Orchestra For Natives Of The Future

The Orchestra by moyalynne
The Orchestra, a photo by moyalynne on Flickr.

Orchestra For Natives Of The Future is a group of sound-making metal sculptures near the Plover Group Picnic Area in the almost-left-behind Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. The Orchestra was created in 1988 by Bill Buchen, Mary Buchen, and Pat Fitzgerald.

Candlestick Point may not be the most beautiful park in the Bay Area, but its low-key natural vibe in the middle of the urban hustle (and practically right on top of Candlestick Park) make it a valuable natural gem. The shoreline is mostly craggy and rocky and extends out on a finger into the Bay between SFO and The City. With views to their backs of the relics of Hunters Point’s naval shipyard, anglers stand out on a pier and bring in lots of fish (mostly smelt) to take home and feed their families, to toss on barbecues right there, or to sell somewhere else later. The ground is littered with rodent holes and I’m pretty sure the common squirrel owns the territory and can be found everywhere you step. This is a calm park in general and you can hear birds singing against the distant freeway and airport roar. And with the hidden secret Orchestra, it makes the park a great place to explore and a good meeting spot for a picnic and a jam session.

Between Plover Group Picnic Area and the Orchestra area, there are about 10 picnic tables, at least one of which is in shade at 11am when I was there this morning. This is a good place to come when the rest of the Bay Area is foggy — if there’s a chance for sun or at least warmth, it should be found here. Though the grass is weedy and unkept (and looks basically dead), there are plenty of bathroom facilities (whether they’re open or not I’m not sure, but the outsides look clean), and barbecues and water. Dogs are allowed, on leash. Aside from people fishing and people jogging, I’ve seen barely another group here enjoying any of the other picnic areas.

And we’ve nearly lost this state park. In June 2012, the park was one of 16 scheduled for closure in the Bay Area, but although the others had received temporary reprieve due to an influx of cash from various “deep-pocketed saviors,” Candlestick Point, located in one of the City’s poorest neighborhoods, had no such savior forthcoming.

By August, “sufficient public dollars have been found to keep Candlestick Point Recreation Area open next year”, but the rangers I talked with during my visit today seemed to think they just have to take it day by day: “As long as we’re standing here we’re still open.”

To find the Orchestra For Natives Of The Future, go to Candlestick Park, driving all the way around to the bay side, and you’ll see the state park signs for Candlestick Point. Park in the state park parking lot, which is literally right across the street from the Candlestick Park parking lot.  Parking is closed Thursdays and Fridays and comes at a premium on days when the 49’ers have a home game, so you should avoid those days if you’ve come to picnic.

After you park, walk up one of the access roads to where the bay forms a cove, and you’ll find the Orchestra in an open space next to the Plover Group Picnic Area.

You can’t reserve specific sites, but you can come when the park opens (at 10am?) to sit at the Plover Picnic Area if you want to barbecue next to your drumming jam session.  The rangers say to call them for a ~$50 special event permit if you’re planning a party for 50 people or more.

You can visit this special place and contribute to keeping your valuable state parks open today!
[This Report In Pictures]

Return of the Sun

Light

Light

We went to the Morrison Planetarium the other day, where despite Whoopie Goldberg’s reassuring voice, I felt the usual claustrophobia at the limitlessness of space and yet the finity of our Sun. My daughter was scared most of the time, but we’re not exactly sure why.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’ve been wondering what my daughter, and generations to come, will find (and make) of these digital scribblings then of the past. My domain will have expired, and likely my WordPress blog underneath it too. Will there even be domains anymore? What of the Internet itself? All those pictures on Flickr? And What of Facebook? Will my Twitter archive be available?  What about those picture books we’ve printed from Flickr and the blogs we’ve turned into Blurb books? Seems like the newer things are, the shorter they last.  Will there be no hard-bound dusty spined volumes in our girl’s future? Perhaps nothing but an old Google cache — maybe even accessible by some odd unforeseen device such as a private air, space, and time machine… There’s a thought.

It’s odd to know that something entirely new – something inconceivable at present – will then exist to provide the history and context.  As we stand over the brink of one year and look into another, I marvel at how it is that sometimes we can’t really know — and sometimes we know better only in retrospect.

And on that note… I feel it’s impossible to wrap up the year 2009 on its last day, but after the passage of time I begin feel a little clearer about that other old year, 2008.

That was the year we lost Prop 8; we got married, and we also got banned from marrying.  It was the fuel for the worst of days in which I wish we never got up and fought so that people could be so legally ugly to us, and call us psychotic and worse, hurt us, and blame us right here in our homes.  It was perhaps the set-up that led to Question 1 in Maine, confusion in New York and New Jersey and elsewhere, and most profoundly atop much hard work, strife and sadness within the LGBT organizations while “Protect Marriage” rubs its hands in mean glee.

And then I shake my head and I see it there — a brief glimpse of the future, in the light by the sea where we got married.  I see the light in our family and in our friends’ eyes. I see the light in the field across which my daughter runs, stretching towards the brightness of the moving sun, and I know we’re never going to pack it all up and go home, because we LIVE HERE, in this warmth of love and kindness, together with our friends and family, in the light by the sea.  No longer is it the year of failure and loss, but it continues to be the year meanness loses and kindness follows the sun, as day follows night, every single moment of every single day.

I asked my daughter if she learned anything new after our visit to the stars of the Morrisson Planetarium. “I learned that the Sun is a star,” she said wonderously. Twinkle twinkle, little star. To my wife and child and family and friends and community: All the best wishes as one year switches to the next.  You light up my life.

And we begin again.

The Perils of the Long Tail, or How I Singlehandedly Started the Jicama Allergy Rumor

It’s come to my attention that my top-visited post is not my daring stand back at Charla Bansley, nor my complete wraps of various Web 2.0 conferences, nor even my frank socialization of flight anxiety. No, it’s my random post about Jicama.

It’s not even a post about Jicama, but about a vague attempt at isolating the source of a mysterious and recurrent allergic reaction by listing Entirely Everything I Ate That Day. It was also a long time ago. And it was via blog import from an old blog, that in fact used to be private. And yet, that single post “could I be allergic to JICAMA?” gets views EVERY DAY.

Sure enough, I ventured to check on Google, entering ‘jicama’ and  ‘allergy,’ and I turn up FOURTH.

Please take note of this cautionary tale about the beloved “Long Tail.” When two words appear SO infrequently on the same page together in the Whole Wide World of Web (and mostly accidentally) such that my random hypersensitive rave about what food I could possibly be allergic to shows up top-tanked, it’s a rumor, not a fact – but one that I fear has substantiated many a “jicama allergy.” (There, I did it again.)

Just for the record books, to be clear, let me come out about this now: I am not aware of any kind of allergy to Jicama and mean the delicious crispy juicy root no discredit.

Now that you’re here anyway, I welcome you to take a look around at my other random musings — or run along to the other top-ranked results. Either way, good luck with your mystery allergies! (I never have figured mine out).

Facebook, Privacy, and Logan’s Run

Logan Look! The Crystal! (courtesy http://www.crazy4cinema.com/)

Logan Look! The Crystal! (courtesy http://www.crazy4cinema.com/)

Facebook has been rolling out its yet-another-“why hello there, new privacy” settings to you and to me in various alerts and yellow dialog boxes over the last week, providing me the chance to once again wonder whether I like this constant opportunity to reappraise what I share with whom and when.

As often occurs to me when I’m thinking of gardens and walls like these, I think of Logan’s Run. As the Old Man says:

You know, they’ve each got three names. Yes. The naming of cats is a difficult matter, It’s just not one of your holiday games; You may think at first that I am mad as a hatter, When I tell you that each cat’s got three different names. See, they got their ordinary name and then they got their fancy name. And that makes two names, doesn’t it? And now it’s got a third name. Can either of you two guess what that third name is? Come on! Above and beyond, there’s one name that’s left over, and this is the name you never will guess. The name that no human research can discover, but the cat itself knows, and never will confess.

(Abridged from The Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot)

It’s true. Like everybody, I have many faces. The Moya Watson you read here is usually carefully — sometimes even thoughtfully — crafted. I guess you could say this is my “fancy name.” (Though if you look to my earlier writings, they’re a lot more internal-monologue — imported from the nascent days of Blogger.)

Whereas, the moyalynne on Twitter is probably my “ordinary name.” This is my every-day “I’d rather be skiing than going to work” or “My daughter just said the most amazing thing” or “I just spilled my coffee”-silverware — and it’s published, for everyone, to see. It’s easy. Just like that.

AND THEN there’s Facebook. The Moya Watson on Facebook — like many — opens up a bit more in moments and images of herself and her family (usually ironically finding more nurture for this openness within the walled gardens of this closed environment). But she does this with people she knows, whereas with Twitter, she gets to meet people she never before knew.

Well, it was a somewhat easy distinction. Facebook, in starting to poke holes in that T.S.-Eliot-like interface, is drawing into a bigger Web of confusion. And the more we can tweak more of exactly who sees what and where (if we can fathom the Privacy Settings UI), the more the “Moya Watson of Facebook” finds she becomes an enigma.

It’s constantly strange to me when the freedom to just be who you are increases exponentially with more layers of protection. While no “social network” yet exists for the me inside my head, the name only I know and shall never confess, if it escaped it would probably — and then in that act itself — resemble little of me anyway.

At the present, I simply close those yellow alert boxes and find it’s too much worry trying to remain consistent and definitely too alienating for my psyche to have “the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload.”  I’m finding I worry less and less about when all these people converge, and simply just exist. Maybe even (gasp) not post.  It’s the  “Look at your palm! The Crystal! It’s clear!” moment.

Logan, look! Look at your palm. The crystal. It’s clear … We’re free! It must be

Sanctuary!

Outside?

Exposed?

And yet, I post.

Wardrobe Wrap of the Web 2.0 Summit

Seconds away from writing a serious post on the Web 2.0 Summit last week in San Francisco, my head aches, I have a meeting in way less than an hour and a different project or three to manage, several other writing assignments, and I decide what’s important for the moment is to instead cover the wild whimsical wacky wardrobe world that was this year’s Web 2.0 Summit. Why do I feel compelled to do this? I have no idea. (If I don’t get that serious post up by the end of today, I’m probably abducted by aliens). And yet here I go.

Erin McKean's Tetris Dress

Erin McKean's Tetris Dress

First and foremost in any wardrobe wrap has to be a gigantic shout out to Wordnik’s smart and sassy CEO and co-founder Erin McKean who pitched a great high-order bit on the excellent Wordnik as well as their newly launched API for the English Language, ALL in her hand-made Tetris dress.

Then there’s John Battelle, who always looks particularly natty in his blue jeans, dangling this teaser of a surprise Google spot and entreating us to guess who it is based on the shoes alone. To which my handy Twitter-mate @UberShoeDiva (who does indeed have the UberShoes) responded thusly: “What is he *wearing* on his feet?? Those can’t be shoes. I hope not. I really hope those are just some edgy socks.”
(Those by the way are Sergey Brin’s Vibram Five Fingers )

And actually I’d have to say John Battelle came in tied for first place for best jeans this year – and you’ll just have to scroll through this really excellent session on Humans as Sensors to see why (catch Mobilizy’s Markus Tripp in his excellent jeans – or you can just get a hint of them here).

Brady and UberShoeDiva (AKA Jaimee Clements)

Brady and UberShoeDiva (AKA Jaimee Clements) cut it up

In the same video, know that no wardrobe wrap would ever be complete without a mention of @brady’s gorgeous purple shirt, green plaid pants, and blue shoes. Once again this goes not unnoticed by UberShoeDiva.

One out-of-character note for himself and for the summit was Mr. Tim O’Reilly — who was constantly seen sporting a SUIT, making you wonder if he or we all had been abducted by aliens.

Contrast this with the baggy-jeaned teens – at least the one who uses Blackle instead of Google (to save energy) – from the excellent What Do Teens Want? panel – and you get an idea of why I really love the Web 2.0 Summit among all other conferences.

"the Zappos guys"

"the Zappos guys"

And I simply cannot ever forget @lwaldal’s commentary of the “Zappos guys:”I’m sitting in the 3rd row and pretty sure that josh, liam, maynard and john onstage right now are all wearing the same shoes.” This observation even made Industry-Standard fame.

And finally, though what it has to do with wardrobe or what wardrobe has to do with anything I’m not sure, thanks to @lwaldal for pointing out “a chandelier for balloon boy” in this shot of how the Ballroom was decked out:

"A Chandelier for Balloon Boy"

"A Chandelier for Balloon Boy" - @lwaldal

The conference was jam-packed and a lot of fun but tiring, so this shot perked me up just when I needed it.

And now with that off my chest…

My Favorite Mondegreens

Could this be My Candelabra? (thanks a75 and Creative Commons)

You're My Candelabra (via a75 and creative commons)

I know… They’re silly. But whenever I’m feeling like I need a little laugh — and sitting around waiting for the pending California Supreme Court decision qualifies as “needing a laugh” — SILLY IS GOOD.

The types of things that never fail to come my rescue in the service of silliness include:

Yes @brookish – who kicked-into-serious-search-and-rescue my recent mondegreenial obsession – with My Candelabra. Ergo I bring you without further delay — My Favorite Mondegreens — to the rescue!

That’s just a few.  For starters.  Of course — there are as many mondegreens in the world as there are funky sets of ears not dissimilar to ours, to try to interpret whatever the HECK anybody EVER says.  Isn’t it amazing that communication ever happens — and it does!

Thank you Brooke. I needed that — and I’ll need it again!

PS: Who knows how to properly embed blip.fm clips in the hosted WordPress version?  Please let me know! Thanks!

This American Life: Simple and Profound

This American Life - San Francisco on Twitpic

This American Life

Thanks to my wife for getting us out last night to see a live screening of This American Life.  Well, it was sort of a live screening — a “live” screening, as it were.  I mean — it was happening live as we were watching it, but we were watching it in a movie theater, so we were watching the movie of it.  I confess I spent much of the time being confused about what it is we were doing last night at all.

But it ended up being a great show, whatever it was.

I guess Ira Glass, host of public radio staple This American Life, is trying new ways to air the show. Originally just a radio-only show, you can also watch it on TV (but who knew that?), but what we did last night transcended the isolation of at-home viewing – almost like a stage play (even though we were watching the movie version), it was a good way to feel social at movie theater, while also feeling connected across the country with viewers in hundreds of different cities.

If that’s really confusing, let me let them explain what it was:

Ira Glass will host an actual episode of the radio program, performed onstage by some of our favorite contributors. Dan Savage, Starlee Kine, and Mike Birbiglia will tell stories. David Rakoff and Dave Hill will conduct a ‘special investigation.’ Plus a new cartoon by Chris Ware, additional visuals by Arthur Jones, and a very special appearance by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! The performance will last around two hours. We’re going to capture the whole thing with a bunch of HD cameras, and send it live* to movie theatres all over the country.

“Return to the scene of the crime,” they called it, with a recurring theme of people wrestling in various ways with letting go, such as of a grave wrongdoing (Birbiglia), or via beating to death your “mother and father” (pillows) with a whiffle bat (Kine), or of a parent and the letting-go/coming-back tango of the Church (Savage). There was even a musical performance thrown in for good measure, and the pre-show anagrams and hangmans were super fun.

We went into the movie theater in the Bloomingfields’ shopping center in San Francisco to see it, which even added to my confusion about where we were going and what we were seeing.

The Alternate Exit on Twitpic

alternate exit route

We really enjoyed Ira Glass’s way of telling stories even if we didn’t always like the specific stories. He both leads us to simple profundities and seems to facilitate telling of such profundities.

Somehow appropriately, we got lost on the way out of the theater and went down a funky service stairwell, brightly lit and decorated with different sorts of servicable graffiti.  I have no idea what it means to “attach to a wall,” but while the crowd merrily followed us along down the strange stairwell, I felt community.