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08 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Just over 9,000 miles in 40 days – Road Trip 2003 begins in just over a month.  Take a look at the new webpage which you can find by clicking here.
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I am looking forward to pointing the Mini eastward and heading out across the country.  I am ready for a vacation from San Francisco, work and clients. 

09 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Tax day is just around the corner and I just finished my photo essay from September.  The most recent addition to Rail Tripping, the Grand Canyon Railroad, is available by clicking here.  Only two more rail journeys to finish and I’ll be caught up.
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10 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

I like the feeling of accomplishment I experience when finishing a large project, especially when I let the project languish longer than I may have planned.

The second new rail journey is complete.  The Vancouver Island Malahat photos are now available by clicking here.  Two new photo journeys in two days – I may clear the backlog before the end of the week.

I’ve run into Drew a lot in recent months.  He always seemed to be following the protests around the city but never actually participating.  I was looking through old photos earlier this week and noticed Drew is in the background of the very first photograph ever taken of Sister Betty.  If I followed new age silliness, I might put forth the idea of synchronicity.  San Francisco, however, is a small city and Drew moves around quite a bit, so it isn’t as surprising as one might think.  I like Drew and I'm glad he scrawls his thoughts in public.
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I’ve withheld comment on the current world political situation, but I have three things to say:

One:  For the past several months, nearly every news photograph I’ve seen of our troops in the Gulf features white, blue-eyed farm boys.  When I was in the military, a large portion the population was not of European decent.  So why isn’t there more diversity in the pictures coming home from the front? 

Two:  Why do dictators always choose the same pose for their statues?  The statues of Saddam look just like those of Mao and Stalin – always with the right arm raised to heaven.  Is there only one factory in the world that turns out dictator statues? 

Three:  Did you notice how handsome the Iraqis are?  Did you see the photos of the Iraqi men taking off their shirts and waving at the Americans arriving in Baghdad (all of whom were white, or so the photos indicate).  In Iraq, it appears that only attractive men take off their shirts in public, while in the United States the opposite would be true.

14 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Over the weekend I cleaned out my files and headed to the office this morning with a sheaf of newspaper clippings to scan.  I knew what I was going to write about today and I was considering the topic when this clipping fell out of the stack.  I had forgotten about this photograph of Sal, Jerry and I under the Castro Christmas tree.
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A woman in a sports utility vehicle made an illegal left hand turn last year, crushing Sal and his motorcycle under her oversized vehicle and killing him.  Salvatore was a friend and I miss having him around.

15 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Thought buffet:

Yesterday I saw a postal worker using a bomb sniffer to inspect street mailboxes before opening them to collect mail. 

Eighty percent of our national debt is the result of military spending.

Forty one to forty seven percent (depending on how the calculation method) of the federal budget is spent on military spending.

The current year Defense Department budget is sufficient to repay the national debt of the forty seven poorest countries in the world.

How many songs can you remake with the name of Saddam’s son, Odai?

“Odai, can you see, by the dawn’s early light…”
“Bully, bully, Odai, Odai…”
“Ooooodai, oooooodai.  Odai come and I wanna go home…”
Click for larger imageUnable to find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (hint: there aren’t any), Bush now wants to chase after them into Syria.  We played this game when I was a kid.  It was called Snipe Hunting and cost a lot less to play in those days.  Of course, my mother never let me go to Syria after dinnertime.

I am very much looking forward to Erika Lopez at Ba-da-Bingo in May and my month-long road trip shortly afterward.

19 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Driving behind one of MUNI’s new electric buses yesterday, I noticed again the signs on three sides proclaiming “Zero Emissions Vehicle.”  This statement is true only if we consider the bus as a separate object and ignore the pantograph connecting to the wires above.  The wires traverse the city to an aging power plant with stacks exhaling fumes across the bay.  The system of bus, wire and power plant place enough distance between the bus and its consequences that at first look we might be tempted to believe it is indeed a zero-emissions vehicle.
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This method of thinking – of observing objects removed from their interconnected systems – allows us to underestimate the impact of our decisions and actions and skews reality.  It allows us to believe we are separate objects from each other – you there and I here.  It provides reason to believe we hold no responsibility for the events of the world around us.  Planes ram into buildings, children grow heavier and increasingly suffer illness, adults grow fatter, our atmosphere more clouded and that none of these are related to anything else.  We turn our attention to the symptoms and ignore the underlying cause.  We can pretend the world is well when as the zero emissions vehicle glides by without considering the mercury, lead and heavy particles falling from a plume just miles away.

Our planet is part of a system, which in turn is part of a larger system, which is again part of a larger system.  We rebel against the idea that even we are a small part of the system, parading our uniqueness and missing the miracle of our sameness.  Our struggle to be independent steals and masks from us the strength and joy which comes from our interconnectedness.  We believe and behave as if there is an us and a them despite every evidence there is only us.

The bus is separate from the system only when its pantographs are lowed and in doing so it ceases to function.

20 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I read the story; I never thought I’d witness the evidence.  An Easter bear, tortured for its polyester smile, bound and gagged and hung from its tiny made-in-China feet.  While the bear swings in the wind, an internet poll is determining the bear’s future:  electrocution, drowning or exile to Los Angeles.  Today, driving back to the Castro, I spied the suffering bear in a window.  You can help.  Click here to petition for the bear’s release.

Today is Easter and the twenty fourth anniversary of the Sisters.  The Sisters have a long, amazing history and today was an exceptional celebration:  Polka bands, Acid Housewives, children dancing, a bonnet and doggy contest. Click here for a full page of photos from the event.
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The winning bonnet was titled "Shlock and Ah!"  Perched among a horde of lilies and greenery were a helicopter gunship and a stealth fighter. 

22 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Satan is in my kitchen.

As I was writing my journal entry tonight, a friend arrived with a surprise early birthday present:  a classic pinball machine.  The machine was the first arcade game to feature synthesized human speech (way back in 1979) and Gorgar, a creature that looks a mighty bit like paintings of Satan I saw in the Musee du Louvre. 
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This machine presents two minor problems.  First, I have a rather small apartment and I wasn’t decorating with a pinball machine in mind.  The kitchen table was disassembled to make room for the game.  Second, a Quaker home visiting committee arrives next week and the giant mirrored portrait of pseudo-Satan will certainly be a topic of conversation.  Thankfully San Francisco is a more liberal Quaker meeting.

The cats that live with me were not impressed with Gorgar’s synthesized voice and decided to run for cover in the bedroom.  They came to investigate the newcomer when Gorgar fell silent.

Three other notes:

Drew has sent the bear into exile in Los Angeles.

Boston was replaced with Provincetown.

I’m considering a contest to guess the MINI’s odometer reading at various points during Road Trip 2003.  Details to follow shortly.

25 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

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Sister Betty made the news this week.  The most recent edition of the San Francisco Bay Guardian includes Stairways of San FranciscoKPIX features Ba-da-Bingo tonight during evening magazine.  (Channel 5, 7:00 PM if you are in San Francisco.) 

27 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

My grandparents' house had a screened-in porch running across the front of their Grand Rapids house.  On warm summer nights we would sit on the porch eating fresh blueberries in cold milk and watch kids ride by on their bicycles.  The world was safe and at rest on that porch.
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Sitting on the balcony today with Nora Jones playing in the background, the sunshine running across the spring greenery, the world seems like a very calm place.  News of distant wars and conflict evaporate like droplets from the wide leaves of the garden below. 

28 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

If you guessed yesterday’s entry was part of something larger, you are correct.  The two paragraphs were intended to introduce a longer piece on news saturation.  Many people believe a connection exists between violent entertainment and childhood violence.  Does this corollary cease to be true when we become adults?  Saturating ourselves with news of war, financial collapse and bloodshed leaves us disparaged, discouraged and numb.  Throw your television out, turn off the computer, replace the radio station with a carefully chosen album and go sit on the porch.  Repeat as necessary until balance returns.
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Meditation is not an escape from the troubles of the world.  Mediation helps us return to balance, placing the concerns of the planet in a proper place.

Other bits for today:

The image today is from David, one of the most talented artists I know. 

I am considering making the Cross Country Road Trip a fundraiser.  I must choose a suitable charity for the proceeds –something national in focus, not too big and yet focused on social or economic justice.  Suggestions anyone?

Need humor? Go visit the Official North Korean government website.  You can sign up for a free membership in the Korean Friendship Association, listen to the national anthem and buy Korean souvenirs.  Perhaps Troy could help them a bit with the design.

Someone asked me about the Trailer Trash site.  You can find it by clicking here.

Finally, visit Smothering Chaos.  I love the look of this website.

29 April 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Electronic mail messages today brought to mind this entry about voting privileges.  I thought about rewriting it with some new profundity, but everything profound to say has been written and I would unlikely be considered sagacious.
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I worked at an investment bank in 1997 and traveled to Orange County to handle a computer company the bank owned.  I hired an old Navy friend to help resolve issues with the mail and internet servers.  Days later, I realized he renamed all of the servers in the company after gay porno performers.  I suspect only queer employees knew why I laughed whenever IT staff talked about our email server, Ken Ryker.

I watch people during my daily subway commute.  Very few people smile.  Very few people look happy.  Clients and colleagues blink when I tell them I am taking thirty five days off work to drive around the country.  They ask why.  I respond:  I can, I want to, and I don’t know when my ride on this planet will end.  I’d rather be driving around the country than sitting in the stale breath of a subway. 

That watch on your wrist - yes the one you glance at five times a day - isn’t just counting the seconds until the end of your shift, your office day, the minutes until Friday.  It’s counting down the seconds until your death.  What would you rather be doing?  Why aren’t you? 


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