This is it

Most of you know I”ve been looking very hard for a new job. The search has not been successful, in that i don’t have a new position yet. But it has been very rewarding in many ways I didn’t expect.

I was listening to an interview with the animator for a bunch of grown-up comedy cartoons. He talked about how he had not done so well in school, but at one point, he met a guy.  A guy who talked to him and hooked him up to become a professional animator.

And when he met the guy, he never looked back. The interviewer was asking if he had any doubts about the value of animation.  But this guy, Loren Bouchard, said he knew that this was his chance. He knew that animation was his chance and this was what he better get really good at it and stay good at whatever it was.

That is exactly how I felt about my career in videoconferencing. When I got the internship, I knew that this was my chance. I had nothing nothing nothing going on. The best I could have expected was a long slog through state college at the most ordinary and unmarketable major–ENGLISH–and get in line with all the other ordinary-at-best people who graduated, but I’d have student loans.

But I got this chance. And I took it. I did not attend the state university I had been accepted to. I took a scary risk and went to find a job. And once I found it I dove into it, because this was my chance.

I was so hungry and desperate then. I didn’t have anything going on.  And this showed up. I had to grab on and never let it go.

And, to be fair, it took me pretty far.  I should remember. It was my big break, as tired of it as I am now.

Sometimes that sort of thing happens. It takes awareness, I think. To know that

good day

so today was pretty great. I was worn out most of the weekend (staying out late does have consequences)

But I ate very healthy, and had a productive (TOTALLY NOT THE NORM) workday.

It was a good day.

I shall not give up on my ambition. But maybe i can take a half day on the ambition.

the story of monkey and the coconut

preachers told this story, it was like a joke i’d heard so many times. I don’t know where the all got it from, or whether it is true.

THe story is that the way to trap a monkey is to drill a hole in a coconut just the size of a monkey hand, and then put a rock in the coconut.

THe monkey will put its little hand in the coconut, grab the rock and then pull their hand out. THing is thought, when they are holding that rock their fist is too large to get out of the hole.

they will not let go of their wonderful surprise and the hunters will catch them

What is the risk and what is the reward?


Veronica is at the stage where she is beginning to understand the difference between boys and girls. She understands pretty well, to be clear.

I was asking her about it. “Is Veronica a boy?”

“NO! silly mommy”

“Is Veronica a girl?”


“Is daddy a boy?”

“No, he’ s bigger.”

Astute. “Is mommy a girl?”


“No? What is mommy?”

“Mommy is a princess”

Mutual princess recognition.

what are we good at?

You know, I am not sure if Romney knows how to make jobs. I AM sure that Obama does not. But the president is only one guy.
As a nation, we should do what we can do better than other people. Maybe we can do it because we have certain physical resources other people/nations don’t have. But it’s a global level playing field. What we’ve figured out how to do, most other nations have figured out too.
Listening to Ulysses (50%) the troglodyte citizen goes on a tear about how awesome Ireland is, and says what products they have. Wool, China, etc.
What have we got? Computers? well, we would if she didn’t give it all away for the cheap manufacturers in Asia. I’m not entirely sure about whether/how we should protect our intellectual property, our bright ideas.
I’ve been to Denmark, and they are full to the hairline of how awesome they are for art and design. and their stuff is PRICEY. But they will tell you forever in their TV and museums about how great their art’s all modern and weird…scandinavian. But they do not undercut it’s value with walmart-type sales. Seeing their attitude, I suddenly better understood why they as a nation stood in spport of that one cartoonist who drew Mohammed and got in trouble. They take their right to art and creative design VERY SERIOUSLY.
Sweden, which is right next to Denmark (and also a hugely booming economy, more so than the danes) is very well known for Ikea. Ikea is not expensive, but it is very very designed. They mass produce and cheapify their designs…but they are also a super-economy…
What do we do aweseomely in america? We apparently make awesome movies and music…and we made the internet. For starters.
But we are talking about MANUFACTURING? oh lord. We lost that olympic race a while back. So if we want to employ more than 400 [FOUR HUNDRED?!?!] jobs  in Beaver Tail Boondocks…Which we do…
Stop waiting for someone to grant a permit, people. THe good old days are old. Do something else. And don’t wait for someone to think of it.

I, Brow

This is election season – don’t forget to vote! – there seems to be a lot of talk about the middle class. The middle class is getting crushed.

Made me think a bit about the middle class. I started talking with the internet about it, and up pops this term:


Since I am an aspiring artist, this is my area. Middlebrow is a sometimes derogatory term for culture. It lives somewhere between lowbrow and highbrow. It’s very middleclass. Which might be a way of further defining this interesting term.

Middlebrow culture would be restaurants with waitstaff–known as a sit-down restaurant. And certain TV shows. NPR would be middlebrow.

Perhaps NPR would be upper-middlebrow. Enjoyed by the middlebrow middleclass who might be wanting to better themselves.

Wanting to better oneself is the upward mobility of the brow. There has been a lot of interest in the Book of the Month club that was started in 1926, to feed this culturally aspiring need. People wanted to read a good book, one that made them a little smarter and a little better. And they wanted it to be good, so they went to a trusted source.

There are cultural events that gain this status: Movies, music, books and even live theater. Awards are part of this, the grammies and the nobel prize spotlight certain things of interest. We want the good stuff, and we want to be sure. Certain categories are intrisically higher brow than others: live theater trumps movies and the symphony is better than a CD.

I myself am engaging in a highly middlebrow endeavor right now. I am trying to finish James Joyce’s Ulysses, a darling of the literary laurel-givers for almost a hundred years. It’s a beast of a book. I’ve been wanting to read it for forever, and I cant exactly say I am enjoying it. But I will be better, somehow, for doing it.

I have help. I have a recorded lecture from the teaching company which is a fascinating professor explaining all the delights I have just read and am about to read. I love his voice, and his excitement. He is so sure of what he says; he is the expert. But I want to hear it!

It is as if he is saying, “Come! Join me at the table in this delicious and satisfying feast of knowledge.”

And with that thought freshly formulated, there was a click. Now I understand what has been bothering me about the middlebrow. Let me tell you a story to explain what I mean.

Smack in the middle of middle is this relatively recent establishment known as Starbucks. There are not too many americans who have not frequented a starbucks. And it’s not for their great value prices. It has comfortable chairs and cool hip music. Intesting art is on the walls. It invites conversation, contemplation and study.Starbucks is a coffee shop, and it presents itself as part of the great coffeeshop diaspora.

And many people wear that ambiance like a fuzzy blanket. I also know people who understand the mystique of the coffee shop, with a memory of artists and bohemians who would partake in nights of small dense cups of coffee and think revolutionary thoughts in conversation.

Here is the thing: Starbucks in not that kind of coffeeshop. It may be comfortable, but it is not revolutionary. You may find dense cups of coffee (how often does a true cup of black espresso get ordered, though?) but you will not find revolutionary thoughts. You will not find a painting by an unknown artist on the wall, and you will not find an open mike night at a starbucks.

And this is the essence of Starbucks middlebrow success. It is filtered.

My Ulysses professor invites me to enjoy this delicious book. He gives me a place at the table.

But he does not invite me to cook. He is not in the slightest interested in my concoction.

And that is the definition of the middlebrow. It is curated. And that is the problem.

Starbucks is fine for what it is. But it is not such a feat to please someone with a hazelnut latte. And it should not surprise anyone to hear that I am beginning to enjoy Joyce’s Ulyesses.

But where is the wellspring of the new? The distinctive, challenging and revolutionary?

If I am going to get an epiphany I am going to have to look further than the span of my brow.



we’ve moved on

Back in 1997 or 8…we had an internet to build. I had come to silicon valley in 1995 and one of the biggest thrills of my life was to see the Netscape N in real life outside their headquarters. it was as if the people who made things  had come off the tops of the faraway planet where the superheroes live. I realized that human beings worked hard and made this stuff.

THe internet was a magical castle that everyone was working on, and making up exactly the way we all wanted.

We hoped that it would take off. We all said it *had* to take off.

We were so excited when URLs appeared on billboards. This was the era of geocities and flashing color hightlights. the “under construction” icon was seen almost everywhere.

I had a half of an idea to start a business of my own. Four of us were going to offer to make websites for small businesses. It failed. for numerous reasons, but i did make a lot of cold calls askign small businesses what they might pay for such a service.

It grew. THe internet got as big as we thought it would, and maybe even better.

When I drive on the 10 free way to West LA there is graffitti on one of the overpasses.

It’s been there for more than a year. It’s a URL. a Uniform Resource Locator as a spray-painted bit of tag under an overpass.

I can hardly credit it.


what will our documentary be like?

I was watching a documentary about Carole King and James Taylor. The Troubadour and folk music came into it. THe voice over said that after the craziness of the 60s people were ready to calm down.

And I thought about the 60s, because i grew up in the after eddies of it. And I remember the 70s. I was born in them, but the people I grew up around were still living the 70s.

In the 1960s they were so proud of what they had done. They say they stopped a war, and ran a bad president out of the white house.

I didn’t follow that part of the 60s. I followed the part where the landed on the moon. I got together with my friends and worked on technology. Me and my freinds–my computer freinds, email friends–we worked and made the internet. The dot coms exploded and then imploded. But what we built went on, and it’s still changing the world.

We didn’t stop a war. But maybe we are a little tired after the nineties…I wonder what music was supposed to pick us up?

I feel like I built something.

I think the 60s activists feel like they built something too. Or maybe they feel like they stopped something from being built.

What’s our legacy? What’s our anthology?


she wants to take care of me

Veronica had been coughing in my face for the last few weeks. It was inevitable that I would catch her cough.

So I was lying in bed wishing I could have a longer nap, but when Veronica is done sleeping everyone is done sleeping.

“Mommy! Time to get up!” and she is pushing on my leg. “Come on mommy!”

I do not want this. I want to rest. I tell her “Mommy needs to rest”

“NO,’s time to get up!”

I have to try something new. Lately, she’s been giving medical attention to her stuffed animals. It seemed to involve injecting them with an airpump. I thought I could use this:

“Mommy is sick. I need to rest.” then I made my voice sound all hoarse and pathetic.  “I need medicine”

“You need medicine?” Her little got serious. “Okay, I get you medicine.”

“Yes, you go get me medicine.” Aand she left.

ahhhhhh…… and my pillow. Together at last.

I heard the toilet seat go down. Maybe she had to go pee pee.

More time passed. Then Chris came in to stand in the door with one hand on his hip.

“Didn’t you notice that it was quiet for too long?”

I was hoping it would stay quiet for longer.

“She was climbing up on top of the toilet reaching for the medicine chest. You told her to get you medicine.”

wow. She was going to go get me real medicine. She was going to take care of me.

Of course, I wanted to leap up and protect her from dangerously standing on the toilet to reach the very dangerous medicine cabinet.

But I am so touched that she was going to do whatever it took to take care of me.



I am reading and studying James Joyce’s Ulysses. One of his avatars, the aspiring writer Stephen Dedalus, is struggling with the contemporary literary impulses.

There is the lure of a job making money writing for a newspaper. And at the same time, for those who scorned the popular or overly-realistic requirements of journalism, there were the celebrated Irish national writers.

Joyce went East when all the signs were pointing West. He was realistic when he wrote, so much so that he was banned for vulgarity or pornography.

But he didn’t do what was -done-. He went a whole other way.

Was he the authentic Irish author? Perhaps. Because he wrote what has happening that day. That now-famous Bloom’s day.

His literary character wandered the streets of London, knowing he wanted something other. But he saw what was there too.

THere was a streetcar. THere was a dead dog.

If Joyce were writing now, i bet he would take blogs into consideration. All those many blogs that are making money.

What is the authentic voice of now?

I wonder if sometime I will have time to write what is happening right now. The billboards and the plastic grocery bags while the wildflower weeds grow underneath and the cactuses that are grimed under the prickles. And the sweetness of the texts that matter, or the comfort of a cup of tea.

WHat are our dreams and the engineering of our lives now? I look at my alarm clock today, this morning, and it is buzzing. It’s not supposed to buzz…THat probably means it’s broken or is going to break. It’s an old alarm clock, with red glowing numbers, a radio and a snooze.

Should i have an authentic alarm clock? Maybe one that doesn’t have a snooze and must be wound. When did snooze enter our lives? What kind of false life does this snooze bring to my morning?

well. For that matter, should I buy a rooster? What does authenticity mean? And how far back do we go? I do not live naked in a hut. There are external things that make demands on my life.

So I should get the most high-tech specialized alarm clock to live in my modern life, one that uses all the resources of technology to wake me and launch me on my day.

or maybe I should buy the cheapest one because it doesn’t matter.

but if it doesn’t matter, then maybe i should forgo society altogether and go back to the mud hut.

What on earth does authentic mean, anyway?