Do You Study Life Or Let Life Study You?

She watches the small spider spinning outside of her window taking in both the first light of day and the thread work of the arachnid.  Each little frame thread becomes an anchor for the rest of the radius threads ready for a spin later.

A sip of coffee floats downstream as the Garuda blend lifts a tantalizing steam to her nostrils.  Laying back on the couch with Charlotte still in view, she pulls out her mini spaceship to explore more about spider webs on How Stuff Works.  Spider anatomy 101 right here at the finger tip.

Days before her friend was walking down a steep hill and noticed a small pillbug making way from the grass to the street. She stopped to watch and decided that this little crustacean must be lost. Walking in the direction of cars parked at a curb with a wide street to cross would surely cause its demise.  Before continuing, she decided to stand by this tiny tank to help it find a destination. From her pocket, she withdrew her handheld spaceship to look up some information about the little roly poly before her.  Number 6 on a list of 10 interesting facts reveal:  A pillbug can drink with its anus.
Though pillbugs do drink the old-fashioned way – with their mouthparts – they can also take in water through their rear ends. Special tube-shaped structures called uropods can wick water up when needed.

Hmmm.  OK. She then spotted two gentlemen walking in her direction feeling certain that they would step on this little bitty bit of life.  She found a magazine in her bag to help the bug by swooping it up and onto the grass.  It immediately balled up and starting rolling downhill, gaining momentum quickly.  “Oh no!”

Just then her phone started buzzing with a picture of an ornate blonde on the screen smiling at her.  “My sister calls.” She managed to stop the bug and connect the call while sis began to blather on about the items she just procured online from Macy’s and OSH. Hearing her sister out of breath, she inquired, “What are you huffing and puffing about?”  Just then, the two men walked by while the little pill scrambled into a safe place in the grass. She stood up, “I just saved a life.” Her sister quickly jumped to conclusions of heroine-like proportions: car accident, earthquake, house burning, child run down by a car…

“No, it was a pillbug about to be stepped on.”

Her sister stopped.  “You’re weird, you know that? You’re 50-years-old, and you’re still playing with bugs. That’s just weird.” Then she spoke further about how every time she even thinks about something to buy it seems to show up in her Facebook ads and in her Yahoo mail digest and it just made her want to buy more things, but then every time she bought something she was tantalized into buying something just like it in a different color or style and…

She looked up into the sky at the birds flying overhead while the little voice in the spaceship rambled on.

Spider's web pillbug in curl

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Music Boxes

Follow me down the path of the pretty boxes all lined up for your viewing and listening pleasure. I’ve been blogging about the boxes we live in and work in (especially my own), and now I’m looking up many more box top treats.

Music Boxes!  Did you ever have one of those? I’ve lived in one or another most of my life, and they are marvelous creations! They come in all shapes and sizes and are usually of the wind-up variety or spring-loaded to the opening of a door. So delicate and sweet the little plinkety-plink sound of the music that entices your aural senses. I received one once when I was a wee lass and played it endlessly throughout my formative years whenever I needed a little lift. My Mom gave me another one when I was 14 or so. It was not a box, but rather a mini stage upon which sat a grand piano made of glass that played “You Light Up My Life” when the turnkey wound up. My Mom told me that it had belonged to my Great Grandmother, but I couldn’t believe it though I played along. ‘-)  Debbie Boone had brought the Joseph Brooks penned tune to the masses in 1977 and I wanted to debate Mom about the fact that G-Grandma had passed way before my birth, but she liked to believe her stories, so I let this one go.

I’ve sung in music boxes too: the small acoustically-treated boxes in studios (called an “iso-booth”) as well as the live and reverberant ones filled with people and booze called nightclubs. These are two very different music boxes.  You pay for one type that puts you under a microscope in a holy torture of sorts as you attempt to sing or play the notes of the song perfectly.  The other pays you to entertain humans, and no one cares if you make a mistake here and there. In fact, sometimes that’s called brilliance.

If you’re an audio person who likes to record yourself, then you’re well aware of the times you have purchased audio programs for recording and editing. Though the software arrives on a disc that could easily be mailed in an envelope, often, it arrives in a box that has no other reason than to look big.  The box literally holds a thin, plastic optical disc and some paperwork about copyright infringement and other legalese. This is one reason that I’m glad to have a cloud to download from, but some programs are just so biggie big. Microphones and other audio gear purchased by musicians usually arrive in boxes too. A speaker is a boxed enclosure that contains one or more drivers and a crossover, and if it is active, it contains an active crossover along with amplifiers that provide power to the drivers (aka speakers).

Bud, take the wheel.  I feel a song coming on,” claimed Malvina Reynolds as she penned “Little Boxes“, (copyright 1962 – the year of my first breath of life). If you can make it past the 6-second commercial, this lil YouTube video shows you how a music box works. Music Box 2                  music-box_reuge-verona-orchestral

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Work in the Box

You remember Jack?  He worked in a box…one that made you fast food. Now, his box is gone and his logo has gone all artsy fontsy.

When I think of the boxes I have worked in, it makes me realize that many people work in the same box for years and years. I can’t imagine doing that. I’ve exchanged one box for another after some time in each. The longest box I’ve worked in is the one I’m in now. Even though it’s in a building with horrific non-working HVAC, so that it’s really cold like a meat locker one day, and a 90-degree sweat box another, it’s truly a cool place.  Why? Because it’s a series of recording studios and computer labs at the college that I teach at. We have the most amazing students who come to learn in our boxes in the department known as Broadcast Electronic Media Arts at City College of San Francisco.  Recording studio boxes are amazing. The studios that I have taken my classes to visit are elaborate boxes where the owner has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars not only on the equipment used to record a music artist, but also on the walls and the acoustic treatment and the furnishings. AMAZING boxes those!

I have also toured in live sound for a chunk of years which brings one to one box after another night after night.  Depending on the success of the band, those boxes can be pretty gritty and small, and they can sometimes be gorgeous music halls decked out for fantastic sound.  A different box every night from 1993 – 1995  touring around the U.S. several times and Europe was definitely the toughest work life in boxes. Those years certainly helped to build my moxie. I became a mini Amazon in those years.

My first big box out of the college box back in the 1980’s was at a huge 20,000 sq ft office supply box called Schwabacher-Frey.  I answered an ad to work in their warehouse as I wanted a mindless job after college to work on my songwriting while working.  I figured that if I didn’t have to use my brain too much, I could concentrate on lyrics in my mind while pulling reams of paper and one gross of pens to ship off somewhere to a buyer. But after my interview, a guy higher up the food chain called me into the “front office” where he sat me down: “You went to UC Berkeley.  What are you doing applying for a job in my warehouse?”  I answered the exact truth.  He laughed and said, “Well, I need you somewhere else because I need some brains in my purchasing department. I can see that you’ve never done that, but I’m sure you can learn fast.” He chuckled as he walked me over to two casually-dressed women to introduce us and said, “This is Dana. She’s a member of your new purchasing staff.  Show her the ropes.”   So much for mindless work.  I learned a lot about the perks of working for a company that sells goods:  you get deep employee discounts. So, that particular work box sold a lot of stuff in boxes (pens, paper, staples, binders, paperclips, etc.) that shipped in container boxes via trucks shaped like long boxes to people around the Bay Area and beyond who worked in other boxes.

baby in a box_Finland I hear that the Finnish people keep their babies in maternity boxes.

Voila!  More to come.  Stay tuned.

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Rooms of One’s Own – a box in a box in a box


I couldn’t sleep anymore by 3a, so I awoke to find a link someone had posted about my play on the Virginia Woolf title in this blog post and the story, so I decided that I will write about more boxes lived and worked in after a beachwalk later today.

Originally posted on danajae33:

Life is a box. We live in one, we work in one, we drive in one, we stare at one, we type on one, we ship boxes in boxes to other destination boxes.

I’ve been contemplating all of the boxes I’ve lived in since I embarked on my adult journey from San Diego to San Francisco in 1980. I moved north and never looked back.  My Mom followed me here after a horrible stint in Las Vegas leaving her lifeless.  I beckoned her to come to the Bay.

I think I’ve moved more times and lived in more places than military personnel. I have staked my claim to a box all over the Bay Area, everywhere but across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north.  I’ve lived in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, San Francisco, and San Jose (and yes, “I know the way”, Burt Bacharach.)

I’m almost 52 and…

View original 1,479 more words

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Westward Expansion – Health and Wealth

History repeating…  (Click the hyperlink, watch, and TURN IT UP! One of the best time capsule video and song mashups EVER!) Then, please come back and proceed:

Those of you who are American history buffs know this best, but I’m going to give it the modern American media CliffsNotes (remember those?) style timeline:

  • Early 1800’s – President Jefferson purchased a huge amount of territory from the French for $15 million.  Yup, just that much for a land grab from Canada to New Orleans and the Missississsisssisssssippi River to the Rocky Mountains, thereby doubling the size of the United States.  Woof!
  • Westward expansion was the key to the nation’s wealth (President Jefferson wrote).

Bullet train into the future, and it’s now January 25th, 2015.  Westward Expansion has been in play for quite some time, and this genius just woke up to the reality that TEXANS are buying up San Francisco along with the Chinese.  Let’s face it:  some of America’s most beautiful coastline is right here, and several of the richest counties in the state are just moments north and south of San Francisco.  QuickNote for those who do not live in SF, and I’m proud to have a few of you readers in other countries that I wish to live in, some day. Here, in San Francisco, California, USA, a 940-sq-ft Victorian home in Bernal Heights sold for $1.2M a few months back. So that’s one small 940-sq-ft home in a tiny parcel in SF for the price of…OK, you don’t need to be a math wizard to catch my drift with  President Jefferson’s purchase a couple of hundred years ago.  WHOA!

Folks, we are not among the richest counties in the nation!  The top 10 doesn’t include the counties here in Cali even with Silicon Valley in our midst. That status belongs to several counties around the DC Beltway (yeah, go figure – Hello Capitalism and government control) and a couple of counties in Colorado and New Mexico. (What, not oil-rich Texas? Nope.)  Median incomes in those top 10 of American counties are in the $105K range and up…(See the aforementioned bullet list.)

So what are the wealthy doing with their money?  Well, the Texans are expanding their fortunes in the west. They are heading out to the north coast with their wealth for their health and other benefits…It’s beautiful here; the weather is awesome. (Yes, the past 365 days, especially, seem to bring Central Coast, and Southern Cali-style weather…it’s becoming more lovely to be on the beach than ever in San Francisco.) You could say that some Californians are moving to Texas as well.  Check out this interesting article in Forbes. The lower-middle class can’t afford to live here anymore because the carpetbaggers are moving in, buying up, jacking up, and even taking over public schools.

{Insert the sound of a car’s brakes squealing at an intersection where someone forgot to stop and is about to hit a pedestrian.}

Wait, what?  What is this last bit about the schools?

At my school, a public college, there are numerous Texans who have acquired some high-level seats that administrate the school.  At the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Board of Governors,  a few in a similar position determine the fate of public higher education.

Ahem!  Excuse me?  But this is California!  Texas doesn’t have a great track record on public education!  What are they doing here?

Exactly, dear Reader.  My point!

America, for the past thirty years, has created a lawless nation of top-down management (pretending to be otherwise).  This nation favors those in the $$$ million+ bracket and they rule the people living in the DC Beltway who are in the highest median income bracket who have been working to deny everyone beneath their pay grade.  Representation???  I don’t think so!  What better way to denigrate the country (and the globe) into subservience than to put the educators into a lesser class of worker-bee.  Then, dismantle and disrespect them so that the public no longer receives the education that can create a nation of cognitive thinkers.

Westward Expansion

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Open Casket Wedding

It’s my new band name.  Open Casket Wedding – has a ring to it, no?  (Pardon the pun.) Today’s post is about the songs I heard today and the title is about living with the people who have taken over my beloved workplace, making each day funereal.

Well, with the first brutal week of a new semester behind me, I tried every morning this weekend to awaken with a positive shining light. This particular morning, I was looking forward to the SF Labor Council breakfast honoring Belva Davis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Who is Belva Davis you ask???  Click the hyperlink to her Wiki! I set my alarm clock to be sure I had ample time to dress appropriately for the upscale breakfast and ceremony at City View at Metreon.  At 5:45am the radio alarm sounded with “Dance Into The Fire” – Duran Duran. Since I tossed and turned all early morning 2:30a until that alarm song sounded, thoughts of my college and the people from Texas, who have subsumed the administration, consumed my mind. I allowed a few lyric lines to pass through the air:

Meeting you, with a view to a kill
Face to face in secret places, feel the chill.
Night fall covers me, but you know the plans Im making,
Still oversea, could it be the whole world opening wide
A sacred why?, a mystery gaping inside
The weekends why?Until we dance into the fire
That fatal kiss is all we need
Dance into the fire,
To fatal sounds of broken dreams

before I hit the 10-min snooze in the dark of the not-quite-sunrise morning.

Next song to awaken me:

“I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle”

OK, no more snooze.  Wake the “F” up.  These lyrics are not making me feel good after pondering the hell of my workplace throughout my fitful sleep.  I clean-up, dress-up, and head out the door. Upon my arrival, I am surprised by the number of people all seeming to be heading toward the location I seek. So, I inadvertently lead the crowd into a Target that looks like the entrance to the Metreon.  All of us ride the escalator up with me in the lead. Doesn’t look like the Metreon to me, so I stop a security guard in front of me who points toward the Yerba Buena entrance which is around the corner.  I see half the crowd coming up the escalator as I’m heading down:  “Looks like it’s over this way, folks.” We all have a nice laugh together about our journey up the escalator to Target; it’s hardly the location for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast.

An interesting morning ensues with connections via hugs, handshakes, business card swapping and the like before some great speeches by the various people involved in this morning’s event. However, I had to turn my back on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has been turning this city upside down since his election. He reminds me of the tubby man in the Monopoly game who constantly charges you for taxes and the like in the Community Chest card-pulls. He’s going on about how he carries MLK Jr. with him as he sets about building more affordable housing for San Francisco…REALLY?  Where the “F” where? This city is filled with condos and high-rises going up EVERYWHERE, and you can’t even find a studio apartment for less that $2200/month.  Who is he kidding?  Out of a couple hundred attendees, he gets a few claps at the end of his speech. Clearly, this crowd knows what’s up.

I see one of the Texans who has taken a lofty position at the college where I teach. Wow, OK.  Some of them are here too, I think to myself though I’m sitting at the AFT2121 labor table encircled with fellow laborers.  The lyrics from the morning book a return flight to my brain. Back to the table and the wonderful people all around, more speeches, some music, and Belva Davis honored with a monumental piece of art that she cannot lift. Heavy.

On the way home, I turn on the local radio station and hear:  “KFOG’s A-to-Z” and they are on the letter “W”.  How’d I miss that?  OK, so here come the “What” songs. I sit through “What It’s Like” by Everlast and I figure that any minute I’m going to hear the K-Tel hit of the 90’s by Linda Perry “What’s Up”, but other “what” titled songs play, and I’m at my destination to complete my errands for the day.

The last song lyric wrapped it up for me, and I figure is my mantra along with one more I’ll share with anyone who feels like you’re in a predicament in the workplace:

“When the world is running down, you take the best of what’s still around.”

Sting again.  Interesting…This lyric certainly fills me with a slightly more positive edge. And this from one of my favorite City College of San Francisco, Art department faculty friends who wrote this to me yesterday about our troubled college: “I sometimes feel like I am being trained to become a Zen master in this process, learning to detach myself from too much sorrow or happiness, but simply increase my awareness and be in the moment.”    (perfect)  Thank you, Mine’ Ternar. You have written the perfect meme to carry forward into this second week of school.

I am reminded that there are far less fortunate souls in jobs that are not good for them, mentally, physically, and spiritually and many more without jobs, so who am I to complain?

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  We shall overcome.

we shall overcome

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2 Million Light Years Away

Wouldn’t it be something to travel to this beautiful, million+-star galaxy of light to see the life inside?  Is it harmonious? Is the Andromeda galaxy (m31) filled with love and light? It seems there must be life out there that celebrates the success of its species…

Perhaps it takes that distance to be far enough away from the greed of mankind to find peace, love, understanding, community, sharing, forgiveness, trust, and health. Certainly, it seems the closer I get to the end of my life,  the more exponentially rapid-firing the fate of humanity threatens our every day.  Feeling the wind rearing up to blow us all into a particle of dust to be read about in some future time capsule that arrives at m31.

The small center of my world fills up regularly with the misdeeds, Machiavellian calculations, and deceitful, closed-door chatter among a small group of elites.  The disruption of the caring cornucopia known as my workplace continues its headstrong stance.  A one-two punch delivered one too many times to the students, faculty, and staff for the past several years create a monster gathering of individuals soon to be left with an empty building. Woe is me as I witness the will of the underprivileged who wish for a few ESL classes to make significant life changes. Dishearten: to cause (a person or group of people) to lose hope, enthusiasm, or courage: to discourage (someone).

The palmy upper administrators have been busy during a brief winter respite of the worker and drone bees.

2 million light years =  1.17569996 × 1019 miles (according to
Light Year: the distance light travels in one year, or approximately 5.88 trillion miles.
Andromeda galaxy
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