Thursday, October 30, 2008


Last Spring I decided to start walking as my primary form of exercise. I got a couple books on the topic. I was giving a GPS watch to track my walking. I've really enjoyed it. Part of the motivation was to walk a 1/2 marathon. I signed up for the one happening in San Francisco on Sunday, and then I jumped the gun and did one in July.

But even with the July race behind me, I still was looking to the Nov. 2nd race to improve my time. Now, not so much. I moved, I traveled and essentially took 3 weeks off training. Then I got a nasty cold that has morphed into a sinus infection. I feel miserable. My right sinus is throbbing while my body feels as if I just finished a 13.1 mile trek.

There will be more races. I will sit this one out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I think I fell down on my travel log of the last week.
As a result, I am going to describe some of the highlights while awaiting some yummy crepes courtesy of a fine Englishman.

Friday's hightlight was walking with Mary and her friend Lou. Mary and Lou know each other from a former job. We talked about everything under the sun and I was able to use my story of, "I was on a plane with Matt Gozales!" to derail a potential conversation about the presidential race. I did indulge a bit and told them about my new man, Marc. They were hopeful and suggested that I have him out for a thurough evaluation before taking any additional steps. I'm fine with that. I'm sure Marc would have fun and I just love that little corner of Cape Cod, I'll go back any time.

Friday night was back to Boston to stay with bestfriend Hilary. She has the cutest condo in Chelsea. I was very, very impressed. A condo and it is NICE. We enjoyed a little chatting, went out for Indian food and crashed.

Saturday we met up with Kate & Heather, and Heather's friend Cynthia. I know Heather from volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in San Francisco. She knows Cynthia from their time in the Peace Corps. Kate was with me & Hilary at Smith - and she and I did our Junior Year Abroad in Italy together. Kate's an Artist... so she was a good guide for our tour of the ICA. But we all met up for lunch at the ICA Cafe. Very fun.

Now the company at lunch was just fantastic. But that would be boring to read about... so I'll move on to the incredible exhibit at the ICA. The featured show was of Tara Donovan. She builds organic shapes with everyday objects. One of the most sucessful is the straw wall. She piles up straws and then sculpts out forms. Magical. If you are in Boston, I highly reccomend a trip.

After the ICA, Kate, Hilary and I went down to Harvard Square. We were chasing a display of jewelery that my housemate's friend had on display. But we didn't know where the display was, only that it was in Cambridge. Well, we didn't land near it and were swamped by the crush of visitors to that area for the Head of the Charles. So, we did what most people would do - ducked into a pub for a drink and nibble.

Saturday night, Hilary tolerated my domestic leanings and we made a yummy lamb stew with lemon & olives. That stew was yummy and much different from the lamb stew I made for Marc, Roy, Rob & Ron last night. There is the oddest streak of lamb stew craving in me.

Sunday Hilary, Frances (Hilary's housemate) and I went out to the harvest festival at Rockport. So cute, so quaint and so damn cold. We wandered around town. I got a mug with polar bears for Hilary and she got the matching bib for Giada. Francis was the responsible one, not indulging in retail therapy. The description of the festival described music and fun, yet with the blowing wind and chill, there wasn't much outdoor merriment.

Monday I departed the 35 degree weather in Boston for 85 degree heat in Austin. Meeting baby Giada was just wonderful. She is so cute and she just loved my cell phone. I only got worried on the 2nd day when I realized she had inadvertantly unlocked the phone and placed a call to Marc at 5 am. Thankfully it didn't wake him up, but she did get some phone restriction.

Tuesday we ventured off to Lake Travis. Adam & Rose have joined this club at a dock where they can rent a boat for cheap rather than owning it. Very nice service. We got a pontoon boat and an innertube and were off. Rose made some amazing tuna salad sandwiches and yummy fruit salad that we chowed down on prior to going tubing. I was first and about choked on water laughing so hard while getting dragged about. Next up Adam wanted to go with baby Giada. He decided to do the standard inner tube, but got in, got the baby and promptly flipped. Thankfully there was no harm aside from some tears from Giada.

On another note, this trip to Austin was one of the best. Both mornings I took a walk around Town Lake... got in some exercise and enjoyed the scenery. Adam and Rose live in the cutest neighborhood. Adam talks about how it is in transition. Most of the cottages were built in the early 1900's. It sounds like they were starting to fall down until 10-20 years ago when they were getting purchased as low cost houses. People started to fix them up, remodel and in some cases, totally redo. It feels like a Burningman settlement. While there is a theme to the structures, the variations feel like an artist working on a concept - a bit like Monet and his haystacks. I look forward to returning.

Back to San Francisco on Wednesday and then out to Oakley to be with Marc and meet his friends visiting England. Lucky me, I got included in the annual bowling trip. I am a little embarassed that I won the tournament - I think they were just being gentlemen... or maybe it was my game's improvement with each drink. Eather way, they were gracious with my victory.

Friday my cold took me out - I was on the couch most of the day, marveling at how being sick drops my IQ significantly. While I did check emails for work, I did my best to not respond, as only 1 piston was firing. Today, I'm still in the famous pink pj's, my head feels like it will soon explode while my nose is exploding. I hope I recover soon. I'm lazy and not going to proof read this entry, please excuse all flubs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Words of Wisdom

So I've been irked by a certain cousin's status posting on Facebook. The glass is always half empty. Not enough money. Working out is hard. I feel bad for her. I've been in that mentality. Where the world is big and scary and simply too much.

The last few years I've made a departure from that mind frame. I wish I could share with her words of wisdom. Something to help her move from where she is to where she wakes up happy for the day. And then I ask, how? How can I share the wisdom with out her asking? Firstly, she needs to want & believe there is a better way. Then, what would I say?

The glass is always filled half way. There will always be people richer and poorer, happier, sadder. We don't get what we want in life - no one does. I likened it to being in a restaurant. Each person orders what they want. I might pick a fillet mignon with a mushroom sauce, truffled potatoes and brussel sprouts sauteed in garlic butter. However from the kitchen comes mussels in a lemon, white wine broth. It is yummy and briny and something I might not have choosen for my selft.

It is up to me how to resopnd. I can try the mussels - they might suit me just fine and could turn out to be more to my liking than that fillet I thought I wanted. I might talk to the waiter and see what I can do about getting a fillet - work to get what I want; fighting against what was given in an attempt to get my own vision. Or I might pick at the mussels and annoy my dinner guests with complaints at how I didn't get what I wanted.

We all get served something else in life - we get to choose our reaction to it. The fun of life is that we get mussels. The fun is that we're at the table. We're eating. We've got company. That there is a meal at all I hope she can someday appreciate the meal instead of focusing on the problems with the service.

Framing the problem in a larger context is critical. If you isolate the physical discomfort of a work out, yes, they are tough and can be painful. However, when moving the frame back to include what they do for the mental & physical health they are much more enjoyable. I had the worst long walk to date 2 weeks ago. I was out in Oakley and there weren't sidewalks. I was walking on the dusty shoulder of the road with large trucks whizzing past. It was hot, and I couldn't find any drinking fountains. Until the last 3 miles, I disliked the scenery and couldn't distract myself by enjoying lovely vistas. It was the slowest and most unpleasant walk I had taken to date. Yet, I didn't stop. I didn't cut back short. I set out to do 12 miles and I was going to do 12 miles. I wanted to burn those calories. I wanted to fulfill the promise to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could over come difficulty. It sucked. I'm glad I did it.

Another part is not being a victim. Take control of what you can control. You can always do something. It might not be what you want or the ideal, but you can take action. If you don't like your body - it is up to go you to change it. Change the mixture of food intake. Change the exercise routine. It may be tough & unpleasant and so is disdain for one's appearance.

But I'm preaching to the choir. I don't think she'll ask. I hope she does. I'll keep working my message, honing it and making it more uplifting. I want to be ready if she ever does. Cousin don't preach.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brushes with Greatness

As I settle into my seat on my jetblue flight to Boston, via JFK, I see a familiar face heading down the aisle. I know him... but not sure where/how. So familiar... and then the guy in the row behind me nails it, “That’s Matt Gonzales!” And it is. I’m flying – literally, as I write this, but there will be lag time between writing and posting – with the Green Party Vice Presidential candidate. So odd.

I turn back to my 2.5 month stack of New Yorkers and try to make headway. I finish the August 25th issue – not much in there and move on to the Oct 6 – too much in there! And then find that after I read an article on the painter Elizabeth Peyton I’m not ready to move on to the one about Normal Mailer – someone I feel like I should know more than I do. But maybe I’ll skip it and move on to the Stolen Forests piece on tree theft in China.

And then I feel the connection with green and china and realize what I really want to do is revise my life plan. I’m not sure if I’ve written about that before. It is one of the best things to come out of my attempt at being a mortgage broker, the Duncan Life Plan. I want to share it with a friend and realized it really needed some tune-up. 2008 didn’t go quite as planned in some regards and in others, I believe having my goals articulated helped me grow and keep focused.

In fact, my clarification on family and friends helped motivate me to take the trip that I am currently on. Seeing my cousins, Aunt & Uncle, friends, Hilary & Adam is a priority to me and I am happy to live my priorities. While I’m still adjusting to life without Greg, I’m conscious of what a blessing it was to be with him for 2 years. How I was able to grow and come away with a strong picture of my values.

So, I’m reflecting on my priorities, flying across county and playing with my camera. You know, I don’t think I’m ½ a photogenic as I was at a younger age. Photos to come... I’m imitating Adam with a shot of the world from the airplane window and my work. And I chickend out - I'm not willing to post the picture of me, sorry... just not good enough.

I’ll get better – that’s why I have a life plan. Each day, each hour, I make better choices. And with it comes a deep seated happiness. Matt Gonzales lives his values, as far as I can tell. He’s putting himself out there, raising issues and working for his community. I’m not there, yet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On my way to work

Driving in today, I saw the most beautiful sunrise. I came down the hill on 101, passing the dump and there was a orange-pink sky. Little smatterings of clouds were catching the sun's rays. The hills in the East Bay were still in shadow, creating a dramatic silhouette against the rosy dawn. It was still dark enough for the lights to sparkle and the bay water was serene. As if Nature was aware of its beauty, it sent a few birds up to complete the scene.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tsui Love

I got my first real doggie scare yesterday. I took Tsunami for her monthly grooming visit. She doesn't much care for grooming. Despite that, I insist that a professional clean her ears, file down her nails and giver her a monthly clean-up & wash.

However, things took a bad turn yesterday. Tsunami escaped. She wriggled free of the groomers arms just as a visitor was coming into the store. The open door allowed my wee-one to flee down the Embarcadero. She knows the 'hood, as we walk there all the time. The groomer chased her, but I think all that walking I've done with Tsui has only served to make her quick & elusive.

A nice guy with a bike had her briefly, but she wiggled free again and went on a homeward direction up the embarcadero. Up near the Waterbar two woderful women were able to corner her and take her home. I have no idea how/who they called the groomer... I think the guy on the bike realized what was happening and suggested who to call. But the called the groomer who went over with a photo and saw that my sweet Tsunami was there & safe.

Greg drove me over to get her and I brought her home safe and sound. Wow, dog ownership is exhausting. With all that, I have millions & millions of thank yous for the strangers who stopped in the day to rescue my dog. And a big thank you to the groomer for being so pro-active about signage and getting my dog back.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Like a Jackson Pollock Painting

Life today feels like a mess so I think of art.

I watched the debate for 1 hour last night. I got so annoyed by McCain's wheezy, "My Friend" weirdness that I have to turn it off. He reminded me of the that villain from the 1940's movies who rasps, "Yes Boss" when asked to do some diabolical task. Not what I want in the leader of the free world.

I'm moving. It's only for a bit, a short term, furnished rental. Tsunami is coming with me. I'm excited. And want to thank Greg for being a total champ in all this. Cheers to you Greg!

I'm going to be travling for the majority of the next 2 weeks. If moving isn't enough chaos, I thought adding in two trips would kick it up a notch. I'm SO excited to go out to Cape Cod to see my Aunt Mary & Uncle Ed. Then over to Boston where Hilary is hosting me for a few days. I hope to get in a quick visit with Heather & Kate. Monday I'll head to Austin to meet Giada - Adam's wee one. I'm sure I'll be posting from the road - pictures & reports.

I hope to be home & settled in time to vote.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Prop 4 - Vote No

With the Presidential election less than 30 days away, many important issues get lost in the media blitz. One of these things is Proposition 4 - a constitutional amendment (since simple laws on this matter keep getting struck down) to require minors to obtain parental approval for an abortion.

We all believe in good family values. Supporting and encouraging close ties between parents and children. However, if those ties don't exist, legally imposing them at a crisis time does a huge disservice to our girls. I believe it is up to the parents to build a strong relationship with their daughters. With that in place, and she were to get pregnant, she'll go to them. They, as a family, can then figure out the best course of action.

However, this law doesn't do anything to build those family ties. Instead, it simply injects government into the family at a crisis time. This law puts the girls who don't have parental resources, our most vulnerable population, in a terrible situation. They don't have the resources at home to deal with the crisis and then they are not allow to manage it on their own. This law severly limits their health care options. They will be forced to forge signatures, carry the child - without family support/resources - or try to terminate on their own - with dangerous and possible fatal consequences.

Our girls are too important than to be used as pawns in the cultural war on womens' rights.

Please Vote No on 4.

More information:

Elite Lovers, I'm not the only one

It seems that I'm not the only voice saying that Elite is not a bad word:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debates Discussed

I very much enjoyed watching last night's debate. I wonder how many tuned in expecting Tina Fey to be up there talking to Biden.

I didn't know much about Biden and was very impressed with his answers. They addressed the questions, they were complete and I felt like he could have talked more on several subjects. He was calm and intelligent.

As for Palin, she kept repeating the same things. I really wanted Biden to say, "You know, Governor Palin, just because you keep calling McCain a Mavrick doesn't make him one." She wasn't remarkably stupid - but is that the backhanded compliment we want said about our nation's #2 leader? She blatantly disregarded the questions asked of her several times to return to the subject she had clearly felt more comfortable with - how much information can she cram study in 2 weeks? I did get the impression that she was like a high school senior who parties until Finals week and then gets stuck trying to learn everything before the big test.

On another thing, I was shocked that she could juxtapose our need to improve our infrastructure with the cut taxes slogan. How are we going to spend more money with tax cuts? I just don't get it. Fiscal responsibility - the Republican Party has lost that completely.

I hope we get a good set of montages and SNL skits in the coming days.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I forgot -

Go Watch The Debates!
Register to Vote!
Get Out And Vote!

I will send you a personal email reminder if you need help with any of the above activities.
Just send me your email.
I will not sell your email or market to you - only send you reminders for elections.


I have to say I'm totally jazzed for tonight's debate. I enjoyed the presidential debate last week - having watched it with pugs for company. They didn't give much good feedback, but I had a friend on IM who I was sharing comments with and a running commentary string on Facebook. I think Obama came off as knowledgeable and McCain seemed still and very old.

Now, I've got higher expectations from the Vice-Presidentail debates. With Sarah Palin clearly demonstrating her lack of intelligence in her recent interviews, I'm hoping to see her get knocked about a bit. I expect that she'll be up, not only against Biden, but the cultural bias against women. It is nearly impossible for a woman to appear to have leadership qualities, as it is a moving target. Whatever qualities we look for in a leader, women just lack. If she stands up for her self, she'll likely be seen as shrill. Combine that with her utter lack of qualifications and it things appear dim for Sarah.

What I find extra angering is how she and the campaign aren't taking responsibility for her gaffs, but blaming "gotcha journalism". How is being asked direct questions a gotcha? If she says she has international experience, I'd like to hear about it. Living near Russia doesn't count. She says the Supreme Courts' decisions have divided America - but can't name one? These are basic conversational questions. When someone makes a statement, they better have facts, figures and the ability to give a rational backup for what they proclaim.

To me I see it as another attack by the Republican Right to try to limit our freedoms. Bush is well known for his distain of the media. I am frightened that our top leader holds freedom of the press in contempt. One of the key bits of our Bill of Rights he doesn't like, as it hinders his ability to bamboozle the populace. Vile.

I want transparency in the government. I want intelligence. I want benevolance. Yes, I'll ask for the moon and the stars to. We can do better.