its the Starbucks in Fremont

Starbucks in the afternoon means some time to enjoy a iced coffee and surreptitiously watch other people that are perhaps watching yet other people. The Starbucks I like going to do this people watching is one I used to visit some years ago. Then I would walk in and it felt like a true Cheers moment when Herb walked in and the bar greeted him. The baristas would note the time of day and asked if I wanted my afternoon drink. The was a grande iced coffee. Sometimes some kind of goodie. Often on Fridays, I’d plan on arriving around 4pm because a group of others arrived shortly thereafter and would capture the long table and get their chessboards setup. Soon more would arrive and the chess games started. The evening sun would blaze the window and the white and black chess pieces swirled the table and men (only men) would laugh and curse and then lose or win. Losers moved to the next chessboard and play the next winner and losers would move all around. It was like a symphony of life because there were no real winners or losers. Everyone got to play and then play again. Soon it was dark and the baristas would offer some free treats and in those days visit with the customers.

Now the time has changed and the long table still lives on but its full of millennials doing school or other stuff. A lot of Mac laptops bloom here and there is a constant buzz of conversation. I hear the swish of newspapers because here people still read classic papers.

Others come in and go out and buy drinks. I don’t know any of them any longer. Time has passed and the Starbucks that was is no longer. A new place has taken over and Erica no longer laughs as she expertly makes the drinks. Everything changes and the evolution of life at the Starbucks is like some ethnological study of culture change. New rules and mores apply. New values and norms are introduced and the culture goes on. Perhaps the old timers bring in their kids on a day and show them the big soft chairs in the corner and reminisce about those long ago days. Perhaps those new aspiring members see the new crowd and will come back.

Is Starbucks a conveyor of values and mores to our culture? Perhaps. Maybe the rules still apply and the shadows of those chess players from so long ago still dance the sunsets and like some ghost dance remind those that were here that the Starbuck universe is complete. The new members have come to their places and we all can watch as the stories are told. I did not hear any of these but on a whim,

Remember son that these moments in the soft chairs are important. They separate us from the others. Grab the chair and hold on to it. Park your backpack in it an its reserved. There’s the line. No cutting. There’s enough coffee for us all.

Then perhaps the day settles and the old timer and the new timer depart. One doubts he will return because the things he remembered are rapidly disappearing. Perhaps the young timer will return. Now the long table is his and he finds that the new millennial society is a perfect fit for studying.

I can still hear the clink of the chess pieces and the call outs of “Check and Checkmate”.

No.

That was the yesteryear of my times. The values being transmitted are different and perhaps I’m not so invited and invested in knowing them. I’ve reached a age where I only take up a spot on the corner of the big table.

That and write a blog post and dwell on my rapidly diminishing days here. Will I ever see this particular Starbucks again after March? It does not matter. Starbucks is a cultural universal and I can study anthropology at any of them.

One step to another step…

I admit to cruising AccuWeather now almost on a daily basis looking at weather reports for March in Japan and Vietnam. March in Tokyo is a transition from winter to spring so it may include a variety of types of weather. Hanoi is warm and getting warmer and there are spells of rain.

The last time I visited Japan was in 2011 around October and November. I had only a few hours in Tokyo and then headed down to Kyoto for some days walking the city. After that I took the bullet train back to Tokyo and caught the Narita Express train back to the airport. Not a lot of time to spend in a city that requires an investment of time and energy. To say

I saw Tokyo

I must be willing to walk the city, have tired legs at the end of the day, sit with a cold beer purchased on the cheap from a convenience store and then look at the harvest of pictures on my memory card. But the real thing to say I saw the city is to know up front I have not seen the city. I will have only seen the city on the streets I choose to walk down. What happens a street over left or right I will never know. Whether its a sleepy neighborhood with school children laughing and running and the brave one asking me to talk English to them or the harried day workers strolling in their 45 minute lunch breaks; all cannot be seen.

I’ve acknowledged that before in my dealings with cities like Vancouver, Seattle, and San Diego. And I’ve found its okay. Its okay at the end of the day when I settle back to perhaps get just a bit drunk to reflect that my feet touched those city streets and I rode on the Tokyo Met Subway.

There are places I will go and there are places I will miss and then I’ll fly on to Vietnam. I’ll stay longer because I want to live there and feel the pulse of a city that has a soul and spirit. I will taste the Pho and walk and see. Its all there for the person that’s willing to miss most of it. Take note of the fact that you have the best method to see things at a pace and speed you can deal with. Forty-five MPH on a tour bus may let you see more as you careen the streets. But ask yourself. What was it you saw on that ride? Do you remember the people? Or just the routes you took to see it all.

There’s a story in me about walking and seeing I fear. A navigation of the paths taken and missed and the why of it. When I finish with work, I think the time will be upon to consider the longer writing I have wanted to do. What kind of writing shall it be? I have a bankroll of stories of a life spent in different endeavors and how each spun into a future that is the past now.

Stay tuned. My end of days doing IT is fast approaching. The stories boil up within and demand some attention. Soon I’ll touch those streets in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Watch the blur from the Shinkansen window as the bullet hurtles.

Saturday Starts Here — Get in Line

The Saturday blogpost comes to you courtesy of a week spent considering a few things that have come my way.

The Raiders won! I am thankful for that 31 to 30 game because I think they needed it to maintain some kind of season and to show they are a team past rebuilding and have the champ stuff in them. I am not as big a fan as once when I would go to the games, drink a few beers, watch the fights in the stadium, and marvel at how some folks dressed up. At the zenith of the fighting season, I witnessed two women go at it down rows and rows of seats from me. The game was a losing affair and so was the fight since both got arrested and taken away. They also lost me to going since the violence and their back to back losing seasons were like twin whammies. That with rising prices for beer seemed to be a destiny thing when they lose. I bet if they studied it, beer and food prices go up when the winning season goes down.

End of October around the corner. Hard to believe yet true. I am down to the dual digits of time left to work. I can see a time when I simply float away and LinkedIn has a final position called “Gone”. That position will be the position from then on and I will be able to hit the road and start finding new things with my camera and life and all the other parts that are patiently waiting.

Minimalism in Technology. I spent a bit of time studying what device is the long-term keeper for on the road, in hotels and airports, and on trains or buses. It has to be the iPad Pro device I have now with the keyboard and pencil. The MacBook Pro went to someone that will use it. I’m left with two phones and the iPad Pro. This means things like cables are simpler and what I pack dwindles down to a lightning cable and a card reader plus a battery charger for my camera. It’s important to reach a finale in tech too and find the useful tools that can be packed away.

Relationships foo bar. I’ve come to realize since the post on friendship that I am no good at building and maintaining relationships or perhaps I suffer from egotism and narcissism like I expect. I am also terribly selfish and I admit openly to all these things. So when a person from the past shows up that is someone I thought was lost, its strange yet wonderful but I know not to read much into it. I don’t have relationship or friendship stuff to offer. I’m damaged goods and I know it.

Finally, there’s the work thing. The work thing which is affected by all the other things. I love the work thing but my days numbered there. I cannot see a path to staying longer not because of some suckage factor with work but a thing with me.

There’s a Saturday laid out in buttons and bows and temperatures in the 60s here. Beautiful fall weather and I’ll go soon to see my daughter and its all good. A Saturday spent reading and marveling a bit on things that go on and do not go on.

Shall we prepare to start the next thing? Why of course. No waiting and the line starts here.

Content Rules

Since I’ve focused my writing for the blog and my journal on Ulysses, I get to see a similar interface with the MacBook Pro and my iPad. I can write pretty easily on my cheaper iPad 2017 model if I wish since I have a bluetooth keyboard for it that works pretty well.

One of the things I have wanted to start including in the blog is longer static content. We’ll call them stories or articles but they would have a separate page or pages which would allow longer explorations or treatments of things. Centralizing on Ulysses and learning its document management approach like splitting off data to a new sheet, arranging things in more of a hierarchical order, updating content across all the lines of things I write is easier when I can see things in a regular relationship.

I think pretty soon I’ll launch a new static page which will focus on story content and also allow more of an update type of thing. I rarely go back and update blog posts to allow new information. I do fix mistakes and errors but the creation of additional information which may be relevant really does not happen with blog posts at all for me.

I’m going to experiment on the blog with different techniques at developing static content on pages. First off is more of a treatise I have been working on regarding walking. I’ve answered a few Quora questions on it and I’ve felt for a long time that there are numbers of reasons people do it. Its not just getting your 30 minutes in 3 days per week. I do way more than that. I’ll publish a first chapter on that first I think.

A second thing is travel. Its not just hopping on a plane or train to me. There is a mystical and wonder element to it. The highest order I believe of travel is going with no clear destination in sight. When we travel this way, we are removed from the considerations of route, time, place. I believe hunter-gatherers traveled this way thousands of years ago and as they crossed the different places, each revealed itself in a deeper and more fundamental way. For me, travel must become that. I’m done taking the vacation where I must return after X days. This does not work for me any longer. It really ties us to this time thing where each thing covers an amount of time and when its done, its done. I think there are deeper and more mystical things in the act of travel we want out of it.

I wanted to mention this thing called Work. Work slowly becomes less for me even with victories on large projects that perhaps lock me in for more months of work. I managed to get our VP and leadership behind a project which took months to develop and finally get supported by leadership. A victory! I felt pretty good after that call yesterday. Its dawned on me that this work thing is ephemeral. It does not allow a free-wheeling exploration of the first two things above. I cannot just take off walking with no real regard nor can I travel the same way. So something must change early next year.

That’s why this blog was created from the ashes and dust of the old one. The old one lasted over a decade and across platforms. I’ve lost a month here and there of posts which either matter or do not. I created this hosted blog to address what I wanted to do and the places I would see. I wanted it to be easy maintenance but still have a reasonable name and a destination place for my travels. Its really meant to be the container of the walking and the travel insights and to signal the time when work becomes less. But blogs morph and become new things all the time. Basically with each entry we write, the blog twists and turns to a new thing. For the longest time I’ve written blogs for my self expression. I’ve felt it was akin to the 5 pound chicken 10 pound egg thing. Giving the blog a rebirth with a new article is a creation thing for me. So it will go with the stories and articles. I’ve kinda nurtured those for months developing them first on Google Docs and now on Ulysses.

Soon all three things will intertwine and become more or less or different given your perspective. Hope you enjoy the content I will launch. If not. Sorry. I’m really doing it for me and not you. I apologize up front if you find inadequacies or faults in it. All of those are also mine :-).

Yeah, but why do you blog?

There is no place like blog. In blog, the weather is always right around 70 degrees during the day and about 50 at night. Sunny days, cloud evenings, and rain arrives in discrete categories and we document, define, refine and our characters and abilities and discussions all live within the WordPress world. Here we find the time and space to carefully (sometimes) spell our thoughts out and also follow others and find their wisdom.

Here, for better or worse, is what I’ve learned after over 10 years of writing these in one place or another.

  1. We blog because we have to. Its like a 5 pound chicken trying to lay a 10 pound egg. We can do it but sometimes it takes some extra effort to create the content, share, socialize. Find the things we wish to create, maintain, re-define. Perhaps looking for value in our past or sharing present, or defining future tense. The blog is the place we do this because we have to do it. There is no voluntary submission.
  2. We create content, read other’s content, follow, comment, update. Why? Why follow other blogs? I believe it goes way back to the days when Technorati existed as a instrument of authority in blogging. If a person linked to your content or perhaps commented, you had “authority”. You could be rated as the top 100 blogs based on measurements. I blogged then too and blogging had these key terms like “blogosphere” and we had key players in that sphere. Some are still with us.
  3. We don’t create a blog to simply add one post and give up. We’re in it for the long haul. We find some kind of enjoyment in creating. Let me ask this. How many of you go back and read your previous content and how often do you do it? Do you like to see the progression (or regression), change, anger, stupidity, vanity, ego, altruism? Big sayings with small words?
  4. We do journals too I bet. A journal is different than blogging. Some would say never write in a journal a thing you don’t want another person to read. I say BS on that. A diary is just that. Its yours. If you wanna write some exceedingly personal stuff where else you gonna do it?

So, in the end, we have these tools that we use. We have blogs we share and diaries we do not. We blog because we have to and I have had to for a long time. First it was on Advogato and I wrote there in 2000 and 2001 or so. Back when I worked at a fabled open source startup and we all created content there and we valued others at different levels. Then it was Drupal, typepad, WordPress (both self hosted and .com). So many platforms. I still have an export file from my own domain but I hesitate to post it here. It crossed over to the exceedingly personal and I covered terrain that was focused on life events. Perhaps the terrain was more suited to a diary. I did one of them too and it was even more focused.

Let me just say that we create, destroy, recover, find, lose at an amazing rate.

Ask yourself why you blog. I bet the answers will surprise even you.

The roommate has a blog

I won’t publish its link or publicize it but its interesting what you can find out about a person. I’ve thought for the last almost 15 years blogging we choose to reveal an amount on a blog that perhaps we never would in email or on fora, or other online communities. For some reason, we feel able to give out information in a blog that we otherwise would never choose to divulge. I’ve not studied it but I think people do this for a few reasons. See what you think.

  1. A blog is personally impersonal. You can write on a blog and have the thoughts arranged in its peculiar order and the latest content sooner or later scrolls off the screen and the readers have to search or find it in other ways. This creates the personally impersonal level where the latest thing you write may not be the most inflammatory or personal or revealing thing and it takes the reader to go through the blog and find those things. Rest assured you can find them because lots of people have a search bar or you can search on google or on a community like wordpress.com you can choose to “follow” or “favorite” or “comment” and then you get the socialization factor in the personally impersonal level. The other person can pick and choose what they wish to see about your life. How many of you write exceedingly personal content and then feel uncomfortable or wish to pull it but you reason that its okay because it is impersonal and you are protected by scrolling or categories or other factors. Have you removed those personal entries because they are a gateway to that side of you that you don’t wish to show in other media?
  2. A blog is not a life but may be the contents of the life arranged in some kind of order much like how your days pass. It mirrors your life in some ways but in others perhaps you keep a personal diary or journal. Let me ask, do the contents ever match up and you write a thing in a blog that you think, in retrospect, should be a diary post? In other words, it violates rule 1 or it reveals too much of the content of your life or your character. In my case there is divorce and growing old (er) and realizing after my friend Free’s untimely passing we only have a set number of years. I knew this before and it was painfully obvious when I took those jobs which were survival and my ex-wife reminded me daily that it was my duty to work whether I enjoyed it or not. This is emphatically not true but in the blog I choose to not reveal a lot of that content.
  3. Many, many blogs have only one entry. Perhaps people become less than enamored with the outcome and they wish for immediate following and favorites and incoming links. Maybe the blog crosses over in rule 1 and 2 and creating more entries would cause pain or work or there is a basic lack of interest. Let me ask; what keeps you blogging? Do you do it for others in some kind of altruistic glue of life or is it something you would do no matter what and its for you alone that you dutifully write those blog posts? I think if you do it for others sooner or later those others stop being important or become too important and the blog becomes the entry. Then you stop.
  4. Finally, the blog is a gateway to your soul. The words form the bridge and the style and beliefs link you to a bigger world. In a community of bloggers more people may find that your gateway either matches theirs or its so unique and different that reading it widens their gateways. Just consider how much you reveal and would you reveal as much as a social media site like Facebook? When I get to Facebook, the main reason for creating stupidity there is just that. I don’t take it seriously so I write dumb stuff there. There is no real gateway to my innermost being since the media is not right. Give me a blog though and I will sooner or later let you see the mile markers to my personal Hell and Heaven on earth.

In the end, I write this and that. I create and then I mull it over. Should I share it with my daughter? She perhaps suspects I write such a thing. In the previous instantiation, the blog became filled with personal ruminations on divorce, travel, my kids. Perhaps it fulfilled or violated all the rules. I quit my self-maintained wordpress.org site in favor of a new start. Perhaps we all need to recreate the rules above and re-evaluate them. Maybe we will only write a single post. Perhaps it becomes too personal and we give people a viewpoint into the gateway that is way personal. Life is personal though folks. What I have gone through even if you replicate it exactly would not be the same for you.

As my mom used to say,

We create our hell on earth

And perhaps our heavens too…

Welcome to the new domain

I had purchased the personal option on wordpress.com awhile back and had wanted to test whether I would stay around or just bring up a self-hosted site. With this, I earned the one free domain thing. I think I’m ready to call this home now after deciding to not import the 10 or so years of old stuff from my blog before. This is a new start for me and it fulfills what wordpress.com sold to me. With a blog comes incredible responsibility. Well maybe a bit of that :-). This is what the blog is meant to be about:

  1. Its meant to prepare me for a change in about a year when I can stop working and hit the road and be a place to capture the preparations and planning and elimination of things which are in my place now.
  2. I don’t blog politics or other stuff like that even though I just did recently. I don’t find joy in it these days so after reading that post done in anger, I am going to delete it. I don’t like where we’re going or where we are coming from these days.
  3. Between the now and then, its about travels both figurative and real. There is the need I have to take a vacation, to plan a trip, to find a place where I can relax. I like to write on my daily meanderings. In the past I wrote about Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Kyoto, Seattle, Portland, and Eugene. Lots of places I visited in the then and there.
  4. Most of all, the blog is meant to trace and record the moments. After all; why do you write one of these things? Is there a thing you wish to communicate, an idea you wish to transform, a story to tell? I’ve outlasted a few people and I still read a few blogs outside the ones I’ve followed here. Particularly noteworthy are these folks that I think maintain a standard of blogging. Jonas Luster, Doc Searls, and Setuid all create content that I admire. I’ve worked with or near them at various places and their writings, stories, photographs still leave me wanting more. So many others have simply gone away and the blogging has become something different with the passage of time. Now there is no institutional or power glory or authority. Its about wanting to communicate and tell and see and show and share. Perhaps collaborate on occasion.

So there you have it, a new domain with no new purpose. Now I’ve redeemed the value of the blog here and created newness. I’ll go walking soon and see yet another tree and leaves and a glorious evening with its sun touched skies. So many steps and a plan and a desire to find another thing that is worthy of doing and others that are not.

Its all good though. Perhaps you will find some value here and maybe not. Its okay. Sometimes I don’t either 🙂