The most wide-ranging Wednesday post in a while

This evening I watched a man in a custom suit and sneakers talk about his life’s work, listened as he painted a picture that he thinks everyone is out to get him, that money is everything and that having a life is secondary to having work. It would have been disconcerting if it didn’t come off as sadly insecure.

It’s one thing to be driven. To have gotten, undeniably, indisputably, to where you want to be and still come off that way, it seemed difficult, in the day-to-day. I could be wrong. The guy had on a great suit. It fit him, and the rest of the vibe.

Where as I was wearing shoes that look good, but don’t exactly treat my feet well. I like them, but there better not be a lot of walking around in them. And I’m secure enough about my feet to be able to say that.

It is not a phrase I use. It’s not one I think of often. If I were trying to sum up a person, or a presentation, or an attitude, it’s just not a descriptor I reach for. But at one point during the talk it slipped out of my mouth, under my breath, to no one in particular. At the end of the talk, as everyone stood to leave, the strangers in front of me stood and looked back and we all made eye contact, as you do. One gentleman said, “He seems very insecure.”

Also, I’ve become a huge proponent of having a life and an identity away from the office. One day I’ll even make one!

Right now I’m too busy watching things bloom, and waiting for it to get just a little bit warmer. But instead of a steady, constant, climb of mercury, we are stuck in this middle ground of 48 degrees. We are stuck in that time of relative temperatures. Six, seven weeks ago, you’d take 48 degrees, and you’d be pleased with it. But now, somehow, the body knows better. It isn’t supposed to be 48 degrees anymore. The rational mind has known this for some time, but now the body has gotten wise.

That’s when the impatience really kicks in.

But the budding and flowering things don’t seem to mind. The magnolia liliiflora is getting ready to put on a show.

It’s a small tree, basically, because the Overambitious Shrub Lobby got to the policy makers. It’s from China, though it’s often called Japanese. And, as you can tell, it will offer many, many blooms before the leaf buds open.

It is a slow growing thing, about six inches a year or so.

Makes you wonder if we cut it back too far last fall.

I guess we’ll find out in two or four years.

Here’s another video from last week’s visit to California. Here, the waves are rolling in on William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach. Just across the highway and well up the hill is the Hearst Castle. They’re rather fond of the old media magnate. Gave him a nice, quite, beach too.


The Hearst family owned it all, until they gave it to the state in the 1950s.

We were only there for a short while, of course, but it looks like there’s a lot to enjoy there.

Once again it’s time for We Learn Wednesdays. Today’s is our 29th installment, and I don’t know why I’m still counting that. Anyway, I ride my bike around the county to find the historical markers via bike. Good way to see things, and it’s amusing to take pictures of sometimes important old places in funny clothes. This is the 50th marker in that effort, and I shot this one last December in a stockpiling effort.

The stockpile should last until it gets warm, and I can put some road miles in my legs. But I digress.

I digress because I have nothing.

Here’s the building.

And here’s the marker.

It’s gone on sale again just this week. It’s seemed to have been off and on the market a lot in the last several years. It’s been a mixed use rental for the last decade or so. And the building, according to property records, was built in 1888.

The web will not tell me what makes this place deserving of being on the historic register. You’d think the historic register people would put that on a site themselves. The historic register people do not.

Next week, we’ll learn a tiny bit of a long-gone social club. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Sometimes you run across a good obituary. Obituaries are a celebration of the living, we were taught in J-school, and sometimes the obit writers remember that. It takes a great skill to write a quality obituary, though some of them do come easier than other, prepackaged with magic or memoirs or flacks as they are. A remarkable person, a life well-lived. All of it is found in this one:

As a teenager, Mr. Greenfield was Maximilian Grünfeld, a skinny Jewish prisoner whose job was to wash the clothes of Nazi guards at the concentration camp. In the laundry room one day, he accidentally ripped the collar of a guard’s shirt. The man whipped Max in response, then hurled the garment back at the boy.

After a fellow prisoner taught Max how to sew, he mended the collar, but then decided to keep the shirt, sliding it under the striped shirt of his prison uniform.

The garment transformed his life. Other prisoners thought it signified that Max enjoyed special privileges. Guards allowed him to roam around the grounds of Auschwitz, and when he worked at a hospital kitchen, they assumed that he was authorized to take extra food.

Max ripped another guard’s uniform. This time, it was deliberate. He was creating a clandestine wardrobe that would help him survive the Holocaust.

“The day I first wore that shirt,” Mr. Greenfield wrote seven decades later, “was the day I learned clothes possess power.”

At every turn the obituary gets better and better, and you don’t say that about a lot of newspaper copy. It’s one of the best obits I’ve ever read. And is, without a doubt, the most memorable piece I’ve ever read in a fashion section. Give it a try.

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