Posts filed under 'let’s digress'
During the unbelievably exciting first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, I was following our Golden State Warriors' great success with little blog items reporting on the outcome of each game.
Then I got kind of distracted getting my one-man show going. Well, that's my excuse, at least. So for those readers whose only interaction with the Bay Area sporting world is through this blog (a small group, I suspect), let me just mention that, after taking down the mighty Dallas Mavericks 4 games to 1, the Warriors fell to the oxymoronically named Utah Jazz by an identical margin.
But not before Baron Davis's mighty dunk, in game 3, over Jazz shot-blocker extraordinaire Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko -- which you can watch here. (Note that Baron celebrates his feat by lifting up his jersey and showing the crowd his tummy -- which is something that I would consider doing after a strong performance, if only I could get my "core" a bit tighter.)
The tantalizing question burning up the fan blogs right now is whether the (reasonably named) Minnesota Timberwolves will trade their All-Star power forward Kevin Garnett to our Warriors -- which would make us (yeah, I know: "us"! -- but can't a levitationally challenged hoops fan use that term for "his" team?) instant contenders for a championship. Anyone out there who might be tight with KG (by all accounts, a great guy), could you put in a word? Thanks.
June 22nd, 2007
Next week I'll begin my formal (and, I suppose, informal) duties as a new member of the Berkeley Energy Commission. If there's anyone out there with experience in government (or with energy ideas), I'd appreciate hearing from you in the comments section (with do's and don'ts).
On Tuesday afternoon, at 1:30, I'll be attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a wind turbine being built at the Shorebird Nature Center (right by the Berkeley Pier) -- there's a nice little article about it in today's Chron.
On Wednesday evening at 6:30, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, I'll attend my first commission meeting as a commissioner myself (my son and I dropped in on them a couple months ago). Apparently at the start of the session I'll be sworn in -- or, as my son refers to it, "coronated." I'm somewhat nervous about being up to the challenge -- about having the patience to work through the incremental processes of fighting global warming at the local level (among other energy issues) -- but I'm excited to be getting involved.
On a beautiful day in Berkeley like today, it seems almost surreal to imagine that there's a climate crisis. I keep thinking of what my little heal-your-own-back book (and my chiropractor) says: it's especially important to work at prevention when nothing seems to be wrong. (I understand that this spine-to-global-warming analogy is quite flawed -- but if you have a wonky back yourself, you probably understand how the topic tends to work its way into disparate conversations.)
By the way, as far as I know the public is welcome at commission meetings. At one point, late in the meeting I attended as a civilian, the commissioners came to a point in their agenda where they were supposed to ask for public comment. They all turned to me, as I was the only member of the "public" in the room. After an awkward moment I just shrugged and said, "Um, the public's cool with everything so far."
June 22nd, 2007
From AIG Auto Insurance (verbatim):
Why is Josh Kornbluth eligible for a Free Quote on these special auto insurance rates when many other CA drivers aren't?
Out of 21,623,793 drivers in California, Josh Kornbluth is one who qualified.
June 21st, 2007
The word on the street is that you get your stripper name by combining the name of your first pet with the name of the first street you lived on.
I'm "Fred East 7th Street."
June 15th, 2007
Just wanted to mention that my new one-man show, Citizen Josh, has been extended a week -- through Sunday, June 17. It's at the lovely and historic Magic Theatre, at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Info here.
Also, if you happen to attend tomorrow's matinée (at 2:30), you can hang out afterward for my onstage "Democratic Dialogue" with USF politics professor Brian Weiner, who's one of the heroes of the piece.
June 9th, 2007
Someone in our extended family gave my son a watch last Christmas. There were lots of kids and lots of presents at my sister-in-law's place, and somehow we immediately lost the little instruction sheet for the watch. The watch is kind of high-tech -- a very cool gift for a child my son's age -- but it doesn't have the simple markings that would tell us the make or model of the thing. So we haven't been able to set it properly.
The watch has been with us almost half a year now. A few times a day it beeps, loudly and repeatedly. If you try pressing buttons randomly, sometimes the beeping will stop for a few seconds -- and then start up again. Eventually the beeping ceases. Then, a few hours later, it beeps again, for a while.
It used to live on our kitchen table, for some reason. In the great migration of all things, it now sits next to my computer.
Whoever gave my son the watch is beloved to us, and we have never even broached the possibility of getting rid of it. The beeping isn't that terrible; you kind of get used to it after a while. And you know that the beeping will stop eventually, if you just leave the thing alone.
Okay, watch. I've got my battery. You've got yours. Let's both try to keep ticking for as long as possible.
May 25th, 2007
My new one-man show, Citizen Josh, opens tomorrow evening at the Magic Theatre in S.F. I'm hecka-excited! If you want info, you can click here.
May 18th, 2007
... but it was an exciting, hard-fought game. Looks to be a great series in the making. ...
May 8th, 2007
Yeah, yeah, their stunning 4-games-to-2 upset of the Dallas Mavericks was completed last Thursday -- but since that was the first of four days in a row in which I was doing improvs towards my upcoming show opening, I've fallen behind a bit in my reportage. (And not just about sports: I also failed to note Cinco de Mayo, John Ratzenberger's ejection from Dancing with the Stars, and even -- based on a banner I saw in front of the Cowell Theatre this weekend -- National Norwegian Day.)
Actually, I went straight from my improv at USF last Thursday to catch part of the game at Looney's Smokehouse BBQ in Berkeley (order the bread pudding -- you'll thank me), accompanied (and driven) by my friend Brian (a USF politics professor) and his friend and colleague Ron (philosophy). The second quarter was starting as we squeezed into a corner table. People throughout the restaurant/bar were going nuts, and the waitpersons were proving themselves acrobatically flexible enough to continually bend over while serving, lest they impede anyone's view. Brian and I, big hoops fans, were going nuts. Ron, who for some strange reason thinks there are things more important than sports, poked fun at our excitement. We glared at Ron -- which, I quickly gleaned, is what he enjoys. Philosophers!
The third quarter was one for the ages. The Warriors riffed and rocked their way to a rout over the formerly feared Mavs, swishing threes (Stephen Jackson) and going strong to the rim (Matt Barnes). Finally a timeout was called. Ron leaned over and started giving me incredibly perceptive notes on the improv I'd done earlier. As play resumed he was still going -- and I was torn: between my professional duty to improve my piece and my irrational commitment to the basketball team I've watched struggle for 13 years. Amazingly (to me), I chose to stay with Ron's feedback till he was finished. I just hope that when the great Artistic Director in the sky tots up all my plusses and minuses, he or she takes this sacrifice into account.
Tonight the Warriors play their first game of the second round -- against the charmingly oxymoronically named Utah Jazz (at Salt Lake City). Is Baron's hamstring back in fine fettle? (I'd loan him one of mine, but they're congenitally tighter than Dirk Nowitzky at crunch time.) Will Al Harrington and young Monte Ellis rebound from their subpar first-round play? And, as ever, will Citizen Adonal get a chance to show the world that this new American is a shot-blocker for the rest of the world to fear?
Those are some of the pressing questions. And my only excuse for having no answers is that I've been hanging around with philosophers, so I've been skewing kind of Socratic. ...
May 7th, 2007
On Wednesday night the state-appointed administrator of the Vallejo City Unified School District announced that the John Davidson Elementary School will be shut down after this school year.
The teachers at Davidson are an exceptionally dedicated and close-knit group, many having worked together for nearly two decades. With their hard work, Davidson last year had the highest test-score point gain in Solano County. (I know that the whole test-scores thing is a dicey issue -- but if you're going to use these scores as a cudgel to attack teachers and students for their performance, then you should also give them credit when they do well.)
Several years ago the Vallejo City USD -- plagued by underfunding and declining enrollment -- had its school board replaced by a state-appointed administrator. Since then the teachers at Davidson have had to deal with unrealistic edicts from bureaucrats, such as the demand that they continually be holding their teaching "manuals" during instruction. The overall message to the teachers was this: you guys don't know what you're doing. And yet, despite all this -- despite having their job drained of nearly all joy and creativity -- these teachers have continued to pour themselves into the task of educating the children of their community.
Last month the Vallejo City USD held hearings in which -- among other things -- they announced that they were considering closing Davidson and Lincoln (another outstanding elementary school). You see, the state had loaned millions of dollars to the Vallejo City USD when it took over, and the administrator is dedicated to repaying that loan on a strict schedule. But what do you do when there's no "fat" to cut? (There are already ridiculously low numbers of vital positions, like nurses and guidance counselors.)
Hey, I know: how about closing a school or two!
For the last month or so, the school district strung the Davidson teachers along. The state-appointed administrator had suggested the possibility that Davidson be converted to a science-and-technology magnet school -- so long as the teachers, on their own, could get 75 students to enroll who were new to Vallejo public schools. So during their recent spring break, Davidson's teachers woke up early in the morning and went out to places like the ferry terminal, Little League games, the farmers' market, and grocery stores, where they distributed self-designed materials about the proposed magnet school and invited people to sign up.
The Davidson teachers -- along with their very supportive principal and staff -- returned to work feeling guardedly hopeful. They had responded to the district's sort-of-ultimatum with typical creativity, enthusiasm, and action -- and they had gotten people in the community excited as well.
And then, on Wednesday night, the hammer came down.
So next year the Davidson teachers, who have worked together so effectively for so long, will be dispersed among other schools. But in the meantime they are back at work, still doing their very best to educate tomorrow's citizens.
May 4th, 2007