Thursday, November 27, 2014

Almost Distracted by the Siren Call of 4 Wonen Hammering the Trails in Full Cyclocross kits - Thanksgiving Count is Big This Year is 83

Regular readers, well, if there were regular posts there might be regular readers, of this blog know that every that every Thanksgiving, I run my traditional route through the Park. Along the way, not sure when I started this, I count the number of homeless folk spread out along the way.  This is a very imprecise measure of how well we are doing as a society; how we treat those less fortunate than us. 

At a time when many families are sucking down more consumables than humanly possible as if it were a contest to see who falls into a food coma in front of the [enormous screen television displaying any old] football game first, the number is indicative of how good or bad things might be on the streets.  Think about it this way, if we could some how gather together all the leftovers, how many folks would we be able to feed and how long?  Is there another way forward to fix the homeless situation? Who was it that said, "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result..."

What's different this year is that I totally didn't see a single Hells Angel along Haight Street. They have typically gathered (dozens of Harley Davidsons packed into a row in front of the same cafe)  for many years, seemingly celebrating the holiday by going for a ride on a beautiful day.  This is too bad, as I had resolved to stop this year and ask one of them what the tradition was. I was secretly hoping that they would explain that they did the ride every year to raise money to build homes for homeless vets. Alas, no luck.  There weren't any Hells Angels to ask a blessed thing.

What I did find, after spotting four homeless along the panhandle was a large number of people out exercising - running, riding, rollerskating.  As soon as I entered into the wood, there were zero homeless in a typical place that I usually notice a few folks tucked under the brush in sleeping bags.

Along the narrow trail to the knoll, I spot a lead rider in full flashy cycling kit coming out of a tributary and onto my trail. She said, "Runner up." When I got a better glimpse, turns out there were three riders tucked behind her all on Cyclocross bikes.  All four tricked out in full sponsored kits of some kind or another.  I stood aside and waved them through, "Cyclocross Rules, ATMO!"  They said thank you; I'm sure appreciative of not having some runner disrupt their rhythm by clogging up the single track.

At that point, I had reached a count of 6 homeless, and four female cyclocross riders. I thought, maybe this is the year that the system cracked the problem and found a solution to eliminate almost all the homeless.  "Wouldn't it be great to report that I had seen more Cross riders and cyclists than homeless?"

No such luck.  The first real clump of homeless were sleeping on Hippie Hill, near the tennis courts, then along the hill North of the Sharon Building.  The numbers started ratcheting up.  Then I hit Haight Street, and that seems to be where the vast majority of the homeless were coagulating this year.

This year, in front of Haight Street Music, there was a clump of folks singing a son, complete with guitars and laughter, and dogs.   The last cluster of homeless were gathered under an oak tree at the edge of Beuna Vista - about 13 or 14 folks.  At least one of them was cleaning up the camp.

In the end, I spotted 83 homeless people.  The distracting siren call of Cross riders a faint memory.

Blog on

Saturday, April 05, 2014

After the Fracture (a supposed song I wrote a long time ago)

I'd like to sing this song
But you're not here with me
Don't know what to do
But it might be destiny

How do I get you closer
To play with me?
It don't sound so good
With out you in proximity


I'm not living without you
I'm not breathing without you
I'm not loving without you

Doesn't feel so good
Hugging my pillow
And its really cold
Never feels all that good
Without you in the neighborhood

How could we be so wrong
Together its a mystery
Now and forever
We are history


And this song will end
A lousy facsimile
Of what we had once
Or is it a faded memory

Really, I don't need you
Picking myself up
And walking through that door


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Experience: An Anthology - Original Works by Aaron Anderson copyrighted June 1992

I'm pretty sure that if there was such a thing as blogging back in 1992, I would have put these poems on line some where. Found these going back through an old box this afternoon. Best for sharing by making them electronic.

Bear in mind, I was a lot younger then (we all were, of course). But this should get you a sense of what I was writing back then.

I'm pretty sure that if there was such a thing as blogging back in 1992, I would have put these poems on line some where. Found these going back through an old box this afternoon. Best for sharing by making them electronic.

Bear in mind, I was a lot younger then. But this should get you a sense of what I was thinking back then.


An Anthology

Original works by Aaron Anderson

Distinct Class

An Errant class
Distinction and promise
Of the American Dream
Shove you and me and me you
Vice versa against the glass
Struggling 'til our own demise
Dividing us along the very seam
A chasm we'd all like to cross

Moving on Up

Drive that Mercedes
And I my Escort
Vacation in exotic destinations
And I budget the local resort
And a Motel 6
May not a Radisson or Regency be
Extol your pleasure
As best you may
For I and my Escort will
Shortly be by your way.

Wake up Call

And you say you disagree
You don't know where to stand
That you can never identify
and why even try
But this cause you can't ignore
We're comin' in your back door
Not a safe place to hide
From the fire that burns inside
Understand this oppressor, We
Never, never, never give up the fight
Four cops Went Free and Los Angeles Went Up in Smoke

Written for Deb Foster

In making Solace
Or peace of mind
Tranquil streams
And placid time
The heart is true
Only if you
Stand your ground
And draw the line 


Pestilence or sorrow
Weighing heavy on your brow?
The pain of oppression
Cleaving fractures in your opinion?
There is a solution
Clouded in pollution,
Not abated, waiting for a clear day
Or activism and restimulation
Of individual dedication
To rectification of vilification
Making what's wrong right
Never give up...never give up the fight. 

Tempus Fugit

And Time Marches to a Cadence
All its Own
Leaving us Spinning
Wondering Where it Went
Stop and Think.
Our Past is What Makes Us
Last year, we lost over 100,000 Iraqi and 150 U.S. Lives.


The stimulus warrants
Responses internal
Beyond control, but containable
A toxic waste
Of mind and soul
Realities and legalities
Restrain your goals
Choice, free, do!
Reactions are entirely you


A man of quality
is not threatened by
a woman seeking equality

Veterans Day

Standing here along the road
To 'Nam or Saudi it's off I go
Crush my innocence before its time
How to recapture the youth that was mine
Of all things hard to relate
It's the blood of a buddy's
Fate spilling before my face
So it's home for this old Joe
And it's alone I go.

Written for Rey Guerrero

'Tis not that Life is
Swift for some
and not others, but
Enriched by the people

Autumn's Charm

Leaves Falling
Tapestry Forming
Frost Crisping
Breath Misting

The Cycle

Aspirations of water and time
Mixed in discovery and exploration
Define life's mysteries
And to what end
Only to redefine
Life's mysteries

As a parcel of sustenance
And a seeming lack of substance
Time and tide wait for no one

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget
The horror of violence
The cycle of hatred
Anger focused on others
And slighted persons of many colors

Lest we forget
The antiquated system
Dictates violent solutions
To age old problems
And institutionalized subjugation

Lest we forget
We join in the system
Every day another is born
We grow weary of oppressing
And yet complain of reverse discrimination

Lest we forget
The wars waged
The black men beaten
The money spent for law enforcement
And wonder what happened to education

Lest we forget
The decline of the family
The embracement of mediocrity
Or the decline of employment
And blame the media and lack of moral majority

Lest we forget
The cash donate for political campaigns
The credibility of our stars and politicians
Or the crisis of a promise broken
And concern grows for the children and their indoctrination

Lest we forget
These are our lives
That we chose to live
In silence and complicity
And at the very least we forget.

Written for Jenn Guttler

It it's in song
Or in the soul
One follow the other
Reaching beyond bounds
And walls planted
Or broken down
Singularly challenged
Soul and song
Coupled indefeatable

Written for Emily Lino

As the flower
Begun as a gift
Becomes your own
Blooms and goes
Think how brief
Plant a seed
Love and Nurture
And the flower
Often Blooms

Written for Enrique Diaz

Sway in the breeze
Bend in the torrent
Steadfast in the daylight
Notice the tree
Rooted in a forest
A sea of individuality
For not the woods
But the branches
Make the mountains majestic

Written for Lisa Root

Ah, the wings of education
Filled by the winds of knowledge
Causing a soul to grow
Toward higher goals
Fly, and fly far
And may the winds
Carry you beyond
Your wildest dreams


And in the end
as do all good things
toward new beginnings
and re-invention of dreams
ensure memories are shelved
As this chapter closes
with well worn seams

Thursday, November 28, 2013

This Thanksgiving it was 48 & a Couple Dozen Hells Angels

This morning's Thanksgiving run started a beautiful morning. Near 8 AM and the sunny temps just a smidge above 50 degrees.  The route; the usual. The mission: to informally assess the state of the homeless situation & see if there are any improvements by running about Golden Gate park and counting. Turns out, not so much.  This is a non-scientific assessment, but from my view it seems like the solutions to the homeless situation appear to be as static as the population. Can we expect to get a different result by doing the same things over and over again?

As it seems it has happened post "Care-not-cash," it seemed like the bulk of the Park was devoid of homeless folks. They tend to gravitate to the periphery, into the neighborhoods as well, and the lesser parks (like Buena Vista).   The first three folks I spied were camped out near the old firehouse on Oak, tucked into an approach to some one's garage. Looked like they had just gotten up as they were packing up their stuff, perhaps to move on.

The largest clump of homeless folks were, as in years past, at the intersection of Haight and Stanyan.  I'm sure I missed a few, as I tried to spy as many as I could, but there had to be about a dozen folks congregated just east of the frog pond.  I'm not sure what draws folks to that location, but it might be that there's a McDonalds across the street - of course, I'm assuming they are not shopping at the Whole Foods - also across the street on the north side of Haight. 

There is always a random assortment of folks wandering up and down Haight street. This year, I was serenaded by a homeless woman, who was singing just near the "Listen to this Wall" corner.  She was putting some energy into it.  Seemed happy.  I yelled "Sing it sister," as I ran by.  Not sure she took that the right way.

Round about Masonic, along Haight was the usual gaggle of about two dozen Hells Angels.  I'm guessing as I lost count trying to navigate and run through the throng of tattooed, tough looking, leather wearing men.

Anyway, that's the news that's fit to post:  The official count - 48 Homeless & about 2 dozen Hells Angels.  Improvements? You be the judge.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Duration of a Course is the Wrong Question When You Want To Measure The ROI of any given Pedagogy

Most of the time, the character limits on social media are a boon to creativity, but occasionally a post spurs a longer thought.  This is my response to this post on shortening the duration of course offerings

Pedagogically, I'm a fan of a traditional semester which allows ample time for complex ideas to steep in the brain. There's room for making mistakes & recovery in a safe environment and invention along the pathways to learning.  Even so, that doesn't mean we need to rigidly adhere to a formulaic structure for what can be construed as high quality teaching. Unfortunately - or fortunately - the debate as to what constitutes high quality teaching is old and unresolved even among professionals in the field. 

Really, delivery mode (or duration) isn't altogether important, whereas understanding how to prove maximized ROI (outcomes of learning) in any format is the trick.  I'm not sure counting numbers on any given MOOC via digital anaylitics applied in the back end - or even measurement of numbers of people who pass any given quiz or test in swift fashion - is going to suffice as proof whatever delivery mode works. 

The irksome portion of this conversations rests in the connection between teaching and learning.  That is, teaching can be fantastically optimized and superior, above all reproach, but learning hinges completely on the learner doing the learning.  Simply put, you could be the greatest teacher since Euclid drawing diagrams in the sand, but if a learner/student is disinclined to learn, your ROI can still be zero.

As one wise man once said - not sure whom - "Education in advance of need, is folly," which may ultimately be the downfall of modern prerequisites, unless of course, it is the learner who understands the need to master whatever subject to achieve her or his own aims.  Perhaps we should reset the whole conversation in terms of the separation between "wants" and "needs" and roll from there.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

73 as far as the eye can see: Annual Thanksgiving run and homelessness count

This morning was a brilliant day for running.  Just a smidge above 50 degrees. Sun shining, and what seemed like an endless stream of other runners out putting on the miles earning the calories they will ingest later in the day.

As always, I did the same route I have done just about every Thanksgiving I've trod for I can't remember how many years when I started this annual tradition.  I was hoping for the best.  Perhaps this would be the Thanksgiving where there would be a count of zero.  For the first mile, this was my result. I was optimistic.  As I moved from the panhandle into the main segment of our park, my hopes were dashed.  Lo and behold, the first three folks were located near the basketball hoops adjacent to the public restrooms, and then I saw two more ambling toward the other three.

When I first started doing this count, there used to be larger numbers of people located inside the main part of Golden Gate Park. Now, it seems the bulk of the homeless hang out around the outskirts or the nearby business districts.  Today was no different.  The City has done a fine job discouraging people from camping in the usual locations in the park.  And to prove that point, I only saw one other person inside the main park.  I did find evidence of others out there, but true to the count, I only count visible heads, not tents, shopping carts full of a person's worldly possessions, bed rolls, etc..

It wasn't until I got to the edge of the Park underneath the bridge toward the intersection of Stanyan & Haight Streets that I saw a bolus of folks flocked together across the street from the McDonalds.  The number ran up real fast from there.  At least two dozen people were congregated in this area, and the remainder of people were easy to count as they tended to gravitate to the sunny north side of Haight Street, basking in the warmth, splayed out with their belongings, never mind the sit lie law recently enacted.

And so, all told, with the one person spotted inside of Buena Vista Park, I counted roughly 73 homeless people on my run this morning.  This is a conservative estimate. I'm sure there were more out there, but with the 30-40 minutes I was out on my run this morning, those are the one's I spotted.

As to if this is an improvement over years past, I get the sense the answer is no.  It seems like there were a lot more folks out there this morning.  The shift out of the park to the periphery seems to have been cemented, but alas on this day of Thanksgiving, while many over stuff themselves on football and turkey, I'm reminded once again that there are those less fortunate. That there is work to do.

And, no matter the political vagaries of our fair city, where three bedroom homes are nearly never vacated, and two bedroom homes go for upwards of over a million dollars, and yet there are foreclosed vacant properties, I'm left still wondering why the collective we cannot solve this particular problem.  Perhaps we need an open sourced hackathon to corner the source of the problem, identify the barriers to fixing them, and begin removing them and solving it for the sake of the betterment of the whole. After all, isn't our it a measure of the quality of our society measurable by the way we treat those foundering at our lowest rungs?

As we stuff ourselves silly, and give thanks for the gifts we do have, I suggest we turn our thoughts away from what divides us, and make a resolution to come together and figure this out.  After all, we put more than man on the moon and more than one rover on Mars.  Solving the homeless problem can't be nearly as complicated to fix, no?  If we move together, and stop spending unfathomable millions of dollars on political campaigns and instead use those valuable resources toward more positive ends,  perhaps the next time I write this report, things will have improved.

Until next year...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Press Release: Parents Urge Californians to Protect Public Education And Vote "Yes on Prop 30 & Yes on Prop 38!"


Press Release:

Parents Urge Californians to Protect Public Education And Vote "Yes on Prop 30 & Yes on Prop 38!"

Educate Our State, a parent-led grassroots education advocacy group, mobilizes its 45,000 supporters in order to protect education funding on the November ballot. The group is endorsing both Prop 30 and Prop 38.

San Francisco, CA, September 12, 2012: On behalf of the more than six million California public school children, Educate Our State is organizing parents and supporters to vote for education this fall and restore K-12 funds to the state budget.  Educate Our State is urging a Yes for Education! vote on November’s two education ballot initiatives: the Governor’s Proposition 30 and the Advancement Project/PTA’s Proposition 38.  In order to prevent a split vote, and to ensure that one of these measures - which will restore education funding - will pass, Educate Our State is asking Californians to vote Yes on 30 and Yes on 38.  To get out the vote, Educate Our State’s 45,000 supporters are organizing voter pledge drives and voter registration drives in time for the November election.  

“It is ludicrous that these campaigns are being considered a competition.  There is no question that what is best for kids - preschoolers to college students - is for both initiatives to pass!” said Crystal Brown, co-founder and Board President of Educate Our State. “Without the funding provided by these initiatives, schools will face cuts of nearly 20,000 teachers, a shorter school year, larger class sizes and elimination of all or nearly all enrichment programs.” California already lags behind all but a few states with respect to funding (lower than 43rd), standardized test scores (math 43rd and reading 46th; NAEP 4th Grade 2009), and staff to student ratios (50th, NCES Common Core of Data, 2007-2008). For a synopsis of these propositions produced by Educate Our State, please click here.

“Educate Our State parent leaders, from one end of California to the other, will be mobilizing voters to ensure they are prepared and committed to voting for education this November,” said Annie Bauccio, co-founder of Educate Our State, and campaign coordinator. Educate Our State, along with many other organizations, demanded the legislature protect education in this year’s budget.  Instead they passed a budget that leaves the security of education funding dependent upon the results of this election.  “We can no longer allow political bickering to stand in the way of what is best for California’s future.  Parents are going to do everything in their power to ensure the vote comes out in support of education this year,” said Teri Levy, co-founder and Los Angeles leader.

For more information about the campaign, “Yes for Education!”, as well as pledge events scheduled in specific areas, please visit Educate Our State can also be found on Facebook at and can be followed on Twitter at #yes4ed or #educateourstate.

Educate our State is a grassroots, parent-led, statewide campaign uniting the voices of Californians in support of high-quality, K-12 public education and to demand real, systemic change. We believe parents, together with community leaders, can organize, mobilize and put pressure on all stakeholders to work together and agree on fundamental changes that put our children’s achievement and success first. For more information visit:

Press Contacts: Crystal Brown (San Francisco) 
                         (415) 279-3920

                         Teri Levy (Los Angeles)
                         (323) 445-6641

                          Annie Bauccio (San Francisco)  
                         (415) 806-1085