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Bay Area California Journal

COVID, Fires, Smoke, Heatwaves and Power Outages

2020 has been a terrible year. I wrote a few posts in the beginning of the year wondering if “anything else could go wrong,” and I really shouldn’t have said that. Things can always get worse and they certainly have, so much so, I’m afraid to say that phrase anymore.

Yesterday was a first in my life in that the sun was completely blotted out by smoke and fog. There is always sun here in California unless there is fog but even then it is still bright out. I remember terrible thunderstorms in Ohio and not seeing the sun for quite some time but those are natural events. Yesterday was unnatural in that it was day, yet very dark with nothing but an eerie, ominous orange glow.

September 9th, 2020

The picture doesn’t do it justice. The camera automatically tries to brighten the image and even if I manually reduce the brightness it still doesn’t show how dark it really was. As I write this at 6:55 AM on September 10th, I can see the fog and smoke but the day still slowly brightens unlike yesterday. The air quality has shifted from yellow to orange and back to the yellow zone again and I’m hoping that an onshore wind will kick up.

It is very odd to experience the weather here in Pacifica these past few weeks. This is normally a cold, decently windy place. Yet recently, it has been hot, there is little wind and thus the smoke fills the air and doesn’t move. It is as though we’re experiencing some divine retribution because at minimum we would have a slight breeze if not a full on wind. Not these days, the wind is absent.

As for COVID those first few months were like a novelty. Everyone went on walks, we got projects done and caught up with long lost friends through Zoom meetings. As we enter the 7th month of the pandemic it is no longer a novelty. There is more activity in getting out of the house, no more complete lockdown, but it remains low except on hot days. On the hot days Highway 1 becomes jammed as it usually does with everyone seeking relief from the heat on the beaches. Pacifica closed the beaches this past Labor Day but Half Moon Bay did not so everyone went there clogging our portion of Highway 1. Due to that the COVID cases will now spike.

So here I am, sitting in my living room on September 10th, 2020. Our inner circle of friends continues to shrink, the pandemic persists, and now we’re surrounded by fire and smoke. My mood is melancholy and I need to make a mental effort to get out of the slump. It will be another weekend at home where I may not even be able to workout due to the air quality. I do have a computer project but sometimes the air quality gets so bad that we all need to retreat to the family room and stay by the air filter. If the Pacifica onshore wind would just return then we would be fine but again, there is no wind. Weekends in 2020 are nothing to look forward to.

San Francisco on September 9th. – It was dark and the phone camera couldn’t capture it properly.

I forgot to mention that through all of this PG&E has threatened power outages from the grid being overtaxed due to everyone using their air conditioners as well as major wind events blowing over power lines. I’m waiting for this wind event and hopefully it blows the right way. But God forbid a pandemic, heatwave, poor air and then a power outage? We cannot go outside, cannot open our windows and then just sit inside and roast? Luckily we are in Pacifica so it is not as hot as in other parts of the Bay.

I should mention that I’ve learned something with my air purifier and air quality sensor. Closing windows to avoid dirty outdoor air does absolutely nothing. The dirty air will still sleep in. The only thing closing windows does is give the person inside a false peace of mind. The air quality sensor shows it makes no difference as indoor air will be as polluted as outdoor air regardless if windows are closed or not.

Secondly those $200 air purifier models everyone buys do work but are only good for cleaning one medium sized room. Furthermore the windows and doors must be shut for it to make progress. We use it in our family room and there is a big entry way with no door coming from the living room. In order for the air purifier to actually purify the air I need to put up a sheet to cover that big entryway gap. If I do not, even though I run the air purifier at full speed it will only reduce the pollution but does not have enough power to clean the air completely. That is to say pollution levels will be better than outdoors but never reach the healthy, “green zone” levels. We will get slightly cleaner air but also a huge electricity bill.

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Journal

Covid 19 – 10th Update

It is Friday September 4th, 2020. I sit here in my shed breathing in moderately polluted air from the fires that burn the state of California. My mood is on the melancholy side lifted only slightly by thoughts of a three day holiday weekend.

It is difficult to be happy these days for a number of reasons which I’ll explain in no particular order.

Trump is still the President and there seems to be no limit to the depths in which he and his supporters can go. There is a danger of him losing the election so they try to limit the vote by stifling the post office with the mail in votes, they encourage their supporters to vote twice which is illegal and there is a possibility that Trump will declare victory even before all votes are counted! America is in its very first kleptocracy and it remains to be seen if it can pull itself out of it. One would never have imagined that so many, otherwise very rational people, would fall for such a conman. They are seduced by the propaganda from the right wing and their anger grows daily. Even my own friends and some family have fallen for it. If Trump wins again then we’ll continue on a very dark path to very bad ends. Democracy is already under threat through the President’s actions meddling with the votes. There could be a devastating war although America has always been very good at starting wars for the past 70 years so not much difference there. My thought is that Trump could start a devastating war where nukes could be employed. Americans know nothing of suffering having never been invaded and so many enthusiastically support war even though they could not even describe the adversary involved let alone the neighboring state. But even if there was a devestating war and many Americans died, they would just be losers right Trump? Sadly, nothing will shock his base. These are dark times for America.

Another reason for the melancholy is that we remain in a pandemic and the state of California is on fire. We are not too threatened by the fires but we sure have to deal with toxic smoke. Iv’e never run my air purifier so hard and I’ll have the energy bill to prove it. There have been times where I had to gather everyone in one room and block off the entry way with a sheet as the pollution had spiked up near 200 AQI levels and the purifier just couldn’t keep up. The fires continue and most times we cannot even go outside due to the smoke. We are lucky that we live near the ocean because we just need the wind to blow a certain way for pristine air. Others in the state are not so lucky and have smoke coming at them from multiple directions. The world changes and I find it strange that I now it is only the quality of the water I must pay attention to but the air as well. I remember when bottled water and water filters came on the market. Suddenly our water wasn’t safe and we needed products to purify them. I asked myself, what is next the air? Yes, yes it is! Smoke from fires aside the air pre-Covid was mostly yellow in all the places I frequented which are The Bay, Columbus, Ohio and Japan. All yellow all the time. Now I must spend money to ensure the air we breathe is not shortening our lives.

I’m also down because I was just served a summons for jury duty. I’ve never had to do jury duty and I’m not enthusiastic for the first experience. I’ve been more on the liberal side ever since studying abroad but all I had to do to convince myself to limit government involvement was think about my distaste when I have to deal with the government myself. I do not like taxes, immigration, the DMV and now jury duty. With all the talk of socialism being bad coming from the right, isn’t jury duty a bit socialist? Why, in a capitalist country can I not just pay someone to go do it for me? America is all about money, power and the individual best exemplified by our President isn’t it? Well, if I were to follow that example, why do I need to participate in this social ritual and be threatened with jail if I do not? If I were to follow the American example of individualism, I do not care about the person on trial right? Work it out themselves through money, prison or execution, why do I have to get involved? Because it is our system and how our system of justice works??? Excuse me, have you been paying any attention to our current President? He’s got the entire Department of Justice under his thumb.

Wait, my apologies, we only “say” nobody is above the law, but any person with a modicum of intelligence knows this is a silly phrase.

Finally, my spirits are down because we are about to lose more family friends. Our tight circle of Japanese friends all seem to be finding their way back to Japan over the past couple of years. This weekend is a farewell party for yet another family in our inner circle. When before, our circle of close friends was abundant, it has now become sparse.

Time goes on, everything changes. Before long, the world we know is nothing more than old memories preserved in photographs.

Categories
Journal

COVID – 19 – 9th Update

It is July 18th, 2020 on Saturday morning. We’re on the verge of another lockdown due to a spike in COVID cases. I myself am thinking more and more that I must have had COVID already as I’ve had a slight cough ever since February. Due to my job I did travel a lot and was in venues with a lot of people. Sometimes I also notice that the volume of air I take in is only so slightly less than before, I then ask myself if it isn’t just in my head but as we’re starting to realize that this infection has been around a while it does lend a bit of support to the thought.

The seriousness of COVID is becoming more apparent to me by the day and it is very difficult to get a pulse on how things are going to turn out. Since it is unprecedented, nobody really knows. The cases are spiking and even secure industries are having a hard time holding out. I’m reading about nurses getting laid off and even my own company may experience involuntary layoffs for the first time in its history. My Mom just told me about the death of the owner of a hometown restaurant that has been in business ever since I was born. He caught it and nine days later was gone.

This really infuriates me because he would have got it from all those Trump supporters who refuse to wear masks. They run around in their willful ignorance but this time it isn’t just politics, their decisions are leading to actual death. And since they don’t show any symptoms when dining out the blame is never laid on them. History will show that these are terrible people and I hope they are judged accordingly.

As for us, we’re now giving serious thought to having the kids attend school in Japan for the upcoming school year. It looks like full distance learning is the safest option and what any rational school board would take. But the school board isn’t operating on logic alone. They must consider that many parents want to dump their kids back off at school again. For many this is a hard choice as both parents must work since we have little social support in this country. But for many other parents they want to dump their kids because they are tired of spending all day with them and want to get back to status quo. Spending all day with their families is not what they signed up for under the American social contract. In America you’re only expected to spend the evenings with your spouse and children while having your own life at work most of the time. This is how things are although nobody would want to admit that.

For my family, I work from home and the wife does not work. So there really isn’t much change in the amount we see each other except for the kids being home and the kids being home is just fine with both of us. But since I’m pretty sure most of the next school year will be social distancing, even if they do try to get a few days at school in I think it would be in my kids best interest to have that school year in Japan. They’re already way ahead thanks to the Japanese school they attend so distance learning is, sad as it is to say, a waste of time. If they were actually going to school that would mean having the traditional experience, spending time with friends and all the other good things that come with a normal school year. But this is not normal and straight distance learning for them is really just remedial class they don’t really need.

It is an unspoken secret that distance learning is going to put the American child way behind. Make no mistake I think this is the path America should take as health of children and teachers is paramount. The White House doesn’t agree with this but they disagree because they want to remain in power, their idiotic blatherings are not in the interest of children or teachers. Spending a year in Japan where they do have the virus under control (thanks to everyone wearing masks) would put them not only ahead but WAY ahead in terms of school curriculum. In my opinion my eldest would probably be able to skip the fifth grade by attending fourth grade in Japan. Not only that but they would become fluent in Japanese which is the main reason I think they should attend school there.

This is such a depressing post to write as I wish America the best. I wish the President thought the same. But this is the situation we have to deal with and I need to consider the best course of action for my kids futures.

Categories
Journal

COVID 19 – 8th Update

It is 3:56 on Tuesday afternoon. I’m in the 5th month of rarely leaving my house. I cannot say it has affected me greatly as I’m used to working from home and there are plenty of activities that can be done without going outside.

The past five months have slid by as though I’m in a daze. Almost half a year gone! For me, I’m still busy with work and have occupied my time with various projects I’ve mentioned previously. The latest project was buying a new server and installing my blogs on it. I’m still elated that I was able to move the blogs to the new server without trouble. It was a bit scary as my blogs are one of my greatest treasures and it was possible that my pictures wouldn’t match up with the right posts anymore but all is well.

One thing I’ve learned in this quarantine is that I like to stay active. What causes me some stress is determining what activity I should do in my free time. Should I read a book, play video games, workout, garden, or find some other project. My mind is always stuck in high gear and it is very hard for me to relax completely. My mind races from one thing to the next and I supposed that is due to my job and always having to be “on” all the time. I don’t think I’d be in a great mental state if it wasn’t thanks to the workouts in my home gym, meditation and preparing for the future.

The other thing that causes stress is things have not gotten better in terms of COVID. We’re seeing spikes again and this bodes very poorly for any travel recovery. I’m wondering if I’ll be furloughed if things continue to deteriorate. I’m safer than most due to the nature of my work in the industry but even that cannot hold out forever if travel does not resume.

As for the world overall we’re in uncharted territory. There will be many defaults in loans, people kicked out of their homes, breakups of marriages and so on. I wonder what the situation is like in homes across America. Given that our society has always prized work over a home life I’m sure the quarantine has been terrible for many families. Gone are the days when Mom and Dad trot off to work, dump the kids off at school and nobody has to see each other until after 3:00 PM. Now everyone is around all the time and I’m sure many households do not deal well with that. What will happen when things open back up. When will things open back up?

We’ve just been put on basic lock down here in California. No trips for us this summer and given the situation next year might be in doubt as well.

I had a thought to create a haiku or poem today. I swear I felt a little pressure on my chest this afternoon as though I couldn’t get a full breath. I had also felt poorly last night. This worried me for about an hour and during that time I saw a notice on my phone to take advantage of a great deal from Amazon. I had to chuckle as that is typical America. There is disease and death all around yet commerce and consumption still reigns supreme.

I am short of breath
Is it soon my time to go?
PCs 50% off

During this time I’m full of energy in the morning and can accomplish anything. By 3:00 PM all the energy is spent and I have no motivation to do any of my favorite activities. It is at this time I have to make myself do something or I’ll just sit in a chair and look at my phone.

Speaking of the phone I finally put Facebook away. I find that it brings me no joy at all. I no longer feel any desire to keep a connection with all my various acquaintances. It seems more like work liking every post out of a sense of duty due to old friendships. Just let it go and be more in the moment.

I’ve been stuck home for too long. I miss trips to San Jose for work. I really miss my annual Japan and Ohio trip. It is another day spent mostly in my shed in the backyard. Aside from working out and meditation there is no more self medications which are effective. Alcohol makes me lethargic the next day, gaming produces no dopamines and I’ve already completed my major projects. Weekends are just more time spent in the house and not something that gets me excited anymore. I wish I had a pool or at least a steam bath.

But I really cannot complain. I have a beautiful view, I have a home gym and plenty of electronic entertainment. Now where is my motivation. It has been lost in 5 months of self quarantine.

Categories
Culture Journal

Racial Unrest and other news

It is 8:49 AM on Sunday May 31st, 2020. I have asked myself many times this year if things could get any worse. I quit asking myself that question months ago yet things continue to get worse. At this point I’m wondering if we will see a bottom for a while or if things will simply continue to decline along a steady pace as the months and perhaps even years roll by?

I’m on the verge of deleting Facebook again. I would love to do this but again, doing so would mean losing contact with hundreds of people around the world forever. I’m tried of reading everyone’s opinions but I have to say it is fascinating how quickly people will forget teachings of love and respect and choose a side. I was very disappointed in the boomer generation adult when I myself because an adult and now I am equally, if not more-so disappointed in the adults of my own generation. Adults are supposed to be smart and have answers. I’m realizing adults are amazingly dumb and this is depressing.

As with many things in this blog this explanation is so my ancestors can have an accurate representation. As there are no like buttons nor room to comment I’m not interested in feedback. It would seem that around ninety percent of Americans will just parrot their choice of propaganda and I could just get that directly from the source if I were so inclined.

So what is happening and why?

It is because racism is deeply ingrained in American society. It is not something a sports star nor black president can cure although the media likes to think it can. Human beings on the overall are very tribal and it is very difficult to eliminate the instinct. Humans have always mixed but the tribal instinct remains. Take the Arab Moors conquering Spain over hundreds of years and now most Spanish have black hair and black eyes. You know what else Spaniards have? Ancient hatred for the Arabs even though Arab blood is in their veins. Let’s stick with Spain and look at Mexican society. The rulers are mostly white and at the bottom of the social order are the natives. You go up in social class depending on how much Spanish blood you have in your veins. These rulers then do not care much for the natives although native blood also runs in their veins.

Here in America racism courses strongly through American’s veins and although diluted much over the past century is still as strongly present and real as a Spaniard’s black eyes. African Americans started out in this country as slaves and have had a very hard road since due to this racism. Simply put, it has been much more difficult for them to build wealth and prosper due to racism. If racism could be removed completely I imagine society would be quite harmonious and everyone prospering. But no, the racism persists and injustice after injustice is perpetrated on African Americans. The current unrest is the direct result of a racist society.

Reading the news today I see white leaders telling people they are dishonoring the legacy of George Floyd by looting and rioting. Well, let’s state things clearly here. Both peaceful as well as violent protesting has occurred many times int the past but it rarely does anything. Just a few years ago the Occupy movement had people marching all over the place, holding rallies and lots of people speaking lots of words up on stage. Then it ended and nothing changed. I remember the L.A. riots in the news and seeing video of a man being pulled from his truck and almost killed. Guess what came of those riots? A damaged L.A. came out of them and not much else. So what will happen with these riots? There will be damage, people will get arrested and pepper sprayed, they will end, and nothing will have changed.

The only thing riots serve is to harden the opinions of those who already hold racist views. But I understand the need to protest and even those that want to break things. They live everyday under suspicion, in a society where the feeling of being an outcast is always there although to varying degrees depending on the environment, socioeconomic status, and mindset of the individuals. This is everyday life for them and something that those who do not experience it really cannot empathize with since they have no idea what it is like. However, let’s not pretend that all of the protesters motives are pure. There are more than a few who are thugs, to cause chaos and steal. You see these thugs looting stores. But then I ask myself what is the difference between them looting stores given the opportunity and white collar executives looting their customers (or anything that can be looted) given the opportunity? I remember Wells Fargo charging customers for accounts they didn’t want and then calling it “deepening the relationship.” Perhaps these looters are deepening their relationship with Best Buy? Taking for personal gain is the American way! This is also deeply ingrained in the DNA of this country. The only difference is the ones on top can get away with it whilst the ones on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder cannot.

Let’s also be honest about the police and George Floyd. This is where I do not understand why white leaders keep saying “the legacy of George Floyd.” He was drunk and trying to pass counterfeit bills. He was not a role model. But here is the catch. When was the last time a white cop killed a white person for stealing? Reading the news I can count three times just in the past few months when extreme injustice occurred based on racism. Arbery, Edmondson and now Floyd. This is that native racism with the only difference from the past is it can now be easily recorded and shared when in the past it could not.

Looking at my Facebook feed half have taken the side of police and half on the side of the protesters. None have written a post trying to understand both sides. This is the important point my ancestors. The truly intelligent can delve into and try to honestly understand the other side. This is not a talent that comes naturally and takes work. This also creates the ironic outcome where expecting to receive more answers you’re own viewpoints become less stable. The results in more reading, and the more you read the more questions you will have and it will continue forever. It can cause anxiety to never be steadfast in your own opinions, to never have an eternally correct answer. But it is also exhilarating!

You’ll soon see that those who are so sure of their answers are the ones that know the least. These are the ones who are the most vocal. In my own feed it is those who did not go to college and received C grades in high school that post the most and are absolutely sure of their own opinions. The Left side of the spectrum is smarter than the Right on the overall. But the Left is also blinded by their arrogance and smugness. They simply see the other side as dumb and that they must teach them. Well, the Right doesn’t want to be taught and hates the Liberals for it. The Right prefers tradition, the way things are and doesn’t want all this change. There is nothing inherently wrong in their opinion. They like sticking with their own group and do not want to be “sensitive” for every new snowflake issue that comes up. I remember myself hating how at OSU we were always taught to be “sensitive” to one thing or another. Exaggerating a wee bit it was like “Hey, this mess of a human wants to identify as a transsexual saucepan with a fetish for spoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but straightly bi-sexual on Wednesdays except on the weekends when she/he/we/it/us/they – please use whatever pronoun they would like – would just like to be known as asexual Bruce. For God’s sake’s man, you had to be sensitive to something new every other day and if you weren’t you were a neanderthal.

So yes, I can very easily see both sides here and seeing both sides is a mark of intelligence which we simply do not have enough of especially at the moment.

In other news I want to pick on religion a bit. The Orthodox Church in Greece uses the same spoon to dish out Communion. This means the same spoon goes in the mouths of the entire congregation!

Spoonful of disease

Contrary to what science says, the Greek Orthodox Church insists it is impossible for any disease — including the coronavirus — to be transmitted through Communion. “In the holy chalice, it isn’t bread and wine. It is the body and blood of Christ,” said the Rev. Georgios Milkas, a theologian in the northern city of Thessaloniki. “And there is not a shred of suspicion of transmitting this virus, this disease, as in the holy chalice there is the Son and the Word of God.”

It is quotes and beliefs like these that make me feel like Agent Smith from the Matrix.

I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it.

There is so much dumb in the world. I used to think we could trust the adults. As an adult myself I can see that becoming an adult is no cure for stupidity. I used to think that we could trust the President. Well, then I learned a lot about historical presidents. I learned that in a drunken rage Nixon ordered the atom bomb to be dropped a few times. I recently learned that Clinton is up to his ears in sleaze. And with Trump, well, it is something new with him everyday isn’t it. I also used to trust priests. Then I learned how many they abused even in my own parish. I was equally amazed at the nonexistent reaction from the parents. Since they were all absorbed into the religion priests doing something wrong just doesn’t compute. They say something like “Oh, well, he was a bad apple.” They are mentally unable to understand that the entire barrel is bad. Religion owns them, they are in a mental cage from which they can never escape no matter how much evidence is given. Jesus himself could come down out of the sky and say “You know what, this was all a joke.” The faithful would momentarily be shocked, unable to move until the brain swung into action. No, this isn’t true, you’re the Devil in disguise! This my ancestors is how religion works. Almost everyone will be the same religion as their parents. Technology, science and human knowledge will increase. Over time many more may be able to escape the mental cage of religion due to this knowledge or it could swing in reverse. The knowledge may be too much for many to bear and so they will cling to the familiar, to “the answers.” Clinging to anything is more secure than drifting out there in the unknown and usually all alone. As for me, I revel in it.

But going back to the spoon, it makes one want to say the trite phrase “Are you serious??!” This is akin to people of rational mind saying hey, you’re dishing out a spoonful of disease!!! And the response is, “No, no, the magic bread will gloriously remove any impurity!” Not only is this absurd but the thing itself is absurd. The magic break and wine was changed into flesh and blood and people want to eat it! I believe this goes back to pre-human times when eating that which you’ve conquered makes you stronger. Hey, Jesus, I am going to eat you. Jesus commanded us to eat him!

WTF

I really am in the Matrix aren’t it? People cannot get along due to the color of skin, the President is threatening to “release the hounds” like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons and some guy named Jesus is telling people to eat him and billions obey. Many of them with the same spoon. In a global pandemic.

The change from 2019 to 2020 was also us entering into a new dimension, an absurd timeline where nothing makes sense. Oh, well, just like being adrift all alone with no solid answer to ground myself on I will appreciate the experience of living in such an absurd time. I will write in my blog and still appreciate the blooming flowers, a nice glass of wine (not blood) and the beautiful sunsets. As is often said in the Tale of Genji, “This would is uncertain and nothing is secure.”

My life is as short and insignificant as the morning dew on a wisteria leaf.” – MdC

I was going to end there but just opened up my news and The NYT has an article of a reporter being shot with the headline “I’ve been shot!” You know what, if you’re going to go into what resembles a war zone you should probably be better prepared and not expect special treatment because you’re the media. This reminds me of a highly uncoordinated girl being asked to do some sort of physical activity. If she is not completely supported through the entire activity she will fall down in very dramatic fashion for all to see. She is a girl that can do nothing for herself unless given so much special treatment that it is actually done for her. Likewise, if you’re going to go into a riot zone you better have someone prepared for it. Not some weak person who expects her media badge will shield her from all going on around her.