The revolutionary art of asking questions

Aka.. the squeaky wheel gets the grief

I didn't wake up one day

And think - hey I want to fight the state of California.

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See my dad died. And less than two months later the great state of California threatened to close the parks he spent a lifetime saving - and my brothers life and my life too.

So yeah. I wasn't happy.

The timeline of my newfound activism is pretty easy - so I made this simple chart:

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I never intended to speak up

I've been a rebellious soul since I left the womb. Maybe even a rebellious piss at times.

I just didn't know asking questions would be so difficult for others to accomplish. Ok scratch that - asking questions is easy, apparently there were just too many people satisfied with the answers.

Yeah I wasn't.

If you look back up at the chart, you'll notice that in October, after nothing was changing with the parks, I was raising money as were many others, but still no one on 9th street in Sacramento was able to really say how much each park cost to run. If we're closing 70 parks due to an alleged $22 million shortfall, I reasoned, then lets divide that $22 million and see what we're really saving. That's all I asked.


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On the corner of I think 9th and L street in Sacramento, on the other side of the Capital from DPR, there's a quiet little state accounting office with about four people working in it. One morning in mid-October of 2011, I walk in.

Hello, I ask.

A woman begins walking around the corner.

I was wondering if you have an expense report or something just for state parks that are set to close? I say.

"We have an excel spreadsheet of all the 278 parks and their expenses, did you want it printed or emailed?"

Oh, I said.

I guess both?

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Less than two weeks later Assemblymembers Huffman and Dickinson hold a joint accountability hearing at the state capital, charging state parks with a flawed strategy regarding the closures and demanding an answer to the numbers that didn't add up.

Which numbers?

The numbers I emailed Jared Huffman's assistant Jenny Calloway two weeks earlier. Probably as I was pulled over off of I-80 somewhere around Loomis.

Covid-Tired, to the 19th power

I want to keep this short, I really do. I'm exhausted right now from debating people over numbers. My voice is hoarse. I look at a number and think we're doing well, getting back to life, etc.. then someone else says "how can you think that from those numbers..!??" I don't know I say. I'm just tired of telling you I'd rather live. And living is a big freaking risk last I checked.

But you're going to kill people.

Ok I say, what about texting while driving? What about 3,000 dead each month on an average year from auto fatalities? Are you angry about those deaths? What about my friend Brian driving me to the airport on the San Francisco Bay Bridge doing 110mph on a motorcycle just to tick me off? Could that activity kill people? Are you fighting motorcycles?

No Alden that's preposterous. This is a virus that spreads. You might not know the people you're killing.

Oh I say, like all the second hand smoke I inhaled as a kid in the 70's from people I didn't know?

Yeah they say - like that. Only you can't see it and we're not exactly sure how it spreads but we can stop this.

Oh I say like we outlawed smoking and allow vaping? Like we hand out pain killers that have turned addictive and led to an opioid epidemic? Like we handed out needles to help people "safely" inject themselves with heroin that has led to tourists tripping over needles in SF?

You're not listening to the science Alden.

Oh I say, how about the fact that only eight states are above the Rt factor count? And that we were told we'd reopen when we got below one. This science here?

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You're asking too many questions. Just wear your mask and be a good little citizen.

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As you wish.

Lastly I wonder what Johnny would say to those who are telling me to keep quiet?

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'Nuff said.