you find lions, bears and panthers at the apex, but in Oakland rats and roaches are the tip of the food supply. Humans, in Oakland, are a tad below that level, at least from the official perspective as far as we can tell by the official responses to any number of things.

Denby got a bad infection in his foot and so he was consigned to one of the quarantine sheds out back until it got better. The Veriflo Factory in Richmond finally got termed an Essential Business and so Martini returned to work as a sawboy when they resumed production. Social distancing was easy enough to enforce for the ISO 9001 plant as people did not stand or sit next to each other save in the Class 10 Clean Room where people entered fully gowned and masked through an airlock all the time anyway. The machinists stood a good 15 feet apart all the time as the massive ball-end makita enclosures were some 20 feet in size and spaced six feet apart.

Seeing an American factory, or indeed any industrial factory in operation, is a sight that all pencil pushers should experience at least once in their lives. It is the far end of the Midwestern Farm with trundling iHarvesters and bailers, huge irrigation wheels and nodding horsehead pumps marching across the horizon like giants. A factory is where things are made: cars, valves, fittings, tools, all the hardware stuff that excites the red blood of the American male. And now, because of Liberation and Empowerment, the American Woman (made famous by Guess Who) is excited by all that there is made. And this can mean only one thing.

Sales.

Yes! We can sell twice the amount of Stuff we used to make in America to our American Women. Makita drills. Milwaukee planers and socket wrench sets. Orbital saws! Dremel tools. Dremel Tools and attachments! Pardon my saliva . . . .

Let us seque gently to what others are doing around the Bay.

Ms. Morales has gotten better with the Zoom lectures on Emily Dickenson and grading papers submitted via email, so she is ready for the next semester. Teachers around here always have gathered intruction materials on their own expense, so the problems are in face better off so long as the students have actual internet access, which is not always the case.

There is no library to go to at the moment, so the teachers have to be creative.

Amid this COVID lockdown there have been any number of marital discords along the lines of what we used to call "The Navy Predicament", which is to say that things were fine so long as the Officer of the House was a-sea for months at a time, and that household matters developed friction on the extended shoreleave.

At Bear's place Bear has been tinkering with his 1949 Harley Panhead, which is, as many know, a continuous horrorshow that leaks oil like a sieve in most iterations. Bear has managed to seal it up nice and tight using a few modern techniques and Silvia made the mistake of commenting, "well why do you not modernize the whole thing?"

"Vot?"

"Replace the entire engine with a modern one that does not leak oil and performs better."

This resulted in a long, heated argument that featured mechanics, American history, kitchen dishes, the laundry, the state of household finances, Silvia's close relations including her Auntie who has a Problem, and why there are no children in the house. Among other things. The roaring argument ended in physical altercation that ended in physical activities as so often happens, or does not happen, among long-lived marital couples.

Some weeks later Sylvia appeared in the doorway of the livingroom where Bear kept his 1949 panhead in front of the couch and said flatly, "Bear I am pregnant."

Bear did not look up from his tinkering with a long-handled screwdriver. "I'll teach 'em how to adjust a CV carb." And that is all he said. And because of that, looking at him tinkering the way he always did, Silvia, although feeling like throwing up, fell in love with him all over again.

People are like that. You feel like you are about to vomit and you fall in love and that is just the way life goes. Despite Pandemic and despite the Economy and despite all the big words and big phrases and the Idiot President, and the equally stupid Senate, life goes on regardless of all of our best intentions. Children are not really ever planned but sort of pop into being mysteriously to everyone save their mothers who know all about it.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 12-19, 2020

DEER PRUDENCE

This is a image from the Valley, but we have images from the densely populated Berkeley area of encampments that are far less buculolic. We move daily from rural to densely urban and the result is jarring.

SUMMERTIME

So anyway. It is clear that the seasons have shifted and we have something like Summertime, but the succeeding generations will notice a change about this particular year. Notice about the first fatality has gone out at the hospital where Denby works and a co-worker called him the other day to sob over the phone about the injustice of it all.

Life is a vale of tears full of sorrow and suffering. and tears. We can do nothing about that. We have no guarantees other than we know this pain and passion has an end; it does not go on for ever. There is an end to it.

The co-worker had suffered from any number of co-occurring health problems and probably should have not been so dedicated as to report to work when they should not have. But now it is all resolved by the Adversary, with whom we have had much to deal.

Yes the contagion is raging across the land, but we still have our quarantinopods and our families and ourselves.

Denby has gotten a serious leg infection and so is now living in one of the quarantine shacks again out back behind the Household. Martini has fixed up his particular quarantine shack with lights and sound and fans for the heat and all sorts of electronic devices running off of feeds from the House. In this way he passes the Time.

At the William Jenkins Medical Center in Richmond little Nilo Salgado enters the Peds section after passing through the gamut of temp-checking and questioning at the door and Guillarmino Flores says, "Bueno ahora pequeño Nilo, ¿qué te está molestando?" And so Nilo and his mother are escorted into the dominion of Angels, because nothing you ever do for children is ever wasted.

Little Adam continues to be homeschooled by Marlene and occasionally Andre, who teaches music theory. Pahrump helps out by supplying California history, of which he knows quite a lot.
It helps to drive on over the Hill on his scooter to San Anselmo Library where they have a Pickup Books on Loan program. Loan periods have been extended.

And so we have resourceful people used to dealing with adversity handling this adversity with the same resourcefulness they always have.

Occasional Quentin continues to sleep beneath the coffee table when he is not camped out in the woods, along with Snuffles the Bum. He is not of the character to change himself according to the winds of change and circumstance. Snuffles abides for all time.

On the Island, Ms. Morales teaches Emily Dickinson and Whitman to her students at Longfellow via Zoom from her livingroom. Papers must still be submitted, but in these times via email.

Dierdre, the personal fitness trainer, leads yoga classes via the same Zoom medium from the empty halls of the Silvan Acres Improvement Club. "And now bend, bend and hold . . .". It is just for a few moments this holding.

Long after dark the Editor steps out to view the prospect to the northwest, where the comet Neowise glows with a fiery head and a long tail of luminescence among the stars above the ridgeline. The comet hung there for a while until the Editor returned inside. All in this time are looking to the heavens for an heavenly highsign, and we are greeted with the signs of Eternity, of continuous travel through space and time without end over the millenia, which matters little in the space of a single man's lifetime.

We give birth astride a grave. There is a flash of light and then there is dark forevermore.

In the Editor's cube, the Editor sits to his console and continues to work, considering that somewhere out there beyond the muttering curtains of darkness, beyond the pool of light cast by his desklamp, there must be a like mind. And sometimes he gathers in specific data, static on the radio, feedback, organized bursts of information via some kind of satellite system, some indication that yes, there really must be someone or something out there. A Creator or some kind of organizing Principle. For most of his life he has enjoyed no close Companion. He has no mate, no issue. He has only an handful of books for guidance. And his Creatures who inhabit this little world called The Household. And so he continues to do his failed meditations, all for Company.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog beneath the comet Neowise to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 5, 2020

WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER HERO

This wall appeared in this form recently in downtown Silvan Acres, or what passes for downtown, which consists of Realtor's office, a mini-market and a fire station. Kinda says it all.

The Tina Turner song "We don't need another hero" was a thinly veiled political statement that was the theme song to the road warrior movie Thunderdome.

Towards the end of the song, Tina sings

Love and compassion
Their day is coming (coming)
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear 'til nothing else remains
We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome

THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU

So anyway so much has happened it is hard to keep track. The Household suffered the ravages of the Covid19 disease; which involved building quarantine shacks out in the backyard. Ms. Morales has been unable to go to Longfellow to teach students as usual and has had to resort to Zoom classrooms broadcast from the Longfellow Zoom Room to teach Emily Dickinson to her pupils.

Pedro had lost his restaurant customers and so has been going out on the fishing lanes to try to capture enough stuff to sell to the big guys who deal in canned tuna and Costco. He sorely misses Pastor Rotschue who has made a partial comeback with reruns, but reruns are not the same as the actual, on the moment sort of thing with which the pastor had excelled.

It is like keeping dogeared copies of Homegrown Democrat and Pontoon on the dash of the wheelhouse; which he does. Not quite the same experience. As the Germans would say, "das ist nicht actuell!", which if you think about it, is as true as it ever was.

When Pedro comes into port all the dockworkers wear masks and gloves.

Denby lost his father amid the pandemic. The man died thousands of miles away in Boston without the two of them ever resolving the many issues that hung between them. His father had been one of those stalwart Irish Catholics who believed in the rod and the bramble over any tenderness, for he had suffered the Black and Tans war and the resultant partition and the Great Depression among many things and now there was no one to tell the stories of how things had happened during that time. Denby, himself, had been too sick to travel. And so now, save for a brother who might be living somewhere in Southie, the family line had come to an end for Denby - as far as he knew - was without issue.

This is true for most of the Household which consists of people ripped loose from family situations to make their way "unhouseled" as is true for so many Californians.

Now a savage pandemic is ravaging the Heartland which stupidly refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of this thing because the Twitter in Chief is a numbskull.

So anyway some more. July 4th came around and for the first time in 35 years there was no Mayor's Parade on the Island. There were a whole lotta fireworks over in Oaktown - all of them illegal. Some of them started fires - hey there is a reason those things are illegal around here.

Little Adam sat with Pahrump, Marlene, Andre and Lionel on rip rap extending out into the water of the Bay and watched the sun go down, making fireworks of its own that were good enough. Because people were talking about it, Little Adam wanted to know why there were no Black Founding Fathers and wussup with the statue of Robert E. Lee.

"Well it is not true there were no Black Founding Fathers or Mothers," Pahrump said. "We got Frederick Douglass to look up to."

"And we have Sister Rosetta Tharp," Andre said. "Who was a founding Mother of the Blues."

"We have Richard Allen," Lionel said. "Allen was a minister, educator, writer, and one of America's most active and influential black leaders. In 1794, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first independent black denomination in the United States. He opened his first AME church in 1794 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And although born later I do believe Thurgood Marshall was no slacker on the Supreme Court."

"You of course know of Sojourner Truth, " Pahrump said. "If you want to go back to the 1700's. Sojourner Truth; born Isabella "Belle" Baumfree, was an American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son in 1828, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside "testifying the hope that was in her". In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine's list of the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time". She helped recruit soldiers into the Union Army during the Civil War, including the famous 54th Massachussets Regiment."

"You know Harriet Tubman is gonna appear on the $20 buck bill some time this year," Lionel said. "Harriet was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family and friends,[2] using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the struggle for women's suffrage. We could also talk about Booker T. Washington and Ida Williams, but when we get past the period when Black people could get something done post-slavery, the numbers are huge."

"What about Robert E. Lee?" Little Adam asked. "Why is he important?"

"Robert E. Lee," said Adam, "Led an army to kill innocent legal citizens of the United States in an effort to perpetuate slavery. He was a criminal and is partly responsible for the violent death of nearly half a million soldiers on both sides. That is why we tear down his statue."

"O!" Little Adam said.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

 Back to top

Back to Current Issue

 

FOR PREVIOUS MONTHS AND YEARS GOTO THE HYPERLINK BELOW

ARCHIVES