Saturday, May 24, 2008

Help Me Make it...

...through this night.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Open Letter to Democratic Super Delegates: Dump Hillary

It's time for you to endorse Barack Obama and soundly reject Hillary Clinton, for the good of your party and this nation.

Why? If the Democratic Party stands for anything, it is for racial equality in an era when the Republican Party has all too often been willing to pander to those racist remnants still extant in our society.

Today, according to AP, Sen. Clinton responded to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, by saying: "...We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.

This is simply the latest in a series of underhanded attempts by both Clintons to imply that a black person cannot be a viable candidate, due to various factors, including the possibility of assassination.

As people in African-American communities across the U.S. can attest, one of the greatest fears they harbor is that someone will kill Obama, just as someone killed so many other leaders, including Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.

Sen. Clinton's strategic decision to play on these fears in order to mobilize the one big constituency that backs her -- working class whites -- is reprehensible. I do not recall an example of naked ambition of this magnitude in the past four decades of Democratic Party politics.

Not to mention the callousness of her referencing RFK's murder even as the Kennedy family -- and the nation -- is trying to absorb the emotional impact of the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy has malignant brain cancer.

Upon learning today about what Clinton did, I could not help but remember Bobby Kennedy's greatest speech, IMHO. Thanks to YouTube, I can offer that to you here:

It is your responsibility to tell Hillary this: You've demeaned everything you claim to stand for. We do not need racists, as Ted Kennedy would be the first to tell you.

After all, he endorsed Sen. Obama.


Blogging by Night and Blogging by Day

It was quite a week here at Hotweir, Inc., World Headquarters. First, this blog has been accepted into the Six Apart media network, which should result in the future possibility of more traffic and some new advertising revenue opportunities.

Second, our sister blog, Sidewalk Images , is now carried on a global blog platform,VerveEarth (beta) -- it was the first one posted from San Francisco. We saw some traffic spikes as a result.

Now if someone would notice our other photo blog, Seaglass, we would really be in business.

Our professional blogging over at BNET is attracting a much bigger audience than this little blog. But this will always be my favorite, my first, and no doubt, eventually, my last channel from here at headquarters.

Finally, tonight marks the end of my first week in a new job, which will soon involve launching yet more blogs. Am I in danger of becoming a blogoholic?

You be the judge.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

My workday neighborhood is...

...the charming downtown of Redwood City, squarely in the center of the fabled Silicon Valley. You might expect this to be a busy place, shi-shi, with fancy shops and long lines to get into the restaurants.

Think again. This is a sleepy little town, much like most of those dotting the peninsula from our biggest regional city, San Jose, all the way up to our most famous, San Francisco.

The peninsula takes some time to get to know. There are the mountains rising above the reservoir to the west. The tract homes worth many times as much as any sensible Midwesterner would pay for them, due to location, location, location.

There are also communities like Woodside, once a hippie paradise under the Redwoods, now quite upscale.

Alongside the Bay, on the eastern shore, you have wetlands and the giant SFO airport complex.

Back in the middle, like my new surroundings each workday, you have working class people and half-empty restaurants, train stations, and curio shops. This may be one of the richest places on earth, by the numbers, but it is also the home of billionaires and paupers.

America is a class society, though no one wants to admit it. Don't take my word. Come here to see the evidence.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008



For my immigrant parents' generation, there usually were about three main ones, until they grew old, and migrated with the other snow-birds to sunnier climes. The first was where they spent their childhood. For my father, that was in a small farmhouse in the countryside outside of London, Ontario. For my mother, that was in the village of Eaglesham, outside of Glasgow, Scotland.

The second was where they lived once they landed in this country. For both of my parents, this was a vibrant community that exists today only as a shell of its former self: Detroit, Michigan.

The third was where they settled in the post-war boom that defines modern America. In our case, my family lived for half of my childhood in Royal Oak, and the second half in Bay City, two small towns in Michigan.

In all of these neighborhoods there were the normal cast of characters -- relatives, friends, crazy people, bad eggs, and eggheads. My Dad was especially skilled at describing his boyhood gang of buddies to me, as I rode around with him on his rounds as a salesman for the Borden milk company in the early '50s.

(Somewhere among my massive collection of junk I still have an Elsie the Borden Cow button from this era.)

Each one of his friends, who collectively covered a wide range of ethnicities, religions, and nationalities, had a nickname, in addition to proclivities that revealed their vastly separate heritages. This one liked pasta with garlic, that one ate bagels and lox, this one loved to go to a town where he could eat his favorite German meals, this one ate French.

As far as I could tell, my father never felt there was any kind of inherent hierarchy among people. He considered each friend as an individual -- one might be Italian, one Jewish, one a German Lutheran, the next a French Catholic.

But in his eyes, those differences were like spices in a meal, simply different nuances of flavor -- not a dividing line that separates one person from another. In this way, I realize, he was a great teacher for me. He loved all his friends equally. Although we would later disagree about many things, politically, and we divided along our views of race, I had already absorbed at an early age (5 or 6) his value system, which was truly the American value system: All of us are created equal.

Then, there is still the "under God" part, which neither he nor I ever fully resolved. But, that is a subject for another post.

When I started this post, I meant to write about my current neighborhood, and its characters, including Gonzo, Uncle Sam, and the Mystery Lady, but somehow my Dad's life got in my way. That's how it is with writing -- whatever comes up, comes up. Until you deal with that, there's no point in moving on to what you thought you were going to write about...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


There's something very special about patterns. Whether it's math homework, architecture, or voting results, there is an undeniable logic, once you perceive it, governing all that we see.

Often when we look at any sort of data, our first impression is that it is contradictory.

Indeed, it is. But upon closer analysis, we can begin to make some sense of these cross-stitchings that confront us. An image begins to form in our minds, perhaps a projection based on our inner senses, or maybe a line in the sand for which we can marshal enough rational evidence to make our case credible.

Thus is the life of an artist. Thus is the life of a journalist. Thus is the life of an analyst, a venture capitalist, a politician or just an ordinary woman in New York feeling as if she is living her life as if she were an actor in "Sex and the City."


It all depends on the patterns. Such is math and such is life. At least that's the conclusion I drew tonight from helping my 12-year-old with his math homework. As we worked together, it wasn't his quickness at finding the answers that impressed me so much as his sense of what is behind those correct answers.

The patterns.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Back in the Valley Again

You know why I love startups?

Because they are the most hopeful working environments you ever will find.

Let's consider the alternatives:

* Government. Not a good idea. Most agencies, departments or administrations on a local, state, regional, national, or international level calcify, sooner or later, into bureaucracies that resemble George Orwell's dark visions.

* Non-Profits. If God's work is still being done, in our secular culture, it's NPO's who are doing it. As I have often posted, there could be no recovery along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi were it not for the non-profit groups and volunteers who have relocated to the area post-Katrina. This sector must also include religious groups, because many churches have been providing badly-needed labor and materials to help rebuild the area. But, that said, working for these groups is an exercise in frustration. Luckily, there is a new service that provides some accountability in the NPO sector -- Great Non Profits. org.

* Big corporations. An utterly horrible option. Here, you get the worst of both worlds -- bureaucracy and entropy.

* Academia. No comment. Why work in an institution that believes in the outrageous concept of "tenure?"

* Work for yourself. This is an excellent choice. The only problem may be with your boss.

* Startups. These are the companies I love. They are not for everybody. But, unlike all of the above options, these tiny firms are focussed on the future. Anything seems to be possible.

Thus, today, I started once again to commute down the peninsula to a company so small that the empty boxes in the lobby outnumber the people in the office.

I am Employee #9.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bey - ta - brakers

My neighbor Pete has a fiend who used to suffer anxiety attacks before giving a speech. She discovered that taking beta-breakers calmed her enough that she could succeed. Ever since, when this particular Saturday in May rolls around, he can't hear about the Bay to Breakers footrace, without hearing "Beta-Breakers" instead.

My neighbor Mike's baby is one and a half, and we talked about whether maybe some of my kids' cast-off toys might be good for his son. I'm in the midst of a big cleanup of the kids' room, with boxes of stuff headed for the basement and storage.

Until now, I've hesitated getting rid of their childhood relics. Experience dictates that something like a collectible, or a set of cards, or a specific game finds its way back into their lives years after they supposedly abandoned it. As any parent knows, these hobbies and obsessions cost a lot of money.

It's easy to drop $50 every weekend just stoking the habit, month after month. Then, just as suddenly as it started, they announce they are no longer into that particular craze. You put the stuff away, and you wait. Eventually, they pull it out and start playing with it again.

Until they hit their teens. Then, of course, new urges govern their choices. They still revert now and then, but by and large, their early childhood is over, and now you can begin to safely (if discreetly) remove the cards and figures and dolls and stuffies and blocks and models and all manner of junk from your house.

It's not the same feeling as an empty nest; it's more like cleaning out the extra stuff so you can accommodate their ever larger forms in your nest.

Tomorrow, my life will change yet again. After one of the most extended periods ever of working from my home -- now this modest flat in The Mission -- I will again join the flow of commuters headed down Highway 101 to Silicon Valley.

I'm excited. And I'm ready.


Double-Header in the Summer Heat

At about ten o'clock Saturday night, with the fog rolling over this scorched city, I sat down to eat dinner, a chicken pot pie.

It was a day spent crisscrossing the city and the Bay Bridge in my car; standing in the shade (when possible) or enduring sunburn, and ultimately windburn, on the sidelines of two soccer fields in The Mission.

The morning game involved the little guys.

This is the last season for their team as co-ed. Although they are only 8 or 9, the time has come to split them up by gender. My daughter, for one, is sad about this, as she reallly likes the boys on her team.

It was a great soccer game, with only one goal.

At this age, they've mastered defense over offense.

They have not yet grown as tall as their coaches.

In the end, our guys were the winners, 1-0.


At the other end of the daylight, the big guys played in the late afternoon, as the first sharp breeze in days rushed in from the East, heralding the monster white wall of fog that would surely be close behind.

By this time of day, even the irrepressible twins were slowing down.

This would prove to be a rough game. It's the last season for their team, too. Those born before a certain date are off to high school and new teams. The younger kids, including mine, will join up with the holdovers of another such team.

In this game, my son took a point-blank blast in the face that could easily have broken his nose, except that he has the reflexes of a cat, and turned his head at the last micro-second. His eye swelled shut for a while, and he looked a bit dazed, but he kept playing.

The game was a mis-match, against an older, bigger team that normally plays in a different division.

Every hour and a half, the pitch changes hands -- girls teams, boys teams, on and on.

After dinner, I tried but was too tired to post anything. Even now, mid-day Sunday, the usual torrent of words eludes me. I'm just too tired from my weekend duties...