March 2018

Backing Out and Turning Over

The most popular flavor of the Canadian ice cream company Sweet Jesus is “Rocky Road Rage”.


OK, i’m backing out of Facebook and soon will be deactivating my account.  I mentioned reasons for this in my previous post, but to that i’ll add another, which is that while i do dearly love the Facebook posts of a handful of friends, a problem with Facebook is that it’s addictive, and we all know that as time shoots by, addicts require larger and larger doses of their Substance.  And yes, even though for a good number of years after i started Facebook, i’d forget to look at it for weeks at a time i gradually, gradually found myself requiring a hit more often, and my use became first weekly, then daily.  Recently i found myself opening it more than once a day.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it struck me last January that if i were going to make one, it ought to be to try to snap somewhat less often at clickbait.  And Facebook is definitely a form of clickbait.

So yes, i’m folding the tent within the next month or so as i create email distribution lists for a few friends who are not followers of my longtime companion, Matte Gray, who has been chronicling my life for the last twenty years.  He’ll continue to do so and will remain the best source of news about me.

Finally, as close as Matte and i are, i’ve not been able to convince him to deactivate his Facebook account, which a number of my friends already see.  I encourage everyone else to send a friend request to Matte Gray on Facebook.

Meanwhile, since so many people liked that garage door treatment in the last post, here’s another:

Garage door treatment


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Rethinking Facebook

I’m so old that i remember when tourists marveled at how clean San Francisco was.


We’ve all read the recent news about Cambridge Analytica harvesting profiles and other data from fifty million Facebook subscribers and using the collected data to build applications influencing US voting, all of which was revealed by a whistleblower inside Cambridge Analytica.

Meanwhile, Facebook is turning damage control backflips.  even as a Facebook whistleblower reveals that covert data harvesting was routine.

This may be for me the final straw.

Not really so much that i worry about Facebook giving away my profile data.  Oh no, i was paranoid enough when i signed up that the only things correct on my profile are my name and city of residence.  And now i’m seeing the wisdom of lying to Zuckerberg.  Sometimes paranoids are fearful of real perils.

And of course i’ve also been very wary of giving various applications access to my profile and friends list, preferring to do without the app rather than sell my friends down the river.

So yes, i’ve taken measures to protect myself and my friends, but now i’m starting to wonder whether i really want to keep using Facebook.  And not just because it’s notorious for offshoring its profits to shelter them from American taxes.

The bigger problem is that i have a handful of friends who consistently post stuff onto Facebook that i am genuinely interested in, things that quite frankly i’d be highly unlikely to run across otherwise.  So i don’t want to cut off my nose to spite my face.  And still, i wonder.

What would happen if we reverted to emailing each other?  What if i wrote the people whose Facebook posts i quite enjoy that i was dropping out of Facebook and hoping they’d consider doing emails with a bcc list and including me on it?

Is that any harder than posting to Facebook?  All you’d have to do is go through the agony of building a distribution list (or perhaps two or three tailored distribution lists) onto which you could post everything that you’d otherwise post  on Facebook, and how damn hard is that?

Especially considering that you’d be striking a blow for freedom.

So yes, i’m going to be taking my own advice and gradually phasing out Facebook, encouraging my friends to look, instead, at and monitor their incoming emails.

Free, free at last.  Or at least a shred freer.


Meanwhile, an interesting garage door treatment in the Mission.

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Off the Bucket List

“America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” has been stricken from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services mission statement and replaced with “protecting Americans” and “securing the homeland”.


Well no, it’s not an actual, tangible list, but rather fairly frequently thinking of something i want to do while i still can, and i can now mentally check off my bucket list watching from the gallery as Roger Federer slaughters an opponent.  I’m a passionate Federer fan, and i watch him on television routinely, but i’d never seen him play live.  And yeah, yeah, i can drive a thousand miles and see him at Indian Wells, but have you looked at the price of tickets there?  Not to mention the cost of accommodations.

So yes, i was understandably ecstatic when i learned that Roger would be playing an exhibition match in San Jose to raise money for his foundation, and i immediately bought a ticket.  I thought about buying two but then remembered my experience some years ago back when when i was attending every year’s matches at the SAP Open (formerly the Pacific Coast Championships) and bought a second set of tickets for the evening matches only to have great difficulty finding anyone willing to accompany me.  Hell, one of ’em who finally took me up on my offer did so only as an expression of our friendship, which i realized after play had started and i discovered that his passion for the game was at such a level that he didn’t know how it was scored. Sigh. So i went by myself.

This was one of those exhibition matches in which the appetizer was watching a major player teamed with a celebrity play a doubles match against another major player and his celebrity partner.

Roger was paired with Bill Gates.  His opponent, Jack Sock, partnered with Savannah Guthrie, an American news anchor.

There was great hoopla as the players came out, what with flashing lights and smoke, and the party atmosphere continued with brief courtside interviews.  Guthrie was asked what her strategy would be.

“Don’t look at Roger.”

To which Sock responded with his.

“Don’t hit it to Roger.”

Team Federer strategy? Gates “knows numbers very well, so he never makes a mistake on the score,” Federer said. “I’ll do the running and he’ll do the thinking.”  The crowd thundered.

The doubles play was ludicrous.  Gates clearly hadn’t played in years, and it looked like Guthrie had just barely ever played.  Still, the crowd got behind it and cheered hysterically every time Gates or Guthrie got a ball back.

The singles play between Sock and Federer was actually interesting in that you got to see professionals imitate a real match as Roger took both sets.

It was an entertaining evening, and i read in the paper the next day that it raised $2.5 million for the foundation.  Not terribly surprising considering the cost of the seats.  Mine, in the middle of the lower level was probably in the second of three tiers of pricing and was $150.  It was a sellout, nary a visible empty seat.  The only time i’d ever seen that arena even close to as full was one night back when Andy Roddick was at his peak and every teenage girl within thirty miles cajoled her father into taking her.

Meanwhile, here’s a video clip.


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A Language Embarrassment

Just imagine how much better everything in Parkland would have turned out if all the teachers and students had been packing.

I have suffered many language embarrassments, but the one that keeps coming up most often occurred when i was in the Army conducting cryptosecurity inspections of US military installations.  I arrived at a missile base in remote northern Germany on a lovely spring morning.

I’d been taken to the lieutenant in charge of their crypto facility, and he’d offered me coffee, which i’d accepted.  He led me to a little break room, and a German national, an older woman (since i was only 23, most people were older) brought me a cup.  Black.

I’d started drinking coffee black because that was the way my parents drank it, but i’d learned to take milk in it when i was in ASA school at Ft. Devens because those Yankees called coffee with milk in it, “regular”.  And they served their coffee just short of boiling in order to leave it still warm after the addition of a generous slug of milk.  So you had to take it regular to be able to finish the damn cup during your ten-minute break between classes.  Those of us who didn’t call it “regulah” called it “coffee with cream” even though it was just milk we added.

I’d become accustomed to taking milk in my coffee, and so i politely asked the woman, “Sie haben vielleicht Sahne?” Do you perhaps have cream?  Alas, she seemed rather offended and barked, “Nein!”  How strange, i thought, that they don’t have milk for their coffee like all the other military installations, and how strange that she’d be bothered by my asking.

Oh well, no problem, and i went on to conduct the inspection, which they passed even with black coffee.

It was only after i’d left the kaserne that it hit me.  I’d fallen victim to one of the banes of learning foreign languages, the direct translation that gives entirely the wrong meaning.  In this case, asking for cream rather than milk.  Not a biggie, you say.

Oh yes it was.  See, every fine Kaffee-Konditorei in which i ordered coffee brought it with a little pitcher of cream.  However, i do not recall ever seeing real cream for the coffee in any military installation, or for that matter, in any home.

So by asking for cream instead of milk, i’d sounded like an entitled big city snob who expected to be plied with luxuries.  I hadn’t realized what was going on in time to explain that i was really just asking for milk, so i’ve squirmed over this for a bit more than half a century.  My only relief is that, since she was probably in her forties then, she’s most likely dead now and thus can’t remember me.  And if she isn’t dead, she’s in her nineties and regaling her grandchildren with the tale of that awful American.

Meanwhile, i find selfies somehow creepy, but i finally broke down and took one of myself descending Cortland Street on the way home from an early morning trip to the Alemany Farmers’ Market.  I’m not saluting but rather holding the camera up.

Cortland Street



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