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She likes my journal !!

They have better beds on the A ward.

Thanksgiving in Portland

December 23rd, 2000

Time Enough
Up half an hour later than usual, down to the cafe for breakfast, remembering to bring my glasses for the paper, but this morning, at least, not needing them to read the news. I'm not sure what that means. Some days the type is a little fuzzy and I wish I'd brought my glasses and most of the time, glasses or not, the type is clear and the reading is easy. I am not complaining. But I wonder: are my fuzzy brain states associated with my occasional fuzzy vision? I think the brain is way ahead in this race. A scrape the bottom of the barrel thought for the morning, some words to prime the pump. I am easily amused.

A group of regulars hang out at the cafe in the early mornings, most of them between the ages of forty and sixty, most of them look as if they're just making it, some of them are painters, all of them meeting out on the front patio between the cafe and the sidewalk to have coffee and argue the merits of the world. I like this cafe over more "comfortable" and artsy-fartsy places of which there are many in the neighborhood for two reasons, one, I like having my coffee in the open air where I can watch (and occasionally photograph) the people passing, and two, these people who sit at the tables and hang out, although they too have that artsy-fartsy isn't art wonderful surface sheen, are also people who are old enough to have long since made their Faustian bargains, have learned the limits of their drive and talent and exist without much illusion as to what life may bring, yet persevere.

Which makes their art, some of which hangs inside the cafe, somehow more real. Not unlike me and mine, I think, except I'm a loner and I apparently get my needed measure of social warmth reading the paper off to the side. It seems a right place, where the winds blow, but not too hard, not too cold, and the coffee is drinkable. The world passes by on the sidewalk and we sit and drink and think our imperfect thoughts as the sun rises from behind the pizzeria across the street.

I futzed around making a Favorites icon (you know, the one on the pull down menu above) that pops Jack London Amtrack station up instead of the little Internet Explorer icon when you add this page to your favorites list, which you have already undoubtedly done. You have a 16 x 16 pixel square to work with and it only displays on an IE 5.x browser. The one I eventually crafted is primitive, but, what the hell, it was fun, and it provided an interesting afternoon. I also did an email icon for the company site I'm finishing up, the standard little envelope. The excitement is almost staggering and it's only Saturday afternoon. Reality Asylum and Bone Idle both have better icons going beyond the square block letters I was able to construct. Now, a proper attitude in building one of these would require that I work with it until I got it right, today, tomorrow, who cares how long? Maybe there isn't much you can do with 16 pixels, but I would guess you can create more interesting effects by combining differently shaded pixels, sacrificing a goat to the browser gods, maybe trimming an ear. But I stopped before I got it exactly the way I wanted it because good enough is finally good enough.

That's the difference, I suspect, between those of us sitting out beside the sidewalk at that cafe, the folks who never quite stopped mixing their paints, but never really mixed them long enough and hard enough to get that one right color, never quite had the talent to imagine what that color might look like, good enough, eventually, being good enough. There's a saying, something about perfection being the enemy of done? It's one that I suffered in my youth. Honing and sanding and shaping and writing and rewriting and never getting anything finished. You can see the attraction of this journal or a job with deadlines. My great American novel will come one day around my 235th year, time enough to get my icons right, time enough to get this journal on its legs, time enough, time enough, time enough....

The photographs were taken at the Oakland Amtrack station and in Portland over Thanksgiving. The quote is by Samuel Johnson.