via Daily Prompt: Elevate

It would be a tough thing to elevate any discussion that includes reference to The Rump, and not only for the most obvious reason.  How does one elevate a discussion when the topic at hand is not only unsavory and unseemly, but appears to delight in its lack of class?

Indeed, the current resident of the White House (where he apparently lives alone, since his current trophy wife refuses to lower her standard of living to reside there with him) is not worthy of any kind of elevation.  His stature as President of these United States belies his true nature: a spoiled, unruly, self-promoting waste of a human being.  To call attention to The Rump is itself degrading.  Therefore, I will address something worth elevating:  the likelihood of California becoming the (first) Sanctuary State within the 50 United States of America…

In a recent email sent out by the Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, our city schools will not be places that schoolchildren need to approach with fear, for she has come to an agreement with the San Diego office of Border Patrol (by which I assume she includes INS) and ICE to keep the schools safe from INS invasion, for children need to feel safe in order to learn.  They will be taught, as all children should, that their education is worthwhile and that they are worthy;  children have a  right, regardless of their immigration status, to an education with which to elevate themselves to better circumstances.  If California does not become the nation’s first Sanctuary State, in following with its most populous and popular cities, then it is right that the Superintendents of all California cities forbid their schools from becoming hunting grounds for federal agents to seize innocent children (and their families) whose only crime is to exist.

I wrote the Superintendent a letter of thanks, and I encourage all parents to do the same, regardless of their own or their children’s immigration status.  My letter follows:

Office of the Superintendent
4100 Normal Street, Room 2219
San Diego, CA 92103

6 September 2017

Dear Superintendent Marten:

I write to thank you for your recent email regarding protecting our students’ rights as human beings against unconscionable federal search and seizure while at school, a place that needs to serve as a safe haven for all children to learn and thrive so that they may reach their full potential.

I have been watching, in horror and disgust, the events since the Trump Regime came into office. I, personally, have participated in local actions, contacting my federal and state legislative representatives to argue against many of the draconian, narrow-minded, and short-sighted policies championed by the current Administration. Indeed, I eagerly await news of the regime’s downfall, for which I almost pray daily (I don’t pray almost daily, but, rather, I dearly wish on a daily basis, for I am not a religious person – wishing is as far as I come to prayer to any deity, though I don’t wish to anyone in particular, either).

If I were a religious person, I would shower you with not only gratefulness, but blessings, for you are doing the hard work, based on your passion, that I have found lacking in so many so-called public servants, including our President, who so handily lost the popular vote. Indeed, this is a fact that he cannot, himself, seem to let go, for his tiny, chrystalline ego demands that he puff his chest out to maximize the physical space he inhabits. But I digress…

I wanted to thank you for standing up for our students and their families, without whom the San Diego Community would surely be far worse off.



The Court of the County of San Diego has an antiquated computer system that doesn’t know how to communicate between different offices. How is this possible, you may ask: the computers are all in the same department, how can they not communicate through an internal network?

I do not know the answer to this question, but I may bring it up when I go in front of a magistrate on Wednesday. I’m being summoned to court to explain why I didn’t provide the court with proof of service, even though the computer at Probation knows the dates that I served. When I went to their public service desk, they printed out my certificate, one copy for my records and one copy to submit to the court.  Why isn’t their system streamlined so that people don’t get hauled into court at taxpayer expense to tell them what their own department has in their records? It’s a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Unfortunately, I have to go in. I did not send in “proof” of the first time I served time for another traffic infraction, and never heard from them, so I had figured that since I’d served my time, that was enough. Apparently not. They can’t get their shit together to save time and taxpayer dollars because it is not to their benefit, because they can pawn off the cost onto individual citizen, and I am sure they will.

It’s a shit deal for taxpayers of San Diego County to have to pay for an inept court system that doesn’t know how to keep its own paperwork coordinated.

I’ll write a follow-up after I get my (second) day in court…

Lurch, Larch, Lech…


When this word come up, the first thing I think of is Addams Family, their butler, named Lurch (or so I assume that’s the spelling, though I’ve never verified it).  Tall, gaunt, with a bass voice bordering on gravelly, he was a great comic character in a pretty funny show.

If I think about lurch as a verb, it comes across as something that I don’t often find myself doing, though I suppose I’ve probably done it while riding on some form of public transit, particularly while standing on a bus as it comes to a sudden start or stop.

The Larch brings up, without fail (in my mind, at least), the repetitious image from Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which there is a picture of a tree, and the voiceover states, “And now, the larch.”  I never understood the significance of this until it was explained to me by a native Englishman, who informed me of the massive planting campaign in England to reforest the nation after the Second World War.  The tree they chose was the larch, and every English person knows of its ubiquity.

The last term is really a shorthand way to refer to a lecherous person (in my experience, it’s typically a man, though I suppose it’s possible for there to be lecherous individuals of all stripes and persuasions), as in “that guy over there is a total lech, don’t shake his hand, you don’t know where it’s been besides inside his pants.”

On another, completely unrelated note, I received, in the post, a letter, supposedly from the Superior Court of California, regarding a fine that I certainly DO NOT OWE since I decided to do community service for my traffic fine and completed my service months ago.  So it must have stemmed from some systemic error and the criminal justice system is at the point of trying to collect money from me, to the tune of $805.  It initially startled and frightened me to receive such a notice, but when I noticed what it was for, I realized that I needed to contact them to correct the matter.  According to the notice, unless I pay or contact them within 20 days of 14 August (a week has gone by already, and I only received this in the post today), they’ll issue a warrant for my arrest and/or suspend my driver’s license.  Under normal circumstances, I really wouldn’t give a shit, because it’s not like I drive very much, anyway.  It’s more just that I’m totally pissed that they fucked up and that they’re going to try to make ME pay for THEIR FUCK-UP!  I know the officers under whom I served my time, so I will tell the court to haul their asses in to have them testify, if necessary, since they’re the ones who would have had to hand in the records of my service.

Yes, I’m pissed.



Dreaming While Awake

via Daily Prompt: Trance

Sometimes, when I’m riding a San Diego city bus, going to one place or another, but typically on my way home, my attention drifts into the space between my mind and my exterior circumstance.  Occasionally, I’ll miss my stop, though this is occurring less and less frequently, thankfully (although I’m thankful to no-one in particular, as the case may be and is).

Though I haven’t missed my home stop for many months, nay, years, I remember missing seminars and workshops because my somnolence has forced me to ride to the following stop, which can be at quite a distance, before I can turn around and catch the next bus back.  I’ve mistakenly gotten off at an earlier stop than intended because I’ve drifted off and not known how long I was unconscious before regaining awareness, pulling the signal cord too early and getting off the bus only to realize that I’d only winked momentarily and therefore was still a long way from my destination…  Yes, I’ve become sufficiently discombobulated when starting awake that I’ve not noticed where I was before getting off the bus.

Other times, my mind wanders a bit far afield, and I need to reconnect my optic nerve to my attention in order to figure out where I am exactly…

Sometimes, thoughts or daydreams are accompanied by a musical score composed of a piece of music I’ve come to memorize, inconveniently played in fragments so as to become lodged in my brain for the remainder of the day.  If I’m lucky, I know the song well enough to be able to play it through in my head to its conclusion, which will enable my mind to move beyond it instead of becoming trapped in an ever-repeating refrain.

Luckily, this has not happened recently.

Clonal Plumrose Anemones and a Black Plum Sorbet Recipe

Peter and I are planning a trip to Monterrey, California, during the first week of October, when the water should be at its warmest and when we’ll both be free to travel. I will continue to study for the LEED EBOM AP exam and can bring my study materials with me, and Peter does not have any working travel plans that week.

We made the decision to head north instead of south to Bahia de los Angeles, in Baja California, because although the distance is similar, the drive going north, as well as arranging accommodations, will be easier if we remain in California.  We briefly considered heading even further north to Oregon, Washington, or even British Columbia, but settled on a repeat visit to Monterrey, as we’d had good experiences there.

This will be our third trip to Monterrey.  Previous trips found us staying at the Carmel Mission Inn, but this time, we will shop for a deliberately diver-friendly accommodation.  Though we’d had no problems staying at the Carmel Mission Inn, we were rather spoiled by our rooms, especially the second room, on the southwest corner of the top floor.  Each room had a balcony on which to dry our drysuits and hang up gear overnight to drip dry.  It’s a bit pricier than we’d like, given our current finances (really Peter’s finances), and we’re hoping we might find a place potentially closer to Point Lobos State Reserve.

We’ll need to find a new breakfast restaurant, since the one we’d gone to while staying at the Carmel Mission Inn was right across the small carpark behind the hotel.  We’d also gone to nearby restaurants for dinner, either in the same shopping center as the breakfast restaurant or across the street which the hotel fronts.  Perhaps we can find a slightly more urban (read:  pedestrian-oriented) environment so that we don’t have to drive everywhere.

We’re inviting friends who dive to join us.  Tiffany’s family is in NorCal, so she was the first person to whom we’d mentioned the trip (at a viewing of “Chasing Coral,” a very worthwhile, if disheartening, documentary about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,  now available on Netflix).  Unfortunately, I think Tiffany’s might out of the country, possibly hosting a Power Scuba trip.  Other friends and acquaintances we’ll want to ask will need to check their calendars, as most in academia will likely be ensconced in research or teaching in early October.  If it turns out to be just the two of us, I would not be disappointed, as I enjoy traveling with Peter as a couple.

On another note, I’ve signed up to volunteer for the Community Kitchen Days at Kitchens for Good this coming Wednesday and the following Wednesday.  I will take the bus and trolley, as the drive was a bit nerve-wracking when I went (with Kat) the first time.  I’d told Kat that when she comes with me again, I’ll buy her a transit day pass for $5.  Unfortunately, since it’s a weeknight, it might prove difficult for Kat, since she’ll have schoolwork and other activities…

I took the 20 bus yesterday afternoon to buy eggs.  The first bus I boarded ended up stopping at Miramar Transit Station, so I spent half an hour waiting for the following bus which would take me up to Carmel Mountain Road.  During my wait, I chatted with the driver of the first bus, a man named Billy, who turned out to be a native San Diegan. My first reaction was (as it would be) was that since he’s a native San Diegan, he doesn’t have much reason to go anywhere else.  I gave him a short version of my history, and he asked why it was that I’ve lived in so many places in my life.  It hadn’t occurred to me previously that I’ve lived in *so* many places, especially since a lot of the moving was circumstantial, but then again, I guess I’ve not been particularly interested in remaining in any single particular geographical location, though San Diego has been my longest city of residence since I left Paramus for college.

I showed Billy the Meetup app on my phone. I described to him the concept of Meetup, an online site which enables people to physically meet other people in their cities/regions who have something in common.  He sounded intrigued, and I gave him the web address for Meetup (Meetup.com) and encouraged him to explore it.

I learned that Billy knew Ellen, the former MTS driver whom I’d met through the San Diego Humanist Association or Humanist Fellowship of San Diego (I don’t remember which organization exactly).  He hadn’t realized that she’d even left San Diego, though I told him that it’s been at least many months, of not a few years, since she’d moved to Arizona.

Billy asked if I wanted to ride with him and keep him company this week, as he’ll be driving the 20 route this coming midweek.  I’ve not yet ridden the 20 north of Carmel Mountain Road, so I might just do that if I decide to take him up on his offer.

It turns out that because of purchase limits on eggs, I’ll want to return to the same supermarket twice to buy more eggs, as customers are limited to buying two cartons in a single transaction, and I want to buy two additional cartons for myself, as well as a couple for Peter, since he’s just run out of eggs and won’t be back in town until after the sale is over.  I’ll ask the checkout clerk the next time I go if it’s possible for me to just make two purchases of two cartons each, to save myself the return trip.  Hopefully, I’ll come across a friendly checkout clerk who will allow me to do that.

I harvested some figs yesterday afternoon, and will likely return to return to harvest more midweek, on Wednesday or Thursday.  I cooked the figs with some orange blossom water, almond extract, and apple juice (for added sweetness), then rolled out the short crust pastry I prepared last night to make a 9″x9″ pan of scented fig bars.  I haven’t cut into them yet, but I suspect they’ll be very nice, especially if I try them in concert with the sorbet that Kat helped me to prepare last night:

Fresh Plum and Cherry Sorbet


1.5 lbs. Fresh black plums
1 lb Fresh cherries
1 c Apple juice
1 T Orange blossom water
1 .5 t Almond extract
1 c Granulated sugar

Pit cherries and plums, and place in medium-sized saucepan with apple juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half to a third of its starting volume. Add extract and orange blossom water, and continue to cook over medium-low heat until reduced so that a silicone spatula leaves a streak on the bottom of the pan.

Cool mixture to room temperature, then pureé.

Churn in ice cream maker until thickened.  Freeze until desired consistency is reached, probably overnight.  Serve with whipped cream and/or cake or shortbread cookies.


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.