Sunday, May 01, 2016

Bemusing Ideas on Beltane (Part 1)

        Anyone who has read my blogs is probably wondering where the hell I've been reading this post. It's been years. My only means of explaining is that relationships can be very time consuming. When they end, it takes time to find direction and meaning again outside of that coupling. How do I bring you all up to speed? At this point I'm not really sure... I write more for me than for others and, though I'm about a journeyman level writer, I know there are many others with a gift for this medium of expression that I will never achieve. So, if you can withstand my excuse for a style, I'll do my best over the next few postings.

        It's a strange coincidence that I begin my road back to blogging on what would have been my mothers 80th birthday. I find at these times that I have a deep pool of self-pity at I could easily dive into but then I do my best to just dip a toe into the vast sea of despair that I have stored inside and come to the realization that it doesn't feel that good.... Like a euphoric drug with really bad side effects. There's a strange evolution that has manifest itself in me psyche lately: I find the older I am the less I like being alone with the concomitant feeling that the older I get the less I like most people. A bit of a mystery wrapped in a conundrum. Oh well...

        To add to the paradox, I keep getting envious of seeing my friends and their relationships but when I get in one, they invariably seem to last only a few years then fall apart. I seem to attract people who are somewhat broken. We get to know each other, we develop feelings, and I gloss over their failings figuring mine are just as bad so why be too harsh a judge. Then a few months to a year later, it all starts to fall apart and I start to think I would have been better going to Nevada and satisfying my carnal appetites that way as it would cost me less in the end in terms of money and emotions. Then I begin to ponder everything I experienced and the cycle starts all over again. This has led me to a conclusion: We are all broken people. Some of us are slightly chipped or perhaps show a small fracture line while others are completely shattered. Some of us will heal, others will be a tragic pile of detritus of a life. If you are going to be involved with people, in the end, you have to be a very discriminating judge and be willing to learn to be with yourself, perhaps with few friends, and walk through this life as integrated a person as life and time allows. I know, it sucks but no one ever promised that reality would be anything but what it is... Real.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

A Warrior Monk in the City of St. Francis: Part 5 - Of Music, Rain, and Honor

So now the weather has become a factor in my explorations of The City of St. Francis. An unexpected rain storm has descended upon The City and my friend E. Francis Kohler and I are busy deciding what we can do in the midst of the inclement conditions. Ah! The Legion of Honor! But before I relate that story, I had and interesting time in the Outer Mission District with Francis.... a musical event and party which the host named Ham It Up.

The weather hadn't turned to intolerable on our walk to The Mission but a wind was starting to make it's presence known to us so I had my hood up. Francis snapped this picture of me (above) and know you see the reason I have titled my blogs this trip to The City. My feet were still suffering from the punishment I had handed out to them the days before, but we slowly walked down Valencia Street and looked in the shops and galleries. We even ran into some old acquaintances of Francis' at a gallery where two of them had an art opening and spent time talking to a gentleman who claimed that he had a machine that was able to interact with us using Quantum Entanglement as it's method of interaction.... yeah, right. 

We arrived at the party fairly early, stuffed ourselves on some good food and wine, and proceeded to  sit and chat with people I didn't know but Francis and his lady Deb did. I eventually got to a piano and had a fun time playing but then the rooms became scheduled with performances so I just sat and enjoyed. Two of the guitar players were especially notable as they were very good and played songs from James Bond films such as 'From Russia with Love.' But, eventually my feet got tire of standing and I sat down in the hall on a chair. I started listening to Francis' friend Laurie (spelling?) who was relating along with another woman about the gentrification that is displacing lower income people in The City and about what is now being coined as the "Google Buses."  But more about that when I've had a chance to research more of that. Soon, the time had approached midnight and many people were starting to leave so we called it a night... back to the flat we went. Ah, blissful slumber.

The next day was raining in a misty way by the time we had worked our way to our final destination, The Legion of Honor. I knew I really wanted to get there since there was an exhibition of Impressionist painters with the theme being water and boats. This was fantastic! It had been over almost a decade since I had seen any of the impressionists works in person (since my trip to Paris with my parents in Christmas time of 2003) and I really wanted to see them again.

We roamed the halls and galleries for hours, ate a bit in the museum dinning hall and commissary, and then walked back to the main hall where there was a performance of the Skinner Organ which is a 64 rank organ that had been donated to the Legion of Honor almost 40 years ago. You see it and the soloist in the above picture. The type of organ is called a Symphonic Organ as it's evidently no meant to be played with great speed as a solo instrument because of it's design but rather mostly as an accompaniment to choirs and symphony orchestras. But the performance was lovely, the soloist quite enlightening in explaining about the instrument, and the sound in the main hall was haunting. But in the end, with it either raining or a constant mist, we headed straight home after the museum closed (but it was the right weather to be inside I'll have to admit to Francis).

And so today, I found myself doing just a little stroll of Divisadero Street to some shops after breakfast then a run to the Japan Center on Geary Street for a favor for my sensei. Now to finish my blogging and await my friends return home.... tomorrow, it's time to head home to Sac. My journey's in The City at an end, for now.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Warrior Monk in the City of St. Francis - Part 4: Morning Glory and Self-Fladulation

Well, walking the Sunset District was fun but it turns out that I carry such a heavy supply of tech around with me that as I had slung the bag over my right shoulder to the left hip, I was beating my hip pointer into a painful state of soreness. As such, I woke up today, rolled out of bed, and gave moan of agony that only sounds good if preceded by mutually enjoyable coitus. (TMI? Oh well, deal with it). After finally reasoning out what I had done to myself, I realized that a trip to the local Walgreens Pharmacy was in order; time for Therm-a-care Heat wraps and Ibuprofen.....

Along the way to the Blue J Cafe to get some brunch, I spied a lovely Morning Glory vine:

It was a good test of my new iPhone 5 and gives a great example of some of the beauty to be found in The City. Well after brunch at the cafe, a small walk to the drug store, and the walk of pain and stupidity back to my friend Francis' flat, I take the Ibuprofen and strap on the heat wrap.... when will I ever learn that less is more sometimes..... Oh well.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

A Warrior Monk in the City of St. Francis - Part 3: A Place to Rest the Weary Bones

I have walked the Sunset District and found most of it to be just plain residential, which is fine but hard on the feet and not as interesting as I had hoped. The main drags appear to be 19th Ave. and Irving Streets for most of the Inner Sunset but not much as far as interesting places to go beyond that once you get west of 19th Ave. I've tried to find some sights and places to sit and watch people using the 'Layars' app on the iPhone, but many of the interesting places are back in the Inner Sunset on Irving and I've already been there.

But as my feet began to bark vociferously at me, I decided I had to take a break for a time and rest my dogs before moving on and taking my respite somewhere down the road. I happened upon the Sunset Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. But as I was waiting, I came to a realization: I spend a large amount of time in this town especially in the summers. Why not avail myself of some of The City's services when I'm here. I mean, I already have a Clipper Card (for those not familiar, I point you to the Clipper Card web site; if you're in The City a lot and hate to drive, I invite you to get one) and use it all the time to get around The City. And so, I moseyed my way on up to the Librarian's Desk and asked if there was any requirement that I be a resident of San Francisco to get a library card. Nope, just a resident of California (I think Sacramento fits the bill) and a recent ID with your current address. Score! 10 minutes later, I'm at the stacks with my SF Public Library Card... YEAH!
Now, all I need to do is get a map with the list of library locations and (as I was told by the librarian) remember that if I reserve materials, they will be at the Western Addition Branch (and finding that will be my next task). I'm starting to feel like an honorary resident of the The City... cool.

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A Warrior Monk in the City of St. Francis - Part 2: A Journey to the Sunset

I need to start this blog post with a thanks to my friends... Francis for letting me stay at his flat, Steve for helping me keep track of my place in Sac, and Johnny for giving me comic relief and "my daily dose of start-ass." So with the thanks said, I'm off in the Sunset district, at a small cafe called Park Chow on 9th Ave., having a glass of OJ and a coffee. It's interesting to listen to the conversations that people have while your around and they don't know you're listening. A middle-aged couple were sitting next to me as I was starting up my laptop and discussing the way that companies and workers relate. There was this constant theme that 'I hope what goes around comes around.' in the conversation.... and I couldn't help thinking that it just seemed a bit too sunny an outlook on the human condition. It's been my experience that history teaches us that equity and equality only come after a great deal of strife (usually with those in power winning again) and the poor being killed outright if not just oppressed more than previously done. The powerful have a vested interest in the status quo because they have learned how to work the 'game' they are in.... they don't want the rules to change. And we, we ordinary, everyday, working Joe's just trying to get by are beneath them and not worthy of consideration except where we intersect their own, narrow, self-interests. Depressing... well, I'm note trying to be. I've come thru the interregnum in my life to write just as plainly and straight forwardly as I can without throwing smoke out my ass.

The present circumstances doesn't mean that you give up. Rather, face your situation with a sense of realistic dignity that you know the limitations of your present moment and that you'll do what you can in your own space to make what surounds you a better place as much or as gradually as you can. After mom's passing the quote I keep in my pocket from Napoleon became even more pressing for me... he wrote, "There is no immortality but the memories that are left in the minds of men." OK, I can accept that since I am staring my end in the face ever more clearly with every day that I advance through the Universe and my place in it. "But isn't that rather  nihilistic?" No, not in fact. It is an imperative instead... You have only this life and the time that goes with it. Do what you can, but don't waste it. I remember Tony Curtis being interviewed shortly before his death and he had a quote that has just stuck in my little brain, "Service to humanity is the rent we pay for the time we get to spend on this earth." This has helped me to know why I walk the Earth the way I do and why I teach. I am just doing what I can to make the world a little better place when I leave it than when I came into it.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
   -Mahatma Ghandi

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Warrior Monk in the City of St. Francis - Part 1: The Interregnum

I recognize that I have a bad habit of writing in spurts and fits and starts... It is a failing of mine I admit it. But the last year and some odd months have been trying. After my mother then my dog passed, I was in one of my longest periods between significant relationships, and the trials of working a year at school in  20% overtime capacity, I was a bit stretched.... stretched quite, quite thin indeed.

But now I find myself with some new energy, money to put plans into action, and a desire to travel to The City as often as I can. It is a supposition my many evolutionary biologists at this point in time that evolution is not as quite as smooth a process as we were lead to believe when we were taught about it in college. This notion of smooth, gradual change is not as readily accepted... and this is true of the evolution of a man in his life. This interregnum period of my life after the passing of my mother and the death of my plan to be BOTH a lawyer and a teacher has been one point of leaps, falls, fits, and depressions that has changed my view point again... a bit drastically. I will have to say not in a dark or foreboding manner, but one of resignation of the clarity of reality. Now comes the challenges of what to do with that reality.

Today, at this very instant of writing this newest blog entry, I am sitting in somewhat  familiar environs in a dessert shop named Toy Boat Dessert Co. in the Inner Richmond District in San Francisco. With my new look in clothing I walk the streets looking like a warrior monk in the City of St. Francis. My jacket with its built-in hood and my M-Frame Heater Oakley glasses give me a look that as a young man I would never have thought would have been me... Such has been my evolution from simple young geek to the man I am today; flush with experiences, training in many disciplines, and an outlook on the world that it is what it is and I must be the change that I want to see in the world.


Student: "Mr. Meredith, why are you always going to San Francisco all the time?"
Meredith: "Because, I'm trying to establish a wonderful relationship with a beautiful woman."

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Innovation in Education

While reading the book "Imagine" by Jonah Lehrer, I started reading the chapter on 3M and it's innovative style. The method they use produces a 1:1 ratio of innovation to employees which I find astounding. Can this method be brought to an institution like Joseph Kerr School? I think the answer is 'yes' but the means will butt up against the structure of the institution itself. I wonder how many of the teachers and other employees at my sight could handle such free time to innovate? Would they relax and brainstorm or would they use the time to grade papers instead?

I keep butting up against the phrase my friend Dean said about change in education; that it changes at a glacial pace. Does that mean that you don't challenge the powers that be and merely accept that nothing will change? Or do you find another avenue for education to innovate and make education more relevant to the students we have today? How do we fund the changes that are necessary? What about Education Code?

Granted these are daunting challenges, but I think I see where this takes us. Like my idea that the current SCOTUS arguments on Health Care were poorly thought out ( I would have included the notion in the Preamble to "promote the general welfare" as part of the argument) where I think it will be inevitable that the Court will rule against it and the only alternative will be to make a constitutional amendment, I think the only way to innovate is to go outside the public system to a private one and use it to demonstrate innovation and thus force change by example. I hope I'm wrong... I'll bet I'm not.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Asian Art and Odd-Ball Films

[This blog is out of sequence due to constraints on time and sleep while traveling with friends]

Day 7 of The Black Sword in the City of Saint Francis

PART ONE - Asian Art Museum

I had always wanted to go the the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco but for some strange reason I'd never taken the time to go. After what I saw there today, I now know why... The place has so much art that I'm interested in I could just hang out there for days! The exhibition on Bali was to die for. I was not allowed to take pictures in the Bali Exhibition but the permanent exhibits were just fine as long as I didn't use flash. Well that was all well and good but I had never learned how to use my flash controls and thus how to turn off the flash. I fiddled with the controls as best I could but after a few tries I was still using the flash (and I'm happy that one of the docents didn't see it and rat me out or chew me out). Well, at least the iPhone didn't have a flash built in and it's camera was OK... not great, but OK. I took a slew of pictures from the iPhone but downloading them will have to wait until I get home and can sync my iPhone with my Main Media computer.

The permanent exhibits had examples of artwork from all over asia that was put in both chronological order and by place of origin. The entire exhibit divided the asian continent up with first India, then South East asia, then Tibet, China, and finally Japan as well as giving examples of the different religious philosophies and movements that had developed in asia over the centuries. I must have spent 5 hours at least in there. There was simply now way to see and digest intellectually all the parts of that museum. But, when I get the pictures downloaded at home, I'll be sure to post them and discuss them both here on my blog and on Facebook.

I had been standing all day from a very practical point of view and I needed to take a break. I hoped out of the museum and onto a #5 bus to head back to E.F.'s place. No soon had I just take a seat on the bus than E.F. called me and said he was home with his friend Katrina. I told him I was on the way and would be there in 10 minutes. When I got there, Katrina and I started talking. From my recollection, it was the first time I had ever met her but I had heard about her from E.F. plenty of times in the past. I think this was just the first opportunity for us to ever meet face to face. We started discussion hockey and our love for it, the finer points of the game, our injuries, and so on. Then it was time to get dinner before a treat (at least for me but surely for them too) which was a chance to see a set of archived films (yes films, on film and not tape!) at something called The Oddball Film Festival. It sounded fascinating.

We started out to pick up E.F.'s friend Johnny and his wife Giselle out on Haight. When we got there in just about 15 minutes of walking, it turned out that their new little puppy was acting up and Giselle was just too tired. So we set of without her and the four of us headed down into the Mission District. Along the way we grabbed some Indian food and relaxed then continued into the lower Mission until we reached this very, very nondescript building that if I had to find today to save my life I couldn't.

PART TWO - Oddball Film Festival

So we go inside, up this set of stairs, have to get buzzed in past this black metal door, scurry up even more stairs until we meet this gentleman who tells us it's $10 for a ticket. The place is a film vault and repository of all manner of films from 40's thru the 70's and 80's. It's evidently used by film makers as a place where old archived footage can be accessed and used in all manner of ways. The place where the films were being shown was fixed with a very small round stage and a huge part of the wall behind it was for the screen to see the films. A somewhat flimsy sound system was in use and sometimes one of the speakers would cut out. The intent of the evening was to showcase the work of this one film artist who had used the archives as a source for putting together old films into a theme which in this case was networks and communications.

The films were interesting. They were everything from old commercials with Bill Cosby talking about the virtues of Green Giant green beans to a film about the history of the telephone and the future of communications with satellites from the 1960's and Bell Labs. I hadn't seen some of these images since my childhood and it was fascinating to watch them. This is one of the things that I really love about coming to visit with E.F. in San Francisco. Every time I come there is something new and fascinating happening somewhere.

The return home was a long trek from the Mission back to Johnny's place then home. We stopped of at a corner store where Katrina got wine and I got Milano cookies and some milk (a secret passion of mine). We joined up in the living room and kept talking and eating until well after midnight. What a good day....

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