- Lane is off in North Carolina.
- I don't have any external responsibility.
- I have forgotten how to go to bed at bed time.
- My schedule consists of eating when I'm hungry and sleeping when I'm tired.
- Breakfast at 4:30 PM and editing road trip video at 4:30 AM.
- A nap at 9:00 PM is nice.
- Shits getting done.
- If you can believe that.
by watching a diabetic jew eat candy in my living room. Also, two Thai expatriates who didn't want their pictures on the internet came over and ate Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.
No gifts were exchanged.
Salvatore: How do you feel about the push for religiosity in law, in the courts, in the schools? Are you concerned about that trend?
Clinton: Yes, to the extent that people believe their religious convictions give them the possession of the absolute truth, which they can then turn into a political agenda and, therefore, believe their opponents are somehow almost less than human because they don't share that truth.
That leads to demonisation and polarisation in politics, and it's inconsistent with a democratic society, the essence of which is compromise.
So I think people should carry their faith and values into politics, but there needs to be enough humility to know that you are not in possession of the absolute truth. As Saint Paul said, you see through a glass darkly. That means that you might be wrong. It's the single most important lesson for democratic societies in a time of resurgent religiosity.
There's more in an interview with The Independent.
I saw more lightning in San Francisco this morning than in the last 5 years combined.
Now that Second Life has free accounts, I'm giving it another look. So far, it's very frustrating. The UI is convoluted and the in-world performance is surprisingly poor (I'm running it on a dual 2ghz G5, 1.5GB Ram, and a ATI Radeon x800).
I intend to tough it out for a bit. At least until I have a better idea of what's going on. Maybe then the problematic areas will start giving way to realized potential.
I can tell when I have a fever by my dreams.
Last night I dreamt I was riding on a three eyed warthog while being chased by a large possum. I reached back to smack the hog so he'd go faster and my hand ended up right in the warm, coarse, smooshy, wet mouth of the possum.
I sat straight up in bed. Waking up Lane. And covered in sweat. Even though it's freezing in this apartment and I was only wearing boxers.
I've gotten back into Last.FM recently. They've tracked nearly 7500 songs I've played. As a result, the recommendations are excellent. Recently I bought my first album based on a song I heard through my custom auto-magicly picked Last.FM radio station (Alice in Ultraland) - I haven't purchased an album I've heard on traditional radio in 10 plus years.
The only part that frustrates me, is that their data aggregation completely ignores albums. The otherwise great auto updating chart graphics are only available filtered by artist or by track. While the recently played RSS feed makes no mention of the album what so ever.
When I think of music, it's very much in albums. I often don't know the name of a track when I hear it, but I could tell you the name of the album it's on. I almost never buy/download single tracks or buy a CD if I only like a few of the tracks. The artists I like the most are all adept at putting out complete albums... Some tracks are incredible, none are bad, and they all come together into a cohesive thematic whole.
Frustrates isn't the right word. It's more like worries. I'm worried that digital distribution's elimination of length restraint and the overhead related to distribution will eventually lead to the idea of an album fading away. Last.FM is a sign of it. So is looking around iTunes shares on a corporate network. The number of loose tracks out there has amazed and frustrated me (sucks to find a person with something you've been wanting to hear and then realize they only have track 1, 4, and 7).
Not that I think artists should continue to be constrained by the idea of 74 minutes of music every year or two or so. But constraints and creativity go damn well together. Instead of the current arbitrary physical limits, I'd love to see artists come up with their own arbitrary ideas. As an example, someone could release 3 "albums" of 3 tracks each - One album a month for 3 straight months. Where each album is somewhat unique yet the 3 fit into a broader whole. For bonus points, each album would be recorded in the month after it's predecessor was released. This type of setup would require an artist with considerable confidence. It's not hard to imagine numerous other ways to go about it. And that right there is the whole point. While it certainly takes imagination to put together a single compelling track, it takes even more to put together a set of them. For me, it's hard to go wrong when imagination is increased.
The Cartoon: HyperSexy inventive Surrealist fables told in a Sci-Fi setting.
The Movie: Slightly above average Sci-Fi told in a poorly lit setting.
I was entertained, but a little disappointed. On a scale of 1 to 3 stars, I give it a solid 2.
Dinner in St. Louis with my brother, sister, and her husband was nice - Even if I was fighting some serious jet lag and spacing out while we ate.
Tempest is heavy. Getting it up the basement stairs was an ordeal. Thankfully Goldman's brother, Goldman the Younger, came by to help. We never would have gotten it up the stairs without him.
It's always weird going back to St. Louis. Since I grew up there, it's familiar like nothing else can be. Yet I have so little attachment to it. It's not at all home. It's a state of perpetual Deja Vu... Futures past and forgotten until they're pulled into the present by a completely generic and therefore unmemorable Blockbuster parking lot I once hid my car in after it broke down.
In the middle of Missouri the Christians are taking it to the streets, by way of billboards. Driving down the interstate you can learn all about the evils of abortion and pornography. Or simply see the name "Jesus" in large block letters. The cars in these same areas are overflowing with ribbons, flags, and other such pro-war magnet patriotism. ...I wonder how much it would cost to put up a "Thou shall not kill" billboard 20 miles outside of Springfield, MO?
Oklahoma makes quite the impression. There's something particularly beautiful about a such a vast landscape coated in nothing but shades of neutral. Until you've looked at it for about an hour. Then you start to think something is wrong with your vision. Maybe you've lost the ability to see a rich velvety purple? What if a lush and moist deep green is destined to become nothing more than a comfortable and not quite all there memory, like Kindergarden snack time?
At the outset, we intended to stop in Tulsa for the night. We ended up pushing through to Oklahoma City in order to get it over with sooner.
The few people we interacted with were incredibly and genuinely nice. Especially our waitress at an off the highway no-where Denny's. In that sort of situation, I'd expect cranky at the very least. She was far from it. It was the same everywhere we went. In big cities, people like to passive aggressively share their misery . Even when you're paying them.
Driving west towards a large horizon makes for a stunning sunset.
In Oklahoma City we stayed in a hole of a motel. It was the "Garden Inn" or some such thing. It was twice the rate of name brand motels back in Tulsa... and 4 times the crappy. The room could best be described as "dingy". In the middle of the night, the entire casing for the in room heater fell off, crashing onto the floor. It wasn't at all what you'd like after 10 hours of driving.
After the desert of the real that is Oklahoma, the Texas high plains are a smorgasbord of visual delight. Compared to anything else, they might as well be barren.
The portion of highway 44 that passes through Texas is quite possibly the single straightest road known to man. For the next two days, Goldman refused to walk in a straight line... Only various degree's of curve.
We spent the least amount of time in Texas.
Now we're getting somewhere. Still large open landscapes, but they're dotted with giant mesa's. The great thing about enormous geographic deals while driving through a wide open landscape is that often times you'll see something off on the horizon, then drive right next to it half an hour later. It really adds to the impressiveness of it all.
Off season walk-up rates at the Albuquerque Hyatt are surprisingly low. It was so nice to take a good hot shower and sleep in a very comfortable bed.
About halfway between Albuquerque and the Arizona border, we took our first scenic detour... Heading off Interstate 40 in favor of Highway 53 through the Zuni Mountains. It's so peaceful up there. Trading billboards and semi-trucks for dense trees and gently curving roads was awesome.
Rugged and beautiful. I don't know what the square millage of parks in Arizona is, but it's a lot. Combine that with a considerable amount of reservation territory and you have a very undeveloped state. It's great.
On the way towards Flagstaff we stopped at the Painted Desert. We didn't know anything about it. We just saw it on the map and decided to check it out. It was a surprise, to say the least. Giant red rock formations as far as the eye can see. Beauty on that scale doesn't come often in places I've been.
I loved Flagstaff. It's hard to say why really. It's a small town that is slightly bigger than that due to it's proximity to the Grand Canyon. I guess it's because rather than becoming a generic tourist town it's held onto a lot of character from the route 66 days and has a granola hippy type of vibe. I'll definitely be back there.
There wasn't much time to spend at the Grand Canyon, so we decided to take a 1 hour helicopter tour. They're a bit pricey, but worth every penny. I've seen untold amounts of Grand Canyon media during me life. None of it can begin to do it any justice. It has to be seen in person. It makes the painted desert look like a backyard rock garden. All around, the scale is nearly incomprehensible. The pure physical size... The amount of amazing things inside of it... The time it took for all of that to be created... It's incredible. While the helicopter tour is awesome, It left me desperately wanting to get closer. I can't wait to go back for a multi-day hike down into that bad boy.
Someday I would like to learn how to fly a helicopter.
When I think Nevada, I think desert. I wasn't expecting the area around the Hoover dam to be so lush. On the way up to it, we caught the single best sunset I've ever seen. The warm colors of the sun setting into the clouds and behind the mountains mixed perfectly with the cool greens and blues of the valleys below. At one point, the sun was reflected in a perfect little river twisting out of the horizon. It really doesn't get any better.
Hoover dam is a lot smaller that I expected, but impressive none the less. The complexity of it all is fascinating and I love the functional concrete architecture of all the various buildings and towers.
I had never been to Las Vegas before. A lot of people I know have been down that way recently. They either loved it or they absolutely hated it. From my perception, I was expecting to end up on the hate side. Visually, it's absolutely fascinating. Again, it's all about scale. The architecture is not art in anyway. It's just a proximity. I think the people that build it and all of Vegas knows that. Once you get over any pretense surrounding "quality", there really is nothing like it anywhere in the world. Culturally, it's the USA at it's purest and most compressed. It's all about showing off over subtlety. Brand and marketing rule the day. It's full of complicated paradoxes around class and sex. I absolutely loved it. I mean, I'm in no hurry to pack up and move to Vegas. Or even spend an entire week there. But now that I've spent an evening observing it all, I'm looking forward to going back and completely embracing it for a few days.
The Ms. Congeniality award goes to California. Hands down. Natural wonders aside, nothing anywhere can beat the regular old day to day nature of California. There's just something about the way the quality of light, and the clouds, and the way the hills just roll around that comes together in magnificent form. Our drive through was very cloudy. As a result, we had sort of an extended sunset... The sky started turning faint muted colors a little after 3:00pm. It was absolutely lovely. There really aren't words.
Approaching San Francisco, I was getting anxious about seeing it again. Both because it's familiar, I hadn't seen anything familiar in 5 days, and because it's home. The drive across the Bay Bridge did not disappoint. San Francisco may not have the biggest downtown around or the most interesting sky scrapers, but it's still beautiful at night.
About 15 minutes later I was sitting in the truck at a gas station in my neighborhood and I immediately missed all that wide open and undeveloped space.
Unloading the Tempest machine was easier in the parts we expected to be difficult and harder in parts that took us by surprise. She is a large one. There where a few close calls getting her through Goldman's front door, down his hallway, and past a very stubborn Ikea shelf that did not want to come off the wall. Almost an hour later she was safely inside.
And that my friends is that
All and all, it was a wonderful trip. I saw some stuff I've never seen before. Some unexpected and some I've had on my list for many years. Even the boring parts of the drive were redeemed by an opportunity to really listen to good music (all hail a combined 100 gigs of iPod music and JBL portable speakers). It could not have been better.
I volunteered to come along.
Saturday we fly to STL, meet and greet with our respective families, then start the long journey back to San Francisco via rental truck and the great southwest.
The nice thing about traveling within the United States, is you can cover a considerable amount of ground and never make any real plans. That's the hypothesis anyway. Our only plan is to see the Grand Canyon. I hear it's hard to miss. Hopefully our map will arrive from Amazon in time, so we don't have to chance it. Either way, I'm excited. It's feelin' like a good time to break with the regular routine, get out of the city, and see some new things.
Tofurkey doesn't give good face. It's a cross between a very large potato and a improperly proportioned sausage. It was the subject of much ridicule - Even from the vegetarians. Looks aside, it was surprisingly tasty. The texture was nothing like real turkey but the taste was close enough. All but the ardent meat eaters seemed very pleased. I'll definitely make it again.
After dinner we watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Which is surprisingly horrible. It's reminded me of old Saturday morning cartoons they don't show anymore... Little story... Just bits of looped animation that go a long way for groan worthy gags. After it was over, we popped in The Incredibles. That movie is going to hold up for a very very long time. As Goldman mentioned while we were watching it, Pixar should really make some television specials for the holidays. The old standards aren't cutting it anymore. Some new classics would be awesome.
Peppered throughout was a lot of fine conversation, fine sake, and fine cheeses. Thank you everyone that came. I couldn't have asked for a better Last Thanksgiving in San Francisco.
Reality is a sound, you have to tune into it not just keep yelling.
Anne Carson - Autobiography of Red
Last night I was wandering around with Lane late in the evening and she remarked how it will be nice to have new streets to walk on in Chicago.
As of late, I've been trying not to get so caught up in new. It seems a lot of the time it's simply assumed that new is also better. I'm starting to think new is just the way in which we ignore old as a means to loose sight of now.
Look at this new thing!
Now I don't have to deal with that old stuff anymore!
At the same time, I love cities. I love neighborhoods and the ways in which they interact with each other and identity. I love the long gradual shifts in culture they contain. I love the fact that they work at all.
I love the possibility of discovering all of that in Chicago.
And the cycle of learning more about what I already know continues...
Strangely without contradiction.
At least for now.