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They have better beds on the A ward.

The oak tree in front of Oakland City Hall.

September 23rd, 2000

Thoughts of Bicycles
I was looking through my negatives when I found this picture of the oak tree in front of Oakland City Hall. I will shoot it again, maybe later today, when the light is better (or worse, waiting for the light to change isn't my greatest talent). Certainly the framing can be improved or the messiness to the left can cleaned up with a better angle or a digital eraser or, then again, maybe it can't, maybe it doesn't need it, maybe I'm just hallucinating here at my computer.

When I saw the negative I remembered this particular tree and maybe every oak tree in California will be dead in another five years by a newly discovered fungus that has been killing live oak, black oak and tan oak trees by the thousands, three of the nineteen identified species of California oak. They say it will move to the others. I don't know. I don't know what kind of oak sits in front of City Hall. Black oak? Live oak? Aren't they all alive oaks? It kills the tree in a very short period, one to two years, and it seems to be rapidly spreading. Tree people are worried.

A variant, they call it a "sister" of this oak fungus, has been tracked killing cedars in Washington state since 1960 and there is speculation our oak fungus is a variant of the Washington cedar fungus, making "mother" maybe a better analogy. Billions of Chestnut trees died on the east coast in the early 1900's from an Asian fungus, so this isn't some new running on time every minute is an hour menace. One out of every four trees on the east coast was once a Chestnut tree and every one of them died, 3.5 billion of them in a short period of years. I wonder how my Magnolia will be doing in five years? Maybe better to wonder how I'll be doing.

A good start to the weekend. Another class in San Francisco next Seattle week, Windows 2000 again, but this time there will be twenty of us attending, ten this week, ten the next, gearing up for the company conversion to the new operating system. This class is designed for NT "experts" (yes, yes) who wish to cover a lot of territory very quickly. Passing the Microsoft test for this course counts for three of the courses needed for an MCSE. An important point, and everybody nods sagely to one another as we repeat it (emphasizing that company money is being well spent on our asses), but not as important as picking proper restaurants for lunch (yes, yes).

The class is held near the street where "Critical Mass" assembles on the last Friday of each month. "Critical Mass" is a gathering of bicyclists protesting road conditions and traffic (bike riders as automobile bumper decorations) in San Francisco so maybe I'll finally get some pictures. I've toyed with the idea of getting a bike. Walking is good, but for some things a bike would be better. The traffic around here, around every city, I suppose, is wretched and too many cyclists get swacked. True for kids, true for adults. They've been implementing bicycle lanes in Oakland, Telegraph Avenue has one near where I last lived in Rockridge, but it doesn't extend all the way into the downtown and I've limited my bicycle adventures pretty much to reading Forbidden Planet. "Old Fart Dies Under Thirty-six Wheeler" does not strike me as an epitaph. "Volkswagen Squashes Old Guy in Oakland" doesn't read much better. Still, I've had stranger thoughts that one day became reality.

So, class next week, plenty to do at work, journal today, photographs tomorrow. It's beginning to come together, Watson. The bicycles, the oak trees. A subtle plot to distract my attention from the proper pursuits of a man on a weekend: football, baseball, the Olympics, beer, pretzels, wife sitting lost in the ozone looking out the living room window, legs crossed, right foot fretfully tapping in nervous frustration, a cigarette burning between her fingers, except nobody smokes cigarettes anymore. The American Dream, close up and personal. Here in Oakland.

An oak tree in downtown Oakland. The quote under The Sole Proprietor title is by Dorothy Parker.