san francisco

My Final Season (and So It Begins….)


This is what Opening Day looks like in San Francisco.  Technically not “Opening Day.” That event and its annual parade was actually cancelled a weekend ago. The rainy conditions introduced the unpleasant prospect of baseball-cleated pre-teens sliding around in the payload of rented pickup trucks like a pile of slippery mackerel.  This would have been my last San Francisco Little League Opening Day Parade, since my younger son will graduate out at the end of the current season.  I’ll get over it, but I would have liked just one more trip around the block with a pile of fish. 

Even after 12 or 13 years of these rides, I can almost remember each.  When loaded with a dozen 50-pound first-graders, space comes at a premium back there for coaches who haven’t seen first grade and 50 pounds since 1975. Sixth-graders now, the players on my Majors A’s team this year have doubled in size from their first-grade selves. We coaches have, maybe, added a few pounds here and there as well. Sitting in the open air on the bump of a metal wheel well, pinching one’s knees together as the driver careens around the Marina, the players rhythmically banging their fists on the quarter panels, sounds, objectively speaking, undesirable. But I would have liked to take one more spin around the neighborhood, my own hand stinging at the end of it (it’s not just the kids that do the banging). 

Thankfully, lightning and sneakers losing purchase and liability did not come into play for our team’s actual first game, which transpired this past weekend.  This is not to say that my boys (it’s only boys this season) pranced around in the bluebird skies, blazing sunshine, and fresh cut grass from my youth. Nope. I suspect our field had recently played host to a lacrosse game or rugby match or Friday evening adult softball game featuring a keg drained down in the visitor’s dugout. The field has seen better days. I can’t blame the outfield, pockmarked with ankle-twisting gopher holes, on those other folks, though.  That’s just nature.  The kids have been navigating those vermin-built land mines for so long, we don’t even bother mentioning this hazard to our right fielders anymore. 

Gopher holes? What gopher holes?  

The unusually heavy fog added an interesting variable to the mix. The Golden Gate Bridge’s fog horn moaned the entire night before our game.  The late evening news weatherman, his opinion seconded by the opposing team’s head coach, said it would be thick.  He was right.  At 7:15am on Saturday morning, the fog bank operated as a de facto outfield fence.  If any player was able to jack one out into the fog, literally hitting the ball out of sight, I suspect the home plate umpire would happily circle his index finger in the air.  That would be a very cool sight, and I wouldn’t care whether our team did it, or their team did. 

Fog? What fog?

Given the paucity of playable fields within the 7 mile by 7 mile footprint of San Francisco proper, the League struggles mightily to accommodate the 1,000+ rabid little leaguers with crooked caps and untied shoelaces. Hence our 8am game on Saturday.  My team’s players, presumably still bleary-eyed from an all-night Fortnight video game bender, drifted onto the field one and two and three at-a-time; eventually comprising a full quorum by the time the umpire requested my hand-written lineup. Our pre-game drills turned just-unwrapped official league baseballs into the heavy dirty gummy dun spheres on display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  I whack a brand-spanking new ball with my fungo bat out into the outfield, someone (hopefully, eventually, corrals it), and throws back to me an unrecognizeable ball covered in mud as though it had time-traveled (backwards or forwards, I’m not sure which).  But none of the players and none of the coaches complained about the mud balls.   

Mud balls? What mud balls?

As it turns out, we got our butts kicked on Saturday morning.  Wasn’t much of a contest, really. Sure, we talked about it after the game.  A little bit. The strikeouts and botched plays and missed steal signs and such.  But that stuff hardly mattered as we all knelt in the still-wet grass surrounded by the still-lingering fog. I glanced around this semi-circle of boys, ready smiles on their faces, some giggling and poking at each other, no hints of dejection or disappointment over why didn’t I swing at that third strike. In that moment, I thought to myself, “getting our butts kicked never felt so good.” 

This is my last season, and I’ve resolved to savor every moment of it.  So bring on the rain and fog and gophers and mud balls.   

Here comes the (wind and) rain again.


It ain’t pretty.  This is the ugly underbelly of an improved drought situation here in  California.  The drenching and quenching rains of the last several weeks have generated an embarrassment of riches: A robust Sierra snowpack 170% of normal. Reservoirs topped off, and then some, with drinking water for the masses. And…a wind-blown scattering of chicken bones and cardboard boxes spilled from overstuffed curbside compost and recycling bins. 

Don’t get me wrong, we need the rain.  Big time.  Our Governor declared a drought emergency back in 2014 — the subject of my 2nd blog post ever, in fact.  Here in our little flat, we reduced our own water consumption by waaaaay more than the suggested 25%.  My wife and I still bear the psychological scars from the “if it’s yellow, keep it mellow” toilet war that my sons have waged these past three years.  I have evidently developed a new phobia associated with lifting a toilet lid to see what horrors reveal themselves.  So we as a family are definitely pulling our weight, when it comes to helping out with the drought. 

Which is why this morning felt like such a kick in the ribs. Well, a kick in my 10th grader’s ribs, to be precise.  I am already burdened by my toilet seat peekaboo phobia.  So it’s high time Max cultivates his own debilitating aversions, and the terrors associated with our compost bin offer fertile ground.  As it turns out, I’ve covered said terrors in the past, too. So I know of which I write. Long story short, Max was emotionally and physically unprepared for his civic duty this morning.  Soaking wet and shoeless, trudging through driving rain and puddles.  Perhaps 5 minutes on from being woken up for school (never a fun period of time in the morning).  Irked and disgusted by the street spray of our household refuse from wind-blown bins overturned.  And harboring murderous ill will towards our inconsiderate upstairs neighbor — she apparently views Max as her new houseboy.  Needless to say, Max’s curbside antics this morning are best left forgotten — obscured in the fog of compost war, if you will.  Now we are all equally traumatized, it is fair to say. And the snowpack is looking good. 

Thanks for reading. 

Half Centurions and a Devil Mask (Frank’s Trail)


I have written before about this cast of characters. Friends who count 30-something years of shared memories.  Beginning way back with fraternity hijinks committed and tolerated as 17 or 18 or 19 year-olds. Mostly run-of-the-mill stuff; but plenty not for public consumption.  Oddly, most of those involved public consumption, as I think back. Now, more or less, grown men.  With mortgages, high school-aged kids, lengthy professional careers of one sort or another. Family pets.  Wives to whom we’ve been serendipitously hitched for 20-something years. And a penchant for scaring the bejesus out of one another on occasion. 

This explains the mask.  I know you have been wondering about that. I am the guy in the red devil mask.  No, this photo is not evidence of some odd paganistic ritual.  Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.  No half-naked people circling midnight bonfires were injured in the making of this particular weekend, however.  So back to the mask, because it is a curious thing.  And I have been meaning to write this particular blog post for over a month.

You see, the 2nd gent from the left turned 50 back in December.  He shares my own mother’s birthdate, which I have always found intriguing.  He shared the altar with me on my wedding day 20 years ago.  I stood there shakily, sweating profusely — from the ambient air temperature, not from the gravity of the moment. Maybe it was both. In any event, fair to say I’m woozy.  Trying desperately to follow and repeat back the muffled words of the pastor before me. And while I’m mildly annoyed that my best man’s best efforts to stem my forehead faucet involve a fistful of fibrous hotel toilet paper, I’m grateful he’s there for me. My face is more or less covered with small, sweaty fragments of Charmin.  Basically “TP’d” in front of a couple hundred friends and family members. But I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this man standing by me. 

Now fast forward. On a similarly auspicious occasion in his own life some 20 years later — turning 50 years old — how do I repay him? Sure, I fly with another great friend from the west coast to the east coast, where Frank now lives.  To surprise him. For most right-thinking people, that should suffice. Gratitude shown.  The debt repaid. Leave it at that. But alas, right-thinking people rightly think that I am not one of them.  

Exhibit A: The Satan mask.  Most folks pack socks and undies in their overnighters. I stuff a terrifying rubber mask in mine — two of them actually — with every intention to deploy said mask during my trip. And not spontaneously, no.  I’ve planned this out.  Thought hard on it. I believe this is known as “malice aforethought.” Can’t you just see the group of right-thinking people shuffling slowly away from me, with sideways glances? 

Exhibit B: During my Uber ride to the unsuspecting birthday boy’s east coast location, I scour my co-conspirator’s neighborhood via Google Earth.  I push through mild car sickness in order to assess where a proper point of entry at my buddy’s Atlanta home might be so as to maximize the jumpscare factor. As I roll out of the car — my Uber driver Yolanda now giddy in cahoots — I confess that images of stealthy Seal Team 6 storming that Pakistani compound flit through my mind.  I tiptoe down the pitch black driveway, quietly unhitch a backyard gate, and crawl.  On my hands and knees. Peering through the devil mask’s eye slits.  Breathing heavily like Michael Myers, I realize.  As I secretly skitter across my buddy’s backyard deck and into his screened patio.  At least I hope this is his deck and patio.  I’ve never actually been here before, and am really really hoping I Google Earthed the right residence. I’m dressed all in black, with a blood red devil mask on, and shouldering what looks like a burglar’s kit.  Crawling across someone’s redwood-planked deck.  Late at night.  What could possibly go wrong?  The right-thinkers shuffle a little further away, now shielding their children’s eyes.

Exhibit C:  My newly-50 friend has had back surgery very recently.  His body is not as sturdy and unbreakable as it once seemed.  He is, I think, still convalescing. Probably having to chew heavy back pills on occasion.  So I don’t ignore this information.  I do the cost-benefit calculation.  Crunch the numbers.  Do the math.  I conclude that (a) this will be one of the all-time scare jobs, and (b) the odds of my causing Frank to wrench his back and pop his stitches and unfuse his fused vertebrae are astronomically low.   My co-conspirators deliver our unwitting victim to the darkened back porch.  A masked figure lurches out of the shadows.  Frank stiffens and shudders a bit — the best scares often look like this, I have come to appreciate. And as far as I can tell or anyone will admit, no drawers were soiled.  This is how I show my deep and genuine gratitude to one of my oldest and dearest friends? 

My saving grace (I hope) lies in the poem I wrote and read aloud through tear-blurred eyes and with halting voice the following night in a room full of people who are also grateful for Frank. At the risk of embarrassing him a little bit, I’ve taking the liberty of pasting that poem below.  Perhaps another ill-advised and ham-handed attempt to show him my gratitude. Admittedly not from the Right-Thinker’s Playbook.  But it’s the best I can do. And if nothing else, it is straight from the heart. Happy birthday, Frank.  I’m grateful. 

Thanks for reading.  



Frank’s Trail

Dear Frank, it seems you’ve turned 50

And you know how these sorts of poems go

In your chair you should be shifting

‘Cause what I’ll say, you just never know…

You see, my man, we knew you when

You ran our dear Theta Chi

But before you ruled our wooden bench

You were only a BOG’er, guy

Later, you landed that sweet gig with Apple 

We all know this much to be true

But along the way, remember, you grappled

With the infamous dead-legged interview

Expertly fielding question after question

So grown up, so very mature

You rose at the end to shake hands — a true gentleman

And here is where fan meets manure

Your leg, now numb, sent you lurching 

Uncontrollably forward

Your boss’ adrenaline surging

Turns into a matador

You crumpled to the floor

Dear Frank, remind us, did that offer letter ever find your dorm room door?

Yes, Frank was a “Big Man on Campus” 

Filled with youthful pride

When he pitched Sergeant Paul Dumas

On the business deal of a lifetime

Frank offered a cut of 20 percent

But Dumas, unmoved, dismissed you 

With a furious face bright red, 

Saying “Don’t let the door hit you where the good lord has split you.” 

Our hero Frank was undeterred 

He wowed us with 94 Cup Daily

USA Today devoted nearly a third

Of a page to Frank’s exploits and savvy

A veritable titan of the industry

But let’s not forget our history…

As I recall, for example, there once was a necktie 

Accidentally dipped

In the toilet bowl of a grand high rise 

During a last minute bathroom trip 

Before a meeting with men old and wise

Whom Frank hoped to wow with quick wit

Undaunted, our Frankie, he improvised

From his neck, the “potty tie” ripped

Showed up in the boardroom as “Business Casual Guy”

I’ve no clue if they bought what he shipped

And on another occasion

About this there is no doubt

Frank was to serve as liaison

Introduce bigshots with a deal to work out

But the night before he’d gone out guns blazin’

Forgot to press the alarm clock button down

Woke up feeling fresh, amazin’!

But that meeting? It never went down. 

So Frank, he had some explainin’:

“I slipped in the shower, fell down!

I was knocked completely out!

I came to after 3 or 4 hours

When cold water came out of the spout.”

Ah, and those wonderful parties

Your Upper West Side garden flat

Disgruntled neighbors, those smarties

Threw down bags of urine, and splat!

In truth, it could have been much worse

Chalk it up to life in the City

If your neighbors were more perverse

Those bags would have been, well, shitty

And let’s not forget your “Rollerblade Years”

Frank, you were simply fantastic!

Those Aquafresh skates fueled by 2 or 3 beers

Threw sparks, though made only of plastic

And how ‘bout that challenging ski trail

Suggested by frat brother McMex?

Called “Our Father,” it was not for the frail 

Frank, what the hell’d you expect?

I’m told your yardsale was something to see

Your slide down the ice quite fun

Your Ironman watch sliced your wrist up the sleeve

A million-dollar lawsuit to be won!

Alas, a courtroom you never did see 

The statute of limitations had run

Well, how ‘bout Frank’s counterfeiting skills, then?

So many New Years Eve Balls — for free!

With just a few strokes of his fine pen

Oh and the Apple-issued laser printer was definitely key

Same goes for the Boston Marathon “race bibs”

Frank’s work gave Dave and I thrills

Though looking back now, this was one of those fibs

That led to the fetal position with chills.

I could go on forever, dear Frank

Salty tales like steaks of Delmonico

But the story of your Pre-Cana

Will stay between you, Noeleen, and Father Philatronico 

Alas, my poem has reached its end

Though I have so much more to say

Here’s to your next 50 years, my friend

With just one final thought, if I may

Your wounds from “Our Father” have mended

Your rollerblades long stowed away

But let’s have a few more adventures

‘Cause we’ll follow your trail all the way

Happy 50th, buddy!




Kiva Me A Break (Chores Too Boring)


It’s that time of year again.  The glorious phase of 5th grade wherein my offspring get a healthy dose of mission-driven business ethos. I know this because my own, enterprising 5th grader — the second 5th grader I’ve had — has recently begun concocting a number of seemingly get-rich-quick schemes.  Most of them involve some element of illegality, though nothing that would likely trigger a long stretch of hard time in the clink.  More a matter of conducting some commercial activity without a required permit in a venue that probably does require a permit.  

Everett’s mom and I are fully onboard, however.  Because this particular scheme has nothing to do with getting rich quickly.  Nor getting rich at all.  Well, depends upon what your definition of “rich” is. 

It’s Kiva Time, you see. A courageous crowdfunding nonprofit founded over a decade ago, Kiva facilitates massive scale micro-lending to otherwise marginalized borrowers in 80 countries. People have lent nearly $1B through Kiva over the years, and the impact is pretty mind-blowingly fantastic. Think a $500 loan that allows a former Indian child bride to jumpstart her sari-weaving business and gain a foothold towards financial independence. Or a Bedouin mother raising five kids in a West Bank refugee camp smack in the middle of one of the oldest cities on the planet. She raises sheep and goats for meat and milk. Sixty nine souls lent her $2,000 via Kiva.  Six newly-acquired pregnant sheep gave birth to more sheep, and this means a growing business in an otherwise economically barren landscape.

I’m not making this stuff up.  And I’m barely scratching the surface. Particularly in our own current political climate, Kiva’s work moves anyone to tears. Feels like the antidote to the toxic nonsense being conjured up within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  (Quick peach box  (lemonade crate?) digression:  I suspect that Hilary and I will look more closely at Kiva borrowers tonight — a great way to cap off a weekend of re-upping our The New York Times subscription,  and making modest donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Every little bit helps.)   

OK, enough with the heavy stuff.  That’s not why you’re here, right?  You’re here because I am a bad father.  The kind who spies his 11 year-old’s earnest, handwritten notes re: Kiva planning.  And promptly turns said notes from a perfectly-timed, heartwarming oasis into  something about which blog readers may guiltily giggle.  A little.  (Ev, don’t worry, they’re not giggling at you.)

Everett and his classmates have been tasked with raising $30 in small groups, then applying those funds to a Kiva borrower. Ev and two chums held a “conference call” yesterday, during which they chewed through a few ideas as to how the three of them would raise the requisite $30.  At the risk of Everett running away from home tonight with a bulging sack of Legos slung over his shoulder, here are Ev’s meeting notes, scratched in pencil on a lined sheet of paper I found about an hour ago on our living room coffee table — 


I’m really really hoping that #4 comes up big.  Because, first, Everett is totally spot-on about the critical importance of advertising when it comes to pulling off a successful yard sale. I’m going to limit my reservation to agreeing with his conclusion on that particular hurdle.  The “gathering” piece sends a little shiver up my spine. I don’t even want to think about what sort of treasured family belongings he and his buddies would splay out for the hocking on a wool blanket up on Chestnut Street. I’m guessing Ev would use the opportunity to exact some vengeance on his older brother.  And that Hilary or I would be consigned to an expensive trip to Sports Basement in order to replace Max’s prized gear. So no yard sale. 

Second, we clearly need to up the “wow factor” of Everett’s chores. First, I will need to apologize to him.  To this point, I have evidently failed to deliver up a Cirque du Soleil-level squeeze of the adrenals when it comes to his one chore of clearing four soiled plates from the dinner table each night. Perhaps I can borrow a chainsaw, a couple electric eels, and an oversized disco ball from neighbors. We are looking for some sizzle, people, on a go forward basis!

Last, yes, Everett and his pals could walk THEIR own dogs. If his project mates are anything like Everett, however, I suspect that none of them ever walks THEIR dogs.  A subtle prompt to the effect, “You know, Wailea is your dog too. Why don’t you take her for a walk around the block?” will elicit sudden dramatic complaints of deep thigh pain, overwhelming homework, or a bout of fake-napping. In this context, no, I don’t believe anyone will pay these lenders-to-be for walking THEIR own damned dogs.  Now, you want to talk about taking on Poop Bag Duty for a week? To whom do I make out MY check?

Thanks for reading. 

Fight the Power (My Near-Pink Experience)


So unless you have been living under a rock or within a self-imposed bubble of alternative facts, you’re likely aware of the widespread Women’s March gatherings past Saturday.   Over a million people, apparently, marched all over the place.  Mostly women.  Sporting those way-too-much-awesome pink knit beanies with the kitty cat ears. If they were lucky enough to plan ahead and source said hats, or maybe make them at home, on an other than last-minute basis. But any kind of pink or near-pink accessory seemed to do the trick.  I saw with mine own eyes a woman walking casually with a group of presumably like-minded friends towards San Francisco’s City Hall, wearing a full length pink Brontosaurus costume. I guess it could have been a T. Rex.  At least it was more reminiscent of Godzilla than, say, Barney.  Way more Jurassic Park raptor than Fred and Wilma housebroken pet “Dino.”

My own contribution to the Women’s March festivities was pretty meager, at best.  I happily agreed to give my wife a lift to the march’s approximate beginning.  “Happily” might be a bit of a stretch, since I did bitch and moan a little when the traffic started to constrict.  The image of Hilary barrel-rolling out of my the passenger door at 20 MPH flickered through my mind.  But only momentarily. I quickly calculated that it would be impossible for Hil to spin out of our speedy car in such a way that she would have landed safely in Godzilla’s cushy arms. I just couldn’t get the math to cooperate; the angles weren’t right.  And this regrettable incident might just go viral, too, in light of all the TV news choppers overhead at the ready.  

So instead, I opted to deposit my pink-beanied partner as close to the starting point as my little Prius would allow, at a full stop. And with a full heart.  I had expected a transactional experience, numbed by traffic.  But now I was genuinely moved by the throngs of (mostly) women. Impressed that my wife would willingly throw herself headlong into the mix. And proud that I married her (or more accurately, that she married me).  Somewhere along the ride, I admit contemplating (to myself, not aloud) what the odds were that pepper spray and rubber bullets might come into play at some point. Those kinds of unsettling thoughts melted back, though, as I watched Hilary fade into the distant pink-accented masses. My concerns about menacing throngs of police in riot gear were now, suddenly and unexpectedly, conflated with choking back tears.  An odd mix of emotions, to be sure. 

As I drove away in this muddled mental state, I fancied myself a Mad Max character with a (pink!) mohawk and ass-less chaps (probably not pink!) and missing teeth and maybe with a head-scratchingly odd Australian accent. Careening through the streets in my battle-ready tank, tossing fiery Molotov cocktails and screaming like a banshee as I, too, pressed the case for certain rights.  But alas, in reality I was cautiously and two-handedly guiding our 38 MPG PC-Mobile back in the direction of our manicured neighborhood, and into the safe harbor of our Nest camera-protected garage. Home, where I would cry all over Facebook for the next several hours.  Vicariously savoring my Near-Pink Experience.

Thanks for reading.  

Field of Broken Dreams


Well, that was awesome.  Or at least it should have been.  For someone who has been writing a little “Here’s How to Live Your Life and Enjoy Every Moment” blog for the past three years, I am often pisspoor when it comes to heeding my own advice. 

Take this past Sunday, for example. 

I’ve written in the past about this cool group of gents known as the Mission Baseball Club. They congregate weekly, throw together an entertaining and legit intrasquad scrimmage, and allow participants to relive past glories (or infamies) and create new ones.  And while I haven’t had the good fortune yet to join them, the Club also travels regularly to San Quentin State Prison for hard-fought games with the inmates.  “Hard-fought” is probably a poor word choice here, but the prisoners take their baseball seriously.  As do the umpires — themselves inmates, who wisely err on the side of their fellow inmates when any close calls arise. 

For a variety of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, I have not played a game with the Mission boys for perhaps two years.  Two long years.  During those two years, my stepped on ring finger, spiked during an ill-advised attempt at stretching a single into a double, has more or less healed.  This was, as I recall, the last game I played.  But also during those two years, my eldest son got two years older.  Two years stronger.  Two years more skilled at his old man’s game.  So when this Sunday rolled around, serendipity stepped in and delivered up a remarkable, Lemonade Chronicles-esque sitcheeashun:

Max and I playing a genuine baseball game on the same baseball diamond.  Together.  At several points, playing middle infield together. He batting immediately after I did, following me in the lineup.  Me scrambling from one base to another when Max’s bat struck the pitched ball.  Or me watching from the dugout due to my own inability to reach base (happened more often than not). 

All the ingredients for a magical and unforgettable father-son experience, right? But I think I blew it, more or less.  

I managed to sneak a few fleeting glances over at him at shortstop as I stood ready on the dirt between 1st and 2nd base.  And when sitting on the dugout’s green splintered bench, I watched Max in the batter’s box — as I have done from a similar vantage point since he was 5 years old.  And I doled out a handful of high-fives; but not nearly enough. 

As I reflect back, I realize that I was so wound up in my own head, that I neglected to truly appreciate what a lightning strike moment Sunday’s game represented. I’m nearly 50, so the mental gymnastics and emotional swings triggered unexpectedly by some otherwise innocuous event, smell, or feel are fairly overwhelming.  Bending a hard turn around 1st base after hitting a line drive will flash me back to a similar moment during a high school game.  Swinging stupidly at a pitch thrown enticingly near my eyes will drum up moments of doing the same damned thing, years ago, with equally shit consequences.  And then this can spiral into “no wonder you didn’t play at Duke, you never learned this lesson, if you had, maybe you would have played for a long time, you dipshit…” That sort of thing.  It’s debilitating, and compounded by the fact that my body simply can’t do what it could 30 years ago.  I am painfully aware of this when I play.  So I stand in the field with an 18 year-old’s brain, and a 48 year-old’s body.  Agonizing about that contradiction, more or less, for three hours until the game’s end.

None of this is conducive to “being in the moment.” When so self-absorbed with existential nonsense, there are simply no excess brain cycles to manifest gratitude over the imminent prospect of a father-son-turned double play.  Or the sublime satisfaction of immediately preceding my own son in the lineup — I’m digging into the batter’s box, while hearing the “whoosh” of his swing in the on-deck circle. Or watching my firstborn evolve into a young man, almost literally right before my eyes, on the same neighborhood ballfields he played ten years ago.  My failure to seize Sunday by the throat and bring myself to sentimental sniffles makes me want to spike my own finger.   

The good news is, the Mission Baseball Club plays every week.  Next time, I’ll try to get out of my own way and truly enjoy playing with my son on this remarkable field of dreams. Wish me luck with that…. 

Thanks for reading. 

PEOTUS Fixed the Drought!


I awoke this morning to the most wonderful news:  The drought in California is, at long last, over.  There was only one person who could fix it.  And…he did!  I hereby rescind any and all written or oral statements I’ve ever made that could be viewed by my enemies as negative commentary on Messr. Trump.  Oh, and thoughts.  Any critical thoughts I may or may not have had, I disavow those too.  Actually, it doesn’t matter, because those alleged writings, verbal comments and thoughts are totally unsubstantiated.  Fake news.  Get over it, people.  Move on.  Because as of this morning, America — or at least the California part — is GREAT AGAIN!

I’m talking about the refreshed water table.  Now flush! Filled to the brim. Practically overflowing, thanks entirely to Donald Trump’s largesse.  Apparently, Mr. Trump orchestrated a wonderful climatic event in Russia awhile back, with the direct result of ending the drought here in California.  They even have a name for this sort of miraculous event — a “Golden Shower”!

And who would have thought that it would require British Intelligence to unearth Trump’s enormous contribution to righting my state’s long-standing ecological deficit?  Such modesty!  Rather than accept the well-deserved adulation, Mr. Trump humbly notes the revelation is “unsubstantiated.”  Oh Donald, there’s no need.  Like an anonymous donor writing a yuge check to a worthy charity, later discovered, please just bask in the glow of our unabashed appreciation. You have earned it, sir! 

Note: I grew up in a small town; the child of parents who grew up in smaller towns.  Arguably a bit of a Podunk kind of guy.  So I confess that “Golden Shower” is not a regularly occurring phrase in my lexicon.  And it’s been a busy morning in our household, so I haven’t had a chance yet to cruise around Wikipedia. Urban Dictionary.  Really get up into the etymology of it.  The way I like to when stumbling on a new and interesting turn of phrase.  I’ll get to that work right after my PEOTUS’ press conference. 

In the meantime, thank you, Mr. Trump, for the Golden Shower!  On behalf of my fellow Californians, thank you!   

Thanks for reading. 

The Sky Is Cryin’.

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It’s not exactly “Snowzilla,” “Snowpocalypse,” “Jonas,” or whatever monikered meteorological phenomenon bulldozed our East Coast brethren these past few days.  But El Niño to-date has proven a persistent pain in the ass.  It’s great for the drought, in theory.  Though I’m mindful of Paul Giamatti’s thirsty gulp from the Sideways spit bucket.

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Yeah, it’s a bit like that.  Only instead of a shawl of spitty Cabernet, we end up with puddles in the garage from an unfortunately sloped driveway.  Actually, we don’t.  My wife had the forethought to pick up a half-dozen super attractive sandbags awhile back. These we’ve configured to capture and hold Lake Beadling from the rain runoff, restraining the beast from washing our flat into the Bay.  They are also a fine addition to our homestead, surely sending up the value of our home on Zillow considerably. 

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The sandbags have been in place for so long now, I forget they are there.  So each time I back the Prius out of the driveway,  hyper focused imagining getting t-boned by a speeding SUV, the sandbag speed bump spikes my adrenaline, as I assume for a split-second that I have run over our dog.  I have fallen for this trick at least a dozen times.  Probably will happen again today, too.  

I’m saying I’m weary of the incessant rain.  It keeps me out of the Bay, since swimming amidst the King Tides, storm “runoff,” and random tree-sized pier pilings holds little appeal.  It keeps me off the bike, since one ride across an unexpectedly deep puddle up to one’s ankles is one ride too many. And the dog is unhappy, too.  Her normal weekly walks are cut short. When they do happen, she’s force-marched through pelting rain. The result is that Wailea seeks thrills by eating things in the house that are not meant to be eaten. This results in X-Rays, ultrasounds, and meaty vet bills.  

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Thank you, El Niño.   The kids are fairly stir crazy as well.  All of the screens in our house are hot to the touch, streaming non-stop mind-numbing content into the boys’ (now slowly) developing dorsal anterior cingulate cortices. At least whatever area of the brain is responsible for feelings of guilt and contrition still functions in our 10 year-old —

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We’ll apply this $6.75 towards–you guessed it–our “Rainy Day Fund.”  In other words, we already spent it. Gone.  Depleted.  

Alright, time to run. On a squeaky treadmill. In the garage. Huffing on dangling and exposed puffs of fiberglass insulation.  Waiting for the dog to inadvertently clip my ankles, sending me to the human hospital as payback for the aforementioned unscheduled vet visit and belly shaving. 

No rain, no rainbows?  Thanks for reading.

Hall of Fame-Bound (Aisle 25).

I thought for sure that a cross-country Jet Blue flight would require a plane with more than just 25 rows.

No such luck.

We ended up in the last row.

I’m a glorified bathroom monitor. While the gentleman seated next to me — who is decidedly larger than I — snores unrepentantly, I count. I can’t help myself. Despite my best efforts, I cannot help but count the number of my fellow passengers who have queued up in the aisle to occupy the restrooms just behind my seat.


I haven’t noticed any repeat offenders. But if in my expert opinion a passenger queues up a second time well before he or she reasonably should, it will not go unnoticed.

I’m extra irritable due to our 4am wakeup call.

I’ve already caught myself lashing out at my wife in our Uber cab because a light on Lombard lingered red for too long. She requested we take Gough rather than take the Embarcadero. And it is clearly her fault that the Lombard stop lights are timed to facilitate Lombard traffic, not side street traffic, at 430 in the morning. Clearly her fault, I snarled.


I bristled while in line for $40-worth of croissants and coffee in the International Terminal. Bristled not because of the premium pricing, but because of the gentleman standing nearby, having a full-throated iPhone conversation with his earbuds in. That irked the shit out of me. My icy stares paired with a mean, flat affect produced no modification in his behavior, however.


I’m no good at sleep-deprivation. Pretty lousy, actually. I’m just not myself (I hope).

So yah, I will not be able to help myself from making damned sure the double-dipping restroom patron knows that I know he (or she, but probably he) is lining up for a second time. I’ll try the icy stare and cop-face again. Hopefully with better results.


It will continue like this for awhile. The Dunkin Donuts coffee I’m throwing down on the heels of the Il Fornaio airport coffee won’t improve my mood. I need a nap. But the cadence and vigor with which I just caught myself chewing my piece of take-off gum suggests that nap will not be coming any time soon.

And oh yeah, we’re headed to Cooperstown. That should be enough to lift my mood. Or at least it will be once I find that nap. And after I punish the first double-dipper.


Thanks for reading.

Back in the Saddle Again.


One of the best things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is access to some truly fantastic road cycling. Even better if you can finagle a way to live close enough to the good stuff that you can leave the car and Thule at home. Pop up the garage door and shoot out into the street.

Fortunately, we have figured out how to so finagle. Example: While I haven’t done it in years, the ride to Mount Tam’s East Peak from my front door and back is almost exactly 50 miles. Something interesting about that nice round number. I have some very fond memories of that long ride, a reasonably regular excursion maybe 10 years ago.

I memorized the sketchiest corners that warranted whipping around in a short sprint so as to avoid surprising a following motor vehicle that might otherwise see me too late. In certain spots — sharp and blind corners — a surprised driver might swerve into the opposing lane to avoid a suddenly appearing rider just in front of him. Or the driver could quickly calculate his odds of injury and collision repair expense, then decide instead to bounce the rider off his car’s windshield. As the sign on Camino Alto says, “Lycra Is Not Body Armor.” So if the driver follows this particular branch of the decision tree, that is gonna leave a mark.

I have yet to experience this kind of unpleasant contact. I prefer to ride in the early morning when the roads are generally clear of those kinds of hazards. I’ll gladly trade a pungent dousing from a startled skunk than a run-in with a Land Rover’s bumper. Plus, like I say, I haven’t suffered my way up to Mount Tam in quite some time. So my odds of meeting up with that Land Rover are looking pretty good. “Good” as in, not going to happen.

I love a Tam ride facsimile much closer to my house — the Marin Headlands. A 14-ish mile round trip. Plenty of up for about 15-18 minutes. Ridiculous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, SF Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally an intriguing run-in with a thick layer of fog. Obscuring everything beyond, say, a 20 or 30-foot circumference. Climbing up Conzelman in a blanket of fog turns a familiar route into a guessing game.

Was that tree always there? Is this the halfway point? What’s that noise on the rocky bluff above me?

I love it.

And I’ve missed it.

Until this past week, it had been more than two months since I last rode any kind of meaningful route. And probably a year or more since I last pedaled up into the Headlands’ fog. It’s generally not a good idea to go from zero riding to several Headlands rides in a week. The lower back will remind me of my age, aching for a day or so afterwards, regardless of how many Advils I chew.

But that kind of ache I’ll happily tolerate. I’m back in the saddle again.

Thanks for reading.