Follow me to Aldebaran,

far away from here. Allow me a flight to the Orange star where greed is never near. The Constellation Taurus will bring a light to guide us.

 We leave behind false hope in deities, money, and disease. 

We leave behind the theories, Shivas, and the tyrannies. 

We leave behind hatred, gluttony, and stealing. 

We leave behind the bickering, the steering amidst the sneering.

The only lies we carry are those horizontal upon which one lay.

Like fireflies burning bright, we’ll do whatever we may.

We shall fly up to the Pleiades, 444.2 light years from here. Then round about, a part way back to the fiery Bull’s eye more near. 

Raise your hand if you’re coming with me. Close your eyes; make it clear. 



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America: Enough of the TOXIC STRESS on the Middle Already!

Have you been holding your head in your hands for so long now that you realize your arms don’t belong in that place connected to the head?

I teach for a living and man, and I have got to tell ya:  this living is simply not that at all. Life in education is so rough road, slipshod, snake bite, back stabbing, bee sting, broken record, and laughable til you cry that reality has grabbed a hold of our collective throats. This reality regards the complete capitalist, corporate take-over of education which not only makes the average American think, but also believe, that teachers are the trouble with America. It’s AMAZING what money can buy!

Do you wish to know what toxic stress does to you?  My pals at have a word about that.  A quote from the site: “According to the Centers for Disease Control, as much as 90% of all disease and illnesses are stress related. Toxic stress costs America more than $300 billion per year. It is a part of daily life and always will be. However, too much stress can be deadly.”

I’ve lived with so much work stress over the past three years that I’m the walking dead.  Did you read that?  They made a streaming IV show out of my zombie life…(Yes, IV = TV, smarty pants). All I want is to do a great job for the people in my life that I care about, yet, that is not enough. Administrators earn all of the money in higher education at this point, and they are laughing all of the way to the taxpayer bank.

Poor you, taxpayer!  You thought that the extra parcel tax would take care of you, your daughter,  son, and their teenagers who wish to go to the amazing community college in your neighborhood.  But, look out!  Texas has rolled in and taken the top admin spots and is looting the college treasury!  They’ve hired their friends who need to hire consultants and assistants in order to get their jobs done because they don’t know about California Education Code!
A higher-power accreditation commission that has lost its collective mind and soul told us that we needed to hire more administrators.   And here we are, top-heavy, herky-jerky, not hunky-dory, F’ed up the wazoo, and left hanging to dry. Those of us educating our students full-time are also in a bull-run trying to clean up the mess left behind by the frat party.  This mess makes “Game of Thrones” look like a mellow domino game.

This looks like the rest of America, folks. It is the big beat down, bum rush, take out the middle to give the 1% more dough because they sure don’t want to share it with those of us who protect them, teach them, nurse them, pave the roads for them…Fuck+the+1

Here’s one for the tombstone:  FUCK them!

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School, Music, Reading, Weather, Big Data, Yik Yak, and All Sorts of Non-Sequiturs

Coming to you live from the “HOW TO CONNECT WITH STUDENTS” side of a college campus. My friends, over here in my end of the world at City College of San Francisco in the Broadcast Electronic Media Arts department, we work together in a wonderful mesh of students, faculty, and staff who make a huge difference in the lives of the population of the college who seek a “something else” in the world of career choices. Interesting and inspirational, it’s a brave mix of students with a 4-year degree from somewhere else mixed with those who hail from a barely-existent early childhood education who have luckily found us through several awesome programs  on our campus such as our nationally renown Veterans Services Program, Equal Opportunity Programs and Services –  Second-Chance Program,  Guardian Scholars Program, the  Disabled Students Programs and Services, International Students program, Transitional Studies.  We are also filled tech-sector burn-outs who wish to fulfill a lifelong dream beyond the money they made ruining their hands and wrists that have turned into metastasized mittens from a 5-year overload of 18-hour-day coding. And there are those who seek something more in their classes with instructors who work directly with them as opposed to the aloof university structure of professor-lecture-at-you-then-split, publish-or-perish erudite.  These students all sit next and get to know one another and tell their stories through the audio and video medium. City College of San Francisco opens our arms wide to the entire community.

{insert the sound of a stylus on a record being bumped – sccccrrrrrttttch}

Reading Rosanne Cash: Composed – The introduction touched me multiple times as the music and lyrics drive my life as they have hers.  My relating to her awesome book introduction–MUSIC makes someone’s life a memory and a real moment in time. And I’m not just referring to the Western world of pop music, but also globally with tribes creating beautiful rhythms and various cultures where music-making is the center of family and village life. The quotidian reality of making a living can be droll. But if one listens to the lyrics in the music, one finds connection that can drive our lives.

With that: I gave my students in the live sound class a competency this past week that had them arriving in our classroom space one at a time in 15-min increments to assemble a sound system in a dark space as one must do in any music venue where a problem must be discovered, sussed out, and fixed. There were 5-points given merely for showing up with a flashlight because that is a MAJOR tool in the world of live sound music events. Your next best friend is your mind: knowing how things are supposed to be routed through the sound system, the speakers, and everything else in the audio chain to make the music from the stage delivered to the audience who paid anywhere from $5 (small venue) to $300 (the modern major music tour prices at any venue in any major city around the world.)

So, I had each student enter their normally well-lit classroom into a low-light setting with music playing as would happen at ANY event they work in the future. (Remember: this is a Career Technical Education course.) I played one of my iPod playlists that I lovingly titled “RAWK” many moons ago. I know this resonates when I see the students come in and rock their heads back and forth to the beat while they await their “fear factor” moment of “can I put this PA system together?” So, I choose songs that are akin to what they would hear in an urban setting: rock, hip-hop, and old-school R&B, but ones that also have a positive message. One particular song that resonated this past week with my 25+ segment of the class that I could tell that they hadn’t heard in many years is the song “Drive” by the band Incubus. {Lyrics inserted here with a YouTube video to listen to the melodic feel of the song. } Note to educators: if you want to understand your 20-something students: watch this video:)

Incubus – Drive (2001)

Verse 1:   Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear, and I can’t help but ask myself how much I let the fear take the wheel and steer.

It’s driven me before, and it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal But lately I am beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel

CHORUS:   Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, I’ll be there

Verse 2:  So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive will I choose water over wine and hold my own and drive?

It’s driven me before, and it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around But lately I am beginning to find that when I drive myself my light is found

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, I’ll be there

Would you choose water over wine? Hold the wheel and drive

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, I’ll be there

Take that in and sing it every night and then every afternoon of the day before.  It helps. As I sit writing this, the most beautiful day of the year awaits outside. Measured in outcome only from the next best day of the year [yesterday], to the next best day of the year [the day before that].

Oh, the weather!  Northern California has turned into Southern Cali climes. How lucky am I to live in this? {Shut up about the drought already, I know, I know! Naysayer! Rid thyself from my mind!}  Check this out for the warmest winter in history, if you dare!

{insert the sound of a stylus on a record being bumped – sccccrrrrrttttch}

Big Data consumes us everywhere in the western world. Oh, to be a shaman in the Andes of Peru smoking a pipe and playing one too.  The western world eats us alive with the now obsolete hard drive given way to the soft one in the cloud to the point where we have to hold conferences about it and what to do with it:  Structure Data 2015. Speaking of college, these two Georgia-based young men have designed an app called Yik Yak that was funded by Sequoia Capital to the tune of $62M, and they have JOBS!  Go check their job page. I have no idea of the longevity of the work being that they are foundling founders, but I applaud their moxie. Wouldn’t we all like to come up with an idea that nets our company even $1M, let alone 62 of them, and have a long lifetime to spend it.  Ah, today’s youth…

So, off to play in the sunny drought…

image captured from the Incubus "Drive" video

image captured from the Incubus “Drive” video

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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…

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