Off again on another October adventure we go! Since I typically post something travelly directly to social media, I thought I would try, perhaps for at least a week, putting the few pictures and thoughts out in daily blog form rather than a daily photo and long blog weekly. Shall we try? Let’s shall.
Traveling Like a Well Oiled Machine
The Fun Car, aka the red Subaru, aka O’Hara, does like to go. We are the kind of people that have packing down to a science, have taken photos of the insides of suitcases and the back seat, so that we know the most efficient way to strap down that laundry basket full of extra shoes and warm coats, and have tucked away the extra book we may never read, the ear muffs (going north in October!), and a kite or two (coast). Last year, it was 8500 miles down and across from Albuquerque to the Upper Peninsula, from California to Ontario. This year, we are far less ambitious and only look to go Moseying up the Left Coast, San Francisco to Victoria, Canada.
The coast does not disappoint. The first day will be home up to Mendocino, a traverse through the vineyards north of the Bay, cutting through multiple tall tree groves and farmer’s markets. The outside temperature, reported by the car, starts to drop degree by degree as we pass westward by the Schultz Museum in Sonoma and the Navarro River Grove. The road is very twisty; apparently, we did not take the usual way through Willits. Instead we are winding, and winding, and winding up 128 through teeny towns of Philo and Boonville. The problem was that I was driving, at my request, and in this unusual move, KK started as navigator rather than as Formula One racer. Hence, we apparently took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Over time, the fortress crumbled and the crows took over, fighting battles of their own over the parapets. Ordinary people, no longer as valiant or as bloodthirsty as the ones who had thundered across the hills, built houses, cheery green and yellow boxes everywhere. The railroad men drove their tracks boldly right below, and people climbed on and off the train as if nothing had ever happened.
But the stationmaster always shook his head when asked about tours up the hill.
“Up there? Nar. I never goes up there.”
As the 4:17 started to chug its way, his feet felt the vibrations. Felt them as always, continue long after the cars had blurred across the fields, continue underneath, as if something there was just waiting.
*Based on a 100 word flash fiction prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, based on this photo by Sandra Crook.
In 1936, the winning word was eczema. In 1967 and 1970, the words were chihuahua and croissant, commonly viewed words in TV ads for Eucrisa, Taco Bell, or Burger King.
Somewhere along in the 2000s is when the spelling bee contestants stepped up their game so much that the words became more difficult, less recognizable. In 2003: pococurante. 2011: cymotrichous. 2017: marocain.
Social and technological changes have created a competition that seems otherwordly in difficulty, yet there are more ties and more winners than ever. Contestants hustle to cram as many words in practice as they can, use special computerized services, hire coaches, and reportedly spend 30 hours a week looking up the meanings of prospicience and antipyretic.
One question widely circulating is: Should we do anything about it?
As hundreds of tornadoes blasted across the midwest this past week, the impact of climate change popped up in a more mundane but perhaps significant way in two New York Times articles about room temperature. A recent study found that energy consumption increases as you get older, especially quite old, meaning a lot older than I am right now. Another study showed clearly that women and men perform cognitively very differently depending on the temperature. Both of these studies suggest our battles over the up and down arrows on the thermostat are just beginning.
Over 70? Never Be Without a Snuggie
A study published in Energy Research and Social Science looked at the use of energy stratified by age, including impact from variables of income and housing size. The data from 1987 to 2009 used pseudo-cohorts, a sciency way of saying that the study was designed to look at age groups that changed over time. In other words, they looked at energy consumption by age, and they followed those age groups for about twenty years.
Apparently young people don’t use as much household energy, most likely because they run around and live in small rooms, like dorm rooms. Multi-person families buy bigger houses, so that the entire family uses relatively more energy, which seems to pick near age 50. Energy use then decreases, but starts to drive upward again after age 70.
When the researchers added income to the model, the upward slope tipped even higher, meaning that having more income when you’re older magnified the impact. This wasn’t true for those under age 30, though. Whether income was included or not, people in their twenties don’t use as much energy, whether they can afford it or not. A lot of the increase in use as people get older was due to housing size, though not all of it.
In honor of MLK day this past Monday, I’ve been thinking for a few weeks about dedicating this entry to Betty Reid Soskin. I have to admit, though, it’s been difficult to get going, and as I began pulling quotes and details to share, I finally realized why it’s been hard. She is damn intimidating!
A five foot three, soft-spoken 97-year-old might not seem particularly overwhelming. For those lucky enough to have heard her speak, you know also that she is extremely approachable and willing to share both her thoughts and listen to yours. But what she has accomplished in her life makes clear that this woman is a force of nature. What she lacks in height, she has made up for with a lifetime of copious activism and the promotion of American ideals of liberty and equal opportunity.
Chock Full O’ History
Here are just a few portions of her remarkable life story. She comes from Cajun, Creole, Spanish, and African ancestors, with a great-grandmother born into slavery and an ancestry that stretches from the time of witches to Dred Scott through the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. She came to California from New Orleans and served in a segregated Jim Crow union hall in Richmond California during World War II. Opening a gospel-themed record store in Berkeley with her husband, she raised a family, experiencing redlining in Berkeley and both subtle and overt racism in the suburbs of Walnut Creek. Continue reading “Betty Reid Soskin: Social Justice Ninja Warrior”