Sunday, January 21, 2018

SF Bingo

Yesterday, within the space of an hour, I saw one man defecate at a rail stop & another shoot drugs into his upper arm. Later in the day, I watched a fellow bus passenger disembark & then vomit all over the pavement. Yet later still, while jogging around Lake Merced, I spied three big slabs of butchered meat by the side of the road. I couldn't recognize the cuts. -massive racks of ribs? A Red Tailed hawk was perched atop one of the slabs, tearing off pieces with its beak. A crow stood off in the distance presumably waiting for the hawk to fly off. All I needed was to then have seen someone lose their shit in the supermarket at a checker & I would have won San Francisco Bingo!.

The man who defecated at the rail stop, as if that weren't surreal enough, then pulled out a mobile phone from his coat pocket, dialed & began talking. He appeared to be having a rousing conversation with someone while his buttocks was exposed. It was a strange sight, indeed.

Given that the human waste was on a city rail platform, I sent a message to the SF municiple rail office letting them know about it. The person with whom I communicated stated that they'd have the waste cleaned up within a short period of time. I certainly hope so. Mostly, nothing gets down with much urgency around this city, but, hopefully, this matter--no pun intended--was taken care of quickly.

By the time I left the station, the man had begun urinating, phone still in hand. I made my way downtown. Walking from Market St. to SoMa, I took a short cut down an alley named for Civil War soldier and writer Ambrose Bierce. That was where I saw the man shooting up. He seemed most concerned with his hit & not at all with me. I could see blood being drawn into the needle as I walked past him. I hoped he wouldn't OD as he was all alone in the alley. Calling the police in this instance, doesn't do any good. They'll only respond, if someone is actually overdosing.

There is constant talk of how social services in SF aren't able to support the seemingly ever-swelling no. of marginalized people on our streets. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that having public restrooms in all areas of town would be a help. As it now stands, areas of town where there are high rates of vagrancy, like in the Haight and areas along Mission St., are equipped with more permanent-looking porta-potties. These toilets are manned by clean-up staff. I can't help but think that having staffed toilets must help cut down on any funny business. Folk get in and get out without much fuss.

I volunteered at the Women's March today in downtown SF. Our procession moved from Civic Center to Justin Herman Plaza. -less of a Bingo! situation, thankfully.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Final flutterby farewell & possible car theft.

-had my absolute last shift at the butterfly enclosure on Sunday. Unlike Friday's shift, Sunday morning was pretty S-L-O-W. -plenty of time to snap a few pictures and just watch the butterflies.

The Atala, seen below, was probably the most exotic butterfly in the exhibit. Found in So. Florida, this petite papillion prefers a fairly tropical environment. The exhibit was temperature-controlled for the butterflies' comfort, so no worries there. We butterfly docents needed to leave our jackets outside lest we sweat to death in the enclosure, however. I found our man here on the ground, so I moved him via colored tongue depressor to a nearby daisy. He crawled up and over the head of the flower to rest on two, slim petals. He seemed unclear on the concept. (Psst! The nectar is behind you, pal!) After a few minutes, he flew up and away to perch on the netting that made up the walls of the exhibit. No food for him.

Different Atala, different daisy. 

I hope to keep volunteering at the Conservatory, but don't know what's yet on for us. It would be a shame not to have a regular reason to visit this place!

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

I spied an abandoned car in West Portal the other day. The car had been left at a stop sign with its emergency lights on, its windows rolled fully down, its engine off & driver side seat back moved forward as if someone had just climbed out of the back. It was misting out & I kept wondering why anyone would leave their car with the windows down, let alone leave the darn thing in the street. The whole thing seem strange, so I stood for a while & stared. Then I called the non-emergency police to report a car blocking traffic. Given that the hazard lights were on, motorists kept driving up behind the stopped car thinking, maybe, that the car would soon be on its way. On this stretch of road, the lane you see in the picture is flanked on one by the pavement and on the other by a median of sorts. One can't just go around. This is what I saw happen over and over: cars would begin to line up behind the abandoned car. The motorists would begin to honk. People associated with businesses along the road would come out to let the unhappy motorists know that that 'there's no one in that car'. Motorists would begin the process of backing up in order to go around the median and drive on. I saw this happen at least three or four cycles and kept wondering why no one would affix a sign to the car letting the drivers know what in the heck was going on.

The person I spoke to with the city took my information & also let me know that the car had already been reported to the authorities a few times. I went on my way to have a coffee down the road. The car was there for at least an hour, the length of time I spent in West Portal. By the time I left, someone had had the good sense to put out a traffic cone behind the car, so that there'd be no more noisy back-up, hopefully.

Abandoned car, West Portal

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bye bye Butterfly!

The butterfly exhibit officially closed on 7 January. I scheduled a docent shift for this past Friday as it had been decided to let those 'late bloomer' butterflies live out their natural lives in the enclosure. Once the last butterfly goes off the the great flower garden in the sky, the process of breaking down the exhibit will commence. I thought that because the exhibit is no longer being publicized & because the weather has been unhospitable of late, visitor numbers to the Conservatory would be down. Not so! I had various school groups to contend with and visitors from far and wide in house. It was a good day & folk still got to be regaled by Atalas, Monarchs, Zebra Longwings, Buckeyes, Julias & one, lone Swallowtale.

Open & close; the black bits are sugar ants.

-two of the five, or so, Monarchs left at the exhibit. These two are sucking up sugar water on a faux flower.

Zebra Longwing noshing on Lavender
This Zebra, when newly emerged from its chrysalis, is a striking black with white/cream colored stripes. Our girl is missing the tip of her right wing & some of the color tiles that cover both wings. Under a microscope, the wings look to be made up of tiny scales that remind me a bit of fish scales. Butterflies can live up to one month in the exhibit and the Grand Dames often look sort of like the Velveteen Rabbit, shabby & a bit drab, but nontheless beautiful.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Aus dem Nichts

Fatih Akin is a German-Turkish director whose work I greatly admire. He does not shirk away from telling stories that reveal our sometimes dark human nature.

The last film I saw of his was Gegen die Wand. It's a tough film to watch as it deals with sex, drugs and violence as its expressed in the lives of a Turkish woman fighting against the restrictions of her culture and a man dealing with the trauma of losing his wife. The movie is not for the faint of heart, and I had to look away during some scenes.

The latest film from Akin is called Aus dem Nichts. To explain it, one needs a bit of background. From 2000 to 2007, Germany experienced a series of murders perpetrated by a group called the NSU, a neo-Nazi outfit founded in the former East Germany. The target of the NSU were Turkish/Kurdish Germans. Ten people, including one ethnic Greek and one ethnic German, were murdered in total. A German acquaintance of mine told me the reason it took so many years for the German authorities to figure out who was behind the killings is that the police had a hard time separating the victims from the perpetrators. A sort of, 'Oh, but what were these people doing that got them killed?' The police incorrectly assumed that those who were murdered were somehow involved in the Turkish or Kurdish mafia, and, therefore, may have had it coming.

As it turned out, three ethnic Germans were responsible for the murders. Two of the three perpetrators were found dead by police (suicide?) & one stood trial. I don't know if she's yet permanently behind bars, but I hope so.

Back to Aus dem Nichts: The protagonist, an ethnic German, loses her family (Turkish-German husband & bi-racial child) in a bomb attack. She thinks she'll receive justice as the killers are caught and brought to trial. When she does not receive the result she expects, things go horribly off-course. The film did well at Cannes, so I think that's why one of our local art house cinemas secured it for a limited release here last week. Tickets for the film sold out really quickly. I stupidly had waited to purchase only to be left high and dry on movie day. Somewhat undeterred, I went to the cinema anyway to see if there would be rush tickets offered. Luckily, I showed up about 45 minutes before movie time, waited in line with other eager film-goers & was rewarded. Actually, I think about ten of us from the rush line made it in. Sometimes the early bird does get the worm!

While waiting in line, a few of us got to chatting (as you do). The woman in front of me was from Israel, but had moved here back in the 70s. Her parents had moved from Europe to British Palestine, and she was born two years after the creation of the state of Israel. The woman behind me was from Germany, but her story was far from straight-forward. She told both me and the Israeli that her parents were Jews who had escaped Poland, making their way to Germany after the war. This was where she was born. Her parents went to the American zone & applied for a US visa. After a ten-year wait, she and her parents were finally able to go to America. They had a sponsor family in San Jose, Calif., so that was where they went. The woman told us, smiling: 'My father didn't know that he could leave San Jose. He thought he had to stay there!' She also said that when she entered Elementary School the other children, upon hearing her accent, called her German slurs. She never corrected them.

If you're up for a film dealing with the nationalistic bullshit currently plaguing our times, then I would suggest you check Akin's film out.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Bears in So. America?

This is a something I drew a few years' back. I loved Paddington Bear when I was a kid & had my own Paddington (it played music) from the age of five til twenty-five. I suspect my mom of donating my beloved bear to charity. *sniff, sniff*

What I never knew or thought to even look up was why Michael Bond picked Peru as the birth place of Paddington. I naively thought that Bond was just being fanciful in his choice of So. American country. Not so, it turns out.

I just read a rather bleak article in the Guardian about the habitat loss of the Peruvian bear, whose numbers, no big surprise, are rapidly dwindling. As it turns out, Paddington really was from 'darkest Peru'. Hopefully, our little bears with spectacled faces continue to live on despite humans' need to expand their territory much to the detriment of local flora and fauna.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cardiff trip, sort of accidentally remembered.

This shot was taken by my husband back in 2012, I think it was, when we were on a trip to Cardiff. On this particular day, we took a walk along the water starting from about the National Assembly building. I can't recall where we ended up, but our jaunt took us along lovely stretches of wildflowers. All were photo-worthy.

Walking through one of the posh areas en route to the Botanical Garden, I spied this bit of choice graffiti on someone's back gate. -hope the owners of the house didn't mind, but I thought it hilarious.

The wildflower mix avec moi & the copper pictures popped up on Google as a result of some 'remember this day?' function. I suppose the feature is meant to stimulate the viewer to post the pictures on the shared Google platform to be enjoyed by strangers and friends alike. Instead of that, I thought I'd share them, along with other Cardiff trip pics I then scrounged up, here.

Cardiff Botanical Garden

Wood inlay from the Residences at Cardiff Castle
Me with the Ood, Dr. Who Museum

Part of the castle wall (moved some meters away) featuring amazing creatures including this hyena.

View from the top floor of the Cardiff Public Library

If I could go back tomorrow, I would. Cardiff is a lovely city.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Interesting news

My husband's father died last night. I write 'father', but the man had abandoned his then wife when my husband was still in utero. He left his first family: pregnant wife and four-year-old son for the woman with whom he'd been having an affair & began a new family with her.

My husband met his father a handful of times in his younger years, but had had no contact with him in decades save for a social media missive my husband chose to ignore some three years ago. Apparently, the father knew he wasn't long for this world and had wanted to make amends.

How does one feel about the loss of a parent, I use the term here loosely, when there was well and truly no connection with that person?

I tried to have a conversation with my husband about the loss, but it devolved into an argument. He mentioned his father's penchant for reacting angrily to seemingly minor infractions and the fact that the man had undergone a multiple bypass surgery when he was still in his thirties as probably being the reason he died. The news of his father's death was third-hand with no cause of death having been given. The man was 73, so, really, his cause of death is just speculation. His 'heart issues' could be a good guess, to be fair. But when hubby pronounced that his father had had Tourrets, I made the mistake of asking if his father had ever been diagnosed (as his older brother had been).  'NO, I'm diagnosing him, OK?!'  I said that I wasn't trying to say that the man wasn't a raging ball of stress, as you'd experienced him those handful of times when you were a child, I was just wondering if he'd ever been diagnosed. DON'T ask such things of the newly-bereaved.  Although to say that the hubs is 'bereaved' might be a stretch.

Whatever this man was or wasn't, he was not a parent to my husband. And he was not a good husband to his first wife.

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