Photos taken 17 February 2007. Click each photo to enlarge, or click here for the whole gallery.

Photos taken 19 February 2007 at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, California.

A Planetary Parallax View

Where People Have
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California Street, San Francisco


Far from Yare, Pt. Reyes, CA

That bridge again.

I take pictures every day with my Canon Powershot G6.


Saturday, October 23, 2010


I had a dream last night that left a strong emotional effect after I woke up.

In the dream, I was accompanied by another creature that was something like a cat, but also something like a reptile or alien (it was a dull grayish-green and not at all soft and furry).

At first, there was little relationship between us, except that we weren’t hostile to one another.

But then another creature entered our dream – a creature whose life was precious and beautiful to me. Something gentle. Something innocent. Something harmless and defenseless. Exactly what it was is unclear to me now. But the alien viciously attacked and consumed it. Its prey didn’t resist; it didn’t even have time to react.

I was instantly in shock and grief. In tears, I truly could not fathom the brutality of the act, and remember thinking “nothing deserves to be destroyed that way.”

The alien and I were once again alone together.

Next to me, I noticed what appeared to be some rock candy. I reached over, scooped up a handful, and popped them into my mouth. They were white and crystailine, and crunched between my teeth like salt, but were essentially flavorless. Nonetheless, I munched on them.

When the alien saw what I was doing, it cried in agony. I didn’t understand its anguish until, through its tearful sobbing, it spoke.

“Nothing deserves to be destroyed like that!” it cried.

I realized the alien thought me to be savage and barbaric, even primitive, to have committed such an act. It may even have thought me a lesser creature. But when I thought about what I had done, I didn’t think, “I know better now”, because there was nothing about my action that could make me understand the alien’s reaction. I could empathize with it, however, because my feelings toward the alien were the same. And it certainly didn't understand why I felt they way I did toward it.

And again, we were alone together – not hostile to one another, and not wanting to be – but each of us now questioning how we can coexist while knowing that there are fundamental differences between each of us that may very well be impossible for us to ever comprehend and reconcile, let alone accept.

And so I woke up with these lingering emotions, and it made me think about what’s going on in the world today. In Europe, countries are banning head scarves, burqas, and minarets. And this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “Multiculturalism is failing.”

And as you well know, America is struggling with it too. But America’s struggle with it isn’t new. We’ve been struggling with it since we invented it. We know better than anyone that multiculturalism is always hard; it’s always a struggle; it always will be; but you make it work because it is so very, very important. And while it's never pretty, it's such a beautiful mess. The rest of the world needs to learn these truths, and Americans may be the only people with the experience to teach these lessons.

And we must rise to that challenge, because multiculturalism is fundamental to the United States of America. If the spirit of multiculturalism dies, the spirit of America dies with it. And who wants “death to America?”

Friday, May 21, 2010

My heartbreak

Sherman isn't with me any more. He had a host of problems and complications from the problems, including a heart murmur, feline asthma, and chronic kidney disease. He got pneumonia about 4 months ago and his kidneys tanked. We hospitalized him for 3 days, which bought him some time - he was otherwise a goner. The 4 months since had been full of me giving him medicines and other treatments, sub-cutaneous fluids daily, a hormone injection weekly, and multiple pills and supplements twice a day. But I'm so glad I got those additional 4 months.

2 weeks ago or so, Sherman's blood pressure went through the roof and caused him to go blind. Unfortunately, I don't think we recognized his blindness right away - he was already not very active, and knew the apartment well enough to keep getting around. But Thursday night it was unmistakable. His eyes were so big and it was obvious he wasn't seeing a thing. You could really see the bewildered and concerned look in his face - like he just didn't understand what was happening to him. We took him to the ER the next day. His retinas had ruptured and he would never get his vision back. We started managing his blood pressure as well, and got it back to normal. And even though he couldn't see, he kept going, moved about the apartment, bumped into walls and had to hunt around for the familiar places now and then, but didn't let it stop him. Unfortunately though, this was the beginning of the end.

So last week I juggled working from home half days to make sure Sherman ate and drank, which he didn't much want to do. He would only drink or eat when I was holding him, holding food or water for him, then coaxing him for 2 or 3 minutes (and being very patient). By Thursday, that wasn't always working either and he had grown so weak he could no longer hop up to the spot he had made for himself on the love seat (even with the "step" I had made for him to make it easier). Then, when I was putting him down to do some work, I put him in front of his litter box in case he needed to use it before going to lay down. He went inside and I waited... he was in there a long time so I lifted the lid to see if he was having trouble, and he was just laying in it, too tired to come out I guess. My heart broke for about the 100th time that week when I saw him there.

Friday morning, things were even more grim. I came home at lunchtime to check on him, hoping against hope for a sign of improvement, but there wasn't any. So I called a doctor who makes house calls and who had been referred to us to discuss end of life options. I was planning to make the appointment for Saturday (or if he was unavailable, Tuesday, since he doesn't have hours on Sunday or Mondays). While speaking with him, he offered to come over that afternoon as well. That's the option Jay wanted, thinking it would be easier to get it over with. So I went from having a remaining day to spend with Sherman to having about 45 minutes. The vet came into our bedroom and put Sherman to sleep while I held him. Sherman was comfortable and ended peacefully. But it hit me like a wrecking ball when I laid him down, trying to be gentle, and saw him lifeless as I let go of him. It was beyond anything I imagined and I can't begin to describe the grief, which was likely compounded by the absolute helplessness I felt that I could no longer do anything whatsoever for him and the fact that I was making a purposeful decision, without his knowledge, to end his life and hoping it was the decision he would ask me to make if he could.

In the long run, I think Jay was right - Saturday was probably not as bad as it would have been. But Friday afternoon was about the most painful day I have ever experienced - at least that I remember (and of course, the memory is still fresh). And so I'm still trying to say goodbye to Sherman

Ever since he was a kitten, I sang "Baby Mine" to Sherman. This was the last time I got to sing it to him, the day before he died.

I miss you, Shermonster.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why do so many people hate the word ‘moist’?

You’ve probably met them – you might even be one of them: People who hate the word ‘moist’.

If my own personal, unscientific tabulations over the years are any indication, ‘moist’ is among the most-hated words in the English language. In fact, I just Googled the term and two of the top four results were about hating the word. So there, I am right.

But why? I don’t get it. Of the words that mean ‘kind of wet-ish’, ‘moist’ is really about the most positive description there is. By comparison, the ickier versions of ‘kind of wet-ish’ include ‘damp’ and ‘swampy’.

Think about it. I endeavor to achieve brownies and cupcakes that are moist. But I would shy away from any baked goods that were damp. When I put my hands down someone’s pants, I am generally pleased to discover the underwear is moist. Damp underwear, on the other hand, I am not as OK with. Moist panties, good. Swampy panties, bad.

So moist is a good thing! Let’s overcome our distaste for moist. In fact, let’s declare May ‘Moist Appreciation Month’. I challenge you to find ways to love and embrace moist in your life.

Do you hate the word moist? Can you get over it – at least for the month of May? What other words to you hate?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Liberal vs. Conservative

(Note: I actually wrote this 4 years ago, shortly after George W. Bush began his 2nd term as President of the United States. Now that Obama is in his 2nd week as President, I thought it fitting to repost this)

"CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal who wishes to replace them with others." - Ambrose Bierce, (1842-1914) American satirist

I've heard people (both in private conversation and in public forums, such as the newspaper and television) make a distinction between "Conservative" and "True Conservative" (or "True Conservatism"). I asked several comrades, cohorts, and colleagues some questions regarding the term "True Conservative." I got a different answer from every single person.

But now that the election is over and I witness what appears to be deepening division between Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, Blue States and Red States, I feel myself torn along with the nation.

I always thought I was probably more politically conservative (by the definition I thought I knew of conservatism), contrary to what my family thought. Now, I'm wondering if I am more liberal than I once thought - or if the definition of the word is changing (or being changed). And I feel torn by the divisiveness.

Yet, when I have talked to people on one side or the other, I haven't felt a great divide. Instead, we've connected as human beings. And I am beginning to think that maybe our main division is that we're listening to different people yelling at us. There are certainly fanatics on both sides, and these extremes differ greatly, but for most of us I think our beliefs and values are not nearly so divergent. Am I wrong?

"There is danger in reckless change; but greater danger in blind conservatism." - Henry George (1839-1897), Economist, tax reformist, journalist, author

Growing up, I didn't think of the beliefs and values I learned as either conservative or liberal, really. When I thought of conservative, I thought of caution, as in "conserve your energy" or "conservation of the environment"... and when I thought of liberal, I thought of openness and generosity, as in "liberty" and "liberal portions of food." Neither of them are ugly words.

But I come from what is considered a conservative state, and I felt that I shared in conservative values.

Much of Nebraska still resembles the open frontier, moreso possibly than any other state in the lower forty-eight. Hardly anyone lives there (here in San Francisco, I have more neighbors within seven miles of me than reside in all of Nebraska), and the people who settled there were fiercely independent. At one time, they were the political radicals in this country: the Populist Movement, the Farmers Revolt, The Grange. The defeat of Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan (a Populist from Nebraska) marked the end of one of the most challenging protest movements in U.S. history. It is part of our heritage, and in our blood, that individual freedom is our most precious right as an American.

And so, I thought it conservative to believe in individual rights, civil rights, and human rights. I still do.

I had family who were farmers and family in the ranching business. I grew up with an enormous respect for the land and for nature. In Nebraska, you can't plan your day without first checking to see what nature has planned for you. And our ranches are in an area known as the Sandhills, an ocean of grass nearly the size of Maine made up of sand dunes hundreds of feet high. If you don't take meticulous care of the grass-covered hills, you'd soon be dealing with 600-ft tall open sand dunes - dunes that blow, and drift, and literally move. If that happens, we're all royally screwed.

So I always thought it was conservative to care about the environment. And I still do.

My sister was born with Spina Bifida. She survived against astronomical odds and is now in her 30s. To this day, it seems like she has an average of one or two surgeries a year. My memory of her first five years are almost entirely memories of hospital rooms. I think my experience growing up with her has shaped my opinion of healthcare.

It may not be the government's job, or responsibility, to provide healthcare for its citizens. But I believe it is an ideal we can strive for. When President Kennedy announced in 1961 that he wanted to put a man on the moon in ten years, it was an idea that seemed so impossible it bordered on lunatic (ooh I love puns!) We did it in eight.

I don't see why we as a society can't put the same determination into healthcare - the idea isn't nearly as crazy. And it may not have been possible in 1776, or even 100 years ago - but we have advanced as a society, culturally and technologically. We are much more sophisticated and compassionate now than we were two-hundred years ago - at least I'd like to think so. As we advance as a society, don't we also want to better ourselves as a people? And when we can achieve better things, for all of us, shouldn't we? Isn't it sometimes good to redefine our society's role, to keep up with our achievements?

And what's not conservative about caring for people who are sick and need help?

So those are my conservative values. Am I a conservative liberal, or a liberal conservative? Is it an oxymoron, or can we get along after all?

"I'm a liberal when it comes to human rights, the poor; so's George Bush. . . . But Liberal and Conservative don't mean much to me anymore. Does that mean we care about people and are interested and want to help? And if that makes you a Liberal, so be it." - Barbara Bush (1925- )

And so what is our big difference? What makes some people red and others blue?

There's a web site circulating where people have posted their pictures, with messages of apology to the world for the outcome of the election. The bulletin board where I first found this site has lots of posts making fun of it.

And yet, I actually got a tear in my eye reading what the kids (mostly kids, it seemed - people who had probably only been voting a few years) were expressing.

(I can hear Hank Williams croonin' already: "You're Bleedin' Heart!!!!") but I digress...

There was an honest sense of failure - personal failure, disenchantment, and powerlessness. I think people were feeling a sense of responsibility to the rest of the world, but that they had dropped the ball.

Of course, I can only truly speak for myself. But that was my biggest motivator, when deciding how to cast my vote. My domestic issues can and will be dealt with, if not now, in a few years. Even though I believe Bush is a tax and spend Republican - none of my reasons, really, for opposing him are "life or death" to us, and therefore nothing to move to Canada over, except, maybe, the path he is taking our nation down as a world leader, as the last remaining Superpower.

Liberals aren't alone in thinking our president is failing when it comes to foreign affairs. Even among Bush supporters, there are a lot of people who believe that our foreign policy is embarrassing, if not shameful. But to me, personally, this is the big issue. And, again, personally, I do believe he has led us horribly astray.

And no matter how we differ, as Americans, on this point - there is a growing distaste (to put it mildly - hatred, to put it more accurately perhaps) for Americans and America, in the rest of the world. I think that was the despair behind these apologies.

Every human on this planet who is born an American is a lottery winner. I don't think, for us, it is even possible to imagine our privilege (don't take this as braggadocio; it is a humble acknowledgement of a very real truth). Most of us can go about our daily lives without giving a thought to a single foreign nation, not even a fleeting thought to a single thing that is happening outside our safe bubble full of comfortable houses, spacious shopping malls, restaurants, clubs, and theaters. That's fortune.

It's not true of a single person who lives in any country besides ours, because the United States, for better or for worse, is a major player in the lives of every single person on the planet, every single day. Luckily for us, that's US!

But that makes me feel responsible, when I vote for the person to lead this nation, to vote for a person who will lead the WORLD wisely, carefully, and morally. I feel responsible to choose a person who values the environment, and values human life, not just the lives of Americans. I feel responsible to choose a person I think is honorable, and worthy of respect - a person who cares about our planet, and wants the world to be a good place for everyone, not just America.

America has assumed a role among the nations of Earth - kind of like, we're the president. And that gives us Americans a lot of privilege, and also the responsibility to do right by the world. I'm happy to take on that responsibility - the privilege is more than worth it.

And that's why I was moved, when i looked through the apologies on that web site. Because I shared in the sense of failure to that responsibility. And I saw also the smatterings of forgiveness from other nations - also from very young people. And I thought that there was hope and optimism there. And connection.

But again, many conservatives agree that our foreign policy is failing. Many Republicans have acknowledged that we've made a mess in Iraq. Even people who continue to maintain that invading Iraq was the right decision will admit that something needs to change. (And to be fair, a lot of liberals (like me) didn't like Kerry that much. A lot of Democrats still question what he really stood for.) I think that most of us have some common ground here.

It seems to me, once again, that the divisiveness among most of us lies more in our perception of the "other" than anything else. And perpetuating that perception is who we are listening to. It's the Limbaughs, Novaks, Carlsons, Hannitys, Begalas, Carvilles, et. al. driving a wedge between us. Perhaps I'm just a hopeless optimist, but I think we'd all come together, at least in some ways, if we stopped listening to them, and started listening to each other.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Slow Death of a Hospital

Click to enlarge.

The Public Health Service Hospital
San Francisco, CA

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Built in 1931.

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Abandoned in 1981.

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Today, Monday, July 21, 2008, work begins on its "rehabilitation."

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Good news for this old building. But also a bit sad, because there is twenty-year's of graffiti art covering the walls of every room inside that will be lost.

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I had to be happy with just photographing the outside of the building one last time before construction begins.

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Click the image below to see more of my photos of the Public Health Service Hospital.

Unfortunately, security wouldn't allow me to go inside. Luckily, someone else already did...

Another photographer was fortunate enough to get inside the hospital a few years ago. Take a look.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Of Light and Height

Images from Ocean Beach and Twin Peaks, San Francisco, California, 12 July 2008

Tabblo: Surfing - Ocean Beach

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Walk Around My Block


I didn't cross any streets with traffic signals.


See what I saw...>

Tabblo: Around My Block

  • I'm Matty G
  • I grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska. Now I live smack in the middle of San Francisco.

    Parallaxis is the view from here (& there).

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