The collapsed Cypress Street Viaduct at the No...

October 17, 1989 — Moments before game three of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, fans were thrown from their seats at Candlestick Park as the Loma Prieta earthquake brought the Bay Area to its knees.

Players rushed to their families, cradling their children on the field. Outside, the Bay Bridge collapsed and the Marina burst into flames. The quake shook for 15 seconds and reached 6.9 on the Richter Scale – the largest San Francisco had seen since the devastating earthquake of 1906. When the night was through, 63 people were dead, 3,757 were injured and thousands were left homeless. — Huffington Post, October 17, 2012

English: Aerial view of roadbed collapse near ...

Aerial view of roadbed collapse near the interface of the cantilever and truss sections of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (AKA “The Bay Bridge”)

I was at Garry’s place. Boston. I’d just gotten back from the coast. Oakland, where I was working a free-lance job with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), the water and sewer company which serves Berkeley and Oakland. I’d come home early because I had caught the flu and wanted nothing more than hot soup, sympathy, a bed and a pillow.

Garry added to that watching the World Series. Baseball fanatic that he is, he never misses it, even when our team is not involved. He loves not just our team, but the game.

I was already in bed, propped up on pillows. The game started, then there was some kind of ruckus and then a picture of a bridge, one section collapsed.

I knew that bridge. I’d been driving across it, back and forth, then getting onto the 880 to Oakland from Berkeley.

“Hey,” I called, “Garry! The Bay Bridge is down!” He came in.

“You sure?” he asked.

“I’ve been taking that bridge every day for the past few weeks. I’d know it anywhere. What’s going on out there? Earthquake?”

This was CNN’s big moment, the event that put it on the media map because they were the first on the scene, the first with pictures. More information started to come in. The Bay Bridge had partially fallen. Worse, the upper level of route 880 had collapsed, trapping commuters in their cars underneath.

If I hadn’t gotten sick, if I hadn’t come back to Boston early, I would have been one of those commuters … or on the bridge.

That was a close one. Too close.


cold sun 8

The cold sun in the sky and afternoon shadows herald a chilly night. Snow coming soon.

I don’t get the sun’s rays or star by using a special filter. I use just a skylight filter to protect my lens and not on every lens, either. I can get the star effect by angling the camera when the sun is in front of me. I have to twiddle with the position of the camera until I see the star and then shoot. It’s not a special effect, just optics.



“Why did you take that picture?” I was startled. No one ever asked me before. Photographers instinctively know the answer; non-photographers don’t normally think to ask. It gave me pause.

To me, it’s obvious why any picture was taken: the photographer saw something. Light, shadow, image, color. Abstract or representational, something about the image appealed to the photographer’s inner eye.


I don’t need a reason to take a picture, though I may have one. I don’t take pictures of churches for religious reasons. I like the architecture or how the light plays on the steeple or reflects in the windows. If I think it will make an interesting composition, I’ll take pictures of my feet. I have taken pictures of my feet, with and without shoes.

new shoes

I think if anyone asks such a question, one of two things is true. The photographer has failed to convey his or her vision. Or the viewer doesn’t understand art or artists. Either way, it’s a failure to communicate. You can’t explain art. You get it or not. It speaks to you or not. No amount of studying will make art comprehensible if you don’t have a fundamental sympathy for it.


I know I’m going against the current mantra that “If you try hard enough, you can learn anything.” I don’t believe it applies to the arts or other things, such as sports. Or mathematics.

If you have no eye, no course will give you one. It would be like trying to cure color blindness. If you are tone-deaf, you won’t be a musician. No matter how many lessons you take or how many hours you practice. If you have no gift for putting words together, you will not be a writer. Not everyone is equally talented, even within the arts … but anyone earning a living in the arts has some talent. Some natural gift.

It’s cruel to tell kids they can be whatever they want merely by working harder. Because it’s not true. We should try to find out what our kids are good at and encourage them to go in directions in which they have some reasonable chance of success. Not everyone has talent for art … but everyone has a talent for something. The challenge is determining what it is.



In college, when you decided to do something, go somewhere, you didn’t pack, plan or even tell anyone where you were going or when you’d be back. The blessing of youth was, for a little while, you could be genuinely spontaneous.


As a senior citizen, I can still be spontaneous. But with some minor modifications. I need to take a few things with me I didn’t need in the good old days.

This is me and my best friend planning a spontaneous weekend getaway

She: “Hey, I’ve got a couple of freebies for a weekend at a really nice B&B in Freeport. We could go, shop and hang out. What do you say?”

Me: “Cool. Let’s do it.”

She: “I just need to pack a few things.”

Me: “Me too.”

She: “See you soon.”

My college packing list:

  1. Me
  2. A book to read.

My senior packing list:

  1. Medications (bring them all).
  2. Electric toothbrush and charger.
  3. Special toothpaste.
  4. Heating pad.
  5. Cell phone and charger.
  6. Kindle and charger.
  7. Computer, extension cord, etc.
  8. Computer bag.
  9. Auxiliary clip-on speaker.
  10. Two Olympus 4/3 cameras, 3 lenses, extra batteries, chargers, a couple of spare SD cards.
  11. Camera case.
  12. Tripod (compact).
  13. Compact superzoom camera (for purse).
  14. Prescription sunglasses.
  15. Prescription computer glasses.
  16. Other glasses.
  17. Inhaler. Other inhaler.
  18. Warm slippers.
  19. Bathrobe.
  20. My pillow.
  21. My driving pillow.
  22. Twice as much underwear as I think I’ll need.
  23. Jeans.
  24. Stretch pants in case the jeans feel tight.
  25. Hoodie.
  26. Sweater.
  27. Another sweater.
  28. Two tee shirts.
  29. Two night gowns.
  30. Some jewelry. More jewelry. Extra earrings. Another pair of earrings.
  31. Makeup even though I won’t use it.
  32. Hair brush and comb.
  33. Shampoo and conditioner.
  34. Body lotion.
  35. Protein bars.
  36. Power zero.
  37. My special coffee cup to keep my coffee perfect.
  38. My special other cup that can’t spill and destroy my laptop.
  39. Headphones.
  40. A few DVDs in case there’s nothing on TV.
  41. Rain jacket.
  42. Other jacket.
  43. Extra pair of comfortable shoes.
  44. Nicer pair of shoes.
  45. Warm Socks.
  46. Knee high nylons to wear with nice shoes.
  47. A few tee shirts. Another tee-shirt — black because it goes with everything.
  48. A skirt (you never know)
  49. Attractive sweater to go with the skirt. Just in case.
  50. Money, credit cards, check book.

Worst of all, I know I’m forgetting something.