Just Shelley

Reflections on Still Water

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

When I worked at Stanford last year, I used to take the commuter train to work. It was a ride of about an hour each way and I always looked forward to it. Head phones on, favorite music playing, I would lay my head back against the seat and spend the time just staring out the window.

In the mornings, as the fog was beginning to dissipate, the train would pass a small inlet. This tiny body of water was really nothing more than a small finger of the Bay, crowded under a concrete freeway onramp and surrounded by the debris of half-built and abandoned buildings, homeless encampments, and a steel graveyard.

In this inlet was an old wooden row boat, anchored in the middle of the water and unreachable by shore. As far as I could tell, the boat never moved, was never used. It had all the appearance of something forgotten or abandoned.

It became a ritual for me to look for this boat every morning and I would stare through the windows with expectation until it came into view — weathered and old, covered in peeling and dusty paint, tethered by weed draped rope in the midst of water smooth as glass surrounded by society’s throw aways. I would crane my head around trying to keep it in view as we passed, regretting that the train couldn’t go more slowly.

Occasionally, other passengers seeing my actions would also crane their heads around to see what event could be drawing such intense attention. Seeing nothing, they would resume working on their computers or reading their newspapers.

It surprised me a little that others weren’t struck by the perfection of the boat. I expected that one day I would be craning to look at the boat and my eyes would meet with another person’s as he or she turned from viewing it; I imagined that we would smile, self-conciously, in the way two people who witness something beautiful at the same moment do. Sadly, this moment never occurred.

In more fanciful moments I would think to myself that the boat was my special secret and only I could see it. However, with another sip of coffee reality intruded and I knew that others saw the boat, they just didn’t see it the way I did. Out of all the people in the world, and all the images in the world, the perfect image formed itself for the one person most able to appreciate it.

I checked the location of the inlet and the boat and I know I can find it without being on the train. I’ve thought many times about grabbing my camera some foggy morning and trying to capture the image on film or disk. However, I know that no matter how much I try or what camera or film I use, I could never capture the boat as I see it.

And I’m rather glad I never tried because now the image will stay in my mind, wrapped in the softness of time — always perfect.


Different Viewpoints

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I read with respect Sargeant Stryker’s eloquent and extremely well thought out discussion about Doc Searl’s comment killing does not justify killing (a misrepresentation of Hanan Cohen’s Death does not justify death).

I may not agree with Stryker’s analysis and interpretation, but I can respect the effort and the interest as well as the careful consideration he gave.


Tim Tams

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I received a package with several different varieties of Tim Tams on Friday. I tried the praline ones and they are quite good, and very unique — I’ve not had anything like them here in the states. The chocolate coating is sweeter than most chocolate coatings used in this country, and the cookie had an unusual taste, almost as if it was made with a form of barley sugar. Crisp, too.

I’m glad I finally had a chance to try these. Thanks to the Australian delegation for sending me this gift.