Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Small Hours

Back when I started this blog, most of my posts were created in the middle of the night after I'd gotten home from delivering the Wall St. Journal. It has been over 8 years since that job ended, but once again I find myself regularly awake at that time. My goal this school year is to stay awake all night while I'm at camp, as opposed to napping during the small hours like I've been doing for the last handful of years. So far, so good. It's a peaceful time to be awake. As I type, it's nearly four in the morning, and all is well. The only real drawback is that I now have to sleep until mid-afternoon, which cuts down on my free time at home during the week. Life is always about juggling though, and so I'll continue to keep the pins spinning through the air.

I've got a cold. I think I picked it up over the weekend while I was at the Stella Natura festival in the Tahoe National Forest. The festival was phenomenal, and a detailed report will surface on my music blog soon. For the time being though, I'll sit here and continue blowing my nose.

Currently listening to: Natural Snow Buildings "Live at The Pop, Paris, France 05.11.2003"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sudden Lizards

Suddenly, we have two Bearded Dragons. Their previous owner tried to donate them to science camp, but the nature lab is already stuffed with critters, so I offered to take them home. These weren't available as pets when I was a kid, or I probably would have had one before now. Over the last decade or so, they've become quite popular and easy to find. Everybody seems to be breeding them. Maybe we will too, since now we also have an incubator.

Currently listening to: Hazy Loper "High In The Murk"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Internet Makes You Stupid

As I was driving to work tonight, I found myself musing about the internet, and how it seems to create its own reality - a reality that can eclipse the world around us by narrowing and distorting it. At my worst moments, I can feel the claws of this virtual world scraping at my psyche, lulling me into a strange sort of complacency. I was listening to Utah Phillips at the time, which always makes me long for the simple pleasure of sitting around a campfire and sharing stories. That's the best antidote for internetitis - unplugging and backing away. That said, as with everything we use, there is a right way and a wrong way to use the internet. Knowing and seeing the difference is the trick.

Moments after having these thoughts, I noticed the license plate holder on the car in front of me. It read, "the internet makes you stupid". Amen to that.

Currently listening to: Felicia Atkinson "Les Bois Rouges"

Monday, September 17, 2012


The second week of the current outdoor school season has begun, although my part in it doesn't begin until I get to work this evening.

I still feel like I need to recover from my busy weekend, which featured Willow's soccer photo day and the game that followed (well played, although Willow's team lost by a point or two), a birthday party up in the hills (with live blues band and karaoke - Willow is a karaoke monster!), open house at work (for kids who are coming to camp this school year), and an instore performance by my brother at Amoeba Records in Berkeley (followed by pizza at Zachary's pizza). To top it all off, I seem to have caught a cold.

We walked to get Eva from middle school earlier, and as we started walking homeward, I noticed a kid in front of us contemptuously toss his pencil into the air behind him. Half a block later, one of his friends did the same thing, flinging his pencil into a bush. Do kids these days think pencils are a one-use item? I suppose I did my share of similar things when I was their age, but from my current perspective, it seems kind of senseless. If these kids are sixth graders, we'll be seeing them at science camp in the Spring, and we'll get a chance to teach about not wasting resources. If they're seventh or eighth graders, then they've already been at camp and the lesson didn't stick.

Currently listening to: Nurse With Wound "?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back To Nights

This is my first night working as Night Supervisor for the 2012/13 outdoor school year. Last night should have been my first night, but I played hookey and went to see Swans instead.

So far, I've been treated to a Devo concert (I could hear the music from the nearby Mountain Winery) and a couple of bloody noses. The music and the blood are done now, and I'm anticipating seeing the moonrise in a little over an hour. This year, my goal is to actually stay awake all night, rather than try to get my usual 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night. This will mean more sleeping at home. So far, so good. I have to awaken 3 kids in a few minutes, so they don't moisten their sleeping bags before dawn. Then, it will be back to diverting myself with music and literature. I just finished E.R. Eddison's "The Worm Ouroboros", a book that has languished unread on my shelf for years. I'm glad that I finally read it. Next up is "The Jekyll Legacy" by Robert Bloch, which didn't even rate a shelf, but rather languished, coverless, in a cardboard box in various garages and storage spaces for probably decades. I'm trying to focus on what I have, instead of on what I want. This is a good way to start.

Currently listening to: Aural Apocalypse 9/5/12 Podcast, which is chock full of bands set to play the upcoming Stella Natura Festival up in desolation wilderness. I'm officially excited now.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


I've been digging through boxes in the garage again, and finding the usual mixture of treasure and trash. The recycling bin is close to full, and I have six or seven boxes of books that I can stand to part with. I've found some old photos, and even some old music reviews, written in ball point pen on college ruled binder paper. I'm still debating whether or not they should see the electronic light of day on my music blog.

I also found this book, and it reminded me of Dexter, who would be a six-dinner cat if he could get away with it. Six-Dinner Sid manages it by being an outside cat who fools six different families into believing they are each his sole owner. Dexter is an inside cat, so he mournfully meows at odd hours of the night.

Like he did last night.

Currently listening to: V/A "The Active Listener's First Birthday"

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Early Awakening

Yesterday, the weather turned strange. I was near the garden at work when I first heard thunder rumbling up from the direction of the valley. Then, on the way to get Willow, a few fat drops impacted on my windshield, barely disturbing the dust. It has been dry for months now, so even those few drops were cause for rejoicing.

We're in the middle of our set-up/inservice week at camp, and the transformation from summer camp to outdoor school is almost complete. Willow is signed up for her school play this year, as well as doing soccer and girl scouts. She is a busy girl. It must be getting close to Autumn.

This morning, Jeanine and I were awakened by brief, pounding rain, complete with lightning and thunder. By the time we actually got out of bed, it was over. It was a great way to wake up though. I hope this winter is wetter than last year's was.

It just got dark enough for one of the solar-powered lights to blink on in one of the backyard garden bed, which I can see from where I'm typing. The clouds are in the process of losing their pinkish orange underbellies. I think I'll step outside to get a closer look.

Currently listening to: CMX "Melankolia"

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Future Additions to the Family

We've been doing research on tortoises recently. Now that we have a backyard, it just seems like there needs to be a tortoise wandering around out there during the summer months. We might get a toad too. We took a trip up to East Bay Vivarium to look around, and we did see some interesting animals. We currently have our eyes on a Gulf Coast Toad and an African Spurred Tortoise, but our purchases for this trip were confined to various supplies for the existing animals (who live up at camp) and a kit for growing glow in the dark mushrooms. The mushrooms are exciting, but I have yet to procure the proper sort of log to grow them in. Ideally, we need a bit of oak.

We also might get a chicken, although we're still not sure if chickens and tortoises willingly share space with each other.

Currently listening to: Miranda Sex Garden "Peep Show"

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Deserted Evening Streets

There was much internet excitement about the so-called Blue Moon, which of course isn't blue at all, and only exciting if you live by numbers on a calendar. If the full moon had occurred today, rather than yesterday, I'm sure there wouldn't have been a story on the Yahoo main page about how to "view the blue moon online". What the hell? Why would anybody want to watch the full moon rise online? Have people forgotten that there are doors, and that if you pass through the right ones, you'll find yourself in what people used to refer to as "the great outdoors"? Okay, maybe if you're being held against your will, either in jail or otherwise, with captors who allow you internet access, and if the concept of two full moons in the same month blows your mind for some reason, then you have an excuse for watching the moon rise online and not getting off your lazy butt and spending a few minutes in the unfamiliar outdoors watching the real thing.

Jeanine and I went for a walk, and yes, we saw the moon rise. It was glorious, hanging yellow and gravid just above the horizon. We barely saw anybody else outside on what was a very pleasant late summer evening. There was one guy walking with a small child, and a couple of girls in sparkly outfits running in and out of their open front door, but other than that, the darkening streets were deserted. We reminisced about childhood, about how there were always lots of kids doing kid stuff all over our neighborhoods, and how now many of the kids are inside sitting lifelessly in front of their electronic mood supports.

Currently listening to Natural Snow Buildings "Daughter of Darkness"