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.

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. 

First rainy day of the season

Today was the first truly rainy day of the season, and with great predictability the traffic conditions were absolutely atrocious. A friend texted in a group chat to advise working from home if possible. Traffic in the Bay Area is bad enough on a good sunny day; mix it with heavy precipitation? Forget about it.

Late fall and winter is the time it rains in San Francisco, fairly consistently, so what I don't get is how are people not ready for it? Lack of preparedness is the only possible explanation for the slowdown that always happens when it rains, right? 

Remember a few years ago when it snowed in Atlanta for the first time in never and drivers were caught off-guard? San Franciscans don't have that excuse. 

Perhaps people are too squeamish about going at a normal pace in sight of the rain. Don't think Bay Area drivers skew towards the hesitant side? I bet you've never got stuck behind someone who refuses to merge out unless the oncoming car is a block away. One thing I admire about New York City drivers is that if there's a gap, they go for it. Quick and unobtrusive.  

Anyways, for sure one shouldn't be blasting beyond 70 miles an hour when it's pouring down, but 50 shouldn't be the correct answer, either, and I definitely got stuck behind a few folks doing 50mph today. Unless a monsoon is coming down, going vastly slower than the speed limit on a major metropolitan highway is hugely detrimental to proper traffic flow. 

Good news, though: everybody got a free cash wash today, and many more to come in the season. One of the little sweet joys of life is seeing the water beading off the car's sheetmetal: because it let's me know I've done a good job keeping it consistently waxed. To watch the pooled water glide off as I get up to speed on the highway is a always a treat, in a supremely childish way.