Rants and Raves

It’s SJI’s open forum, where comments on any topic are welcome. What’s on your mind?


  1. Merc reports Frontier Airline will pull out of SJC in March, which would reportedly cost the airport (and the city) $2 million annually.  Further adding salt to the wound, Frontier will add flights to SFO.  Why couldn’t they wait for the billion dollar terminal to be completed in June?  You know, the one that’s going to attract more airlines and routes.  Just saying Blair.

    On another note, loved that GREEN shirt and GOLD tie Chuck Reed wore at the State of the City.  Bring on those San Jose A’s!

  2. The Sandpiper
    by Robert Peterson  
    She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.  She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. “Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. “I’m building,” she said. “I see that.  What is it?”  I asked, not really caring. Oh, I don’t know, I just like the feel of sand.“That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said. “It’s a what?” “It’s a joy.  My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.” 
    The bird went gliding down the beach.  Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on.  I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance “What’s your name?”  She wouldn’t give up. “Robert,” I answered.  “I’m Robert Peterson.”  “Mine’s Wendy… I’m six.”  “Hi, Wendy.” She giggled.  “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on.  Her musical giggle followed me.  “Come again, Mr. P,” she called.  “We’ll have another happy day..” 
    The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother.  The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater.  I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat. 
    The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me.  The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. “Hello, Mr.. P,” she said.  “Do you want to play?” 
    “What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.  “I don’t know.  You say.” “How about charades?”  I asked sarcastically.   
    The tinkling laughter burst forth again.  “I don’t know what that is.”   
    “Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. 
    “Where do you live?” I asked.“Over there.”  She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. “Where do you go to school?” “I don’t go to school..  Mommy says we’re on vacation” She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.  When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. 
    Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic.  I was in no
    mood to even greet Wendy.  I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt
    like demanding she keep her child at home. “Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.”  She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. 
    “Why?” she asked. I turned to her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child? “Oh,” she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.” “Yes,” I said, “and yesterday and the day before and—oh, go away!” “Did it hurt?” she inquired. “Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.  “When she died?”  “Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.  I strode off. A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there.. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door.  A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. “Hello,” I said, “I’m Robert Peterson I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.” “Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in.  Wendy spoke of you so much.  I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you.  If she was a nuisance, 
    please, accept my apologies.” “Not at all—! she’s a delightful child.”  I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said. “Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson.  She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.“Struck dumb, I groped for a chair.  I had to catch my breath. “She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no.  She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly…” Her voice faltered, “She left something for you, if only I can find it.  Could you wait a moment while I look?” 
      I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young
    woman.  She handed me a smeared envelope with “MR. P” printed in bold
    childish letters.  Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues—a yellow beach, 
    a blue sea, and a brown bird.  Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY. 
      Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love
    opened wide..  I took Wendy’s mother in my arms.  “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, 
    I’m so sorry,” I uttered over and over, and we wept together.  The precious little
    picture is framed now and hangs in my study.  Six words—one for each year of her life—that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand—who taught me the gift of love. 
    NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson.  It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever.
        I wish for you, a sandpiper.

    • Although it does not diminish the sweetness of this story, Snopes points out that there is no Robert Peterson and this story has been circulating online for more than 10 years. It is still a nice piece with a message we can all learn from though.

      Origins:  The story about a dying girl who leaves a drawing of a sandpiper for the grouch she’s befriended has been circulating on the Internet since 1997. Three different beach-walking grumps have been named as the one relating the account: Ruth Patterson, Ruth Peterson, and Robert Peterson.

      In 2003 this sad tale, which had previously ended with “A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand — who taught me the gift of love,” appeared with this coda tacked onto it:

      NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less. Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis. This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment…even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses. This comes from someone’s heart, and is shared with many and now I share it with you.

      There is no Robert Peterson. The actual author of the piece is Mary Sherman Hilbert. The full-length version of Hilbert’s story appeared in 1978 in a periodical produced by a religious order in Canada and was subsequently picked up by Reader’s Digest and offered in condensed form to its readership in 1980. In that shortened version, which went on to become the widely-forwarded piece now part of online culture, the beach walker is identified as Ruth Peterson and the child as Windy.

      The Reader’s Digest version is prefaced by the following author’s statement, one anyone seriously weighing the question of “Is it true?” should pay close attention to:
      Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that had happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took notes on what she said. Later, at a writer’s conference, the conversation came back to me, and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it.
      It needs to be noted that although the sandpiper tale is written in the first person, its author was not the one who had the encounter with the child; she is merely repeating a story she heard years earlier.

      The sandpiper tale attempts to impart two lessons. First, it instructs us not to let our own grief and suffering blind us to the travails of others. It does so through showing us what happened to someone who let his own funk impel him to act in an impatient manner with someone whose dire reality was unknown to him, leaving us to see how he was forever afterwards haunted by memories of his unthinking unkindness. Second, it uses the power of narrative to advise that even in the face of unfolding personal horror we should strive for all the “happy days” we can, as Wendy did.

      The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp

      • Thank Reader. I deeply appreciate your correction. I wonder why people do things like this. Why can’t they circulate the truth? Sad to think that I have to check out a poem, or story on snopes too. UGH~

      • Sometimes this trendy infatuation we have with “fact-checking” obscures the more important ideas which we are trying to convey. I’m not too concerned whether this story is true or not. It’s message is still a powerful one and remains undiminished whether the story is fictional or factual.
        Thanks for sharing it Kathleen.

        • Truthiness – a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or fact.

          This term was coined by Stephen Colbert to appropriately mock the very notions raised here.  I sincerely hope you’re both just making a statement about fiction versus non-fiction in literature.

          It would be very un-Randish, Mr. Galt, should this not be the case.

        • Ah, the power of the media and the skin deep musings of pop psychologists like Colbert for which impressionable Americans have developed such an appetite.
          So now we have a generation whose idea of wisdom is to deny the evidence of it’s own eyes and ears, to reject our God given gifts of intuition and judgement, and to confuse a collection of facts with the truth.
          Oh Brave New World, what hast thou wrought?

  3. We applaud TonyD’s enthusuasm and sincere effort to foster local pride.

    It is sad to discover several Nob Hill types have pledged well over 114,000 of San Franciso to defeat the stadium in Santa Clara.

    An email with the name of a San Francisco operative sent to McLeod, who is organizing opposition to the stadium, is be kept in the closet at McLeod’s directon.

    Bill Bailey, Santa Clara’s poltiical Mole Ma, continues to direct his poltical
    trolls under the bridge to pester and harass our council.

    • If nothing else, they’ll help the local economy in Santa Clara by funneling money from SF to local political activists who will try and fail to shape public opinion to fall in line with for-profit business interests.

    • By Dec. 31, 2009, the 49ers had spent $364,000 on the campaign to convince Santa Clarans to open their wallets. Only $645 of this amount came from actual Santa Clarans (0.2%).  In contrast, in 2009 $825 was raised by Santa Clara Plays Fair, a group of Santa Clarans (all volunteers) dedicated to keeping public funds for public needs.  There is no SF money pouring into Santa Clara, as James Rowen keeps saying.  James Rowen writes a blog in which he harasses online anyone who attends city council meetings and dares to stand up and speak out against giving public money for the stadium.  James Rowen is attempting to intimidate people into not attending city council meetings and not speaking out. That’s not a way to fairly conduct political discourse. It’s cyberbullying, and if James Rowen were in high school, he’d be hauled into the principal’s office for his conduct.

  4. Top 10 Problems in Silicon Valley-
    1) Economy
    2) Education System
    3) Traffic
    4) High Costs relative to comparable regions
    5) Balkanized political landscape
    6) Institutional Failure of Public Agencies/Govt
    7) Infrastructure deficit (water/power/sewage)
    8) Non-competitive political landscape (tyranny of majority, uniformity of world view and politics leads to lowest common denominator of everyone doing what everyone knows is best…)
    9) Limited open space access (parks more prevalent where wealthy live and public access the lowest.)
    10) Economic determinism (parents and family increasingly have more to do with your upward mobility than personal achievement)

    Top Strengths of Silicon Valley
    1) Good Weather
    2) Good Soil
    3) Good diversity (social, economic, cultural)
    4) Good labor pool (high concentration of talent)
    5) Good access to capital (investment)
    6) Good educational opportunity (for a price, within the failing system as a whole parents can cherry pick a good school or district and pay the premium to get children in or choose private schools.)
    7) Great location: access to Pacific Rim, ocean and mountains all easily.
    8) Not Los Angeles
    9) Not San Francisco (but occasionally entertain similar delusions, pretensions and smugness.)
    10) Growing population keeps area competitive even when other factors suggest it should be ranked lower.

    • Number One Problem in Silicon Valley:

      One party politics, a.k.a.,

      > 8) Non-competitive political landscape (tyranny of majority, uniformity of world view and politics leads to lowest common denominator of everyone doing what everyone knows is best…)

      Which results in . . .

      > 5) Balkanized political landscape
      > 6) Institutional Failure of Public Agencies/Govt
      > 1) [monoculture] Economy
      > 2) Education System

      And also . . .

      > 3) Good diversity (social, economic, cultural)

      . . . which is not a “strength” but really just another way of saying “balkanized politicl landscape”.

  5. The transit advocacy & watchdog group I run publishes its own newsletter to those without Internet access.  (Remember: not everyone in San Jose has a computer at home.) Get your copy at


    Please make as many copies of our newsletter and distribute to your friends, family, and the general public as you (legally) wish.

    This coming Thursday, we will have our meeting at the Center for Training & Careers at 749 Story Road in San Jose.  The agenda for our meeting, and directions for getting there, are at


    You can help promote our meeting by passing out our flyers by downloading and printing our single-page leaflet:


    Hope to see you at our meeting next Thursday in San Jose.

    You know VTA’s priorities are wrong when it had to run shuttle buses instead of light rail between Almaden and Ohlone-Chynoweth during the Friday morning rush hour. 

    KCBS exclusively reported that this was because three of the light rail operators called in sick…


    and that VTA didn’t have enough light rail operators to make up for the absences.  Perhaps if VTA were more focused on operations instead of expanding light rail or BART, it would have had the operators needed to cover for those who called in sick.

    (Minor note: you can follow our group on Twitter – @svtru – enjoy.)

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