Relative Value.

It took me far too long in my life to do this, but a few years ago I did start thinking in terms of relative as opposed to absolute cost. For example:

If it costs $2 to take the bus to the train station, and $6.75 for the train (even though I am going one stop — ridiculous Caltrain) and $2 for the bus at the other end to get me to a stop a block from my home, and taking a bus the entire way would cost $7, then public transit costs anywhere from $7 to $10.75.

A Shared Lyft is $11, including tip to the driver.

Is my time worth $4 dollars? It’s certainly worth a quarter. And the $4 means I don’t have to wait outside in 90 degree heat.

The $8 at Starbucks, however, really isn’t offset by anything.

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So, I am taking this online course through about Superheroes and Their Influence on Pop Culture. I was creating my own superhero, but decided to opt instead to discuss possible influences and origins for my favorite superhero…

Dr. Strange.

It’s a little bit of an odd choice: even though he has his own movie, he’s not really an A-lister like Superman or Batman or Spiderman. (Or, thanks to the MCU, Iron Man.) Oh, I am looking at the increasing interest in Eastern philosophies and practices at the time he was created, as well as possible influence of both Hindu and especially Zen Buddhist deities and beliefs. (Yes, I know, more than any other superhero Dr. Strange is a poster child for cultural appropriation.) Toss in a bit of Merlin, and there you go.

I was puzzled a bit about why I like Dr. Strange so much. Until I watched the movie again (for the sixth time). I have always loved the movie for 1) Benedict Cumberbatch and 2) street origami, but it also resonated for me subconsciously. But now, as Dr. Strange struggles to put on his watch…

He has tremors. I have tremors.

I know what it is like to have your hands not be able to do what you so desperately want them to. My tremors are so ingrained in my psyche that his did not jump out at me, other than as the reason he left neurosurgery behind for magic. It sounds odd, but I think I just didn’t see the tremors consciously.

He can’t be a neurosurgeon; I can’t make jewelry or draw.

Maybe I love Dr. Strange because he shows that one of my disabilities does not mean that I can’t go on to do great things.

Or maybe I just have a huge crush on Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Gratitude list.

The world is as it is. Donald Trump is being Donald Trump. America slides ever closer to losing the tattered remains of our democracy. Europe is a mess. Russia is trying to wreck our elections. People are becoming entrenched in our opposing positions. White supremacy is tolerated is some corners of “polite” society.

It seems like it might be a good time to do a gratitude list. In no particular order, I am grateful for:

Horse racing. Thoroughbred horses in full stride are the most beautiful creatures in the world.

Penzey’s Spices, both the company and the products.

The Washington Post, even if it is hard to read these days.

The New York Times, ditto.

Rachel Maddow.

The Avengers (all of them, specially Spiderman and Dr. Strange, even if he is not really an Avenger).

Avengers: Endgame.

Benedict Cumberbatch.

Tom Holland’s Rihanna Umbrella routine.

Costco, which has unionized workers and lets me get three pounds of bananas for under $2.

Hot showers.

Corn chowder.

Railfan’s brownies, which are better than mine. Really.

That today’s weather seems oddly cool for September.

Lush soaps, especially Bohemian and Outback Mate.

I hate to admit it, but Facebook.


My Trivia mates.

Fred’s Place.

That I am on my friend Jane’s “dial-a-liberal” list.

That there are new Good Eats episodes.

Alton Brown.

Amazon and Lyft — yes, I know both are problematic, but being unable to drive and living in an area with terrible transit, they make a huge difference in my life.

That the Botox is helping, at least some.

And, of course, all of you.

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That Alabama hurricane.

I have seen a lot of bloviating, both on line and in the media, about the President and the altered weather map. Yes, the President lied. Yes, the President lied about something important and doubled down. So what? Just another day in America. That’s not the problem.

The problem is not about the President. It’s not even about Dorian.

It’s about the NEXT hurricane. And the one after that. The moment people start to mistrust the National Hurricane Center maps, and warnings about storms, the more likely people are to stay in place when a hurricane approaches. The more likely people are to risk their lives.

Evacuating for storms is a real pain. And on barrier islands and low lying ground — i.e., all of coastal Florida and a good bit of land in Georgia and the Carolinas, not to mention the rest of the Gulf Coast — you have to evacuate well before a storm, or you are not going to be able to leave at all. The Pinellas peninsula (where St. Petersburg, Florida sits) has, if memory serves, three roads out, one of which is unusable in high winds. For nearly a million people. A lot of folks will be able to shelter in North County, but it is still an big undertaking to get everyone safe.

When people are told a storm is on the way and it misses them or is less severe than expected (which is certainly possible — even with better forecasting methods hurricanes are fickle things) the more likely they are to stay put when they really should leave. “I rode out the last one,” they may say. (My father, who knew people who had been through Camille, said that if we were ever told to evacuate we were getting the hell out of Dodge.)

People die in hurricanes for a variety of reasons. Not all of them are swept out to sea or have a building collapse on them. In some cases, they die of pre-existing conditions such as heart disease that are exacerbated by the stress of the storm. They can lack sufficient food or clean water or electricity. (See: Puerto Rico after Maria; New Orleans after Katrina.)

By his cavalier disregard for the facts, and his putting his vanity above truth, the President has put lives at risk. So what else is new? As I said, just another day in Donald Trump’s America.

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Thirty-second movie review.

If you love Bruce Springsteen…

If you like Bruce Springsteen…

If you even tolerate Bruce Springsteen…

If you like coming of age stories…

If you are moved by compelling stories about immigrants dealing with racism…

If you find movies about father-son conflict thought-provoking…

If you enjoy well-written, well-directed, well-acted films…

You really must see Blinded By The Light.

And while I’m at it, you should see The Farewell, too. No Springsteen, though.

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A superhero for our age.

I am taking a course on “Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture.” Part of the “creative track” is to create your own superhero. I have.

Her name is Cassandra.* Like her mythical namesake, she sees the future. Unlike her namesake, she is often (although not always) believed. She can touch an object or a person and know its (or their) whole history. She has telekinesis, albeit over a short range, which comes in handy. She also has telepathy and the ability to plant suggestions in minds, but she chooses not to use those powers. She sees how easily she could slide into the darkness — the example of Kilgrave is forever before her, and unlike him, she is no psychopath. She fears what she would become.

She cannot fly, or repel bullets. She doesn’t have a suit or shield made of vibranium, and she cannot swing from building to building. She does not have a lasso of truth, or a cool looking car. She is very mortal.

But she is strong and unafraid. She weeps for the world, often, but she is at heart an optimist. She sees that, in the very long run, the moral arc of the universe does indeed bend towards justice. She views her mission in life to be helping that bending happen faster.

She is not me.

She has the superpowers I would ask for myself — especially optimism.** I am not optimistic. I am not strong, and I am oh so afraid.

I like her.

(Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s paintings of Jane Morris generally leave me a bit cold, but I like this one.)

*The Red-Headed Menace has informed that there already is a character in comics called Cassandra. Since most of my knowledge of superheroes comes from movies, I haven’t seen her. Oh, well.

**To tell the truth, I would also like to be invisible. I think it would be useful.

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Life’s a thing.

I know I have not been writing in a while. I had actually been working on a third post about the Mueller report — about how totally frightening was the Russian interference in our election, not merely on the social media side, and how they disrupted the entire fabric of American society. We’re at war, even if there are people too dense to understand that or too venal to admit it.

I am sorry that I have not finished writing about the Mueller report like I promised. I really regret it.


The “complex” migraines have been frequent and very problematic. In addition to causing dizziness and difficulty standing, they exacerbate my already scattered attention. (Many days I rely on Lyft to get me places. As much as I have trouble with their business model, they are a godsend in an area with spotty taxi service. They’ve been more reliable than the taxis I have taken here.) Furthermore, the issue is even more complicated by me having fallen down when I was in San Diego for the Red-Headed Menace’s graduation, slamming my head into a concrete wall and sustaining a concussion. Reading complicated things makes me fuzzy-headed.

And the tremors have gotten worse. I have started using a mouse, which helps, but typing is slow and difficult. I know that there are large key keyboards but I have yet to get one. I did get an extended Mac keyboard, which worked except that I kept accidentally hitting one of the function keys and making it so it didn’t work unless I went back into the System Preferences and selected it. It’s a pain.

On the personal side — as I said, the Red-Headed Menace graduated. Hurray! I am very proud of him.

The Not-So-Little Drummer Boy is visiting home from abroad. I am once again reminded how much I enjoy talking with him. I will miss him when he goes back. As far as I can tell, he is going to be settling down many time zones away. I am proud of his decision to go out into the world, but I am sad that I won’t see him very much.

I have not been on Facebook very much, in part to keep from getting more depressed than I normally do this time of year. It is summer, after all, with all that entails for me. I do go to trivia, however, because it is an important social outlet for me and because while I can’t read a complicated legal report I can remember odd little factoids.

But I am going to hopefully be working in a month or so. I am not going to go into it now, but I have submitted all the work for the background check. There is always a possibility that they decide not to hire me, but I am cautiously optimistic.

So hopefully I will get my act together, the fuzzy-headedness will get better, and I’ll be able to write more.

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