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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Sierra Buttes Part 1

Last Saturday, Jim Mike and I decided to take advantage of an unusually warm November day to hike Sierra Buttes. If you click onthe photos, you'll get a much better view.


Our drive to the trail head took us through the Sierra Valley. The valley, surrounded by 7,000 foot ranges, provided food and hay to support the miners in Virginia City, about 20 miles to the east. This is the land of Ben, Haus and Little Joe Cartwright, those righteous cowboys with whom I spent many youthful Sunday evenings. Dun Diddy Dun Diddy Dun Diddy Dun Bonanza!






After a very steep quarter mile, gaining about 500 feet in elevation, we could see we still had some effort between us and the peak. Our trailhead was at just over 7,000 feet altitude, and I felt like my lungs wanted to explode. Guess I don’t get enough exercise.








Looking further up the trail, we still had a way to go.












Our first scenic vista, overlooking Salmon and Sardine Lakes. One guidebook claims these are among the least visited lakes in the Sierras. Given the steep slopes down to the lakes, I am not surprised. The lakes are about 1,500 feet below where I was standing.








Our adventure continues in the next posting.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Secret to Getting Good Airline Service

We had another wedding to attend last weekend, In Phoenix. Nothing terribly exciting, however I gained this great travel tip: if you want to be treated royally, even on a schlock-service airline like Southwest, travel with an over 80 yr old lady, and push her in a wheelchair. Everybody treats you great, doing all they can to make everything easier for you and your “charge”. The only negative was that one gate attendant spoke to my mother–in-law like she was speaking to an idiot. Sometimes people need to use a chair in the airport because a couple of hours standing and walking around is too rough. That doesn’t justify talking to a person like a six-year old. One attendant let me push the wheelchair down the jet way – I’ve always wanted to do that!

I’ve been busy at work, the typical corporate stuff, spending lots of time being a PC jockey, and lots of meetings over the phone. This job produces nothing interesting that I care to write about.

Ahhh the World Series. If there is any justice in this world, the Cubs’ day is coming soon. I enjoyed watching the parts of the games I saw. Especially rewarding after watching the too frequent and nauseating shots of President King George the First and Barbara (or, was that the Quaker Oats man?) rooting for the Astros. Bush league.

Fall weather has finally come, the soup & stew season is upon us. Made a beef stew today, from Fanny farmer’s recipe. The flavorings are lemon juice, allspice and Worcester sauce. This is my favorite classic stew. Pure fall delight.

I hope all you readers out there enjoyed Indictment Friday as much as I did. I will repeat my promise I make to all my readers: I never have, and never will “out” a CIA operative. Nor will any member of my vast Hangininsac staff. That is my solemn vow to you, my readers. Heck, I won’t even tell you confidential stuff about work. And remember kids, Tubby McTreason (aka Carl Rove) is still under investigation. Tell you one thing, if Rove ends up in prison, no risk of him squeezing out through the bars.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

After Over a Month of Full Time Work. . .

God, I feel like such a tool.

The hanging guy is a little more tired than he remembers being in the past. That’s my excuse for not blogging over the last month. We had a great weekend getaway for my sister’s wedding reception. Fun party, upstairs from a bar with fish mounted on the wall. I saw lots of my sister’s friends whom I haven’t seen for years. It was a great time.

Work, ah work. There is little I can say, since almost everything I am working on is confidential in the eyes of my employer. The lunches are good, and I can get up and take a walk around the building whenever I want to. Plus pretty good free coffee in the morning. The commute is a drag, even though it’s sometimes nice to have a place to go. A closer place to go would be nicer. All I can say is that a corporate environment is what it is. If it was legal to hunt weasels, would anyone go hungry?

We had a neighbor who is soon to visit Guatemala and a Guatemalan coworker of Kathleen’s and her husband over for dinner last night. That was fun. I cooked chicken, since I recall most natives of Latin America like red meat cooked very thoroughly. Since no one likes chicken cooked rare, it’s a lot easier pleasing everyone. I roasted another free range Rocky chicken on the grill. They are the best chickens I have ever had the honor of cooking. They come from Petaluma, and are raised in some way alternative to the usual factory farming methods. I have never inquired into how they are raised, since if I was that concerned, I’d make something vegetarian instead. The Guatemalan husband said the chicken reminded him of “porch hens” from Guatemala. I looked it up and the Rocky Chickens are free ranged. I think the key to their superiority is that the body fat is really well distributed throughout the meat. Very tender and juicy, even the white meat. You can read about it here: http://www.petalumapoultry.com/products/rocky.html . In addition to Rocky, they offer organic chickens calle Rosie. Cute names, but they all get plucked in the end.

Now calm down. Just in case anyone thinks I have lost my trademark stinginess, the chicken was on sale at Whole Foods for about $1.25 per pound. That’s only $.25 more than the de-beaked factory chickens at the “pedestrian” grocery store across the street from Whole Foods.

I also served ratatouille. I make that all summer here, and I am looking forward to soup and stew season. We still have about a month to go. We have left over ratataouille for lunches. I can be a rataterrorist all week!

I am soooo glad the Packers had a big win today, although, 50-something to 3 is a little embarrassing. . The Badgers’ loss does not really bother me.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Grubbing for Money and Panning for Gold

I survived my first week at work, which included a day in San Francisco, band practice on Monday, and Recorder consort on Friday. I’m a little more tired for the wear, but I am hoping I will get used to it. I may be working for a while. The commute is about as bad as I remember, this area has way too much traffic. Being hourly helps keep my days short, and if I do have to work extra hours, I’ll get paid accordingly. The cafeteria at work still has great lunches for about $5, which is a deal. I’ve been mostly eating at my desk, so I can clock a half hour lunch break and get out earlier. I can learn to live with this hourly thing.

MIL just got a new compute form Dell, so Kathleen and I have spent a time helping her set up and transfer files. That project looks complete now. Today we spent some time organizing and housecleaning, and we went to Old Sacramento. On labor day weekend Old Sacramento has Gold Rush days. The streets are repaved with dusty dirt, and horse and history enthusiasts do their thing. Pony express terminal, recreationists hauling around canons with six horse teams, and you usual ethnic and period history interpretation people in their costumes. Last year, we saw a reenactment of a historical squatter’s riot. Lots of fiddle and hurdy-gurdy music too. The recreation stops at the sidewalks, the stores have still tee shirts and similar junk,and the restaurants offer burgers, ice cream and beer, which I think is a good thing. Hard tack and jerky would have been a bit of a drag. I grilled some meat and sautéed a bunch of tomatoes, squashes and onions for next week. Food in the fridge, clean laundry, we are set. I didn’t feel like doing any household work any of the weeknights, although if I could get up the energy to do that, the weekends would be a lot freer. Not a lot more exciting thanthis to report.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off to Work I Go

Tomorrow is the day I go back to full time (at least for a while) work. I look forward to this as a symbol of the fact that I don’t need to act like a sickie anymore. I will miss some of the time I had to myself during the daytime, although afternoons have been getting a little dull. I will also miss my part time math tutoring. I will not miss being occupied on most weeknights with tutoring. In addition to work, my band starts fall rehearsal tomorrow evening. I will have recorder consort practice on most Fridays, so I will be a busy beaver this fall.

I will get to work 8:00 tomorrow for their orientation, which means I need to leave here around 7:20. I would like to go and work out before then, but that will require getting out of bed a little before 5:30. That will only work on nights when neither Kathleen nor I have anything happening. So, we’ll try to work out tomorrow. I am hoping this won’t be too tough, since my stomach usually wakes me up at about that time anyway. The difference is that now I usually get myself to fall back asleep at that time. I don’t really sleep very well after that anyway.

I found an Oregon quarter today! I think that makes our collection up to date until the next release. Imagine the sound of nerdish laughing.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Stop the Insanity

Bob Dylan said it best. Looks like not much has changed in the last 42 years.


http://bobdylan.com/songs/blowin.html

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Original Benedict

I’ve been reading more religious books. Read a book about The Rule of Benedict, "Benedict’s Way" by Laurie Pratt and FR Daniel Hoffman, OSB. I have never looked at the Rule before. I was surprised that The Rule specifies that two meat dishes should be served for dinner, since someone may not like one of the dishes. Further, The Rule requires each Monk gets his own bed. In sixth century Europe, this would be a very high standard of living. The rule demands monks do Lecto Divinia, which is the reading and rereading of holy texts. This tells me all the monks had to be literate, which also seems remarkable in Benedict’s time and place. Most of the rule focuses on what a bunch of guys need to do if they want to live together without being at each others’ throats. One of may favorite things is the repeated references to “murmering”, which is viewed as the root of many evils.

“Benedictine Sprirituality” has become soupe de jour for lots of new-agers. The idea is that The Rule can inform and improve our lives, even if we are not monks. This seems simplistic to me, since the rule, other than specific monastic practices, instructs us to get our avarice under control and work to be nice to each other. As Bill and Ted said, “Always be excellent to each other, party on dude.” However, Bill and Ted probably wouldn’t have liked the chastity business.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Work, Wal-Mart & Old Music

I am going back to my old employer on a contract basis. I should start Monday if they can get the paperwork done on time. It’ll start out full time, so that will be a shock to my ways. I have already bought the clothes I need, so I’m ready to go. Not a lot more to report, since hangininsac will not become a source of corporate gossip. That would be pretty tacky. Besides, every already knows what corporations are like, so there would be nothing new to say.

I bought some stuff at an office max adjacent to a Wal-Mart . Wal-Mart built a store in a smaller mall that previously had an empty Montgomery Wards for over a decade. I am glad they have filled the space, but don’t expect me to shop there. Watching the traffic in and out of Wal-Mart raises the following question: Do people shop at Wal-Mart because they are fat and unattractive, or does shopping at Wal-Mart make people fat and unattractive? Inquiring minds want to know.

Last Friday night, I shared my first practice session with Sine Nomine. It was pretty well attended, with two each of base, alto, tenor and soprano recorders. We played through a bunch of early music, and also some more contemporary music, including an arrangement of an American Indian flute and drum song. Otherwise, most of the music comes from around the time of Europe’s discovery of America. We had tea, cookies and conversation after playing. It was fun.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

On the Way Home

We took the older highway home though Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I recommend this detour for anyone making the trip who has some extra time. Highway 264 itself cuts through miles of beautiful forests, and there are several short trails through groves of giant trees. All the groves are named after people I’ve never heard of, so I cannot remember the name of the grove where we took the following two pictures.


Several giant trees in this grove blew down during a windstorm after a very wet December in 1991. The remains of the trees look like really cool abstract sculptures. The first picture is piece of a tree left standing.
















The second photo shows the roots of a giant tree that fell in 1991. The entire several hundred foot long tree still lies intact.



















As we drove south through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, we kept on seeing signs for “drive-through tree and souvenir shop ahead”. We finally gave in, paid our five bucks and went to one of these places. The reason we ran into almost no one in the woods is that everyone was busy browsing the souvenir shops. Note the redneck watching us drive through the tree, into the parking lot. The great thing about this tourist trap is that SUV’s can’t fit through the trees.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Vacation Photos



Just what you’ve been waiting for – vacation pictures. We spent the best part of our trip in the woods, so you’ll notice a lot of trees in our pictures. The pictures are from Patricks Point and Prarie Creek State Park.

The first two pictures are a fern canyon, carved by a stream to the ocean. The canyons are very narrow, damp and shady, so the walls are covered with lush ferns and mosses. The floor of the canyon was sandy. We walked through the canyon to get from the beachside parking lot to the more mature forest.


As we came deeper into the canyon, we found the sun shining on this very cool looking fallen tree. A monument not made by the hands of men.

















After we climbed through the canyon, we came to beautiful redwood groves. The tall trees, wide trunks and filtered light give the feel of a cathedral. This forest was truly breathtaking. Best of all, in this 6 or so mile walk, we got lost only once!









A moment to thank the trees for their hospitality. Once a tree-hugger, always a tree-hugger.


















We visited Prarie Creek State Park on a misty day. In the words of Legolas from Lord of the Rings, “This forest is old, very old.” It felt like the trees were talking amongst themselves. Fortunately, they decided we were fit to be allowed to leave the forest.







That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

On Top of the World

Look mom, we're at the summit. Althoug I am embarrassed to admit it, we made some cell-phone calls to brothers, parents, etc. to say, "guess where I am"











Jim and Michael on the way to the top.












You can read more about this trip at http://hangininsac.blogspot.com/2005/07/pioneers-and-lunch.html

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Nearly Bored of the Rings

Among all this other crazy stuff, I have been once again viewing the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The heat has driven me to this. I really enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring; I felt like I still got something out of another viewing. The Two Towers really didn’t hold my attention after multiple viewings, except the Theodin, the palantir and the ents are still pretty entertaining. I’m about half way through The Return of the King. The dead caves are still really cool. Almost makes me want to take another shot at the Return of the King video game, so I can let orks make a pincushion out of another fellowship character.

This, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present as prima fascia evidence that someone could probably use a job.

Get a Job, Slacker Boy

You may have noticed several entries over the last few months about my shameless yet lame attempts at self-promotion with the aim of finding more significant employment than my current tutoring gig.

Much to my surprise, it appears that someone other than me has taken note of these efforts. The phone finally started ringing.

I had two short interviews this morning with my former employer (really, former employer under new management) and a scheduled interview Monday with a local service firm interested in talking about possibilities. So now I am the proud owner of a plan A and plan B as far as professional work goes, plus the plan zero alternative, which is to continue my slackdom as a math tutor, which is a pretty good life in its own right.

Now is the first phase of interviewing, when everything that exits my mouth is positive, no fretting about time off for vacations and weddings, employed vs independent contractor status, full vs part time, or money. I take the Isaac Walton approach. Get them stuck on the hook, then fight like hell.

The coolest moment so far:

A manager in one of the interviews missed his appointment for our telephone interview. While speaking with the coordinator of the interviews, I said “ I’d be glad to arrange another time, but Monday is out since I’ll be talking to other people.” I’ve always wanted to say something like that.

All this arranging of appointments is complicated by our plans to vacation in the redwoods Tomorrow through Sunday. I cannot wait to breath the cool moist air under the trees and on the misty beaches. Photos of this trip, as well as my previous Mount Judah excursion will soon appear in this very blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Gazpacho!

My Neighbors have been bugging me for this recipe. I started with a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, and "de-naturalized" it. This is the best food I know for a hot day.

Enjoy!

Gazpacho

1 large can tomato juice
1 small minced onion
1 can (16 oz) chopped tomatoes and juice
1 minced green pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 large or 2 small cloves crushed garlic
1 diced cucumber
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tbsps wine vinegar
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp basil
pinch of ground cumin
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 tbsps olive oil
salt & pepper taste (tomato products are usually salty enough)

Combine and chill at least 2 hours. You can puree if you like.
I recommend chunky Style.

Pioneers and Lunch

The trip to Mt Judah was a success. The weather was good, and the base and the summit were both full of wildflowers. A flock of about twenty tiger swallowtail butterflies dropped by while we were at the summit. Unbelievable! Bad news: I won't be able to post photos until I use the rest of the film in my camera. Good news: by then, I will have pictures of the redwood forest. The woes of being behind the curve in technology.

Near the summit, we ran into a wheezing elderhostel group. It looked like some of them wished they chose a flatter vacation spot. At the summit we used my historical map to spot several passes used by pioneers in the 1840s and the gold rush 49ers as well. We walked through Cold Stream pass on the way up, and along the lip of roller pass on the way down. I can’t even imagine how they pulled wagons through that area, especially after dragging themselves across the prarie and desert from Council Bluffs. It is a tough enough walk without carrying all our worldly belongings. Early California was definitely not for wimps.

At the summit, we had lunch, but we decided to have our peanut butter sandwiches instead of the somewhat gamey looking elderhostelers. Bah-ding!

Yesterday I had lunch with a prospective and former employer, and things look very likely there. More about that as things progress. I could use a more substantial role in the workforce, and this would move to working during the day, rather than in the evenings. I find I miss a lot of opportunities to do almost anything with other people outside of work since I have been working nights. Maybe if I get and hold this job for a while, I'll buy a digital camera. I saw a poster in a store that said shopping is patriotic.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why A Hike is a Big Deal to Me

In my own little world, tomorrow’s trip to Mount Judah is a big deal.

First, let’s talk about history:

When I first visited Sacramento while getting to know Kathleen, I really wanted to drive up and see the Donner area. Lake Tahoe has never captured my imagination in the same way. The terrain and history of that area has always fascinated me. Starting with the early 1840’s stories of the Stephens and Donner party each trying to figure out a way to get over this difficult range (Stephens 1, Donner 0). Followed by a few year’s worth of settlers in the late 1840's, and the gold rush in 1849. In these short years, the parties found cold stream and roller passes, which are higher than Donner pass, but easier for parties to go through. The relatively short hike to Mount Judah’s summit goes through cold stream pass and roller pass. Until the late 1990s, the trail also went through Donner Pass. However, the trailhead was moved in about 2000 to allow Sugarbowl Ski Area to add a new slope. To be fair to Sugarbowl, they built a good alternate trail to replace the closed trail.

Later in the 19th Century comes the Union Pacific, the first transcontinental railway in North America. After a survey of the sierra range, lead by engineer Theodore Judah, the railroad also chose the Donner Pass area as the best crossing. So did the builders of Interstate 80. I think it’s amazing that a few scouts found the same pass as the railroad’s and interstate’s studies.

You can stand on the summit with a map and look down on all this history.

Now, let’s get personal:

For Several years Kathleen and I made sure to have one or two hikes in the mountains. Mount Judah is our favorite because it was our first mountain hike, and the first time I (Mr. Wisconsin) had climbed to a real summit, with a name, a view, and everything!

The last time we went up Mount Judah was our last outing before my major surgery and the sickness that followed. We knew it might be our last chance when we went up on July fifth 2003. I had to eat about 3000 calories of extra food just to make it up the hill.

About a month or two after surgery, as I was beginning to realize that I was not going to spring back to my former state of health, I used some guided imagery CDs to try to get better. When you are desperate, you’ll do almost anything. The CD asked the user to imagine a nice place, where you’d go if you could. I always went back to Mount Judah. As my health continued to not improve, I dropped that routine, since it just made me feel bad that I didn’t really believe I would ever get healthy enough to go up the mountain again.

Well, that’s not what happened. My life may not be perfect, I may not feel great, but I am going back up the mountain!

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

All About Crap Jobs

From the Idler website,

A series of essays written by intelligent people subjected to moronic jobs can be found in Crap Jobs of the U K . Some of these descriptions killed me.

How can you resist short essays that begin like this: "A summer job working at a local mental hospital was supposed to be a bag of laughs. I had envisioned chatting therapeutically to slightly confused older folk over soothing cups of tea, but no. "

Or how about endings like this: "Having heard reports that I'd been 'dancing round the ward with a corpse' and now finding me sprawled across it in the morgue, I was immediately asked to leave. I have never been so glad to be sacked."

I highly recommend this collection, as well as most of The Idler . Now, why could that be. . .

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I’m done reading, time to go outside

Yes, I finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince early last week. I didn’t write about it in the blog for fear of exposing readers to spoilers. Now it’s time to wait for the next book. No use musing over questions like, who is RAB (Remulus Black?), Is Snape really the half-blood prince? (recall the book was from before Snape’s time. Could it be you know who?) Blah blah blah, you can go on for ever this way, but let’s remember, it will all come out however Rawlings decides.

Today has been a pretty productive Monday. Cleaned house, exercised at the health club, did some household business, made a batch of gazpacho that should hold out through the week. It’ll be another hot week, with highs around 100 degrees. Best of all, I have planned a good hike in the sierras with a friend and his new 15 year old ward and nephew. Our hike will include Mount Judah's Summit, and maybe Donner summit, too. Summits are good for you. A Disneyland-like experience for more sentient beings. Not to overlook that the high’s are only in the low 80s in the mountains.

On Saturday we took a walk by the American River. I scrounged some good wild raspberries, and we ran into some interesting human residents of the parkway. When I ride my bike, I never talk to anyone with more than a couple of words as I speed by. They didn’t have a lot to say anyway. We had a pleasant walk, even though we didn’t see any great sights. It’s just great to get out by the river and in the woods.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

2:00 Friday afternoon

Sitting at the Coffee Shop

Written at 2:00 Friday afternoon.

I decided to come out here since I hadn’t gotten out of the house yet today. I slept poorly last night, the usual sore stomach plus some. I haven’t slept well for a few nights, maybe its time to use one of Dr’s magic pills. Often, I use the pills once, and then I’ll sleep normally thereafter. In any event, I felt pretty crummy this morning. It was the first time I remember not finding the energy to get up before Kathleen left for work. I had vivid dreams while I slept in this morning. I dreamt Blue Funk wanted hire me back half-time, but I was too tired to get out of bed and get to work. I finally got up, but then the dream was over. I still felt crummy, so I moped around for the rest of the morning. At about 11:00, one of our sprinkler pumps started spraying like Buckingham Fountain. I reset the sprinkler timer so that pump won’t be activated, and left a message with Dave, our mow and blow and sprinkler guy. He hasn’t called back yet.

That, pathetic as it may be, is my life so far today. After this moment, I will go to the grocery and buy London broil on sale and some taters to cook on the grill, so we can have meat and potatoes around for a few days.

So far, no one is responding to my feeble efforts to contact the world of work. Ah, another day of reprieve from the stresses of the world of employment.

Seated at a table near me are two talkative fat women with high voices and inane dialogue. Think huge talking white fish wearing shorts and matching tops. They are bitching about the lousy service at some hotel they visited. Something about dirty rooms and massage service not being timely. I’d kill myself and a bus full of kids before I’d want to give one of those cows a massage! The fatter of the two just said she’d like to be able to get TV on her PC, you know, for important things like September 11 and the Simpson trial. I am at risk of succumbing to the intense exposure to stupid radiation. I need to move operations inside.

Back indoors, I left the dirty hotel ladies out on the terrace. I was hoping this place has the New and Review (SNR), Sacramento’s weekly newspaper, but I don’t see it. One of my math students is a high school Junior from Redding. Her parents just moved to a suburb so white and conservative, I have never even seen a Mexican there. She likes indie music, which certainly isn’t found anywhere in the suburbs. Sacramento’s far suburbs are about the most boring suburbs I have ever seen in my life. Nothing but square miles of houses with box stores on the big intersections. I was hoping I could find SNR for her, since it’s full of ads for indie stores, which are almost all in Midtown or downtown. Alas, I am sure she’ll figure it out on her own, or she’ll spend the rest of her life in Rocklin watching TV and amassing debt, as is they way of her suburb and its moneyed hillbilly residents.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

I have stopped working volunteer at the SPCA here. There have been some goofy management initiatives, including management spying on volunteers and accusing them of besmirching the SPCA’s name on the internet, (Oh Rick, if you are reading this, go get a real job), that makes the SPCA now a poison environment in my humble opinion.

I am told the SPCA has been destroying, as a matter of policy, animals that have been cared for by volunteers. Who wants to volunteer their time to socialize and train an animal that will be killed by autocratic order, rather than put in someone’s home? Unfortunately, this will further erode care for those few animals the management doesn’t choose to kill.

I think the Sacramento’s SPCA’s future may be moving more in the direction of a kill and kill and kill shelter, rather than simply a kill shelter. Over time I think the verifiable difference between the SPCA and local government animal control is thinning. Maybe in the interim I should find some other place to save the world.

That’s the truth and I’m sticking to it

I can’t believe it, he finally did something

I finally did something. I sent an introductory email and my resume to a likely local actuarial employer. Now time will tell what happens. I thought I would wait to see what kind of response I get before I do the same for other possible employers. I am using this guy as a beta test.

I have come to the realization that my tutoring job will always be evenings, and will always rob me of opportunities to do things I want to do with other people, so I may as well look for well paid work that I can do daytime.

In the same vein, I sat down to think yesterday, and realized I have fallen into somewhat of a funk, which is no place to be. The wife has even noticed that I am getting uncomfortably grouchy and curmudgeon like. I decided the way to get out of this is to act like I am trying to do something, rather than just hang out. I promised myself I would make these contacts in the way of looking for better work, and I promised myself to structure my weekdays more, so no more morning showers at 1:30 or 2:00 PM.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Attack of the Mary Kaye Realtors

(My Apologies to Berke Blethed)

Sitting at the table next to mine are three middle aged women in shorts and sleeveless tops and pancake makeup (think muttons in lambs clothing) talking about real estate. In Sacramento, it seems like casual real estate agency has replaced Mary Kaye as the employment of choice for well heeled Suburban wives. Hopefully, they’ll never take up math tutoring. When the real estate market here stagnates, I wonder if they’ll gravitate toward Mary Kaye, Amway, Herbalife, and Bee Pollen. I can hardly wait. One of them talks really loud and a little shrill, and she talks about 80% of the time, although they are a group of three. Maybe I should start loudly talking to myself about the international cantaloupe and oversized pickup truck conspiracy. If the talker’s nice to me, maybe I’ll offer her a chance to get in at the ground floor. Then again, maybe not.

Now the staff is loudly clanking tableware from lunch. The lunch rush here doesn’t fade until between 2:00 and 3:00. The food must be pretty good, since it ain’t cheap. In any event, the coffee and atmosphere is great. The two barristas are flirting shamelessly. The entire staff dresses in all black, even when it’s 107 degrees outside. Is that cool or what? I should probably leave pretty soon, but it looks really hot outside.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Continuous Bifocals. .. Homofocals. . . Metrofocals?

I started wearing my new bifocals yesterday, and they are working out pretty well. The only weird thing is that, if I look through the wrong part of the lenses, everything around the edges of my field of vision starts to get blurry and melt. It’s kind of like the feelings I remember experiencing while waiting for a Grateful Dead concert to start, except I’m not convinced the people sitting near me are conspiring to take over the world by cornering the cantaloupe and oversized pickup truck markets. Thank goodness for that.

I can surely see distance better than I could with my old glasses. I think it’ll take a little while to grow accustomed to the close-up vision, and the continuous nature of the correction. I found a fun game to play: I can hold a book almost up to my nose, tilt my head up until it’s in focus. Then I can slowly move the book away, while carefully lowering my chin to keep the book consistently in focus. I am easily entertained.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What’s All This About Property Rights?

In the barrage of response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision about eminent domain, I’ve been seeing and hearing lots of discussion about the rights of ownership of real property (i. e., land).

The decision, in a nutshell, expands Government eminent domain rights to seize land when a Governmental unit believes the land can be put to an alternative use that somehow better serves the public. Some legal scholars believe this will allow local Governments to take (with compensation) privately owned lands to build a shopping mall or a Wal-Mart, if the improvement will generate more local sales tax revenue.

What I have found most interesting about peoples’ response to this decision is the underlying beliefs about property rights that are revealed. One individual who often writes “crank” letters to the Sacramento Bee complains that the Government’s right to condemn property for property tax non-payment is against “God’s intent”. It seems a lot of people believe that once an individual purchases real estate, the property should remain with individual’s heirs for eternity. Isn’t that the paradigm of European feudalism? I guess what I view as just lies somewhere between the Supremes’ decision and feudalism.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Stiff Upper Lips Are Good For Something

Over the last week or so, my hopes for mankind have been rekindled by the collective behavior of the British in the aftermath of getting whacked by terrorists. From what I am seeing, it looks like we in the US have a lot to learn from these Island-dwelling fog eaters.

I spend much of 1991 and 1992 working in London for a British company. One of the major impressions the British made upon me is the high value they place on determination and cool-headedness. It seems their entire nation has kept their head in the throws of their recent terrorist attacks. No one in Parliament is telling us that history as we know it has ended. I’ll be watching to see if they continue dealing with their mess in a sane manner. How the heck did these people let Tony “Bride of Bushenstein” Blair ever get them into Iraq?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

100 Degrees of Lassitude

The temperature is about 100 degrees now, working its way up to about 106 by 5 or 6 PM today. Summer has been very mild up to the recent few days, but now we’re talking about beating Sacramento’s all-time record of 9 days for consecutive days over 100 degrees. Today is day 3, and I have had enough already. The nights here are cool and pleasant most of the time, but not with temperatures like these.

This weather makes me lazy (OK, OK, lazier than usual). I have been escaping to public spaces’ air conditioning. I am at a coffee shop right now, with my notebook PC. As the old song goes, “I’m in love with the modern world. . . Road Runner once. . . “ I started the week with great plans, but at least I have gone to the health club 4 times (great AC).

I probably should’ve contacted some people in a local risk management firm via email, but I just was too lazy. I put that on my list for Monday. I don’t know how I can explain to anybody what type of work I want to do, when I can’t even explain it to myself. Maybe what I want is more work without a jerk boss. I’d be able to figure that out after an interview. Motivation is low right now.
This weekend, we’re going to the movies. I want to see Batman, and maybe Star Wars on Sunday. Nowhere is as cold as a movie theater, but you can melt walking across the massive parking lots.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Today Monday, Tomorrow the Redwoods

Monday is my day for house cleaning in the morning, with usually not a lot happening in the afternoon. Today’s afternoon excitement is feeling the weather warm up. High of 100 today, possibly 106 tomorrow. Well, we really haven’t had any terribly hot weather yet this summer. All good things must come to an end. Maybe I’ll make gazpacho tomorrow. Nothing is as good in hot weather.

Partially in reaction to the heat, Kathleen and I decided we’ll go to Arcata in Humbolt County for a long weekend in mid-August. That’s the far northern California coast, near Redwoods National Forest. Truly a cool, misty and beautiful place. The woods look like “Jurassic Park”, which was filmed there. We made the hotel reservation today. I prefer hotel rather than camping since it rains all the time there. Ah, just the thought of rain feels good right now. We plan to drive up Thursday afternoon and evening, spend Friday and Saturday in the woods, and drive home Sunday. The main points I am interested in, Patrick’s Point and Prairie Creek State Parks are about 50 miles north of Arcata. Several years ago, I camped at Patrick’s point with a friend. In its cold and primitive way, these woods are perhaps the most beautiful I have seen. Beautiful misty beaches, coastal bluffs, fern gulleys, and redwood forests. I promise I’ll actually take pictures and get them on the blog. It always takes a little longer for me, since I may be the world’s last blogger to use a camera with actual film. Well, that’s one of the costs I pay for my casual relationship to the world of work.

Here's a photo from my last visit to Prairie Creek. I was overfilled to bursting with what John Muir called "natural beauty bread".




An interesting aside about the twin cities of Eureka and Arcata; Formerly lumber towns, the major source of income for these towns and surrounding regions appears to be large scale marijuana farming. Hiking guides warn us to keep on the trail, since wandering onto someone’s “farm” on State or Federal land can prove fatal. The other big deal in Arcata is California State University Humboldt. This school is the world capital of white guys in dreadlocks who call each other “duuuuude”. The student body is from all over the state, representing a higher than average economic background and desire to get to what’s real, like y’know. None of that linear crud for these deep thinking young Americans. Raving, as well as Poi and other flaming object twirling is big up there.

The last time I visited I spent some delightful time with my friend’s brother and his girlfriend. His brother works as a police officer in Arcata, and is involved in running a winery. The girlfriend is a former forest ranger, and went along for some of our hikes. Best of all, when the cold rain fell, we quickly packed up camp and moved to their house. We spent the rest of the weekend eating good food, tasting fine wine, and hearing great stories from the world of law enforcement rather than shivering by the campsite. Hopefully we will be able to see these two while in town.



My work life (or nearly complete lack thereof) continues to provide a source of angst for me. Maybe that’s not too bad, given my proneness to inaction in this area, and I recall my work life gave me a lot of angst when I was fully employed as well. If I never actually do anything about it, what harm can it possibly cause? Put that in your cigar and smoke it, Sigmund.

On the home front, our neighbors from New Orleans invited us for a shrimp boil at the end of this month. Regional food has invaded our once peaceful neighborhood. Now it is inevitable, we’ll have to have everybody over for brats late summer or early fall. NFL games are on the tube so early here (even the Sunday late game ends at about 3:00) so they will be spared the tribal Packers’ game. I noticed local grocery stores have started carrying Johnsonville brats. That, and sourdough hard rolls should form the perfect bridge between California and Wisconsin cuisine. My apologies to Alice Waters. Brats make me sad because you can’t drink beer after brats have been boiled in it. I actually haven’t tried this, but I believe it’s true. At least the onions are delicious. I haven’t thought about side dishes, whether to go with traditional greasy potato salad, or do something lighter like gazpacho, which the neighbor ladies love. I am definitely not doing cream puffs for desert.

Quick political note: It appears Carl Rove outed that CIA operative, thus spake Rove’s attorney yesterday. Chalk up another one for America’s leading crime family. I may not have lived my life perfectly, but, goshdarnit, I never exposed a CIA spy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Day for Musing and Brooding

The weather is beautiful today, but I had to postpone my plans for working in the back yard, thanks to my neighbor who’s over watering flooded our yard this morning. I can get it done tomorrow.

So I am spending the day hanging out. I went into the neighbor’s back yard and turned off the water, ordered a new and better recorder, talked to a headhunter, practiced clarinet and recorder, and looked at my lawnmower. That’s all the achievement to record for today. I had a leisurely cup of coffee at a local joint this morning, enjoyed sitting on their patio along with several neighborhood idlers and their dogs. Although I enjoy days like today, on these days my mind wanders about what other things I might do with my time. When a headhunter from a major actuarial meat marketer called today, I agreed to send her my resume, after talking a bit about where I am and what I can do. If I am serious, I should simply write letters and call the few possible actuarial employers in the area. It seems like I never get that serious. The main allure of being involved in actuarial work is the pay level and the prestige, not to mention I think I’m pretty good at it. The downside is spending time dealing with members of that dreaded species, Homo Corperatus Jerkus. Really, I tell myself, just contacting people wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I might get a free lunch or two out of the deal.

Last night I dreamed about growing more tumors in the pancreas. That is not comforting. A few years before I came up with my tumor, I had similar dreams. I am even willing to think about actuarial work to get my mind out of that gutter.

I just finished “Standing in the Rainbow” by Fannie Flagg. Four Stars (****). Her telling of the history of several citizens of a small Missouri town is gripping and charming. The work was somewhat in the style of Garrison Keiller’s lake Woebegone stories, without Keiller’s moodiness or woman-hating. This was a book I couldn’t put down. It included life stories of characters such as the old veteran grumps that were everywhere in the 70’s and on, a politician with some similarities to George Wallace, Gospel Singers, and other typical small town eccentrics. The book focused on the 1940’s and 1950’s, but followed the characters through to the early 1990s.

My AARP membership card arrived yesterday. I can’t wait to flash it at restaurants and accuse anyone who charges me the standard price with blatant age discrimination. How much fun is that?

At work, some parents have complained that we aren’t assigning enough homework. My students have a different opinion, but he who pays the piper calls the tune. So, I doubled all homework assignments this week. The goal is about 100 minutes per week. I have mostly younger kids in summer school so we are working on exciting topics like adding and multiplying fractions and mixed numbers. In reality, the most important work is teaching the students how and when to focus on a task.

We had a great 4th of July. I invited the crazy neighbors over for BBQ chicken, Gazpacho, Kathleen’s old family recipe potato salad, and the obligatory apple pie. They brought over a lot of cool fireworks. The underlying theme of our conversation involved interjecting, “WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM?” whenever anyone said anything thoughtful. A good time and a lot of beer was had by all. Hey, ever notice how those two often go together. Hmmmmm.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Getting to the Point

Hot weather in Sacramento and my own need to behave like a more fit person drove us take a 10-mile hike in Tomales Point in the Point Reyes National Shoreline. We were immediately rewarded with a high temperature near 70 degrees, versus about 100 in Sacramento, not to mention the absence of smog at the coast. The hike was beautiful. You can see a good slideshow of the hike at Slides from Tomales Point hike. Jim Herd took the same hike in 2004, and this link presents his excellent photographs.

The point is a preserve for wild elk, and is home to many interesting birds. We saw an Osprey carrying a large fish, a few goldfinch, pelicans, and several cormorants. We watched several sea lions playing in the tide’s incoming waves as we had our sandwiches at the end of the point. Beautiful flowering plants border the trail for the entire hike, including lupines, poppies, thistle, and dozens of other wildflowers that remain nameless to me. The hike included several small hills (would be called huge mountains in my ancestral homeland of Wisconsin) and hundreds of vistas of the Pacific coast and Tomales bay. Any Geology mavens out there might like to know that Tomales point is where the San Andreas Fault leaves the Continent. The point today is about 20 feet further out in the ocean than it was in 1906, before the big earthquake. If the next "big one" struck during our visit, I'm sure we too would be at least 20 feet further out in the ocean.

On a more personal note, it felt great taking a robust hike like a normal healthy person.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Indignities of Aging

“Now, these changes to your prescription will take care of your distance, let me show you how your close up vision will be.” “The reading sample looks pretty fuzzy”, I innocently admitted. “I can fix that”, said the eye doctor, “I’ll write you a prescription for continuous bifocals. You’ll find them comfortable and easy to use.”

Yikes! Bifocals! Coming within the next two weeks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Today's Intelligence Briefing

Overheard at the White House portico:

"knock knock"

"who's there"

"Osama"

"Osama who?"

"No wonder you can't catch me, dumbass"

Kathleen, She's the Tops



You're the top! You're the Coliseum.

You're the top! You're the Louver Museum.

You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss You're a Bendel bonnet, A Shakespeare's sonnet,

You're Mickey Mouse. You're the Nile, You're the Tower of Pisa, You're the smile on the Mona Lisa

I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,

But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!

(Photo taken at summit of Mt Judah)

(Lyrics stolen from Cole Porter, but you probably have already figured that out)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Natureboy Appears



I finally figured out an easy way to post photos. This photo was taken a few years back on the way up mount St Helena near Napa CA. The two giant trees on either side of me are found in lots of redwood groves around California. They are not giant redwoods, just what passes for normal redwoods. I think the coastal redwoods are more attractive than than the giant redwoods, which are have diameters of about 20 or 30 feet at the base. These girly-man coastal redwoods ate only about 100 feet tall.

The climb up Mt St Helena was a great day hike. As I am feeling better, I hope we'll take more trips like tha this year.

Old Memories and Nekkid Tuckpointing

We visited relatives in Madison last week. My niece lives in Nottingham Cooperative, which is a really cheap and comfortable place to live if you don’t mind the living like a filthy hippie. In 1981, I lived in a similar cooperative house in called Trafalmador. I became involved in the Madison Community Cooperative Board and Finance Committee, so I was aware of some activities in other cooperative houses.

When I first saw my Niece, I mentioned I remembered her house for an incident involving a building inspector’s small fine for naked tuckpointing (i. e., tuckpointing applied by naked coop members). As I was told at the time, the inspector arrived to look at the roof, saw a couple of naked guys working on the roof, and decided to write a citation since he didn’t want to deal with naked men. That seemed fair to me at the time.

The 23 year old niece lighted up like a searchlight. “You were around for the naked tuckpointing!?”, she said. “Everyone talks about that, but no one knows if it really happened.” I was a celebrity for the moment.

The next day, we walked to Nottingham to pick up the Niece for lunch (calm down, we didn’t eat her, we took her to a restaurant). She gave us a tour of the house. A few members were around at midday. Word had already gotten around that I was around at the time of the legendary naked tuckpointing incident. A few members asked, “is he the guy?”. I handled my new found fame with the most grace I could come up with.

The house was pretty dark, dank and dirty. Pretty much similar to what I remember from Tralfalmador, except by now about 25 years more dirt has accumulated.

Now that we are back in Sacramento, I’ll need to leave my local fame behind me, and settle back into my modest, mild-mannered self.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Downing Street Memo Viral Marketing Performance Enhancement

How many hits do think this title will get?

Anyway, back to the ranch

At about 4:00 AM Saturday, we leave to visit relatives and old friends in Madison, WI. If we have any slow moments, and my sister lets me use her computer, I may make a post or 2 from vacation. However, I am not sure of the value of posting from my sister’s home, since she is my only regular reader. (1) Damn, that’s pathetic for a married guy, and (2) I suck at promotion.

Summer school started at work this week. I have fewer students in the summer. Almost few enough to get me thinking about finding a real job. We are using a new system to assign practice, evaluation and homework problems for the students. Our administrative person hasn’t torn out her hair yet; so far so good. The system is weirdly rigid for dealing with young kids. For example, the system doesn’t allow teachers to cancel homework assignments kids don’t complete. Imagine that, a kid missing a homework assignment. The best part of work is I have one student who plays saxophone and enjoys it! Finally I get a reed player.

Inconceivable!!

I figure that someone will have found a work-around for this by the time I get back from vacation.

It’s been raining most of today. That never happens here in June. The temperature never went above 70 degrees.

Inconceivable!!

Recorder playing is progressing faster than I had thought it would at this point. Of course, I won’t bring it on vacation, so how much ability I lose over the week will be a good indicator of how much I have really learned so far.

We’ll pack our stuff tonight, Once Kathleen gets home. Since we have to get up so early on Saturday, I already have all the ironing done.

To be fair, I will return to the title subject. In a universe that is moral at all, lies eventually surface. There is no closet that doesn’t open sometime, and if you eat, eventually, there’s the poop.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Whirligig Caper, and my Life as it is

A strange night in Sacramento, it rained nearly all last night, which almost never happens in June. In addition to the rain, some very tacky whirligigs miraculously fell on our lawn as. I suspect that means are neighbors described in a recent entry must’ve got into the sauce last night. I think within a few days, I’ll take them down (the whirligigs, not the neighbors), and save them for a good retaliation opportunity. Maybe I’ll run across a cheap glow-in-the-dark plastic Mary shrine or something like that.

Kathleen has had a backache this week and is staying home from work. I feel somewhat guilty about this (that’s a surprise, I know). But really, I feel like her sore back is partially driven by all the stress she’s carried for the last few years from all my health issues, and becoming the chief breadwinner. I am thankful that my life has at least prepared me to be good at and willing to do cleaning and cooking, or else who knows what.

Summer sessions start next week at work, and I already have four classes lined up. The students do not yet know that I will generate 2 hours per week homework for each student. Nor do they know that the parents have signed contracts promising to force, beg cajole, etc. the kids to do their homework. I can’t wait to spring this on them. The little taters will now only have time for about 90 hours of TV each week.

Next week we’ll get our act together for our trip to Wisconsin. More or less throwing clothes into bags and stockpiling drugs. Also making plans to see lots of people. The trip should be a blast. I really enjoyed the last time I visited, even though Kathleen was not able to join me. Both my sister and my parents have membership cards that allow us to buy beer at the Union. My underlying mission in this trio is to be careful what I eat (mostly how much) so I avoid any sleepless nights. I tend to follow those nights with grumpy old-fart days.

Speaking of sleepless nights, at Kathleen’s prompting, I have been reading Proust and enjoying it a lot. I think I previously avoided Proust out of fear of all the boring and pretentious literary criticism surrounding the work. I even liked the 20 or so pages about turning over in bed.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What I Did Last Weekend

I do not like onion rings.
Eating them can clip my wings.
At first I really love their taste,
Then I eat too much with haste.

But two hours hence,
My gut is dense
Because I tried
Food that’s fried
That took me on a two day ride.

My lazy stomach is so slow
I could not make it downward flow
For two days I could not squelch
A never ending need to belch.

This gave me a brand new hunch.
I will not eat a greasy lunch,
Nor snarf French fries by the bunch,
Nor on Doritos shall I munch.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh, The Pain of the Vain

I looked at a high school yearbook with a couple of students. I was surprised to see that about half of the yearbook is taken up with “senior ads”. I have never seen this phenomenon before. I don’t know if this fad has overtaken the nation or, hopefully, this perversion of vanity is found only here, in the land of fruit and nuts.

Here’s the deal: Graduating seniors’ parents pay for full page ads in the yearbook. The ads usually start with a statement like,”I’ll miss all my friends at Noname HS”. The purpose of that statement appears to be a reminder that the spoiled little darling actually did have friends. Following that, the ads usually include a pretty large glamour photo, with all the zits and braces carefully scanned out. Then comes the best part, a couple of paragraphs about how great this kid was in high school. I don’t think I could design a better exercise in parent-supported teenage narcissism if I tried. The patents love this so much, one of my student’s parents stopped in to show me the ad for her daughter, who is currently getting a D in Math, and makes the average catatonic sociopath look like Dale Carnegie. Discussion of Math grades was not included in the ad. Elliot McMonkey McBean from the Sneetch’s Beaches could’ve developed this marketing scheme.

I think kids in America would do a lot better if their parents didn’t act like they believe every turd their kid makes is solid gold.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I was a token slacker male

We went to two parties last weekend, a small Friday night drink-together with the neighbors and a High School Graduation part on Saturday. Both affairs had a similar theme, I was the token male on Friday, and one of the only men in a crowd on Saturday.

Our neighbors with whom we hang out include a sixty-ish widow Kindergarten teacher and her eighty-something mom, our very strange single female next door neighbor, and the neighbors on the other side of her house, a lesbian couple. A few of their friends, all women, showed up. A good time was had by all. Our single neighbor makes a summer drink called Mojitos, really a deadly tumbler-sized gimlet. She made fancy littlke tea sandwiches as well. It was great. Several of our neighbors and their friends work at a local radiology group, and the local weekly newspaper. They share the usual warped humor of clinical and news people. Next time the doctor orders imaging I want a PET scan. Helical CAT scans are for wimps and pretenders, I have decided. Way too 20th century for me.

The parents of the young graduate are also lesbians, as well as are most of their friends. They had great food, but no tamales (one of them is Mexican). I was secretly hoping there was a Mexican tradition of tamales for graduation. No dice. Guess I’ll just have to wait until Christmas. One of the Hostess’s kids brought their adorable Pug dog. That was the high point of the party for me. I just wasn’t feeling very social on Saturday.

I have been practicing recorder a lot, I know all the “basic” notes, but I need to practice for celerity and musicality. The lesson books I amusing, “Sweet Pipes” use mostly renaissance pieces that I enjoy playing. I need to make sure to spend enough time and attention on clarinet playing, too.

Weekday bike rides along the American River have become a habit, although parts of the trail are flooded out as the record snowfalls in the Sierras are rapidly melting. Our weather has just finally gotten warm with highs in the low nineties this week. That’s still pleasantly warm given our low humidity and cool nights.

Employment scene update – Looks like I need to sharpen my slacker skills soon, summer looks likely to be idle. Nothing happening on the HS tutoring front, as expected, and no action with the Community College. That means I lose my thin veil of respectability. It’s really high time to come up with a “Plan B”. This all would be a lot easier if I was excited about some kind of work in particular. I realize that with my degrees, prospects for teaching math are pretty limited.

On a more appealing subject than work, we are now of age to look into taking a vacation with Elderhostel. Sing if you’re glad to be grey.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Coyote is my Spirit Guide

While riding my bicycle along the American River Parkway, I spotted a coyote loping at about my pace on a bridal trail running parallel to the bike trail. He gave me a couple of looks, and kept loping on. Coyote helped me think a little more clearly than normal (big prize, I know).

While I fret about my casual relationship to the world of work, Coyote does fine without the benefit of domestication his distant cousins enjoy.

In a way work is a lot like domestication from the dog’s point of view. We become so accustomed to depending on Master for our fulfillment, it’s easy to overlook our ability to live a full life without Master’s constant prodding and rewards. When I look at what I do in a day, I am far happier about what I am doing than I was when working full time in an office, although I do miss the speedier internet connection (see Earn big $$ by Surfing the Net)

Maybe I really need to remember the lesson of Mr Wizard the Lizard from the old Tutor the Turtle cartoons, “be what you is, and not what you is not, folks what do this have the happiest lot.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thomas Jefferson vs George Bush

I have been plagued by the uncomfortable feeling that the activities of our Government in Iraq, under the leadership of George WII, has an uncanny resemblance to the actions of the British under king George III which led to the American Revolution. Fortunately, Jefferson did a great job of summarizing the case against British occupation in the Declaration of Independence.
The plain type is the Declaration of Independence. I have added my comments in bold italics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is up to you to judge the case; Do Jefferson’s standards justify an Iraqi battle for independence?

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen ColoniesIn CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III (replace with George WII)] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

“This is worth repeating: it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Possibly disappearance of $$ from Iraqi oil qualifies for this one. No to mention imprisonment without charges.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Recall the over 12 month delay of the originally promised date of elections.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

No comment, but I love “manly firmness” (kinda homoerotic?)

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

See note above about delayed elections, look at the civilian body count.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

Whassup with Sadaam’s trial?, How about military tribunals for Iraqi citizens.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

How many Government employees and contractors are in the green zone?

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

Yep.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

The US forces don’t answer to any Iraqis, last I heard.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Laws written durings Bremmer’s tenure permanently immunize contract employees from prosecution.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

See Abu Graihb and Guantanimo. After blogging this, you’ll probably see me there.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

See the Coalition Preliminary Authority (CPA).

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

So, what’s happening in Fallujah? Too bad for Iraqis that when this disappears from the U S puppet press, the dead don’t come back to life.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Wow, I can’t believe how well this fits.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Middle East politics is too dense for me to figure this out. Therefore, I give George WII a Mulligan on this one.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Amen.

The remaining text describes the Conclusion that the Colonies have no moral choice but to declare independence.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

My Verdict: Guilty as Charged.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I Blog, Therefore I Am

With band season winding down, I have decided its time to start some woodshedding. I went to a music store and bought a clarinet method book. That’s how you improve. Unfortunately, I also picked up a cheap alto recorder. The descant recorder I already have is so shrill it hurts to listen to the upper register. Unfortunately, the alto recorder has different tuning than the soprano, so I need to learn to adjust fingerings for that. Further, I haven’t yet learned all the accidental fingerings for the recorder. So, goal number two for summer is to learn all the fingerings for both recorders, and try to get good enough to join the recorder society, if that makes sense. I enjoy the raw and primitive experience of recorders versus my clarinet. Although, I am not sure if this recorder business is a subconscious search for an excuse for not working too hard on clarinet methods. All so much more fun than trying to get more employed. The same can be said for ingrown toenails.

On that note, I left a message with the community college dean who seems interested in my teaching. These wheels of progress move slowly, if they are moving at all. I figure if the dean wasn’t interested, she’d politely ask me to get lost. She has an assistant who certainly could do that for her. I Haven’t gotten that message yet. However, it’s really time to think about a plan B. Once school lets out, I will have more time to fret about all his. I am still enjoying teaching the kids, and some of them have improved to the point where they no longer need my help. Some others have continued to languish in poor grades. Kids who are a little slow and do poorly don’t bug me. It’s the kids who really should do better, mostly underachievers, burnouts, and social butterflies out of control. I can get them to do math seriously for most of a 90 minute session, but I can’t make them pay attention in class and buckle down at home. The parents look at me like I’m nuts when I talk about controlling distractions such as TV. I guess that’s OK, as long as they pay the bills.

The house exterior work is done! Siding repaired, completely repainted in tan with frost white trim, fence gate repaired, and new gutters in place and tested with today’s rain. Now neighbors are stopping by to say how good the house looks. Weeks ago, ours was "that house" depressing everyone else’s property values. Next steps: figure out how to get the back sprinklers to work, and start aggressively trimming our Costa Rican themed back yard until it resembles a garden more than a rainforest. That will be a gradual effort for this summer. However, I get a kick out of our rosebushes that have grown over the telephone lines. They are blooming all the way to the top.

I have been thinking about Thomas Jefferson lately. If he was an Iraqi, what’d he be up to these days. Probably not a lot different from those days. This may be the subject of a more detailed rant in the near future. I still hold his truths self evident (the truths in his writing, not in how he lived).

That’s the truth, and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Concert Tonight, Jesus is our Assistant Director

Today’s big excitement is tonight’s 7:30 band concert at Presentation Catholic Church. See http://www.sacramentoconcertband.com/ for details. I have retained my position as stage manager, and will have from 5:30 to 6:30 to set up. I am hoping Father Mike will be able to enlist some eighth grade students to remove the alter and lay out the chairs before I get there. Otherwise, I will have to actually do my job. I always have to guard the tabernacle, because someone always tries to move it, and that’s against church rules. My least favorite thing about playing at Presentation is the acoustics. It’s like an echo chamber. My favorite thing is the giant crucifix that rises high behind where we set up the band. It is a modern design featuring Jesus with arms extended but no actual wooden cross. It looks like Jesus has arrived in an apparition to give his blessing to the Sacramento Concert Band. How many groups get that kind of sponsorship? Come to the concert and meet probably about half of Hanginsac's regular readers!

Today’s newspaper greeted me this morning with a huge story. My life may never be the same. . . Dateline Comics Page. . . Luanne has become close friends With Toni Daytona, her brother Greg’s unattainable object of longing over the last two or three years. What will develop next? This is the biggest news since last year when Luanne’s very pretty heartthrob Aaron had a secret announcement. I was sucked in; I thought he was surely coming out of the closet. No dice; Aaron’s family was making a move to Hawaii. I don’t know why I let the comics toy with my emotions like this.

Did I mention that I need to get a life?

On that subject, I still haven’t heard back from the college dean from whom I am seeking legitimate employment. I figure I will call her tomorrow, since that will be one week past the date she said she expected to call. I will try to keep my high-pitched choruses of “oh, please, please, please” to an absolute minimum. If this fails, I may need to seek a real job, like with an office and all that soul-sucking jazz. Oh Jesus, leader of bands, please save me.

The house painting is finished, I am trying to arrange a date for the gutter contractor to do his thing. I tested the sprinklers yesterday, Good news; all the frone sprinklers work, bad news; we need to get someone to replace the timer for our back garden. Another more handy person for whose call I must wait. I feel like a hostage of the guys who got As in shop class.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Infiltrated by Homeland Security

Warning to all Hangininsac readers: We have received credible and substantiated information that the State Sponsored Terrorist Organization known as the Department of Homeland Security has infiltrated this sight. The identified operative has been known to use the codename of “Falluja Win Imshallah”. We have detected this threat from our constant surveillance of chatter, otherwise known as comments to this blog and emails I receive. Not to mention an email I sent to a friend who works at Department of Justice, suggesting he view the blog.

Finally, I receive the recognition I so richly deserve.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Even Dorkboys Get The Blues

They are playing an out of place blues record in this very suburban coffee shop. Here's my blues:

When I was a little boy
I played the clarinet
My momma she said
You ain’t cool yet

I liked my math
I sucked at sports
Now I’ve grown up
And I’m a great big dork, that’s
D
O
R
K

I write my blog
Keep both my readers pleased
When I miss a couple days
They’s beggin’ on their Knees
‘Cause I’m a

D
O
R
K

I’m a dork, yes I am
I snort when I laugh
I’m the greatest Dork man
I am the Dork Lord

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

Sitting Around While the Painters Work

The house painters are still at it, looks like they have a few days to go. I ran off to a local coffeehouse to write this, too much banging around the house. Oleg the painter seemed disappointed with the quality of our back doors. He was hoping I’d agree to replace them before he’s done painting. This guy is good, but dang he is picky. He’s already replacing thou outside lamps in front because he thought the ones we have don’t “lyook gyood”. What they’ve done so far looks great. I can’t wait until it’s all done. Then it’ll be time for me to work on trimming back the yard. I really like our house in its new lighter colors. Hopefully that will give us slightly cooler summers.

Product Review – TERK TV3 Amplified TV Antenna

After 4 years using my broken one-eared rabbit ear antenna, I decided it was about time to find a better antenna. Although it had a charming resemblance to Bongo, Matt Groenig’s one-eared bunny, we could not get any VHF stations below Channel 10. This meant we didn’t get NBC and PBS.

I found the TERK TV3 gee-whiz antenna at Circuit City for about $40, which is the same as one month’s cable bill. I was surprised the store clerk quickly knew what I was looking for. I had thought we were the only non-impoverished people in town without cable.

This antenna works wonders! The last two Sunday nights I have watched Nature on PBS for the first time in four years. I can’t believe how many things can get eaten in an hour. It even featured a native Amazon culture’s initiation process, where teenage boys get repeatedly stung by painful stinging ants. Man, nature shows are all I remember them being, and then some.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The "papa-ratzi"

I should correct my previous report about Hanginsac’s condemnation. I incorrectly referred to Benedict the over-10-served as Cardinal Ratzo. I stand corrected. The updated name is Pope Bennie D. Rat. I watched his election and its immediate festivities on TV this week, as the white smoke emerged, and everybody in St Peter’s Square waited and stirred with excitement. I shared with the audience the disappointment of seeing the most obvious and nearly most conservative candidate elected. I am particularly not amused by his previous statements that all those who accuse priests of molestation are part of an anti-Catholic conspiracy. That is the kind of weird-ass thinking I expect from a guy who spent his adolescence wearing a brown shirt and swastika armband. Oh, but not to worry, news reports abound to reassure us that he was only a snotty little Nazi, rather than a snotty and enthusiastic little Nazi.

In any event, I personally don’t expect Bennie to stay around long enough to do very much. To those liberal Catholics, my wife included, who were fantasizing about a new and visionary pope bringing a return of liberation theology, and a role for women in the church beyond handmaidens to the great fathers, I say, “Get real, what were you expecting? Suck it up, or give up and become Episcopal Unitarian Quakers or something.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Readin' & Writin' in Russia

The painters are nearly done, just one side and trim are left for next week. They have replaced a lot of siding in addition to painting. I don’t really recognize the house anymore. I like the new look.

I helped Oleg, our painter, fill in the contract. He apparently can’t read or write English at a functional level. He can’t write Russian, either. He said he only went to school one day of his life, decided he’d rather work after his one day. Life in Soviet Russia must have been different than I have imagined. I always had a mental picture of a more controlled Socialist society, where everyone does the required minimum schooling. Oleg looks about 30, so maybe the Soviet Union had already internally lost control when he was a kid in the 1980s.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Newest Fast Food Craze

PRESS RELEASE: Wendy's International

Moving at light-speed to take advantage of recent publicity, Wendy's International is proud to introduce Chili encrusted Ladyfingers to its menu. Ima Hogg, Wendy's new CEO, said, "from today on, nailbiting will become a respected activity."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Death in the Land of Fruit and Nuts

Dateline Roseville, CA. . .

I attended a funeral service Saturday. The service was, on the whole pretty good. It included a Masonic service as well as a protestant service. The Masonic service did not reveal any ancient secrets, however, the “Great Eye” was mentioned. I presume that is the same Great Eye that appears on the reverse of the dollar bill. Coincidence or Conspiracy? Cool.

The protestant nondenominational minister did a good job, given he had never before met the deceased or his family. However, his beginning of the ceremony almost had me laughing out loud: “I want this to be a meaningful experience for you. So let’s get real, let’s try to really experience this.” Dude, this must be California.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Hanginsac Condemned by Leading Church

Dateline Vatican City. . .

Cardinal Joseph “Ratzo” Ratzinger has broken the traditional silence of the Papal Conclave to announce, that as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, hangininsac is official condemned as containing teachings not in accordance with church doctrine. Further, the hangin guy is banned from teaching theology.

In a short explanation of his decision, Cardinal Ratzo stated, “First, I have to read crap like this, then I don’t even get elected on the first ballot. How fair is that? If that heretic Galileo had access to the internet, he’d probably have written drivel no better than this. The next thing you know, these internet heretics will spout even more ridiculous heresies. Hell, I bet that hangin guy doesn’t even believe in literal transubstantiation. If I had my way, that guy would be relaxing on the rack as we speak, enjoying a hot oil beverage. You know, they don’t call me the Ayatollah of Rome for nuttin!”

Well, what can I say? First, I am delighted to see that this blog has found reader number 8. Second, I guess I will have to cancel my plans to teach Catholic Theology. And I was just writing my thesis entitled, “Baby Jesus sheds a tear every time a little boy tattles.”

Thet's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Musings for the Day

Factoid of the day: You can teach the quadratic equation formula to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”. Twice through the song and all the students remember it. Hopefully, their teachers won’t be upset when students sing during their exams.

I haven’t heard anything from the junior college, they move at the rate of a depressed snail. I will wait to next week to call them and ask what’s happening. I really need to get off my backside and look for alternatives. I need to get over my trepidation about looking into the actuarial field. Some action on my part wouldn’t be too bad either.

The house painters come tomorrow. I need to make sure the gutter contractor will come at an appropriate time. As long as I can get those guys talking to each other in Russian, everything should work out smoothly. We’ve picked out very dull colors, association grey for the walls and an off white for the trims.

I spent a morning trimming back the plants near the house to clear a wat for the painters. It looks a lot better. I think I’ll continue trimming back the rest of the garden this summer. By the time I get to everything I want to hack, it will be time to revisit the hedges near the house. Every thing grows fast here.

I just got back from the dentist with a new crown. Only one crown and filling to go! However, this crown is glued in with temporary cement, since the tooth was sensitive. It feels pretty good right now, so hopefully the dentist will only need to pry it out and glue it back in. Although my dentist is nice, I am tired of our frequent meetings.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Day I Went to College

I visited the community college today to drop off my application and make my case to whoever would be willing to listen. I feel pretty good about the day’s activities, and the people I met seemed nice and pleased with me. As a bonus, I got out of my parking place when the parking enforcer was only about six cars from ticketing my car!

I spent a few minutes with the Math Dean, as her position is called. She seemed enthusiastic, and got me in contact with the business dean, who also owns some basic math courses. She definitely looked pleased as we went through my resume, and checked through my college transcript. Apparently they are planning to expand course offerings, in response to the State’s reducing spaces for freshmen at the UC and CSU campuses. This is all good. The University has a new president who wants to strengthen the Math department. The dean has been in her position for only a few months. This is also good.

I spoke with the Chief of Math faculty for about a half hour. We had a good talk about the school’s courses, students, and I why I want to get involved in this work. He also seemed encouraging, but said that “the dean giveth and taketh away, so it’s all up to her”.

The next step would be more interviewing and teaching a class so they can see what I can do. I know I can do well at that. They seem to have been burned in the past by math teachers too shy to speak in front of a class.

Given all this, I consider this short visit a success, especially given there were no listed openings. Now on to plan B, so I need to cold call actuaries and insurance people around here. But first, I need to trim our back garden tomorrow before the painters get here.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Be Fearful

As a special service to my loyal readers (you know who you are) I have added a new attraction! No longer do you need to look elsewhere to find your federally-approved fear level. Thanks to geekandproud.com, your very own hanginsac now features constantly updated Homeland Security alert levels. You can find the up-to-the-minute security alert levels in the right column, just below the links section. Never again let your blog-reading interfere with your fear. Fear is good. Fear nutures and encourages us. Fear is the glorious force that holds the Universe together, and now you can get it right here, at hanginsac.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

We will now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Fear be with you.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Hangininsac Values Your Opinion

Hangininsac was not developed with the intention of providing a one-way flow of stuff from me, the hangin guy to you, the readers. Please feel free to add your comments. Your comments will appear to blog readers who click on the read comments icon, as well as in an email to me. I will even respond to some comments. WHere else can you get a deal like that?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Taking Care of This Place

We had a housepainter and handyman over to see what he can do to get our house’s exterior into shape. We need to repaint, get new gutters and downspouts, and do some roofing work. I want to do it all at once this spring, so it’ll be over and done with for a few years, until it’s time for a major re-roofing job. We haven’t chosen colors, but I think we’ll go with something lighter than the current ranch house red, which is close to Wisconsin barn red.

Our house has become a bit of a mess over the last 5 years. Lots of shake siding needs replacing, and the gutters don’t work.

I am also trying to do some cleanup in the back yard each week this spring and summer. The yard was designed to be an arboreal garden, but has grown to look like a tropical rain forest. I have already trimmed the shrubs in the front. If you turn your back on plants here for two years, you return to a jungle.

I will feel much happier with the house and thinner in the wallet once this is done.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Guess Who's Coming to Lunch

One of our friends, who is an assistant DA focusing on “community prosecution” brought one of her clients long to lunch with us. Her client, a man about age 30, was living on the street and drinking several 40 oz beers daily until about 6 weeks ago. Now with the assistant DA's personal involvement and help, he’s found a place to live and has been sober for 6 weeks. He was pleasant company at lunch, and talked about the best ways to cook chorizo and the permanent job he is setting up with his sister. If I hadn’t been told I wouldn’t have guessed he was drunk and on the streets recently. There is hope. That’s what it looks like.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Eyes Wide Open - Wage Peace

The American Friends Service Committee’s Eyes Wide Open exhibit stopped in the gardens near the State Capital in Sacramento today. The exhibition presents rows and rows of empty army boots, each with a name tag representing one U. S. soldier fallen in the Iraq war. Next to the empty boots is a large labyrinth laid out with thousands of men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes and slippers representing a small portion of the thousands of Iraqis killed. Several of the combat boots are decorated with photos and other personal items friends and relatives of the dead have added as the exhibit has traveled around the country. You can see more about the exhibit and a short film about the exhibit at http://www.afsc.org/eyes/ . The website has an electronic petition asking the president to remove U. S. forces from Iraq.

The exhibit is very moving, the precisely arrayed army boots and the more casually arranged civilian shoes. Children’s shoes and baby shoes, old lady shoes. Standing and walking amidst thousands of empty shoes really drives home the enormity of this waste of human life. Shoes filled no more, visiting friends and family no more, They will age no more, breath no more.

It’s about time to say, “No More”.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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