The View from the UCEN

In a comment on my entry—2 years blogging—Brother Dan says he has had fun reading the blog (Thanks Brother Dan) and that also he is very near the anniversary (if that’s the right word) of his stroke that happened February 2 of 2007.  He also notes that the stroke might have carried him off, but it didn’t and he is very happy still to be here.  So am I: happy that he is here.

I am sure that day February 2, 2007, is much more vivid in his mind than mine.  Still funny how memory works, but I remember it quite vividly.  I was at one of those meetings the Writing Program has down in what’s called the UCEN where meeting rooms are located.  From those rooms you can look right out to the lagoon and towards the ocean.

I had stepped outside, at a break, to smoke a bit of a cigarette when my cell went off.  It was clear and bright day, more on the warm side than not.  Brother Dan was on the line, and I could gather from what he said that something had happened and he was now in the hospital.  At first I could follow what he was saying but as he continued I understood less and less; looking back I know aphasia was setting in.  But I didn’t know that at the time.

I went back in the room because the meeting had restarted.  Had I fully grasped the situation, I probably would have gone to the hospital.  But I didn’t and on the way into the room called Carol to see if she could call the hospital for me and clarify.  I sat there the rest of the meeting feel really anxious and out of it.  I was pretty scared.

I don’t remember anything else much about that day.  Just general outlines, sort of.  But funny in my mind’s eye, I can see or feel myself standing outside in the sun, holding a cigarette in one hand and my cell in the other listening as hard as I have ever listened to a phone call.  In my mind’s ear, I can almost hear Brother Dan speaking, but really I can’t.  It feels like those dreams I used to have.  I would pick up a book in the dream, and then I would start to read it, but I couldn’t because I couldn’t see the words.

2 Years Blogging

I was going through my daily business of cleaning the crap spam out of my comments when I happened to think “how long have I been doing this”—blogging I mean.  I guess my unconscious was at work because as far as I am able to tell from the blog itself, January 31—two days from this now moment–will mark the end of my second year of keeping this blog.

Looking back, by January 31, 2006 (two years ago by my calculations) my brothers and I were getting really up to our necks in dealing with the health and living situations of Joan and WB.  That was a lot; there were all sorts of emotional currents running this way and that—at a time moreover when I had just turned 60.  I hadn’t realized turning 60 would be such a big deal and maybe it wouldn’t have been without having to deal also with the illness and then death of WB in February 2006.

But I think it would have been, I am now concluding, a pretty big deal in any case.  In fact, turning 60 may precipitate an identity crisis nearly as powerful as that of adolescence.  Part of that crisis, why it is so intense, has to do with the changing bodies, with raging hormones and so forth.  Who is or where is one in all those hormones and body changes.  But body changes occur or start to occur or have already begun to occur (depending on the person) also with age.  Hormones that once raged have, well, quieted down quite a bit.  One’s estrogen level (if one is a male) drops and with that so does muscle mass, and with that drop so does one’s strength drop off.  I really hate it when I find myself struggling to get the lid of some bottle or other or when I have to grab the banister going down the stairs when one of my knees start to ache.

And this is not even to mention—much—the changes that are occurring in the mirror.  At adolescence as I recollect I had pimples.  Powerful red blemishes that at the same time were a portent of things still to come.  Now I have relatively few blemishes of that kind but plenty of another: many, many wrinkles and a face that actually sags downward when I bend over the sink to brush my yellow teeth.  These changes also portent things to come, but quite different things than those adolescent blemishes portended.  Quite, quite different things indeed.

Another big shift too occurs.  While the flaming blemishes of the adolescent point towards the future, towards adulthood and goals to be achieve, and places to go and people to meet, the lines and wrinkles and sag in one’s face point one back towards the past.  I think.  Not towards the unknown future and what will be with all its attendant anxiety and expectation, but towards what has been and how that fits with who one is or isn’t and trying to locate some meaning it in all—with all the anxiety upon that.

That’s what I think I was starting to do back in January of 2006 on the blog. Sorting through things and trying to make some livable sense of it all.

Storm 08

Since the big rain Wednesday, the storm has abated considerably not quite living up to the projections for rain and high wind.  Nonetheless the wind has been strong; palm frawns litter the streets where non-indigeneous palm weeds are located.  And we have received about 1.5 more inches since Wednesday, putting us in the 5.5 to 6 inch range, well above the average for the whole month of January.

I went out looking around yesterday over by the campus and saw a boat that had slipped its moorings and run ashoal:

Yesterday I got a closer view:


A bit further out beyond the boat, the seas were high at Campus Point:


 Gulls were riding the updraft from the bluff. 


 And dotting the sky:



Thinking a Thought

It was a cold and wet day in Writing 1. 

We were discussing Karen Horney’s “Our Inner Conflicts.”  In the book she tries to define three basic neurotic strategies for dealing with deep, deep, deep inner conflict: the moving towards, the moving against, and the moving away.  The first seeks love, tends to avoid conflict, to be self sacrificing (all towards the unconscious goal of “safety); the second sees life as a jungle of all against all and tends to be aggressive and controlling (all towards the unconscious goal of “safety); the moving away moves away from conflict in the name of the of independence, seeking not to be dependent on any one or anything (all towards the unconscious goal of “safety”).

I asked students—understanding of course that in reality life is a lot more complex than any three types—to pick which type they tended more towards, or pretend to pick one in any case.  Describe the type using Horney’s theory and then provide examples from their own lives that illustrate or elaborate upon the type.

About half the class was present on that cold and wet day, so I made them sit in a circle and asked each student present to say what type they thought they were and then discuss their example.  I was half listening—because I sort of try also to listen around the edges of what they are saying—and one guy said he was the moving toward type (seeking to please others and win their approval) but then (maybe I missed something) he went on about how people are such jerks and so stupid.  So I said, I was lost and that he sounded more like the Moving Against type who sees himself as super strong and everybody else as weak or possible stupid.

Later another student read a quotation from her paper.  I am not sure if it was this one but something like it:

            …he (the moving towards type) persuades himself that he likes everybody, that they are all nice and trustworthy, a fallacy that not only makes for heartbreaking disappointments but also adds to his general insecurity.

Bingo, I said, and tapped the student on the arm (he was sitting right next to me) who had said people were jerks.  So this is what you meant; since as a moving towards type you want to see others as nice like yourself, you frequently find yourself pissed off at people when it turns out they are not nice. As a moving towards you project your own values on others; you idealize them and when the veil slips away and you see the warts you see them as jerks, etc, not perhaps because they really are jerks but because they were not quite the people you thought they were.

Bingo!  I said.  There’s a whole paper there.  Abstractions and examples make it possible for the teacher, who doesn’t understand much, to understand something.  It’s like a process.



A while back Cousin Lucy, in a comment I accidentally deleted, expressed a kind of apology at having found my description of my experiences with the blood panel and the urine sample hilarious.

I could not be more flattered or honored.  When I can—which is far from every entry—I try to be funny.  I exaggerate a tiny bit here or there to bring out the comic potential in an incident, word, or action.  The humor though is damn dead pan which is true also of my verbal or spoken humor. 

For example while getting to know Nephew Stephen’s little Jake when we visited down in San Diego, I asked him if all his toes had growed in yet, since we Tingles have late growing toes, and did he have an extra toe, since we Tingles sometimes grow an extra one and have some shoe fitting problems, consequently.  This was all dead pan and the poor boy looked mighty befuddled, and decided to run off when I said I would show him my extra toe if he wanted to see it.

I don’t know where this wise cracking comes from.  I did it all though school.  I would just let out something and the whole class would laugh, and it would be enough in the ball park that even the teacher didn’t get annoyed.

I still do it.  At meetings with my colleagues.  Sometimes, I must admit, quite inappropriately.  Once our head secretary was present at one of our interminable meetings and giving us the details of our piddling budget for such things as paper, and the copying machine, and envelopes. Turns out over half the budget was for the telephones.

I have this telephone in my office.  It’s useless.  It doesn’t take messages anymore and I can’t dial outside the area code with it.  So I started to get up and said I would go over right then and get my phone and give it to her if that would help with the budget. Cause I didn’t need the damn thing anymore.  And everybody laughed.  I don’t know why since I was dead serious.

Anyway I get real pleasure out of giving people a laugh even though I don’t know why or how I do it.  Humor is a tricky thing.

But if I can get somebody to laugh, I considered it my Boy Scout good deed for the day. There’s a Hebrew word, mitzvah that has come to mean an “act of human kindness.”

For me, giving a laugh or getting one, why it’s a mitzvah.

Cats and Dogs Confirmed

Well my subjective impression that I had not seen it rain so hard so constantly for so long in all my time in SB since 1976 appears confirmed.  Brother Steve comments to that effect and CNN reported that a long standing record for rain in one day in SB was broken Wednesday.  More than four inches recorded at the airport not a mile from where Carol and I are located.


More rain is said to be on the way as this picture suggest.  The bird upper right is a pelican, I think.


Clouds are sometimes said to "scud."  I think these clouds are "scudding" across the sky.


Between the scudding clouds and the stormy sea, a sliver of one of the Channel Islands is visible.


A dark and gloomy sky, suggesting further rain.

I sit here feeling like an idiot.  This morning when I tried to pour coffee the lid came off the pot and I managed to give my left wrist a pretty good scalding.  I have no one to blame but myself since last night when I fixed up the pot to make coffee I didn’t apparently put the lid on properly.  So my left wrist hurts.  I have been applying ice to it, but it’s hard to keep the ice applied in a plastic bag when one is typing.  The burn is no the downside of the wrist.  I tried to push the ice inside my sweater cuff and use it to hold the ice in place.  But that didn’t work.  So I just got pissed and stupidly I attached the ice to my wrist with masking take.  That’s all I could find.  Now what am I going to do.  The ice is melting and I have attached the bag to my wrist with masking tape.  To get new ice in that plastic bag, I am going to have to RIP that masking tape off my wrist, taking all sorts of hair with it.  Talk about dumb.

I need to start think more about the consequences of my actions.

But it’s probably too late for that.

Why should I start now?  

I kid you not:


Cats and Dogs

As previously noted, clouds–the portent of a coming storm–made their appearance over the Ellwood Bluffs on MLK Day.  Tuesday it started to rain, and then Wednesday–like cats and dogs, mice and rats, elephants and cows.  I have lived in SB since 1976 and don’t remember rain coming down so hard and so constantly for six hours straight.

Out back of the condo, Lake Ocean Meadows began to form (Ocean Meadows is the name of the golf course where the water built up).  The build up of water in Lake Ocean Meadows–about a foot deep at its deepest–is one reason the golf course is not likely to be developed.  It floods and then drains out onto the lagoon.  You can’t really see in this pic, but ducks have started to gather on the newly formed Lake Ocean Meadows.


So it rained and rained cats and dogs and mice and rats, and my classes were not well attended.  Many of those who did show up were sopping wet from the knees down.  One young woman had pools of water forming about her feet, which was a health hazard since an older person, such as myself, might easily have slipped in that water and broken his neck. Many started in sneezing and coughing, also a health hazard for an elderly person like myself. Because not only did it rain; it was cold.

Snow appeared on the moutains out back of SB:

Hard to see, but that’s snow up there on the top of them there hills.

For those interested in the weather, I have added a link in the right hand margin to the Greenville News Online and one to a Santa Barbara TV station that carries the weather.  

Continue reading Cats and Dogs

Ellwood Walk

On MLK Day, Carol and I walked out to Ellwood.  We got lucky. I had never seen the tide out this far before.  Way, way out.  People say that as Spring approaches the tides go out further.  I took this picture standing on a spot a 100 yard out from the usual shoreline.  Those things sticking up–appear to be the remains of a foundation for something–well, I had never seen them before.  I would hate to think of a swimmer or surfer hitting them.  They could get cut.


Looking back towards the bluffs–clouds.  A storm was coming in and indeed it rained later in the evening. 


Perhaps because of the impending rain, the air was incredibly clear and the channel islands–sometimes not visible at all–stood out clearly against the horizon. 


To the north.


I swear the light was just gorgeous.  We bumped into a guy taking pictures who said that this stretch of beach, extending about 4.5 miles from UCSB towards the north has officially been saved from further development.  He said this may be the longest stretch of beach so preserved on the entire California Coast.  We are lucky. 

System Restored

Well I am trying to make do with my new desk top and the more I try the more I realize that whatever happened has wiped out every last link and setting previously on my computer.  When I get to the software I use to write my web pages, I find that I must reestablish FTP settings between my computer and the servers that house my web work.  I am looking at least two—maybe three hours work.

Then I think: System Restore.  I thought System Restore last night, but once many moons ago I used System Restore and it didn’t restore a damn thing.   But I am on the verge of despair and so decide to cast my fate to the wind and take desperate measures. I find System Restore under hard drive Maintenance.  Set it to the day before my accident; and click “System Restore.” 

While I am waiting for SYSTEM RESTORE to do its business, I am like multi-tasking and phone the people who made the external hard drive that busted a couple of days back.  I am on hold but surprisingly quickly I get a tech person.  They are located in upstate New York and he says it’s just freezing outside.

I turn on the bad drive and hold my cell up to it and the guy says, it’s not the drive.  It’s the fan.  They were doing their best to make a quiet drive and the over did it with the fan; with the result that parts start rubbing.  So I can send it to him and he will fix it and send it back or he can send me a new fan and I can install it—I opt for the second option.

And as I hang up—or whatever the hell you do with a cell—since nobody really hangs up anymore—I looked around and WHAM-BAM I see my old desk top—not the whole thing; but the picture I have of the barren moon.  I have a barren moon picture as my desk top and then all the icons start appearing and then I check it out and every damn link and setting is there and working.

SYSTEM RESTORED! It’s the single best moment I have had in two days—though I should not have had to go through any of this techno-nonsense in the first place. But I am so tied into my techno-stuff especially web and word processing (and now also music) that having one of them broken is like losing a hand or something. 


I need to clean up my desktop and maybe get a happier picture for the background. 



Bad Computer Weekend

I had a bad computer weekend.

I bought this fancy external hard drive to back up my songs to and what do you know but all of a sudden it starts making this grinding noise, like a hard drive does when it’s about to die.  And even if it is not about to die, I can’t use it when I record because the noise would get on the recording.

Boy, that pisses me off.  On the warranty it says they have a special overnight return, replace policy should the hard drive go bad, so I call and what do you know—but nobody home.  Hard to see how they can have an overnight return policy when there’s nobody there to take your call.

So I get worried I will lose what I have recorded and somehow manage to get the stuff transferred from that drive to another older backup drive I have.  Looks like I have managed to save it.

And I decide while I am at it to back up all the stuff on my other computer, my PC where I do all my school work and my blog because I haven’t backed it up in months.  So I do that, and the next morning when I turn the thing back on, nothing comes up….Nothing.  Then the machine starts doing something on its own, so I wait.

And bingo all of a sudden I am looking at a whole new desk top.  My familiar desk top is all gone.  I can’t locate it anywhere.  And that means too that my Mozali web browser is gone; all my links are gone—to my blog, to the place where I make the blog, to my teaching page—everything.

I am beyond pissed—I am like torpid and paralyzed by pisshood.  I do a check and I see, thank god, that everything is still there.  I didn’t lose any data.  But I can’t get my old desktop to appear.  I don’t know what I did wrong or how to set it right.  I could spend all day trying and not get it right.  So I decided to live with it and, thank goodness, because I have been doing this for some time I get things sort of operational, restore links and so on.

But in the process the damn thing apparently decided to upgrade itself or something because my Microsoft word page has all sorts of different colors on it.  It used to be sort of a grim light blue and now I am staring at a page with bright blue trim all around it.  Makes me nervous.

In the meantime, I completely forgot to check to see if Greenville got another couple of inches of rain Saturday night, as was previously forecast.

What day is this?  Monday?  I have spent the whole weekend in a daze.  Thank goodness I don’t teach today.  MLK day.

Maybe I can recover my mental faculties by the time I get back in the classroom.