Day 1081

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I spent an enjoyable last morning and afternoon with mom and Craig before flying back home to San Francisco in the evening.  I read the first 150 pages of Ian McEwan's Atonement on my iPhone at the airport and on the flight.  I enjoyed his writing very much and the lush, generous details he brings to his elegant prose.  Some of his sentences are so beautifully constructed and flow with seamless precision.  He's a real craftsman. 

Alice picked me up at SFO and we came home to her house where I will stay for the next two days before heading home to Oakland.  We had a late dinner and then went to bed around 10.

Day 1080

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Up at 6, read, did two loads of wash at mom's, then had breakfast and got ready for the day.  We went to a mall in the morning, had lunch, then came home and took care of a few things.  I set up mom's new printer and folded my clothes.  I need to fit everything into one suitcase and I'm not sure if I can do it.  In the evening, mom and Craig's neighbor Barb came over for dinner.  Then mom and I played more crib before calling it a night.  Mom was dealt four 5s but cut a 4.  She almost had a 28-point hand.  That would have been something.  To bed by 10:30.

Day 1079

Monday, December 28, 2015

Up at 5 and packed, read, and watched CNBC for an hour or so, which I haven't done in ages.  It's fun to check what's going on in the financial world.  It's all stories.  Today, the talk was the Wall Street Journal's expose on Theranos, the blood-testing company that was touted to revolutionize the industry with pin-prick blood testing.  Recently valued at $9 billion, the machines apparently don't work and the CEO wunderkind, 31-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, is now in the hot seat for apparently tampering with test data and results.  After reading the WSJ article and the comments, it's going to be interesting to see if this company is just smoke and mirrors or on the path to innovation.  Chipotle's stock is in freefall with the recent novovirus and ebola outbreak.   Amazon is rocking as always.  Disney should do well.  It was fun watching the stock game.

Mom and I left Jill's at 2, had lunch outside Raleigh, then caught our flight at 5:10.  We spent the entire flight playing cribbage, winning and losing and touching down in Phoenix at 8:20.  Home at 9:30.  Read before bed.  

Day 1078

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jill and I drove Alex and Hayden to the Raleigh airport where they met their dad.  Driving back, Jill was wound up and anxious, as she always is whenever she interacts with Chris.  She was fine the rest of the day and it was nice to enjoy the peace and solitude of an easy, relaxing day with Jill, Tom and Mom.  We played cribbage, watched the Seahawks lose badly at home, and get ready for our trip home tomorrow.  

Day 1077

Saturday, December 26, 2015

After a good night sleep, I felt better today and was at least able to eat again.  It was a very relaxing, low-key day in which we played games (including Wii) and some of the new toys Hayden had received.  (HIs R2D2 robot was fun).  Tom and I took Hayden to the new Star Wars film in the afternoon while mom, Jill and Alex got their nails done.  Hayden loved the film and felt very grownup seeing a PG-13 film.  He ranked it the second best after Return of the Jedi.  We had leftovers for dinner, then I went upstairs with Hayden and played more Wii before his bedtime.  I turned on Elf for him.  He watched about five minutes before falling fast asleep.  I watched an hour or so of the movie (on ABC Family...with too many commercials to count...thank goodness for fast forward) before turning off the TV and going to bed.

Day 1076

Friday, December 25, 2015

The morning began at 6 a.m. when Hayden woke me up.  I was actually already awake around 5:30. The kids barely contained their excitement for the next hour.  We played Wii quietly as the minutes ticked by (slowly).  Finally at 7 I went downstairs for a "reconnaissance" mission to check to see if (a) there were any large stuffed pandas, (b) a large Barbie dream house and (c) any parents up and ready to ring the Christmas bell.

My answers (no, no, and no) were intentionally deceptive as I actually saw two very large pandas, one very large dream house, and Jill up and ready but waiting for mom.  The kids stayed in my room another fifteen minutes before hearing the Christmas bell and running downstairs to view their sizable haul.  

It was fun seeing them so excited.  I was still a bit under the weather and didn't eat too much (if I'm not having a delicious cinnamon roll for breakfast, something's very wrong).  I opened my stocking and got all sorts of cool little things.  Thank you, Santa!

The rest of the day went quickly.  We played games (and I played with a few of Hayden's toys...his R2D2 toy was very cool).

Dinner was at 6 and it was very good.  I did have an appetite by then and certainly had my fill.

By 8 we were all exhausted.  The kids went to bed and we stayed up another hour chatting before closing another chapter to another fabulous Christmas. 

Day 1075

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I felt fine the first part of the day.  Jill and I went into town, had lunch, and took care of a few errands before heading back to her place.

Mom with Alex and Hayden
We played games with the kids in the afternoon, and that's when I felt a little funny.  Tom made a delicious stew for dinner, but afterward I really felt zapped and went to lay down around 7:30.  Then I got sick and my energy was totally gone.  It didn't feel right the rest of the evening, so I went to bed early.

Day 1074

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Today we hung out at the house, playing games, watching Christmas shows, wrapping presents and getting ready for Christmas in 2 days.  We played Apples to Apples Jr., Say Anything, several games of Connect 4 and hours of Wii U, including Wii Sports and Wii Resort.  Lots of fun, for sure!

We also watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the Ron Howard Jim Carrey movie).  I ate way too many Christmas cookies.

Day 1073

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We left at 7:30 a.m. for the Pheonix airport.  Our flight to North Carolina was at 10:25.  It was a full flight.  Luckily, mom was in the A section and saved me a seat (I was in the C section...and I'd checked in a full 24 hours early).  We played cribbage the entire time.  The flight went quickly.  I came out strong, winning the first rubber, but then mom destroyed me in the second rubber.  We didn't finish the third rubber by the time we landed.  Our bags took a while to reach us, but once we collected them, we met Jill and the kids curbside and reached her place an hour later.  The house looked great and very festive.

I had the upstairs room to myself with a big screen TV and Direct TV at my finger tips.  And Wii U.  Sweet.  I played Wii Resort with my niece Alex and nephew Hayden and got creamed.  I will be practicing later tonight.  

We had chili for dinner and relaxed while listening to Christmas music.  Jill has the house wonderfully decorated with all sorts of great snowman and Santa Claus decorations.  We watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town and the Santa Claus 3 with the kids.  It was a great even

Day 1072

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spent most of the day shopping with mom in a large mall, getting last-minute gifts.  I find shopping exhausting and stressful, especially when everyone has everything they already need or want.  But I toughed it out and managed to get what I needed.  We had a nice lunch and came home around 5.  I watched several hours of political news on a dozen or so channels and it's all Trump all the time.  The news media loves Trump and is secretly pushing for him as the GOP nominee because he's a ratings juggernaut and endlessly controversial.  With his numbers and his coverage, and the fact that the GOP field is so weak and unimpressive, I really don't see how he loses.  He's exactly what the GOP deserves.

Day 1071

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Had a leisurely morning at mom and Craig's followed by Star Wars at 11.  It was perfectly fine with a few surprises and acceptable enough script by JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt (of Little Miss Sunshine fame), but those types of action/adventure films are not for me anymore, mainly because they're so formulaic -- I've seen too many of them, so even if it's Star Wars, it wears thin after an hour.  The film felt long, but aside from that, I enjoyed all the decisions, all the little details, and was surprised at how kid-friendly everything was.  Looks like I'll be seeing it again with my 8-year-old nephew in North Carolina, who is a massive Star Wars fan and really can't get enough of that world.

After the movie, we came home and watched the Seahawks take care of business against the Browns, visited with a few of mom and Craig's friends in the neighborhood, then in the evening I watched Amy, the documentary on Amy Winehouse, which was outstanding.

Day 1070

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alice picked me up at 8 and I stayed with her in the morning until noon.  Kevin called and we caught up before I left for the airport. My flight to Pheonix was uneventful and ran 25 minutes late. I was picked up by a friendly driver named Dennis who mom and Craig use to get from place to place. I arrived before 7. Mom and Craig's new home is very beautiful and comfortable. We had dinner and chatted until 11 or so. Looking forward to meeting a few of her friends tomorrow.

Day 1069

Friday, December 18, 2015

Played racquetball this morning, then worked until 2, then came home and packed.  Went to Richard and Lisa's for the evening around 8 and exchanged gifts.  They gave me a great Oaklandish hat that is very cool!

Day 1068

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Work was busy this morning and will continue through tomorrow.  Our focus group is Saturday.  I'm taking chapter of La Strav with me to Arizona and North Carolina.  I wish this draft were finished but I simply ran out of time and there's still so much left to develop.  These things take a long time.

My place is reasonably clean so it'll be nice to come home with everything just so.

Day 1067

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No writing or racquetball today...too busy with Christmas parties and luncheons and discussion about the imploding GOP and Donald Trump's narcissism.  Wait, I did write an hour before work, revising a few paragraphs before leaving for work. 

We had our Christmas luncheon at a great place in Emeryville called the Townhouse Bar & Grill.  From the outside, the place doesn't look like much, but from the inside it's pretty big and the food is outstanding.  Six of us were there, Howard, Paulette, Chad, Alissa, Cheryl and me. 

We had a lively political discussion about last night's debate.  Howard thinks Trump is just an act, that's he's this incredibly intelligent outlier who's having the time of his life and willingly setting up the Democrats for victory.  I think that scenario, while intriguing, is a fantasy.  Trump is a textbook narcissist whose authenticity resonates with lots of limited whites who buy into the fearmongering and xenophobia.  He's real, he's dangerous, and while I'm in complete agreement that we wasted 4 trillion on unnecessary wars when that money could have gone toward rebuilding our infrastructure (and I love that he keeps saying that with Jeb on stage), his fascist ideas and attitudes really have no place in this country. 

Later on in the afternoon, I hung out at Rhonda and Biff's for cocktails and it turned into a party that lasted several hours, with Richard and Lisa coming over.  We talked about politics, houses, Christmas, dogs, and Creed.  Rhonda retold the story of running into Michael B. Jordan while he was making the movie Fruitvale Station and sent me the picture of them with Sandy.  I remember her telling me that several years ago. 

Michael B. Jordan, Rhonda, Sandy
I was at Rhonda's from 2:30-9.  Wow.  Came home at talked to Alice, then went to bed.

Day 1066

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wrote for an hour or so in the morning, then went to work, then came home and wrote another couple of hours, knowing I won't have much time left before I leave on Saturday.  I'm finding places to stop until I get back to it later in the month.  I may bring a few chapters to look over when I'm gone.

At 5:30, I watched the latest GOP debate and it was more of the same, more nonsense and bluster.  People still don't think Trump has a chance, but I'm not so sure, considering the weak field.  He may well be the nominee.  My guess is he has a better than 50% chance.  Jeb Bush was better tonight, but only slightly better.  He's still unimpressive.  He totally lacks charisma.  He looks like he's from the 90s, and maybe he is.  Ted Cruz will not win this year, but in four years he will be dangerous.  He's the kind of crazy socio-politician who never gives up, no matter how many times he loses.  I do not like him at all.  I also don't like Marco Rubio at all.  I find everything he says calculated and lacking in sincerity.  He tells the same story over and over.  I don't know why anyone would vote for such a phony.  Chris Christie is also full of bluster, speaking to "America" with his concerned mug focused directly on the TV camera like he's our best friend who's looking out for all of us.  I don't think so.  And Carly, wow.  The sooner Iowa and New Hampshire boot her out with their 1% support, the better.  John Kasich is at least halfway real, but he doesn't have a chance.  Same with Rand Paul at zero chance.  Ben Carson will also fade fast after Iowa.  And the undercard folks...Lindsey, Pete, and whoever's left...their days were done back in the summer.  There isn't one strong candidate who can outshine the GOP's version of Obama 2008, Donald Trump.  I don't see it.  I think he might actually win the nomination.  That just may be exactly what the GOP deserves.  They've been on this road for years now and this is the monster they must embrace.  Heaven help this country if we ever spiral into a true economic depression.  This place would get real crazy in a hurry.

Spoke with Chris later in the evening and we chatted for an hour.  Then spoke to Alice, then went to bed around 10:30.

Day 1065

Monday, December 14, 2015

Racquetball, work, then a few hours of writing in the afternoon and early evening, mixed up with Amazon and Barnes and Noble shopping.  Also cleaned my apartment in preparation for the holidays and my going away next week.

Saw a great documentary in the evening that I really enjoyed called Best of Enemies, about the Gore Buckeley debates during the 1968 GOP and Democratic conventions.

Day 1064

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Up at 5, wrote for 90 minutes, then did two loads of laundry, cleaned my apartment, ironed several shirts, and cleaned the kitchen.  By the time I was finished, Jill called on we FaceTimed for an hour.  Alice arrived around 3.  I let her sleep a little while I continued cleaning.  We watched Dior and I before leaving for my racquetball holiday potluck at Glenn and Amy's house.

I enjoyed this.  We socialized from 5-7:30, then came home, finished the documentary and called it a night.  I feel organized again.

Day 1063

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Streak ended tonight, the 24-game Warriors winning streak that lasted longer than any other opening series winning streak in American pro sports history.  In a way, it's a relief.  It had to end eventually.

Wrote all day, and read, from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., with breaks in between and about an hour on Amazon to take care of gifts for Seattle and North Carolina.  Tired.

Day 1062

Friday, December 11, 2015

Busy morning, up at 4, racquetball until 6:15, then to Quest Labs at 7 for blood work, finishing in time for our Friday morning breakfast at Rolling Dunes with the racquetball crowd.  Gary Hurlbut made it, as did Marc Gordon, along with Glenn, Cliff, Dorian, Charlie Simkins, Julian, Tiger and Jamil.  It was a nice turnout.  I left at 8:45 for work from 9-12, preparing for our final focus group of the new that takes place next week.  After work I came home and wrote until 8 p.m., changing parts of chapter 12.  Alice has a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow and we have our holiday thing at Glenn and Amy's Sunday, so she's coming over Sunday morning, allowing me tonight and tomorrow to write.

Day 1061

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I had my first physical this morning in two years and as expected, everything is just fine.  It was nice catching up with Dr. Lawrence.  Worked mid-morning to early afternoon, then back home to write for about five hours or so.  Took care of a few Christmas gifts online. 

Day 1060

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Racquetball, work and writing in that order.  In the afternoon, I picked up Austin from Saint Mary's and we hung out in my neighborhood for an hour.  It's always a blast spending time with Austin.  We met Alice for dinner at Mijori and had a wonderful sushi dinner.  Mijori never disappoints.  We drove to Alice's around 7 and made it home in time for me to talk with Chris from 8-9. He'd just returned from a family vacation in Mexico with my mom and his two brothers, along with many other family members.  He and Elizabeth have traveled with that large group for many years now and this one sounded very relaxing.  Now that he's back at home, he's scrambling to finish a novel he's been working on this year called In the Duff.  I've read the first half and it's good!

Day 1059

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

An entire day of writing with mixed results today.  I'm changing ideas I originally had with the last chapter of La Stravaganza, just to see how it looks.  This chapter is still too long and has a few dead pockets.  If the final chapter is good, that makes the rest of the novel a lot easier to revise.  I like revising from the end to the beginning.  I don't know why, but it seems to work for me. 

Day 1058

Monday, December 7, 2015

I had a recall issue to take care of with my MINI, so I missed racquetball this morning, opting instead for the first appointment of the day at East Bay MINI in Pleasanton.  I arrived at 7:45 a.m. and hung out at Starbucks for two hours, reading Venice and Alex Kuo's My Private China.  I got my car back at 10 and drove home.  From 10:30 until 6 or so, I worked on chapter 12, looked at chapter 11, and thought about chapter 1.  Chapter 12 is taking a long time because it's 8,000 words long and I need to bring it down to 5000 words.  Maybe I'll leave it at 6,000 words because so much happens in the last two sections.  It's so difficult to accomplish anything in December, so any progress at all is a victory. 

Later in the evening from 8-9, I had tenants in my building come over to discuss the changes taking place with our building next year.  It's inevitable that Valorie will sell the building, so we'll have to deal with a new landlord who in all likelihood will want all of us out of the building so he/she can charge $2600+/month in rent.  So many of us have been here so long that our rent is nowhere near market rates.  We looked over our rights and being in a rent control district I think we're in good shape, but you never know.  At least we're organized and aware of all the issues facing us.  It was nice seeing everyone.

To bed at 10:15.  Tomorrow, I need to hit Amazon hard.

Day 1057

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Came home this morning after helping Alice with her scones.  She has a tea party today for her friends.  I spent today writing and organizing little things that have fallen through the cracks.  As much as I'd like to get Christmas cards out this year, I don't see it happening, even though I have my stamps and cards ready to go.  That's the easy part though.  With only a few weeks left before I leave for mom's and Jill's, I have so many other things to take care of first, like chapter 12, chapter 11, and chapters 7-10.

Day 1056

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Alice and I got up early, had breakfast, then hit Costco for gas, supplies, hot dogs, then we headed to Ross where Alice wanted to look for a serving plate for her high tea with her girlfriends tomorrow.  We also stopped at her parents' house and set her her dad's new iPad mini.  He'll be very happy chatting with his friends on We Chat.

After our chores were done, we headed home and baked a batch of scones, which turned out all right, though the recipe had too little sugar (we'll add more the next day).  By the afternoon, I started reading my Kuo books that I picked up at the library.

I can't wait to get into these.  It's all preparation for his new novel that just came out, Shanghai, Shanghai, Shanghai.  I read a review in the WSU Alumni magazine and it sounds very interesting, right up my alley with politics, bridge, music.  My Private China has all of that and I'm loving it.  Reading it took me back to my own visit to Beijing for the 2008 Paralympic Games in 2008. It's such a fascinating country.  Alice likes saying to me, "Hagan, time for your re-education."

I wrote a few hours in the late afternoon/early evening, but found it hard to stay focused, so I stopped for the night.

Day 1055

Friday, December 4, 2015

Racquetball in the morning, work afterward, then an hour or two at home before picking up Alice in SF.  At her place for the night.  Tired today.

Day 1054

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wrote in the early morning, worked in the morning, wrote in the afternoon, wrote in the evening.  Still plodding away on chapter 12. 

Day 1053

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Up at 4:30, racquetball from 5-6:45, then home to write from 8-4.  I continued work on ch. 12 of La Strav, bringing in all the details I could think of to capture Venice and Vivaldi.  I watched the Women of Vivaldi documentary I'd seen over the summer, this time observing the location of the Ospedale della Pieta.  It's now the Metropole Hotel and looks the same from the outside as it did in Vivaldi's day.

After 4, I took a break from writing at went to a matinee showing of Creed at the Grand Lake Theater.  I'd heard a lot of buzz about this film and wanted to check it out for myself.  The buzz is accurate and I have a feeling Sylvester Stallone will win a much-deserved Best Supporting Actor oscar for his enduring portrayal of Rocky Balboa.  Creed is excellent.  The direction is first rate and Michael B. Jordan as young Adonis Johnson, Creed's illegitimate son, is convincing.  I really enjoyed this film and applaud the awards and acclaim it will receive.

Day 1052

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I spent all day revising and changing the final chapter of La Stravaganza, chapter 12.  This is the magical fairytale chapter that takes place in Venice and brings all the musical elements together.  I like this chapter, but who knows what others will think.  I wrote from 8-6, then played racquetball in the evening.

Day 1051

Monday, November 30, 2015

Spent the day writing from morning till evening, editing chapter 6.  Chapters 1-6 have been revised, but I need to work on chapter 5 again.  Chapter 3 is also rough in spots.  Chapter 6 is one of my favorites. I don't see any significant problems with it.  I'll start on 7-12 tomorrow, beginning with ch. 12.

Day 1050

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Up at 7:15 and wrote most of the day, revising La Stravaganza and looking over a bunch of notes I took on various chapters.  Also watched a little football.  The Seahawks won a close one against Pittsburgh and the Raiders also managed to win.  My fantasy team lost again and Jimmy Graham is out of the season.  My entire team suffered huge injuries this season.  I went to bed early, around 8:45.

Day 1049

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Up at 7, wrote an hour, then got ready and headed back to Oakland.  Had breakfast with Neil Bason and Rossana, then had a lovely walk with Rossana for an hour, catching up and talking about all the things going on in our lives.  In the afternoon, I got back into La Stravaganza and began revising once again.  It was hard to get into it, so I only wrote for a few hours before it was time to switch to reading.  I'm wrapping up two books I started in the summer that have been fantastic research books for La Strav:

Day 1048

Friday, November 27, 2015

Alice and I got up early and went to Irving for vegetables, barbecued pork for her sticky rice, and a few other items for Thanksgiving with Alice's family.  We gathered together around 5 and ate non-stop until 8.  Everyone was there.  It was a great time and the food was fantastic.  The turkey was so moist and delicious.  Alice really knows how to cook a turkey well.  The key is to brine it overnight in a saltwater solution.  It's amazing how wonderful it tastes.

Delicious turkey

Sharon, Alice and Elaine

The start of the line

My plate, gone in 10 minutes

Beef tendon

Day 1047

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Alice and I took care of a few things in the morning before heading to Oakland to spend the day with the Youngs for Thanksgiving.  We arrived around 12:30 and left for the Oakland Hills and our annual 3-mile loop along Redwoods Regional Park.  Halfway through, we stopped for some music, bread, cheese, sausage, cookies and beef jerky.  What a treat and what a beautiful day catching up with everyone while enjoying the best of what the Bay Area has to offer. 

After our hike, we headed back to Richard and Lisa's and quickly baked a pecan pie before leaving for dinner.  We ate at the Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Emeryville.  It was delicious.  We had one of the best tables in the restaurant with a beautiful view overlooking the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

After dinner, we went back to R&L's and had pie and watched Youtube videos of Stephen Colbert doing his Hungry for Power Games sketches, a few of Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets, and a couple other funny clips.  Alice and I headed home at 9:30.

Thank you Youngs for a wonderful Thanksgiving 2015!

Day 1046

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Racquetball in the morning, then work for three hours, then lunch with Neal Fowler and Karin Duval's daughter Kara and her boyfriend Eric.  They're sophomores at Indiana University in the music program.  Both are very talented, smart, inquisitive, imaginative, and amazing!  Kara is a mezzo-soprano and Eric is a tenor trombonist.  Eric had his first mocha today and Kara and I had our first Home Room experience. 

Mac & Cheese never tasted so good.  One reason Eric chose trombone as an orchestral instrument stems from rests.  He's a listener and realized early on that he had the best seat in the house (in the middle of the orchestra) to experience a Beethoven or Brahms symphony.  He also gets to end Brahms's 2nd in fanfare-for-the-common-man fashion.  I like that!

Judge Bason is in town until Sunday morning.  We hung out for a few hours before I left for Alice's.  We had an engaging discussion about world events, ISIS and what to do with them, and the continued fallout over that incredibly unfortunate and unnecessary war we got ourselves into back in 2003.  The Bush/Cheney's legacy sinks lower and lower with each passing day.  I don't blame Bush for staying inside painting pictures all day.  Worst decision ever since I've been alive.  Right up there with anyone who purchased WebVan stock back in 2000.

Day 1045

Tuesday, November 25, 2015

Up at 4:30, wrote until 8, then got ready for work.  Worked from 9-12, revising my response to Jeff.  I sent it out later in the afternoon.  My response ended up being 5800 words long.  Crazy, but necessary.  Here are a few excerpts:

"When Poitras filmed Snowden in Hong Kong, Snowden anticipated what our government would do once he outed himself as the NSA whistleblower responsible for the Verizon surveillance leak.  He knew the government would demonize him and focus the story squarely on him as the villain instead of the illegal activities and lies he exposed.  It’s all there on film as it’s happening.  He knew exactly what the consequences of his actions were, but he threw away his life anyway, because he couldn’t continue seeing democracy “flushed down the toilet,” knowing what the NSA was doing in secret with no oversight whatsoever.  In all your emails on Snowden and his revelations, you haven’t mentioned a single detail Snowden exposed that goes beyond the tepid, lackluster examples you provide (emails and phone metadata is perhaps the worst thing you’ve mentioned).  For example, you haven’t mentioned any of the really juicy capabilities he shared, such as the NSA’s ability to access any electronic device anywhere in the world and turn it into a microphone or a camera -- essentially a bug -- even when that device is turned off!  Was that a “Casablanca” moment for you, hearing that detail, or did you already know that?  Personally, I had no idea that capability existed (and it goes without saying that the NSA doesn’t need a court order to bug anyone it wants...just ask Merkel).  If you haven’t seen Citizen Four (or read No Place To Hide), then your perspective is fundamentally limited by a narrative of Edward Snowden the NSA and US Government want so badly for you to believe... 

"...Have you already forgotten how your government totally played you back in 2003?  Our government is not interested in the truth (no government is).  It's interested in controlling the story, maintaining its illusions and ideals, and distracting the masses away from reality and onto a villain (Saddam Hussein, Edward Snowden, etc.).  Our entire U.S. history is full of examples where the government's narrative of the truth and the actual truth are at odds with each other.  Since 9/11, we've had many examples.  Our invasion of Iraq was based on the undeniable U.S. narrative (“absolute certainty,” according to Dick Cheney) that Saddam Hussein had or was building weapons of mass destruction.  That turned out to be false.  Remember the government narratives of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch?  Even in the Obama era, we have this breathtaking, larger-than-life government narrative courtesy of Hollywood’s “Zero Dark Thirty” and the CIA’s infamous “enhanced interrogation” techniques, presenting us with the “official” version of the Osama bin Laden raid.  Did you read Seymour Hersh’s 10,000-word piece in the London Review of Books back in May, 2015, saying in effect that the entire “official” bin Laden raid narrative was a bogus lie, a “story that stunk from day 1?”  (The NY Times came out with a piece on Oct. 15 speaking to Hirsch's version of the truth versus the Government's version of the truth  (  ....gee, I wonder whose version will withstand the test of time.  I’m still waiting for the government to prove Hersh wrong, but so far no such luck)...

"...The guy who pushed the NSA to collect “everything” was former NSA Director Keith B. Alexander.  According to the book “Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend,” by Barbara Oakley, one out of every 23 people are Machiavellian personality types, or sociopaths.  I can’t prove it, but I bet Alexander is a total sociopath.  He fits the profile, not Snowden, but listening to Alexander talk, you’d think he was the nicest guy in the world while Snowden is the sociopath.  The one detail that’s worth remembering about sociopaths is how incredibly charming they are (and deceitful)... 

"...Your odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are 1 in 20 million, according to Richard Barrett – coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team (2007-2011 stats).  Of course, these are pre-ISIS numbers, so today it may actually be more like 1 in 15 million.  I’ve never known you to give up so much in exchange for so little.  You are 33,000 times more likely to die from cancer than ISIS.  I understand your fears; however, they are wildly, wildly out of proportion to reality.  And yet, you’re willing to cede your 1st and 4th amendment rights to this notion that the NSA is going to guarantee your protection against a terrorist.  Wow.  No, really...WOW!...

"...Privacy matters.  It matters a great deal.  I don’t want the details of people’s lives being used against them unfairly and inappropriately (like Laura Poitras).  You haven’t convinced me at all that I shouldn’t worry about this.  History suggests I should worry about this constantly, just as you worry about ISIS harming you.  They’re both real and legitimate threats.  Finding the right balance to accommodate both is a worthy goal.  Snowden offered up his freedom and comfortable way of life to correct that balance.  I find his sacrifice heroic.  I find his demeanor and motives sincere.  I find him credible.  I’m perfectly willing to change my mind on Snowden with actual evidence that deems him a traitor who handed over US secrets to other governments (instead of someone exposing the truth to journalists), but if you’re the person to do that, you need to analyze and critique the full, authentic, actual story so much better than you have.  And that means putting away the government narrative and NSA talking points intent on demonizing and destroying Snowden’s motivations and character.  Until you do that, your perspective on Snowden rings hollow." 

It allows feels good supporting Luke Skywalker personalities against the Death Star. 

Day 1044

Monday, November 24, 2015

Racquetball early in the a.m, then a full day of writing, but instead of working on La Strav, I spent most of the day writing my response to Jeff's position on Snowden.  Insane, but essential.  I need to take care of this before anything else.  I wrote 14 hours today with few breaks.

Day 1043

Sunday, November 23, 2015

I spent the entire day writing a response to several emails my friend Jeff sent me regarding Edward Snowden.  It all began a month or so ago after the first Democratic debate.  I wrote to the gang my reaction and impressions of Clinton, which were strongly positive except for her disingenuous answer on Snowden.  Jeff responded, "Snowden?  The only one on the stage that called him hero was Lincoln Chaffe.  Even the only guy who voted against the Patriot Act, Bernie knows he belongs in prison. And for good reasons...Snowden was a pure Casablanca moment in this country - "shocked just shocked that surveillance is going on here.... He immediately within hours of the leak went to China (that big human rights center of the world LOL) and shared the information with one of the biggest threats to world security there is and then days later went and shared it with Russia where he is being protected.   Putin?  Yeah another glowing icon of human rights, democracy and world peace.  Michael - even Bernie thinks you are nuts."

I responded with a benign reply, and then another, without hearing from Jeff for another month until a few days after the Partis attack.  He then sent me this email:

"I wonder if in aftermath of Paris your moral compass has found it's way back to some semblance of rationality.  Can we agree that the murdering of innocent people, the subjugation, slavery and physical abuse of women (125 million genitally mutilated, thousand murdered in the name of honor, acid thrown in faces for the crime of attending school), massive ethnic cleansing through areas controlled by ISIS and open and declared intent to kill as many in the west as possible by any means necessary from AK47s to chemical and nuclear warfare is a bigger problem than a computer reading your email header?Maybe these things are worse than meta-data monitoring and taping yahoo data centers?"

For the first time in 13 years of such email banter, our friend Susan responded with a "give me a break" email.  Jeff responded with two more crazy emails, and by then I was ready to respond with a full-on bitch slap.  Unfortunately, these responses take several days to outline, research and compose.  In the end, it will be worth it to put the nonsense in its place.  Anyway, I spent all day writing my response to Jeff, and will probably also spend all day tomorrow working on my response.

Day 1042

Saturday, November 22, 2015

Alice and I did chores in the city, then headed over to Oakland for lunch.  We had sushi at Mijori, then were planning to have coffee at Grand Fare Market but there was a sign saying it was closed until further notice.  It made no sense at all.  It's only been open a few months.  The owners put so much money into their vision.  So sad.  Alice and I hung out at my place for the afternoon, then went to her friend Tami's for dinner.  Tami had six other guests along with her mom.  We were there until 10, then drove back to San Francisco for the night.

Day 1041

Friday, November 21, 2015

Racquetball from 5-7, then off to the city to meet a recruiter at 10 for possible full-time positions in the new year.  It will be nice to have money again, but I'll certain the miss the time I've had writing stories and reading.  I have mixed feelings about this but right now there's no choice...I have to go back to work in the city.  Blah.

Day 1040

Thursday, November 20, 2015

A full day of writing, revising chapter 3, a good solid 7 hours of sitting at home.  Met up with Eleanor, another writer on Erie St., and took her to Grand Fare Market for coffee.  I love this place. It's so awesome!  Eleanor has a writing studio at the SF Writer's Grotto and writes there two days a week.  After coffee, I came back home, took care of a few things, then played poker at Mark's from 8-midnight.  I won $2.  Ha!

Day 1039

Wednesday, November 19, 2015

Racquetball fdrom 5-7, then another full day of writing, which was sweet.  I wrapped up revisions to ch 1, 2 and 4, and now I'm continuing on with 3 and printing off 5 and 6.  Wiped out by the end of the day.

Day 1038

Tuesday, November 18, 2015

Up at 5 a.m. and wrote until 4 p.m., revising chapter 4 and chapter 2.  I'll have to revise every chapter again and again until it's at a certain level, and then after folks read the draft, undoubtedly more revisions.  It never ends, but first things first...finish the first revision and get this thing in a readable state.

During breaks in the day, I read a great cover story in the Atlantic that came out in February called "What Isis Really Wants."  It was such a clear and haunting description of ISIS.  It reads like a stone age sci fi horror story.  Very scary stuff and also true.  Later in the evening after my E-Force demo, I watched a new Frontline documentary called "Isis in Afghanistan."  Also surreal.

From 5-9 I was at Active Sports for an E-Force demo with a couple of open players (Joe Blank and Joe Roth) from San Jose.  It was lots of fun playing with these amazing players.  

Day 1037

Monday, November 16, 2015

Racquetball from 5-7, then home briefly, then off to SF for a recruiter interview at 10.  Unfortunately, the person I was supposed to meet had called in sick, so it was a waste of the morning.  I wrote for two hours in the city, then had lunch with Alice and R&G.  I came home at 1 and wrote until 4, then went to Richard and Lisa's and met with Sophie about ideas for our web blog.  I filmed a few things which was fun.  I'd love to get a few of these done before Christmas.  After 7, I came home, had dinner and then went to bed. 

Day 1036

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Up at 6:00 for an hour of writing at Alice's.  She was planning to go shopping at the Stanford Shopping Center with Amy today, so I headed home at 9 and wrote the rest of the day until 6.  Watched the Seahawks play badly but take the lead in the 4th, only to lose in the end.  Ugh!  4-5 is a tough place to be.  They might not even make the playoffs this year.  Unbelievable.  To bed at 9:30.

Day 1035

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Wrote for two hours in the morning before doing chores with Alice, including repairing her front tire.  I wrote another two hours in the afternoon, then watched the news. 

I watched this YouTube with Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz.  It's helpful to listen to articulate voices explain what's going on.

The Paris attacks feel different from the other terrorist/murderous attacks in recent years.  Maybe it's the indiscriminate nature of the attacks in which ordinary people enjoying life on a Friday night were targeted.  These fanatics welcome chaos and self-sabotage, believing as they do in the afterlife for themselves and hell for non-Muslims.  It's troubling to think there are many thousands of men out there who would love to see the entire world blown up.  The problem for Muslims is the context these terrorist acts are creating for those who aren't Muslims.  When a Christian terrorist bombs an abortion clinic, we have context for that and lay blame on the warped individual, not Christianity.  No so with the religion of Islam.  There's a growing war over the beliefs of these fanatics and the insistence that more moderate Muslims vociferously condemn their actions.  Do we focus on the individual terrorists or the relgion itself?  This battle has been going on for years now.  Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens before he died, and other thinkers point the finger at the religion itself, while others are not so comfortable with that, fearing the blanket prejudices and judgments that seem to go hand-in-hand with sweeping generalizations about an entire religious group.  I don't know much about Islam, aside from various quotes people pull out of the quran.  I'll be watching where the discussion goes in the days and weeks following this horrific event.  It feels as though the rules have changed with this awful, unnecessary event yesterday.  

Day 1034

Friday, November 13, 2015

Racquetball, work from 9-12, then home to write.  SF to pick up Alice at 4:20.  I heard about the Paris attacks at 5 p.m.  What a horrible nightmare.  Unfortunately, there will be more of this kind of indiscriminate killing on civilians.  It is truly despicable and monstrous. 

Day 1033

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Michael & Michael

Michael and I woke up early, hit Lakeshore at 6, then he left for SF Airport while I took care of the tasks at hand.  A full writing day, even at work which was quiet, revising ch. 2, making additions to ch. 1 and going over ch. 3.  

Day 1032

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Racquetball from 5-7, oatmeal with Michael from 7:30-8:30, work from 9-2, home at 3, back to Grand Fare Market with the crib board and Michael from 5-6, sushi at Mijori from 6-8, then home to bed.  No writing today, but another quality day.

Michael Bell

So good!

Day 1031

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Worked from 9-2, then met Michael Bell at my place. He's staying until Thursday morning.  We went to Grand Fare Market for an hour, then Star Pizza for dinner.  He was dubious that Star rivaled Zachary's, but after one bite, he got it.  Star Pizza totally rules.


Star Pizza...yum!

It was great catching up, hanging out, playing cribbage with and enjoying delicious pizza with Michael!

Day 1030

Monday, November 9, 2015

Racquetball from 5-7, then work from 9-2.  Cheryl's mom passed away yesterday at 94.  She lived a long happy life, but her last few months were painful and hard.  Cheryl will be out the whole week.  Things are quiet at the moment, so I have time to revise chapters.  I seem to be rewriting everything, which is how the first major revision usually goes.  The first draft doesn't count for anything once the revising begins.

Michael Bell from Boston is visiting tomorrow and Wednesday, so I won't have much time to write in the next few days.  We'll play cribbage and catch up.  It'll be fun.

In the evening, I caught up on my blog, tidied up the place, paid bills, and read.  I was in bed my 9:15 and missed a call from Neil Bason, who's visiting over Thanksgiving.  This month is starting to get very busy with visitors.  I just need to go with it and put the writing aside for a few days, though it's hard.  It's so much easier to live in the land of make-believe.   Maybe that's why most writers are so nutty.

Day 1029

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wrote from 6-8 a.m., then got ready for the day.  Drove with Alice to Lafayette to get Austin the shots he needs for his upcoming midterm trip to China.  We dropped him off at St. Mary's, had lunch there, then headed back to the Sunset.  It rained in the morning but by the afternoon it was clear and sunny.  My fantasy team lost so I'm done for the season. 

I wrote in the afternoon and also replied to a letter from my crazy aunt Kathy, who wrote me a letter a few weeks ago from Centennial Hospital in Alberta.  She was not allowed any electronic devices of any kind, so she wrote me a letter.  We used to write many letters to each other in the 80s while I was in college.  I haven't written an actual letter in many years, but I have to say I really enjoyed writing this one.  Letters are so much more personal and substantial than emails.  At least they are to me.

My letter

Kathy's letter

We had a delicious chicken for dinner and I continued writing until 9.  I hit the hay by 9:30.

Day 1028

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I spent a full day with Alice going to Costco, playing ping pong, hanging out in South San Francisco while she went to an eye appointment, eating good food and watching a couple of "I'm Having What Phil's Having" videos on Apple TV's PBS app.

I did manage to squeeze in a hour's worth of writing before the day began, but after that, it was all Alice all day long.


Day 1027

Friday, November 6, 2015

After racquetball, I spent the next six hours writing, napping, writing, napping until 3 p.m.  I wish every day could be like this.  I was out of the house by 4 and went to pick up Alice at 4:30.  We had chicken wings for dinner at San Tung and pork belly at a place Alice likes.  We took it easy the rest of the evening.  

Day 1026

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Worked from 9-2, then played an hour of ping pong with Howard at Albany before heading home and revising for a few hours.  My energy level was low, so I wrapped things up by 8 and went to bed at 9.

Day 1025

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Racquetball in the a.m., then work from 9-2.  After work, I prepared for a meeting with Sophie about a series of YouTube videos we're planning to create.  We met from 4-6:30 and brainstormed ideas.  Here are a few thoughts:

Then vs. Now - Sophie discusses how things are now and Michael contrasts that with how things were in the 70s. 

Learning how to… - Sophie asks Michael to manage her Instagram feed for an hour.  Chaos ensues.   

Learning how to… - Michael asks Sophie to compose a two-page handwritten letter to a friend, place in envelop with stamp and mail.  Sophie shakes her head in dismay.

5Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) - Michael finds five things from the 70s that Sophie doesn’t recognize or know that everyone in Michael’s generation knows (i.e., who is the Fonz, what Tony Orlando and Dawn sang that was so huge they got their own TV variety show, where do you go to find a card catalog, etc.)  Score 1 point for each item Sophie doesn’t know.

5Ws - Sophie finds five things from today’s generation that Michael won’t recognize or understand that everyone in Sophie’s generation totally recognizes (i.e., what does IFLY mean, who is Bethany Mota, name any two albums by any artist that came out this year, etc).  Score 1 point for each item Michael doesn’t know. 

5Ws Reversal - Michael and Sophie choose five things from their generation that the other does know (i.e. Star Wars characters, the band who sang the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, who is Justin Bieber, what are emojis, etc).  Score 1 point for every item the other knows.

Randomness - discussions about random things, like how teenagers get any of their homework done with so many social media distractions in their life, who uses Pinterest and why, are books better than Kindles, what was life like as a teenager before computers, DVDs, the internet…basically, civilization as we know it!

R&R (Reviews & Reactions) - Michael screens five awesome comedians from the 70s for Sophie to review.  Sophie screens five contemporary beauty blogs for Michael to review.  Michael plays five awesome 70s songs for Sophie to review.  Sophie plays five popular music songs/videos for Michael to review.  Lots of possibilities here.

Special Guests:  Sophie and Michael welcome special guests, friends of Sophie & Michael’s, parents, teachers, Oakland’s mayor, business owners, etc. to their show to discuss similarities and differences between generations.

Field trips:  Sophie and Michael walk down Lakeshore and Grand Ave., hang out in cool Oakland venues, and maybe even visit retirement centers talking to folks from generations older than Michael’s (wow, that’s old!). 

Central theme, guiding principles:  Aside from capturing Sophie’s general outgoing coolness and Michael’s irreverent ridiculousness, our show emphasizes the general awesomeness of different generations and how amazing it is to compare, contrast, discuss and learn about everyone’s life experiences.  With our natural rapport and engaging personalities,  we can expand and enlighten today’s YouTube generation with insights about today’s generation gap that teens might find interesting, fun and worth watching. 

Sophie's an 8th grader.  My 8th grade feels like a completely different world.  We didn't even have VCRs when I was in 8th grade.  

Day 1024

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I had the whole day to write and revise and was focused much of the day, but wasn't able to sustain things beyond a few hours before veering off into tangents like YouTube videos and my Kindle.  This sometimes happens after a busy stretch when I'm back in writing mode.  I read maybe 50 pages of Frederick Douglass's first slave narrative on my kindle after seeing a thick copy of Slave Narratives edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. at Richard and Lisa's over Halloween.  It got me thinking about Solomon Northup's 12 Years a Slave narrative I read last year after watching the film.  Reading these narratives are surreal because it's difficult to imagine just how cruel and inhumane many of the slaveholders were in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Frederick Douglass's narrative is no different. Reading it takes my breath away.  Not only did he endure unspeakable acts of cruelty and punishment, he also learned how to read and write whenever he had the chance, often in secret for fear of repercussions if caught educating himself.  That he was able to articulate his life experience so beautifully and clearly with such force and grace is stunning even now, 170 years after his first narrative was published.  I'm struck by many of his insights, in particular how the most religious personalities he encountered were typically also the most cruel and inhumane.  I've noticed that myself in life, the hypocrisy of the extremely religious and how consumed they are with vengeance and punishment (I remember the arguments Pete Santorum and Michele Bachman made in favor of waterboarding four years ago during the GOP debates and how chilling their vicious perspectives were).  I will never understand sustained, methodic cruelty.  I get having bad days, being in a bad mood and sometimes being snippy and short with people, but not every moment of every day over the course of months and years.  Some of these slaveholders were so sadistic and sociopathic while the slave system they supported encouraged their depravity and acceptance toward pure evil. Reading Douglass reminds me of Christopher Hitchens who said, "religion makes morally normal people do wicked and disgusting things." So much of the argument for slavery in the 19th century comes from a religious context in which God has condoned the practice of slavery as pure and good and Christian. It's all there in the historical record.  No wonder the most religious and extreme among us have no patience whatsoever with history, facts and actual narratives written by actual human beings who had to endure such unimaginable horrors.  The horrors exist to this day in an economic slave trade that impacts 20-30 million people.  Man, I've had it so made in life.  Like living the dream.  

Day 1023

Monday, November 2, 2015

Racquetball from 5-7, then home to get ready for an interview with a recruiter for a manager position in San Francisco.  It was pouring rain earlier in the day, so along with wearing a suit and tie, I had my wool Eddie Bauer jacket with me that I haven't worn in years.  Taking BART was thoroughly unpleasant.  Each car had folks packed like sardines.  It's madness.  It was so hot inside the car I thought I was burning up.  Once in SF, I hung out at a Peet's on Kearney and Post.  It's been decades since I've been in San Francisco on a weekday morning.  I love the energy of the city.  It's funny how all these coffee shops have large communal tables for people to hang out and use their laptops.  Communal tables have been a thing for a while now, and I notice more and more of them in restaurants and places to hang out.  I met with my recruiter at 10 and she was high energy.  She wanted me to give a lot more detail in my resume, mentioning all the programs I've learned and all the various legal documents I've worked on.  She showed me an example of what she meant.  After my interview, I went home and revised my resume for two hours, then sent her what I had.  With that behind me, I took a one-hour nap that actually lasted two hours.  I think I'm still tired from Halloween.  The position the recruiter has in mind for me sounds good with enough flexibility for me to keep my job with Howard, which would be great.  After La Stravaganza is finished, I'll work around the clock to pay off bills and fill the coffers with cruise money, etc., and take what I've written and work with an editor to shape the portfolio into something an agent and editor might be interested in.  I also have lots of ideas for short stories and feel it's time to knock a few of those out.  It's going to be so busy this next year.

Day 1022

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Woke up sore and sluggish at 5:30 a.m., which was really 6:30 a.m., but that extra hour sleep really helped.  I revised a section of chapter 2, then watched my fantasy team battle against Steve today.  My team looked good and the Seahawks won 13-12.  Sad news at the Youngs.  Their dog Rocket died today after a lengthy illness.  He held out for Halloween, but today he was in too much pain.  The vet said it was time.  I went over to their house and we headed to Grand Fare Market on Grand Ave. to drink wine, eat crackers and cheese and celebrate Rocket's amazing life.  A larger-than-life dog for sure.

Rachmaninoff Rocky Rocket Young
Richard, Lisa, Sophie, Miles at "our table," Grand Fare Market
Came home around 6, talked to Alice, prepared for an interview tomorrow for another work-related gig, watched 60 Minutes, read, then fell fast asleep.