Day 608 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 2.

 

The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.

The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.

 

Jill and I kept talking to Mitch and discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It seems, and this may just be confirmation bias but Jill and I both think that more and more people are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

I’ve been getting a lot of friends asking me how to minimize their possessions to maximize their life.

I’ve helped them figure out how to live on less, travel with less, take up less space in the world, and figure out how to own things instead of having things own them.

Last night, in fact, Jill and I spent an hour going through each of our check in bags and discarded about half of what we had in them.

We doubt we can get down to one check and two carry ons between us each check in will be very light since they are both only about half full.

Once we figure out where we are going to settle, in about a year, we will be able to unload more of it since I’ll know if I need my cycling gear.

Cycling gear?  Yep, I have my cycling spandex and cycling shoes (with clip-less pedals) that I’m dragging around everywhere.

This takes up about 1/4 of my bag and seems like a waste.

However, it will allow me to get around easily, when we settle down, and the cost of carrying it is much less than having to purchase it again.

This is a cost benefit analysis that I’ve done and the benefits far outweigh the costs.

My friend, Christopher Rubin, is also going to open a bike store in the next few months.

I want to help him and we plan to ride our bikes to work together and that means I’ll be needing these clothes sooner rather than later.  It is also a free way to get healthy and lose weight which I want to do also.

Mitch seems to want to have a simpler life and we all talked about how that could happen, for both him and us, and what we are doing to accomplish that goal.

This doesn’t just mean minimizing but doing what you want, when you want and knowing that you could die, at any moment, and how do you want to live until that happens.

For Jill and me, it is traveling, seeing friends and family, and exploring the world.

We’ve both simplified our lives enough that we can make this happen.

We can help you do the same if you want.

When we walk, we talk about how to accomplish this and share our knowledge.

That is why we walk.

 

 

 

 

Day 607 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 1.

 

The 1953 210 in all its glory!

The 1953 210 in all its glory!

 

Jill and I are enjoying our car-less travels all around the bay as we update SF Tourism Tips.

We walk about a mile to grab the first bus, in Petaluma, and then take it into San Francisco where we might walk, bus or take the street cars depending on our time and destination.

We also bus back to Petaluma and it has been mostly enjoyable.

I’d say about 9 out of 10 Golden Gate Bus drivers are incredibly friendly and love their jobs.

The ones that aren’t happy are probably just having a bad day and have to deal with a lot.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve talked to the bus drivers, most of them just say, “This job teaches you patience.”

It makes me think that most of the drivers probably practice a type of “moving meditation” when they drive and deal with people so that they can stay calm, mellow and happy most the time.

Otherwise the traffic, the people, and the on time pressure would wear them down.

Our latest driver said to Jill and me that, “I just put on a smile and keep it on.  If I get worn down, I smile and I come back to who I am and who I want to be.”  Imagine if we all did that, a little bit more each day, how different our lives would be?

As we walked towards the bus one day, we turned the corner and noticed this amazing car.

It is a 1953 Chevy 210 with some added flair (some parts from a Plymouth and taillights from a 1954 210 as Mitch liked those more and wanted more “personality”).

We immediately fell in love with it and Jill said, “My dad would love this!”

Jill’s dad, Bill, rebuilds old cars and is a blacksmith and also does leather work.

I suggested we go ask the owner if we could take some pictures and he agreed.

He stated that he hand painted it about 6 years ago and it took a long long long time because each layer is very difficult and time consuming.  He didn’t use any filler or bondo on the bodywork because he didn’t want the paint to crack or break as the car aged.  We couldn’t see any imperfections at all.

We didn’t have our camera, at this time, so we asked if we could come back and he happily agreed.

Two days later we were walking down the street and heard this rumble behind us.  It was Mitch and his 1953 210 cruising down the street.  There really is nothing like the sound of a classic car’s engine rumbling and cruising.

Mitch pulled into his shop and parked it in the sunshine so we could see it really glow.  He then he wiped it down with a cloth to get all the dust off of it.  He had just made some engine improvements and taken it for a test drive so it was a bit dusty and we appreciated his time and effort to make his baby shine!

Mitch, the owner, told us this is his “daily driver” and that he also built a Comet for his wife.  We talked about the joy of doing what you love for a living and how it can be difficult to live outside the expected way of life but that none of us could go back to what we used to do.

Mitch, by the way, was born in Sweden and came to the USA to play music.  It seems he did fairly well for himself and quite a bit of touring.  He lived in Los Angeles but got tired of it and moved up north.  He and his wife now live in Petaluma and he seems to be quite content and proud of his creations.

An artist working his craft.

We talked for about 45 minutes, as we weren’t in a hurry, and it was like meeting an old friend.

There is no question that if we had been in a car, we would have missed Mitch and his 1953 210.

That is why we walk.

 

Day 606 OUT OF Beijing: The Wave Organ of San Francisco.

 

Some of the pipes that allow for the sound to be created at the Wave Organ.

Some of the pipes that allow for the sound to be created at the Wave Organ.

 

The final destination for our SF Tourism Tips update journey today was The Wave Organ.

The wave organ is exactly as it sounds: an organ that produces sounds as waves go into its tubes.

It is a pretty strange experience but a lot of fun.

It is part of the Exploratorium and I would suggest people check it out.

How can it be part of the Exploratorium since it is about 2 miles away from the actual Exploratorium?

Let me answer that:  The Exploratorium used to be housed in part of the Palace of Fine Arts before it moved to the Embarcadero a few years ago.

This outdoor exhibits was made by Peter Richards and George Gonzales and it has continued to survive through the years.

The Exploratorium has a number of other outdoor exhibits also and you can find out more by checking out the SF Tourism Tips Exploratorium page.

We walked out to the Wave Organ, located on a jetty in the bay, and hung out for about 10 minutes.  We listened to the sounds and the music being made by this piece of art and the ocean and enjoyed it.  We had to catch our bus back to Petaluma or we would have stayed longer.  It is definitely a strange, but fun, way to hear music if you’ve never done it.  It is also very relaxing and it affords a magnificent view of the bay, Alcatraz and the Marina District.

We were lucky enough to visit it when the tide was almost at its highest, since that is when the most noises are made and it is the loudest.

As we walked away towards our bus stop, two elderly Caucasian women were walking up.  One of them, who looked to be in her 70s or 80s, said, “How is it today?  Can you hear anything?”

Jill and I both answered that the high tide was coming and the music was getting louder.

The lady then said, “Great!  My nephew designed this and I can’t wait to hear it!”

We would guess that it was Peter Richards that was her nephew and found it to be such a stroke of luck to be there at the time as a relative of one of the designers and artists.

This is why we love walking, exploring and talking to random people as we continue our journey around the world!

 

Day 605 OUT OF Beijing: Crissy Field.

 

The Golden Gate Bridge peaks out from behind trees at Crissy Field.

The Golden Gate Bridge peaks out from behind trees at Crissy Field.

 

After Jill and I left Fort Point we walked across Crissy Field.

The Presidio Trust has done a fantastic job of making Crissy Field a peaceful, calm and gorgeous place to enjoy yourself in nature.

The beauty of Crissy Field is the ability to get to this park by so many different modes of transportation from anywhere in the city.

I used to ride my bike through the park when I lived in San Francisco and always enjoyed the peace and tranquility that I was afforded as I cruised through as I was working out.

 

The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.

The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.

 

I rarely stopped, because I was trying to get the best workout possible, but now that I can walk through it, I’m glad that I’ve had this chance with Jill.

It is a magical place and everyone we passed, whether they were cycling, running or walking, seemed to be happy and content.

Many people also had dogs and there were a lot of dog sitters with up to 8 or 9 dogs having a great time!

 

Day 604 OUT OF Beijing: Fort Point.

 

The Golden Gate Bridge as we get closer to Fort Point.

The Golden Gate Bridge as we get closer to Fort Point.

 

After we finished the Golden Gate Bridge tour, Jill and I head down to the Warming Hut for some lunch.

We took the back way, through the beautiful nature preserve that leads down to Crissy Field.

It is amazing how, just about 100-200 feet away from the Golden Gate Bridge, you no longer hear any cars or trucks or anything but wind, birds, and nature.

It is so relaxing, and wonderful to be able to have places like this after living in Beijing for the last 1.5 years and having to travel for an hour to get to some place that should be peaceful but is full of people blasting music, bumping into you, and horrid pollution in the skies overhead.

One really doesn’t know what it is like to live in a city of 25 million people until one does.

And then one can only be content and happy about pretty much any other place where one lives for the rest of their life.

We know we are and won’t take one minute of it for granted.  It is a luxury that we no longer take for granted.

We sat down in the Warming Hut and had a nice little hummus sandwich.  We did, in fact, get warmed up inside the old barracks as it was nicely heated and just the right temperature for us to enjoy.

After a nice 15 minute rest, we put back on our jackets and headed out to Fort Point.

We knew it would be closed, since it is only open Friday through Sunday, but we wanted to get some landscape pictures and just enjoy the view.  It isn’t often one can see the Golden Gate Bridge from below and we didn’t want to miss our chance.  Just another reason we love being car-less is it forces us to value our time, and choices, much more carefully and think them out since we know it takes a lot more effort to get to many places that others easily drive to each day.

 

Fort Point is only about a 10 minute walk from the Warming Hut and it is right beside the bay so we were able to watch the waves crash and the fisherman fish as we walked.

We arrived at Fort Point, took some pictures and marveled at the super structure underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, which we had just walked upon, and also at the base of the bridge, which our San Francisco City Guide Dan Tussey had told us actually went about 11 stories down into concrete to hold the cables so they won’t shake loose from all the wind, cars and waves.  By the way, the towers are able to move about 12 feet towards or away from each other and the bridge can sway about 27 feet from side to side when it is really windy.  That is some amazing architecture and engineering.  Especially when you consider it was built in only about 4 years and 32 MILLION dollars.  Consider it took 20 years to build the new Bay Bridge and almost 6.5 BILLION dollars.

We got ready to leave when one of the fisherman, who seemed to be new to the sport, was having a bit of trouble.  Another fisherman came over, showed him the right way to cast out, and then practiced with him.  I was able to get a bit of video of it and it was nice to see such camaraderie among people.

 

Day 603 OUT OF Beijing: The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco City Guides.

 

Don Tussey from City Guides San Francisco.

Dan Tussey from San Francisco City Guides teaches us about the cables built for the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Jill and I needed to get some pictures for SF Tourism Tips and wanted to take a San Francisco City Guides tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We hopped on the 7:11 commuter bus out of Petaluma and settled in for a relaxing ride to San Francisco.

It takes about 1 hour, depending on traffic, and the bus drops us off right at the tool booth on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We then walk underneath the bridge, through a tunnel, and over to the side that allows us to have amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.

We ended up getting there pretty early and decided to grab some coffee and talk with the staff about the Golden Gate Bridge, their jobs, and their dreams.

There were two men there and they both talked about how they will move out of San Francisco when they retire, as it has become quite expensive.  It is sad since they love their jobs but can’t really afford to live in San Francisco anymore.  They both stated that the best part of their job is being able to interact with people from all over the world and to make so many friends.

Both of them said they were probably going to end up overseas, in some place like Costa Rica or elsewhere, when we brought up we were planning on traveling there in about 6 months.

It is interesting to me how many people are talking about leaving San Francisco, because of the financial burden of living there, and where they are thinking of going and what they want in their lives as they make this change.

It seems as if a lot of people are being “forced” to make a change but are also quite excited about this change as it allows them to figure out what is really important to them and their dreams.

These are the kind of people we want to work with helping them figure this out when we debut our new website.

As 11 am arrived, we walked over to the Joseph Strauss statue (no relation to Levi Strauss of Levi pants fame) and noticed our guide was already there.  Dan Tussey was a very friendly, happy and welcoming person and probably the best person to introduce newcomers, and even locals like ourselves, to the Golden Gate Bridge.  He does 4 walking tours a month, one a week, and rotates the tours so that he does each one each month.  So, this was his once a month tour of the bridge.  He also does City Hall, the Gold Rush and one other.  The City Guides also don’t get paid so this is a very generous gift that he, and the other city guides, give back to this beautiful and magical city.  They do ask for a $5 donation, to keep City Guides running (with a paid staff of 2 people) which is more than fair.  We, of course, gave $10 for the two of us at the end of the tour.

 

 

About 15 people, from all over the world, ended up being on the tour with us and Dan told us historical facts that neither of us knew.  I’m not surprised I didn’t know them but I was surprised that Jill didn’t.  Her site is so well researched that she usually knows as much, if not more, than most the tours we go on at this point.  She did, however, give Dan a few new facts that he didn’t know because he hadn’t done the tour for over 2 months and things have changed since then.  One wouldn’t think that this bridge would have many changes in 2 months, but it does, and Jill and he had a great time discussing some of them as we walked around with the crowd.

We went out to the vista point and looked over the SF Bay.  It was a very windy, and for San Francisco, cold day but we did our best.  Since we are minimizing, I only have a fleece jacket at this point.  It is something that I will probably keep as long as possible because I earned it by completing the Hopi Reservation 100 mile challenge.  This is a challenge, to anyone that wants to join, to walk or run 100 miles over 4 months time.  There is a lot of diabetes issues on the Hopi Reservation and this is one way to help reduce it and encourage people to be more healthy.  I’ve had this fleece for about 6 years and I love it.  Luckily it was just warm enough to keep me from freezing.  And I rarely get cold so you can believe the wind was howling today on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We also walked over by the cable installation so Dan could show us how many cables were strung together to build the massive main cables that run all the way across the bridge.  In case you didn’t know, each of these two cables runs the whole way, without a break, across the bridge.  They go up to the top of each tower, and then drop back down to lock into the bases on either side of the bridge.  The main cable is about 3.5 feet wide and utterly impressive.

After that, we walked on to the bridge and up to the first tower.  Dan told us more about the bridge, including the number of people that have committed suicide, which is about 1,600 at this point, and that people usually commit suicide every 2 or 3 weeks by jumping off of it.  I saw a report that 2014 had about 1 a week commit suicide off of the bridge and no one knows why there has been an increase.  I won’t hazard a guess.

The bridge is truly a monument to beauty, and for some reason, one to suicide also.  I think the reason for that is it is so iconic and it is a pull for people to memorialize themselves and “fly away” to some place better.  They are going to put in a suicide barrier, at some point, and I’m glad that they will because studies show that iconic places, like the Golden Gate Bridge, do actually represent something special to people committing suicide and when they are stopped from doing it, they don’t use other means to kill themselves.  There really is something special about places like this and spending some money to save peoples’ lives is more than worth it.

As we walked back to the vista point, we talked more about the bridge and Jill, Dan and I talked about Jill’s site and we gave him a card to check it out.  He was incredibly sweet and said, “You should be tour guides” but after we told him about our idea to do this work from the beach, he agreed that we had a more interesting plan.

Last note: I highly recommend the City Guides of San Francisco Walking Tours to anyone that is visiting San Francisco.  I would definitely recommend finding a tour that Dan is running as he is an incredible tour leader and has a wealth of knowledge.

 

 

Day 602 OUT OF Beijing: SF Tourism Tips and SiteSell.

 

Jill's Success Story on SiteSell.  Picture by yours truly.

Jill’s Success Story on SiteSell.

 

Jill has been building her SF Tourism Tips website, and business, for about 5 years.

It has become successful enough for us to do it full time and for me to quit my job as an “office based psychotherapist.”

I may, at some point, start doing psychotherapy, over the internet, but I doubt I will ever work in an office again.

After working for a few major corporations, Jill also doesn’t want to be stuck in an office anymore.

The company that hosts her site, and her business, is called SiteSell.

From what she’s told me, using their website, and learning all about SEO, how to build a site, and how to find succcess, has been invaluable to her.

There have definitely been tough times, and times when she did want to give up, especially while we were in China and the internet was almost impossible to use, but she didn’t.  I made sure she knew that this was her future and that she had spent so much time, and energy, that to quit now would have been a loss and going back to the corporate world, working 80-100 hours a week, just to make money to accumulate things we don’t want, was a major step backwards in our future plans together.  I was working and making enough money for use to survive in Beijing so even if she didn’t make any money, it would have been okay with me.  As long as she believed in what she was doing and kept at it.

Luckily for both of us, she did.

Actually, luck had nothing to do with it.

It was 100% perseverance, determination and a desire to not fall into a past routine that would have made both of us miserable and unfulfilled with our lives and choices.

Jill has also been using SiteSell’s forums to help other people achieve their dreams and figure out how to better their business/website models.  This is something she does for free and one of the true benefits of using SiteSell: They have a massive forum that is very lively and people really try to help each other succeed.  I haven’t seen this on the other web hosting sites and I’m glad Jill decided to use SiteSell when she started.

According to her own knowledge and experience, she jokingly states that she has almost achieved a Master’s degree in building a business online without having to go to college and have massive student debts.

The beauty is that anyone that wants to do this can do the same.  It does take a lot of hard work, and effort, but most goals worth achieving do.

Jill’s hard work is really starting to pay off.  She had her first $5,000 month in December.  Not only that, but after she posted that on the forum, she actually ended up making a December total of $6,600!

Consider that in February, she only made $150 and yet 12 months later, she was not at $6,600!

The owner, Ken Evoy, noticed this and decided to write a blog post about Jill.

After writing the blog post, he decided to feature her as a “Success Story.”

Jill is now featured on their Facebook page!

Jill is now featured on their Facebook page!

This all happened in just the past few weeks and it was because Jill decided not to give up, to keep working hard, and to be okay with some failure as long as the long term goals are still in focus.

That is what it takes to run an online business and not give up.  Lots of perseverance.

There is still a long way for us to go to get to our dream level of “success” but we are on the right path and will continue to do whatever we need to get there.

If you are interested in learning more about how Jill was able to do this, check out the article linked below and feel free to contact us.  We want to help others live their dreams and figure out what is right for them and how they can achieve it.

Jill’s Success Story on SiteSell.

And if you want to sign up for SiteSell and start your own website, click on this SF Tourism Tips – About Jill page and it will take you directly to the information page for SiteSell once you click it.

 

Jill at the Golden Gate Bridge for SiteSell’s Success Story article.  Taken by yours truly.

 

 

 

Day 601 OUT OF Beijing: Bartlett Hall and Cellar Maker Brewery.

 

Cupid's Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I've cropped it close.

Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I’ve cropped it close.

 

Jill and I are headed back to our cross San Francisco tour to gather more information for SF Tourism Tips.

We decided to walk down the Embarcadero and then up Market Street until we arrived at Barlett Hall.  This is a relatively new establishment, just over one year old, and they have done a beautiful renovation on the location.

It is all mahogany and dark wood inside the restaurant and brewery, and the there is a very long bar with TVs hanging above it to watch news and sports if you so choose.  There are also a lot of tables and booths if you want to enjoy your beer in a more quiet setting.

We showed up for happy hour and were glad we did.

They choose one of their beers to sell for 5 bucks at happy hour and also a bunch of delicious appetizers for the same price.

Sadly, since SF Beer Week is in just a few weeks, they had to save their own beer as they are very small and are afraid they will run out!

So, we had a different beer, which was just fine but a bit disappointing as we really want to taste all of the locally made beers and compare them for a page Jill is writing on her site so people can do a full SF locally made brew pub tour very soon.

Did you know that there are already 17 different locally sourced brew pubs in SF?  And that SF is adding another 10 more this year?  It is true.  Also, a little known fact that SF has finally gotten back to the amount of brew pubs in SF that it had before prohibition happened in the USA.  It took almost 90 years to get back to where we were.  History repeats.

After talking to the two bartenders, drinking our beers, and eating our appetizers, we headed out to Cellar Maker.

We walked down to it, about 20 minutes away, and loved this tiny, hole in the joint, brew pub.

Actually, it is more like a bar than a brewpub since they don’t serve food and don’t allow anyone under 21 years of age there at this time.

It probably only holds about 40 or 50 people and the beertenders were very friendly while also moving around like lightening to serve everyone.

They had about 12 beers on tap and we tried all but two of them because of time constraints.

We really enjoyed all of them and were pleasantly surprised that they have a “5 oz” tasting option that allowed Jill and me to share a beer (about $2.50 per 5 oz) and therefore try them all and not get drunk.  We also were taking a bus so we didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.  Just another benefit of going car-less as we travel this world!

We called my dear friend Sonia, who showed up, and we caught up with her after not seeing her for almost 2 years at this point.  Sonia is one of my dearest friends and we met salsa dancing about 10 years ago.  It seems like we’ve known each other for ever and we almost have.  She’s quite a bit younger than me and I sort of think of her as my younger sister in a way.  She’s incredibly sweet, talented as a producer and sound engineer, and an amazing salsa dancer.

We hung out for an hour or so, talked about what changes have happened in our lives, and she was able to meet Jill and Jill was able to meet her.  Sonia sort of “knew” Jill because of my blogs and Jill sort of knew Sonia from my pictures of us dancing and my stories of her but this was a first meeting and it was fun to see how quickly they got along and that they both enjoyed each other so much.

After we finished our beers, we headed off to the bus and back to Petaluma. It was a nice, quiet, and easy ride home.

Good times, good fun, good food, good beer, and good friends.

A perfect day in San Francisco.

Day 600 OUT OF Beijing: More Minimization And 600 Blog Posts.

 

The rare, and gorgeous, albino peacock.

The rare, and gorgeous, albino peacock.

 

I’m going to take a little break in our San Francisco Tourism Tips update day and jump forward in time one week.  I’ll return to our dairy of what we did in San Francisco after this post.

I also realized that I’ve done 600 blog posts in 600 days.  What started out as a fun idea has continued for over 1.5 years and I’m rather amazed at how well it has been received by my readers.  Thanks so much for your comments, support and questions.  You continue to inspire me to write of Jill and my experiences, dreams, and travels.

It is one of the fun parts of writing this blog in advance of it posting, instead of the same day, so I can change it up or add things that I believe will interest people reading this website.

Jill and I have been working on minimizing, as many of you know, and she finally emptied out and closed down her storage area.

She had it, amazingly, for almost 4 years.  This includes the last 1.5 years of her living in China with me and not having any ability to even use anything inside of it.  That means major need for minimization since almost everything in it would have been deemed as “wasted space and material” according to my “if you don’t use it within 6 months of packing it up, it is to be donated/sold/recycled” rule.  This rule is based on the idea that if you pack something up, thinking you need it at some point, and yet don’t need it within 6 months, you can get rid of it.  I actually am down to a 3 month rule for myself but I’m pretty hardcore about minimization.  Jill agrees with me on the 3 month rule also.

Jill spent the weekend clearing out her storage area and donating about 2 car loads of clothes to charity.  She also got rid of electronics like a massive old tv and other stuff.

We gave her friend, Leslie, a fantastic mattress and bed set worth about $3,000 since she let Jill stay with her, and is letting us stay with her, for free.  We feel that a major part of being upwardly mobile vagabonds is to pay your way.  This means if people won’t take payment for staying at their houses (and most of our friends and family won’t) you either buy food, resources or give them things that they want and like that we don’t need.  This way everyone benefits and things aren’t wasted.

Leslie had an old bed that she wanted to get rid of so this was a perfect fit.  I put the frame and mattress up on Craigslist.org’s free list and the frame was gone within minutes.  The mattress?  Not so much.

We waited a day and no one wanted it so we took it to the San Anselmo dump.  We tried to recycle it but they wouldn’t take it and it was pretty beat up so we decided to throw it away.

After we did that, we started to drive away and saw this amazing collection of peacocks that live around the dump and just hang out there.  There were also some chickens walking around and a pig farm right down the road.

It had to be the oddest collection of animals, around a dump, that I’ve ever seen.

As I was taking pictures of the peacocks, Jill started pointing to my right and telling me, “Look at the white one!”  I wasn’t sure what she meant but then I scanned over and saw this amazing white peacock.

Sadly, it didn’t flair out its tail and show its feathers to us.  Maybe if I go back again it will.

 

Day 599 OUT OF Beijing: Pier 24 Photography

 

PIer 24 and traintracks.

Pier 24 and long unused train tracks.

 

Jill and I headed to our 1 pm appointment at Pier 24 to get more information for SF Tourism Tips.

We arrived a bit early and hung around outside and enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine.

We are still getting used to having sunshine and fresh air every single day and being able to go out of the house whenever we want without fear of getting sick and having to wear a M95 mask to breathe safely.

It is a joy that we will never forget or take for granted.  Sadly, the first thing we would do when we woke up was look at my phone, check the Air Quality App and decide whether we would go outside or not.  It truly controlled that much of our daily lives.

I suggest you think a bit on your ability to breathe freely and not have to wear masks, drink bottled water, or worry about where your meat came from a few times today.

We had to do that for 1.5 years.

It gives us more to love and enjoy whatever we are doing in the SF Bay Area.

As the clock ticked down to 1 pm, we walked back to the gallery and pushed the “click to talk” button beside the door.

They told us to come inside and we entered.

There were four very nice people behind the desk and they told us about the show, called Secondhand, about re-attributed photographs, and a book that explained how to enjoy the gallery and not get lost.

The reason I mention not getting lost is that it is a huge gallery and it has about 20 or so rooms.  Some are tiny little alcoves but it could take a long time if someone got lost and confused and wanted to leave quickly.

I am not sure I like re-attributed photographs but I understand the idea: someone (not sure I can call them artists at this point) takes someone else’s photographs, manipulates them in some way, and then calls it their own.

I guess, in a way, this is sort of like “sampling” in music but there may be almost no difference at all.

In fact, say you found my family album at Goodwill and decided to buy it.  You could them frame my pictures and sell them as your own because you framed them and made them yours.  This is a simplistic example but there was work there that was basically just that: someone had found a person’s family album, bought it, and then took the pictures they liked, photographed them again, printed them out and adjusted the colors, and then it became, “their art.”

As a budding artist/photographer, and a person who has a mom who is definitely an artist, I have some issues with this.  I’d hate for someone to take my photographs, change a few things like color or brightness, and then sell them as their own art.  It seems somewhat unethical and immoral but maybe that is just me.

There was one specific part of the exhibition that I truly enjoyed: Eric Kessel’s 24 Hours.  It is a room full of photographs that he asked to have downloaded, and then printed, of everyone single person that posted their photographs to Flikr within a single 24 hour period.  I believe there were over 1,000,000 photos all laid out on the floor, and up the walls, and it was very powerful to stand in the middle of all those memories.

Eric Kessels 24 Hours.

Eric Kessels’ 24 Hours.

As we walked up to the exhibit room, one of the staff told us we were welcome to walk inside it and view it from the center of the room and see how we liked it.  We both picked up some photographs and looked at them.  Many were very disparate but there were still some that were obviously of the same kid or baby and had not been scattered yet.

Interesting enough, I really didn’t like any of the other parts of the exhibition by Eric Kessels as they seemed to be more like the ones I wrote about above and made me feel very uneasy regarding who is the artist and who deserves credit for these photographs.  I liked seeing other peoples’ histories and stories, but I’m not sure it quite sat correctly with me and that he would be getting credit for what they’ve actually done in the past.  Then again, Eric Kessels did manipulate the photographs and, if he hadn’t make these exhibits, they’d be lost to space and time.  Again, a tough question to figure out regarding right and wrong.

The different photographs that have been re-attributed.

The different photographs that have been re-attributed.

 

We also saw a photograph of the famous 1911 Hebron, Nebraska tornado that someone had taken.  Jill is from Nebraska so she knew of it immediately and it is a beautiful photograph.  Just utter desolation and very powerful.

As we left the exhibition, we were a little unsure whether we liked it or not.  We both feel strongly about artists doing their own art and having credit given to them.  However, a lot of this art would have been lost to the dump if not for these artist that found them, changed them, and kept them alive.

Is this really art?

Questions without answers.