Sportsball... Sportsball everywhere!

Sportsball

I like to go and take a hike,
and sometimes go and ride a bike,
And though I do not fish for pike,
It’s sportsball that I do not like.

I do not like it on a hat,
Nor tattooed boldly on my cat,
And if I owned a sportsball jacket,
Into the trash I would pack it!

When I go to cast my ballot,
A horrid taste forms on my pallet,
Who there dares to go beg for money?
Rich sportsball pricks and it’s not funny.

And when the people pay their bond,
How do these ingrates then respond?
They move their teams and thus abscond
with peoples’ taxes far beyond.

And at the start of sportsball season,
Most people seem to loose their reason,
Because they fear to dream or think,
They fish used sportballs from the drink.

I find it sad that thought reform
has always been our culture’s norm,
Just watch the fans and soon you’ll know
that sportsball is just mind control.

And if this screed leaves you irate,
A sportsball fan I irritate,
Then keep on cheering corporate theft
and sportsball will be all that’s left.

Forty

STEEL_RESERVE_40_A-500x500I’m 40 years old, and in less than a month my 40th year will be in the rear view mirror. I remember one day, when I was 25, when I had the realization that forty was only fifteen years away. I remember exactly where I was too. I remember cringing a little because being ten years old still felt recent and forty felt impossibly old. In an instant I realized that youth had a shelf life, and that sooner than I would like it would expire.

Thirty was a great year. My twenties were full of Sehnsucht, a portmanteau of undefined longing and lingering illness that only the mind of a German could condense into a single, two syllable word. I was relieved, despite the negative buzz about flipping that significant digit, to ditch the twentysomething angst for the decade of hustle that any responsible thirtysomething must endure. In my thirties my career finally hit its stride. I spent the decade in a more or less stable relationship. I learned to drink wine and spent romantic weekends in Mendocino, getting massages and sampling artisanal whatnots. I worked hard and took up running. I skipped some of the responsibilities that my peers took on; kids, mortgage. But I played harder than I did in my twenties. I had fun. And then life happened.

Forty is a canonical number. When Noah took his cruise, it rained for forty days and forty nights. Moses roamed the desert with his people for forty years. Jesus fasted in the desert and was tempted by Satan for forty days. Forty is big. It is more than the literal bundling of forty individual things. It’s something that’s not exactly quantifiable. How big was that thing? I don’t know, like forty.

Forty was a transformative year for me. The relationship that had been the bedrock of my life eroded from the Heraclitian constant – change, and I found myself thrust into the dating world as a forty year old man; the optics of which are not good. There are 38 year old women who will not date a forty year old man. I am too old and settling for me means admitting that one has past one’s “best by date” on the early side. I would write this off as a purely psychological phenomena,  but for the fact that I am not 39. I am forty.

I drink less now. Bars are noisy and crowded, and I am happier when I go several weeks without so much as a beer. My bottles of scotch and tequila sit on the shelf gathering dust. They are nice to look at. I like their aesthetics, but they make me happier as art objects than having their contents poured into shot glasses. I don’t work a program. I didn’t make some great effort to stop drinking. One day I just lost interest. Most of the time a good night’s rest is more appealing than a cocktail.

Work is interesting. My professional life has become less of a mystery. I understand everyone’s role better; their concerns, why they show up in the morning, and where they are headed at the end of the day. There aren’t as many puzzles to be solved. I watch the more junior people make the same mistakes I made and hack the same lessons that I hacked. Sometimes I have to watch them and let them do their thing. I try and give them encouragement, but some things are just best learned through experience. It’s a weird feeling observing their struggles, one that I might have felt earlier had I not opted out of parenthood.

I feel more too. In my thirties everything had to be rational. It had to fit in place. It had to be just so. Now I look at my thoughts and have a much better sense of what is a reality-based idea backed by logic and what is a feeling. I have stopped calling my feelings “wrong ideas” and tossing them in the bad pile. Now I divide them between rational and irrational, and try to keep them sorted that way. I choose my words more carefully too. I don’t just “think” everything anymore. I think rational things, I feel non-rational things. I try and modulate my decisions accordingly. I try and bring more mindfulness to how my decisions make me feel. I don’t always get it right but sometimes I do. And sometimes the result is boring. I may be happier, but happy and well balanced feels tedious a lot of the time.

I don’t want forty. I want to kick it down the street a few decades. I like the hustle. I want to make big deals, found a successful company, and swim in an Olympic sized swimming pool of my own money. And I miss that undefined longing that felt like a low grade infection. I don’t want to give up on the idea that there is something bigger and better out there for me than I can possibly imagine. But I’m forty. Forty is big. Forty is heavy. It is a wall; a boulder so big that Moses or Jesus or the Big Sky Man Himself can’t move it. Forty is the reality that I am just another human being passing through this insignificant speck in a vast but impermanent universe on my way, soon, to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Boycott San Francisco!

People love San Francisco. There’s the great food, the proximity to wine country, and a general lack of snow. San Francisco has a rich heritage of counter culture, dreamers, homosexual poets, hippies, hipsters, and yuppies. Yes, I said it: yuppies. Not that yuppies are inherently bad. Okay, yuppies are inherently bad, but having a few bad apples around helps remind you how good the good apples really are. Having a lot of bad apples, though, means that you just have a lot of bad apples.

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost 30 years, San Francisco for six, and never before have I seen things get so bad and desperate. In a time when most regional US economies are not producing enough jobs, the Bay Area seems to have done the opposite. We have overproduced jobs to the point where there is no more housing for all the people who are coming here to fill those jobs. It has gotten so bad that I have begun looking for jobs elsewhere, in places where it might snow even, because I cannot afford to live here anymore. But I can’t find jobs in tech, outside of the few core hubs, that pay a competitive salary or match my level of skills and seniority. What I do find on sites like Craigslist are companies posting in other regions ads that beg developers to COME TO SAN FRANCISCO.

Well, here’s a news flash for all those employers. About fifteen years ago broadband Internet became a thing for middle class consumers. You do not need to bring any more warm bodies into your offices to create synergy. Those warm coding bodies would be happy to take 80% of what you’re offering an on-site employee and quietly code at home in Denver or Minneapolis or damn near anywhere else you can think of. And they will be more efficient, because the last thing you ever want your software engineer doing when they’re hacking on your core product offering is worrying about the increasingly realistic possibility that they may be homeless while earning a low six-figure salary, because a low six figure salary will not pay for a modest apartment in San Francisco these days.

And if you’re a programmer on the outside of Babylon looking in, dreaming of taco trucks, cheap cabernet, and enlightened free spiritedness, think twice. The people who are making what elsewhere would be very generous salaries by moving here are subsidizing their lifestyles. They’re going into debt, living off of trust funds, or growing weed in their closet. No one here has a retirement fund.

Maybe this is where the VCs are. Maybe this is where the intellectual ferment of the digital age starts, but it doesn’t have to end at the edges of the Bay, or even at the city limits of (gasp) Oakland. You can take it home. You can tell that VC that you’re going to start your company in your home town and save tons of their capital in the process. You can create jobs in your community. And if all you want is a job, you can tell Robollox or whomever is poaching for talent in your community that you would love to join their development team and you’d be happy to fly in once a month for the requisite face time, but you would rather rot in Hades than to give all of what should be your discretionary income to a scum sucking absentee landlord in the most screwed up housing market in these United States of America. Please, take those companies jobs and money, but also, please don’t come here. There is nowhere to live here. There are people renting tents in their back yards for $1,000 a month. There are people renting those tents. You will pretend to have fun for a while even though you will have no time or money to enjoy this once fabulous city. Then you will get sick of all of it and leave. The actually fun people can’t afford to live here anymore. The ones left, the odd indigenous San Franciscan excepted, are the die hard core of uptight yuppie scum who enjoy the smell of their own farts and will pay infinite amounts of rent for the status of having the correct zip code.

Move here at your own peril. I recommend an all out boycott. San Francisco has ceased to be livable and no one can afford flowers to wear in their hair.