Friday, March 31, 2006
After a round of food shopping at Fred Meyers and the local farmer's market, I did a number on the apartment-cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen-even scrubbed the floor!) and then headed over to the park to read. What a beautiful day! Sunny, tho intermittenly cloudy, and warm enough to sit out in a tshirt! Quiet, chirping and squawking birds, buzzing insects landing on me and my book....awesome.
As I sat there and read, I paused to look up and take in the scene: the sun shone out of the blue sky, bursting thru the trees and lighting up large patches of green grass; moms and kids frolicked past on bikes on foot in carriages; a large man kept jogging past, reminding me of the exercise I didn't get today; singles or groups of runners trotted past, gasping and panting with exertion; a cute girl plopped down on the grass not far from me, apparently oblivious to my irresistability; a small group of young guys crowded around some picnic tables, smoking and chatting. Taking all this in, I couldn't help but feel totally relaxed and peaceful. Until I started thinking.
Meth problems. A stubborn President who appears to have stopped listening to everyone. A Congree whose personal desires seem to outweigh the constituency they supposedly represent. Wars and strife around the world involving troops from many countries, between peoples within their own country, random violent acts. Fathers killing daughters in brutal fashion. On and on and on.
On a day so beautiful, in a world so beautiful, how is such....shit so rampant? "Live and let live", says the Bible. Yet not even people of faiths that follow The Book seem able to abide by such a simple dictum (I'd quote other religious books, but I have no knowledge of others). People seem to be selfish and self-serving, living by platitudes such as: 'do as I say, not as I do', 'what's mine is mine, keep your damn hands off' and the predominant one in this (self)righteous country 'it's not my fault!'
What to do? How to cope with all this? How to ignore the firestorm of bullshit that rains down constantly from all angles and directions?
But for today, here's what I plan to do: enjoy the sun and warm-ish breeze blowing in thru the open windows; read more of my books; vacuum the apartment and prepare for tonight. Friends are coming over and we're all going to make pizzas, have some drinks (3 buck Chuck, anyone?), relax and have fun.
Which means I plan to ignore the muck for now.
Now where is that book o' mine...
Thursday, March 30, 2006
No. Nonsense. The president cannot be a Fool. Not at this moment in time-when the last living vestiges of the American Dream are on the line. This in not the time to have a bogus rich kid in charge of the White House.
Which is after all, our house. That is our headquarters-it is where the heart of American lives. So if the president lies and acts giddy about other people's lives-if he wantonly and stupidly endorses mass murder as a logical plan to make sure we are still Number One-he is a Jackass be definition-a lound and meaningless animal with no functional intelligence and no balls.
We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world-a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us....No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you."
-Kingdom of Fear, Hunter S. Thompson
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Does one continue to trust, or retreat into oneself allowing no closeness with others in fear of seeing this switch or god forbid being the recipient of the ensuing wrath? What's more, do we all have a switch inside us? Do we all have the potential to commit evil and senseless acts?
It's one thing to open up to a person and risk having your heart broken or your feelings hurt. It's another thing completely to open up and end up beaten, dead, raped...whatever. How can you ever really know what a person is capable? Perhaps none of us even knows of what we are capable?
Call me optimistic, but I can't accept such negativity. Sure, not everyone can be trusted and perhaps a bit more awareness and critical observation would not be a bad thing. But if you don't trust anyone, I can't see any result other than a lonely empty life. Maybe I'm naive in some respects, but I can't accept that humans are basically bad (talk to me on another day, perhaps this opinion will be slightly different). If we are, that's a depressing thought that I don't want to deal with (repression is my friend!).
I don't know, gang. It can be a scary world. Really scary, esp if your trust in a loved one can be called into question (trust in terms of physical harm, not the more innocuous harms). However, if life is spent worrying excessively over what could happen, that's a life missed.
(No, this is not drawing on anything in my immediate realm)
Gotta interview in about an hour. I suppose I should at least choose my clothing, shave, maybe shower. At least double check the directions to find this place. Yet here I sit, drinking coffee and farting around on the internet and not doing much of anything productive.
The hair is growing back nicely on my hand. I commend my friends and I for not instigating the flaming festivities until after the reception ended and most people had left the vicinity. Although any blame that must be laid gets tossed squarely at the feet of young Sizzle, as he is the character who rushed off during dinner to hit up Sprawl-Mart for the requisite supplies. Fortunately, said S-M was right next door (ominously jutting up into the skyline of suburban Chicago in its world-dominating questingness).
Not only was fire had, but I danced at this wedding! Slow dancing, fast spasmodic dancing...and I not only enjoyed it but was hankering for it! Quite odd. Who is this new Me that has emerged from the ashes of old? He certainly doesn't smell any better than the previous version...
Monday, March 27, 2006
The weekend was fun. Two birthdays celebrated and a wedding. I am missing more brain cells and most of the hair on my right hand. But no one died. That I know of.
Tomorrow I'll make up some good stories. For now, I need to sleep. Hopefully I can...
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I am in Chicago. Mom's bday is this weekend (happy bday, Mom!) and all us kids came home and surprised her. I only sent one email mentioning me coming home (doh!) but it all worked out despite my idiocy.
A busy weekend to be sure. Dad's bday is in a couple weeks (happy early bday, Dad!). Since we are all home, we decided to surprise him and celebrate his last night!
Tonight a buddy of mine is getting married, and tomorrow we celebrate Mom's bday with downtown fun. Monday AM I fly back and will probably have to go straight to a second interview.
Oh yeah. Due to the much cheaper airfare, I flew out of Seattle instead of Portland, thus adding a 3-hour drive on either end of this trip. Hooah!
True to form, this weekend started off with a very late night/early morning with the kid bro, a PBR or 2 and ended with a bad movie ("The Girl Next Door". Not great, but that chica is hot!) and me falling into bed around 4 or 5.
Seriously. Go shower and shave! You have to leave soon!
The other night I embarked upon my first attempt at making pasta from scratch. Not just any old pasta either, but gnocchi-potato pasta/dumpling things.
And let me tell you what. I am the king!! They turned out awesome and tasty and filling and amazing! All this, despite the fact that I had to replace the called for egg with vegan egg-replacers. Despite that one little stumbling block I prevailed! It was a good time. Poured me some wine, turned on some tunes, and got down and dirty. Made a huge mess of myself and the kitchen, but it was worth it.
Not only that, but I made the sauce from scratch as well! Seriously. I rule. You would think given these talents of mine that the door would be inundated with hordes of hot and willing women, the phone off da hook! with callers begging to be taken into my fold. But alas. These scenarios remain figments of mine own imagination.
Perhaps a shower would help?
The bread and wine were the only aspects of the meal that were not made from scratch (by me), but we'll see what I can do about that for next time. I have the small vat set up for grape stomping and a vast bread cookery in place out back...
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The day started with tofu scramble (actually very good. Don't knock it until you try it) for breakfast and the perusal of a couple newspapers, followed by the unfruitful email inbox checkage (nary a company correspondence. Unless you count those selling penis extensions and porn).
Bushed by the flurry of activity, I napped.
Then wandered down to the park with a friend and her dog and played fetch with the silly creature (the dog) while chatting. It's a beautiful day (no rain and warm) and I found myself in a good ole' mood. While chatting with other dog owners I answered a call on my phone to the music of fighting dogs and set up an interview for Monday afternoon. A second interview, that is. Hmm.
Upon returning to the house I vainly checked email again, grabbed a backpack (no idea why) and headed off across the river and bought me my first dragon boating paddle! Very exciting. I ended up walking (briskly) for almost 2.5 hours, all while listening to Tom Robbins's "Villa Incognito". Awesome.
Now I am home again, preparing to walk off to the grocery to get the final ingredients for dinner. Tonight I try making gnocchi for the first time. Exciting!
No, I had no work-related emails waiting for me. Again.
However, the new phone line produced its first call in the apartment a couple minutes ago!! That was exciting. Hopes ran high that it was a work-related call for me (yes, I am perhaps a bit obsessed right now with finding work). Nope. A wrong number.
If I run off to the store now, I bet I'll have time to snag a quick nap before starting dinner...
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I feel like this is a mantra I've heard my entire life. And I can't dispute the wisdom imparted within. Which is a big part of the reason I am feeling a bit bowled over by one of the books I'm in the middle of right now: "Lies My Teacher Told Me", by James W. Loewen.
Yes, I already mentioned this book at least once, but as I go thru it, I have to fight the urge to pull out quote after quote. Things that I never learned in any history class (tho granted, I was not the most involved pupil)(and I didn't take any history beyond what was required in high school) are popping out as being important lessons to learn from, here in these times in which we are repeating previous errors.
Details are too numerous for me to supply on here, but suffice it to say, it's sad that our (the US of A) history has been glossed over in textbooks to not only enable rote memorization of dates and 'facts', but also to make our predecessors look virtually faultless, our conquests justified or at least not morally wrong and also to eliminate debates and deeper discussions.
Great. Another venue of information/learning that I am more compelled to wander down. History classes will have to wait a bit, I'm afraid!
Check out the book. Especially if you are in high school. You'll probably drive your teachers nuts, but being inquisitive isn't a bad thing (or at least it shouldn't be...)
Perspective comes from a new angle.
Once familiar sensory inputs provoke this change:
Image of The Shadows;
Deep pow crashing over thighs;
Whimsical rock formations
In the deserts of the southwest;
Pictures of a group, long dissolved;
A song not heard for ages:
"It was all, I could do, to keep from cryin".
Grillin' spring days at the Basin, and
John D getting Rocky Mountain High.
Surfacing, glances bounce around;
Nothing is familiar.
Nothing is as expected.
Confusion and slight suffocation reign.
All that was once familiar, is now gone;
All that now surrounds is new and strange.
The excitement wrought by change is
Supplanted by the gut rot of unfamiliarity
Reality sets back in,
Surroundings return to clarity,
From blurred vision.
Stomach settles once more.
Heart rate returns to normal.
Breathing slows, shallows, pauses....
Monday, March 20, 2006
"The common discovery of America was probably that Americans were the first people on earth to live for their humor; nothing was so important to Americans as humor."
"Where fusty conservative old critics had once defended the obscenity in The Naked and the Dead, they, or their sons, now condemned it in the bew book, and that was disappointing. The country was not growing up so much as getting a premature case of arthritis."
"This has been a considerable defense of the point, but then the point was at the center of his argument at it could be put thus: the American corporation executive, who was after all the foremeost representative of Man in the world today, was perfectly capable or burning unseen women and children in the Vietnamese jungles, yet felt a large displeasure and fairly final disapproval at the generous use of obscenity in literature and in public."
-Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night
Now why is that? Is it simply the inherent volatility of people arguing based on what they see as necessary to improve/maintain their quality of life? Or is it more than that?
How easy is it to step back from a conversation and see it from another perspective? When embroiled in a heated debate with someone of another mind, stopping to gain another perspective is a tough thing to do. I'm better at it now than I've ever been, but it's a very tough thing to do. It entails not only understanding of someone else's situation, a situation different than one's own, but it's also a challenge to one's values and principles. The possibility that already held beliefs are wrong is a scary thing and can be hard to face. Hard to admit, even to oneself. To me the result is that understanding is not reached (nor often tried) which leads to an inability to compromise-a necessity in life, because unlike the world Dubya lives in, it ain't all black and white. Rarely is, actually. Which leads to impasse, stagnation and bitterness.
Add to all this one of the larger issues I see with this country-selfishness (an odd thing, for a country 'steeped' in Christian values). Why see a situation from another's point of view if the result may be a perceived step backward in one's quality of life? Why worry about destitute people in China or Africa (or in the US), as long as the 401K keeps increasing and the Excursion stays filled with gas? This mindset (as I have said countless time) leads to a blindness in regards to the interdependancy of us all (not to mention compassion, caring, concern for the welfare of more than your immediate family). Disgusting.
Why worry about the sweatshops that produce the clothes and products that fill the shelves, as long as they are cheap. Baby's gotta have designer clothes (that will be outgrown in days or months?); gotta get that needlessly huge house/car/diamond to prove to others that success has been attained and is increasing. Why worry about the shite pouring out of a gas-guzzling SUV when the blame can be shifted to the poor landless farmer in the rainforest who is burning the trees to be able to eat and survive? It's not my fault, right? It's Bush's fault. Or Congress. Or the UN or Russia or Iran or.....
But that critical eye is rarely turned inward. Perhaps it's easier to 'discuss' politics and all the ills being wrought by that "other party" or by the politicians, than it is to look critically at one's own actions and contributions to the problems. Don't like Bush and his oil buddies or the war in Iraq or the lack of environmentally minded administration? Do your part-don't drive an SUV. Carpool, take the bus. Don't be wasteful. Quit making excuses...
Will a new president or Congress improve the situation and fix all our ills? Or will a change in individual's attitudes result in an adequate (perhaps even good) set of elected officials which will in turn improve things?
You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Or teach him to fish and help him eat for a lifetime. Which is preferable?
I wonder what life will be like a year from now, and what I'll be thinking looking back on this, my first year into my third decade?
A nap is calling my name. Interview isn't for many hours, and I am tired. Remind me again why I am getting up so early? At least I've been semi-productive already...
Today I have one interview set up. That's all.
Man. The everyday details of my life are not nearly as exotic and exciting as they used to be, eh? (Ya know what? I'm ok with that....for now)
Friday, March 17, 2006
Interview one started off well enough. I was excited by the company-on paper. Scant minutes into our discussion my head began reeling, my stomach dropped onto the floor (embarassing, let me tell you) and the dread of old came rushing back so hard that I almost toppled out of my seat. Suffice it to say, I am not considering that company.
Yesterday's interview was much more positive and encouraging. A larger more diverse (project-wise) company, I think it could work. Questions are still formulating in my head, and they need to be posed to the appropriate people, but I was at least encouraged that I'll be able to find something that won't push me into self-immolation after a couple days of work. Of course the other large question is, did I sell myself to them? They should let me know next week.
Today I set up two more interviews. Which is good, yeah?
On a happier note, paddling last night was followed by a longer session at the bar, resulting in me getting to know more people and know them better, which is quite exciting. There was even talk of a dive bar tour of the neighborhood, which got my dander up (in a good way of course)! Tomorrow I get to paddle again, and I think there will be a paddle fitting which means by sometime soon I'll be biking to practice with my very own paddle strapped to my bike! Cool.
Last night wasn't the favoritest night of mine. Slept like holy rotting hell, waking up constantly and feeling tired and annoyed of sleeping and wanting to be done with it, despite an inability to open my eyes. Had crazy-ass dreams that woke me with a strange taste in my mouth that stubbornly refuses to quit persisting. Ach.
AND, a couple buddies of mine have plane tix to come out here, which is quite exciting.
My feet stank
So's my butt
But my nose smells just fine
Thursday, March 16, 2006
People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.
-Helen Keller (who was blind, deaf and....a raging socialist)
Drafted largely in response to the wide-ranging investigation involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the proposed ban drew quick fire on Wednesday both on and off Capitol Hill.
And some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives complained that the moratorium proposed for them would restrict their ability to attend educational conferences and give university commencement addresses.
Such a sad state of affairs! I know this will be rough. After all, members of Congress only make $165,200 a year. A tragedy! It'll be tough to afford a a few plane tickets a year...tho I was able to afford plenty of tickets on a much lower salary. Huh.
It's not like bribes, or attempted bribes are being tossed their way. They are professionals, elected to serve their constituents, unwavering in the face of such galling attempts of woo. Right?
In his plea, [lobbyist Jack] Abramoff admitted he showered golf trips, meals, sports tickets and other gifts on lawmakers in return for actions that would help his clients. Lobbyists are prohibited from funding trips by members of Congress, but can help arrange those financed by outside groups.
Huh. Sure he's guilty, but what about those lawmakers who accepted the bribes?
Yup, I have complete faith that my elected officials have the welfare of the general public (i.e.- not just the wealthy) in the forefront of their minds...
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Wikipedia says:
The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a primate native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the ecological niche of a woodpecker. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unique method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the grubs out.
Here are some more links:
The Wild Ones
Are these guys awesome, or what?
(Yes, I need a job)
Last night as we paddled back up river the full moon was still among the trees on the east bank, shining thru the branches illuminating the dark clouds scudding across the sky. The set of paddlers last night were making nary a sound as we slipped thru the water, lending additional peacefulness to the scene. It was awesome. Until I splashed myself, of course. Which was fine, but then I was wet.
Post-practice activities included meeting up with the team at a local bar. Fun times. I'm finding people I click with and getting to know more people and opening up more as a result, which means more fun. Always a good thing. The team is rooting me on in my job hunt (perhaps that is a hint to pay my dues!); they are good people.
Dragon boating is a sport that originated in China (I believe), and every year there are races held over there. The team leader was talking last night about putting in a bid to race over there in 2007 (April/May-ish). It seems the Chinese govt covers a lot of the costs for that trip (a bid to promote tourism). How awesome would that be? I made it known that I would not be against heading back over there to race...
After riding back home thru a light rain, I entered the lighted warmth of the apartment and proceeded to make home-made pizza. All of it from scratch, including the crust! It turned out wonderfully and was the best pizza I've ever had (perhaps a ridiculous claim spawned by my ravenous appetite)!
I'm the king!
Another hour until meeting with a college counselor; 6 hours until my interview. Heck, I'd better get to doing some more research on this company so's I can pepper them with questions! And, I'd better get my hair under control. Washing it seems to triple its volume, and I appear to have a funky 'fro right now. Not my best look
Monday, March 13, 2006
Woe is me!! I really could have done with a viewing of that tonight!
Tomorrow I gots me some DB paddling practice
The day after I meet with a school counselor to plan out courses of study. Later in the afternoon I have an interview with a company with whom I am pretty excited to talk chat (in a description of their work posted on their website, they use the word 'holistic'! How awesome is that! I didn't think engineers knew that word!).
Thursday I have another interview with another good company (this one will come with a free lunch-always nice) and more paddling practice.
Friday...nothing planned. Being seeing as how it's St Patrick's day (he and Chris Columbus are chatting it up and giggling at the pedestals [deserved or not?] from which they look down at us) I assume some Guinness will be quaffed.
Saturday, more paddling and then a combo St Pat's/equinox pot luck.
Sunday....perhaps I'll watch 'The 40-Year Old Virgin' again...
Perhaps Monday-ish I'll be starting a new job? What a thought that is!
The aye-aye has topped my list of favorite animals; on par with, but not supplanting the lovable lemur.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
20 minutes of eventless riding later I arrived at the venue: Dante's. After a brief ATM maneuver (and a jog back to my bike to removing the damn new blinking red light mounted on back) I headed indoors and grabbed a spot at the bar. Immediately, I felt a wave of at-easedness wash over me. A dark bar and cheapish alcohol, and pretty soon off a crazy guy to hang out with. What more could you want to feel at home?
Settling in on my stool, a whiskey and coke near my hand, I turned to survey the scene: a smallish place; stage up front, a small 'dancing' (moshing) area whose heels were closely followed by a bunch of small tables; bars sat on either side of the main room; dark lit, a very mixed crowd, and my new buddy sitting next to me sipping on Budweiser while bemoaning his lack of tequila.
Memories flooding back from the first time I saw this band: it was back in the Denver days. My persuasive abilities must have been at their peak because I connived several of my friends into going to check out Hank 3; the Shack Shakers were the opening band and they left an indelible impression (sniff!)! This marked my....third (?) time seeing them. They were not to disappoint.
The two opening bands were good (Cicada followed by Hillstomp), and the energy/speed level increased with each band, culminating in a frenziedly feverish pitch for the SS's (the sound was also cranked by the end, which didn't hurt).
During the first two bands, me and my new buddy (a nice guy, actually) chatted away. He's a singer from Texas originally, and I swear is in love with tequila (which gives him something to be in love with. His chatter was like a country song-bemoaning his fate at the hands of women, all of whom "are crazy and evil". And alcohol.). Seems this guy lives out of his van, and he mentioned the bottles of tequila waiting for him at 'home', hinting that perhaps if I were nice I could garner myself an invite to check it out after the show.
Finally, the real fun began. The Shakers hit like a damn runaway train. The Colonel (lead singer) came out in what looked like an S&M mask, only shaped like a dog's head. Odd. Before the first song ended, the outer shirt had been shed and halfway thru their set he was down to only his lederhosen (I kid you not). How to describe the concert? I understood almost nothing the Colonel sung as the music was turned up more than his mike (I think), they use a lot of distortion in his mike, and....the guy is nuts, plain and simple. The pace of the music was insane, a wailing guitar and slamming drums, the Colonel varying from wailing lyrics to harmonicizing and back, the air pulsing from the energy being shoved out over the audience. The C, now and then, grabbed tufts of hair on his ribbed out chest, tore them out and tossed a hair shower into the audience; he crowd surfed; he played hackey sack with balled up paper; he scrambled around on all floors, on his back; his eye twitchings and rollings seemed inhuman; his singing smacked of tune and medley all the while. Following the band's lead, the entire crowd was surging and rolling and rocking to the insanity of the music. Amid all this, the aforementioned young 'un hit me up with a "Are you here all by your lonesome?" Some 'conversation' was had, as much as was possible with the music, the swinging dancing and insanity. I darn near trod my Chucky T's past the rubber soles swinging around the dance floor trying to discuss my major and how I was liking school and what a BUMmer it is to have class at 9am twice a week!
Finally I returned to my stool and buddy to finish my drink and enjoy the rest of the show from a solid vantage point instead of the spinning view I'd had while dancing (plus, I was getting a bit freakered out talking about all things college. Hell, I'm OLD now!). A couple songs later the set ended, followed by a brief rampaging encore. Then it was all over, leaving the crowd drenched in sweat and mostly deaf. My buddy offered to share some of his coveted tequila with me if I'd head out to his van with him. "What the hell," I said. "I don't have anything to do tomorrow!"
Off we scuttled, banging out the door followed by the confused and heart-broken gazes and sighs of the college girl (and all her friends too, of course), out into the drizzly dark night and over to the run-down tan and brown striped child abductor van. JB popped open the back doors and lo! and behold! A mini-bar stationed across the back of the van. Popping behind the hardwood and serving from his knees (not much headroom in vans) JB served up some mighty fine tequila (due to the internet's inability to showcase tonal inflection, let me point out the extreme sarcasm in that statement. No tequila is 'mighty fine'. Woof!). Our conversations rambled over such intellect challenging topics such as: college girls, rain, vans, loud music and tequila. A brain-burner, let me tell you.
Round about 230am JB found himself passed out on his face behind the bar while I had a (typically) 20 minute bike ride thru the rain to get hom. Closing up shop, I mounted my sturdy bike and began weaving my way home. 3 hours later I pulled up to the front door and stumbled up the stairs, banging and slamming and causing a ruckus. The cops that had been following me had decided to call off their search by now (it was a dazlzing spectacular chase scene, something out of Smoky and the Bandit. Only me and my bike weren't nearly as quick on the get away as old BR. And BR got to 'take his hat off' for Sally Field [hottie!] while all I got was a few face plants on the pavement). I guess the 1.5 hours hiding in the bushes were all it took to convince them that I was in a perfect condition to be riding home. Silly wankers. I knew I shouldn't have mounted that blinking red light to my rear end. All that does is draw unwanted attention!
A 'meal' of ramen completed my night's activities and I sunk into a well-deserved deep sleep.
Now that my saga has been related in its imbecilic fashion you must ask yourself this question: which parts of the above actually happened and which are the product of my 'imagination'?
A conundrum. I know. Sometimes even I can't tell tell the difference.
From the BBC:
Outgoing President Ricardo Lagos has hailed her election as an "historic triumph".
Chilean society is often portrayed as ultra-conservative, dominated by men and the Roman Catholic Church.
Only 4% of senators are women and divorce was only introduced last year.
But Ms Bachelet believes this is only part of the picture and Chile is changing - as reflected by her election victory.
"We have a mature, democratic society that believes men and women can hold responsibility," she said.
And from Reuters comes this article.
Yahoo had things to say as well.
Who tortured Ms Bachelet? The Augusto Pinochet years saw many people tortured and killed (her father died and her mother was tortured as well), and it was under this dictatorship that she was tortured and ended up off in exile.
Pinochet, incidentally, led a coup against President Salvadore Allende (a Cuban ally and 'commie')(yes, the US was involved in this coup and the subsequent support of, yes, a dictator. Tho to what extent this involvement ran is still not all that clear) in 1973 and was responsible for all sorts of badness (hence his own exile).
Ain't life funny? Condi met with this admitted leftist newly inaugurated president and it sounds like they hit it off!
Went to a concert tonight. Due to a lack of interest from the few people I know, I went to see Th' Legendary Shack Shakers on my own. Cool opening bands (Cicada, good. Hillstomp, awesome.) and the Shakers were quite rad (tho I understood almost nothing the lead singer said all night). Hung out with a crazy older guy. AND, got hit on by some chick in braces. Not that there is anything wrong with braces. But when she asked me where I went to school and what my major is...I giggled a lot. Being 30 and many years out of college, I blurted some inanity into the noise and laughed.
Now I will eat my ramen and explain the night (quite entertaining) in detail tomorrow, Sunday, a day dedicated to rest and reflection, something I plan to take advantage of (since my life has been so hectic and work oppressed lately...)
Saturday, March 11, 2006
-From The Wall Street Journal; Friday March 10, A4
Friday, March 10, 2006
"Take it away!"
With those words, we carve the river's water with our paddles and head away from the dock, around the sleeping luxury cruiser and out into the relatively slow moving current of the Willamette River. The entire boat is silent as we ply the waters and move down river away from the heart of the city. Overhead the silvery moon manages to poke her head out from behind the ever-present clouds to illuminate the water the banks the rusted out hulk of a boat resting on the river's edge the trees lining the shore and my fellow paddlers. My arms shoulders and back take on the burn I associate with the onset of exercise as I fall in step with the paddler in front of me who is paddling in step with the rest of the boat in front of him on up to the bow.
Back on the dock awaiting for me are the worries of joblessness, life decisions, rent, front brakes rubbing the tire rim and all the other weightings upon my shoulders. As we head further and further downriver I revel in focusing on keeping in time with the rest of the boat and displacing as much water as I can, propelling our boat downriver.
Directions are called from the bow; as we practice our race starts, shouting and cheering and grunting bubble up over the stillness of the night. Cameraderie overwhelms and a smile splits my face. Jokes are lobbed around and the overall feeling is that of merriment.
Gliding back to the dock we come to rest, tie off and scramble onto the shifting planks of wood. I can't get the grin off my face and my legs feel indomitable as I peddle thru the rain to the bar to meet up for a post-practice bevvie with my teammates, and new friends.
Yeah. I'm going to like this sport.
Had my first job interview in 5 years this morning. Yes, I was offered a job on a survey crew. However, one hand bestowed a job offer while the other was trying its best to convince me to return to engineering. In fact the guy interviewing me called up a buddy of his to, I don't know, prove how badly needed engineers are right now, and to give me an idea for what I'd be offered (money-wise) getting into an area in which I have no experience (a lot more than he offered).
So of course now I am wondering what to do. There are large pros and cons to both of them. The most important question is this: will I be miserable taking another engineering job (I am doing a great job of ignoring my pride)? Will a new situation, new types of projects, new atmosphere and new disposition make a difference? Or will I be miserable after a couple of weeks? Ultimately (financially), ENG makes the most sense. But I've done the misery for money before, and don't want to do it again.
Is 11AM too early for a beer? It is Friday...
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
-Kim Carsons; The Western Lands, William Burroughs
Tell me, what do you have Behind Those Hazel Eyes??
Got another call today. Friday morning I have my first interview. Hell yeah? Gotta make another begging sorta call tomorrow and try to weasel my way into another either tomorrow or Friday (I haven't had a day dedicated to interviews in a while. Mayhap it's time to see what kind of stamina resides in my atoms), if I amn't too late.
Had my 'Going into Business' class last night. Went well, was quite informative, and I didn't walk out discouraged as hell, which is good. I was the youngest folker in the room, no doubt. Which was not an issue until stats were thrown up on the overhead as to the reasons why businesses tend to fail within the first 6 years. Reason one (whether there by chance or because it's the leading reason-which I tend to doubt) was age-too young, Fat Man. This prof's feeling is that 35-50 or so is about right. Huh. Just one more instance of someone projecting me to fail. Not the first time. Which means let's plan on it not being the first time I overcome my insanely stubborn streak and give in to naysayers. No matter. That don't befront me.
Next class? Not sure. Hopefully I'll be one-on-one'ing it next week and figuring out a course of action.
But for now, I'm going to finish my Squirt so's I can move on to a little wine. Choke down some dinner and put on some pants. Go see C's friend's band playing. Wake up and do it all again.
Check out Hank 3's new album. Awesome. The damn name says it all: "Straight to Hell".
The new study links genetic changes to major events in the history of our species.
“There have been a lot of recent changes—the advent of agriculture, shifts in diet, new habitats, climatic changes—over the past 10,000 years," said Jonathan Pritchard, a human geneticist at the University of Chicago who led the study.
Too bad this shift isn't happening quickly enough to make me taller.
A scientist (Rusi Taleyarkhan) is claiming to have successfully produced a 'cold fusion' reaction. Of course there are skeptics (bolstered by Rusi's inability to reproduce said reaction), but now that he is working out at Purdue in Indiana, I am sure he'll prove his detractors wrong. After all, Purdue is the bestest univeristy in the world! (Go Boilers!)(Wow. Such school spirit I have! I feel like I should be jangling keys at a football game or something). Back to the story. An exciting development in the world of energy production, if there is any validity to Rusi's claims (and if he can repeat his so-called successful experiment).
Pot. Drugs. Growing it, exporting/importing it and selling it. 'Bad people' being responsible for this and the downfall of our society. Um, yeah. In some parts of the world, there are few opportunities to make a living and survive as a part of society. Unfortunately, the best (only?) way for people to make any kind of living is to grow 'drugs'. For instance in Morocco:
The government of the North African kingdom says it intends to eradicate cannabis production by 2008, and the area used to grow the drug shrank by 10% in 2004, according to the International Narcotics Control Board. But in the Last week, about 3000 men, women and children held a protest march near the Let down Abdelillah Bakhoyti, whose cannabis plants in al-Kulla were cut down last July, says his community has been let down. "We agreed to stop growing cannabis in exchange for a development project but for now they have given us nothing."
The government of the North African kingdom says it intends to eradicate cannabis production by 2008, and the area used to grow the drug shrank by 10% in 2004, according to the International Narcotics Control Board.
But in the
Last week, about 3000 men, women and children held a protest march near the
Abdelillah Bakhoyti, whose cannabis plants in al-Kulla were cut down last July, says his community has been let down.
"We agreed to stop growing cannabis in exchange for a development project but for now they have given us nothing."
Fighting a way on drugs is groovy and all (and debatable), but what to do about these people? It's easy to get preachery against the ills of drugs and try and stop them at their source (in my opinion, the growers are not the source. If there is no demand, there will be no need of supply. So what is the true source?); but what about the people whose livelihood is being taken away and whose lives are being destroyed? Is getting rid of one problem (allegedly) worth causing another?
Iran. A thorn in many sides these days, being presidented by a man who is arguable a little rockerless. Bad bad bad Iran! BUT. I take a little umbrage with the hypocrisy shown by our elected leaders (I know this is hard to believe, politicians being hypocritical.). By all accounts (I think), the election in Iran was above board (as was the one that eleted Hamas, incidentally). However, from the mouth of our sometimes visible vice president:
He also said "America supports as well the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran" and the removal of what he called its current "fanatical regime."
They realized their democratic aspirations, didn't they? A fairly elected official, whom perhaps they now rue electing (sound familiar?). But it was done democratically. Just because the result isn't liked by the US (understandably) an attack based on democracy seems a bit hypocritical to me. We got what we wanted (theoretically), didn't we? (Apply the last few statements to Palestine as well).
On a much sadder note, it seems all the SPAM bs I get daily is not quite truthful:
"The average increase in length is 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) which isn't very much and the dissatisfaction rate was in excess of 70 percent," said Christopher.
He added that spam e-mails advertising penis enlargement surgery were inaccurate and gave men unrealistic expectations.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
That, however, is not the point of this ramble. Our trip was only the means towards which the rest of this tale was enabled to be played out.
While walking thru the streets we passed a march/protest (which was actually the main reason we walked so far. Many streets were closed down temporarily and I lost patience sitting in an idling vehicle). Near the end of the line of marchers, I saw a face that looked familiar. And, in fact, it was! A girl I met in Laos over a year ago was marching along with the others (in a nice skirt, jacket and high heeled shoes. Great walking/marching garb, as she herself mockingly mentioned)! Wow! Finally, a reason to not feel like a friendless loser! Randomly meeting someone you know in the street unexpectedly is usually fun.
I walked along with her and we 'caught up'. She mixed up details about me and my buddy out here whose basement saw the onset of my time in Portland (I also met this guy in Laos), but it has been a while so no big deal.
I quickly recalled the reasons this girl drove me nuts. Her diatribe on her began almost immediately and it was a few blocks before I was able to conclude the phone number transaction (she is in town until the day after tomorrow) and extricate myself from her detailed discussion on....her. Crazy.
Haven't heard from her yet. Not so sure I'll be giving her a call. As I told my buddy, I shoulda given her his number. That would have been a funny surprise for him (funny for me, at least).
Monday, March 06, 2006
I saw these fellows at the coffee shop down the street, checking out each others' rides and hanging out, chatting over some joe.
Scooters. That's what they were riding. A street gang of scooters. Hehe. How awesome is that? Portland is a funny, quirky, cool city
Saturday, however, was a marvelous day! Overall, actually, it was a great weekend. My little sister came down from Seattle with her friend for a visit. This is the closest we've lived to each other since high school and that is quite exciting.
As I am still jobless and spend most of my time searching for work, I have not taken much time to enjoy where I am at; to integrate into life here. That is changing! Saturday morning I went to a beginner's day for a Dragon Boating team. It was awesome! After some free coffee and introductions and such, we headed out onto the water and paddled for an hour or so. I had so much fun! These boats hold up to 24 paddlers or so, sitting side by side and hammering away at the water with paddles. Great exercise, beautiful morning out on the water and excellent people. Having something to do is wonderful for the psyche and I can't wait to get back out. Unfortunately, their next practice is on Tuesday night and that is when I have class! How batty is that-I have nothing to do for most of the week. I have two activities that take up a couple of hours, and they go and conflict! I tell ya. That's ok. As far as I know I should be able to make the practices on Thursday and Saturday. I hope!
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Um, yeah. I am all for supporting the troops and boosting morale, but how about some tempered (responsible?) optimism? Say BL dies and all we get is a cold body. Do we consider that a victory (rhetorical question)?
In other rants, I'd like to address a passage in the abovely linked article:
Eight weeks in the planning, Bush's visit to Afghanistan was not announced in advance to reduce chances of an assassination attempt. Heavily armed combat assault teams shadowed Bush's moves. Door-gunners on at least two helicopters fired brief bursts of bullets down at the dusty flatlands not far from Bagram Air Base as they ferried the president's entourage into town.
A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, said the gunners on the choppers were test firing their weapons.
"It is standard operating procedure for the MH-47 helicopter to test-fire their mini-guns over East River Range every time they fly in mission," he said. "Neither President Bush nor any of the aircraft in the flight were ever in any danger."
That's wonderful that no real threat was posed to the Pres or any of his entourage. But what the hell is with the (apparent) complete lack of concern for, say, anyone who might be on the ground? Ya know, locals? How much danger were they in from these randomly tossed bullets? Or even their livestock?
A tough road lays ahead. A road involving the pulling of our collective heads out of our asses. Perhaps one small reason people hate us, is the lack of concern shown for anyone not us? "Sure five local families were killed, but at least no Americans were hurt!"
Maybe some peoples don't want to live like people in the US. Perhaps they want someone in power that we may not like but who represents their collective interests (democracy, anyone?). Maybe cutting back on how often and how forcefully (physically and/or economically) we try to form others with our mold will ease the collective antipathy towards this country?
Just a thought
I feel like civil liberties in this country are not only being taken away, but are being given away because it "makes us safer". I have a hard time stomaching this sort of thing (aren't we a free country? Aren't some of the liberties being taken away from us similar to staunched liberties we decry in other countries?).
But I digress. What the results of this poll told me, is that it makes sense (in a twisted way) for people to be giving up certain rights because they don't even know what rights are guaranteed to them in the first place.
The name of the poll? Study: Few Americans Know 1st Amendment
I remember learning these rights a couple different times in my schooling. Aside from that, how the hell can we go around condemning other countries/govts/dictators/'Presidents' for restricting rights when we don't even know which of ours our guaranteed?
Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half can name at least two members of the cartoon family, according to a survey.
The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.
The survey found more people could name the three "American Idol" judges than identify three First Amendment rights. They were also more likely to remember popular advertising slogans.
What does this say about our society? This frightens me a bit. More attention is paid to TV (so-called 'reality' tv at that) than to our rights (which is actual reality).
Maybe I need to resign myself to the fact that one day I may not be able to (1) speak my mind (out loud, in public or on the internet), (2) worship who/what/how I want, (3) read or contribute to uncensored newspapers, (4) gather with others in protest, or (5) petition an elected official for redress of my grievances, but at least I'll be able to vote for my favorite hyped-up 'singer'!