“What?” you say? Am I in the right blog? Yes you are – it’s all about the connections!
My grandson, Chance Reilly Johnson conceived, execute, and edited this one-minute video as an entry in a national contest. (Challenge: Concoct a 1-minute video illustrating something counter-intuitive in physics. He chose “steer right to turn left” – you know about this if you saw the movie “Cars”!
The top 100 entries with the most views will be considered for a Major Award. Chance is up against grownups and influencers with loads of web followers. Click away! and you might even find this useful if you ever happen to be speeding around a tight curve.
A friend invited me to visit for a few days at her time share in San Francisco, so of course I accepted with alacrity the opportunity to look at different walls and a different neighborhood. The time share was located at the Worldmark by Wyndham, right in the middle of Dashiell Hammett country, around the corner from where [Spoiler Alert!] Brigid O’Shaunessy killed Miles Archer in “The Maltese Falcon” (the movie scenes showing Humphrey Bogart striding past the hotel play in an unending loop in the lobby).
Getting into San Francisco was unexpectedly easy. I can’t get used to the lack of traffic on a summer afternoon going into the City (and maybe I’d better not get used to it – how long can it last?) I breezed up the scenic 280, cut over at the airport connector, scarcely touched the brakes on the Bayshore, cut over on 280 again past the ball parks, took one left at 3rd, a second left at Bush, and I was beckoned into the Sutter-Stockton garage directly across from the hotel. Wow!
Note to out-of-towners: Even the municipal parking garages in San Francisco will seem outrageously expensive to you coming from anywhere else but maybe New York and Washington DC. Best to come into the city by train or BART or shuttle and rely on the excellent (even during COVID-19 conditions) public transit system. If you have to come by car, plan your activities so that you can leave the car in the garage one day, using public transit to get around, and go all the places the buses don’t go on the same day without re-entering the garage until you are done. Every in and out costs $4, while a full day maxes at $44.
San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods. Each has its distinctive personality, though they do evolve slowly. The Tenderloin has retained its seedy Character ever since the days of Dashiell Hammett, even though it is tightly sandwiched in between upscale Union Square and the culture-heavy Civic Center. Sea Cliff and Pacific Heights are posh, the Richmond and Sunset districts are full of fog and families, while South of Market (SOMA) is still heavily ethnic and blue-collar.
W and I were invited for dinner in the Dubose Triangle. This is a quiet neighborhood of Victorians which have been cut up into apartments and condos, tucked between the flamboyant Castro District and trendy Cole Valley. We met our host at Dubose Park, just next to the runner where the N-Judah dives underground below Twin Peaks before surfacing in the Sunset District near the beach. The lower section of Dubose Park is dedicated to dogs , with all varieties of mutt and breed frolicking on green and well-kept lawn. The upper section requires leashing so that toddlers can learn to crawl on the grass and families can picnic.
We met our host next to the fenced=in play structure, where he and his neighbors were chatting about good places to camp with children, plans for their next getaway, and the difficulties of finding contractors to do minor remodeling and repairs.
When our hostess arrived after her work-from-home meeting, we pulled the pre-schooler away from her posse and ambled back down to the house. On the way my host was greeted over and over by passers by. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for fifteen years,” he shrugged. “i know a lot of people.”
It’s become a cliché to compare living in the year of COVID-19 lockdown to the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray’s character is doomed to relive the same day over and over until he gets it right. I’ve certainly had that feeling, as Laundry Day seems to come around faster and faster, and the only difference from week to week is what color sheets I put on the bed.
But hey! We’re getting through it, right? I’ve been waiting for the New Normal for a while now, with the anticipation of looking forward, rather than looking back at How Things Used to Be. But this week I had an unsettling discovery which challenges that anticipation.
Like many people, I keep a stack of unread magazines in the bathroom which I am going to get around to reading sooner or later. During lockdown, I made a lot of progress. This week, near the bottom of the unread magazine pile I found an issue of Time from summer, five years ago.
There was a two-page photo spread showing a scorched playground swing among the smoky ruins of a school, one of at least 2400 homes and businesses in a community destroyed by a wildfire.
A lead article talked about how to achieve equity and inclusion for black students at colleges and universities, using the line “Black Students Matter”.
Another article featured edible cutlery as a way to keep plastic waste out of landfills.
An op-ed article discussed how to help your children interact with and understand artificial intelligence.
A second op-ed article worried about how the aging of the Baby Boomers would impact our society, especially if they are siloed in retirement communities and lose engagement with their communities.
The lead articles discussed the need to reform our tax system in order to narrow the wealth gap and the lack of political will to address our crumbling transportation systems. The entertainment section featured an article on the retreat of movie and television drama into endless fantasies where magic and superpowers prevail over reality.
In short, if you changed a few political names, updated the titles of the books, movies, and TV shows, and overlooked the lack of mention of pandemics, there was almost nothing in the magazine that couldn’t have been written this week. I have the horrible suspicion that once I am out of lockdown, the New Normal could just be 2016 over and over again, until we get it right.
There are still a few magazines in my pile, even older than the copy of Time from 2016. I’m going to wait a bit before I look at them, though. If we are stuck in a Groundhog Decade, I don’t think I want to know.