Sunday, October 12, 2008

roadside time warps

In a similar way buildings can speak to us and take on whatever strange significance we attach to them. This unspeakably bland commercial building in Tustin gradually claimed my attention whenever I rode by it on my bicycle. It was apparently some kind of split-level, drive-through jewelry store in the late 50's-early 60's suburban bourgeois style. And although it was on the one hand completely boring and unworthy of my attention, something about it intrigued me; it emanated a mysterious significance. I imagined an overbearingly strange, reclusive jeweler, part alchemist, who lived in the upstairs quarters and went downstairs every day to cut diamonds and dispense advice to anyone who entered his store. I was also convinced that the building existed in a time warp, that it really was an earlier decade inside the walls of that building. The jeweler in my head (as I never did see any actual human enter or leave the building) was strongly inspired by the character of Max Kelada from the Somerset Maugham short story "Mr. Know-All". I'm not even sure why I know that story, except that I think I saw a black & white film adaptation on television late one evening, and like all great old black & white films, I'm not sure if I actually saw it or merely imagined it.

roadside wonders

Sometimes this stand of mature eucalyptus trees along highway 101 is just a detail, barely worth mentioning. From another perspective, it belongs to the realm of spiritual and impressive things. Eucalyptus -- the tallest flowering plant! Flowering and towering hundreds of feet in the air! Its refreshing, sinus-clearing fragrance wafting over the freeway, through cars. And it is BIG, its bigness seeming to loan the whole valley a bigness and importance that may otherwise be overlooked. As I understand it, the Native Americans had a strong sense of appreciating land features, of exalting the experience of a particular mountain or lake to a spiritual level. This wonderful ability to convert the mundane into the sacred is free and available to everyone. Exercise it freely and share your shrines, your wonders, with your friends!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

solar wineries

It's happening -- the Salinas Valley is going solar. I knew it was just a matter of time. Today I learned that the huge Constellation US-owned Blackstone Winery is installing a massive array of solar panels on the roof of their warehouse -- the largest such installation of any winery in the world. I've visited solar wineries in Sonoma and heard talk of them elsewhwere, but this is quite a milestone.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wall St. vs. Main St. vs. Haiti

As capitalism collapses all around us, it helps to get some perspective and realize how relatively abstract hardships in the US can be (say, loss of retirement savings) when compared to the true poverty of places like Haiti (loss of life and shelter in the city of Gonaives after Hurricane Ike).

With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense for the US, perhaps the world's top consumer of coffee, to wake up and smell Haitian Bleu coffee. I for one have decided to channel my coffee dollars into the hemisphere's poorest nation, the place that needs those dollars the most -- more than Brazil or Columbia or corporations like Folgers or Starbucks. If enough Americans bought Haitian Bleu coffee, it would probably make a difference. Just go online and find yourself an independent roaster NOW.