Monday, December 27, 2010

At the shark tank

Today is my mom’s birthday

Click on image to enlarge.

I have so many wonderful memories of my mom. She was a regular Norma Rae. Pauline was an Irish American working woman who was a lifetime member of the United Steelworker’s Union. I still have her union card.

I remember her working the picket line when her plant went on strike. She was president of her union local. She also liked to drink beer and smoked. It was that last part that killed her.

Despite her working she was old school. She did all the cooking and cleaning and waited on my father. Even though she was a fireball in the workplace she was afraid of driving and did not learn to drive until she was in her forties. When my father was hospitalized in San Francisco she drove to the city to visit him even though the drive terrified her. I sat in the back seat and was given the job of giving the money to the toll taker on the Bay Bridge. Once she drove away from the toll both before we completed that transaction.

My first wife Candy took care of my mom when she was dying. Candy discovered her one morning in the living room. She had apparently had gotten up in the middle of the night to have one last cigarette.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Memoir, the eBook

I have started to write my memoir. What follows is the only excerpt of it I am planning to put on the Internet. There is no plan to publish any more excerpts.

This will be written as an eBook, designed to be shared by family after I am gone. Thanks to eBook technology, publishing and sharing a book is as easy as sharing a file. This will be pictures and words. We don't have to be famous to have a story to tell. Here is the introduction of my memoir:

What do I mean by "memoir"?

Memoir, when I use the term in the context of this book I mean history as I remember it. I am not intending this to be an autobiography. In an autobiography accuracy to events is a goal. A good biographer, even if she/he is writing about his/herself, is expected to make an effort to check facts, to try to be accurate. I am not doing that. This may not be history as it happened at all. But, it is how I remember it. This is just the way I remember things, which may be wrong.

Memories and context

Memories, I think reflect the present maybe more than the past. The present frames the memories and puts them in context. A person whose marriage ends in divorce tends to remember the early days of a marriage differently than a person who is widowed. In fact, that’s usually true I found.

How a story ends reflects in how a person remembers its beginning.


I am sure you have had the experience of walking through a graveyard and seeing row after row of headstones that say a person's name, the years they lived and something like, "beloved wife and mother." That sums up everything that person was about? I think not. There should be something more. Every life is a story.

In the book Gone the Sun, Winston Groom said while pondering death certificates, "Sometimes I think we should be issued another paper, a Life Certificate if you will – which could contain some brief statement for historical purposes that could explain how a person lived and what they accomplished and where they failed and why."

In his book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman said "there are no ordinary moments." I think he is right and that the key of living in the moment is embracing that. But, if you follow that logic a book about a life would take a life to tell. I do not plan to write that much.

Should all stories be told?

That will be a struggle. I don't want to make stuff up, or leave out so much as to put things out of context. It is easy to leave things out so as to frame things in such a "better" light as to mislead. Not telling the whole story is sometimes not telling the truth. But, also it is sometimes better to let sleeping dogs lay.

I guess I will figure it out as I go.

This is not a book for the Internet. So this post is just to let folks know it is there and that I am doing it. I think it is worth doing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My right foot, an update

I am seeing the doctor on Thursday and I expect he will release me to return to work. Of course I have said that every time I have gone to the doctor over the last couple months. I have use of the foot back. I am almost normal, except it still hurts. I hope that is not the new normal. But, if it is, I can live with it.

I have had to spend a lot of money on new shoes lately. The surgery left a metal screw in my foot. That has widened it and made it a lot more sensitive. That's okay. Anyway, that's about it!

Monday, November 01, 2010

To the GoPro camera makers

Click picture to view video

I just posted variations of this to the GoPro camera Facebook Group and have written GoPro and KGO about the following:

I am a road bicyclist and I am livid.

Tonight (11:00 pm Oct. 31) I saw the clip on Channel 7 featuring Richard Hart and Nick Woodman. Woodman was taking Hart on a high speed drive. They drove a Lotus Exige at very high speed around Half Moon Bay on some of the back roads we ride our bikes on. They were showing how the GoPro camera can be used to record such activities. They were driving like idiots and talking about the camera. Every time they raced around a curve I was cringing and thinking what if one of us had been around that curve!

That is not okay!

I told my wife and she said, if they had hit a bicyclist, at least they would have had good pictures of it!

We are GoPro's potential customers and KGO's audience and we deserve better.

In my opinion it is really bad for Woodman and Hart to have been smiling and driving like that and putting our lives, and the lives of others, at risk. Hart is a professional journalist and this was on a news program. In my opinion it was irresponsible for KGO to have handled this story this way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I am still off work

Foot update! I went to the doctor and he is keeping me off work until my foot heals more. I am starting physical therapy on Monday for a few weeks. He has encouraged me to start swimming and to migrate out of my walking boot.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The state of my foot injury

Today I return to see my doctor for a follow up appointment. Depending on what he says, I could return to work or be off longer.

I am able to walk now. I have special shoes and a walking boot. But, if I walk long distances I have a significant amount of pain. So, we will see. My appointment is at noon today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What a waste of paper

This is going to go from the porch to the recycle bin. Why do they dump these books on us!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jacob with his cape on

I am watching the grandkids Jacob and Madison.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Looking at old family photos

Click on photo to enlarge.

Since I have been off with my foot I have digging through old family photos. I have been amazed at how many pictures I have. I have a lot of photos! It has been nice to get a few out and share them with friends and family. There are so many great memories here!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Life: An amazing turn of events

Click on photo to enlarge.

Life is an amazing turn of events. It all happens so fast, but it doesn't seem like it does at the time. It only seems like yesterday, sometimes, that my sons were babies. Yet, it seems like so many lifetimes ago, because, well, in some sad ways it was lifetimes ago. Looking back is like looking back on a good book as you get toward the end. Each turn of the page leads to the next; happiness, sadness, joy, tears, triumph, miracles and tragedy. And, so it goes.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Susie on the porch

Click on photo to enlarge

I grabbed a shot of Susie this morning as she was heading out. Camera phones just keep getting better. This was taken with an iPhone 4.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Foot Update

Click on photo to enlarge.

After seeing the doctor today he decided to keep me off work for awhile longer. I can walk with my boot and a little with my Sketcher shoes. It is healing slow though.

Our cats

Shadow drifting in and out of sleep, using Pixel as a pillow. Click on image to enlarge,

Sue and I are a little nuts about our cats. They are everywhere we are. When we are awake they seem to have a magical ability to appear on our laps. I will look down and a cat will be there. I have no memory of how it got there.

They sleep with and on us, well mostly on me. To get an idea what that is like when you go to bed get a couple of 10 pound bags of rice and have someone lay them on you and keep them there all night.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, one of them will decide to sing to us, nice.

Yup, that's our life. We love them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Trains are on Twitter

Trains on Twitter on Flipboard on an iPad.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Here's something new school. I have taken an old Twitter feed I was using for a class I was teaching and am now using it as a Train Photo Feed. This enables folks to get to these photos on a wide range of devices from a cell phone to an iPad to a desktop computer. If you have any interest in Trains on Twitter please check it out.

Remember the feed was used for something else before so you can just ignore the month's old non-train posts there. It is here:

I am not expecting this to be everybody's cup of tea. For some, creating a Twitter Feed for your train photos might be a way to share your pictures with others. If you have a a twitter Train Feed I would love to hear about it.

Here is a photo of another post viewed on an iPhone using Twitterific.

Thanks for looking. Let me know what you think.


~Steve Sloan

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jeff passed his last CPA Exam

Click on photo to enlarge.

Last week we got the exciting news that Jeff passed his last CPA exam. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the statutory title of qualified accountants in the United States who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and have met additional state education and experience requirements for certification as a CPA. This is very exciting. Jeff graduated from SJSU with an accounting degree less than a year ago and went right into studying for and passing his four exams. He didn't skip a beat. Jeff is now working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the world’s pre-eminent professional services organizations. He has to serve under a CPA for a certain amount of time before he becomes a CPA himself.

The photo above was taken last weekend at my birthday celebration at our home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Burmese Appendage

Click on photo to enlarge.

As I type this I am reaching over my Burmese cat Pixel to reach the keyboard of my laptop. Pixel is pretty attached to me. He adores me in fact. He follows me everywhere. He is in my lap all the time. He sleeps between my legs at night. Since I have been off work after my work injury he has become my new appendage.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The view from the World Trade Center

Click on photos to enlarge them.

In June of 1996 my wife Sue, son Kenneth and I went to New York City and to the top of the World Trade Center. I will never forget that trip and the amazing view from up there. Who would have guessed that in just a little over five years our country would change forever and that change would happen right here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh sweet freedom

Click on image to enlarge.

On Thursday I got a walking boot. I cannot wear it all the time. I have to keep my foot up a lot to reduce swelling and I seem to be reacting to whatever kind of foam the thing is lined with. But, I can walk now!

The day I got it I felt like singing like Aretha Franklin:

Oh freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, yeah freedom
Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, ooh freedom!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Getting by with help from family and friends

Youngest son Kenneth and I. Click on photo to enlarge.

I am getting by with help from family and friends. Susie has done so much for me. Son Jeff made my shower accessible. Since I cannot drive on Tuesday youngest son Kenneth spent his only day off work in two weeks with me. We went to the whine and dine social time together. Amy Marsh led my ride for me. I am on the slow road to recovery. I really appreciate all the help and support.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

3 cats on the bed

Our bed is their bed. Click on photo to enlarge!

Shadow, Tupper and Pixel grab avalable space between our bodies and legs! I wonder why we sometimes have neck and back aches in the morning?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Jones Fracture

Click on images to enlarge them
About 25 years ago I worked as a photo lab tech at UC Med Center in San Francisco. I never thought then I would be scanning my own X-rays. But, here they are. This is of the fifth metatarsal in my right foot. This is the bone that leads up to the pinkie toe inside my right foot.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank goodness for family and friends

Click on image to enlarge.

Middle son Jeff installed some critical equipment to enable me to shower safely. We had been planning on doing a remodel to this bathroom. We had not planned on the sudden accessibility changes we have had to make to our shower. Besides the purchase of a transfer bench and a knee scooter. We have also had to buy a hose shower head and a grab bar so that I can shower standing on one foot. None of these have our worker's comp provider said they are willing to pay for. So, we bought these ourselves and Jeff installed them for me.

This makes a huge difference. There was nothing in this shower I could use to stand up and sit down with my good leg, much less hold on to steady myself.

When we do the remodel all this will be ripped out. These expenses are solely related to this work injury. But, I think we will be thinking about accessibility as we plan the remodel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Celtic Woman

Click on image to enlarge.

Last night we went to see Celtic Woman perform at the Mountain Winery. Despite really cold temperatures and a biting wind, we really enjoyed the show. We almost canceled due to my recent injury and sudden loss of mobility. But, we called the venue and they were really nice. Even though we were unable to use our bleachers seats, they gave us other handicapped accessible seats and one of their staff even pushed me around in a wheel chair they provided. A golf cart took us from the handicapped parking to the show. So, rather than have to throw away our tickets we wore our parkas and had a great evening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waiting for Celtic Woman

My first time in a handicapped seat. Had my first wheelchair ride to. A night of firsts!

Musings from the couch

Click on photo to enlarge.

I am laying around a lot, trying to keep my foot up to reduce the swelling. The cats are loving it, they consider me their human cat bed. Jeff has been very helpful. He has installed grab rails and a shower hose to go along with my transfer bench in our shower.

Despite the fact I fell and broke my foot at work during work hour's the worker's comp administrator for my employer has been very confrontational. I am chronicling that on another blog here.

I am scooting around on my knee scooter, that's way better than crutches!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Fall to Earth

Click on photo to enlarge.

At 10:15 a.m. Tuesday August 24, 2010, I was attending the Welcome Convocation on the Tower Lawn at San Jose State. It was a very hot day and the actual convocation was being given on the lawn between the library and Washington Square Hall. I wanted to hear SJSU President Don Kassing speak because I had missed his speech on Monday due to needs at the Help Desk. I was walking on the lawn and suddenly I fell, twisting my foot underneath me.

There was a hole in the lawn that grass had grown up into. I did not see the hole.

It hurt and I thought I had sprained it. Sprained it badly. I attended the speech limping along. But, it hurt; badly! I limped back to the help desk and reported the injury to my supervisor. He called one of our staff who had a cart. They wheeled me over to the health center where they x-rayed me and said I had a Jones Fracture and an Avulsion fracture.

Information about that is here, and here, and here.

They were not able to give me pain medication as the university pharmacy was closed due to our recent layoffs. I was sent to the university's worker's comp provider where I waited for what seemed like forever. Finally we were seen and I was given some medication and referred to see the podiatrist (who comes in Thursday.)

Research on this has indicates this will be awhile. According to one source, "You won't be able to put weight on the leg, and will not be able to move the foot for several weeks, usually 6-8."

This is my new reality!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Coming out of snowshed

On the abandoned old line, overlooking Donner Lake.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Westbound Stacks at Troy

We just shot our second train of the day, a westbound double stack train at Troy.

We are at the John Maky memorial

A quiet moment at Troy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Passing time watching trains

I am at the Davis Depot hanging out watching trains go by.

Rob Collier speaking at Labor Workshop

I am at day two of the Media Skills Workshop at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Former SF Chronicle reporter Rob Collier just finished a talk about how to work with the news media. This is a great workshop and I am very happy to be here. Andrea Buffa, to the left of Rob is one of the facilitators of the seminar.

Fun on 880

Click on photo to enlarge.

I am back in Berkeley at The UC Labor Center. My drive was marred by a box that dropped on 880 and spilled the possessions of someone who was moving all over the freeway.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are we doing March again?

Click on photo to enlarge.

This morning as I drove to work the thermometer said 56 degrees (13.3 C.)

For California in the dog days of summer that's fracken cold! It has been warming up in the afternoon, but nothing like what we would normally see. While the rest of the country is sweltering; we are wearing sweaters and jackets in the morning.

I guess March is being rerun over and over again this year, kinda like Groundhog Day. Go figure?

Friday, August 06, 2010

But, that's me!

Click on image to enlarge.

This morning at 9 a.m. my friend and SJSU ace photographer Robert Bain was scheduled to do a photo shoot. So, I went over to see how it was going. He used me to check his lighting (that's Tower Hall in the background.)

It is wicked cold for August in California and I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt Susie and I bought in Quebec City last June. I was not dressed for a photo shoot. I did not shave this morning and I had my own camera over my shoulder. But, that's me! It was really nice of Bob to share the photos with me.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Obama speaks to Labor

Click on picture to view video.

As a long time union steward (and union officer) I found this speech by our president on his birthday yesterday interesting.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Fire Season: Thinking about Janet Fitch

I can tell you why I think about Janet Fitch this time of year. It's because of White Oleander. In that novel Fitch so eloquently describes California's fifth season, fire season.

Summer in California is short. It lasts maybe a month, between the solstice and the ides of July. Then comes fire season that runs through the dog days of summer into late October. The California fire season forms a backdrop for much of her novel, White Oleander. It's when the Santa Anas blow. That's where we are now. Fitch captures the brutal heart of this season:

The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I.
— Janet Fitch (White Oleander)

Janet Fitch is an intense writer who wields worlds with amazing efficiency. Sometimes, I get the feeling she is a writer possessed by a thinking, creative and hungry demon. Her demon can only be satiated by writing. Getting paid for writing for Fitch, I suspect, is a side benefit. Her passion for writing seems so intense to me. I think she would write no matter the compensation.

I suspect if intelligence were (formally) recognized in this country as being evil, if intelligence was made illegal, if thinking writers were being burned at the stake along with intellectuals and other enemies of the state for practicing their witchcraft, if Fitch survived the first pogrom; she would still be writing.

I can see Janet Fitch working midnights at Denny's and writing on the back of napkins. By day she would post her writing on public bathroom mirrors, if she had to; to feed the demon.

Fitch wrote:

I regret nothing. No woman with any self-respect would have done less. The question of good and evil will always be one of philosophy's most intriguing problems, up there with the problem of existence itself. I'm not quarreling with your choice of issues, only with your intellectually diminished approach. If evil means to be self-motivated, to live on one's own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth cliches lent us from the so-called Fathers. To dare to see is to steal fire from the Gods. This is mankind's destiny, the engine which fuels us as a race.
— Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
[More quotes by Janet Fitch.]

I am glad Fitch is blogging and we can read her blog as well as her books. It is good Janet Fitch has to feed her demon.

White Oleander and Paint It Black are powerful books. If you want to read some of the best contemporary fiction writing there is. Start there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

“The Journey”
by Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

-from Dream Work

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remembering my father

My parents

My Dad

On this day in 1977 my dad died. I was 21, he was 58 and my oldest son was not even a year old. I wish my sons had been able to get to know their grandpa. He was quite a guy. He had an incredible personality. He towered over everybody, he was 6'4" my mom was 5' 2". As big as he was his personality was bigger.

He was engaged in life and loved to live it. He was a natural story teller and could make whatever he was telling you come alive. He was opinionated and was not a person you wanted to argue with.

He was a railroad man and seemed as big and strong to me as the locomotives he ran for the Southern Pacific. I have a friend who lost her father not too long ago. She pondered if the pain and emptiness in her life would go away. I am sorry to say, after 33 years without my dad, no it does not.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What about me?

To view video click on image.

Rick, who works where I work, shared this video on Facebook. It is a wonderful video with a concept, I think, that resonates across all cultures, schools of thought and religions. It is almost a great truth and touches on a noble truth.

If you watch this watch it all the way through. This spiritual video is about finding yourself by letting go of yourself. I really like this video and have shared it with many of my friends. Of course, we live is a narcissistic society and what this video proposes is hard to do.

None of this will make you happy unless you do one simple thing...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Looking back at a great vacation

Click on photo to enlarge.

Late Sunday, the fourth of July, when fireworks were starting to go off, we landed in San Francisco. Youngest son Kenneth picked us up at the airport. It was a great vacation. It ended with hanging out with Susie's college friends in Burlington, Vermont. They are a great bunch of ladies. In the photo above, left to right, is Bertie, Sally, Sheree, Sue, Susie and Sheree & Richard's daughter Jordan. We watched third of July fireworks from a great venue in Burlington, then flew out the next morning. It was a lot of fun. More photos of the vacation:

Album One
These are mostly photos from the time we were separate and I was on my own chasing trains and being a tourist in New York and Pennsylvania.
Album Two
These start where the previous album left off. But, these are mostly photos from the time after we met at JFK airport in New York City and cover our adventures in Vermont, Quebec City and were staying with our friends Sheree and Richard.

I hope you enjoy the photos. It was great to go and it is good to be back.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Back in the USA

Click on photo to enlarge.

This photo is from Canada. We are back in St. Albans, VT. Having a relaxing day in Vermont!

To see more photos from Canada click here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The view from our Hotel in Quebec City

Click on photo to enlarge.

This is where we are in Canada! This is the view from our Hotel in Quebec City.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Susie at JFK

Click on photo to enlarge.

Today Susie and I met in JFK airport in New York. We flew together to Vermont where we are now. The bottle of water was accidentally brought into the airport in Susie's pack past security. We are going to Canada with friends in the morning.