Saturday, July 04, 2015

National Day

Got up and cooked my 20-year-old's standard breakfast -- six egg yolks and two whole eggs. He also made himself a bowl of cereal and fruit. He works a full shift today, starting soon. He drove my 16-year-old back to her Mom's on his way to work. My 19-year-old is camping with friends at Donner Lake.

Dylan knows his history so he probably is fully aware of what happened to the Donner Party that brutal winter in the Sierra Nevada.

Me, I plan to relax while keeping aware of any potential breaking news, since I am the "Weekend Editor." We don't have enough resources at KQED News to actually staff weekends, so on on a revolving basis, one of us assumes that role.

Should a big story break, such as a wildfire nearby, a terrorist act, or an earthquake, I would start contacting colleagues to see who could cover it. Let's hope that isn't necessary this weekend. But it is very hot Northern California; that plus fireworks means the fire threat is high.

The main event I was looking forward to today already happened, but the Giants played poorly and lost their fifth game in a row. It is mid-season now. Still a lot of baseball to go. I will probably watch other games on my (still) new TV, plus some of the patriotic movies that will no doubt be playing as the day moves along.

I can already hear occasional fireworks now and again. By tonight this neighborhood will be filled with smoke from their booms. No need to leave the Mission District to see fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Although I'll spend the day alone, I do not feel lonely. This is a change from times past. When I started this blog, I was recovering from a breakup, a painful (for me) breakup. I was 59. Several relationships later, I finally retired from dating four years ago.

I love all of my exes, each in her own way. I've been thinking of one particular former GF today because this is her birthday. Or maybe it was yesterday. Her parents were never really sure because she came into the world sometime over the night of the 3rd/4th of July in China and I guess they did not have ready access to a clock when she was born.

Twelve years ago we spent the summer together, here and on the road. I was not yet blogging. We went up to Nevada City and the South Fork of the Yuba River. We went out to Pt. Reyes and Ocean Beach. She loved the water, loved to hike and swim and to eat fish. She often also went with me to dinner with friends.

When she ate in American restaurants she often ordered a child's portion, because that's all she could handle at one seating. She was a lovely, tiny, brilliant, kind Chinese woman with long black hair and a wicked sense of humor. She always is the life of any party -- a jokester in both Mandarin and (back in those days) very poor English. Everyone was charmed when they met her.

When she last visited me a few years back, her English had improved to almost fluent. I think she works for the UN in Beijing. She is a graceful spirit on this planet who devoted herself way back then to the idea of "taking care" of me that summer of my second divorce. We shopped for food all over the city and she showed me how to cook, Chinese style. She kept me distracted. By the time she returned to her homeland, I felt strong enough to be on my own.

I also knew how to cook some pretty wicked spicy Chinese soups and to sp[eak a few words of Mandarin, which is a lovely language.

It was an amazing, brief chapter of my life, and today I am celebrating that summer and my memory of her.

I miss you. Happy Birthday, W!


Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday Musings

This blog has evolved from a public space where I attempted to connect with many people into a private blog that only a few close friends visit. That is largely a stage of life thing. Being older, with far less energy than even a few years ago, I do not go out much beyond my job, which is pretty consuming on its own.

We have a new arts editor; she's British and charming. We've gone out of the office a few times; yesterday for lunch, to chat. She's one of the many nice friends I've made at KQED. Her boss is another. I first met him years ago at Edutopia, George Lucas's project that was briefly one of my clients.

The core of my team is made up of online producers -- people familiar with blogging, social media, online video, interactive graphics, database journalism, and more. I've got three and a half positions reporting to me at present, soon to be four.

The people in these jobs are all young, in their twenties and thirties, and I love the time I get to spend with them. They are all extremely committed to public journalism but also so talented they could easily be earning twice as much at a startup in the private sector.

They just choose not to. My role is to protect them, allow them to expand and grow, and to challenge them. We've worked that out over the past two years into a mutually satisfying relationship. Every working day we have conversations that help my aging brain to stay engaged and not wander off on its own, as it is want to do...

I also have an extremely cantankerous older blogger, a guy I have known for a quarter century in three different companies. He's brilliant, rebellious, and given to providing us rants at our daily "standup" meeting. Rants on things like salmon, gun violence in Oakland, and various historical topics.

Within the company he is considered a management challenge. I enjoy my time with him and have arranged for next week to be a chance for him to explore the origin of the mysterious East Bay walls high in the hills -- so far nobody seems to know who built them or why.

Then I have the "fill-in" staff. These involve many more people, let me try to count. At least eight or nine. These are also mostly young people who work now and then when my main staffers are absent. Two are older, experienced journalists -- peers I deeply respect.

The younger ones are folks I am trying to help. One has been a temp worker at KQED for seven years but never got a raise. I took his case up to HR and after a laborious research process, they agreed that he should have been paid more for at least the past three years.

He was going to be given an offer yesterday but on Monday, tragically, his father fell ill, had emergency surgery and died. He made it to his side, in Arizona, and was able to help his mother make the decision to pull his dad from life support.

I worked with HR to get this week paid for (since he had been scheduled to fill-in for one of my staff) and then found out what the company has decided to do about the wage disparity issue.

Next Monday he is to find out: a check, a bonus, of $11,000 and a permanent raise of 20 percent.

This kind of work is how I spend my days. It makes me proud to be a manager.

The rest of my work is guiding young reporters on investigative projects. We've been breaking stories now and then -- I'd love us to be doing more of this. In effect I have created a tiny CIR inside KQED.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy Holiday Everyone

Well, the second half of the year has arrived. Yesterday, my youngest walked to my office after her day working as a volunteer counselor at the SPCA, which is about four blocks from my office. I reintroduced her to many staff members, no doubt embarrassing her in the process.

I wonder whether our children understand why we are so proud of them? I hope they do not think it is about us, their parents.

Speaking for myself, as the father of six children and six grandchildren, what has always amazed me is the genetic diversity in our family. All 12 of them are unique human beings, with different appearances, proclivities and interests.

Since I love math, that tells me that the random human outcomes of reproduction are vast. Every person is unique and special -- a true individual.

If that is a validation of the American cultural ideal so be it!

Happy Birthday, country!