2.18.2020 – Words for commute

Words for commute. Brief,
unpleasant experience
My mauvais quart d’heure

Each work day I make my drive to work.

It isn’t the worst thing in the world.

It is brief.

It is unpleasant or at least less than pleasant.

It is an experience.

It is my mauvais quart d’heure.

Mauvais quart d’heure (moʊˈveɪ ˈkɑr ˈdər/) is not french but an english term borrowed from the french.

According to the Online Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, it means, a short period of time which is embarrassing and unnerving; a brief but unpleasant experience.

A bad quarter of an hour.

Perfect.

I had never heard the term before.

Not surprising that the frequency of its use (as measured by the OED) is band 1. Band 1 words is made up of extremely rare words unlikely ever to appear in modern text. These may be obscure technical terms or terms restricted to occasional historical use, e.g. abaptiston, abaxile, grithbreach, gurhofite, zarnich, zeagonite.

Mauvais quart d’heure.

An obscure, technical, unused term.

Yet I feel a mauvais quart d’heure, experience a mauvais quart d’heure, go through a mauvais quart d’heure, twice a day.

2.9.2020 – drive across seasons

drive across seasons
winter to spring back again
east west Atlanta

Woke up yesterday to a gray, cloudy but dry morning.

We had plans to go to Woodstock, Georgia, north of Atlanta, for a baby shower.

Ominously, son Lucas, who was hosting the party and texted everyone, “We are still on!”

30 minutes later he texted, “come at your own risk.”

By 8AM, here in Gwinnett County, north-east of Atlanta, it started to snow.

At first just a little, then a lot.

Wet heavy snow.

Brought back memories.

Lots of memories.

Discussions started about the party.

Go or no go?

For people born and raised in Michigan, driving in snow is no big deal.

Unless you happen to be in Atlanta.

There, no one else knows what to do.

There, roads are not cleared or salted.

There, roads are built without shoulders.

The 10 feet you might have available for a shoulder is turned into another, barely wider than a car, traffic lane.

There, roads are carved out of ridges, ravines and hollars with 20 foot steep drop offs on either side.

Winter, snowy weather car travel in the south is not designed to accommodate cars.

My solution was to go explore.

I needed gas in my car.

I said I would go get gas and make an assessment.

I was back in 10 minutes.

Got less than 1 mile from the house.

Cars were everywhere.

Even on the roads.

But everywhere else as well.

I pulled into the a driveway and turned around and felt lucky to get home.

“Nope, no way”, I announced when I walked in.

The party was postponed to Sunday.

My daughters in the city of Atlanta wondered if we were nuts or scaredy-cats.

They accepted the decision but sent photos of clear roads and no snow from just 10 miles away.

Later that same day, my wife and I had to take our son to downtown Atlanta.

This had been planned to be a part of our day after the party.

It was a very quick trip as by this time everyone was staying home.

It was around 2PM and the snow had stopped and was melting fast.

Driving out of Gwinnett County we soon left the snow behind.

By the time we got to our destination in East Midtown Atlanta, there wasn’t even a hint of snow and the roads were dry.

My wife and I passed the time in a cafe over Latte’s and Beignets and the sun poured through the windows of the cafe.

Driving home, we could see the edge of the storm front up ahead.

We left the sun behind and entered into the clouds and fog and cold and gray.

I felt like we had driven across the seasons in just 20 miles.

Somewhere I read that spring time advances 5 minutes or maybe it is a day for each degree north or something like that.

Trying the google and I can’t find the actually figure.

Earl Shaffer, the first person ever to walk the entire Appalachian Trail titled his book, “Walking With Spring

South to north, walking with spring, is one of the best lines of pure poetry I ever read.

We went west to east and left spring behind.

Winter, up north winter, has come for a time to North Georgia.

I don’t mind to visit winter, but I would not want to live there.

2.6.2020 – songs, sounds of traffic

songs, sounds of traffic
rubber and rain, meet the road
rhythm of my ride

In the flawed but fun Amazon show, “Mozart in the Jungle’, there is a scene where the conductor is being driven somewhere in New York.

He rides with the windows open and listens to the sounds and songs and rhythm of the traffic and city.

He listens with a look of awe and appreciation.

I commute to work in downtown Atlanta from my home on the upper north side of Gwinnett County.

On average I am in the car for 45 minutes both ways.

My record to work is 32 minutes but that was at 4:00AM one morning.

Most days it is not an unbearable experience.

Most days, when I drive onto the freeway entrance, I am also entering into an unspoken contract with all the other drivers already on the freeway.

I enter into one of the largest, fastest moving co-ops in the United States.

We all want the same result.

When possible I sit back and try to enjoy the ride.

Most times I will listen to audio books or music on my iPhone.

I got exhausted listening to the radio a long time ago.

This morning in Atlanta, it was warm but not warm enough for the air conditioning.

It was raining and storming as well.

Driving with the windows open would be problematic.

I caught a break and the rain held off during my drive.

While there was a lot of spray in the air I could get by with the windows open a bit.

The sounds of the traffic made it hard to hear my audio book.

I could have cranked the volume but listening to William Shirer’s RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH at full volume was too weird.

Then I thought of that scene in MOZART IN THE JUNGLE.

Instead of a book or music, I listened to the sounds, songs and rhythms of my ride.

The steady hum of my car with the baseline of my tires on the pavement.

The swish of passing cars.

The roar of truck engines.

The smash-smush truck tires through the water.

The doppler sound of taffic coming up from behind and then moving on ahead past me.

The high hum that highway traffic makes.

Sounds all man made.

Can it be called music?

If it can, its the sound track to too much of my life.

1.25.2020 – Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning
someone set alarm last night
Need big bounce today

My Saturday started at the weekday time of 5:15AM because SOMEONE set the alarm on my bedside clock last night.

Half awake, less than half asleep I grappled with consciousness to get close enough to the surface to understand what was going on and I swatted at the clock and the alarm stopped.

I whispered a sorry to my wife.

Then tried to swim back under the surface of sleep.

The alarm went off again five minutes later.

I had hit the snooze button.

I hit the snooze button so hard I knocked the clock off of the beside table to the floor behind the bed.

Now the alarm was really going.

Growing louder and more shrill.

Out of bed and on the floor, searching for the clock, saying words my Mother never taught me, I finally got the alarm off.

But boy, was I awake.

I apologized again to my wife and got back in bed.

Bemoaning the awful truth that my Saturday lie in was over.

My thoughts turned to coffee.

Coffee and breakfast.

We had Korean Chicken take out last night.

Unexpectedly I really enjoyed the pickled radishes.

There were leftovers in the fridge.

Sometimes a cold piece of chicken with my coffee is just what I want for breakfast.

At this moment, I could smell the coffee and taste the spicy chicken.

I slid out bed and went downstairs.

There was my Son.

There was my Son surrounded by the plastic containers that I had used to pack up the leftover chicken the night before.

The empty containers.

Bit my lip and made coffee.

Soon I was sitting down with a big mug of blessedness with my iPad, I set out to enjoy what I could of my morning.

My son called out, “I have to be at dance early this morning. I told Mom.”

No one told me.

We would be leaving in about 10 minutes.

So much for a quiet coffee time.

What was left of my Saturday Morning was now a black cloud over my head.

I looked like that emoji of the face with the head exploding.

I needed a bounce this morning.

I would need a BIG bounce.

Dressed and in the car, I was negotiating with Saturday Morning traffic on I85.

I connected my phone to the car radio and Siri told me that music playing, all songs, shuffled.

First up this morning was Someone to Love by Queen.

I grew up with Queen.

Not that I really noticed.

I wouldn’t call Queen the soundtrack of my life.

But they were always there playing in the background.

Recently watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody and I was struck but how many of their songs I knew.

And knew well enough to sing along with.

And if you know Queen, it is music you sing along with at the top of your longs.

It was good music.

It was music that made you feel good.

At this moment of my life, it was possibly the best song I could have heard, of ALL songs, to get a bounce to my day.

A BIG bounce.

I laughed a lot as I listened.

It is a good song.

It is a song that makes you feel good.

The trip to the dance studio went by quickly.

I pulled into the driveway as the song came to an end.

I came to a stop and my son got out.

He paused with the door open and looked at me.

“Did you have to play that SO LOUD?”

1.24.2020 – morning traffic woes

morning traffic woes
plenty of warnings, had to
see it for myself

The TV station where I work puts a lot of effort into their traffic reports.

All the local media invest heavily in traffic reporting.

Traffic problems consistently rank as the one universal issue that interest all voters in the Atlanta area.

I myself get traffic alert emails every day, through out the day.

I have two traffic apps on my handheld device.

This morning, like most mornings, I ignored all it.

Backed out of the garage and made sure my iPhone was on and connected to the car’s audio system so I could listen to an audio book.

I made my way over rainy streets to get to my entrance to i85 and the drive downtown.

At one point, I drive on a back road that parallels the freeway.

Through the leafless trees I noticed something odd.

The freeway was empty.

At 6AM this wasn’t, well, impossible but highly unlikely that no one else was out driving.

Further along the road I could make out the bridge and intersection where my entrance ramp was located.

Rarely had I seen so many flashing blue lights.

“This is not good,” I said to myself.

But maybe this is all just to the north of my entrance, I thought.

Maybe I can still get on the freeway.

I turned on to Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Just ahead, cop cars lined the overpass and the entrance to I85 was blocked off.

Great.

Just GREAT.

I continued down Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and switched the radio on in time to hear, “RED ALERT in GWINNETT COUNTY. I85 at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road completely closed for an investigation of an accident …”

I switched off the radio and made a quick assessment of my situation.

Made a u turn and back tracked across the overpass.

I headed for the next freeway interchange at Old Peachtree and was on my way downtown without much more than a brief hiccup to my commute.

In fact, once on the freeway, with all the traffic north of me cut off, I had a very easy, if rainy drive.

I was shocked to see evidence that most of the morning traffic that I have to contend with on I85 seems to come from places further away from Atlanta than I am.

What could have been a commuting nightmare did not happen.

I am convinced that no app would have recommended I make the turn that I made.

Traffic for me, in that wonderful phrase that is the motto of traffic down here, was able to “KEEP MOVING.”

I had all the traffic tools available to me.

I had all the traffic warnings available to me.

I didn’t make use of any of them.

Here is the point.

Had I watched TV.

Had I listened to the Radio.

Had I read my emails.

Had I checked my apps.

I would still have made the same drive to my usual freeway entrance.

I would still have had to see the problem for myself.

It isn’t that I don’t believe the reporting.

But maybe, I just don’t trust it.

The reporting is, “passionate, but does not persuade,” to quote the Emperor in Amadeus.

I have had as many success stories using traffic tools as stories where I end up saying, WHY DID THEY DIRECT ME THERE?

As most of my issues with traffic are anxiety related, just knowing there are problems and why there are problems is the information I need.

Once I get going, I will let traffic do its worst.

And I will do my best.

1.15.2020 -Special days, Birthdays

Special days, Birthdays
One day love to remember
My Wife’s day today

January 15, 1958 was a Wednesday and a bitterly cold day across the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

My wife says she was born into the cold and didn’t like it and hasn’t liked it since.

As she is the 12th of 12 children, I could say the expected, “saving the best for last” or “cheaper by the dozen.”

But I won’t.

As it is her birthday, I could quote Mr. Twain when he said, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

But I won’t.

I AM reminded of Mr. Dryden on love and time when he wrote;

“Love and Time with reverence use,
Treat them like a parting friend:
Nor the golden gifts refuse Which in youth sincere they send:
For each year their price is more,
And they less simple than before.”

My wife and I have been together a long time.

Lots of birthdays

Lots of years.

Our lives together are more complex each year.

The price of those years seems to increase as they increase with issues.

Love and time are at the bottom of it all.

Through love, over time, those years with her are a ‘golden gift’.

So today, my hope for her is for a happy birthday.

And a wish, at any price, for many more.

1.9.2020 – swinging on a star

swinging on a star
take moon beams home in a jar
moonlit morning hopes

The Google says that the Moon today is in a Waxing Gibbous phase. This phase is when the moon is more than 50% illuminated but not yet a Full Moon. The phase lasts round 7 days with the moon becoming more illuminated each day until the Full Moon.

It was cold and clear last night when my wife and I went for walk.

Cold for Georgia anyway.

Clear and lit by the Waxing Gibbous Moon.

Moonlight was strong enough that we cast shadows and the old song about catching moonbeams in a jar stuck in my brain.

Innocent and sweet thoughts to end the day.

When I left for work this morning that Waxing Gibbous Moon was still shining.

It was low enough in the trees that I could have, like the Court Jester in Thurber’s Many Moons, climbed up in a tree and grabbed the moon for the Princess to wear on a chain around her neck.

(When the Moon shows up the next night, the King worries that his daughter will notice. The Court Jester suggests asking the Princess how that happened when she has the Moon on a chain around her neck. The Princess replies “That is easy, silly,” she said. “When I lose a tooth, a new one grows in its place, doesn’t it?”)

Mr. Debussy’s prélude, La fille aux cheveux de lin (otherwise known as The Girl With The Flaxen Hair) was playing on the radio.

Where does this music come from?

A bad mood and crummy attitude that has been percolating inside me this week didn’t have a chance.

Like the Court Jester, I winked at the moon, “for it seemed to the Court Jester that the moon had winked at him.”

The moment may not last long.

I am, after all, on my way to work.

For now.

For a few minutes.

For a wink of an eye.

I am swinging on a star.

December 19 – fuddled? befuddled?

fuddled? befuddled?
sluggish? comatose? dopey?
why am I driving?

If there was a breathalyzer for measuring the level of sleep in my bloodstream and if there was a legal limit to how much sleep could be measured in my bloodstream I would be in trouble.

I come out of weekend of sleeping until 7AM or 8AM somewhat refreshed and recharged.

By Thursday morning, after 4 days of getting up at 5:15AM, my brain is so clogged with sleep it hurts.

All the little tricks, cooler to colder water in the shower, bottomless cup of coffee and not sitting after I get downstairs, I still back the car out of the garage in a mild daze.

Or a mild haze.

Or a hazy daze.

Am I fuddled?

Or am I befuddled?

Both at the same time.

Unable to think clearly, confused or stupefied?

The google says that fuddle is used to describe someone in this state due to drink.

I am not drunk.

Just near to being asleep.

Fighting off the forces from the land of Nod.

So what do I do?

Drive to work of course.

December 6 – Beethoven, Simone

Beethoven, Simone
unexpected partnership
as are their talents

Of late, I have been listening to a collection of recordings of the Beethoven trios for piano, violin and cello.

I had not had an opportunity to hear these compositions before.

Truth be told, I didn’t know they existed.

That the magic of digital music, iPhones and the internet makes it possible for me to listen to these pieces of music as I drive will take another haiku.

For today I have to gush over the magic that is Beethoven.

In another entry, I quoted the movie Amadeus on Mozart’s music when Antonio Salieri shuffles through pages of sheet music penned by Mozart and says, ” … music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.”

I wouldn’t say that about Beethoven.

He is all over the place.

His notes are loaded onto a flat bed truck and you get the feeling that some of the notes are just hanging on.

Just when you think you know where the music is going, the flat bed truck hits a bump and all the notes fly in the air and come down again and go off in a different direction.

He makes all it work.

Somehow.

Somehow as only Beethoven can, it all works.

In the Ken Burn’s film on Frank Lloyd Wright, whose name could have been in this haiku but it didn’t fit, architect Robert A.M. Stern says about the house, Falling Waters, “I don’t know how he (Wright) does that. If I did, I would do it too!”

Listening to these trios on my commute I can lose myself in the music and its 20 minutes closer to home.

My thoughts aren’t on driving which is both good and bad thing.

What are my thoughts on?

Since you ask, I find myself thinking about Simone Biles.

I am not making this up.

As I listen to the music bounce, jump, leap and rebound beyond human possibility, Simone Biles is bouncing around in my brain.

Maybe it’s just a natural reaction of my brain to use creative visualization to get my arms around the music.

The computer in my mind sorts through the uncounted gigabytes of memory to come up with images to match the music and the computer spits out Simone Biles.

I am not a big fan of Gymnastics.

Like most American’s, I watch every 4 years for about 1o minutes.

A little bit more attention than I give, say, curling.

Nevertheless (dear, sweet word), how can you not be aware of Simone Biles.

In the same way the music of these Beethoven Trios are unexpected explosively wonderful, so are these performances of Biles.

I watch and I stare and I say, “HOW?”

I listen and I hear and I say, “HOW?”

November 26 – I commute to work

I commute to work
Friend teleworks from kitchen
Both wait to go hom
e

At work, I am part of a support team that works with television stations across the country.

The support team works from locations across the country.

I commute into downtown Atlanta everyday.

One of my coworkers teleworks from her home in Texas.

The other day I messaged her in the middle of the afternoon and said, “Can we go home now?”

She replied, “I work from home and I still can’t wait to get home.”

Something nearly, perfectly, wonderful about that.

Still, how do you leave your job at work when you work from home?

Maybe.

Just maybe.

There is some unexpected value to that awful commute.