I was feeling kind of bummed yesterday. The website I made for…

Monday, September 15th, 2014

I was feeling kind of bummed yesterday.

The website I made for the voter outreach effort for Measure P was finished, and my expectations for how it would be received were clearly (in hindsight) naive, like always happens when I get deep into some obsessive project. I push through the mountain of last-minute details to try to get as close to the vision as possible, imagining how great it’s going to be, and then it’s done, but instead of the imagined thing it’s something else, the real thing, and there’s an adjustment.

Look! We’re here! We’re… here. Oh. Okay.

And there are things about this campaign that are depressing. Not just the obvious things, like the misleading ads from the opposition that seem to be getting some traction, but less-obvious things that I’ve only encountered now that I’ve gone from pushing code (which is easy, even though python’s one-way-to-do-it makes me grimace sometimes) to trying to push people (which is always ridiculously hard for me).

So, again: kind of bummed. And my head hurt (fatigue? behind the caffeine-addiction curve? eyestrain from too much computer?), and it was making me less than patient in bugging someone about his APUSH homework, and he called me on it, and he had a point.

I hadn’t been out of the house at all, practically, for two weeks. So I put my binoculars in my backpack so I wouldn’t look like the kind of person who walks through a suburban neighborhood with binoculars around his neck, which is something I’ve felt self-conscious about since I was nine. And it’s ridiculous, because I’m walking through a suburban neighborhood wearing a backpack, and that’s different how? And no one cares, anyway, and if they do, fuck them; I’m not nine anymore. Anyway, I headed out the door.

It took me ten minutes to get to the marsh. I hadn’t checked the tide, but it turned out to be high, a 5.6. I love the marsh when it’s like that.

I didn’t take photos. I wasn’t thinking about documenting. I just needed to be there, to hang out with the bugs and the lizards and the coyote brush in bloom.

There were pygmy blue butterflies everywhere. They’re so cool, and so tiny. You’ll totally miss them if you aren’t paying attention. But they’re there if you look, flitting around low to the ground chasing each other. They disappear when they land, but if you mark the spot you can crank the binoculars down to minimum focus and find them, and they’re beautiful.

Actually I did take one photo there, but I’m leaving it out because it’s a closeup of what I think is a spider egg sac and it doesn’t quite go with the others. But I’m posting it to bugguide to see what Charley Eiseman thinks.

Then I walked to the beach to visit Linda and Joannie under their umbrellas, and then on east past Linden and the tomol park on Matt’s new trail, and there were savannah sparrows in the field and they let me check them out as long as I wanted, reading Sibley on my phone and ticking off the characteristics, yeah, savannah sparrow.

Then through the campground and into tar pits park, then past the CPF to the seal overlook, and on through the bluffs, past the site of the recent abandoned-well cleanup and the artist’s passage and finally my destination, which I hadn’t realized was going to be my destination when I started: the Lois Sidenberg overlook.

I never met Lois. But I’ve seen the picture of her testifying before Congress in Bob Sollen’s book, and I think about her sometimes when I visit the spot named after her. It really has the best view at the bluffs; the whole channel is laid out. I spent a while sweeping for pelagics.

I’d sent a feisty letter to the Coastal View the day before, the first time I’ve done that in a while, and I’d been reading again about the ‘69 blowout as part of deciding what to say. So I was thinking about Platform A, and I swung over to look at it. It doesn’t look special, just another in the row that follows the anticline from west to east: C, B, A, Hillhouse, then Habitat farther out in the channel, then Henry, Houchin, and Hogan. Back when I still had my boat we visited them all, because William was obsessed. Wonder where he gets that? So I know what they look like up close. But from shore Platform A was washed out, blurred by haze and distance. Fitting, I guess, for the symbol it has become.

I remembered the time I was at the Sidenberg overlook with a too-big group of third graders during one of Katie’s Earth Day events, and one girl started shouting “A’lul’quoy!”, because of the Chumash myth she’d heard in class, to make the dolphins come, and she got her friend to join in, and pretty soon all the kids were shouting “A’lul’quoy!” at the top of their lungs, and it was out of control and kind of hilarious. And then a gray whale, probably curious about all the noise, did a spyhop and fell back with a crash right in front of us, and the kids cheered.

And I remembered the time I drank wine there with Katie when I was still on the bluffs board. I miss her a lot. I think everyone who knew her does.

And then it was just the walk home. The sun was going down, and I thought to take a photo, that first one above, from the trail along Carp Avenue. And then I took a bad selfie, with my head cut off and sunscreen in the 52-year-old folds on my neck, but I’m posting it anyway because 1) hah! I’ll show you vanity, and 2) it’s actually a double selfie, because that’s me in the sign, too, with a different group of third-graders on a different Earth Day, in the photo Ted took and put on the sign without telling me until after it was done, “Hah! Hope that was okay, John.” And yeah, of course it was. Because again: vanity.

And then walking home through the suburbia, my right knee a little sore where it always gets sore if I push it too hard, and my legs tired, and a little sweaty. But my head felt fine.

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A Better Way to Campaign

Friday, September 12th, 2014

A Better Way to Campaign:

If anyone who follows me is wondering where I’ve been lately, this is the answer.

Fun fact: Building a voter-outreach tool to support friend-to-friend campaigning is difficult but fun. Getting people to actually use it is just difficult.

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