Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Why the attitude? Well, I'll tell you.
This morning I walked to work. After crossing the Willamette I head south along the water front to my office. The stretch right off the bridge is through a grassy field; right through the middle of the morning feeding area of the local lazy goose population.
Doing my best Tippi Hedren impersonation, I tiptoed through the inquisitive birds, trying not to ruffle any feathers (snort!). They all turned to watch and began to circle. First, a bird on my left began hissing and advancing, wings at the ready. A bird off to my right joined the call and advanced in a similar fashion. The Right Guard was ready and headed off on a flanking pattern closing me in from behind. Nonplussed (I pretended), I continued on my way, bebopping to some Jackson 5.
Suddenly, I felt a nip on my right calf. Prepared for battle I turned and was menaced by at least a dozen hopping flopping and hissing geese. I stopped. Slowly turned around and found myself completely surrounded; I made eye contact with the maintenance guy for the waterfront shops. He was standing, jaw dropped and leaf blower forgotten. Smirking in realization of the seriousness, yet hilarious, plight within which I found myself I flipped the ipod to a little Back in Black, ACDC style and I made ready.
They sensed it coming but were powerless to repel me. I came out swinging. I caught one of the bastards right on the chin and he dropped to the ground dazed. The others paused and even backed off a step in apparent surprise. That second was all I needed and I took off running. Following suit, a flock on honkers bounded after me some flying some running others standing around making noise and looking confused. My hair was pulled, my ears were nipped and my backpack began to tear. Angus propelled me on and I made for the maintenance guy whose leaf blower was now being raised with real meaning.
As I passed by the leaf blower sprang to life and stopped the flock cold. Backing off to a safe distance, they stared and shouted their threats. I yelled mine back (much to the consternation of the older couple eating breakfast on the balcony above me), thanked my aide and headed to work.
As if this all wasn't bad enough, I got called out in the staff meeting for smelling like goose shit. There's no justice in the world!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
My contribution to the party, aside from my Presence, was my stereo which helped pump out the tunes for the dancing revelry (in which I include myself). Unfortunately, Guns n Roses came on. The heavy mound of mump at the end of my neck has been wobbly all day today as a result of the head banging that ensued. Oops. A good time was had by all and no one was arrested as far as I know.
Friday night was an interesting one. Seymour the Schwinn and I pedaled furiously (is there any other way?) to a concert venue a couple miles from home for 3.5 hours of Murder Ballads. Bluegrassy sorta stuff. It was a great time, tho 3.5 hours was long. And that wasn't even the whole show; we left early! Egad!
Work comes tomorrow. And I still need a costume for work on Tuesday....the one I wore last night won't work. A tribute to Will Ferrell's brilliant comedy "Anchorman" was my inspiration. Red pants, an unbuttoned shirt, beard and carton of milk made up my costume. I was rad.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The second half of practice I paddled and Steph took over at the till. I missed a comment she made while we paddled but it was repeated to me by a paddler in the other boat (how I didn't hear it from 3 benches away when someone in the other boat heard I have no idea) and I have to say, it was genius in a way. And perhaps a reason I felt so elated this morning? Here it is (in my paraphrasing):
"I may not have control of my life, but I have control of this boat!"
Something is better than nothing, right?
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Thank goodness monopolies are illegal in the US of A.
That is all I think I need to say. Anyone who has had to bend over and drop trou in order to go to a show whose tickets are being sold by Ticketmaster knows what I am talking about.
The latest? $10 tickets that ended up being $14.25 after TM charges and over $16 after getting hit with the venue charges.
What great people they are.
This looks to be a very busy weekend. Tomorrow night a friend is having a mexican food/pumpkin carving session at her house. Friday is a Murder Ballads concert (I'd explain, but I don't as of yet know how to explain it) and Saturday will be a debauched evening with the Yamilly at their Halloween party. Someday soon I need to come up with a costume. I'd like to go as Ron Burgandy, but parting with hard-earned cash for a suit I probably couldn't find anyway sounds misery inducing. The mustache is coming in well, tho it's hidden inside a beard that will disappear at some point over this weekend.
I found out last night that if you take a dragon boat and spin it in a circle (as the tiller) during a pause in practice that certain types get cranky. Which only makes the spinners laugh that much more. It's true, I'm learning the fine art of tilling and it's pretty darn fun. There have been no crashes during my watch, yet, and my docking skills have turned out (the twice I've guided the boat into the harbor) to be half way decent. Saturday morning, if I make it to practice (not easy. Who wants to be out and about at 9am on a Saturday?), I'll do the leaving dock duties. Should be exciting.
Hopefully next year I'll be on boats (paddling, tilling or any role I can find) on Hawaii and China. Don't worry, I'll take pictures. Or not. I might be busy paddling. Or scooting off to climes of excitement and intrigue that will join the annals of other adventures I can't relate electronically.
Time to read. A new book. Which one I can't decide. Too many choices!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Latin American Integration Noam Chomsky Interviewed by Bernie Dwyer
Bernie Dwyer: I am reminded of a great Irish song called "The West's Awake"
written by Thomas Davis in remembrance of the Fenian Uprising of 1798. It is
about the west of Ireland asleep under British rule for hundreds of years and
how it awoke from its slumbers and rose up against the oppressor. Could we
begin to hope now that the South is awake?
Noam Chomsky: What's happening is something completely new in the history of
the hemisphere. Since the Spanish conquest the countries of Latin America have
been pretty much separated from one another and oriented toward the imperial
power. There are also very sharp splits between the tiny wealthy elite and the
huge suffering population. The elites sent their capital; took their trips; had
their second homes; sent their children to study in whatever European country
their country was closely connected with. [commas better than semi-colons in
the preceding sentence.] I mean, even their transportation systems were
oriented toward the outside for export of resources and so on.
For the first time, they are beginning to integrate and in quite a few
different ways. Venezuela and Cuba is one case. MERCOSUR, which is still not
functioning very much, is another case. Venezuela, of course, just joined
MERCOSUR, which is a big step forward for it and it was greatly welcomed by the
presidents of Argentina, Brazil.
For the first time the Indian population is becoming politically quite active.
They just won an election in Bolivia which is pretty remarkable. There is a
huge Indian population in Ecuador, even in Peru, and some of them are calling
for an Indian nation. Now they want to control their own resources. In fact,
many don't even want their resources developed. Many don't see any particular
point in having their culture and lifestyle destroyed so that people can sit in
traffic jams in New York.
Furthermore, they are beginning to throw out the IMF. In the past, the US could
prevent unwelcome developments such as independence in Latin America, by
violence; supporting military coups, subversion, invasion and so on. That
doesn't work so well any more. The last time they tried in 2002 in Venezuela,
the US had to back down because of enormous protests from Latin America, and of
course the coup was overthrown from within. That's very new.
If the United States loses the economic weapons of control, it is very much
weakened. Argentina is just essentially ridding itself of the IMF, as they say.
They are paying off the debts to the IMF. The IMF rules that they followed had
totally disastrous effects. They are being helped in that by Venezuela, which
is buying up part of the Argentine debt.
Bolivia will probably do the same. Bolivia's had 25 years of rigorous adherence
to IMF rules. Per capita income now is less than it was 25 years ago. They want
to get rid of it. The other countries are doing the same. The IMF is
essentially the US Treasury Department. It is the economic weapon that's
alongside the military weapon for maintaining control. That's being dismantled.
All of this is happening against the background of very substantial popular
movements, which, to the extent that they existed in the past, were crushed by
violence, state terror, Operation Condor, one monstrosity after another. That
weapon is no longer available.
Furthermore, there is South-South integration going on, so Brazil, and South
Africa and India are establishing relations.
And again, the forces below the surface in pressing all of this are
international popular organizations of a kind that never existed before; the
ones that meet annually in the world social forums. By now several world social
forums have spawned lots of regional ones; there's one right here in Boston and
many other places. These are very powerful mass movements of a kind without any
precedent in history: the first real internationals. Everyone's always talked
about internationals on the left but there's never been one. This is the
beginning of one.
These developments are extremely significant. For US planners, they are a
nightmare. I mean, the Monroe Doctrine is about 180 years old now, and the US
wasn't powerful enough to implement it until after the 2nd World War, except
for the nearby region. After the 2nd World War it was able to kick out the
British and the French and implement it, but now it is collapsing. These
countries are also diversifying their international relations including
commercial relations. So there's a lot of export to China, and accepting of
investment from China. That's particularly true of Venezuela, but also the
other big exporters like Brazil and Chile. And China is eager to gain access to
other resources of Latin America.
Unlike Europe, China can't be intimidated. Europe backs down if the United
States looks at it the wrong way. But China, they've been there for 3,000 years
and are paying no attention to the barbarians and don't see any need to. The
United States is afraid of China; it is not a military threat to anyone; and is
the least aggressive of all the major military powers. But it's not easy to
intimidate it. In fact, you can't intimidate it at all. So China's interactions
with Latin America are frightening the United States. Latin America is also
improving economic interactions with Europe. China and Europe now are each
other largest trading partners, or pretty close to it.
These developments are eroding the means of domination of the US world system.
And the US is pretty naturally playing its strong card which is military and in
military force the US is supreme. Military expenditures in the US are about
half of the total world expenditures, technologically much more advanced. In
Latin America, just keeping to that, the number of the US military personnel is
probably higher than it ever was during the Cold War. There sharply increasing
training of Latin American officers.
The training of military officers has been shifted from the State Department to
the Pentagon, which is not insignificant. The State department is under some
weak congressional supervision. I mean there is legislation requiring human
rights conditionalities and so on. They are not very much enforced, but they
are at least there. And the Pentagon is free to do anything they want.
Furthermore, the training is shifting to local control. So one of the main
targets is what's called radical populism, we know what that means, and the US
is establishing military bases throughout the region.
Bernie Dwyer: It appears, from what you are saying, that the US is losing the
ideological war and compensating by upping their military presence in the
region. Would you see Cuba as being a key player in encouraging and perhaps
influencing what's coming out Latin America right now?
Noam Chomsky: Fidel Castro, whatever people may think of him, is a hero in
Latin America, primarily because he stood up to the United States. It's the
first time in the history of the hemisphere that anybody stood up to the United
States. Nobody likes to be under the jackboot but they may not be able to do
anything about it. So for that reason alone, he's a Latin American hero.
Chavez: the same.
The ideological issue that you rightly bring up is the impact of neoliberalism.
It's pretty striking over the last twenty-five years, overwhelmingly it's true,
that the countries that have adhered to the neo-liberal rules have had an
economic catastrophe and the countries that didn't pay any intention to the
rules grew and developed. East Asia developed rapidly pretty much by totally
ignoring the rules. Chile is claimed as being a market economy but that's
highly misleading: its main export is a very efficient state owned copper
company nationalized under Allende. You don't get correlations like this in
economics very often. Adherence to the neoliberal rules has been associated
with economic failure and violation of them with economic success: it's very
hard to miss that. Maybe some economists can miss it but people don't: they
live it. Yes, there is an uprising against it. Cuba is a symbol. Venezuela is
another, Argentina, where they recovered from the IMF catastrophe by v!
iolating the rules and sharply violating them, and then throwing out the IMF.
Well, this is the ideological issue. The IMF is just a name for the economic
weapon of domination, which is eroding
Bernie Dwyer: Why do you think that this present movement is different from the
struggle that went before, in Chile for instance when they succeeded in
overthrowing the military dictatorship? What gives us more hope about this
particular stage of liberation for Latin America?
Noam Chomsky: First of all, there was hope in Latin America in the 1960s but it
was crushed by violence. Chile was moving on a path towards some form of
democratic socialism but we know what happened. That's the first 9/11 in 1973,
which was an utter catastrophe. The dictatorship in Chile, which is a horror
story also led to an economic disaster in Chile bringing about its worst
recession in its history. The military then turned over power to civilians. Its
still there so Chile didn't yet completely liberate itself. It has partially
liberated itself from the military dictatorship; and in the other countries
even more so.
So for example, I remember traveling in Argentina and Chile a couple of years
ago and the standard joke in both countries was that people said that they wish
the Chilean military had been stupid enough to get into a war with France or
some major power so they could have been crushed and discredited and then
people would be free the way they were in Argentina, where the military was
discredited by its military defeat.
But there has been a slow process in every one of the countries, Argentina,
Brazil, Bolivia, all the way through, there's been a process of overthrowing
the dominant dictatorships - the military dictatorships - almost always
supported, and sometimes instituted, by the United States
Now they are supporting one another and the US cannot resort to the same
Take Brazil, if Lula had been running in 1963, the US would have done just what
it did when Goulart was president in 1963. The Kennedy administration just
planned a military dictatorship. A military coup took place and that got rid of
that. And that was happening right through the hemisphere.
Now, there's much more hope because that cannot be done and there is also
cooperation. There is also a move towards a degree of independence: political,
economic and social policies, access to their own resources, instituting social
changes of the kind that could overcome the tremendous internal problems of
Latin America, which are awful. And a large part of the problems in Latin
America are simply internal. In Latin America, the wealthy have never had any
responsibilities. They do what they want.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Heading down this hill I pass thru 2 traffic circles. The sidestreet has a stop sign but my route does not. Some dude this morning in an F350 decided to pull out on my left from this side street and look me in the eye as he slowly pulled around in front of me to complete his left turn. I shouted a thing or two that were, perhaps, less than complimentary about him, his truck and his apparent lack of driving proficiency. More eye contact was made in his rear view and in side mirrors the size of the full length mirror in my closet. Again, no visible reaction aside from indifference. Thank goodness I trust nary a soul on the road. And more thankfully at least my brakes worked well enough to stop me in time (tho the masochist in me wished they hadn't so that I could have left a dent in the side of his truck. Not that he would have noticed me hitting him).
As he pulled out onto a more major street the *dummy* cut off some cars.
I tell ya.
On a funny driving note, I saw Talladega Nights last Sunday night. Good god it was funny! You have to give props to a man (Will Ferrell) who somehow finds a way to run around naked or in dumpy tighty whities in most of his movies. Impressive. And not altogether aesthetically pleasing.
My bed might be calling. Or my book? Who's to say?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Here's an link. Not one to give you warm and fuzzies, but good. An excerpt:
"All sources of estrogen that people are coming in contact with are important. By themselves, they are not important, but they are being compounded and becoming harmful. We have a lot of information already that estrogen is a problem for adults. High amounts are linked to certain cancers. Also, the fetus is extremely sensitive to these chemicals. Male fetuses will show tendencies in the feminine direction. There is also evidence of a link between estrogen levels and birth defects."
That entire post is here.
Yeah, can't say this manager is a nice person. Riding a bike is not necessarily indicative of a person's position in life, financial status or anything really. It could mean anything. And to tell someone that it is not proper for them to ride a bike to work? Uncalled for. I'm not a Starbucks fan by any means (their coffee is not only way overpriced, but it's not good. They burn the crap-and the taste-out of it), and this is more about the manager than the company. Some ideas have been tossed around about how to let this darling lady know that her biases are not appreciated. We'll see what comes to pass.
And, I managed to ride to work (bicycle) without freezing (I apparently refuse to acknowledge the fact that it is definitely not warm when I ride to work. Or home, after dark.) and without being wrecked.
My Thai consonant recitation received high marks from my future tutor (she is good. I have homework and studying to do and the classes don't start for over 2 weeks!); the Hybrid ride up to Vancouver, WA was flawless, as was the meeting I had there (the only negative was the chat I had with a coworker I've talked very little to; she enjoyed the tales to travel with which I regaled her. She is from Kashmir and made the unfortunate decision of moving to CO Springs right from India. The poor girl. I am sure she was readily accepted into their culture. Or she would have been had she agreed to their terms (white, Christian, God/Repub/military loving, and subservient to her husband). Oops. My point is, our chat forced me to think about travel and how wonderful it is. Dang! And I was doing so well!
Class was entertaining (cars = evil; bicycles = god-like), before which I mailed off 2 packages.
Practice was good (amazing how eating something filling beforehand provides energy. Stupid high cholesterol diet. Had me a damn Clif bar before practice [not acceptable], and found myself with more energy than I've felt in a while) as was dinner at home with a kitty mangling my toes.
Now I sit here broken livered, had to quench and finally started.
Don't forget. Beware the ides of March.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
What has been happening? A lot. Let's run through a quick list.
I signed up for 2 college courses. An bicycle and pedestrian planning/design class, and international politics. I dropped the IP after the first class. This was quite unfortunate as it looked fascinating. I bought the book thinking I'd go back and ended up keeping it, my intent being to follow along with the assigned readings. Good thing I dropped, as I've not opened it for weeks. The bike/ped class is pretty rad and I'm starting to get into it. The teacher is very pro-bike/ped and anti-car. Which is fine, but she and one of the guest lecturers do not think very highly of traffic engineers-a title once bestowed on me. Now I'm more of a planner so it's ok, but the vitriol was amazing! I wondered if there was an event in their past leading them to such animosity-a spurned lover, ticket for running a red light or an inability to make it as a traffic engineer? The world is my oyster.
My involvement in groups indirectly related to work has blossomed like never before: Engineers without Borders; The Oregon Natural Step; (soon) The Northwest Earth Institute; Institute of Transportation Engineers; and to add to the fun, me and the girl next to me are starting up our own group at work. A sort of future leaders/idea exchange/relationship development, etc etc. It is going to be great (and funded. We hope). I think those are all the groups I'm getting into? Not to mention the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and a desire to hang more with the SHIFTYs.
Our dragon boat racing season is over. We whomped all over San Francisco a few weeks ago, taking first place in our division. Now we are out to garner sponsorship and get to China and Hawaii to do some racing. I'll send a postcard.
I am now a Reverend. My ploy to change my nickname to 'The Rev' isn't taking hold like I had hoped.
My little sister married a great guy the other weekend. It was a gala affair with the entire family minus the Little Bro who could not get away from work/tour in order to make it. He was missed. We had a great time. The wedding was performed on a small electric boat out in the middle of the bay (you picked a great spot, Dad), out in the sun, no other boats around, Mt Rainier in the background....good times.
What else have I been doing? Some frisbee golf. Sucking up any free time to be gleaned from Steph and Nicole.....playing with Marvin....huh. What else?
I've felt free-time less for months now. Which is nice, but tiring.
Oh yeah. I start Thai language lessons the first week of November. I already have homework!! Tomorrow I need to call the tutor from work and read the 44 Thai consonants to her so that she can gauge where I'm at and how to set up a curriculum. Crazy, but exciting.
My car hasn't moved more than once a week for months.
Ski season is quickly approaching and I need to get my pass!
Crows pecked out a pigeons eyes while squirrels chittered overhead
That'll do 'er for now.
Please, C-Note, keep up on the blog! Don't leave us hanging! Come back with more stories and funny blurbs!
Ok. I'll try