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Jerry Brown in Oakland.

August 20th, 2001

Lying There, Alone
I received an email from touting a special on RAM memory, specifically Kingston 512 megabyte 133MHz bus speed RAM memory, for $69.99 apiece. I hadn't been thinking about adding RAM to my home computer, but then I remembered what I'd paid for the two 256 megabyte chips that were currently in my machine. I think it was around $450 apiece, $900 for what they were now selling for $70.

"My goodness", I said (or something to that effect). I ordered two of them, a total of $140 for 1 gig of RAM. I put them into my computer this evening. Turns out I have a total of four memory slots, so I put in the two new chips in addition to the two 256 megabyte chips I already had. Turned on the computer. Count - count, blip - blip and it was up and running. It didn't even make me reset the CMOS. One point five gigs of RAM as I write. One point five gigs. (This is techie stuff, I understand not everyone out there is swooning, but one point five gigs. Wow.)

What has it meant in operating this thing? Well, PhotoShop does seem to be faster manipulating large images. My scans are currently running as large as 90 megabytes each, and PhotoShop, when you are making changes, will often need multiple times that amount to operate, so the extra RAM actually does make a difference. Without the additional RAM, it would be writing back and forth to the scratch file on the hard disk, which takes time. A small difference, but a noticeable difference. Also wow.

Last weekend, about eleven in the evening, I had the sliding door in my bedroom open to the balconyKorean Independence Day parade in Oakland as the air was still quite warm. As I was drifting off to sleep, there suddenly came the unmistakable sound of a woman having sex from out there somewhere in one of the apartments. And not just sex, but full Dolby stereo bullhorn augmented ugh! - ugh! - ugh! sex that lasted, well, that lasted a seriously long time. Of course, it might not have been intercourse. I was first thinking, well, I wonder who this guy is and what kind of drugs he takes and where one might happen to get some of one's own, but then I realized it could have been oral. Could have just been a lady alone, carried away on a mighty battery driven device. Could have been her with another her. Hard to tell, you know, at night, a light wind blowing through the curtains.

Now why bring this up? I remark for a number of reasons: First, the obvious, the sound of someone having sex is one of those interesting things that doesn't need a reason, but second, and maybe third and fourth, it raised questions. Did I really believe it?

I live in a six story building with six condominium units on each floor, seventeen units plus mine facing the backs of other apartment buildings and other condominiums not unlike mine. Plenty of bedrooms to choose from if you tried to track the sound to its source. Usually, there's little to hear from any of these structures, day or night. Occasionally, an argument from one of the units, can't tell which, an angry word or two, but mostly silence. No television noise or radio noise. Sometimes, but rarely, music. Yet here, out of the blue, or, more accurately, out of the dark, one woman with, who knows, a guy, a vibrator, a girl, a Doberman, a motorcycle gang having at it full tilt for the ears of the entire neighborhood.

I think the younger me would have not asked questions. Sex then was a straightforward subject:Korean Independence Day parade in Oakland the first "ugh!" and the mind went blank and the jaw dropped. The older me, however, was wondering, as I listened, what was I really hearing? I have to assume it was an innocent pairing of two people who were getting along. But shit, the moans and groans lasted for minute after minute after minute, an oh! for every stroke, and the stroking went on and on and on. Or was I just imagining it? That it was an unusually long going on of "on and on and on"? Were they not just two people who got to feeling salty and decided - innocently - to entertain the neighborhood? Any possibility we were hearing a tape recording, a prank? Someone having fun and entertaining the entire neighborhood in the process, late on this Sunday night?

No, probably not. Not a Sunday night. Doesn't make sense. Friday, after a few drinks, sure. More likely, a Saturday night after a long afternoon of more than a few drinks, "Hey, why not etc. etc.!" I could see myself doing something off the wall like this when I was young, particularly during those days when you could freak out the "straights" with a little sex and drugs, long before it took pierced lips and nipples. It would have been fun, although we'd probably have screwed it up by making it so rococo nobody would have believed it. Was that what I was hearing? Just a bit too far over the top? Less good sex than good exhibitionism? Someone seeing if they couldn't get a rise from the neighbors? I wonder. It got a rise out of me.

So, an unusual, if not odd happening here in my section of Oakland. It sounded both authentic and fake, and instead of lying back and enjoying the show, I was thinking "what's the angle? what's the gig?". A little unusual, perhaps, but why the suspicion? Maybe there's a reason I found myself lying there, alone.

The photographs were taken at a Korean Independence Day parade here in Oakland. The quote is from the play, A Woman of No Importance, by Oscar Wilde.