To Give In…

via Daily Prompt: Succumb

I resisted the temptation to continuously eat during the TEDxSD event today.  I didn’t allow myself to succumb to it.  Instead, I ate a healthy (second) breakfast, a good lunch, and saved spoiling myself for what became my dinner at the After Party.

Funnily enough, I ended up catching a ride with a new friend whom I’d just met the evening before, at a Meetup I hosted at Mira Mesa MarketPlace.  The Meetup group for whom I was hosting the event was the San Diego Minimalist Meetup.  I showed up at the site about fifteen minutes before it was to begin, and brought out my library book, which I continued to read until Jay showed up.  It was already dark by then, so I wasn’t reading my book anymore, as I was outside, and the lights above were not of reading-level brightness.  We discussed Minimalism as a concept, and I told Jay that I’ve been more or less a minimalist since graduating school, mostly because I learned the effort it takes to accumulate stuff and have to manage it.  Also, I came to realize that stuff takes up valuable space.  Especially since becoming a parent have I turned my head from materialism (for the most part), since I didn’t want to raise a “privileged” child.  I say “privileged” because, while in many ways, we (all of us living in these United States) live with many privileges, meaning that due to the accident of birth, each of us was born into a certain position in life, and made of it what we have.  At the same time, I didn’t want to make the mistake of valuing material possessions, as I was always aware of my means.  But back to the subject of the day’s event…

We were discussing our weekend plans and learned that we were both volunteering at the TEDxSD event, so arranged for Jay to pick me up on his way in the morning.  He texted me when he left home, and arrived at my condo much faster than I’d expected.  We entered the event space, checked in, and then he started on his assigned duty, which was in Registration.

My role was Greeter/Wayfinder.  That group didn’t meet until about an hour later in the morning.  The lead volunteer for the Greeter/Wayfinders was named Frank, and he asked for volunteers for each station where it would be likely for guests to need directions to their destinations.  We’d rotate positions throughout the morning so that none of us were stuck in a single location for very long.

The first station where I was assigned was at the Ground floor elevator bank in the Symphony Hall building, which also housed a restaurant and hotel in a megastructure that covered at least half of the city block.  After about an hour, I was moved to an elevator lobby across the street, on the twelfth floor, to direct guests to the other elevator bank (it’s a bit confusing for guests, since they’re parking in one building, then taking a skybridge to the Symphony Hall building, and then riding another elevator back down to Symphony Hall itself).  My last station was as a greeter and door-opener at each of the exterior entrances between the area called Innovation Alley and the lobby of the building that housed Symphony Hall.  At the second of the entrances, I saw a colleague whom I know from the US Green Building Council, Josh Dean.  I assumed he was there primarily to see and give support to the president of our chapter of the USGBC, the San Diego Green Building Council.  While I was inside, I saw Paulina preparing her talk.  Fortunately, I was able to go inside the auditorium to watch Paulina’s talk, whose theme was providing happiness as part of enhancing people’s lives.  She gave examples of the SDGBC’s work, in Balboa Park as well as other locations in San Diego.

I didn’t get inside to watch either the first r third sessions of the day, as I was engage in preparing the site for the remainder of the day.  We had to disassemble displays and bring them either to the moving vehicles or across the street to the location of the After Party, roll up the temporary carpets, fill plastic cups with water and arrange them on a couple tables while snacks were on another table, placed neat rows/columns for guests to help themselves.

Then we waited until the final speaker had completed his talk and the emcee introduced the creator and organizer, Mark Lovett, to the audience.  Mark Lovett then gave his short spiel, then invited the volunteers to come in to receive applause from the attendees.  We entered through the two middle aisles and were bathed in cheers.  When we exited, we arranged ourselves along the exit route to cheer the audience as they departed.  A few of us held our hands out for hand slapping as the guests walked through.

Jay and I helped to bring almost-empty recycling and trash bins to the dumpster room around the back of the building.  From there, we want across the street, where we were given drink tickets to enjoy the After Party along with the guests.

I helped myself to some snacks after being given a cup of sparkling wine (they had beer and still wine, as well).  Jay and I sat at one of the tables and watched people for a little while as we munched on snacks we’d fetched for ourselves from various stations located throughout the outdoor party space.  As we left, I gave my second drink ticket to a guest.  He was already holding a bottle of beer, and I handed him the ticket, saying, “Here, have another!”  He was surprised, but accepted the gift, saying, “Thanks!”

Jay drove me back home, and I told him I’ll email him when I get the next San Diego Minimalist Meetup on the calendar.

I came into the flat, which was dark, as Kat had a competition at another high school that day.  I showered and lay in bed for a while, taking a short nap, before receiving a text from Kat announcing they were leaving the other high school soon and so could I come in about an hour?  I dozed for another half hour or so, then dressed and went out to my car, on whose windscreen was condensation from the cool night air.  I started the car, turning on the heat, and drove to the high school, where I waited, along with other parents, for my teenager.  Kat was one of the first out, thankfully, and found me easily.  It turned out Mira Mesa took first place at the day’s competition with a score of 88.8 (or a number similar).  I asked if that was an average of scores given by several judges, and she explained that there are often fractional scores because there were many points and partial points for each scoring category.

Kat has gone to bed, and soon so shall I.  It’s been a busy, fun day.

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Hidden

via Daily Prompt: Cloaked

The Kingon Cloaking Device.

Cloaca.  That’s another unassociated word that comes to mind.  It is something that is typically cloaked, hidden beneath feathers, a scale, or a flap of skin.  Humans don’t have cloacae.  Snakes, birds, and many other reptilian animals have cloacae, kind of an all-purpose evacuation outlet…

A vampire runs from the rising sun, cloaked underneath his midnight cape, smouldering, nearing flames.  The vampire ducks into his well-appointed house, escaping the sun’s reaching eye.  Down the wooden staircase to the dark coolness of the basement, he hurries into his coffin-cum-bed, where he will repose for several hours until the burning orb retires.

 

Oh, To Avoid the Mistakes of the Masses!

via Daily Prompt: Fashionable

I’ve never been a fashion plate.  I was barely interested in coloring the pages that had rub-on stenciled outlines of figures, with various options for tops, bottoms, dresses, for coloring.  I was never into coloring, per say, perhaps because I never found the subject or activity engaging enough to do it for any length of time as a child, though now I occasionally pick up one of my coloring pens and allow my mind to wander as I fill voids with hues of my choosing.

If anything, I believe people can and should create their own style, regardless of what may be currently “fashionable,” though I suppose context is everything in this realm, as well as so many others.  If enough people do something, it becomes fashionable, doesn’t it?  For several years, getting rid of (murdering) Jews and other “social misfits” was fashionable (ie, socially/politically/economically desirable) in Nazi Germany.  People were afraid to speak out against it.  Let’s make NOTHING fashionable unless we want it to become a MOVEMENT.  Clothing and material style are not worthy of MOVEMENTS.  Think bell bottoms and platform shoes (yes, I’m aware;  that’s why I chose them as examples).  High-heeled sandals, anyone?

On another, almost related, more timely, note, it appears that the Repugnicans in Congress are, yet again, making power grabs on behalf of their REAL constituents, the well-heeled (and therefore fashionable) who make up only a very small minority of the population of this nation.  The fashion they’re following is that MONEY trumps all (intended).  As in a song about it mattering not what it looks like, as long as one spends a lot of money on it (Billy Joel, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” – Don’t you know that’s the new fashion, honey?  All you need are looks and a whole lot of money.).  Money has always given megaphones to those whose ideas may or may not be deserving of volume.  I won’t dwell…

 

Daily Prompt: Witty

via Daily Prompt: Witty

Well, I cannot immediately think of anything fitting the word of the day to say.  Witty is not an adjective I would ascribe to myself, or most people I know.  We seem to be a fairly straightforward bunch, though there is humor to be found in our interactions, even if our conversations are not highlighted by too many witty remarks regarding passing events…

I have a regular checkup every four months with my dentist in order to keep track of my “gaps.” Thinking about going to see the dentist reminds me of a song that my daughter had downloaded about the singer’s visits to the dentist, during which the dentist says,”Open wide,” as he peers into the singer’s oral cavity.  Then, preparing for some sort of work, the dentist warns the singer to not have a “fit, it’ll just pinch a bit.”  It’s a funny song, and probably sums up the attitude of many towards their dentist.  As it happens, Peter’s landlord is a retired dentist, who spends his retirement managing his properties, which, I assume, he was able to acquire with a good income from his dental practice.  It stands to reason:  I’ve never gone to the dentist and walked out with a bill with less than three digits to the left of the period…

<time passed>

Well, that was a pleasant surprise.  My dental bill, for a cleaning and exam, came out under $100 (under $90, in fact), so I treated myself to a blood sausage from the Russian deli on the ground floor.  They also sell different chocolates from different European companies, but I decided the blood sausage would be my splurge this time.

Incidentally, I attended the symposium produced by CARTA, the Center for Academic Research and Teaching in Anthropogeny.  While I’ve been able to enjoy many of their talks, this one left me scratching my head, as a lot of the talk was regarding genetics and epigenetics, how genes are expressed in the living organism.

I stayed through the intermission/break, during which I ate too many cookies and topped them off with a brownie and two cups of coffee.  I had brief conversation with the others who sat at the table with me, a biologist/geneticist who was retired from her teaching post in Wisconsin and her husband, a retired psychologist. There were a couple of their friends who joined us at the table, and one man who was, like me, just an interested person.  He’s an EE working at a company here in San Diego.

When I left, the traffic on North Torrey Pines Road was already pretty stiff.  I walked along the sidewalk on the ocean side of the street (though it’s far from the ocean, there being housing developments between the street and the cliffs above La Jolla Shores going toward Black’s Beach).

I walked until I reached La Jolla Shores Drive, where I saw the 30 bus waiting to turn to the bus stop on the southwest corner of the intersection.  I crossed the street and boarded the bus when it finally made it around the acute corner.

Witty sayings are not my purview, so I’ll see if tomorrow’s word will be more personally relevant and write on that, if I have time.

 

 

Coincidence

via Daily Prompt: Coincidence

Well, what do you know?

There, it happened again.

It just so happens that these events occur on an (ir)regular basis,

all the time,

since Time began.

Really.

As a fervently nonreligious human, I have created patterns in my life.  I may or may not repeat any given action, depending on the outcome of the first effort.  If the first effort is successful, then I will be encouraged to continue in that behavior.  Like most humans, I tend to attach Meaning to events, even if they’re completely coincidental.

An intrinsic desire within me seeks Meaning in Coincidence.  Was it really merely good or bad timing that brought certain people into my life?  Sure, there are events that may or may not lead to certain following events.  Those (following) events will only occur if I decide one way and not the other when I find myself at that particular fork (in the road).

But, alas, there is only as much Meaning in Events as we decide to attach to them.  We can make events meaningful by how we behave when we are find ourselves in a given situation.  Our decisions are often (or should be) based on context, with different surrounding circumstances influencing our actions at any given moment.  Many actions and events seem rather meaningless, or at least not Meaningful, with a capital M.  But they do influence the events that follow them.  A decision made in the heat of passion can lead to a life of regret.  Isn’t that where the opening phrase “Oh, how I rue the day…” comes from?

However, the effect of careful deliberation can be obliterated by an outside agent, completely unrelated to the intent of the first agent or actor.  Isn’t that what happens in a lot of television and movie plots?  Unlikely events throw characters into relationships that are developed over the course of the movie or episode.  Sometimes there are established relationships between characters that are challenged by the Precipitating Event.  It is the reason for the story being told, no?  If movies were all “The Truman Show,” how interesting would they really be, especially since we, as viewers, would already be familiar with the likely outcomes of a given Episode.  That is, what makes it interesting is the event’s unlikely outcome.  It is in the very randomness of the outcome that makes it interesting…

If I were to write here about my everyday events, it would quickly become a rather boring read, especially to me, since everything would already be so familiar so as to become effectively invisible, just as staring at a single image for a long period of time eventually causes they eye to cease seeing it.  That is the function of the Green Room behind the stage or stageset.  It allows the actors’ eyes to adjust to those wavelengths of light so that they can focus on other wavelengths when they step onto the stage.

A Life Well Lived takes advantage of Coincidences, rather than be victimized by them.

 

 

Thorny

Our current A-hole-in-Chief turns the relationship between the United States and the rest of the civilized world a thorny one, fraught with perceived threats, intended threats, and the very real possibility of a war (declared or not) spanning the Pacific.

Here, I was under the impression that the nearest threats to the US were from the other side of the world, ie, the Middle East, a historically unstable region of the human-inhabited earth.  But a real threat comes much closer, especially to those of us who reside on the Left Coast.  The Rump may feel secure and safe in the abode which his own (current) wife eschews, behind his Secret Service bodyguards (who are better than private security, or no?) from the other Little Man with another monosyllabic (family) name.  The pissing contest between small heads has begun.  If neither will budge, will it be the end of the civilized world?  In this almost Strangelovesque scenario, who will be the cowboy pilot who rides the Bomb to its target?

I harbor absolutely no respect for either of the small(-minded) men who have been crowned the heads of their respective states.  Both came to power with questionable validity, and their presence may well cause a very real turn of events for our species.

But…  what the hell, our species has had its run of a few thousand years, during which it has managed to profoundly change the chemical balance of the planet, so why prevent it from being winked out, like a bad flea infestation?  Or, rather, humans are much more like ticks, who burrow their heads into their hosts and suck their nutrients directly and disgustingly.

When I was talking with someone earlier this week regarding Climate Change, she mentioned recycling and the improvements in energy efficiency of the machines we use.  I asked her if all of this work is not the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?  She just looked at me, and said nothing…

 

 

 

Confabulate

via Daily Prompt:  Confabulate

To discuss informally;  to chat, perhaps, about a particular topic?  I admit, it’s not a word that comes to my mind very often.  It may be used to describe the conversation during dinner last night at the Abyssinian restaurant where we shared dinner.  It was a little surprising and, I’ll admit, pleasing to me to have Kat take interest and actually engage.  The third person at dinner with us was a young man named James, for whom it was his first outing with the Meetup group for which I serve as one of many Assistant Organizers.  Incidentally, Kat and I happened upon the founder of that Meetup group in front of the restaurant, where she and her husband had decided to dine that evening.  I recognized their dog before I recognized her, though I did peek at her hair, as red as a midsummer’s day is long, and wondered if indeed, it was her.  I didn’t recognize her husband, though, as it’d been several years since I’d met him at a Meetup, but knew who he was once I introduced myself to him after she went inside to secure a table.  They were seated quickly and Kat and I continued standing there until a young man came out and turned out to be our dinner guest for the evening.

Our dinner conversation began outside the restaurant, on the sidewalk.  I had not yet gone in to check the table, and he had been sitting inside, probably wondering where the rest of our party was.  As it turned out, neither of the two women who’d secured seats at our table, nor a man, whom I consider a friend and who later apologized, showed up.  I figured, aloud, that perhaps they’d failed to find parking (it was University Heights, after all) and decided to go home or somewhere else.  The women are now placed on the waitlist for my future events, as there were people on the waiting list who might have attended had the spaces been relinquished and therefore available…

I first asked James if he had any dietary restrictions, and he answered that he’s an omnivore, as are Kat and I.  We ordered a beef entree, a lamb entree, and a vegetable entree to balance the protein.  After we took turns washing our hands, we continued talking about one thing or another until our food came, all served on a single large injera, with additional rolls for our use/consumption.  At the end of the meal, I had the server pack a box for me, and was disappointed when I opened it this afternoon for lunch and found that the injera had not been included…

At any rate, Kat participated in the conversation greatly, I think because there was a single guest with us and I’d gone to the rest room to wash my hands, so she had time to establish a conversation topic.  When I returned with clean hands, I spent much of the rest of the evening listening, as I often enjoy doing (especially because Kat was participating),

At the end of the evening, James thanked me for organizing the dinner, as he’d never had Abyssinian food before, and he found the conversation the most stimulating one he’d had in many days, even months, as the people with whom he interacts on a daily basis are not very intellectual.  I invited him to join us again for another meal in the future.

I was pleased that although the evening had not started off too well, that it ended well.

 

Another Example in Which I am, Once Again, Shown the Limits of the Human View

The event was the third in a series of three workshops focusing on Biomimicry, or the application of “natural solutions” to modern human problems. The presenter, Jacques, goes over the list of “Life’s Principles” presented in a book published some years ago, titled Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benyus.

What natural chemical processes occur without the most commonly found solvent on the earth: water? One of the women, both practicing architects, with whom I worked during the first exercise insisted that in state parks (presumably in California), there are composting toilets that use no water. My contention (though I didn’t push this point verbally) is that unless the water used in the chemical breakdown of the waste is that limited to that in the waste itself (which is, no doubt, possible), that there is no such thing as a truly dry toilet… except perhaps in the desert, where everything becomes desiccated into dust. I [still] beg to be shown a real example and thus proven wrong…

A study of classically selfish human behavior: The Tragedy of the Commons – Garrett Hardin, 1968

Well, there you go – there is a company, Nature’s Head, that manufactures a composting self-contained unit. I haven’t read the specifications, but can do if/when I need the information.

For the second exercise, I am bowing out, as I’m just not convinced of the usefulness of this particular program besides serving as additional window-dressing for SDG&E. How I’ve become such a fucking cynic is beyond me (at the moment). Maybe I’m just retreating into my introverted self today, as the overly social setting (the exclusively group working environment) is not appealing to me. Perhaps I will retire to Peter’s soon to write some more before going to Kitchens for Good this afternoon. I may even go there (near the Euclid Avenue Trolley/Transit Station) earlier in the day, as then at least I can feel a bit better using my time in a constructive manner, rather than speaking Physics to cows…

The sharing of answers to the second exercise is being done now; lunch begins shortly, and I will take my leave then. I don’t feel any enmity toward the other individual participants themselves, for I don’t know them personally, and it is only really within that context that I hold such emotion. The discussion is, at least, quiet (or at least at low volume). Another architect, a man, puts forward a hypothesis regarding an image that has been presented to them. Apparently the images are “natural” inasmuch as they entail organic processes, including living soil.

The caterer is putting out the drinks for lunch now (lemonade and iced tea, iced in two large plastic urns) on a cart. There are plates, napkins, on the cart as well.

The second exercise has been completed. This workshop is supposed to be about entrepreneurship. I don’t know how these particular exercises relate directly to entrepreneurship, but that’s my narrow view, unfortunately, limiting me.

I don’t think there is anything else happening until lunch is served, so I will prepare my departure.