April 18, 2021

Tesla, BMW & Corvette: My return to Silicon Valley

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 3:13 pm
Editor’s note:  Much to my absolute horror, I’ve just lost my red spiral notebook — the one where every single detail of my most recent visits to Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino are faithfully recorded.  “N-o-o-o-o!” I wailed.  It was almost like losing a child — or at least a brain-child.  So I have tried really hard to reconstruct my journey here as best as I can.
PS:  If you happen to find my red spiral notebook, pleeeze let me know.  But it’s okay if you read it first — it’s too full of hot gossip to resist.  I will understand.

March 15, 2021:
  The good news is that I just scored a one-day job in Palo Alto for next week.  Can’t turn that one down.  Not in these freaky days.  But the bad news is that I need to take six (6) different PCR tests before reporting for duty.  And every single test needs to be taken at a site that’s 39.7 miles away.  Will my poor sweet 1990 Toyota make it that far?  And back again too?  Seven different times?  I just can’t ask my little red car to be that stalwart.  Braveheart though my car is, I’m gonna have to take the train.
     First you take BART to Millbrae, then cross over the tracks, jump onto CalTrain, sit around in the parlor car for a half hour and then boom, you’re in Palo Alto.  Except wait — what!  CalTrain is leaving without me?  “Stop that train!” I screamed.  It didn’t even slow down.  That sucks eggs.  I’m gonna be late for my test.  Crap.  But, wait.  There’s a bus.  Going south.  Run, Jane, run!  “How long will this bus ride take?”
      “Just a couple of hours.”  I’m screwed.
     Chewing my nails.  Pacing the aisle.  How am I going to explain this to the boss?  Started thinking up excuses.  “The dog ate my homework.”  Sprinted to the test center.  They were just packing up.  “Wait for me-e-e!”  Whew.  Passed the test.  The train ride back was anti-climactic.  But I did get to read 50 pages in the latest Robert Galbraith novel — which is 900 pages long, BTW.
March 16, 2021:  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Caught the train on time.  Passed the test.  “Negative.”  Another 75 pages read.
March 17, 2021:  “Daddy, what’s a train?  Is it something you can ride?” I sang.  “Railroading on the great divide, nothing around me but Rockies and sky!”  Five or six more railroad songs later, 60 more pages read, another PCR negative report.  Enough is enough.  I’m driving down there tomorrow and getting a motel room.
March 18, 2021:  Yet another negative test.  Whoopee.  Now it’s time to go watch the Hallmark channel and eat take-out from Chipotle down the street.  Gotta love motel life.  This was a fabulous idea.

March 19, 2021:  Negative again.  What do you know.  Since the lock-down started 400 days ago, I’ve been to twenty different American cities, worked the census and worked the election — yet still can pass a PCR test.  Makes you think for a minute about just exactly how dangerous COVID actually might be, right?  And I haven’t even gotten the flu.
March 20, 2021:  Yet another negative PCR test.  This is stupid.  Weren’t we spozed to “flatten the curve in 14 days” — a year ago?  Big Pharma has once again proved for certain that most Americans were born under a turnip truck.  But I don’t care.  I gots a cute little motel room and they don’t.  Humph.
March 21, 2021:  Another day, another negative PCR test.  Finished my job.  It felt good to be working again if even just for one day.  Did I mention that I hate the lock-down too?  Watching small businesses be destroyed, children freaked out by eternal Halloween masks and teenagers swallowing drugs is just not my idea of fun.
     But you know what my idea of fun really is?  Going off to see my parents in the graveyard.  Telling them about my horrendous year of COVID.  Chatting to them when they’re not in a position to talk back!  On the drive home tomorrow, I’m going to stop by their cemetery and say hello.  And bring them some pie too.  What a good daughter I am.  Too bad it took me all this long to learn how.
     This evening at twilight, I drove around Palo Alto just because I could.  All this time I had been thinking that Berkeley had become a paradise for rich techies.  Boy was I wrong.  Palo Alto is the freaking mothership for rich techies.  Good grief, the whole place smells like money.  Even East Palo Alto is starting to turn like a sunflower toward the One Percent.  There’s a Porsche in every Palo Alto driveway almost and ads for ten-million-dollar-plus palaces take up pages and pages of the local weekly rag.
     But then I started asking myself, “Just how far can technology go, really?”  What is its end game?  Nothing but gadgets?  Chips inserted under our skin and inside our brains?  Don’t laugh!  It will happen.  And then what?  You can’t eat technology — and you can’t hug it either.  “Moderation in all things,” said Euripides, meaning in this case that there must be some middle ground between becoming android robots sitting in front of a monitor screen 24 hours a day or going back to being cavemen.
       Plus I truly do not understand how come the American Left is so fond of lock-downs and experimental injections and yellow-star passports.  The American Left valiantly protested against JFK lies, Vietnam lies, Jim Crow lies, Iraq lies, Watergate lies, etc. yet suddenly the American Left thinks that Big Pharma and the Davos Boyz are saintly corporate do-gooders incapable of telling a lie?  Will somebody please tell my how this is actually a thing?
March 22, 2021:  On my way to the graveyard in the mountains above San Mateo, I stopped by Filoli Gardens.  “Filoli stands for ‘Fight for what you want, love with great passion and live your life to the fullest,’ the motto of the guy who built this place.  Bet you wouldn’t see him cowering under the bed because of a virus with a 0.02% death rate.  Bet he’d be out there stealing from us just like the guys in Big Pharma do today!
     But the gardens were lovely.  And the house was spectacular.  Louis the Fourteenth, eat your heart out.  The butler even had a butler here.  And this was before Silicon Valley was even invented.
      Then a bizarre thing happened when I arrived at the cemetery.  I couldn’t find my parents’ graves.  What!  Had Mom and Pop suddenly gone zombie walkabout?  For two whole hours I tramped up and down that freaking hillside.  I’d been there dozens of times before and always found them right away.  Holy crap.  “Mom!  Pop!  Where are you?!?”  They weren’t particularly there for me when I was a kid because my father was a typical 1950s workaholic and my mother was all depressed by suburban life — but I had actually assumed that after they were dead, they would at least stay in one place!  Brokenhearted, I drove home in disgust.
April 9, 2021:  Suddenly I seem to be spending a whole bunch of time in Silicon Valley.  Back to Sunnyvale for another one-day gig.  Drove down this time.  Any excuse to spend time in inexpensive motels!  And this time my employers gave me an antigen test.  They used that instead of the old PCR one.  Negative again.  “You don’t have COVID now and you never had COVID,” is what this new test apparently means.  Fine with me.  Or maybe I’m just not trying hard enough?
April 10, 2021:  “Good job, Jane,” they told me at the job site.  Nice to be appreciated.  And the motel I stayed in had an actual swimming pool!  And it was heated!  But you had to make a reservation to swim in it and only one person could swim at a time.  But who cares!  It was the first time I’d been swimming in the past 389 days!  OMG, how much I have missed swimming!  And then I ate take-out from Taco Bell.  Life is good.
     My motel was three blocks away from the nearest Tesla dealership.  And I must have passed at least two BMW dealerships on the main drag.  Plus vintage Corvettes are as common here in Sunnyvale as Hondas are in Berkeley.  But they did have a Goodwill store here too.  I snagged some high-end sneakers.  Even the Goodwill is high-end around here.
April 11, 2021:  Treated myself to a trip to the legendary Winchester Mystery House.  Spooky.  What can I say?  Haunted by ghosts?  Apparently not.  But there are lots of creaking doors, cold spots and lights that flash on and off.  My electromagnetic field monitor went crazy.  Totally satisfying if you are into that sort of stuff.  Ghostbusters!  Well worth the trip.  Plus I also bought a refrigerator magnet in the gift shop.
April 12, 2021:  Time to go back to Berkeley.  Just one more task to accomplish on this side of the Bay — track down my missing parents!  Apparently they got back from their ghostly sabbatical just in time for my next visit.  First I found my mom’s grave, sat next to her, cried a bit and told her all about my year of living dangerously in times of COVID.  Then I found my pop’s grave and told him the whole story too.
     Both my mother and father lived through the 1930s Great Depression — and both of their families were poor as dirt even before that.  Pop’s father was an itinerant  migrant worker in California’s Central Valley and my mother’s mother was the economically-challenged wife of a dead wagon driver from Banning, trying to raise three fatherless kids out in a desert in SoCal.  Both of my parents worked their way through UCLA during that Great Depression and then my father served in the Pacific during World War II.

     I can’t even imagine either of my parents ever becoming terrified by a little virus with a 0.02% death rate.  Americans these days have gone soft.


Stop Wall Street and War Street (and Big Pharma) from destroying our world.   And while you’re at it, please buy my books.

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