Yet another Earthquake

This morning, right after I got up. As all my California readers are certainly aware, sometimes very large earthquakes have foreshocks. These are a bunch of minor (or major) earthquakes that precede something really big. Not all really big earthquakes have foreshocks, but almost all have aftershocks, some of which are nearly as big as the major quake itself.

FEMA, the now-defunct US Emergency Management agency, made a list several years ago of the top three disasters likely to befall the US. The list included a terrorist attack in New York, a major hurricane hitting New Orleans and a large earthquake in the San Francisco region. Wouldn’t it be great if Bush went 3 for 3? I’m sure Bay Area residents can expect all the same support, help, aid and relief that was offered to people struck by Katrina and all the transparency and honesty of the response to the Twin Towers disaster.
I don’t live in a rich neighborhood. I’m screwed. Oh, and why is FEMA now defunct? Because it’s part of homeland security. The Bush Administration doesn’t care about disasters unless it means they get to start a war afterwards.
Ok so what’s the deal with earthquakes? Ok, you know how continents slowly drift around over really long periods of time? They do it in little leaps and bounds. If you are on the border of the movement, you get shaken up when the movement happens. That’s an earthquake. The surface of the earth is covered with really big puzzle pieces called “plates”. The places where the plates touch each other are where earthquakes tend to happen. There are cracks and stuff along those borders. Those are called faults. They’re what shakes. The whole Pacific Rim is covered with faults and therefore with earthquakes and volcanos. This is sometimes called the Ring of Fire.
The San Francisco aera is covered with tons of fault lines. Some are big and some are little. The big quake in 1989 was centered over 100 km south of Berkeley and was on the Loma Prieta fault. The big fault that goes very close to me is called the Hayward fault. It has not had a really big quake in a long time and thus is due for one. Sometimes in the next century. There’s a reason the phrase “geological time” exists. Sometimes a bunch of little earthquakes is just a bunch of little earthquakes, but there’s no certainty.
Everywhere in the world has risks. Low-lying areas flood. Some places have scary storms. Here, the ground shakes. But, my gods, the scenery is beautiful.
Links: USGS: Earthquakes, Disaster Preparedness



3.7 on the Richter scale, very near my house. There was another one of the same size in the same place just a couple of days ago. Foreshocks? I wanted to come home for the holidays, but not for the Big One.
In possibly related news, today is/was international orgasm for peace day. Maybe a bunch of last minute procrastinators actually made the earth move.
I really hate earthquakes. I was in the big one in 1989. That made elevated highways near my house now collapse despite being well over 100 km south of here. The Hayward fault is much closer and due to go. I hope it waits until I’m out of here.

Looking Forward/Looking Backwards

Party Report

At the party were: Esperanto Ed & Sandy (who left before midnight), Sarah Dotie + cousin Kareem and Brother Bob (who had to leave before too late so Sarah could go relocate mating Salamnders to a new pool as part of an abatement program or something), and Polly and Paul. And Ellen and I, of course. It was a small group. I made a mountain of gaucamole. I told Ellen that Californians eat tons of gaucamole and that you couldn’t make too much of it for a party. So last night, I ate a bunch of leftover gauc. Anyway, we chatted and ate food and totally missed the countdown. I looked at my watch at 12:02 and ordered Sarah to call popcorn to see it was after midnight. It was. So we toasted the New Year a bit late. One of my resolutions was better time management, alas. I started the New Year late, but at least it was under five minutes late.

We had several six packs of beer for the party. Of which four beers were consumed. Two by Ellen and two by me. Then I switched and had a glass of Compari + OJ, thus making me the heavist drinker at the party. It makes me nervous when I notice that I’m drinking more than everyone else, but fully half of the people there were non-drinkers and some folks who might normally drink were obstaining so they could go do things like interrupt salamander mating.
I thought it was oodles of fun. So did Ellen. She was impressed by the complete nerdiness of my social circle. Yes, I am a nerd. Most of my friends are nerds. I think she was worried that a bunch of really hip people were going to come over. Maybe I seem hip? That would be exciting. Do nerds suspect me of hipness?
I was very releived when Polly started talking about the decline of Santa Cruz. I had been concerned that it had always been uncool and for some reason I hadn’t noticed before. But no, Polly verifies that Herland did used to be an extremely hip hangout and the Saturn was awesome, etc. She said that less than five years ago, scruz was colonized by valley yuppies. alas. woe for the world. The homoginization of amerika is spreading even to liberal enclaves.
after the party, I played Ellen some MP3s of Polly’s flute playing. Ellen said it was the best, most interresting flute playing that she’d heard in her life. Earlier, she had been talking about how the flute was completely boring and I had argued that cool extended techniques existed. and indeed they do and Polly knows them.

A New Day, A New Year

Woke up early yesterday and full of energy and optimism. Had two cups of coffee and then felt even more energetic and optomistic. Thanks to the hard work of Ellen, I am now addicted to coffee. I woke up yesterday thinking, “If I get up now, I could have coffee!” I’m up to two cups in the morning. I think I will try to stay at that level. coffee makes me so awake and so smart and la la la. anyway.
We went to Half Moon Bay to try beachiness again. the sand there is a lovely yellow color. But it was cold, cold, cold, so I did not walk barefoot in the waves and ran up the beach a few times to keep my feet from getting wet. Ellen, however, got wet feet as she failed to successfully dodge the waves a few times. But she was laughing so much afterwards, I suspect it may have been somewhat on purpose.
the rains caused the streams that run to the ocean to swell. Torrents of muddy freshwater were rushing out to the sea. We walked down a sandy penninsula as deep, fast freshwater raced on our right and the ocean crashed to our left. I feel some sort of mystical connection to the earth and the sea when I’m surrounded by so much water. The ocean makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. I feel the presence of a mother earth when I feel the salt and hear the crashing waves. It was quite lovely
As we drove further up highway 1, I was reminded of a trip I took there in 2002 with my parents and Christi. Sometime after brain surgery, when my mother could communicate, she indicated that she wanted to go to a restaurant in Moss Landing called the Distillery. She liked fish and the restaurant is purported to be haunted. She loved ghost stories and haunting and so the Distillery was one of her favorite restaurants as far as I know. My dad and her ordered crab cakes. I remember being impressed about the discretion of the waiter. I was worried about things like that then. On the way there, we drove through the farms of Half Moon Bay. We passed the Christmas tree farms, the pumpkin farms and the horses. My mom used to ride and show horses. I had the idea that she might like to do horseback riding and was looking to get her into a program for adults with disabilities. I asked her if she was interesting in having a horse. She said, “oh yeah. Maybe someday. Not now.” Her memory wasn’t good. We told her she didn’t have time left, but she couldn’t remember or didn’t want to. The word “someday” broke my heart. There was no someday. there is no someday.
Yesterday, Ellen and I drove past the distillery and stopped at a second beach a bit north of there. We looked at the sandy cliffs and more water rushing to finally again meet the ocean. I thought of the future. There is no someday. There is no control of fate. Take things as they come. Look for opportunities. Do my best. I might die tomorrow as my life rushes back towards the sea and the earth, but I cannot know. this is a kind of optimism. I will do my best. I will accept things as they happen. I will change what I can. I will accept what I cannot change. I am a part of the universe and I belong to the world.

Jean’s ritual

We came back to the East Bay and went to Jean’s New Year Ritual. there I discovered that my attempts at serentiy and new age hippy-dippy spirituality do not extend to political discussions. I cannot change some people’s minds, but damnit, I’ll try anyway. someone there thought that Kucinich was a Nader-like spoiler who must be stopped. For the record, Nader did not lose Gore’s election. Gore lost it. Because he’s as uncompelling as Gray Davis and because of massive voting fraud in Florida and probably other states with electronic ballotting systems, the same systems that are now all over the country. Made by Diebold, the completely partison republican voting machine company who does not release their source code and runs our elections for profit.
Simply, I would not have voted for Gore. I will not vote for anyone that wants to throw queer or poor folks or people of color or the third world to the wolves to protect corporate profits. The excuse cited is that a progressive would be unacceptable to middle america. but let’s pause for a minute and think of the massive role that corporate money plays in campaigns. Are candidates that think the country ought to be run for the benfit of the people rather than profits really unacceptable to middle america or are they unacceptable to the plutocrats that pay for campaigns? Kucinich has major labor support. the majority of americans agree with his platform. If you think that that you can’t vote you’re conscience because it will lose, then you’ve already lost. there’s no hope. You might was well go to work for Haliburton.
Jean’s ritual consists of list making. this year it was three lists. This ritual is a prayer more than it is making resolutions. the first list is things you want to leave behind in the passing year. I listed angst, procrastination and war. The second list is things you want to draw to yourself in the new year. I listed self-reliance, confidence, widsom, knowledge and skills. The third list is new this year and it is things that you are grateful for. Jean says that if she focusses on what she’s grateful for, she feels better about the world.
Jean passed out envelopes, which we self addressed and then sealed in our lists of things to draw in and things we’re grateful for. In the middle of next December, she will stamp the envelopes and mail them to us. For the list of things to leave behind, we went out to a small fire pit in the back yard and burned the lists. In years past, there’s been singing at this point, but this year there was only a little singing by a few people. I am guilty of non-participation. Jean asked me to hum the MIDI thingee I posted to my blog in mid-December, but I couldn’t remember it. I had forgotten about the pice, thinking it wasn’t worth working on.
For the last few months, I’ve been noticing a dearth of music. My stereo was mostly silent in Middletown and I noticed most other people’s were as well. I was thinking this was because I was at music school. We spend all day studying music and listening to pieces to analyze them and write papers or whatever and so don’t put on background music. But now I’m wondering if this is everywhere. Have people stopped wanting to sing? If we don’t have music in our lives, if we don’t listen, if we don’t sing, how can we live? How can we resist evil? How can we fight for good? How can we remember what is beautiful? How can we call for justice if we cannot sing?
So I’m adding a resolution to sing more. My voice is out of practice. Some Californians may recall my willingness to start singing at the drop of a hat, but lately, I’ve been more restrained. This restaint is not a good thing. (well, moderation is a good thing.)
One of the things that I like Ellen is that she sings. she sings to the cats. She sings to me. We should all sing to each other.
I saw Danica at the ritual. I asked what pronoun to use and the reply was “they.” It makes me feel silly to use it, but silliness is a good thing. they seemed very together and happy. I hope to see them again while I’m in town.
We came home from the ritual and I played the MIDI file that Jean liked for Ellen. Ellen liked it too. So I’ll work on it when I get back to my desktop computer where my notation software lives.
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Has Santa Cruz changed or have I?

I swear that once upon a time the beaches there were really nice. Herland cafe and bookshop was a hip hangout. The Saturn Cafe had good food (it was the first place I aver had chai . . .). It was a really queer-firendly town. Crawling with lesbians.
I haven’t been to scruz regularly for ten years. I used to date a Santa Cruz girl. I would go nearly every week down to Capitola. I told my parents that I was participating in all night movie marathons at a friend’s house, but I was really going out to see this girl. Then, she dumped me and I went away to college. This was a smart move on her part as I was a complete asshole at the time.

Anyway, getting back to the present tense, or at least the recently past tense, when Ellen wanted to know where was a nifty place to go to the beach, I said that Santa Cruz was a hip little town with a nice beach. So yesterday, we hopped in the car and drove down a looong stretch of 880/17 to get to the beach. We hopped out at the Boardwalk. Ok, the boardwalk is not cool and never has been, but we walked down the beach aways and saw sea lions. The sea lions were pretty cool. the long dock near the boardwalk has pieces of it close to the water that sea lions were napping on and barking at each other.
the beach was grayish. Noise pollution from the boardwalk floated down it. I walked barefoot and let the frgid water run over my feet.
then we went to the downtown. Full of chain stores. I went to the Santa Cruz Dyke March a few years back. It was a small and fun affair. It included street theater, chanting, partial nudity and a brief protest outside of the Barnes and Noble store. It was the first chain store on the main street. Some subterfuge had been involved in it’s getting there. Some community members were outraged. those outraged people clearly lost that battle and maybe left town, i dunno. Baby gap. Urban outfitters. etc etc etc.
So we went to herland to get a cup of coffee or some hummus or whatever. It’s not a cafe anymore. It’s a bookstore only. They had to move down the street from their old location. the person behind the counter was a baby boomer goddess-worshipping type. The store was playing really bad out of tune folk music. the books were all published by Naiad press. Lame lame lame. I got a copy of the latest Dykes to Watch Out For book. The woman behind the counter said, “Since you’re planning to go out to lunch, are you sure that you don’t want a bag?”
Closetted? In Santa Cruz? What’s happened to the world? I’ve been whining that people on the East Coast aren’t out. But this is California. This is Santa Cruz, which in 1993 or 1994 was reported by the San Jose Mercury News to be 25% lesbian/bisexual/LUG. (The first place I ever saw the word LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) was in that article.) Did the whole world change when I wasn’t paying attention?
We walked through the yuppied throngs amidst the chain stores towards the Saturn Cafe. I was feeling discouraged. A piece of my youth is gone forever. Or was it always lame and I hadn’t noticed because I was young and breaking so many rules by going down there?
The Saturn Cafe was recently in the news for responding to the French Fries/Freedom Fires debacle by renaming their fried “Impeach Bush Fries.” Alas, now the menu just says “Fries.” And they’re not very good. The only hint of the activism and queerness that I thought still lurked in scruz was a manifesto on Saturn’s bathroom doors about how they were fighting against binary gender divisions by making their bathrooms officially non gendered. If only thier food was still good.
Ellen was a good sport. She said that it was a good learning experience and she’s glad we went all the way down there to find out she doesn’t need to go back.
Alas. either the town has completely changed or I have. Or maybe both of us. Everything in the world is different. The girl I dated isn’t even a girl anymore.


it’s the 25 anniversary of the slaying of the US’s first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. Dan White, the killer, also killed Mayor Moscone. The gay community responded by having a candle-light march. White, a former police officer, plead temporary insanity and his plea became erroneously known as the Twinkie Defense. Although it mentioned ho-ho’s and whatnot, it didn’t hinge on junk food. The jury was selected to be pro-death penatly, as White might have been sentenced to death. The conservative, pro-police jury, widely described as homphobic, sentenced White to eight years in prison, of which he served five. The gay community responded with a somehwhat angrier march. Some marchers wanted to commit vandalism. The march leaders had formed a human chain keeping the rowdier deonstrators out of trouble. the overwhelmingly homophic police department promptly arrested all the leaders and provoke the crowd, which responded to the provocation. The police then went into the Castro (the city’s gay neighborhood) and started pulling people out of bars and arresting them. Gay folks in bars were as apolitcal then as they are now. Guys just looking to drink and cruise were beaten by police. The police joked about getting cute guys and boyfriends as they assaulted bystanders. A riot thus errupted. Police cars were overturned. This eventually became known as the White Night Riots. Queers do fight back.

christi is here

Which is really nice for many reasons. yay christi. i have a bad cold though. but i’m reading a book about Lou Harrison and it’s making me homesick. he was an east bay kind of guy, even after he moved to aptos, he regularly commuted to Mills. there’s a chart in the book about the tuning syetm on the Mills gamelan (which he designed). and apparently, he wrote the graduation processional played by the mills gamelan at graduations. they played that at my graduation, but i can’t remember it.
Mills was quite the happening place in the 30’s. they did these summer session where they had up-and-coming artists, musicians, dancers, etc come and teach short classes. Lou wrote a score for a Mills Drama dept production. It was commissioned. these days there isn’t even a drama department and certainly no money for a summer session. The college president then understood that such events added to the presitge of the school and thus paid for themselves eventually. Mills is still banking on the the afterglow of what it did in the 30s. But what is it doing now? Alas, mills is a shadow of her former self. If only we could bring Rheinhardt back from the grave and re-install her as college president.
But i have a new school affiliation now and new academic politics to bemoan. it’s against the rules to write messages in chalk on campus. this is the biggest political issue. this was a stroke of genious on the part of the admin. every other student issue is subsumed by the chalking debate. they’ve stopped all other criticism. it’s brilliant.
I was checking my home email account and i didn’t unsubscribe from all my lists, so I got email from the Berkeley Socialists about an upcoming event where they will explain why revolution is necessary. and the annual Anarchist vs. Communist soccer match is looking for a pep band. and things seem to be still going well on the left coast. the brass liberation orchestra is continuing it’s debate on politics vs. muscianship. on the right coast, well, we’re worrying about whether or not it would get you in trouble to chalk “i love wesleyan” or “i love president bennet” in front of the president’s house. duh. yeah. and you can’t buy beer on sunday. for real. i went to the supermarket and tried to buy beer today. you can’t buy beer after 8:00 either. people here think of californians as backwards wackos, but at least we can go into a store and buy beer at normal times.
somebody told me that somebody tunred the us on it’s side and shook it and all the oddballs rattled down to california. great. i don’t disagree entirely with this assesment. everyone running for governor should return to their home state. anyway.
so i’m not doing anything political but reading Chomsky books and getting email from the Kucinich campaign. they mesh well together. chomsky says that if there’s a progressive candidate (like a real progressive, not backed-by-buisiness Dean) on a major ballot, then progressives have already won. the Kucinich meetups are during my Gamelan class though. And i might skip class to go sit in or protest something, but i’m not skipping class to discuss fundraising strategies. sure, i’ll got hit up impoverished grad students for donations. the undergrads actually have cash, but i think they should organize themselves to fundraise it. i don’t want to have a Kucinich house party to get cash out of undergrads, for example. the power balance seems wrong.
anyway, lou harrison was the quintissential california composer. he was highly political and fought the good fight. he built his own instruments (ca people do that. somebody once attributed it to the weather). the east coast and he did not get along. so he returned to relatively rural isolation, but was still connected to a university-type community. east coasters didn’t take ca-types seriously. ca composers had to go to the east if they were “serious.” people tried to get famous enough to new york. then, if they were famous there, they could come back and THEN the bay area would take them seriously, but not before. yeah, things have sure changed in the last 60 years…
weather here: 85 degrees F and humid enough to rain rain rain. i can’t wait till i get famous enough to move back home. i’m starting a band with a clarinetist, angela, and my housemate aaron, who plays drums and is from nyc and heck, maybe we’ll get some gigs.