Negative Zone

Music, Books, Time Travel, and other ramblings...

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More San Francisco Adventures

Maybe wandering the streets of San Francisco inspires me to write. Or maybe I just really am a huge procrastinator.  Either way, I”m back in SF and got the day off to explore.

Standard tourist fare: took a trolley car to Fisherman’s Wharf. Walked around there a bit, decided to go to a different neighborhood for some refueling, and hit Ghirardelli Square for some dark chocolate.

Highlight of the day had to be Musee Mecanique.  The place has an enormous collection of coin operated antique machines, actually playable. Well, most of them were playable.

The entire Fisherman’s Wharf area seems pretty overpopulated by touristy stores and restaurants, but that place was a lot of fun. Just walking around it was amazing.  It reminded me when I was a kid going to Disney World – one of the coolest things I saw were the old arcade style machines in a store on Main Street.  My whole family was excited to go on rides or take a picture with Mickey, but I was thrilled to watch a “movie” like they did before TV.

Well..that’s about it.  I wanted to write these posts so I could remember what I did, but I started this one in March when I actually was IN San Francisco. It’s now almost the end of April.  But something pulled me to the blog and I just had to finish it.

So there you go, my 2nd SF visit, for the (non-existent) people who read this.  Go there, and play a bit at Musee Mecanique.  OH – and go to The Braxton for their French Dip and martini with blue cheese olives. Damn good combo.

San Francisco & Forgetting To Do What You Love

So my latest work assignment is in San Francisco’s Financial District, although it feels to me like it’s in Chinatown. I believe it’s the border, but I really don’t know the breakdown of SF’s neighborhoods.  From my window I can see the Coit Tower and Alcatraz, which is amazing.  I feel like I don’t have to leave my room.

Last time I was working in California, I was close enough to drive to San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to visit this town. I walked around the piers, took a trip to Alcatraz, drove over the Golden Gate bridge, and hung out in Haight-Ashbury and listened to a great blues band at a cool little bar.  A great day.

This trip I’m feeling a little lazy.

Yesterday I spent five hours standing outside for the Chinese New Year Parade. It was a lot of fun; so many people and so many firecrackers.  It was just interesting to see all the different floats and everyone seemed so excited to be a part of it.

Today I am working (from the room), but I really don’t feel like going outside. I feel like staring out my window on the 26th floor and looking at Alcatraz and all the interesting restaurants, buildings, and people from my dirty window.  I was actually sitting at the desk in my room eating dark chocolate and fruit, listening to Leonard Cohen, and reading Haruki Murakami. I felt like such a…hipster?  Not sure.  But then I realized I couldn’t concentrate on my book while listening to Leonard.  Something about his music forces me to listen, he refuses to be background music. So I put down the book and listened for a while. Then I turned off the music and read for a while. Then I realized how long it’s been since I wrote, and put down the book and decided to write for a while.

I thought I would be writing every other day, or weekly, when I started this new job traveling. The last time I wrote an entry here, though, was August 2016. Six months have passed, and there is no excuse for that.  I’m definitely not a hipster…while I wrote about my dreamy “sexy food, great songwriter, hip writer” trio, the truth is most night’s end with me watching Netflix and falling asleep early when I’m on the road.  I need to break out of that mold and write more, be more creative.  I love to write, so why is so difficult?  Why do I completely forget I started this website to practice writing more often?  Or that writing would help my horrible memory as I document things that happen or change in my life?  I love it, and it’s important.  So even though this seems to happen quite often for me (loving to write and then forgetting about it for a long period of time until I promise not to forget about it again which ends up being a lie), I will endeavor to not be lazy and do this more often.

Since the last time I wrote was six months ago, I feel accomplishing this goal will be easy.

Life, Memory, and the pursuit of completeness

I’m away for two weeks on a work assignment, training a new manager. This means two weeks of hotel life, being away from my family and having lots of alone time.

I thought being away would give me time to work on writing, reading, deep thoughts and all that jazz. At home, as much as I love my situation and would never give it up, there is little opportunity for solitude. Because of this, I felt traveling would be a welcome respite; selfish time for me to do what I wanted to do and work on this little writing hobby for which I never seem to have time.

Instead, one week has proven that I just spend time wishing I was home. Or worrying about my work and situations beyond and not beyond my control. Or feeling so tired that all I want to do is lay in bed and watch preseason football.

However, yesterday I was encouraged by my girlfriend to have an adventure. So I braved the 114 degree heat index and took Uber to Colonial Williamsburg. I really enjoyed myself, even though I did not dress appropriately for a sweltering day.

My first act of adventure after purchasing my ticket was missing the stairs down to the bus to the actual “colonial” part of Williamsburg. I walked outside and down a path, looking at a very old windmill and looking at hot families (temperature, not attractiveness) walk by me and laugh or argue amongst themselves. I ended up walking all the way to the street back to town until I did something I hardly ever do – ask a stranger for directions. This is not a “guy thing”, I believe it’s more of an introverted/shy attribute, but in any case I was helped to the bus and made it to my destination.

I walked down Botetourt Street and passed by people dressed in period costume. Every time I passed one of these people and made eye contact, they were very friendly in greeting me in the language of the day. It actually made me feel like I was walking in some virtual reality Gunsmoke episode. Yes, I realize this is Virginia and not the old west, but that’s where my brain went at the time.

I tried to act as if I were actually back in 18th century Williamsburg. I went into Tarpley’s shop and looked at merchandise, wondering what I would buy if I had the wages of an average citizen. I walked past King’s Arms tavern and Shield tavern which both had long waits, but I pretended I didn’t stop because I was too poor. I spent almost 30 minutes down in the printing office and bindery, listening to an older gentleman talk about the process of book binding because…well, books are cool. I sat in the Courthouse for a 30 minute proceeding featuring cases such as the woman whose husband died before anyone could witness his will, and the 8 year old girl who was entering into a contract to be a seamstress’ apprentice for five years because her mother could no longer afford to keep her. I went to Chowning’s Tavern for food; a tavern described as being for the common folk and so inadvertently went along with my “too poor for the King’s Arms” story.

I was hot and exhausted but made it to the evening “Ghosts Among Us” tour I had paid for. It was a fun hour of storytelling and tame “scares”. The whole reason for this post though was the introduction to the tour by our guide. She told us that no cellphone use was allowed, as they did not want the storytellers disturbed and she wanted us to unplug for just one hour and enjoy the experience without trying to worry about pictures or video or incoming texts. Just to be…on our own.

It made me happy because I wouldn’t have to worry about taking great pictures, as it’s not my strong suit. It also made me a little sad, because my memory is definitely not my strong suit.

I may expand upon this subject more at a later time, but I will try to speed things up by saying I’ve had memory issues for as long as I can remember. No pun intended. Just this week I heard a cover song after going through a YouTube rabbit hole and thought to myself “What a great version of this song!”. When I went to “like” it on YouTube, I saw it had already been liked. About three years ago. I cannot fully describe right now how much that disturbed me.

So the thought of experiencing this hour of Ghosts Among Us without pictures made me realize that I probably won’t remember any of it in a couple of years. Unless I write about it now. Now the details of the hour? I’m not going to describe that here. I’m not going to turn this site into my personal journal. If I really need to start keeping a journal, I suppose I can do that privately. But still, the theme is an interesting one.

What constitutes something that I will remember versus something I will not? It’s not like I have amnesia, I’m able to function in society in a pretty normal fashion. I would lying, though, if I haven’t worried about my future and if this will get worse. I don’t know if the extant of my memory issues are normal or not. One person’s “oh that happens to me all the time” could really just be a small fraction of the things I have forgotten. Or perhaps there are others much worse. The fact still remains that if I didn’t have a map of my Colonial walking tour from yesterday, I would not have remembered the street or shop names. Is that normal? Do I just not make much effort to pay close attention to detail, or is there something wrong with me?

I don’t want to turn this into a novel. Honestly, I feel like a lot of this has to do with my central apnea. Although I don’t know how long I’ve had the condition, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had memory lapse issues since my 20’s at the very latest, so maybe it’s something else entirely.

Does this mean I have a less fulfilling life? Is this why I’m a fairly laid back and grudge free person – because I take “forgive and forget” quite literally?

I’m sure there’s a reason for this that will never be revealed to me. But I will do my best to enjoy as many days and as many moments to the best of my ability. If I’m not going to remember them years later, I want to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of them that I can.


Appreciating Artists

2016 has been a rough year as far as death in the music world. Maurice White…Merle Haggard…Glenn Frey…Paul Kantner…Prince…Bowie…

Obviously any death is sad and hits people to different degrees, but the love of music has played such an important part of my life that these in particular hit me hard. I’m not saying that it sends me spiraling into a deep depression, but I feel a loss as if they were personal friends. It makes me want to listen to their music again as if for the first time. And the typical response is to immediately post a favorite song to social media, or perhaps put on a favorite album and listen to it with your friends or family.

When David Bowie died, I listened to almost all his albums from start to finish. He was one of the artists I really grew up listening to and appreciating once I started choosing my own preferences and realizing what I liked.

This post, though, is about those still living. I feel like a poser going back to listen to an artist I hadn’t listened to in months or more just because they were no longer with us. So I’d like to try posting some songs now and then by artists that are still around, to appreciate them now while I can still say thank you.

An artist who resonated with me from the time that I first heard him with Crowded House, one of my favorite musicians and song writers of all time, is Neil Finn. I won’t spend a whole post on a biography, you can Wikipedia him if you’d like ( or visit his website (

Here I just wanted to play a few songs I love and hopefully let other people appreciate his talent.

Sinner (Try Whistling This/1998) is possibly my favorite song on his first solo album:

Only Talking Sense (Finn/1995) was an amazing song on my most played CD back in ’95. Neil and his brother Tim put out an album together, loved seeing them tour for this back then:

Four Seasons In One Day (Woodface/1991) was my favorite song on my favorite Crowded House album. This was also written by Tim & Neil, and it was around that time I felt this song writing duo could do no wrong. They’re a great team, and I wish they would tour together again:

So, hopefully you enjoyed. And the point of this is to keep you digging down that rabbit hole of music to find something you love. Or at least appreciate.

Let me know what you think!

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