“Big Boy Pants?”

This was the question from late night genius Stephen Colbert to “Last Week Tonight’s” star John Oliver: “Are you wearing ‘big boy’ pants?…I’m wearing a suit.”

Colbert smiles wide and Oliver lifts up his leg to the camera to point out his “sweat pants” — so, no, he had succumbed to what everybody is doing these days as we shelter in place at home. (My neighbor tells me that sales of “tops” are up as more people try to look good/better on videoconference calls.)

As you can tell, I got a chuckle out of the question Colbert asked…specifically because it seemed so…childish. I cracked a smile and, these days, I need to do a lot of that.

Oh, try this one out for a laugh: Tom Hanks playing a dolt on SNL’s version of Jeopardy with Will Ferrell playing the straight-man Alex Trebeck. I laughed hard, reference “Catch These Men” category.

Laugh. Laugh more. Yes, the disease is serious but we humans aren’t all the time.

How do we talk to each other?

I posted this on nextdoor.com that 15,000 people in my local vicinity could see. I thought it was very courageous of me. It helped that I had had a couple of shots of Cazaderos tequila (zero calories according to my Carbs Manager mobile app). I got the bottle from the Sam’s Convenience Store on the corner of Clark and E Streets in Santa Rosa: I love the place! Yes, it has quite a diverse homeless clientele.

How do we talk to each other?

I had a small complaint about another human (who doesn’t live in the neighborhood) about his/her parking. A good part of the time, I endeavor to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, fair but….I’m a New York Jewish guy and, sometimes, my heritage gets to me. It’s very easy for this kind of guy (me) to become a righteous, vindictive asshole: it’s in my genes?

So, I wrote this letter to a guy who parked in front of my house and…prevented me from parking in front of my house…I put it on his windshield. Was that wrong?

It makes me realize, especially in these times of political polarization, how I don’t know how to talk to people “on the other side.” I don’t have the skills and I haven’t gone out on a mission with an intent to acquire them…I think I should work to learn how to talk to “them” because the future of humanity and the planet might depend on doing just that….

Here’s the letter: let me know what you think I could have done better. I haven’t yet heard back from him or her but I’m kind of hoping I do….I have this fantasy that we will become good friends.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Hi there fellow human,

Parking: it’s an art.

Two years ago when I first moved here, I got a note like this — handwritten and not so nice — because I wasn’t conscious about my parking on this street and I screwed things up for my neighbor across the street.  Yes, it wasn’t nearly as nice.  

See, when a car is parked is parked in the middle of the envelope in front of a house, it prevents another car from parking there.  There’s actually room for two cars in that space where you parked. I would have parked there, too,  but, instead, I’m risking it with my landlord by parking in the driveway. (I try not to do that too often; he gets quite irritated with me.)

I’m trying to be kind and hope you can see that.  I shy away from being an asshole even though I know very well how to be that guy: I’m a Jewish guy from New York…there you have it.

So, if you could be more conscious next time you park on this — or any other – street.  That would be great.  If you have any questions, talk to my lawyer Rudy Giulani…he knows what’s going on.


Thanks.  Have a good weekend.

George, trying not to be an asshole so let me know how I did

What I can do for someone who’s homeless

I had a relaxed day today: PG&E cut power in some areas so the pressure was off me to do electrical work.

I’m hoping that I can encourage others, even myself, to be inspired to do some small act to make a difference in the life of someone who is disadvantaged.

I went to ship some packages in Bennett Valley and, after completing that task, I decided, in my relaxed state, to address a woman and her two children (one in a stroller): “What do you need?” I wasn’t very eloquent or smooth. I had to prompt her and asked: “…a chicken…some other food?….) It took some courage for me to do that because I always fear these people thinking I’m going to feel guilty if I don’t offer SOME help.

When I asked the young girl (7?), she said she wanted some Cheerios. The mom chimed in and said something about milk and she motioned a gallon size jug.

My eloquent response: “OK.”

I went off to Safeway and did my shopping: I got her a turkey breast (Thanksgiving is right around the corner.); some bread; a gallon of whole milk (not 2%).

I checked myself out, with a slight smile. Put it all in a bag and walked over to her: “here’s what I got you….” She thanked me. God, it felt GOOD!

I took an action to alleviate someone else’s suffering. She still needed rent money but I didn’t address that….I guess that next I could get her name, open up an account for her and recruit folks to help her make her rent.

A Stranger Isn’t

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 6:53am

Yes, she is comfortable.

Timer is set at 15 minutes.  Second cup of coffee: half decaf.  Chloe is comfy on the couch — she seems to go there in the middle of the night after starting with cuddles with me at bedtime.  

Sinead O’Connor playing on Spotify: “Nobody Compares 2 U.”  That’s an old one and it plays into a subject I wanted to address since yesterday: the abject vulnerability I felt as a father with my young sons.

The idea / memory came to me as I was working alone in a little well house / laundry area in a bucolic setting in the middle of a suburban landscape in the eastern part of Santa Rosa, east of Farmers Lane. I was re-wiring the place and upgrading from unshielded wiring.  I had my library of music playing and along came Cathie Ryan, a wonderful Celtic / Irish / folk singer the boys and who performed at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Hinsdale, Illinois.  It must have been 1995 of ’96.  It was me and the boys.

She was part of, oh, at least six performers that the Church had booked for monthly Saturday night concerts in their sanctuary / auditorium through the winter months.  Ellis Paul.  Sally Fingerett.  Some well known names, apparently, in folk circles: I had heard of none of them before I saw them at these concerts but my life is now richer because of them.  And, so are the lives of my boys.

The concert series was initially an effort, on my part, to help my marriage.  Financially challenged, it was my best effort to find something that we could afford and that my second wife and I could attend together and enjoy and would involve a short car ride.  Hinsdale was a solid 30-45 minutes from our home in Batavia, Illinois.  

At the time, the thought of spending 45 minutes in the car was a scary notion to me: the marriage was in trouble and I was scared: scared to be in it; scared of being out of it; scared of spending time with her.  We feared each other.  Spending the time with each other was an activity I thought we just had to do.

So, this folk series was a chance for us to get away, at least once per month, from our brood of four (two stepchildren from her previous marriage), a 7- and a 4-year old and our life of financial, emotional and psychological challenges.  It didn’t take long before Patty, due to work or some other reason, was not able to attend the concerts with me so I began going with the boys.

As season ticket holders, we had the privilege of front-row seats: we were less than 20 feet away from the performers.  Even though it was music we knew little about, it was exciting to be in “the thick of it.”

Cathie Ryan, http://www.cathieryan.com, a beautiful person gifted with a supple voice, greeted us after the show to sign CD’s (that we were purchasing, of course).  She remarked at the handsomeness of Ethan and Alexander: they were.  On the CD cover, in black Sharpie, she made some kind of remark to that effect: “handsome boys.”  I always liked seeing that when I take out her CD.

The timer went off minutes ago: I will keep writing because I want to see if there’s some thread that comes together on its own in this story.

Chicago’s Petrillo Band Shell

Several years later, maybe 1999 or so, the boys and I went to some festival in downtown Chicago near what is now Millennium Park.  The festival included an appearance from Cathie Ryan on the Petrillo Music Shell.  After her set, we went to get another CD and greet her.  She remembered my boys from that night in Hinsdale years before.  And, she remembered the inscription she wrote about them.  

I smiled.  What else could I do?  I was just floored by her indelible memory of my boys and, by association, me.  We mattered.  A stranger remembered US.  A kind stranger.  A gifted stranger.  And, in the end, not a stranger.

The concert series that, in some small way, kept me and Patty together for almost 15 more years, morphed into a profound lesson in serendipity and love.  

I’m moved to tears by the splendor and beauty of it all and by the memories of the joy I experienced as a proud and loving father and the pain of trying to be a decent husband.  I don’t think I succeeded.  

Life goes on.  And, so it is.

100 Billion Stars: July 29, 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018  10:03am

“Steps Ahead” is playing.  Older fusion jazz group from the 90’s featuring Mike Manieri on the vibes.  Similar to Spyrogyra, Yellowjackets.  Don’t know how much longer I can

keep them on: the music can be too “jazzy” and unpredictable for me and, when I’m writing, I need something consistent.

Timer is at 12 minutes left.  Can I make some tea?  No.  I’ll have to wait for this session to run out first.

Went to dinner with my friend Jan last night: there are some great food places around here.  Just amazing stuff.  We went to Santa Rosa Seafood.  Got some oysters on the half shell but they can’t get any from Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall, California.  Apparently, they only supply their own restaurants.  The server says they’ve got four restaurants now.  I didn’t know that.  We liked the shrimp ceviche and the cod tacos.

Dinner was great and so was conversation.  Both Jan and I, up to date on politics, have no idea what’s going to happen with Mueller’s investigation, Michael Cohen, etc.  In some ways, it’s better when I don’t pay much attention even though there is some drama every day with this administration.

What’s nagging at me today?  Late last night, I was searching for a documentary series since I have exhausted, several times over, all of the episodes on PBS’ Nova and Nature series.  I ended up finding “How the Universe Works.”  I need these kinds of shows to make me feel better about all the “empty” TV I watch: “Monk,” “The Closer,” “Nikita,” “Psych,” “Goliath,” etc.  I even started watching the first episode of the second season of “Fortitude.” the other night.  Dark stuff.  I can watch one episode per night of the dark stuff like Fortitude or Goliath.

So, “How the Universe Works:” it makes me feel way too small: there are more stars in the universe than there are specks of sand on land.  Is that really true?  100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the Universe?  (Why did I capitalize it there?)

How to form a star?  Hydrogen, gravity and time.  I have none of those so I guess I’m not making a star anytime soon.  

So, watching that series, it’s clear that the Earth (capitalized on purpose because it’s my planet) is small in comparison to our sun.  And, our sun is small compared to many other suns / stars.

I end up feeling like I’m insignificant.  And, I don’t like feeling that way.

The timer has gone off: I’ll go make my tea.