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September 22, 2010

Lighten Me Up
Wednesday. Up early, having left a note to self in the kitchen reminding me this was the morning the dumpster would be sitting out on the sidewalk on the way to my morning café awaiting pickup, so I zipped through the usual routine and indeed, found it sitting there waiting for me and the three or four pieces of crap I had in the trunk. It didn't have room for everything, but enough so I need but one more week for all of it to be gone. (Hup! Hup!)

So breakfast, of course, back to the apartment only to turn around and head out the door again for a bus, then a very short ride on BART to find the Customer Service Section said to be located at the Lake Merritt stop. Which it was. They took my form, checked my I.D. and told me to call them at the number on the bottom of the application if it didn't arrive within three weeks. So I've got a “senior” Clipper card in the works! No more going by the local bus office to get my monthly pass, no more senior BART tickets bought at the few places that sell them, no more scrambling for the right amount of money to get on a San Francisco bus!

A quick ride back (what else?), a picture or two along Broadway, why these pictures I have no idea, although the light was interesting that early in the morning and I don't normally see so few cars on the streets.

I have to admit I've been turning this Clipper card thing over in my mind. Not a big deal, a card used to get on any of the local bus, train or trolly cars around the Bay Area. Not everyone is up and running on it yet, but all have the equipment being installed. One card linked to your bank account to use for all of them. Place it on the Clipper reader circle and you're in. Which is nice, but not really why I've been thinking about it for these last couple of months.

How does something like a Clipper card add to productivity? How many Clipper card type systems are being put in here, there and everywhere on any given day of the week? It eliminates a lot of work (and clerical jobs), but reduces the cost associated with providing a service, transportation in this case, and adds to the general welfare, the general welfare being all of us not employed pushing monthly bus stickers through the bottom slot cut into a pane of bullet proof glass.

For some reason that's had me wondering how much efficiency is being pumped into the system through this computer networking business? The smart phones, the card readers, the gas and electricity readers that allow you (and they) to reduce our power consumption? I'm not sure economists are able to measure what these things are adding to our overall efficiency except as they're included in the larger monitored aggregates, but I would assume they're having an effect. A revolution going on in front of our eyes (at least us older ones who've experienced life before the web) that is indeed a revolution, acknowledged by one and all as a revolution, but a revolution with much broader consequences than what we now see as so obvious.

There's the other side, of course, not what I'm talking about here, but as a good long time member of the ACLU I'm well aware of the Big Brother aspects. In addition to Big Brother we've got the loss of clerical jobs, yes; the outsourcing of jobs, yes; the constant always on call connection to the work place extending the work day to twenty-four-seven, yes. Those we see and experience, some of it good, some of it evil, some of it waiting to hit us up beside the head when it's revealed at some later date. What, what, what? Chips in the brain one day? They're working on it (under a different name for different purposes). Who knows? The ice caps are melting, we have plenty of other things on our plate to worry about.

You really think about this stuff?

I suspect I always did. Not just now with time on my hands and retirement. You don't really think about the complexity of things, the people doing this that will one day bring down the financial system, as they've reliably done over the centuries; the people doing that with the moth-balled nuclear stuff who shouldn't have left those storage doors unlocked; the coal executive who spends millions pooh pooh'ing global warming while his plant pumps out gas that will bring the oceans to the door step. (Too bad about those little Pacific islands, but they're small countries and these things happen. Too bad about Florida too, but not for another few of decades, keep those coal fires burning.)

All this stuff going on, all these opinions about what it means, how much of our life is determined by chance. Things I, for one, didn't think about at the time - the Cuban missile crisis comes to mind - that could have blown us all to hell if someone had coughed at the wrong time. How much Vodka might Khrushchev had had that one night before the morning when the bombers sat idling on the tarmac, their bays loaded for Bear? Would have made my life a bit different had they taken flight, had there been a life. Silly child.

This is all apocalypse stuff?

Not really. There is that, but the Clipper cards and their like have different consequences, not all of them known, but most of them at first glance pretty good. Just stuff that's going on, usually in the background. Look what's happened to cameras in the last ten years, how much better they are at capturing images. How much cheaper and easier they are to use. Phones now come with video cameras. Just one little niche area here, just one little niche area there, each revolutionized within a decade.

Mr. E's comment on older cars, how the newer cars are so much better, his comment on the old Jensen - a short lived exotic sports car of yesteryear - can now be blown off the road by something as ordinary as a Honda Civic. Changes. Changing. Boggles the mind. Boggles my mind. Here in Oakland.

So maybe this is just me babbling, the brain spinning with its tail in its teeth, but the Clipper thing has indeed provoked my interest. And (did I mention?) I'm getting one in the mail next week!

Later. Later now in the afternoon after a walk down the way for a chocolate something and a cup of coffee at the usual place, the temperature fine, the sky clear. They're saying a high of seventy-one today, perfect for someone like me. The sinus-head thing seems to have retreated from its unusually aggressive stance this morning. I'm not sure it's useful to think about it one way or another until these various medications I'm taking have done their stuff and I've been off them for a while. What do they add to my day to day upset, what side effects do they create? I have no idea.

So things aren't great? You think the meds?

The sake at my local sushi place followed by a bit more than some might recommend here at the apartment last night could have added their weight. Still, it's been not good today, then again it's been not good on other days when the alcohol wasn't present. I'll put it aside until I've finished with them, see what happens. An earlier double dose of the pain meds seem to have straightened things out, but that's always worrisome. Taking pain meds. And then taking more.

Three music CD's showed up this morning in the mail. Maybe play them as I'm practicing the guitar. Pretend the sounds Santana's making are coming from me, deedle-dee-dee! That should lighten me up (hup! hup!).

The photograph was taken at the 2010 JPop Festival with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens.