writing

Here's a Poem

How My Father Made it Easier for Me to Fly Back to California

It was the last time I saw my father,
and I mean that as the last time
I saw him as him,
not someone changed
by the thick trucks of morphine coursing,
chugging through his body on a roadmap of veins,
rural capillaries,
the massive city of his heart.

He was standing at the window of his hospital room
wearing the short, papery dress of his hospital gown,
waving goofily.
Then he cinched the gown tighter at his thin waist
to accentuate the perfect shape of his basketball gut.

He put a pinky to the corner of his mouth and pursed
his lips, sleepy eyelids, one raised eyebrow,
mouthing, “Happy Birthday, Mister President” through the glass.
He blew me a kiss with a flourish of his thick hand,
then quickly turned to moon me through the slit of his gown.

We both laughed, him silently, framed by the window,
me walking into the thick humidity of a late New York summer,
as if everything was going to be alright.

Gardening for the Apocalypse

Jeff is obsessed with peak oil. It's giving him nightmares. I can't blame him. We are running out of resources, the planet is over-populated and most citizens of first-world countries (what's the second world?) have grown accustomed to a life-style that just isn't sustainable. We can do our little parts on personal levels to make it better, recycle, try to rely less on petroleum based products, be greener, etc., but ultimately, the world needs to have a few less babies then the number of people dying each day... I'm just saying.

Since most of the world's issues are beyond our control, the next step would be to prepare for what comes after, to train (and more importantly, train the children) for a life after the collapse. These things always happen in a perfect storm for me. Jeff has been worried for months now, just finished reading Earth Abides for book club, and Book of Eli was on last night as I dozed on the couch.

All this to say that yesterday Jeff and I went down to Bud and Donna's house to help set up Donna's garden. By the time we got there, Lindsay and Donna had done just about all the hard work, leaving a little square for Jeff and I to turn over, weed, crumble up the dirt, pull rocks (and nails) etc. After that, we dug holes and helped Donna plant the cucumbers, squash, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes she had bought earlier. We weren't taking them from seeds, just cute little baby plants that we're hoping the gophers didn't already eat in the night.

Donna was worrying over the pale green little plantlings as though they were children off to their first day at school. But after digging, carefully setting the babies down into the earth, watering (I caught myself tenderly washing the mud and dirt from the delicate little leaves), I have to admit I got caught up in it and am actually a little worried to check in with Donna to see if the plants made it through the night. :(

While I was watering, soaking the plants and the surrounding earth until small streams leaked toward the lower ground, I did fall into a small reverie, remember summer evenings in Middletown, NY. I can't place times or even what I was watering. I simply remember the act, the long shadows and yellow evening light, the arc of water from the hose. I would stare into the misty rainbows I created and felt god-like in my teenage power to give life to the plants. In the periphery, my father would be observing, the smoke from his cigarette mingling with the earthy smell of the damp dirt, cut grass, the water... Back in present day, Redwood City, CA, I started describing the scene to Jeff and he started filling in parts. That guy knows me too well, or I just have been repeating stories way too often at this point.

So hopefully, Donna will have us back to help weed and tend a bit and maybe next year I start a small potted garden as I have no land of my own. Of course, before that, I have to learn to like vegetables more. Though, a step in that direction was a smoothie that Donna made after we finished that was mostly fruits and vegetables (even spinach). It was delicious.

So here's a little hope for our world, a small patch of dirt, some baby plants that will struggle against the gophers, the weird cold weather we're having right now, and a population crowding in from all sides. Fingers crossed.






Current Events Churning: Tuscaloosa and Japan...

Over the last couple months, my past has been coming to haunt me, haunting me with good memories triggered by horrible events.

I'll start with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Although this tragedy didn't occur near where I used to live, Japan is such an homogenous country, it is hard to separate the images that I see on the internet and TV and not think of where I was living and the people with whom I was surrounded.

The houses lifted and crunched by the steady push of sea water, the cars and minivans bobbing in the surf, even the dogs running in packs around the desolate, evacuated, post-apocalyptic silence of the area around the Fukushima reactor, all could have been from where I lived and worked around Osaka and Moriguchi, I suppose more the latter.

Most of the people I knew or know in Japan were no where near the center of this destruction, but their lives were definitely impacted and they swim around my thoughts and my surreal, sheet strangling dreams.

I only have great memories of Japan from the year I lived there, as well as from the 10 day visit a few years later. So it is a weird mash in my head of the good I remember and the images of the horrible that is happening now.

Next comes Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I went to grad school and lived for 3 years. Two horrible things have brought me back to the steamy south, the dirt roads that lead to swimming holes, the quiet and thick, dark water of the Black Warrior river. One of which you know about, the massive tornado that crushed and tore through the city. The other was the death of a classmate.

The traffic accident that killed Jeanne Leiby had FaceBook buzzing with nostalgia and memories of her, photos, all the good work she had been doing since grad school. The photos, of course, brought the people right back to me. People I hadn't thought of for years joined this group in my head so they had cameos in my crazy dreams. And then weeks later here comes the tornado.

The people where already in my thoughts, but this tornado picked up Tuscaloosa and plopped it right down in my head. Friends and the news showing me what was left of places where I used to hang out on hot summer nights, my head buzzing with drugs and poems, drives to the river, stars smearing across the sky like the lightning bugs with which we would paint our bodies, the dark red clay to stripe our cheeks.

My dreams could not handle all this input. The images would merge in the middle of the night, Japanese friends pulled deep into the cold Pacific, bits of Tuscaloosa swirling through the upper atmosphere until everything was either washing up on the shores of the San Francisco Bay or raining down around the Golden Gate. And I was there too. Either watching like an underwater camera operator as bodies, tiled houses, toy-like cars cartwheeled slowly in the deep ,dark, blue light of an enormous ocean never to be found, or falling and spinning with the splintered wood and spanish moss after almost reaching the white glow at the edge of the sky.

Throw in a smattering of blood-covered Bin Laden, the bizarre, face-painted, jingoistic sorority girls chanting U-S-A in front of the white house, Trump's comb-over, Obama's oddly right-wing glory and I wake to a bed destroyed, sweat cold on my neck, a pillow clutched tight to my chest.

I wake to a bed destroyed while the people in those places of which I dream wake to no bed at all, wake to friends and family gone, completely eaten by nature. But this is what we do. We empathize, internalize, we put ourselves in these situations and wonder what we would have done, wonder if we would be one of the survivors or one of the eaten...

What do I do now? Use these events and images sloshing and spinning in my washing machine dreams as fodder for this blog post? I do the small things I can like donate money, disseminate information and cheer on the friends who are knee deep in debris, picking up small pieces of other people's lives and trying to jigsaw them haphazardly together again.

If you are able:

Tuscaloosa

Japan

And if you would like to remember Jeanne Leiby, subscribing to The Southern Review, where she was editor, would be a great tribute that she, I'm sure, would have appreciated.

Morning

I woke up around 5 this morning half strangled by the T-shirt I was wearing and having to pee. The heater was hissing its blue flame flicker in the other room as I moved heavy and thick through the haze of sleep. This means I probably passed directly out when I stumbled into bed last night. Normally I would have taken off my shirt after the sheets warmed up to prevent the strangling. I move around a lot at night (I guess, as I also sleep heavy), so I know I need to remove as much clothing as I can before I slide off into sleep.

So I peed, the bathroom linoleum pulling the heat from my feet and headed back to bed. I suspected that I would be staring at the blue-ish, white glow of my iPhone screen, Twitter, FaceBook, various blogs, Words with Friends, until I simply was sick of lying in bed and got up and got going.

Today was one of those awesome days where I fell back asleep. Why is this sleep so different? It's so intense in its massiveness. When I woke up from this second sleep a couple hours later, it felt like I had to climb up from 5 feet down in my mattress. I had sunk so heavy.

I could barely walk and zombie-shuffled to the bathroom again. In the mirror my hair was insane which leads me to believe that this is how crazy people always sleep. I had ginger chunks of it sticking, literally, straight up, fuzzy little puff balls from my blanket were scattered throughout like ornaments on a poorly decorated Christmas tree. And then there is the topography of my sheets embedded into my skin, a handprint where I must have been hugging my own shoulder. My face looked like it was made from clay, thick jowls, heavy bags hanging under my eyes. I thought, "My god, where have I been..."

The bummer part is, I don't know where I had been. I barely ever remember my dreams from night sleep (or early morning sleep as the case may be). The only dreams I consistently remember (and if you follow me on Twitter or FaceBook you know) are those brief falls into a weird sub-concious that happen at my desk at work, after lunch, my stomach pulling all the blood from my brain to help digest whatever I had ingested. I need more access to my head.

After more peeing (what did I drink last night?) I went back into my room and gathered up a pair of jeans from my floor, slid into the cool denim, shirt and sweatshirt from the foot of my bed, hat, beat to shit shoes and grabbed my keys.

Feeling well-rested, but still not fully awake, I ventured into the frosty roof topped morning to grab coffee from Starbucks. And really this post is just to say, everyone at Starbucks looked like they had the same kind of morning. No one looked freshly showered and chipper. Thick faces, shuffling steps, wrinkled clothes... I felt a little more connected to people today, linked in our primitive grunts and blank stares.

Rainbows, Wet Snow, and The King of Limbs

It's cold in California this morning. And while it's still not East Coast or Mid-west cold, it is cold enough for snow. I think this has happened maybe 2 other times since I lived here. I actually don't even remember the last time I, personally, was around snow. Had to have been... maybe Japan? Wasn't much there either, but I think that's when I last stood in falling snow.

Last night I was beat after a stress-filled week at work. I think I passed out on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, full on pizza and beer, the asthmatic hiss of the gas heat breathing in the walls of my apartment. I barely remember getting into bed. But because I fell asleep so early, I woke up a bit before six.

I felt this was the time to listen to the new Radiohead album, The King of Limbs. I grabbed the big bowls of my headphones, and sunk deep into my bed, the comforter wrapping around me like quicksand as the first tinkling piano loop, tip-toed into my head through the holes of my ears. Perfect setting for the first listen of the album.

After the the last lyrics of "Separator" faded ("wake me up, wake me up") and the drums abruptly ended, I climbed out of the place in my mattress that I had sunk down into. Standing in my boxers is when I realized how cold it was. They were talking snow on the news yesterday so I decided to go see if it had happened. I bundled in cold layers of clothes that had been sleep-strewn across my floor last night. Having a breezy carport beneath my bedroom, made the clothes extra icy sliding over my goose bumpy skin. Shirt, jeans, sweatshirt, smurfy hat, wintery jacket, etc. I grabbed my camera and headed for Skyline Boulevard.

On the way, second listen to The King of Limbs... When I got to the top of 92 I started looking up toward Skyline to see if it was snow-topped. It still looked pretty green up there with the cottony wisps of fog rising from the redwoods like the smoke rising from a scattering of small camp-fires. The sun was blasting through cracks in the cloud-cover all over the place and lit up the reservoir with its god-rays.

As I got closer to 280 I started to see small, white breaks through the trees. Had to be snow, right? It was pretty neat when I pulled onto Skyline, leaned through that first set of twists, used to flipping back and forth through there on the moto. In the middle of one of those twists I was suddenly face to face with an amazing rainbow. I slid into the muddy turn-out and started taking some photos, Radiohead urging "don't worry, don't hurt me..." A flock of white birds flipped through the sky like scraps of paper, so high and luminescent in the sun and against the dark clouds.

I jumped back in my truck. Then a long, climbing straight section. Down in the shoulder-less sides of the road I started to see the first bits of snow. And as I climbed higher and higher, there was actual accumulation. I stopped a few places to take photos, make a snowball (more slush-ball). One of the last snowy spots I stopped a man and woman had brought their little girls to play in the snow. They were wrapped up in winter clothes and throwing snowballs at each other, wet splashes on impact. They had even built a tiny snowman who was listing horribly to one side.

I finally headed home and right about when I got below the snow-line, I came around a turn that pointed me directly at the Pacific. Either the earlier rainbow had moved and grown or this was a brand new one. I found another muddy turn out and made some more photos.

What an amazing morning. Now it's just steadily raining, solid grey sky, the thundery roll of jets landing at SFO. Time for another listen to The King of Limbs. Here are some photos:

[gallery link="file" orderby="ID"]

Here's some video of the wet snow falling:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6SG-FWCiKI&hd=1]

A Cappella Moto Truck

If that isn't a band name, I don't know what is.  Their hit song would be an epic tale of a day trip to Santa Cruz to pick up a motorcycle and listen to music, music that employed only voices as instruments...

Actually this post is more one of amazement and love for my little, black, Toyota pickup. What a beast this little sucker is. A hundred and seventy thousand miles on it, brakes worn, suspension kind of hosed and yesterday it was stuffed with three guys (2 that are like 6'3" or more and me) and a Suzuki SV650! The truck didn't even blink... or if it could blink, it didn't... Would stalling be blinking in the car world? Actually, why do we even say "didn't even blink." That doesn't seem like a form of protest or giving up to me. The truck didn't even hold up its tires and beep madly, "Fuck that, you ain't stuffing all that inside..." Okay, that's just starting to sound pornographic. What was my point?

Let me start from the beginning... Alex, Sean and I headed down to Santa Cruz yesterday to load his moto, that had been sitting for months, into my truck so he could bring it home and get it back to running. When Alex asked me, I have to admit, I didn't think my truck could do it. So we piled in and headed down 101, 85, 17 etc. over the hill to Santa Cruz. It was gray-ish, little blasts of blue sky, a ray of light, then gray again on the ride over.

Ian peein' piddley poo (his proper name) was going to be singing with his a cappella group, Cloud 9, on a street corner in downtown SC as well, so we decided to first stop and watch that. Even though I thought I had, I never have seen Ian perform live and in the flesh. I've only seen YouTube clips which were all very good, but something doesn't translate with YouTube (I say that about to post video I took of them on YouTube). They were great. Really entertaining and goofy and everything you want in your a cappella. And while the group was great, Ian really was awesome. He was working the crowd (really big crowd for a street corner as well), and committed to the whole show and performance. I feel like I'm writing a review: "The group had an excellent nose, nutty with a hint of the desperate sweat it takes to harvest such brilliance. A robust, harsh, yet beautiful color, like a winter sunset pulling your eyelids open, forcing you to watch (the weird, eye opening device from A Clockwork Orange), but you're in love with abuse."

Yeah, so go see Cloud 9 perform. It's awesome.

As a side trip, before the show started, Alex, Sean and I went down to Streetlight Records to browse around and kill some time. I have to say, I don't know what to do in record (cd) stores anymore. I remember being in that same store not too long ago with Dave Dworak and we were in our element, digging through the racks of music, looking for awesome deals on obscure, Japan-only-released singles, flipping through boxes and boxes, the clack of the anti-theft, plastic cd holders keeping time to a rare, staff favorite, blasting through the sound system... Now I just kind of wandered, couldn't really figure out where I would even start to dive in and start looking. I didn't know the band that was playing, didn't know what to do really. Now it's all clicking through websites and music blogs and iTunes to find music, videos from La Blogoteque - Take away shows. I'm not complaining. It's just so different from, well, somewhere between five and ten years ago.

After Cloud 9, we headed to Alex's fave brewery in Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Co. for a beer and a hot dog. We then headed over to a sell-everything-i'm-driving-cross-country-to-Boston sale / kegger / hang out that a friend of Alex's was having. This was a very typical Santa Cruz event to me, but one I just don't picture Alex involved with. When I thought about it, I didn't really "see" Alex in Santa Cruz at all. You know, Santa Cruz, hippy-dippy-doo, pot brownies, surfing, naked on the beach Santa Cruz. I think of none of those things when I think of Alex (I was about to type "no offense, Alex," but am pretty sure he would take none from that statement). It was a cool little gathering at a business called Five Feet From the Moon. They make concrete and iron-work type furniture and sculpture, etc. Very cool space. Even the dogs running around were cool. Too cool to be petted by me. I was literally dissed by a dog. Bitch. See what I did there? :)

After gathering keys and driving to Alex's friend's house, we proceeded to load his moto into my truck. This is where I thought it was gonna get ugly, lifting the bike in, tying it down, stuffing us all back into the cab... I just thought the truck would just bust down to its "knees" and surrender. Yeah, completely wrong. I think it took us all of fifteen minutes to load it and be ready to go. My truck was like, "yeah, man. whatever. that's all you're gonna load?" My truck was feeling the laid back, SC, vibe.

With moto secure we went back down to meet Ian and his gf for food and one for the road. Of course, we had another side trip to the driving cross country party to return keys... and another beer.

Food and drinks consumed, catching up with Ian caught up, we piled back in the truck and headed up Highway  One, back home. Once we got out of rainy-gray Santa Cruz, it was a beautiful drive up the California coast as it always is. My mantra if you live here: Don't take California for granted. So lucky to live here. the Pacific was smooth and greenish-blue, the sun was setting behind chunks of clouds... Amazing.

That's pretty much the tale, now here are a mix of iPhone and XTi photos and video.



 





 



 



 



 



 


Alex supervising Sean on strap re-adjustment.


 



 


[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAuYo00f-4k&hd=1]


 


You can watch the video in HD, but for some reason, either YouTube or WordPress took out the ability to embed in HD. Anyone know why?


On another side note, I think this is my first post that includes all the categories contained in the subheading of my blog, writing, photos, music and motos. Exciting.

Karma Police


It was cold yesterday. Of course, I mean that in the California sense of the word. I've decided 50 degrees in California is like 15 in a state that actually experiences cold weather. So yesterday, when it started out at around 42 degrees outside my apartment, frost on the laurel-like ground covering, well that's pretty much the deepest, darkest heart of winter for California. It's no time to be riding a motorcycle (without heated gear). But I'd been playing racing games all morning and Rob and I had cleaned and lubricated our chains a couple days ago (you're sick, shut up), so I was in the mood to at least just ride around a little bit, if not head into the twisties...

At first I was just going to ride around the reservoir a bit, but I got to 92 and thought, I'll head over to the coast maybe, just there and back... Well by the time I got to Half-Moon Bay, I was ready to ride. So, 92W, South on Highway 1, then back up 84 into the hills. What can I say, that bike is fun, and with an ungunky chain (thanks bolty.net) and the sound that my exhaust makes right in between 5500 rpms and 6000... It's gorgeous. The bike sounds happy right there. A throaty note as if one of the birdy creatures from The Dark Crystal had been drinking too much milk on a hot day when they were required to do their little, harmonious call. It sounds tough, a bit dark, a tiny hint of foreboding. And right there the bike is ready for anything. An opportunity to pass and it jumps from its hum into a screamy war cry, ripping open the air, feels like it's slicing right into the metal of the car as I swing out, around, and slide back into the lane.

It was a pretty day as well. The sun, low in the winter sky, pushing my shadow out next to me so I can see my silhouette racing by my side, stretching and squashing with the landscape. When I turned East again on 84 the sun was behind me and the hills that usually take on this suede-like brown color and texture during the summer are bleached out even further in this light. The grasses look hollow and brittle like bone, everything really dead before the rains start greening it all up again.

As I got deeper inland the temperature started to drop and by the time I got into the shade of the redwoods, I was cold. The road had patches of wet now, then even some puddles near the edges of the macadam. I'd try to push the tires down into the turns, but I could feel the little slips from the back and had to slow down and straighten up. By the time I got to La Honda, I was pretty much froze.

The road did get drier as I started to climb back up the hills as more of it was exposed to the sun, but just when it was dry enough to start really riding again, a line of cars formed in front of me. I got past two of them (pretty illegally) just to bump up against 6 more. This is the most frustrating thing to me as a moto rider. Good road, slow drivers. All I want them to do is pull over a little and let me go by, just a smidge.  I made the most of what I could salvage, really slow on the straights so I can throttle through the turns before I come up against a facefull of exhaust again.

I reached Alice's like this and then had to pull over to warm up my fingers. Another game I play... I will literally sit idling, waiting for traffic to get way ahead of me before I start heading down the road again. But you also have to go before more traffic comes. So, I wait until the last possible second, when I see a car headed down the road I want to go down, and then I blast in front of them. I need at least half the way down to be traffic free.

But the cold and my bundled-upness against the cold, isn't very conducive to leaning and sliding around on the seat and looking deep into turns, mostly because I can't really move under all those layers and the fact that my muscles are as stiff and brittle as cold taffy in this weather. And on top of that, I ran into more traffic barely a mile from the top.

All this is building my frustration and, with my bad attitude, and questionable "moves" to get past people, dirtying up my moto karma.

I finally get down to Woodside and turn north on Canada road. I can do a couple things here. Take Canada all the way to 92 or take it about halfway and then jump on 280. I should have just taken Canada all the way, but I was cold, frustrated, and pretty over this ride. I dove onto the on ramp for 280 and here is where all that frustration got let out. I ripped through the gears and was doing 85 before I even got onto the freeway. Some slalomming through the traffic, 95-100 mph and you get to 92 pretty quick.

Here's where my tiny little mirrors let me down. It wasn't until I was on the ramp to 92 and the CHP cruiser was right on my ass that I saw him. The small elation and frustration cleansing ride tightened right back up into an ugly ball of "oh shit" in my chest. Would I get lucky again? He didn't have his lights on, he's going for someone else... He's going to blow past me when we get off the ramp to chase down someone else...

Lights, small siren blast and I'm on the side of the road talking motos with one cop while the other checks out all my information. Maybe if I make enough nice and small talk they won't give me a... "I wrote you up for 80 even though we were going over 90 to catch up with you at one point." Of course, you'd be going faster than me to catch up. "Oh, thank you officer." "You can go to traffic school if you haven't been in 18 months." "Oh... thank you officer. Thank you very much."

Training for the Post-Apocalypse

So Jeff texts me about Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement, have I seen it? Do I know this guy's stuff? etc. He's having a bit of an idealogical meltdown having just brought a new life into this effed up world and needs to bounce ideas off someone.

Somewhere inside me it feels like I've watched Zeitgeist (the movie) before, or at least heard about it. Probably off Jon Abinante's blog (http://linx.sweetwizard.com). I've always said Jon puts up all the things that are interesting to me from the internet. I don't have to surf because he's done it already.

I watch the interview with Peter Joseph (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw9IHJNB75E). And probably because he's talked about this stuff so much and maybe sick of people just discovering it, he comes across as a condescending pill, douche, etc. But his thinking lines up pretty close to my thinking. I text Jeff, "Am I like that?" Meaning, am I a pill? "Haha, well... When you get going..." Yeah, I'm a pill.

Next, I watch the movie (http://www.zeitgeistthefilm.com). He starts off with religion. If you know me, you know that his views on religion are pretty much exactly my views. I love all the facts he brings up though. All the stuff about how the ancients worshipped the sun and all the deities from all the major religions (and a ton of the minor religions) simply take some figure and replace the sun with that figure. Awesome stuff about all the major dates in most religions having direct correlations to astrological events and the sun and seasons, etc, etc. Makes religion just seem that much more non-sensical and ridiculous. Sorry if that offends you (eh, no I'm not, wake up). Yep, I'm a pill.

The movie goes on to 9/11 conspiracies that actually kind of fuck me up when I start seeing all that insane evidence that points away from ill trained terrorists (of the 19, what, 9 are still alive?). I remember looking at the photos from the other two wreck sites and wondering what everyone else was wondering... where are the planes? Weird that we all (the whole country) didn't freak out and go, huh?

He also does a huge section on the Federal Reserve and banking and economics and how the world is basically run by like 5 rich guys. Again, with all the evidence he brings up, it is plausible.

Buuuut, I do have this thing. Conspiracy theorists all seem nuts! Don't they? So a social stigma gets in the way of me exploring this more because I'm like... eh, this part doesn't line up with my thinking because that guy seems crazy... (or he seems like a pill).

So instead of going deep into what seems like it would result in me bearded, unwashed, surrounded by stacks of "evidence" in a basement some where, a single bare bulb illuminating my mangled mass of ginger hair and my half-crazed grimacing smile, I turn my thinking a bit.

Jeff gets worried because Peter Joseph says this always-consuming-to-make-the-economy-work world we live in can't last, which is true. We all know that. Fossil fuels are finite. We are using the world up. That part no one can deny. And the more people we bring into the world, the faster everything gets used. If there isn't drastic change, yeah, it will be the end of humans. And the end will probably be ugly and filled with suffering (both Jeff and I think, The Road). We don't want the people we care about to suffer, especially looking at those (small, seemingly helpless) people now, daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, even our parents if this collapse comes sooner rather than later.

Here is where I either have faith or I'm a jerk or I don't know. I hope it's the faith part. Not a religious faith based on what other people just accepted (lemming mentality), but a faith in the intelligence and strength of the people I care about. We are smart people. We will survive hard times. Even given situations that are foreign and scary and completely new (trying to find food in a destroyed world), I have faith that we could do it. I know that sounds naive and probably downright stupid, but there is where my faith is. My faith in the intelligence and problem solving skills of the people that are close to me. That's my church. Haha! I just figured that out typing this.

And here is where this becomes more fun, and where my theories fall into this dilemma. I can't imagine that the world is going to smart up and change (the last round of elections proves that to me, 11/2010). People with their religious fanaticism will chalk up whatever happens to god's will (whichever replacement for the sun you have chosen) and walk gladly into the fire. Good riddance. We leftovers will be trying to work out a way to survive this mess.

My plan? Keep learning skills that will help me survive in this eventuality (I may be dead of other things before this all happens, including very old age (shut up)). And everyone says cockroaches are going to be the ones to survive the apocalypse and yes, that's probably true. But I think, of humans, movie stars are the ones best equipped to live in a post-apocalyptic world.

If you're following my way of thinking here, I don't even need to explain that (what may seem like a crazy) statement. Think of someone like Viggo Mortensen. The guy is proficient with just about any kind of weapon, can ride horses like a mutha, probably knows a martial art or two... You get what I'm saying.

This entry is getting long, no? Just wanted you to have the intro to some of the tweets I'm sure I'll be tweeting, and blog entries I'm sure I'll be blogging all under the title, Training for the Post-Apocalypse.

Who's with me? Haha.

Training I feel I can check off:

1. I can drive just about any kind of vehicle.

2. From the age of about 9 to 16 I've made and discharged more weapons than probably most people. Anything from razor-tip arrows, to butane bottle bombs, to nail-firing blow guns, my friends and I caused a bit of havoc in my suburban/fringe rural town.

3. Between cub scouts (yeah I said cub scouts), Outdoor Ed in high school, and camping every summer of the first 18 years of my life (along with logging many hours watching Man vs. Wild), I feel pretty comfortable in the outdoors. Parents who were teachers left them off during the summers, but with 4 kids, didn't leave them with tons of money to entertain those kids. Camping!

More for the list soon. What's on your list? Are you prepared? What skill do you think is most important to have for the end of times? :)

See what I did there? You thought this was going to end up crazy and weird and really it's just a fun way to explain why I want to go to WyoTech and learn a martial art.

Thermal Inversion

I learned about this in 8th grade science I think. It's when a higher layer of warm air holds a lower layer of cooler air down, like in a valley. I was a prepubescent, red-headed, son of a teacher and the only thing I had going for me was that I retained some things I learned in school. This didn't help me in life, just on tests in school. I did exponentially better on tests regarding subjects in which I was interested. I was the only one in my class to get 100% on the sex ed test in Health. Everyone else was probably just having it.

Why am I thinking of thermal inversion now? It's one of those things I learned and then was reenforced by actually experiencing it. This happened on warm, humid, New York, summer nights.

In the most distinct memory I'm driving my mother's beige Ford Escort, a cassette tape player in the backseat, as this was a car we inherited from my grandmother and she was fine with the AM radio. I was not. Three of my friends are with me (not sure who at this point) and we're headed to a house in the woodsy fringes of Middletown. A house of our friend with a pool and beer and parents in NYC for the weekend.

All the windows are open, we're in shorts and t-shirts and the fecund air is rushing around inside the car with the music spilling tinny strains of Huey Lewis singing, "buzz buzz buzz goes the bumblebee, twiddley diddley dee goes the bird." It smells like the ferns and fallen trees rotting back into the ground, the condensation on the leaves, it's fresh and earthy and warm.

Warm until, that is, we come to a small "valley," or long dip in the road. Maybe the ground gets lower because we're passing over a small creek and the temperature drops, I don't know how many degrees, but enough that the new colder air feels like a cool hand going up my short sleeve then dissipating against my body. It's like drinking really cold water on a hot day, the way you can feel it go all the way down, and then it just disappears in your guts. I remember saying, "Oooo, thermal inversion," whenever this happened. And I think I said it every time, "Oooo, thermal inverrrrrsion," until my friends would tell me to shut up. Then I'd whisper it spookily, like an incantation.

What does any of this have to do with motorcycles? Well, I rode to work today. I was happy because it had warmed up over the past couple days so I knew I wouldn't arrive at work a clawed, bent-kneed popsicle. And as I was getting onto 280 from 92, climbing that first hill, right past the vista point, the sun blasting straight into my forehead, I was thinking, "Wow, it's actually kind of warm this morning."

I knew 2 spots along the route where you get a thermal inversion at this time of day; one is at Woodside Road (a blast, seriously blast, of cold air) and the other is at the dip right before the Stanford Dish, just past the Linear Accelerator. This second one wasn't just cold, it also smells like cow crap... cold cow crap. And the second one seems longer so I'm close to shivering as I climb back into the sun.

But every time I feel this phenomenon, I'm compelled to explain it to whomever I'm with and I think of 8th grade, or summer parties in the woods, I think of things you retain over the years or the things that have changed or that have been lost... If no one is with me, which is usually the case on the moto, I still just whisper it inside my helmet, an incantation, "thermal inversion..." It still has some power even if it is vestigial. Thermal inversion... Thermal inversion. Go ahead, say it. Thermal inverrrrrrrsion.

What Do I Read Now?

There is something sad about finishing a book of contemporary poetry. The good books are a treasured commodity. Being out of the literary/education community I really have to search and dig for poetry. The only bookstore that carries anything good is in Menlo Park, Kepler's, about 15 miles south. On top of that, I don't know the good, new poets anymore so whenever my old favorites come out with something new I attack it. Tony Hoagland, Billy Collins... according to the local Border's, they are the only two contemporary poets writing. Well, they and Mary Oliver. Where's Gary Soto's work? Where's Sharon Olds? Where's Mark Doty? Did Philip Levine die or did he just close up shop like all those factories he wrote about in Detroit and Hamtramck? Are his pencils piled, forgotten and dusty on his desk, the debris of eraser crumbs strewn across the blotter? Is his study locked up tight while he is out in the dusty sun of Fresno deciphering the footprints sparrows leave in a pollen-coated parking lot, next to a dumpster, filled with cardboard?

Here's one from Tony Hoagland that I like, from his latest book, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty.

The Story of White People

After so long seeming right, as in
true, as in clean, as in smart,
being smart enough at least
not to be born some other color,

after so long being visitors
from the galaxy Caucasia,
now they are starting to seem a little

deficient, leached out, spent, colorless,
thin-blooded, indefinite--
as in being too far and too long
removed from the original source
of whiteness,

suffering from a slight amnesia
in the way that skim milk can barely
remember the cow

and this change in status is
mysterious, indifferent, and objective,
as in the beginning of winter
when the light shifts its angle of attention

from the mulberry to the cottonwood.
Just another change of season,
not that dramatic or perceptible,

but to all of us, it feels a little different.