Watching The Strawberry Line

In the Spring we watch the Strawberry Line march north. First they come in from Peru. Then Southern Mexico. Then Baja. Then California, those Lodi berries that are oh so good. Then finally we get them locally. Oregon berries. The Seascapes varietal first. Faintly sweet, fleshy berries. Tillamooks and Aromas arrive next, delightful fruit, sweet like the season. Finally the Hoods. Full berries, bursting with sweetness and pungent flavor. The epitome of strawberry.

120. The First Local Strawberries

The line is about three weeks late this year. La Nina. Deviation from mean in oceanic temperature affecting west coast climate from Seattle to Santiago. Second year in a row. Climatologists suggest that a third consecutive year is highly unlikely.

We observe seasonality in markets as well. Commodities especially, and especially especially in the grains and the softs. Market seasonality differs in expectation: A springtime surge in gasoline prices is likely but not guaranteed, whereas strawberry season may be weeks or months late, but it’s highly unlikely that strawberries would be wiped out altogether. So we look at the expected deviation of a deviation. How many wavelettes make up a wave.

The Bark Is Worse Than The Bite

Why are the dogs barking, she asked.

Biology, I would have answered. The dog barks because it’s his nature to bark.

But I’ve been places – Thailand and Mexico come to mind – where the dogs don’t bark.

So I told her “Culture. The dogs are barking because that’s what dogs here do. It’s in their nurture.”

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Baseball And The Bullfight

“We had that disturbed emotional feeling that always comes after a bull-fight, and the feeling of elation that comes after a good bull-fight.”
– Ernest Hemingway, from The Sun Also Rises

To the casual observer, sports might have been setup so the home team – the good guys – should triumph most of the time. In da good ol days, the crowd WAS the crowd, and you might say that sending them home with a feeling of elation was the sin qua non of the event. And that makes the visiting team ‘the bull’, a dangerous opponent, but nonetheless whose running and conquering are the expectation.

Media has changed our expectations: Now, when Boston travels to Kansas City there may be 10 times the number of Red Sox fans rooting on the visiting team if we net-net the total audience including TV and the internet. Not to mention the casual interlopers who won’t watch but still nibble at the tendrils of the game via Twitter, Facebook, or just glancing at the box on ESPN.com the next day.

Now either team can be the bull or the matador, depending on your perspective.

It’s interesting, and certainly financially beneficial, but I’m not sure it doesn’t take something away from the games either…

In Seattle we have a modern matador. ‘King’ Felix Hernandez. Takes the ball every five days. And produces something altogether different from an ordinary baseball game.

There’s an authority to a King Felix start.

It’s as if the city has been altered. Focused in on Safeco Field for just a few hours. He tempts the bull, he fights his personal fight, and when he wins?

His glory is ours, and we carry him out of the arena on our proverbial shoulders.

edit: In the last 4 days I’ve seen Matt Cain and Cliff Lee combine for 19 shutout innings, Felix throw an amazing 8 inning gem, and today a perfect game from Phil Humber. Baseball throws an amazing amount of coincidental strings like that… often you see something you’ve never seen before, and then you see it again a few days later.

Henry Miller On Being Alive

Somehow the realization that nothing was to be hoped for had a salutary
effect upon me.

For weeks and months, for years, in fact, all my life I had been looking forward to something happening, some extrinsic event that would alter my life, and now suddenly, inspired by the absolute hopelessness of everything, I felt relieved, felt as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

At dawn I parted company with the young Hindu, after touching him for a few francs, enough for a room.

Walking toward Montparnasse I decided to let myself drift with the tide, to make not the least resistance to fate, no matter in what form it presented itself. Nothing that had happened to me thus far had been sufficient to destroy me; nothing had been destroyed except my illusions. I myself was intact. The world was intact.

Tomorrow there might be a revolution, a plague, an earthquake; tomorrow there might not be left a single soul to whom one could turn for sympathy, for aid, for faith. It seemed to me that the great calamity had already manifested itself, that I could be no more truly alone than at this very moment.

I made up my mind that I would hold on to nothing, that I would expect nothing, that henceforth I would live as an animal, a beast of prey, a rover, a plunderer.

– Henry Miller, Tropic Of Cancer

(In the original text this is a single paragraph)

Riding The Bus In China

Riding the bus here in Portland isn’t so bad. Drivers are often friendly, or at worst neutral. Routes are well thought-out, at least around downtown and the inner east side. Schedules are frequent, even on weekends. Sometimes there’s a crowded bus. But it’s nothing like China…

I remember riding the bus in Shanghai. You get on in the front of the bus, and there’s this mass of people. And so you have to stand right next to the driver. And then at the next stop, a bunch more people want to get on. So you squeeze into the mass of people. And of course you’re an American so we’re like a foot taller than everyone. And you just get squeezed through the mass. It’s like an intestine. The only way out is to get pushed all the way out the back. Sometimes you’re a stop early, or a few stops late. It all depends on how things are moving that day…

The Artist At Work

How We Learn To Be Like…

Like Hemingway, sometimes I can eat four dozen oysters, wash them down with a bottle of wine, and just be getting started.

Like Henry Miller, sometimes I rail against the world and place myself as the happy rock in the center of the maelstrom.

Like Gary Snyder, sometimes I want to sing about the intelligence of crows, the interconnectedness of watersheds, man’s place in nature.

Like Cezanne, sometimes I want to squint my eyes and dig into the wild essence of place.

Like Piet Mondrian, sometimes I want to make art out of the beauty of the logical and the artificial.

Like Kerouac, sometimes I want to lay in bed and think how sad it all is and about the beauty of sadness.

Like Steve Jobs, sometimes I want to be an exacting perfectionist and design the penultimate in form and function.

Like Sergey Brin, sometimes I want to craft the infrastructure of a future world.

Like Bill Walsh, sometimes I want to be a strategy master.

Like Usain Bolt, sometimes I just want to run.