Category: California Page 1 of 4

The Big Move: It begins

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 2:20 am

Today (Monday) went as well as could be expected—all our stuff is on its way to Madison. The moving crew was fast and professional. We are doing our last cleanup tasks and getting on the road sometime tomorrow. Because I need rest—I pulled an all-nighter Sunday going into Monday, and am very sore from all the packing—I’ve decided to not rush out of here as early as possible. Also, since a three-day trip is unlikely, I will pace myself for four (knowing I can do a couple long days then a short day on Friday [it actually took five days]).

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 2:21 pm

Just going to get the car now—just finished with the apartment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 3:31 am

Today, Tuesday, we made it 223 miles between 8 pm and about 12:30 am. We got a late start after packing the car and cleaning the apartment, but (possibly foolishly) we pushed ahead to Reno anyway. Once we got past Sacramento, basically nothing was open thanks to the pandemic (including gas stations and gas station bathrooms), which meant we had to keep going.

The road conditions as we crossed the Sierra Nevada were not great: dark, cold, and a little slippery. I had planned to make it farther on the first day, so my initial research into pet-friendly places to stay was sketchy when it came to Reno. We settled on a La Quinta. I will just say this about this motel: we used a lot of Lysol wipes.

Super exhausted! We will have a good day of driving during the DAY tomorrow (Wednesday).

April 14 driving stats:

  • 7:50 pm to 12:39 am (4 hours, 49 minutes)
  • 218 mi
  • 3:58 driving; 0:51 breaks

April 14 drive

The Big Move: In great shape

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

March 31, 2020, 2:24 pm

Everything is in great shape right now! We locked in the mover estimate last week, and just got the lease for the new place today—we will sign and send it in, and then we are on our way! Two weeks from today the movers will be here, and getting ready for the move will be my and Dawn’s only job for a couple weeks.

The only thing I haven’t checked in on is the rental minivan, but I will call the week before and make sure they will have it ready.

Thank goodness for transportation being an essential sector.

April 8, 2020, 8:01 am

Depending on how it turns out, our move across the country is either going to be a triumphant story of succeeding against the odds or a cautionary tale of ignorant hubris. But I suppose interesting stories tend to fall into one of those categories.

On the one hand, moving during a pandemic while deaths and cases are going up quickly seems like a bad idea. And yet we are, as my dad put it, “beyond the point of no return.”

I looked at it as arranging a number of individual transactions. Once I got the job offer on March 3rd (remember how different the world was then), I put my notice in at my job. Something not to forget is that we were planning on making the move even if I hadn’t gotten an offer yet, so to have gotten that is huge.

Daily new cases as of 3-20-2020

Changes

For the first two months of 2020, I was burning the candle at both ends, and then cutting the candle in half and burning both of those ends. I use this very specific, vivid, and slightly awkward yet humorous metaphor to describe my time engaging in an intense and focused job search while also working full time—and trying to find time to help plan a move for me, Dawn, the cats, and our stuff from San Francisco to Wisconsin.

And that effort paid off. On March 3rd, I got the call I wanted: a job offer from my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Starting April 22nd, I will be a Strategic Communications Specialist within UW-Madison’s office of University Communications. Dawn and I had been planning to move to Madison in April whether or not I got a job, but this makes it far more possible—especially now.

Because, of course, the context today, March 20th, is worlds away from the context of March 3rd and pretty much each of the individual days since. We’ve seen huge increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths worldwide, voluntary self-quarantines, the physical closing of non-essential businesses, most of the rest of us working from home (including my future co-workers at the UW), orders to shelter in place at the city and state levels, hospitals running out of supplies and having to make terrible no-win decisions. We live in a new world that is changing by the minute, and we have only vague ideas about our future course—aside from the almost certain fact that millions of people will die from COVID-19.

I don’t even know how to describe witnessing a pandemic unfold in real time. It makes you rethink everything you’ve valued and failed to value. It certainly reinforces my opinions of capitalism and plutocracy. I can’t help but think about, and worry about, our family and our friends, their health, the health of all their loved ones, and the tragic and profound losses we’re seeing worldwide in every facet of life.

My and Dawn’s continued health seems good as we take it slow and easy. I’m grateful (and lucky) that my soon-to-be new job is with a state university and not a more precarious organization. They made the offer, they need me and my skills as much as ever, and the hiring process continues to move forward.

There will be all kinds of unpredictable side effects of this crisis. One somewhat random one: right now, I’m not at all inclined toward comparison shopping. If a mover or an apartment rental company is willing to engage with us now, and the price point is reasonable, I want to give them our business and not waste anyone’s time. They need to make a living and we need to get there. So far they seem to very much want our business and that’s a relief. The possibility of not getting to move when we planned has been one of my immediate worries since this thing started.

I was hired to work to promote the Strategic Partnerships unit (which does federal, state, tribal, community, and business relations). Right now, it sounds like my team is doing crisis communications more than anything else, which I’d be happy to help with. I love jumping in and doing what’s most needed. No matter what, I am excited to work for my alma mater in a role that fits my strengths and in which I’ll be able to actively build meaningful connections between UW-Madison and the larger community.

For her part, Dawn will be leaving the VA and opening up a brand-new private psychotherapy and training practice, and will be available for tele-mental health referrals later on this spring.

In this last year, Dawn and I have been thinking and talking a lot about our lives and the direction we’re going. Losing my mom last February drove home the point that we want to prioritize family more than we have. We have also faced the fact that—even on one federal salary and one non-profit salary—we will simply never be able to have a better place to live in the Bay Area than our one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, under current conditions.

These are the main reasons we’re picking up these roots and moving them to Madison. (Back home to Madison, in my case—after 20 years.) We’d been incredibly excited about a new adventure and a different pace of life. We still are. Now we just have to wait a little longer for some of the things that we were excited about, and that’s okay.

So many of the things that were planned in the old world are going to suffer drastically. One of my good friends just lost his mom this week. The fact that he won’t get to gather with friends and relatives young and old, the way I and my family did last February, seems to me like it would compound the sense of loss. The associated expressions of love and connection and sense of closure (to the extent that it is attainable) will have to be deferred and/or happen some other way. One of Dawn’s former trainees was going to have a wedding this spring. It’s not going to happen the way they planned.

I’m grateful for many things in my life. Now I’m grateful for a whole new set of things I never realized I took for granted. Having a wedding with 80 guests. Having a celebration of life for my mom. Not being sick.

More to come.

Revealed: Who wrote the book of love?

If you didn’t see this on February 25th, you really missed out:

Hilarious, no? An iPhone, a brilliant girlfriend with a great sense of humor, and a whole lot of serendipity are the needed ingredients.

Also, if you haven’t heard, I am moving to San Francisco in June! Dawn and I found a great apartment together in her existing building and we are incredibly excited about it.

I occupy Oakland every day

Upon reflection, I find it wonderful that a movement of people is growing around the concept that the rich don’t pay their fair share (they don’t) and that corporations have too much power (they do). The Occupy Wall Street movement in some ways is exactly what I think is necessary.

From my perspective, though, here’s the sad thing about today’s “general strike” in Oakland: I have over 150 hours of vacation time, over 100 hours of sick time, and a floating holiday available to me. And I agree with the reasons Occupy Oakland is doing it. However, I don’t feel comfortable taking a day off in what is invariably the busiest month of my job.

This is my dilemma with the Occupy movement right now: The vast majority of the 99%, like me, are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t feel comfortable taking the day off — much less spending weeks protesting in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And there are many people in far worse situations than I who are going to be displaced today here in Oakland.

It’s not as if I’m sitting on the sidelines. The reason I’m going to work today is that I want to help ensure the California Environmental Scorecard is produced on time, containing as few errors as humanly possible. The Scorecard helps keep California legislators accountable to the public for their votes on environmental bills.

I’m not a fan of politics, especially as it’s practiced in this country right now. One day is not going to jeopardize my job, nor is it likely to significantly delay the Scorecard. But considering everything I have to do for basically the right reasons this month, I can’t afford to take a day off to occupy my own city.

One guy’s progressive endorsements

My Ballot
There have been people in the past who have trusted me to give my take on the ballot to help them decide what to do. Things have been so busy this year that I haven’t gotten to this to this point, but, better late than never. I think in future elections I’ll do this a little earlier. (Part of the reason I am not posting this until now is that I am using this blog post, written tonight, as a way to clarify my own thoughts and make my final voting decisions.)

The ones that probably need the most help (in my subjective view) are up top; sorry if the order is confusing since it’s not the same order as the ballot. Ah, well. And, of course, the farther away you live from me, the less likely our ballots will be similar.

Special focus:

BART Director, District 4: Robert Raburn – he is an experienced transportation planner and transit/bike/pedestrian advocate, and a good guy. (He was E.D. of the East Bay Bike Coalition for 15 years, of which I’m a member.) From what I can tell, his opponent the incumbent is a politician with no particular expertise in transit planning. Vote for Robert Raburn.

Yes on Prop 25: This doesn’t go far enough, but it’s worth voting for. The budget should NOT require a 2/3 vote in the legislature.

No on Prop 26: Neither should fees to mitigate pollution! Defeat the initiative funded by Chevron.

While I’m on the subject, No on 23! Beat the Texas oil companies’ profit grab and save California’s climate policy.

Yes on Prop 19. The two main reasons I’d vote for it: Local, state, and federal government “waste valuable resources targeting non-violent cannabis consumers, while thousands of violent crimes go unsolved. And there is $14 billion in marijuana sales every year in California, but our debt-ridden state sees none of the revenue that would come from controlling and taxing it.” (Quote from the Yes on 19 website.) That last reason alone is reason to vote for it. People are going to do it either way (similar to alcohol during Prohibition), so why not maximize the societal benefit?

Also, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol is (obviously) addictive and can cause death if overused (or, for example, if used before getting behind the wheel), both unlike marijuana. Time Magazine reports on how marijuana is not a gateway drug — but the discredited idea is still used as an excuse to continue a failing policy. Read more info from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

City of Oakland Mayor:

The Ron Dellums era is (thankfully) ending. Let’s just forget about the last four years of Oakland city government, shall we?

Oakland needs a leader who is focused on Oakland, not just an office to hold when termed out of the state legislature. I’ve heard good things about both Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan — people I trust have a lot of experience with both of them, and I think they’re running for the right reasons. Luckily, the city has finally implemented the ranked-choice voting (instant runoff!) that voters mandated several years ago, so here’s my recommendation:

  1. Quan or Kaplan
  2. Kaplan or Quan
  3. Anyone else but Don Perata

Perata is the front-runner due to name recognition, I’m guessing. However, even though he represented Oakland in Sacramento, he lived in Alameda. I just worry that he’s going to be similar to Dellums — out of touch with what a mayor should do and just marking time. If you vote the way I suggest, your vote will certainly count for either Kaplan or Quan, since I will be shocked if either of them finish worse than 3rd.

Other state ballot measures:

No on Prop 20. The redistricting commission established by Prop 11 a few years ago was not designed to redraw Congressional districts, and it shouldn’t. There’s a lot at stake in terms of federal funding for California, and Californians should keep our state on a level playing field relative to other states.

Yes on Prop 21: Cars are far too subsidized in California, and State Parks need funding. It’s a modest user fee that saves recreational opportunities and habitat. Easy choice.

Prop 22: I am just not sure. If you support local government and agree with the League of California Cities that the state government shouldn’t borrow from cities to plug holes in the swiss-cheese-like state budget, then vote Yes on 22. If you agree with the California Teachers Association and the California Professional Firefighters (the union that represents the state agency that fights wildfires as well as many local departments) vote No on 22 to protect state funding for things like education. This might fall under the “when in doubt, vote no” strategy, especially since it’s a constitutional amendment.

Yes on Prop 24: It repeals a law that creates corporate tax loopholes. I don’t believe the scare tactics that say businesses are leaving California, because the data says they aren’t.

Yes on Prop 27 (with philosophical reservations). Prop 27 abolishes the aforementioned redistricting commission and returns the responsibility of redistricting to the legislature. On balance, I say vote yes, but I am doing it while holding my nose. Most progressive organizations say that you should vote yes on Prop 27, which seems to be a primarily pragmatic stance.  Passing Prop 27 would undoubtedly result in more liberals/progressives/Democrats in office after the redistricting, because the California legislature is controlled by Democrats, and legislature-run redistricting processes generally favor the party that is currently in power through the creation of gerrymandered districts.

Gerrymandered districts have problems. However, the commission as currently constituted — “balanced” between Dems, Repubs, and “independents” — is no panacea either. It certainly doesn’t reflect California to the extent that the legislature does. The tipping point is this: Prop 11/Prop 20 has a weird clause that requires that districts be homogeneous based on income — read more at http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/no-on-prop-20-yes-on-27-171353.aspx — and for that reason I say No on 20, Yes on 27.

State Candidates:

U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer

Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Lt. Governor: Gavin Newsom
Insurance Commish: Dave Jones

Governor: Jerry Brown
Sec’y of State: Debra Bowen
Controller: John Chiang
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
State B.O.E. (District 1): Betty Yee

9th Congressional District: Barbara Lee
16th Assembly District: Sandré Swanson
CA Supreme Court: no idea at this point.

Alameda County/Oakland measures:

I need to do way more research before I say a word about these. More later, maybe… but for now I think this is pretty comprehensive for anyone who’s going to read this. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Thoughts of Brainwash (photo illustration)

bw-derby-thoughts-crop

Just for fun.

Brainwash Movie festival THIS Saturday (& next weekend)

Yes, the 16th Annual Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival is almost upon us!

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the New York Times says the Brainwash Movie Festival is “pirating a piece of that old Hollywood magic and challenging conventions on the role of public space in the process.”

Funny, because Brainwash organizers say, “We project movies onto a tarp in a parking lot in Oakland.”

Brainwash features a great mix of new movies from the Bay Area and all over the world, featuring dark humor, animation, mockumentaries, and much more. See http://www.brainwashm.com/festival/2010-festival/ for this year’s full program.

What’s a Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival? It’s set up like a traditional drive-in with FM sound as well as two big amps. Arrive however you choose: drive, bike, or walk in, perhaps with your favorite chair or blanket. West Oakland BART is one block away.

The festival will be held Saturday, August 7th, Friday, August 13th, and Saturday, August 14th (9:00 p.m. each night) at the Mandela Village Arts Center at 1357 5th St in Oakland.

Admission is just $10, or a $40 Festival Pass gets two people into all three nights of the festival. Tickets are available at http://www.ticketweb.com/snl/EventListings.action?orgId=16986 or at the gate. More about Brainwash.

Also, I’d be glad if you wanted to post one of these lovely banner ads (below and in the sidebar) on your own site. Somehow that seems unlikely, but you never know.

brainwash 2010 program
Brainwash Movie Festival

Where have I been?

As a general partner of Brainwash Movies, which has been the case for a couple years, I am involved in pretty much everything that goes on surrounding the 16th Annual Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival in Oakland. It’s fun and very unique; everyone who can go should go!

Just in the last several months, we have viewed over 80 submissions of mostly short, sometimes weird, always independent movies, totaling 30 hours. We judged those movies in June and chose 4 1/2 hours (22 shorts and one feature) to show on August 7, 13, and 14. It could be our best show yet (but I say that every year). I was one of three people to decide which movies to show and which order to show them in. I also laid out the initial version of our printed program and promotional flyer. Next I need to do major updates to the website and our Facebook page (so far, I’ve just scratched the surface).

Also, the San Francisco Improv Festival (headed up by the awesome folks what brought you Crisis Hopkins) hired me to set up WordPress on their brand-new site and to convert someone else’s design to a WordPress theme. I did so and it went well. I plan to continue to do improvements on their site, assuming they don’t think my rates are exorbitant (which they really aren’t).

This on top of a ridiculous amount of work at CLCV (including a big website redesign that will launch sometime this summer) and trying to take some time for myself (including a very nice but too brief 8-day vacation in Milwaukee & Chicago). One of these days I’ll post a bunch of shots on my flickr page (stay tuned).

That’s the update — check out Brainwash and SFIF in August! It’ll be more than worth your time and the very reasonable cost of admission.

You know you’re in Oakland when…

You get into the Zipcar and it smells like weed.

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