Go Down All the Way

February 25, 2023

Down ballot, that is.

The [somewhat suggestive] slogan is meant to spur dems to vote in every race that appears on their ballots. This is because republicans tend to cast their votes in all ballot races, while democrats’ interest and attention seem to fade before they get to the end of their ballot. This is an empirical fact. Weird, huh?

At the annual Sister District Summit today (in Berkeley), someone shared the statistic that in the 2020 election in Michigan, for example, there were something like 167,000 people who case a vote for Biden, but who did not vote in the down-ballot races. Presumably, most of those voters were democrats. Many of those down-ballot candidates were candidates in state races and lost by tiny margins. They would certainly have won if dems had simply completed their ballots. I mean really, dems. What the heck.

Extremely important policy decisions are made at the state level.. think gerrymandering and reproductive rights for two. The courts look to be tossing a whole lot more the states’ way, too, so dems need to get control of those state houses.

Here’s what SD says about the importance of focusing on those state races:

Voter and media attention (and money) seems to go towards the high profile races, ignoring the down ballot races and state level elections. That’s why if we focus instead on these smaller (seeming) races, we can have a very large impact. Your $100 goes a lot farther in a state legislature race than in a presidential or senate contest.

Anyway… I knew all that, but got reminded and re-energized today. As you do at conferences!

Here are a couple more pics:

Davis was well-represented today: Don, Sue, Tim, Chris and me (not pictured, another Davis gal, Kathy). Many others had conflicts or got covid (or at least a bad cold) at the last minute.

Most of the presentations were excellent, but this was my favorite… it’s the executive director of SD national, Lala Wu, interviewing Anat Shenker-Osorio. Anat is a communications expert, researcher and political pundit whose work, they say, is changing the way progressives talk about everything from immigration to international arms control. 

She was sharp and compelling. I’m planning to read whatever writings I can get my hands on.

And yeah, she’s wearing a pink tutu.

After the day’s presentations, Chris and I went to the Claremont Hotel for a drink… (see Golden Gate, Alcatraz in front of the setting sun)…

Then joined conference goers at Comal on Shattuck for dinner (great). Here’s a view from Shattuck, looking west as the sunset got even better…

Spinning My Wheels

February 24, 2023

This afternoon, heading back from Vacaville, I decided to veer north along 505, then cut back west along Putah Creek Road to get a closer-up view of the SNOW in the Berryessa Hills. A super fun event for us valley folk.

I took some shots through the windshield (never a good idea), and pulled over to get better (safer) shots along the side of the road. Some of us valley/city folk apparently don’t know how to avoid rainsoaked, roadside mud.

Hoo boy. Stuck.

Some Facebook posts, texts, calls, and a conversation with a nice sheriff (who stopped to check out my stuckness and called an AAA towing service in Winters) later, I was bailed outa my mess. A mere hour of somewhat amusing drama. I was completely grateful for the kindnesses of friends who offered suggestions — including offers of help. Made me feel not so alone out there on a remote road.

The sheriff’s advice: NEVER drive off the road this time of year. And I have to say, it was a bit of a sick feeling, when I pulled off the pavement, to feel myself slide slowly sideways. It’s also quite weird to gas the car and feel your tires just spin and get completely NO traction. Deeper and deeper you go. And the mud spray!

I was gratified (well, validated) that the tow truck driver also failed to get my car out (here he is backing up, but still getting stuck):

Then came the chain and a tow:

This is my self-made rut. The ground was smooth (if gooshy) before I got there…. Sorry Mr. Farmer!!

And I finally got home… with most of the mud spray (including that huge turd-like blob on the hood) still intact..

BUT… I did manage a few really pretty pictures of the hills before heading home:

And some random valley shots.. from the drive out to Vacaville, and back from Winters…

Twelve Years Ago

February 23, 2023

So, how’s about a Thursday Throwback? Haven’t done one of those in awhile.

Kinda funny, twelve years ago, Peter was about… 12.. so, he was at his half-way point. For what that’s worth.

This memory came up on Facebook today (have I ever said how much I LOVE the daily Facebook memories feature?).

The comments were pretty funny, too:

And a few more pictures from February 2011, just to put a picture to the voice. Snow trip (Tahoe with the Shawskis and a bunch of other 12 year olds), baseball (Peter on the mound for Crush, and his beloved coach Tim), friends (from Chavez)…

(Brandon, Daniel, Eli, Jack and Peter…)

And because I love this picture so much…. a close up:

Also, just my opinion, you sure do have a life, honey!!

Love you so.

Spring Fling

February 22, 2023

Our front yard’s doing its thing.

Tulip tree’s coming….

It’s worth also noting that we’re about to get some weather, as a storm’s about to roll through. Temps will be back down in the 30s, looks like some rain.. some even say it could snow in Davis. But even if no snow here at the 50-foot elevation level, there will likely be a dusting on the Berryessa hills.. that should be pretty.

Here’s one more.. not a fantastic photo, but it was a dramatic walk home from lunch today: a grey, blue, white sky, deep purple blossoms on trees in the Central Park garden, white sycamore tree trunks… mmm, mmmm.

Beyond Understanding

February 21, 2023

Lucky me!

I have a kiddo who not only writes crazy amazing things (I presume) that are well beyond my comprehension (absolutely), but he seeks the editorial input of his parents on said incomprehensible research papers.

I read his papers and understand not a thing. The words are in english and they appear in sentences, but beyond that: gobbledygook. Still…. editing his papers is doable (and trippy), since it’s just a matter of correcting spelling and punctuation and in some cases format. I can point out inconsistencies (like, you hyphenate Navier-Stokes in this paragraph, but not this one, honey) without knowing whatof I speak.

It reminds me of the job I had for about a year at Transcend … many years ago (post DCTV, post-consulting, pre-full-on-retirement) where I edited translated documents in numerous foreign languages (from English) without knowing those languages….there were the easy ones like Spanish and French, and the hard ones like Tagalag, Chinese, and so many of the Arabic languages with entirely different characters. I just had to match text, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence to make sure all the words were there, the font treatments carried over, the punctuation was the same… etc. One didn’t need to know the language. It’s kinda the same thing with Peter’s papers. In his case, I’m not comparing it to an original document, but neither am I reading for content… so it’s fairly straight forward.

I love the detail of that kind of work.

And I love reviewing all my edits with him when I’m done. I love hearing him consider my changes… like, does this sentence really need a comma, is an m-dash better than a colon, should this paragraph be indented, is Monte Carlo (in the physics context) hyphenated? I love the way he defends his decisions, or agrees they could benefit from a change.

He’s so blippin’ knowledgeable, so in command of his material. He’s also genuinely nice, appreciative and grown up. He is a pleasure to work with!

How about that.

I also loved hearing about the changes suggested by Jim and by Aaron (his advisor professor). We all see different things (and many of the same things, too).

Takes a village.

So this was a 32-page paper, including one appendix and two pages of references. Took me hours to read!! I loved that when I got to the end and was glancing at the references, I saw one of Peter’s papers. He cited himself! For which he gets professional credit (citings are a big deal in the research paper world). When I asked him about it, he acknowledged it was very intentional and indeed would elevate his standings, so to speak. But more importantly, he actually used the work of that earlier paper to inform this paper. For realz. So funny.

As I said… I just feel so grateful, and happy for him, and proud. He’s doing things he loves, he’s good at it, he’s happy. In addition to his research and paper writing (and publishing), he’s TA’ing this semester, which has been (as far as we’ve heard), quite an experience (time consuming!). The professor (Aaron) is out of town this week so he asked Peter to conduct the lecture on Thursday (I believe it’s a basic fluids for engineers class and has some 80-100 students in it?). That oughta be .. fun? Scary? Challenging? He’s also heading up a collaboration with a researcher or two from another university (UCSD, of all places!) and that’s a new and important experience. So… all in all: things are hopping in A2.

This tree.. hmm… is it an almond? Whatever it is, it’s his favorite spring tree in his favorite alley. Its blooming every year makes me so happy because it makes him so happy. This photo is a bit disappointing; it doesn’t come close to capturing the loveliness of this alley and tree — honestly, it was far prettier in person — but I post it anyway.

The shadows are too dark and the detail in the tree is washed out. You have to imagine the quiet morning on our walk to an early Sunday brunch.. maybe add a bird or two chirping. The air is icy cold, but the sun is starting to warm things up. The sun was still low in the sky and the light through the alley was dappled. I love the tunnel effect of the canopied trees.. but that’s even hard to appreciate here. So: oh well.

Filling a Hole

February 19, 2023

There is a huge hole in my American cultural life.. lots of holes, actually: a million books I’ve never read, music I know very little about and don’t even get me started on video gaming, or fan fiction, or tiktok…

But thanks to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Davis, I am filling the American Movie Classic hole. Well, hardly filling. There are more movies in the world than I have time left to watch, but I’m scratching the surface a bit, which is pretty fun. The Odd Fellows has been offering fall and spring series of classic films — four films in a series — for ten years. Darrick Bang is the movie guru who introduces the films and adds all manner of trivia and cool information about the production, the stars, the backstories. He’s so damn knowledgeable and entertaining (takes me back to the earliest days of DCTV when Darrick produced one of our first-ever shows, a movie review show, the name of which escapes me, that was one of the most impressive displays of knowledge, efficiency and poise I’ve ever seen).

I believe this is only our second — maybe third — series. The pandemic interrupted everything just as we were getting into a seasonal rhythm, but we’re back now and tonight was night one of the 2023 spring series.

This time around the theme is war comedies. I would NEVER think I’d enjoy such a thing, but you sorta can’t help it when Darrick plies you with the rich and interesting stories behind these films. They’re usually film titles you’re familiar with and certainly feature stars you feel like you should know. I’m always like, so THAT’S fill-in-the-blank-mega-star-from-the-olden-days.

I always walk out of the Odd Fellows hall with a feeling of improved cultural self esteem. Let’s hear it for cultural competency!

Tonight we saw this film from 1949:

It was long, it was a bit over the top silly, but I still enjoyed it. A huge part of that is about getting a look at the era. The attitudes, the sexism, the cigarettes, the humor, the dialogue. People were watching this movie almost 75 years ago! The characters in the film were somewhere in their twenties.. as were my parents when they saw it (presuming they did… probably date night while in college or grad school).

So yeah.. filling a cultural hole AND connecting with my parents. That’s a win.

Reaching Back..

February 18, 2023

I got nuthin. Which means I get to reach back into the archives for a random photo…. and…. I choose…. this!

This is so out of character for Jim, I question that it’s even him (it is). You can tell it’s a really long time ago because mom’s still got her signature brown cig in hand. Not to mention Jim’s hair is a deep, dark, rich brown. How ’bout that pose!

For some reason, I think this might have been the picnic before (or after) we scattered dad’s ashes in Carmel (Pt. Lobos), which would put this somewhere around the year 2000. Jim (about 47) and I are four years into our marriage, Peter’s two years old, mom’s about seven years from quitting smoking (and is 71).

I know it was a somber occasion, but apparently also had its lighter moments!

Wow wow wow.

See Ya Sally

February 17, 2023

Sally drove down from Railroad Flat to spend a few days with us in Davis. We saw Adam Schiff, had a nice Valentine’s dinner, took many walks, spent cafe time at Cloud Forest, had a couple of dinners out (Greek, Burmese), visited a few galleries, test drove a RAV4 (yup), even did some local politicking. Most of all talked a bunch and caught up on each others’ lives. All in all, a good friend visit!

So… let’s see… we’ve been friends for… 60 years. Met in second grade when she moved to Palos Verdes from Seattle. How ’bout that!

She took off this afternoon.

’til next time!

A Meet and Greet

February 16, 2023

Jim and I hosted a candidate meet and greet for Donna Neville who’s running to fill the vacancy on the City Council left by Lucas Frerich’s ascension to the county board of supervisors in the November election. We’ve not done this before, but it was pretty fun, I must say: good turnout (somewhere between 32 and 35 folks), lots of neighbors (I’ll never remember everyone’s names), a great presentation by Donna, and a fairly lively Q&A. Satisfying all around.