Making a Left Turn Without Signaling

While Kat and I were at the Little Italy Farmers’ Market this past Saturday, we stopped by the Easy-Up of a non-profit organization called Kitchens for Good.  They combine great objectives:  decreasing food waste and hunger, increasing levels of nutrition among those on food assistance programs, and reducing unemployment among vulnerable populations.  They take folks who don’t have a lot of training or money to pay for training, teach them a specific skill, then place them in a restaurant that has an opening for what they just learned.  Chefs at local restaurants participate in teaching classes and providing internships (and, subsequently, jobs) for the students to learn over the course of twelve weeks, or one season, how to master the job they will fill upon graduation.

Seeing this example of working towards sustainability on so many fronts makes me reconsider my own path.  While I’ve been taking courses aimed at returning to work in architecture and construction, there’s a part of me that is intrigued by the idea of working as a professional chef, or at least finding out what it’s like in a commercial kitchen, learning the practices, getting used to the working hours and conditions, and experiencing what it’s like to have a direct hand in putting food on the table for others.

The application window for the next session closes next month.  They don’t have next year’s schedule up yet, but I’m considering applying for their program in the winter or spring (the current application period is for this fall’s class).  I don’t know if I would be accepted into the program, or even if I would even like it, but part of me really, really wants to try…

Kitchens for Good also takes volunteers for producing meals that are dispersed throughout San Diego by partner nonprofit entities.  It might serve as a good introduction to the work if I volunteer to create and pack meals that are destined to aid those who would otherwise eat horrible food because they cannot afford (or don’t know about) anything better.

Something to think about, for sure.



Thoughts on Sustainability

Given my choice of professional field, I am fully aware of movements toward a more sustainable world for human habitation.  I understand that there are those who, like the koch brothers, don’t care one whit what happens to the earth after they die, for their own existence is what matters to them, and little, if anything else, makes it onto their egocentric radar.

But I, first of all, as a parent, care about what happens to the earth after I die. Though I don’t relish the thought of death, it does not cause immediate fear in my heart, either, for I expect it to be many years in the future.  And if it is not many years in the future, I will try to use my remaining days wisely, but not necessarily cautiously, because what’s the point of being cautious when one is on death’s doorstep?

I don’t understand people who act carelessly towards their own immediate environment.  I still have a memory from at least a few years ago, when I witnessed a woman who, just as she was boarding the bus, taking a piece of gum out of its wrapper and throwing the wrapper on the ground.  I had a desire to wring her thick pasty neck…

But, of course, I did not.  She, along with the child whose mother failed to pick up the tissue it threw onto the sidewalk at another bus stop, will likely go through her entire privileged life without a care as to the role she plays in Society’s impending downfall, which will only be hastened by the ignorance of the likes of Don Juan, The Rump.

I sometimes wonder if improving the efficiency of buildings and transportation isn’t the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…

It’d be a more pleasant environment in which to go down, won’t it though?  Perhaps a primrose path leading to our species’ destruction?  But I digress…

I am preparing to sit for the LEED EBOM (Existing Buildings Operations + Maintenance – yes, it is a plus sign, not “and,” though it is pronounced as “and”) AP (Accredited Professional) exam.  The online slides are split into two “decks.”  I have almost reached slide 300 of the first four hundred-and-something deck.  The topics that LEED covers sound like good sense.

On the one hand, it seems a bit much to have good, energy-efficient building codified.  Very soon, new building plans in California will need to project the building’s earning of LEED certification in order for the permit to be issued!  I had always thought that the financial incentive (getting paid more for a better product) would be sufficient to encourage building owners (and those shopping to buy buildings, including their homes) to demand buildings that are both material- and energy efficient.  I’m not sure why I continue to want to believe that builders will do the right thing, even if it’s not the cheapest option, because they want to produce a good building;  that they’re proud of their work…

Unfortunately, most builders are in the business of making money, not necessarily producing good buildings.  Their products must meet minimal regulations to gain an occupancy permit, and that’s usually the level at which the buildings are constructed.  California is raising that base level to buildings that are LEED certifiable, if not certified outright, so that building owners and purchasers can be more confident that the product they are buying, which is likely the biggest investment they’ll make, will be held to a fairly high standard.  And it’ll only be a matter of time before existing buildings will need to be upgraded so that they, too, meet the requirements of LEED and, therefore, the new California building code

I know a small builder (he owns a small company;  I’m not referring to his physical stature) who has worked on new residences as well as renovations and additions to existing homes.  We met during a day-long course at the Energy Innovation Center, San Diego Gas and ELectric’s main PR outlet.  We talked about sitting for the Green Associate accreditation exam.  When I was ready to put my exam on the calendar, I contacted him to ask him to be my study buddy.  By the time we met in person, I had about a week before my exam date (they’re self-scheduled).  I had practiced the exam questions many, many times before then, and was feeling pretty confident.  I sat for and passed that exam, but my study buddy had decided that he didn’t need to be LEED-accredited to win jobs, so he decided to forego it.

I’ve met other people who are LEED accredited, mostly on the Green Associate level, though some have earned the Accredited Professional designation.  Both designations require biannual ongoing education and practice to ensure that those who hold the label are practicing what they’ve learned on a regular basis.  It’s really a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing.

The exam preparatory course I will be taking in mid-September will be held in Los Angeles over two consecutive days. (a full weekend).

I wonder sometimes what it is that we are meant to sustain.  If it’s the current social order, that is not something I want to sustain.  In fact, I do a lot of things that are contrary to sustaining the existing social milieu.  Starting at the beginning of this calendar year, I’ve been writing to my congressional representatives, Scott Peters (my local Representative), Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris (my senators) about various issues as they arise.  I intend to be well known to each of them, even if only as someone who writes to them regarding almost every little bill that crosses their desk.  I must remember that I’m playing defense this time ’round, as the Repugnicans are diligently trying to rob citizens of their healthcare options.

Alas, I have, once again, drifted far afield from my original topic.  But that’s what’s been on my mind of late.  There you go.



The Rump & His Minion call for More Rope!

The current President of the United States, the man who lost the national popular vote, continues to believe that he can run his life as if he’s the only person to whom he’s accountable.  He seems to be on the verge of getting some lessons in politics and, hopefully, humility (one can only hope, I know, I know).  One can only hope he has the modicum of intelligence to read the all-too-obvious signs…

I was gladdened and inspired by Hillary’s commencement speech at my alma mater (which happens to be hers, as well).  The (somewhat new) college president, Paula Johnson, gave those assembled (as well as those who, like I, watched online) a great introduction to this accomplished and (I’ll say it again) inspiring woman who has spent her entire life pursuing the public good.  It’s really a shame – a damn shame – that such a qualified (the most qualified ever – perhaps even overqualified?) person should have been robbed of her place in history by a no-nothing, to whom I refer to as The Rump, for he is, at best, an ass, if not merely the orifice it contains.

As the Rump continues to contradict his handlers (to his own detriment – or so I hope), The Rump seems to be begging for more rope.  I can only hope that such an execution will occur sooner.  The only (only!) negative outcome of the removal of The Rump from the Oval Office will be that an anti-choice self-proclaimed god-fearing (and therefore know-nothing) Minion will assume the power of the highest political office in this country.  Fortunately, the Democrats are starting to find their wits, at least enough to stand cohesively against the Repugnican-backed proposed federal budget.  I’m waiting for the government shutdown.  Let those who voted for The Rump and his Minion suffer from their own foolishness, for many of them were fooled by his “charm” and “success.” They were conned to believe that he would do anything that benefits anyone but himself.  Fools.  I don’t even know if I can find very much sympathy for these deluded souls who were used by a con man to obtain his own ends.  It’s not as if his winning will rub off on them and turn them into winners.  In his zero sum game mentality, he can only win when others necessarily lose.  He must take from others to feel that he has anything of worth.  He must rob others to enrich himself, as evidenced by his business actions with too many contractors who worked for him and then were left unpaid.

The Rump doesn’t even have a sense of self.  He can only see his reflection in the popular media.  He foolishly believes he can pick and choose his reality.  When he was a television personality, he was able to do so, pretty much with impunity, since that of which he was in charge was, in reality, something quite trivial.  Who really gives a flying fuck what he thinks or feels?  Apparently, there are some.

Who is the more foolish:  The Fool or the Fool Who Follows?



I’m making a tri-color gnocchi dish.  I’ve got all the gnocchi in the freezer.  I made the beet gnocchi first, then the butternut squash, and, finally, today, just plain potato gnocchi.  I will prepare a browned butter with sage sauce to accompany them for dinner tomorrow evening.  The potato gnocchi have fresh rosemary mixed into them, whereas the beet and butternut squash gnocchi each have ricotta and Parmesan.  This should be good.

In other news, however, I’ve been at times worried on a personal level and at other times worried on an existential level, mostly relating to the politics of today.  The Rump is trying to get his Supreme Court nominee confirmed, and I’ve been telling both of my senators to filibuster the nomination and to call for a delay in all presidential appointments until a full investigation into The Rump’s relationship with He who must not be named (Ras-) has been completed.  NO APPOINTEES, NO ACTIONS until there is a FULL INVESTIGATION.


Two Weeks With No Classes

The final course in the Revit series had started without me, so I’m waiting for the next session to take it.  That leaves me with two weeks to practice what I’ve already, hopefully, learned in the software package.  This is my second week since the third course ended.  The fourth and last course becomes available on 10 March, so I’ve got another week (actually, two, since today’s Monday and the course will begin on the Tuesday following the 10th).

I’ve found a new bread recipe that I’m quite fond of.  It’s a potato bread that is heavily scented with rosemary and garlic.  Because I don’t have fresh rosemary at the moment, I’ve been substituting dried, with acceptable results.  I always add a bit more of the flavorings than called for, since I like pungency in foods as much as I appreciate subtlety in visual art.  I think it’s because my own taste buds are growing ever less sensitive, and I therefore need more pungent flavors that my tongue can detect.

The potato bread actually starts with what is called a biga, which is a small amount of dough that is made the day before the bread, in order to provide more flavor.  I’ve got a biga in the fridge right now.  It’s about a week old at this point, so I expect it to impart some good, mature flavor to the next potato bread I make, which will be in a day or two, as soon as we finish the loaf of challah I made yesterday.

I bought some dried cherries and dried blueberries for use in oatmeal as well as fruit bars, which I endeavor to make again.  I’ve learned that the baking time need not be very long, just long enough to set the fruit into a cohesive mass.  I want to try to recreate the fruit bars that were introduced to me last year, in which the primary ingredient is dates.  The other ingredients were simple, such as other ground fruits and crushed nuts.

I believe K wants oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow, which is fine.  I’m assuming at this point that she will want me to ferry her to school in the morning, especially if it is once again raining heavily as it was today.  Then I will jump on the bus 31 to UTC, and, from there, either the 202 traveling west up Nobel, or the 30, 150, or 41 to the La Jolla Village Drive entrance to the UCSD campus, from which I’ll walk up the hill to Peter’s.

I will take Peter to the airport, then go to Fashion Valley to help get some accounting paperwork completed.  From there, I’ll travel up to Harvest International Market on Balboa, where I will buy dates, and perhaps a couple other fresh fruits or vegetables, although we’re expecting another share next Tuesday and therefore I don’t want to fill the fridge already so that our share can fit.  I will learn on Thursday what our share will contain, and see if there’s any customization desired.

Tomorrow, there is a possibility that I may miss the noontime gathering at Senator Feinstein’s, though I’d still make it to the afternoon meeting at Senator Harris’s San Diego office.  I don’t remember what this week’s topic is, so I will learn when I arrive.  I should be able to make it on time, since the morning’s errands ought not run too late.  After leaving Senator Harris’s, I’ll come home, heat up leftover carrot soup and roast Brussels sprouts for dinner.  I know K is not a fan of Brussels sprouts, but I like them roasted, heavily flavored with roasted garlic and salted.  Then it’ll be time to prepare for bed.

Wednesday will be spent learning (or at least trying to learn) some of the more subtle operations in Revit.





What Concerns the Little Man

I don’t know why he was ever called “President Elect,” because he wasn’t elected by a majority of citizens of these United States of America. Donald J Trump (or, as I prefer to refer to him, “The Rump”) is a spoiled adolescent who never grew up. As Jon Stewart has said, The Rump is a Man-baby, with the visage of a man and the temperament (and hands) of a baby…

The fact that this little man still hasn’t gotten over a decades-old public slight speaks volumes (or, in his case, a few words making up a disjointed sentence). His reliance on using Twitter as a “get even” tool is nothing if not childishly immature. What the man lacks could fill volumes, but the most immediate things that come to mind are the qualities which he professes to have, and clearly does not. He claims to be a great intellect, and yet refuses to listen to scientists in the most pigheaded, head-in-the-sand fashion. His lack of curiosity makes his world a narrow one. He surrounds himself with fantasy Barbie-doll lookalikes, believing that others will look up to him and even envy him his trophy wife (the most recent of many – I’ve lost count). When the new First Lady complains that she will not move into the White House because it’s not as fancy as their New York flat, it says something about both the state of her mind, its lack of creativity, and the relationship between the newly-appointed First Couple. Of course, The Rump will miss his arm candy enough to order her to come down to DC occasionally in order to serve him and dance for any foreign dignitaries he entertains. That is, if any foreign dignitaries should choose to come to the White House during his tenancy, which, hopefully, will be brief. Besides, he has his golf courses to return to…

I marched in solidarity with those who have promised not only to oppose The Rump, but all that the fascist, sexist, ignorant regime that is the Repugnican Congress. They will have two years (until the next Congressional election) to convince their constituents that they are a party of action, of change, rather than a party of obstruction, a role which they had played with relish over the past eight years.  We’ll see if there’s anything that they will pass that will both feed their own egos and satisfy their constituency.

Listening to Elizabeth Warren speak at the Women’s March brought forth a renewed faith in humanity in me. It is a humanity that refuses to be cowed, a humanity that will fight for the rights of all and not just those who have already succeeded. Hers is a voice of compassion and passion, a voice who calls us forward to become engaged, to activate our civic selves, to fight as if for our lives, for it is our very lives for which we must wage battle.

Bad News and Then Some

After bidding Peter fair travels at the airport, I took my car to the dealership this morning to have the power windows inspected, as I wasn’t able to open any of the other windows outside of the driver’s from the driver’s controls.  The individual windows could not be opened by those sitting in their associated seats, either. I could only control the driver’s window. Kat had been complaining about not being able to open or close the window next to her seat (behind the driver’s) for several months now. Turned out that there was a switch that needed replacement. $150.

Naturally, when a car is brought in for any reason, a car dealership will tell owners of any and all other items that might want attention, whether it’s necessary or not. The one that got my attention today was that the rear brake pads are down to 10%, and the dealership typically recommends replacement at 20%, so I added their replacement to the work order. Then I learned that the wheels needed alignment, since when I got the tires replaced at Discount Tire, they didn’t provide that service. Another hundred or so dollars for that. The power steering fluid was looking manky, so he recommended that it be replaced within the next thousand miles. I told him I’ll wait until next year to get that done (note: it’s currently December, and I’m unlikely to drive a thousand miles within the next three months).

So the total cost for today’s work comes to just over $500, which is not the amount I’d expected to pay out, but I concluded to get the work done, since it’s better to keep the car running well, as it’s almost 15 years old now (model year 2002), and I intend to keep it running at least until Kat goes to college in two and a half years or so.

Depending on when the work is completed, I may have their shuttle pick me up from home and I’ll drive to Point Loma to talk to Tyler, the instructor for the second course I’m taking to learn the basics of SketchUp, which Google sold off to another company a few years back (it’s probably been longer, but I haven’t been keeping up with Google’s business activity, so it’s news to me).  I’m struggling, and hope to discover a solution with Tyler, who will, hopefully, elucidate what exactly it is that I’m doing or not doing that keeps SketchUp from completing the operations needed in order for me to move onto the next portion of the project, creating the landscape and placing the building on it.

Thursday will start out with my trial for speeding on Miramar Road. During the initial hearing, the magistrate was unwilling to listen to explanations, so I had to plead not guilty and go to trial, where I can plead guilty and provide an explanation for why it was that I was going over the speed limit early on a Saturday morning when the road was all but deserted (besides me and the cop who had been sitting at an intersection and who had pulled me over and given me a ticket). I’ll explain that when I drive, I drive contextually. When I’m in heavy, or even not very heavy, traffic, I drive at a speed comparable to the cars around me. From what I learned in school, this is called following the flow of traffic.  When I’m alone on the road, there are no other cars by which to compare my own speed, so it’s very easy for me to lose track of how fast I’m driving. And I was driving Peter’s car, which is different enough from my car (I have a Honda CR-V, and Peter has a Mazda Miata) so that it wasn’t immediately apparent to me that I was traveling at a speed very different from my usual traveling speed on that particular road. So that’s it. We’ll see, first, if the ticket issuer shows up in court, because if he doesn’t show up, the case should be automatically dismissed (or so I believe). However, since the cop will be paid whether he’s in court or actually on duty, he’ll likely show up. At the end of the day, it will cost the so-called justice system a maximum financial input to secure my conviction (that is, if I’m convicted, which appears quite likely)…  And this leads me to wonder if the reason we have so many inane traffic laws is to provide police departments with their donut slush funds through maximizing revenue through creative ticketing…

~Time Passed~

It is the end of the day, and I have a flan in the oven being baked for tonight’s dinner. I’m actually feeling a bit more relaxed about Thursday, as I will try to have as normal a day as possible tomorrow.  I plan to go to the gym, as I typically do on Wednesdays, then go grocery shopping, as it appears quite necessary right now.

In the evening on Thursday, the high school band, in which Kat plays flute, will present its Winter concert.  By then, I’ll know my labor schedule or fine, so I can move on after this most unpleasant business.

The Time Ahead

A grey day greets San Diegans.  The sun appears shy and tentative.  A wintry breeze, inasmuch as one exists in SoCal, causes movement in the pines above as well as the narrow broad-leafed understory.  The radio news program speaks of the historical nature of the communist leader whose passing marks the end of an era.  His son has moved Cuba closer to the materialistic ideals of capitalism, much to the dismay of some of his followers.

The passing of Fidel Castro is being celebrated by many who left the island to settle on a low-lying finger of the nearest continent.  His passing is being called a good thing by one critic, who celebrates his death in light of his own potential personal financial gain.

The Rump, had, during the time of the Stalinist leader, attempted to further his own financial fortune on the island, and failed.  He will likely seek further enrichment of those fortunes at this time, being set free (or so he believes) to do as he wishes.  The Rump claims to have no conflict of interest in taking the most powerful political position in the Human-led World, but many of us know otherwise.  The Rump will utilize the office of President to enrich himself only.  He is, after all, a businessman first.  Anyone else who benefits shall do so as a mere consequence of the policies The Rump will champion to increase his own personal fortune.  It will be collateral damage paid for by the Citizens of these United States, but what will he care?  As long as he comes out ahead, he’s a happy fat child.

Lighter Fare: Savory Breakfast Muffins

4 strips pork bacon (turkey or soy bacon may be substituted)

3 large green onions

4 oz. cheddar cheese (DON’T substitute soy cheese)

2/3 c. unbleached a-p flour

2/3 c. whole wheat flour

2/3 c. masa flour (finely ground corn, typically sold for making tamales)

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 T. granulated sugar

1 1/2 c. buttermilk

1/3 c. grapeseed oil

2 small or 1 large egg, at room temperature

desirable:  silicone cupcake liners to make life easier

Place bacon slices into a wide, shallow skillet.  Cover with water, and cook over high heat until water comes to a boil.  Continue simmering the bacon until it is fully cooked, with a lot of the fat coming out on top of the water.  Pick up bacon slices from water, and drain on paper towels.  Julienne the bacon crosswise.  Chop green onions (white and green parts), and grate the cheese using the large- to medium-sized holes in the grater.

Mix flours and masa in a large bowl.  Stir in the soda, sugar, and salt until well incorporated.  Add bacon, chopped onions, and grated cheese to the flour mixture, and stir until fairly well distributed.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat eggs until they are fairly uniform in consistency and color.  Add oil and whisk until emulsified.  Add buttermilk, and stir until well combined.

Make a well in dry ingredients.  Pour egg mixture into this well, and stir just until all of the dry bits are moistened.  This will make a fairly stiff batter.  Scoop about 1/3-1/2 c. batter into each silicone-lined muffin cup.  Bake for 25-28 minutes (test at 25 minutes with a toothpick).  Cool in pan 2 minutes before removing to a linen towel-lined serving bowl.  Fold the towel over the muffins to keep them warm.  Serve with butter and/or creme fraiche.

FEMALE: the Adjective Denoting Sex

I have tried to remain relatively (perhaps uncharacteristically) apolitical in my entries.  There seems to be more than sufficient vitriol on the Internet to satisfy just about any political attitude.  But here is mine, as if you really need to read (yet) another essay extolling the virtues of one candidate versus another, or at least the reasoning behind supporting one candidate versus the other.  I will say, in my own defence, that the position I have come to I reached after much thought, especially during the course of the lively debates that led this nation to come down to two (realistically speaking) Presidential candidates.  I will only discuss two candidates, for they are, for all intents and purposes, the only choices.  Any other voting decision just obviously indirectly supports one of them, and that would be the one who must be properly put into his place as a flash-in-the-pan rich-kid political wannabe.  The Rump is (I almost said “probably”) the most self-congratulatory, self-promoting egotistical megalomaniac to ever have reached the status of being a Major Party Candidate.

Drumpf’s opponent, admittedly, has a PR problem:  she’s a woman.  She’s also a policy wonk, and someone who was more comfortable with the footwork of improving democracy, from the door-to-door interviews in rural communities regarding childcare, to studying federal policies and practices to introduce, even if not successfully passing, a new approach to healthcare.  Hillary Rodham Clinton is, indeed, an introvert who must be elected.  For the sake of all people, especially the social and political outcasts who foolishly currently support The Rump.  Even though they do not support Rodham, she will be a Commander-in-Chief who serves the entire population, not just those who stroke her ego.

I am positive Hillary Rodham Clinton has an ego, but she is not egotistical.  I’m sure she felt infinitely more comfortable supporting Bill Clinton as First Lady, speaking to influence the world’s attitudes towards women and children.  As Secretary of State, she worked with other leaders, allowing them to insert their egos into policies that were necessary to pass.  One might call her manipulative for doing so, but I assert that in influencing world events, both as First Lady and as Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton was certainly not doing so for the sake of stroking any sense of self-importance, even as important a figure as she eventually became.

One might claim that I, who, like Hillary Rodham, graduated from an Ivy-League institution (the same one, as the case may be), am, somehow, inherently “fixed” to support her.  Believe me, I did quite a lot of “soul-searching” (as one may call it) in order to reach my conclusion that she is not only the best-prepared, but also the best-suited candidate for the job of leading this country into the next phase of history.  Hillary Rodham Clinton has a strong and positive heart, and she will bring these United States of America through the difficult time ahead.  We must deal with Climate Change, political instability in many geographical regions of the Earth, and continuing inequality within our own borders. Hillary Rodham will choose the best advisors to help her as she leads the way forward.

If the Repugnicans retain their Congressional majority, Hillary Rodham will face unprecedented obstruction by an obstinate, yet zealous (and I use that word knowingly) Congress who will be hell-bent on causing her at least as much grief as they caused the first African-American President.  It will be undoubtedly worse.  After the 2008 election, I vehemently told everyone who would listen, that this country is, indeed, still more sexist than it is racist.  At least President Obama was physically tall enough to meet the taller Repugnican obstructionists eye-to-eye.  Hillary is physically shorter, but her intellectual acumen is at least equal to any sitting Congressional Representative or Senator, and I dare say that she is the intellectual superior of the vast majority of them.

I am heartened that two women are competing to take Barbara Boxer’s seat in the United States Senate.  Boxer is retiring after  decades of service, and I believe she is due a good retirement.  However, I wouldn’t put her away prematurely, because if another issue for which she feels the need to return to the public sphere arises, I’ve no doubt she will.  In fact, I had harbored a fantasy during the VEEP-vetting process, that Hillary would tap Barbara to be her running mate.  What a killer combination that would have been!  A female United States President (the word “woman” is a noun, NOT a fucking adjective!) is long overdue.  It is time.