Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The 70th October 1st

Such manic and inconsistent weather we’ve been experiencing lately in San Francisco. It was only last week that we got a few consecutive days of high 90’s weather, during which we all melted because none of our indoor buildings has got air-conditioning. Fast forward slightly to this week, and we are solidly in the mid 50s with a strong winter chill factor. As I type this, I am in two layers of clothing with a healthy thick blanket draped over. Yes, it feels that cold, and no, Asian households don’t turn on the heating system under any circumstances.

Our heavy jackets aren’t just for the outdoors.

Today marks the turn of the calendar over to October, and indeed we are heading into my favorite time of the year. As the recluse and introvert that I am, it’s only natural that I am drawn to the wintery months where the weather turns sour and we are forced to stay in our abodes (I can’t wait for the rain.) The cooler and denser air also provides more power to a car’s engine, so there’s an extra punch to come when I step on the throttle of the GT3. As the song goes, “it’s the most, wonderful time, of the year.”

This year’s October 1st marks the 70th founding anniversary of the communist party of the People’s Republic of China. My home country has come a very long way from being the utterly weak and bullied (don’t think we’ve forgotten, Japan) to now a preeminent super power on par with the United States. There’s lots to say and criticize about the many atrocities and violations of the communist regime, but the rapid growth of China in these last 70 years, under the leadership of the CCP, is a net positive for the overall body of Chinese people both in China and internationally. Our own standing here in the States owes a lot to a strong China, having come from an ugly history of discrimination and exclusion.

I can remember reflecting on the hardships of our ancestors as I rode the Amtrak train through the Sierra Nevada a few years back. Not since the august periods of the Qing Dynasty have our people looked so strong and mighty now. Warts and all - and there are many - the National Day of the People’s Republic of China is an occasion worth celebrating.

She took the midnight train going anywhere.

Spring has sprung

It is proper Spring season here in the northern hemisphere, and all I am wishing for is the rains of winter to not make the jump to the new season. Ever since I bought the GT3 back in January, I’ve been beset with inclement weather, and due to the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires the car is shod with - tires that don’t work worth a damn in the cold and damp - I’ve been unable to really push the car to its insanely high limits. I might as well could have wait until now to purchase the 911, and it wouldn’t have made much material difference in terms of driving.

First world problems, yes, but I do live in the first world (extremely lucky to do so), and it is a problem for me. Life goes on.

So I hope the coming months will provide more opportunity for some proper motoring fun. California is officially out of drought conditions, so perhaps it would be fine to not have so much rain again – kidding not kidding.

The weird thing about working at a university is that during the typical spring and fall breaks, all of he students and faculty members are gone for holiday, but us staff have to still be at work. It’s especially odd for us service orientated staff, because without regular classes going on, there simply isn’t much for us to do. In order for staff to get the same break, we’d have to use our own vacation time. This year I’ve drawn the short straw, and will be holding down the proverbial fort whilst my colleagues are away.

Not that I could afford to go anywhere after putting down the enormous sum for the GT3. Since then any spare change has gone towards the car, be it for petrol or maintenance items. Indeed, I’d be in much better financial situation had I not made the purchase (as I was before), but again there’s but this one life to live, and sometimes you simply have to forsake the contingencies and go for it. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Not to say I’m “car poor” by any means, but the monthly outlay for the GT3 has been and is significant. Which is why I need to weather to cooperate so I can make all the monetary pain worth it.

Bring it on, Spring; don’t disappoint me. Please?

I just need all of this to go away for Spring.

Love hate the rain

The weather in San Francisco has been properly cold these couple of days, and it’s been a few years since we’ve had such piercing temperatures. Massive apologies to the crowd living in the Midwest and Northeast that had just endured the polar vortex last week, but low 40’s might as well be freezing to us fragile San Franciscans.

We certainly pay for the privilege. Hashtag high cost of living.

There’s been a quite bit of rain, too, which is nice to see after years of drought conditions and two straight years of the worse wildfires to ever devastate California. If I were still on Facebook I’m sure I would be seeing acquaintances hitting the fresh powder up in the Sierras. That’s what dream weekends are made of.

Unfortunately for me, this latest batch of weather is wrecking havoc with my notion of a dream weekend: out driving the sports car I’ve only recently written the largest check ever for (not even remotely humble brag). The 991 GT3 comes with deliciously sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, but the wondrous adhesion only occurs during dry weather; in the wet - especially with standing water - those tires are downright treacherous. It also doesn’t do particularly well when it’s cold out.

A two thousand dollar set of tries that can only be driven in warm, dry weather. Because race car.

So when it’s raining like it has been in San Francisco, I simply cannot drive the car. I mean sure I can take it out and motor about gingerly, but that completely defeats the point of a GT3. Our family’s Hyundai Tucson is a better vehicle for that purpose (crossover SUVs are awesome). Last weekend was a completely wash out, and the forecast isn’t looking different for this weekend.

First world problem indeed, but the situation is what it is. I welcome the rain from an environmental perspective, but from a selfish point of view, can it not rain on the weekends, please?

Wishing you were outside but you’re stuck inside a DMV.

Wishing you were outside but you’re stuck inside a DMV.

It was a cold Summer

It's a few days past Labor Day, and according to my recollection, San Francisco did not have a single day over 80 degrees all Summer. While the rest of California (and the world) is burning like the fall of ancient Rome, the warming part of global warming have yet to reach our neck of the woods. It's been a traditional British summer through and though; that is to say, windy and cold. 

No complaints from me - I've always preferred cold weather over hot, but it does get a bit worrying when "Summer" weather gets completely obliterated like this. It feels like the pendulum is at it's zenith on one end and the return towards the other extreme will bite us hard. Climate change is massively affecting other parts of the world (Japan just got hit with the most epic typhoon in a quarter century) so we won't be so lucky to escape the consequences for much longer.

I remember not so fondly of last year's Labor Day weekend where it was a consistent 100 degrees for three days. Lacking in any sort of air-conditioning capabilities in most of its houses and buildings, San Francisco was (and still is) simply not prepared for such sustained high temperatures. Fans and portable air-con units were sold-out immediately at hardware stores. 

Having endured that experience I had planned to purchase an air-con machine for my room in case we get a repeat this year. Procrastination and other money goals prevented me from buying one, but it turns out I didn't need it after all. The house was two-layers comfortable the entire Summer. San Francisco is like one large air-conditioning unit of its own. 

Meteorologists are predicting a particularly harsh winter this year, and after recent years of mild winters, I'm ready for the mercury to stay in the 40s. Places like New York City will be inundated with an ungodly amount of snow for sure, but I don't live there (my friend does. Sorry, friend). I'm excited to break out the winter jackets, hats and scarves again. 

Sunset hour on campus is the best hour. 

Sunset hour on campus is the best hour. 

Southern California burns

It was only a month ago that much of Napa Valley was on fire for an entire week, grinding normal business in the Bay Area to a halt for the better parts of a week. Therefore it is extremely eerie to watch the wildfires happening now in Southern California. The State simply cannot catch a break. 

Do a search on Twitter for people's videos of their morning commute: it looks like a hell-scape. 

Are these spectacular wildfires going to be a constant in our near future? Some are saying so. California had a proper rainy season in 2016, but before that it was five consecutive years of unprecedented drought - one wet season isn't going to completely solve the problem. It appears this year we have returned to dry conditions: we've only had a week of solid rain thus far and we're halfway into December already. 

I can certainly feel the intense dryness here in supposedly humid San Francisco. In these windy and parched conditions, one false move with a match or electric wire and that's it: tens of thousands of acres will burn. I sure pray another one doesn't start up here as well, that would be devastating. 

God speed to everyone down south, and god bless the fire-fighters doing the work. 

 

 

It's too hot for late October

It's the final full-week of October, we are knee-deep into fall season, yet the mercury today read upwards of 96 degrees. What the French is going on?

One month into official autumn and I've yet to break out any sort of middle garments or heavy outerwear. This is San Francisco we're talking about; we pay out the nose in housing cost for foggy and cool weather and by god aren't we a cranky bunch when we don't get it. 

I sure hope this week's tiny heat-wave is the last of it and we can all enjoy proper San Francisco weather for the next eight months. 

Thankfully this weather did not occur two weeks back while the north-bay wildfires were raging on. It would've been a national emergency indeed if the unrelenting sun were mixed in with the smoke and ashes. Unimaginable. 

Due to the amount of destruction, we all either know or transitively know someone who has lost a home to the Napa fires. I was sad to find out an ex-coworker lost her newly rented home to the fire. I urge everyone to donate to our neighbors in need.

Weather variations forge a strong body

Sometimes I wonder if all this constant good weather in San Francisco is actually a detriment to my health.

In this perpetually air-conditioned weather of ours, San Francisco doesn’t really enjoy temperature extremes. The joke is there’s but one season (that one sliver of mild chill between autumn and winter) here and it’s absolutely true. Therefore, whenever we leave for other cities with proper weather variations, we can’t handle it. Anything above 75 is too hot, and anything under 50 is too cold.

But variations, and enduring ups and downs, is what forges a strong body and mind. After all, that’s the principle on why and how we exercise. Temperature extremes, too, ought to have a similarly positive effect on the human body. Through the unbearable hot and humid summers and withering colds of winter, the body gets hardened and sharpened, as does the mind. If global warming is indeed real then the citizens of Phoenix Arizona have a leg up on all of us in dealing with the heat.

If I were to ever move out of the city, I think I’d prefer a city/country with proper four-seasonal weather. I may and probably will hate it the first year, but just like wishing death upon exercise the first time I truly dedicated to working-out, weather fluctuations are simply a thing to get used to.