Sunday, April 12, 2009

On resurrection

This from Jim Carty's "Paper Tiger No More" blog:

As I've written once before, probably the last significant conversation I had with my dad came when I was driving him to chemotherapy a few weeks before he would die of lung cancer. It was one of the very few times I helped out at all in the process of his dying - my mom and bro were both in New Jersey and carried all the serious weight. But we had this morning and afternoon together, and I'm very grateful for it. In the course of the conversation, I asked him if he was afraid of dying.

He said he was not. There was no bravado to it, he just said he was not, so I asked why.

Because, he said, he knew he was going to see his own mom and dad again.

He believed this as surely as you or I believe we will wake up tomorrow. Here was faith. Simple faith. Probably the most plain and fundamental exhibition of it that I've ever seen, or may ever see.

I do not have such faith. I struggle to believe, and with what I believe, including the resurrection story. This struggle has only gotten worse since my dad's death.

(Note as of July 2012 -- Oops, the link has been lost, and Jim Carty is no longer writing the blog. But trust me, it was a very nice piece of writing. :/)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Discovering The Wiggle

Just when I thought I -- and I alone -- had discovered a mostly hills-free way of getting from the Inner Sunset to downtown, I noticed the signs: "The Wiggle." At first I thought they were about my extra mid-body baggage; then I realized they were marking my flattish route.
Then, a few days later, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition wrote about it in a column in the Chronicle. (Read it by clicking on the blog post title above.)
Oh, well -- so much for my "discovery."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

At Land's End

Benny's on spring break this week, and Christine and I are splitting time between work (her day today) and home (my day today). So Benny and I headed over to the Legion of Honor, a fine art museum at Land's End, which is ... well ... at the end of the continent before it drops off into the waters of the Pacific.

We ended up not going to the museum today. Instead, the rain cleared and we walked along the nearby trail on the cliff above the ocean. The goal is to walk the full length of trails that stretch from Fort Funston at the southern edge of the city, along Ocean Beach, through Land's End, into the Presidio and to the Golden Gate Bridge. It's something like nine miles in all.

Land's End, as you can see in the photos (or they call them "images" now, don't they?), is simply beautiful. There are all sorts of urban encroachments nearby -- housing, a golf course, the Legion of Honor, etc. -- but the view is stunning. You look west across the ocean, north across the bay to the Marin Headlands or northeast to the Golden Gate Bridge (top photo). Or you pretend (like Benny is doing in the bottom photo) that you're scaring away the coyotes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Get on the bus

One of the time-honored practices of Muni riders in San Francisco is the transfer transfer. (My own term.)
It involves either a) simply leaving your bus or train transfer on your seat for the next person or b) openly asking someone standing at the bus stop or on the bus/train if he/she wants your slender newspring proof of fare payment.
Although I buy a monthly bus pass for $45 -- well worth it, since I take at least two buses and two trains a day -- I like transfer transfers. They appeal to my sense of what makes a community -- helping out someone who may, if only today, had trouble coming up with the $1.50 they needed to catch the bus across town for work or school or whatever.
And, OK, maybe there's a sense of transfer transfers sticking it to The Man.
Now here comes Muni, faced with budget trouble on top of it's already bad service reputation, saying that it will eliminate some routes, severely cut back others and add revenue by, among other things, increasing fares and charging 50 cents for transfers. (When I get on a real computer, I'll add the link to Muni's triumpherate of budget-balancing options.)
This worries me. Will charging for transfers eliminate transfer transfers as we know them? Will this commercialize transfer transfers? Is "community" dead?
My stomach aches thinking of the guy who the other day offered me his transfer at the 9th/Judah stop now walking up to me saying, "Hey, buddy! Wanna transfer?" and opening up his trench coat to reveal a couple dozen thin-paper tickets.
"This one right here's a beaut! Runs out at 11 tonight --" He chuckles. "It's only 7 now. Who knows how far you could ride with it?
"I see you're a nice fella -- nice tie, by the way -- so for you, I'll let you have it for 40 cents. Almost the same as a donut over there at Donut World." He points to my white bakery bag, the chocoloate-and-sprinkles masterpiece practically calling out to me.
I wince. Maybe it's his price that causes me to cringe. Maybe it's the cruller I wolfed down a couple minutes ago.
He senses that he's losing a sale.
"Alright. So you're a man watching his dimes. I understand. 30 cents. You ain't gonna find a better deal, especially once you get past Forest Hill."
I shake my head, trying to be respectful. After all, he could be a Muni Cop, just waiting to bust some middle-aged punk looking for a bus joyride.
"That's alright. Maybe next time," he says. "I've seen you around here before."
And with that he takes off down 9th, into the fog that's moved in from the northwest, across Golden Gate Park and Judah.
My 6-Parnassus bus pulls up to the corner, waiting to make the left turn onto 9th. I fish my monthly pass out of my back pocket and hold it close to my chest. There but by the grace of Muni go I.