Monthly Archives: January 2014

Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ, 30 January 2014

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Good Evening:

In response to today’s challenge for photographers, I took these pictures.

Elderly Lesbian Couple, Market Street, San Francisco

Elderly Lesbian Couple, Market Street, San Francisco

Crossing Polk Street at Fulton, San Francisco

Crossing Polk Street at Fulton, San Francisco

Vonn Scott Bair

Signs Upon Signs (Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition)

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Good Evening:

Saw these on Monday, the first at the Orpheum Theater at 8th & Market, the second on Valencia near 19th in the Mission.

Survival Survival, San Francisco, 27 January 2014

Survival Survival, San Francisco, 27 January 2014

Community Bulletin Board, Valencia Nr. 19th Street, San Francisco

Community Bulletin Board, Valencia Nr. 19th Street, San Francisco

Vonn Scott Bair

San Francisco City Hall During the Magic Hour (Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition)

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Good Afternoon:

At 5:00 on Friday afternoon, I saw perhaps 50 people in the Civic Center photographing City Hall juxtaposed against the western sky during The Magic Hour. I numbered among them; who can blame us? Just for fun, I’ll eschew the usual color photography for something that will leave something to your imagination.

City Hall During The Magic Hour, 24 January 2014

City Hall During The Magic Hour, 24 January 2014

But I did not stick around for sunset. I chose the nearest highest point in the City closest to my home that presents a decent vista of the west.

Sunset from Alamo Square, 24 January 2014

Sunset from Alamo Square, 24 January 2014

Because sometimes, you don’t want to juxtapose something human when it will just get in the way of the view.

Vonn Scott Bair

A Traffic Jam of Weddings (Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition)

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Good Evening:

San Francisco City Hall is a great place for weddings and a better place, setting, and background for wedding pictures–sometimes too great. For example, today. Consider this another sort of puzzle. Study the picture carefully.

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Now, can you count the number of newly wedded couples in the picture?

There were four.

Which led to a bit of a traffic jam of wedding photography on the steps of City Hall. Note for example, the couple at the extreme right waiting for the other three couples to get out of the way. Four couples, four wedding parties, four professional wedding photographers, all tangled up, all juxtaposed on top of, in the middle of, and mixed up with each other. Fortunately, everyone managed to work out everything. And that’s a good thing, right? I mean, who wants to see four happily wedded couples get hauled off to the hoosegow, all bloody and beat up after brawling with each other over who would get the best picture?

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–It’s a little hard to spot the other three couples, but one of the grooms is leaning against a wall at the extreme left, in the right center area you can see a photographer in a grey shirt taking pictures of another couple, while the final pair are obscured behind their friends in the middle at the top of the stairs.

The Solution to Yesterday’s Puzzle!

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Good Evening:

I published another one of my picture puzzles yesterday; click here if you haven’t seen it yet.

The object I photographed was made of concrete. It’s an old sort of concrete bench at the 22nd and Folsom bus stop for the 12-Folsom. It used to be the base upon which was mounted a wooden bench with metal supports, but they removed the bench long ago.

So here’s where all of those weird colors come from. Some of that was microscopic bits of rusted metal that somehow got imbedded into the concrete; the blue-ish marks were paint drippings that came from the sloppily-applied paint job on the wood; the other colors I would guess are a combination of minerals, mold, lichen, algae, and/or something similar, but please don’t take my word for it: I’m not a biologist.

What intrigued me about the bench was that I’ve seen similar before:

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But these have a natural origin. These are the beds of mineral hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. Those colors derive from the skeletons of millions of microbes that somehow lived and died in the hot and hostile environment. Thus our world has its way with human pretension; everything we create eventually looks like a not-quite-good-enough version of what nature does, um, naturally.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art, 22 January 2014 (and My First Picture Puzzle of 2014)

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Good Evening:

I like to use my camera to create picture puzzles for the amusement/entertainment of my readers. Normally, nothing too difficult, I think. However, tonight’s (my first of the year!) is a little different in nature, and might pose a bit of a challenge. Here are three closeups of an object I photographed last weekend.

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OK, you tell me: what the heck is it? If nothing else, what substance was used to make the object?

Vonn Scott Bair

Discussing Foot Hygiene on the 71-Noriega at 10:00 p.m. on a Monday Night

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Good Evening:

The smallest of the three women stood about five foot nine and weighed about 175 pounds.

The mid-sized women stood about six feet tall and weighed about 200 pounds.

The big one? Six foot two, maybe 225.

Now she was gorgeous.

The three women (all in their twenties) did not board the rear of the 71-Noriega last night at 10:00, they stormed it, arm in arm in arm, with laughter even bigger than themselves. The little one wore a black hoodie and sweatpants, the mid-sized one favored a black leather motorcycle jacket and blue jeans, whilst the big one still wore her downtown Financial District work clothes, white-collar professional jacket with matching skirt and a white blouse. But it was 10:00, and they had nothing else to do, and nothing they wanted to do more, than enjoy the fact that they had each other and lived in a city where people barely pay attention when three big beautiful women madly in love with each other can show the world how madly they are with each other, and even better, they have zero body image issues, in fact, if anything they have fewer than zero body image issues. To me, that kind of confidence, pride and self-esteem is real beauty, so yes, it makes perfect sense to me that three women with an average weight of 200 pounds could look so good, and the bigger the woman, the more beautiful she looked to me.

I think they wanted to mess with my head.

Obviously, they didn’t know me.

They briefly stopped joking and laughing to look at me, glanced at each other, and winked. Then they commandeered three seats immediately across from me and started necking with each other. I’ve terrified an English soccer hooligan into fleeing a 6-Parnassus bus by using my Hannibal Lecter imitation, so three big beautiful lesbians madly in love, groping and tonguing each other hardly ranks among even the slightly interesting encounters during my 32 year career of riding San Francisco public transit.

The chess game I was studying looked more intriguing.

I must have disappointed them because the mid-sized woman, who was good-looking, but not so much as the big one, began to deliver a dissertation upon the subject of the abject perils threatening the feet of the big woman because she wore fancy dress shoes that cramped her toes. The small woman did nothing but laugh at their conversation. She pulled on the cord to indicate that the next bus stop was hers, then said, “S—, this isn’t my bus stop, it’s the wrong one.”

“Listen you have got to stop wearing those shoes!”

“You think it’s f—ing easy to find shoes that f—ing fit me that I can afford?!”

“Those shoes are doing s—ty s— to your toes!”

“What s—ty s— to my toes?!”

“They’re like cramping your toes, making them all sweaty and wet and s—, and bacteria and germs will grow, and you’ll get bunions on your toes-”

“Oh, like you care, you’ll just want to nibble them off!”

The small woman laughed even harder, and pulled the cord to indicate that the next bus stop was hers, then said, “S—, this isn’t my bus stop, it’s the wrong one.”

The mid-sized woman continued, “I’m serious, bunions on your toes, they’ll warp your feet and cripple you, and another thing, all that bacteria and germ s— will give you athlete’s feet and you won’t sleep because your feet will itch all night, and then! And then you’ll get cankers and infections and you’ll end up with gangrene and they’ll have to amputate your feet and you’ll wish you had listened to me-”

The big woman shouted, “You are so full of s—!”

“I am not joking, listen to me! Know what you gotta do to protect your feet? Do you? Huh? I’ll tell you. You have to pee on your feet.”

“WHAT?!”

“I am serious! When you’re taking a shower, you need to pee on your feet, because your pee is a natural disinfectant-”

“GROSS!”

“It is! It is! I’m telling you, peeing on your feet is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body-”

“BULLS—!”

“-and you can wash it off so it doesn’t leave a smell.”

The small woman laughed even harder, and pulled the cord a third time to indicate that the next bus stop was hers, then said, “S—, this isn’t my bus stop, it’s the wrong one.”

As I wrote above, none of this bothered me; I was too busy trying to commit as much of the conversation as possible to memory so I could later share it with you, gentle reader. But I was not the only person riding in the back of the 71 bus. One of the other two women was an extremely small, extremely aged Asian woman who stared out the window, looking as if she pretended she didn’t understand a word of English.

The other definitely understood English.

This woman met the standards of beauty that other men unfairly impose upon women; long slender build, long dark hair, clear fair skin, soft facial features, slightly pointed chin, all in all a very fine example of the delicate feminine beauty some described as an “English Rose.” She didn’t move at all, except that she leaned forward a little bit more as the conversation got raunchier, and her eyes grew a little wider. Probably hetero, probably new to San Francisco.

The mid-sized woman said, “Look you can ask your doctor, she’ll tell you that peeing on your feet is good for you. Just ask your gynecologist.”

The big woman said, “My what?!”

“You don’t know what a f—— gynecologist is?!”

“I know what that is, I don’t f—— have one!”

“You don’t have a f—— gynecologist?!”

“No I do not have a g– d— f—— Guy-No-Aloe-Collie-Melancholy-ollie ollie ollie-gism-ologist-whatever!”

The small woman laughed even harder, and pulled the cord a fourth time to indicate that the next bus stop was hers, then said, “S—, this isn’t my bus stop, either, it’s still the wrong one.”

The bus driver yelled out, “WILL YOU PLEASE STOP FOOLING WITH THE CORD?!!”

The three women laughed even harder, the big one said, “Come on girls, next stop, we’re off!” and they soon departed. Arm in arm in arm again, joking and laughing all the way.

The Asian woman continued to stare out the window, but she smiled, so I think she really did understand English.

The English Rose bent forward even more, blinking her eye frequently. She took a deep breath and shook her head as if that would shake the conversation out of her brain.

I continued to study the chess game (if memory serves, Blackmar-Wurm 1882).

Why not? It was just another San Francisco bus ride at 10:00 p.m. on a Monday night.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Duck, Part II

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Good Morning:

The second and final part of my ten-minute play that Wily West Productions will stage in June.

THE DUCK, Part II.

The story thus far: In Part I, FBI Agents DeMarco and Fredricksen requested a DNA swab from Hope Judith Hauser in connection with a missing child case. She is an amnesiac with no memory of her life before she woke up in a hospital bed at age 7. Hope snaps, and in a long speech refuses to cooperate, because she has been interviewed hundreds of times and can’t take it any longer.

HOPE: You have a warrant. Your ilk always does. You’ve never needed it before, but you need it now, so shove it in my face and force me. Just do it and get out of my life.

(FREDRICKSEN starts to reach inside a pocket for the warrant, but DEMARCO stops this with a gesture.)

DEMARCO: We prefer that you choose to help. (Pause.) Hope, we said this was an unusual case for us. We did not say why.

FREDRICKSEN: Ms. Hauser, we’ve always investigated homicides.

DEMARCO: No, you’re not a suspect. Unless the evidence is wrong, you might be–we think you’re the murder victim.

(Extremely long pause, take your time.)

DEMARCO: Last month, a piece of slime who name does not deserve memorialization got smoked at San Quentin, California, meaning the gas chamber, for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl near Sacramento. Before he died, he wrote a confession. This drifter crossed the country for 37 years raping and killing 45 girls in 22 states. His eleventh victim, name unknown, kidnapped in Minnesota, transported across state lines into Wisconsin, was raped, then beaten to death with a baseball bat. He threw the body into the Mississippi near Jamestown sometime in July 1975.

FREDRICKSEN: On July 15, 1975, Edward and Samantha Verdi of Winona, Minnesota report seven-year-old Sabina Antonia Verdi has gone missing. Despite an intensive search lasting nearly two months, no trace of her ever appears. No body.

DEMARCO: Fredricksen had an idea. The Verdis live close to Iowa and Wisconsin; maybe the body floated across state lines. Except no dead bodies matching that description were reported. But my partner had a second good idea.

FREDRICKSEN: What if–Sabina Verdi had survived? The states back then were terrible at coordinating efforts, keeping records, sharing records, we had no national database. Which brings us to 20-year-old Thomas James Hauser and his fiancée, Abigail Louise Casper, also 20, of Lansing, Iowa.

DEMARCO: Mr. Hauser and Ms. Casper were walking near Black Hawk Bridge when they hear what the report describes as quote, frantic quacking, unquote. Whatever “frantic quacking” might be. They go down to the river where they find a young girl with a fractured skull washed up on the bank, unconscious and, quote, nine-tenths dead, unquote, somehow clinging to a log. Plus a female mallard standing next to the girl, watching the couple.

HOPE: The duck.

FREDRICKSEN: The unconscious girl has such a death grip on the log they have to carry her and the log to his station wagon–with the duck walking after them. Watching as they leave.

HOPE: I don’t know if it’s a memory-

FREDRICKSEN: They deliver the unconscious girl to the nearest ER, where they swear they see that same duck. Watching them.

HOPE: -I don’t know if it’s a dream-

FREDRICKSEN: The doctors revive the girl and save her life, but cannot help her recover her lost memory. Total amnesia.

HOPE: -or if it was a hallucination.

DEMARCO: Eventually, Mr. Hauser and Ms. Kaspar file adoption papers, and the girl becomes Hope Judith Hauser.

HOPE: I was the ring bearer at the wedding. It was beautiful. They gave me the first slice of cake. I still have the hat they gave me to cover my shaved head and the stitches.

DEMARCO: It would constitute a mind-blowing coincidence if two young girls with fractured skulls ended up in the Mississippi River at the same time.

HOPE: No. I won’t do it.

DEMARCO: No?

HOPE: This time the heart I’ll break shall be my own.

FREDRICKSEN: Ms. Hauser, with all due respect, this is mostly not about you. If you are Sabina Antonia Verdi, you have two parents, an sister, a brother, and a bunch of nieces and nephews who want to see you. Plus a 95-year-old grandmother who isn’t doing too well.

HOPE: Ooooh, nice use of pathos.

FREDRICKSEN: Thank you.

HOPE: Jackass.

DEMARCO: You’re welcome.

(If she has not already stood up, HOPE stands now. She lets her jaw hang down. FREDRICKSEN takes a DNA swab.)

HOPE: I am the worst hypocrite.

DEMARCO: No. You might have made yourself a very happy woman.

HOPE: I might make the Verdis happy. I am a total amnesiac. At best, I will be hugged by strangers.

FREDRICKSEN: Good to go. Here’s my card.

DEMARCO: Here’s mine.

HOPE: I will remain Hope Judith Hauser. I love my parents.

FREDRICKSEN: We will have the results ASAP.

DEMARCO: Thank you for your cooperation, Ms. Hauser.

FREDRICKSEN: Yeah, we appreciate it.

(The detectives await a response. Get none.)

DEMARCO: Fair enough. We got what we came for. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Let’s go.

FREDRICKSEN: Thank you for cooperating. We’re sorry about your loss.

(The agents await a response. Get none. EXIT TAMORO and FREDRICKSEN. Long pause.)

HOPE: I don’t know if it’s a memory, a hallucination, a dream. Lost. The air felt warm, the water felt cold, I floated in darkness. I wanted sleep. I started to sink into the water like sinking into mud. I bumped into a log. I can’t remember grabbing it. Sunrise came. There was a duck. I can’t remember how or when it got there. It paddled next to me. The duck talked to me and I understood it or maybe it was a dream or maybe I was delirious and it was in my head but I understood the duck and I knew what it said.

“Don’t give up. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. Don’t let go.”

A duck.

The closest I’ve ever come to God was a duck.

(HOPE stands, gathers her bags.)

HOPE: I hope they’re OK with Hope Judith Hauser. But…Sabina. Antonia. Verdi…the name could have been worse.

(EXIT into house. FADE TO BLACK. FINIS.)

PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTE

The “maybe over 50,000” number is not a fantasy. According to NISMART-2 (the second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children), an October 2002 survey found an estimated 58,200 child victims of non-family abductions during the study year, “defined more broadly to include all nonfamily perpetrators (friends and acquaintances as well as strangers) and crimes involving lesser amounts of forced movement or detention.” These 58,200 victims included 115 victims of “stereotypical kidnappings,” defined as abductions “perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance and involving a child who was transported 50 or more miles, detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.” The number’s not a fantasy.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Duck, Part I (Weekly Photo Challenge: Family)

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Good Evening:

I form a lot of families over the course of a year. Tis the nature of the theater and film world; for anywhere from a week to several months, a group of people will gather as strangers, become a family of greater/lesser functionality/disfunctionality, and put on a show or make a movie.

Behold my latest family:

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My latest collection of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles include the combined forces of the Playwrights Center of San Francisco and Wily West Productions. Laylah Muran, in the bottom right, performs the combined role of theatrical mastermind/overworked Executive Producer, whilst the rest of the gang (not including yours truly) consists of playwrights, directors and sundry personnel.

They have selected my very short one-act play The Duck for a festival of short works in June. Even better news, I have a very good director in Wes Cayabyab (extreme left).

Funny thing is, The Duck is a play about family, inspired by a rather chilling document called NISMART-2 (2nd National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children–and yes, I wrote “Thrownaway”). Two FBI agents want to solve a 24-year-old missing person case, but the woman they interview (at age 7 she survived a murder attempt at the cost of permanent retrograde post-traumatic amnesia) refuses to cooperate. Herewith I present the first half of the play: the rest shall follow tomorrow.

THE DUCK

a one-act play by Vonn Scott Bair, copyright 2013, all rights reserved.

  • HOPE JUDITH HAUSER: Born circa 1968, any race, ethnicity
  • AGENT DEMARCO: FBI, any age, race, gender, ethnicity
  • AGENT FREDRICKSEN: FBI, any age, race, gender, ethnicity
  • TIME: December 1999.
  • SETTING: Exterior of HOPE’S home. Duck-themed decor.

(LIGHTS UP. ENTER DEMARCO and FREDRICKSEN.)

DEMARCO: Guy said, “Just look for the house with lots of ducks.”

(DEMARCO rings the doorbell.)

DEMARCO: Duck theme mail box, duck theme address plaque, knocker, doorbell, custom-designed welcome mat. Lots of ducks.

(ENTER HOPE JUDITH HAUSER from the same direction with shopping bags. She sees the detectives, stops, stands behind them at a distance. No facial expression.)

FREDRICKSEN: Mat’s upside down. Faces the house, not the visitors.

DEMARCO: And that does not represent a typical welcome message.

FREDRICKSEN: “Don’t give up. Don’t let go.” Not normal.

(FREDRICKSEN knocks.)

FREDRICKSEN: Message is for her, not us.

DEMARCO: No question. (Pause.) Think about it. Our last case of the year, on the last week of the last year of the millennium, and the first case ever that might have a happy ending.

(FREDRICKSEN knocks again. DEMARCO turns around.)

DEMARCO: Hope Judith Hauser?

HOPE: You’re police, and you come from another state.

FREDRICKSEN: FBI. Agent Fredricksen, Minneapolis office.

DEMARCO: DeMarco, also representing Minneapolis. How did you know?

HOPE: Only the law uses my middle name.

FREDRICKSEN: You must get a lotta visits from our kind.

DEMARCO: And we came for the same reason as the rest. First, we need to verify your, um, state of mind, if that’s the correct-

HOPE: Yes, yes, yes, I remain a retrograde post-traumatic amnesiac, with no memory of my life before I woke up in a hospital 24 years ago on July 20, 1975.

DEMARCO: We have a very unusual assignment. For us. We just need to take a quick DNA swab and we’ll get out of your way.

FREDRICKSEN: You know better’n us how quick these go, and we can do it–right–here–Ms. Hauser?

DEMARCO: Ms. Hauser, you OK?

(Pause. HOPE has remained absolutely still and motionless during this entire time.)

HOPE: I’m–I’m not–no, I’m. (Pause.) Let me start over. I don’t, don’t–really–demonstrate much–emotion-

DEMARCO: We noticed-

HOPE: -so I have to tell people how I feel. I–just–snapped.

FREDRICKSEN: Thank you for sharing-

HOPE: Total mental breakdown. Except it’s more like an epiphany, and I feel almost good. (Pause.) You can’t have my DNA.

(Pause.)

DEMARCO: We’re trying to help a family, and you’ve always cooperated with the law in the past, and-

HOPE: No. This time, I do not cooperate. This time, I help me.

FREDRICKSEN: What is so different this time?

HOPE: Bad timing. Real bad for you. I realized–I can say no. I feel free. And it feels so good. Because I met the Ones who Came After Me Once Too Often. I met you.

For twenty-four years, 15, 20 times a year, you come after me. Shut up and listen! I am the only one who counts…

Over 50,000 children go missing every year. There must be hundreds of thousands of families with missing children. They all want them back. The families–come after me. They need me. They need their hope, wishes, dreams–they need me. Families who lost a daughter any age except mine, lost a daughter any year except 1975, lost a daughter with different hair, different skin, they, they, they–come after me.

Because I might be the one…

I am not the one. Not now, not ever.

And thank you ever so much for coming two days before the first anniversary of the night a drunk driver killed my parents in an accident CRASH AND BURN and he wasn’t even scratched but just try to get the smell of burnt flesh out your mind and the drunk with six DUIs SIX on him and a liter of vodka in him was joking about barbeque sauce and thank you for helping me smell the accident right here and right now just two days before and he had drunk a liter of vodka my parents killed for the price of one liter of cheap liquor and go back wherever you came from and tell that family their daughter is lost lost lost lost LOST AND THEY HAVE TO GET REAL AND DEAL WITH IT THEIR DAUGHTER IS LOST AND THEY WILL NEVER GET HER BACK tell all those hundreds of thousands of families to JUST ACCEPT THAT THEY ARE GONE AND THEY ARE NEVER COMING BACK and maybe they don’t want to go back maybe they ran away because their families abused them or neglected them or maybe they were just too plain BORING and life is nothing but DEATH and loss just GET USED TO IT and you came here two days before the first anniversary my parents are gone BURNT and…

There was a time when I enjoyed dashing hopes, when I wanted your kind to visit so I could disappoint another family that would not leave me alone.

Now, I just want you to stay away. Forever.

The worst part is I feel the same hurt as these families. They can’t think about the chance that I might be their missing daughter without reliving the hurt of their loss, and I feel how it hurts when their hope gets crushed yet again–my name is a pitiful JOKE–and maybe I only feel one or two per cent of the sorrow, grief and pain each family feels, but I have felt the sorrow, grief and pain of hundreds of families and I have inflicted sorrow, grief, and pain upon hundreds of families and I can’t take it anymore and I just want you to GO AWAY AND STOP HURTING ME MY FAMILY WILL NEVER BE FOUND AND THESE FAMILIES WILL NEVER FIND THEIR CHILDREN and stop causing all this hurt and YOU and all the rest of YOU JUST GO AWAY!!

He joked about barbeque sauce.

These children are lost, and they will stay lost. Forever.

There is no hope.

(HOPE sits on the welcome mat, ducks her head, curls up into a tight little ball. Long pause.)

HOPE: You have a warrant. Your ilk always does. You’ve never needed it before, but you need it now, so shove it in my face and force me. Just do it and get out of my life.

(FREDRICKSEN starts to reach inside a pocket for the warrant, but DEMARCO stops this with a gesture.)

DEMARCO: We prefer that you choose to help. (Pause.) Hope, we said this was an unusual case for us. We did not say why.

END OF PART I.

Fantastic Forty-Niner Fan Family! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Family)

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Good Afternoon:

Even the Chihuahuas want San Francisco to beat Seattle tomorrow.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Who Wants to Feel *Real* Old, Special Labor & Texting Edition!

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Good Evening:

Ah, well, I suppose if you last long enough you can’t help but feel old.

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One of my co-workers went on pregnancy leave last week. We held the usual party including cake during her last day. Last night, right about this time, in fact (7:15 p.m.), I emailed a picture of her cutting the cake.

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She texted her response about half an hour later. She was in labor, in the hospital, expecting the kid in another 12 hours, but wanted to thank me for the photograph.

Texted me. During labor.

Bet your mom didn’t do that.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Mother and child and father are healthy and very happy.

Who Wants to Feel *Real* Old (Special Free Gigabyte Edition!), 16 January 2014

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Good Evening:

Everyone? Excellent.

A little over 20 years ago, I finally filled the seemingly endless vista of the 40 megabyte hard drive of my first computer, the first Mac Classic. I ordered a 170 mb external hard drive over the phone for $399 plus shipping and handling (a phrase you’ve heard before). My friends asked me, “Vonn, are you stealing software?”

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In 1999, I finally filled the seemingly endless vista of the 500 megabyte hard drive of my third computer, a Macintosh Performa 4400. I ordered a 4 gigabyte external hard drive over the phone for $399 plus shipping and handling. Since my 170 had served so well, I purchased the 4 GB from the same company. I told the phone operator about the 170 and how it also cost $399. He made a weird sort of snorting sound and said, “Please hold for a moment.” He did not do a good job of covering the phone, as I clearly heard him say, “You will NOT believe what this customer just said!”

My friends asked me, “Vonn, are you stealing software?”

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Today, a co-worker attended a financial planning seminar on behalf of the entire HR department because of some changes coming to our 457 plan [similar to a 401(k)]. Among the free goodies on display were a bowl of free 1 gigabyte flash drives.

Free gigabytes of storage. Nearly six times greater than my 170 mb hard drive.

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And nobody took any. Not even one.

My colleague scooped up a couple of handfuls and shared them with the rest of us when he returned to the office. One gigabyte holds my absolutely most critical files, so I added one to my collection of flash drives (yeah, I do a lot of backups). But it makes me shake my head; nowadays, one gig is so nothing people give it away.

I’m old enough to remember when people dreamed of a future of one gigabytes hard drives.

Vonn Scott Bair

Wordless Wednesday (Weekly Photo Challenge: Window)

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Good Evening:

A miscellany to conclude this week.

View of Civic Center Through a Shade, SFPUC HQ, San Francisco, CA

View of Civic Center Through a Shade, SFPUC HQ, San Francisco, CA

Photographing the Photographer, British Art Museum, New Haven, CT

Photographing the Photographer, British Art Museum, New Haven, CT

British Art Museum, New Haven, Connecticut

British Art Museum, New Haven, Connecticut

Bike Messenger, Superior Court, San Francisco, CA

Bike Messenger, Superior Court, San Francisco, CA

Windows, Reflections, Sky, San Francisco, CA

Windows, Reflections, Sky, San Francisco, CA

Windows, Reflections, and Sky II, San Francisco, CA

Windows, Reflections, and Sky II, San Francisco, CA

Vonn Scott Bair

Mission Street Through the Window of the 14-Mission (Weekly Photo Challenge: Window)

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Good Evening:

In keeping with my experiments with the 33-Stanyan traveling down Haight Street, I also took pictures of Mission Street through the window of the 14-Mission bus. The technique could not get simpler, nay, cruder: hold up my iPhone 4 in Landscape orientation, randomly take dozens of shots, then discard at least 90% of them. You know, the way all great photographers work.

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In transit on Saturday afternoon, I did run into a little story.

I waited for a bus at 16th and Folsom after shopping at the Rainbow Grocery when I observed a homeless male, Caucasian, maybe 30, piloting two shopping carts piled high with all of his possessions, one cart covered with a green blanket, one covered with a brown. On top of the brown rested a cardboard tray, the kind that holds four six-packs of canned beer. This tray held about a dozen bananas and about three each of apples and oranges. The tray slipped off the top of the cart and it and all of the fruit ended up in a gutter.

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“Excuse me, your fruit-”

“S’OK, man, S’OK.”

It had started to rain, and he made a line toward the nearest tree on the sidewalk, parked his shopping carts and just stood there. He just left his lunch, dinner and possibly breakfast in the gutter. I looked at him, wondering when he was going to fetch his food. As it turns out, he didn’t need to do anything.

His ladyfriend, also burdened with two shopping carts, had trailed behind him by quite a bit but finally caught up. She might also have been about 30 years old, but the years had not treated her kindly. She stopped to collect the tray and place all of their food in it. I helped by gathering up the apples and one of the bananas. Her boyfriend contributed by calling out, “Thanks, Mister.”

She never said a thing and kept her head pointed down.

He said, “Hurry up, woman, get your things and get over here.”

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She joined him and they and their four shopping carts with their lives’ possession found shelter under the tree. I continued to wait for my bus, but would glance over at them occasionally.

And every time he glared back at me. Which puzzled me at first; hadn’t I helped out his girlfriend and treated her nicely?

Maybe that was the problem.

Maybe he thought I was trying to muscle in on his woman.

Maybe he wanted me to know that she was his property, not mine.

Poverty and homelessness really do hit women harder than men, don’t they? Think about it; he was the best she could get out of this world.

And when San Francisco fails people, it can fail them badly.

Vonn Scott Bair