Tuesday, May 31, 2005
This is not a slight against anyone, and there are people whose emails I do anxiously look forward to getting. What makes this email so much more anticipated, is that for the first time in my life I think I actually held a person's life in my hands; and failed. The email I'm desperate to get is the one that will let me know that despite the failure on my part, he's ok.
Details I can not supply on here. That would be bad for everyone involved. Some generalities can be tossed out, and I'll do that now. My conscious could use some venting.
Movies are made in a seemingly endless supply in Hollywood. I can't be the only one who has watched a movie about a foreign country (or even our own) and has walked out with the thought that the repressive or sadistic or sinister action perpetrated against the 'good guy' is something that doesn't happen anymore; maybe it used to, not any more. This encounter shattered that illusion.
The bottom line is that I met someone who was fleeing from a place where he had been subjected to some horrible things for no valid reason. Conditions in his country are bad to begin with, and what happened to him was the last straw so he fled.
I spent a few days in the town where I met him, and we sat together and chatted a few times. Never in my life have I seen such terror in a person's eyes. His paranoia (more than justified) kept him constantly skittish and on edge. The cultural behavioural norms with which he'd grown up were falling away one by one in desperate attempts to stay alive and get to safety. He is the loneliest person I've ever met.
The night before I left town, I went to his hotel to see him. It took a hell of an effort to not cry in front of him (the last thing I wanted to do was to worsen his state of mind). Books talk about people being at the end of their rope, people being on the verge of doing something rash out of desperation, people with no hope left. That was him. I tried to tell him that everything would be ok (though in reality I didn't believe me either), and felt like the naive and sheltered foreigner that I was. We parted ways that night; he went to one part of town and try to get what he needed while I went to the popular foreigner's bar and tried to do my part, to no avail.
I'd promised to meet him the next morning before getting on the bus out of town, and when I got to his room he looked less miserable than I'd seen him yet. An alternative solution to his problem was quite possible, though he needed some 'help' to make it happen. That help could have come from me, but it didn't.
I have my excuses, of course: I'd have to skip my bus (ticket was already paid for); I was tired and feeling sub-par from staying up way too late and drinking a little too much BeerLao the night before so thinking was tough, and making decisions even tougher; I still had a lingering doubts that this might be a scam.
Wishing him luck, I ran and caught the bus.
A friend told me that it was ok, that I'd done way more to help this guy than anyone else. Maybe so. But so what? I still left him stranded. I still very much doubt it was a scam, but that nagging untrusting hesitation was enough to cloud my judgment.
Not a day has gone by that he hasn't crossed my mind. I'll probably never know what happened, but I continue to wait for that email, letting me know that everything is ok.
Shitty things happen to people everyday. I had a chance to help someone truly in need and failed. This is not a plea for sympathy or encouraging words. I just needed to vent a little.
Monday, May 30, 2005
I didn't barbeque to celebrate. Instead I cooked myself. Isn't it amazing how a sunburn seems to intensify even after you've removed yourself from the sun? I'm pink as a newborn baby! Is that cliche true? My orbs ain't been witness to many newborns
More Uzbek news. Another crackdown and 'detention' of people planning a protest in Tashkent, the capital. Though the recent issues are blamed on Islamic terrorists, the recent detainees are not of that ilk. Hm.
In another article, the director for Human Rights Watch's Central Asian Division said that the US has a "schizophrenic policy", towards Uzbekistan. Hehe. That's funny, but not funny at the same time. We are for human rights, but you get a pass for letting us park planes in your lots. I don't know...
However, the issue has been resolved. I am going to the beach. B gets back Tuesday and if that is the wrong choice, I'll make up the hours. But who am I to work thru a holiday? It seems anti-American or something.
Check ya later. Time for sleepy sleepy
Now that that's taken care of, let's get on to my tale of last night (Saturday night).
Most of Saturday was spent debating back and forth with myself as to whether or not I felt up to heading into town. Going into town would be all or nothing, as I would have no place to sleep and no way to get home. An adventure, if you will.
Taking the advice of my little sis, whose theory is to look at what you fear most and then go do it. Heading into town is by no means my biggest fear in life, but I thought it best to ignore my hesitations and get 'r dun! My little backpack was filled with a warm shirt, socks, a book, water and a banana and headlamp. My feet floundered me up to the road, and eventually I got a ride all the way into town. Slick as butter!
Walking thru town, I made cursory glances at the small beaches in town, trying to find an adequate spot to set up camp later that night. Feeling confident that something would turn up, I stopped looking. Since the sun still had a couple hours left of work time, I felt it premature to head to Lulu's (the bar I'd gone to the night before, and weekend before. My thought is that if I frequent the same place, eventually someone will remember me), so I stopped and had a mocha while reading. Then a sammich, while reading. The sun went down, the rain came out and then left again, I didn't move.
Finally my flattened butt got up and I headed down to the bar. It was early enough so that the place wasn't packed and I could take my pick of seats at the bar and strike up non-yelling conversations. My plan worked perfectly! For an hour or so I talked with a big dude who'd been in the military, is based in Fort Wayne, IN, loves the Metro (music venue in Chicago) and couldn't say enough good things about Delilah's (bar next door to the Metro). When he discovered that I like PBR, he insisted on buying me one. Not a bad deal-he'd bought the beer I was drinking at the time, and the PBR came up after he'd left.
It was a fun night. People are very friendly and it's a great atmosphere. New friends I could count on at least one hand, and I was getting the people-time for which I'd been yearning. Around 1:30AM I had my fill and weaved thru the dancing folk and out into the night.
Before finding a place to sleep, I meandered around town for a while. The moon was out and away from the bar area it was nice and quiet. Nothing interesting happened on my walk. Well, maybe one thing. A guy in a minivan pulled up and rolled down his window. I stopped walking but didn't approach the vehicle because I'm not supposed to get rides from strangers unless they know the secret word (um...). His offers weren't very clear; he was offering to take me to either hookers or drugs or both. I declined; my laughing didn't seem to offend him.
Finally, it was time. My place of refuge was a small beach/park, maybe 50 yards long. It was sorta crowded with people doing...stuff. I'm not sure what. Clambering over the low rock wall I laid down next to the wall (so as to appear to not be there to anyone passing by on the street) and let the others do their thing. Sleep came quickly, and before I knew it the sun was up and so was I.
I slept well, but not very long. My original plan had been to hit the larger beaches today and hang out. Upon arising I decided that getting back to my bed for some real sleep was a better idea. By 7:15AM I was under the covers and rapidly drifting off to sleep.
A fun night, to be sure. I'll have to do it again sometime soon.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Also, I liked how in the scene showing how Vader came to be how he was (physically), Obi Wan finally shed that almost snotty way about him and cut loose and showed some emotion.
I've heard people complain that the acting wasn't all that great and that the dialogue could have been better. Neither was bad, I thought (That dude playing Vader definitely had that "I'm pissed off and am powerful enough to take a sh*t on your head if I wanted to, and in fact I think I will" look down pat. Very cool, esp with the eye highlights). Besides, Lucas was simply remaining true to the original 3 movies-the acting wasn't all that great in those movies either.
And yes, Darth Vader is dressed all in black and has a black man's voice (THE voice. JEJ is awesome), but is a pasty white boy underneath. Of COURSE the Emperor retrofitted a new voice for AS/DV. Skywalker's simpering whiny voice isn't nearly as intimidating.
Why couldn't Jar-Jar Binks have been killed? It could have been a random act of violence, I don't care. Annoying character (replaced in the latter/earlier movies by C-3PO, who at least served a true purpose. Or did he?), Lucas could have done us the favor of terminiating him.
A cameo by Billy Dee Williams would have been awesome.
It's great that the original actors for Chewie, both droids, and Yoda were in this flick as well.
A planet full of Wookies? Awesome. Chewie still looked wooden and dorky, esp in comparison to his planet-mates.
Natalie Portman is...rather attractive. And speaking of attractive women, did anyone notice the scantily clad women folk prancing around in that movie? Hell, even one of the Jedis had cleavage busting out.
Yoda's new teachings for Obi Wan? Rad.
My brain is not working at all today. Maybe I'll try this review again later after some more caffeine.
I really should take it easy on him. After all, it's not his fault that my situation is what it is. Granted, he could make it easier on me, but that's not his job. He isn't here on a mission to make Corey happy. I'm the only one who can take care of that. Time for me to suck it up and quit passing the blame, and take matters into my own hands!
Whew! That was exciting.
How am I going to start my new fun? Well, some more coffee first of all (it's free!); maybe some GRE studying (to get that sense of accomplishment) and toilet cleaning. Then, off to the beach!
Getting a ticket for the movie was no problem, and I found myself with about an hour until the commercials/previews began. So I wandered the strip mall, checking things out. Got me a mountain dew and shampoo from the drugstore, then realized that in this strip mall they have a Hawaiian show every Friday night. Around the bend at the far end of the mall I heard music and considered walking over.
As I pondered this move, I realized that there was hesitation and a desire to vanish in the back of my mind. What? Making this worse, I recalled my last days/weeks in Asia. Despite the cultural differences and language barriers, I couldn't have felt more comfortable wandering around, and my last couple days in Bangkok I felt as though I owned the place. Now here I am, back in the US, in a culture I grew up in and a language I profess to speak with fluency. Perhaps it's the isolation (I still am sometimes surprised at the ability to communicate easily with the people here. I really need to get out more) and the lack of any contact these days. Whatever the reason, it pissed me off. Which prompted me to go over to the show and check it out. And prompted me to head to Lu-Lu's (a bar in Kailua-Kona) after the movie and be around people even though I would have been content going home and hitting the sack.
More on the movie later.
Yes, I did go to a bar after the movie. It wasn't too crowded when I got there, but a dj was spinning tunes (loudly of course). I managed to get a seat at the bar where I watched the Red Sox blow a lead to the damn Yankees. Eventually some Hawaiian dudes (older) showed up and one of them sat next to me. I swear they knew everyone in the place, but they were great. Lester began chatting me up and we talked for quite a while. He and his brother bought me a beer and introduced me to everyone that filtered thru. Quite a riot. However, there was almost an issue. Two girls standing behind me made my acquaintance; one girl said something to her friend about going to dance with me. I laughingly deferred proclaiming myself not a dancer. Hehe, giggle giggle. I turned back around, talking to Lester, and Girl #1 (G1) kinda tickled my belly from behind (she was rather drunk). Ha ha, fun and games, good times. Well, she pushed in next to me at the bar and ordered a drink. Meanwhile, I became amused at the songs the dj was putting out and looked at him, laughing a little. G1 started getting angry, asking what I was laughing at, she knew, yadda yadda. Over the next little while she made a few other comments to me (even one into Lester's ear), acting all mad. Ah, some of us are good at getting into trouble even without doing anything! My only concern was her size-not fat, just taller and broader than me. And drunk. It's ok though, I escaped without injury.
Around 12 I made my leave (the place was now really filling up); I'd somehow made a girl angry, I understood only half of what Lester said to me, and several times I stumbled and mumbled when addressed unexpectedly. Ah well. It wasn't a bad reintroduction to society. And I made a couple new friends, if they remember me in the morning.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Yesterday I ask the Mute if he has any planned trips to the Post Office or back towards town because I need to go and maybe stop at the grocery as well. I ask this, because since we are out in the boonies, you plan to do as many things as possible when heading into town. He said no, nothing planned.
It's 10 minutes to 8AM right now. I grabbed my coffee and came down here to check my email and look out over the ocean. Guess what? The f*ckwit isn't here! Seems he took the truck and headed off...somewhere. Unreal. I'm a little hacked off, to say the least. Maybe I won't see if he wants to check out the Star Wars movie; I'll just take the truck and go. Ya know, I've had thoughts that the fellow is pretty self-absorbed and doesn't exactly consider those around him, but figured I was just frustrated at his mutedness. My initial impression may be correct.
What the sh*t? While it's true I don't get up at 6AM like he does (nor do I go to sleep at 9PM, like he does), but he coulda waited a bit until he saw me moving about before heading off to do whatever it is he'd doing.
So it goes. I was going to head over to the post office around 10ish. Maybe I'll wait, but if the library is open early (I have more books to pick up!), I'll take the keys when he gets back and run my errands then. And I'll take the recycling so that I can claim it's a work trip.
At least it's Friday. Now if I could only figure out if we get Monday off like the rest of this country....
Seriously, I am losing my mind.
Tonight was quite the romantic night. Pasta and garlic bread and wine were the mood setting meal, and a nice movie (The Longest Yard-Burt Reynold's version) got us going. Oh wait. There was no 'us'. It was only me. Not so romantic when you're the only party involved (well, I guess it could be, but we won't go down that road).
Let's just say that I laughed a lot during the movie. Not always at the movie. Occasionally I was overcome with uncontrollable giggling.
If you've seen the original "The Shining", do you remember Jack Nicholson pushing his manic mug thru an axe-chopped door and yelling: "Here's Johnny"? (I may have blogged this already. I forget) That is how I feel, and it's getting worse.
Today I danced around the farm to country music with the weed whacker. Tomorrow I am requisitioning the truck to hit a few places, the last of which will be a movie theater to see the last installment of star wars.
The mute is getting worse, and I talk to myself. A lot. I am not a hermitic person by nature. This forced seclusion might be taking its toll.
But it's ok. Tomorrow I'll hit the 7pm movie, and ask the Mute if he wants to go (with my luck, he'll damn say yes). After the movie, assuming I'm alone, I'm going into town and seeing some of the night life. Maybe I shouldn't even ask the Mute?
What the hoo-hoo?!?!
Definitely, I am losing it.
Don't cry for me Argentina!
So Monday is a holiday. Do I get the day off? The owners aren't here, and I am afraid that if I ask the mute this question I'll be answered with either scornful comments about the US or I will get no response. What to do, what to do.
Yes, I know, there is no puity for me. BUT, I am in isolation! Involuntary with relief not that far away!
Giggling maniacally, almost uncontrollably, is not a good sign, yeah? At least we have Ramen.
F*ck 'em. That's not just the wine talking. It's been a joy not seeing the bastards for months.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
A list began to compile in my brain, and I had to specify the type of reality tv I was going to use in my comparison. While American Idol, Survivor, and the Bachelor(ette) series could not be relegated into obscurity fast enough for me, I decided to focus more on shows like Temptation Island (which I don't think has been repeated for a while?), the Swan and the Make Me Look Like a Celebrity/My Parents are Complete Imbiciles for Going Along with This Insanity.
Here's what I came up with (actually, I bored of the game rather quickly. Mutilating weeds was a lot more fun than thinking about these shows):
Mosquitoes suck your blood
Reality tv sucks your intelligence
M's can be killed easily without retribution
RTV won't seem to die, and an assassination attempts would be met with police action/lynching
Ms can cause malaria, dengue fever, and other assorted illnesses
RTV causes brain/self-esteem atrophy
M bites itch for a short time (usually), and then fade away and are forgotten
RTV won't die!! Make it stop!
To me, many of these reality tv shows are a way to live vicariously through someone else. To let someone else take a chance that seems to risky in the 'real world' (because let's be honest. How many reality shows are that real? The 'Real World'? Yeah right) has become the new craze and helps to maintain docility in the masses.
I would like someone to give me a reason that reality tv is good. What positive benefit does it provide to us, aside from 30-60 minutes of brain-free time? The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, even car shows provide information and attempt to stimulate brain activity. What does American Idol do? It provides us a chance to get out and VOTE and make a difference (if only our governmental elections held such appeal. I doubt the draw/participation is at the same level. Maybe it is, but I doubt it.); it allows us to take part in another popularity contest.
Most fads die out pretty quickly. Why has this one (the RTV, not mosquitoes.) not followed The Courtship of Eddie's Father into the place that time forgot?
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Obviously, she was greeted with outrage by US citizens. Depsite the protection of free speech in the Constitution, some people just can't handle criticism pointed at their own country (not endemic to the US). Allow the introspection and outside observations. They aren't always misguided. Some valuable learning can be done.
Believe it or not, some US companies have tried bribery and such to gain a business advantage. And our govt is trying to suppress such acts from occurring in foreign countries. Yeah, some may say this is so that our govt can go in and get the stuff, but I don't know. It's an interesting fight. It always grates badly on me when a country with a great way to bring in some money to their country (the idealist in me wants to believe that the country, and not the few elite, will benefit) is superceded by another. No, don't mention Iraq to me. Right now I was actually thinking about central/south America (how's the banana?)
An industry group representing major Hollywood is cussing out China and threatening them unless they cut down on the number of pirated movies being sold in China. One of their claims:
The MPAA estimates about 95 percent of all DVDs sold in China are pirated, costing the industry $280 million last year.
Let me be the first to call bullshit on this claim of lost revenue. First of all, if the dvds are not pirated they are going to be sold for quite a bit more money. Even if the Chinese were a wealthy folk (they are not), fewer dvds are going to get sold regardless! Do they really think the same quantity are going to be sold for a much higher price? Not to mention the fact that most of the movies and music that are sold as pirated good, would not be allowed into the country legally! It's a huge blackmarket affair, and Hollywood should be thanking these pirate-mastgers for the publicity that would barely achieve legally.
But any headway in closing down offenders marks a small gain in a country where pirated DVDs often appear on the streets just days after a movie's theatrical release, with disks costing around $1 each.
By comparison, the approval process for release of legitimate movies on DVD can take up to four weeks, Ellis said.
He added that Chinese officials showed a willingness to try to streamline that process in talks this week. But even so, such products, carried in stores like Carrefour, cost three times as much as pirated versions or more.
The MPAA is also frustrated with a Chinese quota system that limits to 20 the number of foreign films that can be imported each year on a revenue-sharing basis, Glickman said, adding that Chinese officials showed less enthusiasm for change in that area.
"The message was, in general, 'We used to take four, then it went to eight.' Trends are in the right direction but we got no promises. ... They ought to end the quota, period."
To get around the quota, some studios are starting to experiment with joint ventures with Chinese counterparts, both on an individual film and broader production basis.
Hypocrisy. I love it! You need to adhere to our justice system even though you are a different country, and you need to allow us to find these sneaky and underhanded ways to get around YOUR laws. Yes, China, you need to END your quota system so that these greedy f*cks can make more money. They could be damned with what you feel is right for your country. You are depriving them of their money!
I have a very deep-seated animosity towards these people. The hypocrisy slices me open, and their narrow-minded ignorance/greed/selfishness disgust me.
I have to move on. I don't feel like getting further riled tonight. I anm sure the rest of the news out there will soothe me...
Uzbek authorities say 52 people remain in custody.
Andijan's chief prosecutor said on national television that the group was being held on suspicion of organising terror and bandit attacks.
Those in detention include Saidjahan Zainabiddinov - a well-known human rights activist who stayed close to Andijan's main square after the crackdown began, helping journalists and telephoning foreign embassies.
Hundreds of people have fled into neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.
No-one wants to talk about what they saw in the city, says the BBC's Monica Whitlock.
Andijan residents say armed militiamen are patrolling at night from house to house, warning occupants to keep silent.
China said on Tuesday it agreed with President Karimov's use of force.
"We firmly support the crackdown on the three forces of separatism, terrorism and extremism by the Uzbekistan government," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference in Beijing.
"We support the efforts by the Uzbekistan government to stabilise the domestic situation and to engage in national development."
Of course they support it! Suppression is one of their leisure-time activities!
Maybe China's allies-to-be won't come from Europe. There are quite a few central Asian leaders who I am sure would appreciate the support of a country as powerful as China....
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
For those who aren't familiar with Daniel Quinn, I believe he's best known for his book "Ishmael". Great trilogy of books. And will someone please read his book "After Dachau"? I read that damn thing a year ago, and have yet to find someone to discuss it with. Great plot twist (there's 2-4 recommendation for ya, DT. More will follow). Anyway, the basic storyline in Ishmael is that way way back in history the human race went from being hunter/gatherer types to agriculturalists, thus beginning our downfall. That is the way oversimplified book report, but it's too involved for this post. Check it out if you are not familiar with it. It's good stuff.
Digression over. Onwards.
Quinn's ideas don't necessarily condemn agriculture, but more the baggage that comes with it: 'locking up' food sources necessitating money, bartering systems, etc instead of going out and reaping for yourself what nature provides; needing more and more land to feed 'the people'; stockpiling food and ending up in situtations where more people live on land that can not ultimately sustain them.
Say most of the populace of the world or even on the US becomes convinved that maybe the ag bit needs to step back a few paces (which would help screw over schools like my alma mater. Oops) and we need to re-evaluate, and help slow the over-population of the earth before there is no 'extra' land left to produce food to feed those in countries/places that who populations exceed the capacity of their lands. That'd be a death sentence of sorts for many people (similar to another Quinn semi-idea that we need to stop supporting those peoples whose population already far exceeds their land's production capacity; by helping them, we are enabling them to overpopulate even more, thus worsening their situation. No extra food, no population growth, eventually nature will even out), so the likelyhood of that is slim to none.
So, what do we do? I don't have faith that technology will always save our asses. Maybe it will continue to prolong the inevitable (inevitable only if changes are not made), but I do believe there will come a point when technology won't bail us out.
An incomplete thought, I know. An accomplished hermit I am not; someone to bounce my thoughts off of is helpful to me.
My GRE prep book made a showing, and I pushed thru it for a while. And believe it or not, I am having an easier time with the math sections than the english! Strange for an (ex?)engineer, eh?
And I made another beer walk. The Guinness I just cracked really brought me back, to the days of yester-yore. The smell brought to mind the few nights in Devon's of the expensive small Guinness, and the many days/nights at Milo's of the large cheap beers.
There was one true moment of excitement today. While walking back from the gas station/beer/snack store, a guy passed and waved at me-and I knew him! It was the Fed Ex driver who gave me a ride home from the Jonny Lang concert a couple weeks ago. That was fun (secret: he'd stopped by a couple hours earlier and we renewed our acquaintance then. And I gave him a couple avos and papayas. Pretty raunchy secret, eh?)
I'm trying to come up with something meaningful to say, a good conversation starter, but all that is coming into my brain is: abba dabba dabba dabba dabba....doo?
Let me check the news. Maybe something'll turn up there
My daily routine continued and weed after weed found itself yanked from the soil and tossed through the air into a slowly growing pile of fading greenery. Sweat geysered from my pores and coursed its way down my back and chest, trickling down my face and collecting particles of dirt on its way. Once again the music blaring in my ears severed my aural senses from the world around me. Continuing apace, I took scant notice when the forest of weeds to my left began to waver. Only the wind, I assumed, since a breeze was offering sweet relief to my taxed body.
Papayas ripened on the trees, avocados fell to the ground, my roommate continued his mute-ish ways and somewhere in town a little girl giggled; I worked on.
Unbeknownst to me, storm clouds were on their way. Unlike the storms I’ve been thru thus far, this was not a friendly fellow; wreaking havoc was its expressed purpose. When I finally looked up and noticed the weather shift, the sky was a solid bank of black clouds over my head though down by the ocean, sunbathers had nary a worry. I smiled in hopes that the rain would begin and cut my day of servitude short. My wish was almost immediately granted. There was no light commencement of rain. The gods got the ball rolling by tipping over quite the bucket of water. My clothes were instantly washed clean of sweat, the ground beneath me turned to a muddy rock slope (very slick), my straw hat became plastered to my head, and my mp3 player began to short circuit and fill my ears with piercing shrieks. Knocking the earphones away I was greeted by the thudding of the rain, which now became my auditory blocker. Not only could I hear nothing but the rain, but my field of vision was reduced to only a couple of feet in all directions. Fortunately I knew, generally, where to find the house. Grabbing my gear in hand I began to rise…and froze when I saw them emerge from the weeds.
Five mongeese. And they all looked pissed.
I’m not sure how many of you have had close encounters with these creatures, but they are nasty. They look almost cuddly, until riled up. In bursts their lips are drawn back and their mouths full of sharp teeth are bared while simultaneously barking out this shrill, loud and very menacing noise.
That is what greeted me. And yes, despite the fact that I outsized, outweighed, out-smarted (on my good days) and have a more diverse diet which renders me more adaptable than them, I did become a little scared. Well, not scared to the point of wailing and crying and carrying on, but my stomach found a pit to wallow in and I began sweating despite the cooling rain.
Slowly, laboriously, they crept towards me. I studied my options: stand my ground and beat them about the head with freshly shorn weeds; make a run for it and hope my feet would find traction and my face not find a tree; move slowly backwards and try to find some sort of weapon to fight them off; or sit down and whimper and cry and beg for mercy. I chose the third option. (At least as far as you know that’s what I did. Even if I tried out option 4 first, you’d never know!). Ever so slowly I began to move away. Unfortunately, the ground here is steep and very rocky, loose rock, which becomes quite slick when wet. Two steps into my retreat my foot landed on a loose rock and shot rear-ward, knocking me off balance. As I began to fall I whipped around intending to make a run for it. Instead I caught sight of an avocado tree a couple feet away and miraculously finding a place to plant my foot I leapt up and grabbed a hold of the branch, swinging my legs up as the mongeese made their move. They missed, and I found myself singing a Jerry Reed song; the Preacher and the Bear. (I’ll bet almost no one knows that song, so I’ll describe: a preacher is in the woods and jumps into a tree to escape a bear. Great song, quite funny, and all too appropriate for my situation).
There I am, hanging from a tree and laughing at an old country song, in the pouring rain, trying to avoid getting bit up by a pack of pissed off weasels. They took to running up the tree and I plotted my avenue of escape-a difficult feat made even more difficult by the rainfall which now decided to come down in greater quantity, threatening me with drowning on top of my 5 other problems. As the vengeful mongeese neared I caught sight of the stubby-tailed one leading the way. He aimed for my face and let fly; I dropped to the ground and he overshot, thudding hard onto the rocks behind me. As soon as my feet hit the ground I moved quicker than I think I’ve ever moved in my life. Fortunately I was yanking weeds close to the house and had maybe 100 yards to dash (as well as 500 vertical feet); I crashed inside unharmed, but severely out of breath.
I glanced out the window and saw only two pursuers standing in the drive. They hissed 3 last times, then slunk out of sight.
When the rain ceased and the sun shone once more, I ventured outside. Grabbing a machete and club from the garage I ventured back to the scene of the attack. On the ground, his little body twisted on the rocks lay the stub-tailed mongoose. His leap from the tree must have been forceful enough to break his back on the rocks.
Squelching the urge to take a dumper on his corpse (mosquitoes, ya know?), I saluted the bastard and returned to the house to eat dinner.
DISNEY, the WONderful (yes, that is quite sarcastic) mono...corporation whose only reason for existence is to bring joy to kids all around the world, is opening a new theme park: Hong Kong Disneyland!
Sounds nice, right? Check this out:
Hong Kong Disneyland, which opens in September, will serve the soup at wedding banquets and special events.
But campaigners say millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins, driving some species close to extinction.
Disney says it is simply being respectful to local culture.
It is traditional in Chinese society to offer the clear, glutinous broth on important occasions.
But environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature warn the shark is one of the most over-exploited species on earth.
They are urging Disney to take the soup off its menu and to do more to help to educate the public about the issue.
Disney has rejected the complaints, claiming the dish is an integral part of any Chinese banquet.
The company says it takes environmental stewardship very seriously.
The full article can be found here.
I was going to present the reasons for my 'frustrations' as of late, but I don't feel like it. On to the fun.
Hawaii is gorgeous. I wake up in the AM (way too early), walk around to the front of the house and sip my freshly roasted, ground, and brewed coffee while looking down over the lush hillsides to the sun-rise tinted ocean below.
The people here are friendly, and the pace of life almost non-existent-a very nice change from the mainland.
In town the most beautiful women you've ever seen walk around looking all sexy, while the hunky men are no threat at all because they are too busy offering up their sister/mother/friends, whomever you find most appealing. The food is exquisite and free if you ask politely. Coconut bras and grass skirts are the norm. Which is great, though the grass tends to itch and the bras rub. Oof.
The weather reports are unbelievable: 83-85 high, and...I forget the lows but it's pretty much the same forecast everyday.
Um....you can garner fresh milk from the docile wild cows that roam the islands and the friendly monkeys like to bing fresh fruit right to your waiting plate. The beer flows like wine down the streets paved with sand and massages are free to all mainlanders. Surfing is easy and turtles are always available for a free ride back to shore when you get tired.
That isn't rain I hear outside, it's moon kisses falling down upon the land. Or I guess it could be ash and rock from the volcano.
Nobody talks about silly things like the latest diet crazes (exercise and healthy eating are the latest fad) and politics is relegated to discussions as to who is the sexiest member of Dubya's cabinet. Noone tries to keep up with the Jones's, because their entire family and all their crap was tossed into various lava tubes-what didn't fit in the tubes was tossed into the volcano proper. Deadlines are never discussed. Vacations are mandatory and rival the amount of time spent on productivity. Depression is confiscated by the customs officials upon arrival as is accumulated emotional baggage. Movies in the theaters are not proceeded by commercials or ads by the entertainment industry about pirated songs/movies. People have a sense of humor and political correctness has been harnessed back to an appropriate level.
Hm. Me thinks maybe I got a bit out of hand. Let me try again.
If you are a guy: the women are beautiful and bikinis are one of the greatest inventions ever. Tihitian beer is quite tasty (tho quite a bit more expensive than Natty Light). Life is laid back and happy and wonderful. It's rare to find an unfriendly person. Sitting by/swimming in the ocean is a wonderful thing. Contrary to all my complaining (which is spawned by many many different things at this point), this is paradise and Hawaii is a very special place.
If you are a woman: don't ask me. I'm not one of you!!
That was quite a ramble. I blame it on the combination of late night coffee and the movie Air America (which made me revisit my Laos memories and my newly acquired knowledge about our non-war there).
Actually, I blame it on the rain, yeah yeah. [I] blame it on the sky that is falling, falling. Whatever [I] do, [I] don't put the blame on you, blame it on the rain, yeah yeah!
Monday, May 23, 2005
Today I hitched into town and ended up sitting drinking a mocha and reading (planning, actually. Have a decent grasp on the Karakoram trip. Until it all changes anyway). Eventually I headed down the way and had a philly cheese steak and a couple beers at the bar of a place that I was told is the place to be (by the bartender. But I think she might be biased); the place to be after dark of course.
A beer order was the first thing to come out of my mouth and I was carded, an action that was followed by a 5 minute conversation between the bartender and the guy next to me about how I had definitely lost a ton of weight and look better with long hair. Ok, I won't forcefully tell them to stop talking thus.
The guy next to me was pretty cool and we talked for a while and ended up playing pool. As I bemoaned my lack of mobillity and access to people he offered his number in case I got stuck in town late and couldn't get home-I could crash with him. Nice! Yes, that was the number I got. Sorry if that was not quite the story y'all were hoping for. Give me a break, I was lucky to be able to converse with anyone. My social and conversation skills are hurtin' pretty badly.
To make matters better, my second and final ride home came complete with helpful hints on crashing in town. I was told of a church that used to let people crash there at night (free or for a little bit of work-my kind of price) and a park/beach right in town where the driver had slept undisturbed before. Nice! Maybe things are looking up.....
Sunday, May 22, 2005
I found an article that expounded a bit on HH Dalai Lama's comments.
Signaling a change of heart, he said: "There is a realistic appreciation of viewpoints of both sides. It's a positive sign."
The 70-year-old leader, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, also stressed the point that he is "not for secession, but for a solution within the Chinese constitution."
"I am trying to find a meaningful solution to the Tibetan problem. For one thing, I am not for secession," said the 70-year-old leader, who fled to India in 1959 and heads a government-in-exile in Dharamsala.
It sounds to me as though he feels that more of an understanding of the cultural differences is being found and that his hope is that they can return to their previous autonomy while remaining part of China and benefiting from China's economic position. The comment is not the defeated sentiment that I had previously thought it to be.
I hope he's right. The other articles I skimmed didn't seem overwhelmingly supportive of the idea that China is coming to respect the Tibetans and their culture. But then again, I am not an intimate of the history/process/current times.
Which means I've calmed a bit, and that is nice. Tomorrow we'll re-evaluate.
Beginning to read my guidebook on the Karakoram Highway (one of the many books I acquired from the library today) hasn't hurt. The pics are beautiful, the adventure possibilities exciting, and that has me excited. A calendar and more thought are needed to think the adventure thru a bit more. Let me just say this: the next Chinese bike I buy will not have rainbow painting on it (I hope), and will be of much higher quality than the last. Whaddya think, I can do 400-700kms in a month, yes? Keep the faith, that's what I say.
Anyone willing to contribute to upcoming adventures is more than encouraged. Maybe the Beastie Boys will consider donating some of their pocket change for my foray into Tibet? Wonder if they have a section on their website dedicated to people trying to get the word out? Hang on. I'll go check
Smile. Why not?
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Libraries are a problem for me. I can’t seem to go into one and not leave with an assortment of books. Today was no different; I left with three and was told that books I’d ordered were waiting for me at the library closer to home. Another errand to take care of today! One of the books I left with was the Hawaii Lonely Planet (a travel guide) which bolstered my good spirits as I could now plan some activities and figure out how to get around the island.
A motorcycle/scooter rental place was my next stop. My inquiries were not met with an answer I wanted. A week’s rental of a scooter is almost $300. Too expensive.
No other errands popped their heads up, so I began making my way down the coast to one of the beaches. On the way I stopped for a bit to watch the regatta. Double-hulled canoes were vigorously paddled along the shore-front in race after race. Meanwhile, people along the dock near the finish line were continually leaping into the water. Fun as it looked, I didn’t join in. Maybe next time.
Feigning hunger I stopped at a deli/snack bar I’d eaten at last weekend and got a boca burger and iced mocha. The place faced the ocean and I was able to continue watching the regatta while listening to the people behind me discuss the ins and outs of Paul McCartney and his kids and their money and wives and
It didn’t take long to flag a ride down to the beaches where I was greeted by people drinking beer, and playing volleyball, but the best sights were the masses in the ocean bodyboarding in the waves. It was awesome! I’d never seen a backflip on a bboard before. Very cool. Laid there and watched and read my book for a couple hours, coming away with lava rock and shredded shells imbedded in my back and a funny burn on my left arm and right leg.
My next ride came along in plenty of time to get to the next library before they closed and not only did I get my 2 saved books, but a couple additional books and a dvd. Which means I got back here with 6 or 7 more books. Oops. I may have a problem.
Today was a day blessedly easy to hitch. My last ride came along after only a few minutes and I found myself riding along with quite the conspiracy theorist. He blasted the use of fluoride in the water and some other chemical he said screwed him up. Claimed that Rumsfeld is a godfather in the Jewish mafia, that he (the driver) had spent a couple years in jail b/c of his unveiling work against the govt and had death threats and was hiding from the govt until recently. Hell of a wrap up to the day!
Sounds good, right? A nice day in paradise.
My first action once I unloaded my backpack and gazed at my booty (the books, not my heine) was to flip thru the Hawaii Lonely Planet and try to set a course of action for future adventures. “Getting around” was the first section I looked at. A quick read knocked me to the ground so fast my head was left spinning. There is a public bus system that goes around the island; however the books describes it as infrequent and inconvenient. But the worst part is that they apparently only run Monday thru Friday!! So the best ways to get around are to have a car or rent one. Son of a….
Tomorrow I’ll hitch back in and talk to the tourist helper people and see if they have any advice. I haven’t been able to find a bicycle to buy either; maybe the classifieds in tomorrow’s paper will have something.
I’m still toying with the idea of buying a crapper car or motorcycle, but gas and insurance are expensive, not to mention that there is no room here for another car.
I know I’m bitching a lot and it may be said that I should DO something about it. I’m trying, but each idea I have gets obliterated. And buying a car or motorcycle has not been a part of my budget and would seriously hamper my efforts to take another trip or two in the next year. Yeah, yeah, life is rough. My complaints are a bit greedy I guess. I’ve done a lot and after all, I am living in Hawaii right now.
The problem is, right now I am wondering if it is at all worth it to stay much longer. My expectations are quite high for the new ‘interns’ that will come here to work sometime next month. The question is, will my sanity hold out that long?
The image that comes to my mind is that of Jack Nicholson’s face shoved thru an axe ravaged door sneering “here’s Johnny!”. That is how I am starting to feel. Who knows, maybe if I snap I’ll have a lot more fun…..
Here it's another Friday night and I ain't got nobody
Ain't got no money 'cause I don't get paid
Oh how I wish I had someone to talk to
I'm in an awful way
I got to town 3 weeks ago
*mumble mumble mumble mumble*
If I don't find me some comp'ny
or make a little money
I'm gonna have to blow this town
While some may see this as a self-pitying move, it's not. I'm giggling as I type it!
Friday, May 20, 2005
The urge to have my head combust is quite high right now. Isolation is taking its toll. I am beginning to understand why being put into isolation in prison is serious punishment.
The owners took off today for the mainland. Since my co-worker drove someone else to the airport earlier this week, I'd hoped that today B&B would be my charges. No such luck.
Maybe they decided to let him drive knowing I haven't driven since September. Maybe he offered/asked. I have no idea. But now the guy who doesn't talk and never goes anywhere (or ever wants to) is getting a couple/few hour reprieve from this farm while I am still here dying to break free for a bit! My hopes were set on driving them and spending a couple hours (it's a long way to the airport) out and about, maybe stopping at the used bookstore to swap a couple of my books. Nah, I'll pull more weeds instead!
Suffice it to say, I need to get out. Today will be cut off early so that I can head into town and at least be around people. And look into scooter rentals (rumor has it they're $100 or so a week. I can handle that.). Tomorrow will be a beach day, even if there is a tropical storm.
The new 'interns' that are showing up here sometime in June, are hopefully arriving in early June and like to be social. If things continue this way indefinitely, making it to the end of June will be tough. And the last thing I want is to leave Hawaii with an acrid taste in my mouth.
Is it pathetic to approach randoms on the street and beg them to talk with me, or take me home to have dinner with them?
Oof-da. Today is going to be a rough one
You can now see the Apocalypse Brown in all her glory! She was a beautiful boat...
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I wear shin guards. They make me feel like a soccer player, something I have never allowed myself to become. My amusement for a brief time today was giving in to those wanton impulses and acting out my non-dream of being a soccer afficionado. All it took was the glancing blow of a shorn twig off my left shin guard to put me into action. Before the twig lost contact with my leg, I dropped the whacker and fell to the ground, clutching my leg as though it had been thwacked with a 2x4. Moaning aloud and rolling around, I begged the referee (the mango tree) to call 'foul' and give the dastardly twig the red card he deserved! Of course the stoicism of the refertree showed me the futility of my pleas; shrugging my shoulders I regained my feet and the fallen whacker and continued on as though nothing had happened.
Only the owners had been making their rounds of the grounds and witnessed my antics. Hitting the STOP button, I attempted to explain myself: "Um, I was making fun...see this guy I know...never mind."
Fortunately they have a sense of humor and laughed and joked about it then and at dinner tonight. I wonder how many times they'll have to catch me amusing myself in these ways before they send me packing?
Surprising to no one, the sun was out and I felt like an ant under a 6-year old’s magnifying glass. My knees were sore from rummaging in the weeds trying to find a rock-less place to perch and my hands kept cramping after hours of gripping and ripping weeds out of the rocky ground. In order to amuse myself I began pulling weeds in a warren around the small orchard I was cleaning out. Suddenly the weed height jumped up and I found myself in over my head (literally) amongst the weeds, hunkered down in the path I was creating. Off to my left I noticed small animal path matting down the weeds and my course veered off to join this fuzzy thoroughfare. No sooner had our paths joined than I found myself staring up through oozing sweat and heat waves at a pair of dark eyes set deeply into a furry little face. I froze while the trapped air amongst the weeds attempted to suffocate me.
I swear to god the little bastard began to grin. Tiny fangs definitely popped out and were followed shortly thereafter with a couple short exhalations of breath. My hand moved to the right and grasped a thumb-thick branch. The mongoose’s eyes darted off to my left then back to center. The rotten twig disintegrated in my hand as did the arrogant human superiority complex I’d been hoarding. Turning slowly I glanced behind me and was shocked to see two of the bastard checking out my rear. In a very friendly voice I queried the ring-leader in front of me as to their intentions, at which all three began slurking forward.
An amused frown crossed my face and I recollected a similar experience with marmots in Colorado. Only the mongeese were not dropping rocks on me from above, they wanted to taste my flesh (Or so I assume. They never answered my questions.)
An idea flashed into my brain pan and I enacted it immediately (without thinking it thru, of course): “Look over there,” I shouted while pointing off to my right! Moronically they looked, opening a window of escape. Bounding to my feet I made a mad dash for safety.
Here’s what I should have considered: after sitting on my feet, my knees and legs need a moment upon standing before full functionality. Not to mention that the farm is strewn with loose volcanic rock that is unsurpassed in excellence for twisting ankles and negating balance.
I made it 5 yards (all in one leap I suspect) before a rock slipped from under my foot coinciding perfectly with a collapse of my legs. Headlong I plunged back down into the weeds, stopping with my face a scant 6 inches from the talons of 6 doves. Thankfully, they didn’t use said talons. Instead they turned tail and poopered onto my face.
Growling aloud, my feet regained, and a stick in sight, off I scampered. My new weapon of choice proved sturdier than the last and I turned while waving it madly about, hoping to catch one of my tormentors across their brow.
No such look. There was no sign of them anywhere! Obviously, I began talking shite.
A twig snapped behind me and I whirled, stopping my swing in time to not strike my boss in the ribs.
An explanation began to trickle from my lips, but his face showed nothing but amusement. He’d heard the whole thing. Mongeese are hated in this house so my actions were deemed heroic, though my sanity has come into question.
But I live to fight another day. This ain’t over. And next time…..I’ll be ready.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Question: what constitutes a terrorist these days? It seems that almost everybody can be deemed a terrorist as long as they are doing something out of line with their government. Condi Rice said that the Uzbek government has a right to fight terrorism, in response to the recent clashes there. How the hell can she label these recent incidents as a fight against terrorism when no one still knows what the hell happened? Why can't our govt say something akin to what the British said which was basically, Karimov (Uzbek president), cut your shit and give some rights back to your people. Since 9/11, this catch phrase "war on terror" has infiltrated everything and that is the label our govt seems to give to anything that is disorderly.
"We would hope that the government of Uzbekistan would be very open in understanding what has happened there," Rice told reporters.
"(The United States has) a record of going to the Karimov government and telling them in no uncertain terms that it is time to open up their political system and to reform."-Condi Rice
Yeah, we tell them allright. If you don't act better, you'll only get $XX million instead of $xx million. Big threat.
How about some perspective. Remember the Founding Fathers? They sure as hell would have been branded as terrorists. Overthrowing their govt by force? Bastards! If only there had been someone to assist the British (more effectively) in squelching that uprising!
Maybe some of these people are treated like garbage and are trying to do improve their situation. If that earns them the label of terrorist, I can't say that I like that. Especially if that is the only reason needed for a govt to take action against 'justifiably' (i.e.-China and their minorities).
I suppose my patience has worn thin on hearing "war on terror" so often. Yes, there are bad men out there that would prefer it if the US didn't exist. Is going to war against them truly preventative? Or a solution? Maybe it's merely a bloody band-aid that may slow the flow in the short run. Perhaps a better alternative would be to take a look at where all the anti-US sentiment comes from and try change that?
For the Christians out there (and the rest, of course. This site is truly open to all beliefs), let the Bible guide: you can give a man food for a day (band-aid) or teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime (long-term solution). Which is a more effective course of action?
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. I don't care what my friend Mammary Gland thinks of her. While I don't agree with all her ideas, she has some good ones. Very engrossing book.
Eddie Would Go, *I forget the author*. This book is about Eddie Aikau, a Hawaiian surfer/life guard who died back in the 70s. Tells about his life, touches on Hawaiian customs and life, and some surfing history. Great book.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Yeah, it's a love storyish book, but it was good.
Bangkok 8, John Burdett (? I forget the author's name). Fiction crime-type book set in Bangkok. I liked it.
There were a couple others that R recommended, but I can't think of them right now. Sorry. Right now I am reading Seven Years in Tibet. It's very good thus far, and is getting me more amped to see Tibet.
Not that I am complaining. It didn't bother me at all. Compliments like that can come from anywhere and I'll take them. I just didn't realize that I was giving out a gay vibe. Maybe I'd better cut my hair?
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
It did a good job of showing the unspeakable horror that happened (and had happened before, only the groups killing/being killed were flopped. This may have happened more than twice).
I'm not sure what else to say right now.
Never lash a mongoose with a weed whacker. It’s a no-win situation for all parties involved.
A new task was presented to me the other day-to weed whack most of the 5+ acres that make up this coffee farm. Undaunted, I latched onto the task because who doesn’t like being mildly destructive with engine-propelled plastic cords?
In my illustrious career of lawn maintenance and yard work forays I have made use of many weed whacker, both engine powered and electric. The latter are less enthusiastically employed for 2 reasons: first, you have to drag around an extension cord and do your best not to slice into it. Bad juju. Second, they don’t sound nearly as cool!
The machines for my use are engine driven, thankfully. But these machines supercede in coolness all others I’ve ever used. The ones I’ve used before were easily manageable for one person to carry around a yard. Now I had the big boys to play with. A harness is needed so that the weight of the machine is supported on your shoulders and your arms are used primarily for guidance. Huh-Huh, power tools! Safety gear was plentiful and for once in my life I made use of these emasculating devices: shin guards, gloves (which I ended up leaving behind), and a combo set of ear muffs/face guard. I felt ready for combat and set off attacking the overgrown foliage with gusto. All went relatively well for a couple of hours. Only one lime-sized rock avoided the shin guards and struck a blood-letting blow against my shin (damn guards kept sliding around to offer my calves protection from vengeful weeds) and my eyes remained relatively unscathed. Oblivious to the quantity of fluids I was losing, an idiotic grin never left my face and my enthusiasm was bolstered by the tunes in my ears (Offspring, Rage Against the Machine). It wasn’t until the second stop for gas that I realized my shirt was wringeable and a pool of sweat was gathering in my boots. A lag in energy hid itself behind a papaya tree and I continued on.
Hawaii is full of plant and animal species that are not endemic to the islands. Brought by traders and their ilk, new species were introduced. For example, on Hawai’i, the big island that I am calling home for now, rats stowed away and have thrived. In an effort to eradicate the rats, mongeese (if a goose joins a flock of geese, than a mongoose is but a part of a pack of mongeese. Spellcheck be damned) were let free to kill the rats. The problem is, rats are nocturnal and mongeese are not. Poor solution. Now the chickens and various other animals are constantly harassed and eaten by the little weasely guys. I see them all over the place but never closer than 10 feet away. Skittish creatures.
Moving uphill I razed the grass running down the center of the farm road and what ever grass alongside that happened to fall within the radius of my swings. Occasionally I would stray from the road, usually to check a papaya tree for luncheon candidates. Glancing up at one papaya laden tree (none ripe enough to swipe) I allowed the whacker to continue swinging and was surprised to hear above the sound of the engine and my music a loud high pitched yowl. Initially I was terrified that I had wounded one of the many many cats running around the farm who are adored by the owners. My greatest fear was that I had further mutilated the cat with a club paw and one eye (tangled with a dog). Tearing my gaze back to earth I watched a mongoose with a now shortened tail dash off into thicker undergrowth. Feeling sheepish I offered my apologies. As if he (or she) heard me, a head popped out briefly and teeth were bared ominously. Taking this as a refusal of my apologies cuss words flowed and I returned to work.
But those teeth stuck in my mind. And there seemed to be more than the usual number of mongeese wandering around. Contrary to their typical behavior, they were now pausing to look at me as though taking stock of something. Very unnerving.
As the day drew to a close, I found myself at the bottom of the farm, dreading the long walk back uphill to the house. My neck was sore from constantly swiveling towards sounds I thought I heard and movements I swear I was seeing in the bushes out of the corner of my eye. Reprisal was the word that ran on a closed loop in my brain and it had my a little geeked out.
Nothing happened. I made it back to the house without incident. That day. One activity was observed that in hindsight was a clear warning of things to come. Rounding a bend I caught sight of a mongoose and a dove exploding out of some taller weeds and head off hurriedly in opposite directions. Let me say that again. They burst out from the same clump of weeds. There is no reason two sworn enemies should have been in conference together. Chuckling at the absurdity of the notion I dismissed it as an illusion.
That dismissal would haunt me very soon.
Tonight we had another potluck dinner down on the beach. As this is a gathering of organic farmer types, the food is very good and organic (clean). Eggplant, tofu, bananas, pasta, chili, bean soup, mac and cheese….awesome grub. One guy even brought beer so I was washing down my chili with Longboard Lager.
Check this out. Most people who do this organic farm thing are youngish. Two ladies hit the island today and are working on one of the farms. They are 70 years old. They’d never been to Hawaii and figured there was no time like the present (I think widowed?). They were so damn cute it was ridiculous. As soon as they stepped out of the car they introduced themselves around; they took pictures; they couldn’t stop grinning or saying how much fun they were having and how happy they were to be where they are. It was incredible. Definitely out of the ‘norm’. See? It doesn’t matter how old (or young) you are, and it doesn’t matter if you are not the ‘correct’ age to do something you really want to do. Chances are, the people around you will have more respect and admiration for you (unless you start going to high school at 40. You’ll have problems, but that’s only because you’ll be dealing with high schoolers.
No, this is not my way of gearing myself up to go to college at my old age. I swear!
Doesn’t matter. The point is, it would have been a fun night without them there, but seeing those 2 out there made it a wonderful night! It was like seeing a 5-year old’s face on Xmas morning…
There were no dolphins playing tonight, only a nice sunset. There was almost a chance to look for the green flash, until a cloud got in the way right at the end. Blast!
Sunday, May 15, 2005
In the last 2 days, my co-worker and I moved 89 bags of macadamia nuts, each weighing 80lbs or so. Today we moved 24 in the pouring rain. It was awesome! Doing some quick math, that comes out to about three and a half tons. Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it? Well, it isn't really. Unless you want it to be then it is. And you know what the best part is (other than my bulging muscles. Wait, no, that's a herniated disc...)? When lifting those bags, or pulling weeds or digging holes in the burning sun, I can always make myself feel better by saying: "Ah! At least I am not in a cubicle!"
Yes, little sister, I now understand how that mantra helped you thru so many difficult situations. If only you'd lived that life then it'd be that much more effective a creedo.
Tomorrow-no work. And I'm sleeping in later than 7:30 for once. Which means no calls before 9am.
However, this does not negate our govt's ability to speak out against a problem area, or to withdraw support from a problem area.
Uzbekistan. A problem. They live under a harsh dictator and human rights abuses are the norm. Now there are some uprisings going on there which Karimov (the president) is blaming on Muslims. Yes, the recent protests and fighting have been spawned (so it's said) by supposed radical Muslims who broke some of their own out of jail, saying that there was no reason for their imprisonment and the trials were not fair, etc.
The BBC had a few things to say. Check out the articles on the sidebar as well.
Just over a year ago, Uzbekistan saw violent attacks on police, shootouts and a harsh security clampdown.
Many observers thought those events would prompt a rethink by Western governments, especially the US, which had built a close relationship with what is undeniably a cruel, authoritarian regime.
In the period since then, little has changed in Uzbekistan. The political opposition is still not tolerated, the media are not free.
Uzbekistan remains a close ally of the US, with its airspace and military facilities made available for the ongoing operation in Afghanistan.
The US military presence may well have acquired a permanent character. President Bush has never publicly criticised Uzbekistan's denial of freedom to its citizens.
Meanwhile, the US State Department's website carries reports on the "systematic" use of torture by the Uzbek government, but also, somehow, manages to call it "a stable and moderate force".
A bit of political trickery it seems to me (by the US). Can't risk losing our airbases over a few pesky things like human rights abuses.
The Associate Press also put out an article talking about the recent violence.
ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan - An estimated 500 bodies have been laid out in a school in the eastern Uzbek city where troops fired on a crowd of protesters to put down an uprising, a doctor said Sunday, corroborating witness accounts of hundreds killed in the fighting.
Uzbekistan hosts a U.S. air base in the Karshi-Khanabad region, 90 miles from the Afghan border, to support military operations in that country after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. The number of troops there has reached several thousand at times. The base is more than 430 miles southwest of Andijan.
The White House on Saturday declined to comment, although press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday urged both the government and demonstrators to "exercise restraint."
Let me take this opportunity to grouse for a few minutes. Not complain or bitch or rant. Just grouse.
The words to follow may not strictly adhere to complaints that are justified coming from the mouth of a male person. Or someone living in ‘paradise’ after not working for almost a year and traveling the world. But that’s too bad. I can deal with it if you can.
Here’s the scoop: not only am I going a little stir crazy due to the remoteness (from people) of this place and the difficulty in getting elsewhere, but I am also about to lose my tenuous grip on sanity due to a lack of conversation. In the three weeks or so since my personal state of affairs drastically changed, I could count actual conversations I’ve had on one hand. This is not to say that I am avoiding contact with the owners of this place or my roommate (with whom I share ONE room). I try and talk with them. But most of the ‘conversations’ I find myself in these days seem to be anecdote followed by anecdote, with no actual give and take and no exchange of ideas. My guess is that 9/10 of what I say to my roomie gets no verbal response at all. To the owners, my comments seem to elicit maybe one sentence, a grunt, or a pause before another anecdote. Don’t get me wrong, they are all nice people and a couple of them have other things going on that I am sure are distracting to them. But I’ve been here 2 weeks now! I’ve had better conversations with the people from whom I bum rides than the people I live with! A guy today gave me a 10 minute ride. In that time, he asked me more about my life and my travels than the three people here combined in 2 weeks! The best conversation I’ve had since arriving here was with our Fed Ex driver and her hubby and niece as they gave me a ride back from last Saturday’s concert.
Now, I’m not saying that I need to have heart-to-heart conversations every day. But a conversation would be nice! For shit’s sake, there is virtually nothing said in the studio (my ‘home’) at night. And the guy is in bed at 9 and up at 6. Not a big deal, that’s fine. But how about even glancing at me if I say something! Oof. It’s just been building. Right now what I need is some distractions (none), and someone to sit around and shoot the shit with. Sit around and talk-not all serious, but have a couple beers and hang out. Uninterrupted thought and little personal contact is what I have. Those who’ve emailed, and especially those who’ve called, thank you. It’s great and I appreciate it. But it’s not the same as hanging out with someone.
And it’s not that I have been avoiding people. Meeting people is tough because getting around is a process, and being in town long enough to hang out/meet anyone pretty much necessitates a $40 cab ride home. One of these weekends I need to go into town and even stay in a hotel just so that I can go to a bar or something and talk to people. For shit’s sake, I’m hitch hiking into town and back (not for any explicit reason) for a chance to talk to people and something to do (next weekend, nothing is planned that I know of so I may blow town all weekend)! That is sad.
Tonight I went with B&B to a friend’s bday party. A couple people there actually showed interest in others and asked questions and partook in conversations. To me, everyone else was simply waiting their turn to tell an anecdote or say what they want to say, regardless if it fit in or not, regardless if it added anything to the ‘conversation’. Maybe it’s my present state of agitation that made it seem worse than it was, but holy hell! My head was about to burst by the time we finally left.
Suffice it to say, I’m a bit of a hurtin’ unit right now. Normally, I’d probably be ok with the way things are here; at least better than I am. But given the present circumstances, this isn’t at all what I need.
Anyone want to come out for a week or so and hang out and have some beers? I’ll buy the beer….(I wonder if they have PBR here. I haven’t even had a chance to look for that!!)
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Had an earthquake last night. Shook the hell out of the house. A couple of times.
Innocent little me was sitting in the lanai (the main house above me, the studio where I am living is up some stairs, across the garage, and around back) getting ready to shut my computer down when all hell broke loose.
Keep in mind (after I tell you) that it was a little after midnight. Being exhausted, I’d set my bedtime as 10pm at the latest. Obviously I missed. And judging by my reaction to the shaking world, I never should have been up so late.
My initial reaction was to jump up and fall off my chair. My heart found itself beating like hell, and my brain began to question what had happened. Maybe the owners of the house were upstairs, having a time of love that got out of hand? Perhaps one of them had a health issue and collapsed? But here’s the one that slayed me (today): maybe someone ran their car into the house (twice)!
For further reference, to get to the house from the highway you have to make a 90-degree right turn into the drive. The initial angle is probably 30 degrees or more (quite steep). Twenty feet in you make another 90 degree turn and then you have a straight shot at the garage. To hit the actual house you must either jump the car over the continuing incline or go into the garage, thru the wall, into and thru the laundry room, continuing into the coffee packaging room and thru its far wall into the house. Neither option seems likely. Yet somehow this was more than plausible in my fatigued mind.
The lights were extinguished while the computer finished shutting down. I grabbed my headlamp (there are no lights outside and the moon was clouded over. There are movement sensored lights by the garage and around the corner, but I needed to mount some stairs and go quite a distance before activating them) and skittishly scampered back to the studio, scared all the while of being…I don’t even know. It was beyond silly. Looking back on my reaction, I was more zonked than I thought. No matter.
This morning B & B mentioned the earthquake the night before. I giggled as I remembered my reaction to it. What a spadoosh I am!
It was exciting! Now that I am hip with life here, I’m ready for more! Well, as long as our side of the mountain doesn’t collapse and slide out into the ocean….
Friday, May 13, 2005
Mother Nature makes quite the mistress. My thanks go to Her for the compassion and tenderness shown me today.
The sun seared my skin thru my clothes and sucked away an excessive amount of moisture from my pores, and found its way thru my Chinese straw hat and flushing my face with heat. As I lifted the 6- 20-pound (a guess) metal construction bar in preparation of another strike against the sunken rocks, muscles all over my body flexed and screamed in protest. Five hours into a day of digging holes for future coffee tree saplings. Not so much digging as beating at the ground with a pickaxe and an oversized crowbar to dislodge the multitude of rocks hidden beneath the covering of weeds. My back screamed, shoulders howled, arms cussed and neck grimaced. Tired, dehydrated, and hungry, I forced myself to ignore aching muscles and a stabbing headache. Too tired to think reasonably, one line from a song ran on a closed loop through my mind, never venturing beyond the same words (“…I think I’ll have myself a beer…”).
Consumed with my work and physical ailments, it took me several minutes to notice that gray clouds had appeared and blocked the sun’s rays. I paused and looked up, shouting out a ‘thank you’ to my benefactor. And returned to work.
Drip…drip…drip. Drops of warm rain began to fall: soaking the knee-high weeds, bouncing off the brim of my hat, and assuaging my overheated body. A smile began to creep across my face. Pausing in my work I leaned upon the pickaxe and turned my face skyward. Small, light raindrops intermittently alighted upon my face. My smile grew. They appeared to be raindrops but were actually tiny kisses brushing across my face: nose, forehead, cheeks…and lips.
I began to contemplate calling it a day 20 minutes early though I knew it wasn’t raining hard enough to justify stopping. The crowbar resumed its jackhammer motion.
Minutes later, the intensity of the rain increased. There was no unpleasantness, and no sudden urge to dash to cover. I grabbed my gear and began ambling towards the house, a huge grin now adorning my face. The farm truck received the pickaxe and crowbar, my body continuing the trek to the house with hat in hand and gloves off.
I stopped. And looked up again. The kisses were more fervent and more frequent than before.
Standing in the rain, the world silent and far away, Mother Nature bestowed Her grace upon me. Each drop that fell upon me washed away a little of the pain from the day. Each drop that fell upon me washed away traces of the agony in my mind. Leaving me refreshed, recharged, and more resolute about my life.
These islands are magical. Twice they’ve changed my life.
And they say that the third time’s the charm….let’s get it started.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
I am not sure where I left off in my travel accounts, so I apologize if I am repeating earlier posts.
Here come more Laos stories
After our few days on the river, it was not hard to convince ourselves to be spoiled rotten in Luang Prabang. Too much money was spent on food, beer, movies, and I have no idea what else since I bought nothing tangible that left with me.
What this means is that by the time I grabbed a bus out of there I was ready for action; to do something and not sit around anymore. Unfortunately, the bus I was on left me in Vang Vieng. My expectations were low, and they were met. The bikers I met at the China/Laos border told me that it was a town filled with people getting high and/or drunk while watching Friends and ignoring the beautiful country around them. And they were right.
Drugs are very much illegal in Asia and people selling them tend to be very discreet. Not so in this town. Walls of buildings advertise POT, SMOKE WEED HERE, etc. ‘Happy’ shakes and drinks abound (‘happy’ meaning drug laced) and most people can be find lounging on mattresses watching movies or Friends. Meanwhile, many are indulging in happy drinks. The only crackdowns that happen in this town are against opium dens. No, I didn’t go into any, though I did see some pretty shady stuff.
Allen and I cruised down here together and shared a hotel room until I moved off to Vientiane (a couple days later). The first night there brought about some pretty high comedy, in my mind.
Dinner was pizza and beer while watching….I forget what. I think we ended up watching a couple movies as people we knew filtered in and chatting commenced. I had a couple beers, though some contact high may have been achieved. Keep reading.
I got tired around 10ish and went back to the hotel (it’d been a late night the night before so I was bushed), making a mental note to leave the door unlocked so that Allen could get into the room. Once inside, I brushed my teeth and put on my jammies (which involved stripping down to my boxers) and left the light on, thinking of Allen.
The next morning I found out that my prior planning did not prevent a poor performance. I did leave the light on, but did not leave the door unlocked. Oops. Hearing Allen tell about his night was awesome. He’d had a happy shake that took a while and then kicked in with a vengeance. Upon arriving back at the room he noticed that the light was on and the door locked. His initial thought was to go into one of the many empty and open rooms on our floor and crash until I got up in the morning. But then some paranoia hit. Maybe I’d been electrocuted somehow in the bathroom and needed help! My fave was the fear that maybe the Chinese govt/mafia had tracked me down and killed me (there was a reason he feared this, and I am still contemplating whether or not to put that story on here)! Fearing the worst, he pounded and pounded upon the door. I never heard a thing. When I didn’t respond, he ran downstairs and got someone to open the door for him. There I was in bed. I had the courtesy to raise my head and say something (I remember that, though I have no idea what was said by either of us) and then re-pass out. Yeah, maybe a little something got into my lungs. Woulda been hard to avoid it.
The next day (I think) we took inner tubes down a river; 4 hours or so. Not quite active, and I was antsy after about 30 minutes.
My time in that town was too long, but it was fun because of my new friends. And speaking of Friends, we stood at an ‘intersection’ (of 2 dirt roads) and could hear Friends coming from 4 different places. Scary.
I left, none too soon. The place was weird. Unlike other places/people that have offered drugs, this entire time seemed to be partaking and not just selling. Early in the day people laughed a bit too much and absentmindedness was quite prevalent. I am not condemning anything, it just didn’t seem right to me. The place has become a bit of a backpackers mecca, and I am not sure how good that is for the people of the town. Backpackers come in and have fun and then leave. And the people there seem to have made this their big money-maker in town. Left me a little sad.
At least the pizza was good. Not that the bugs in my stomach at the time appreciated them….