Monday, April 23, 2007

So that's why their heads exploded!

Who knew I wasn’t a bored fuckup?

As it turns out I’m a “scanner.”

This according to Barbara Sher. Who more or less had me the first time she said she “just wants to save a bunch of geniuses.” Who among we geniuses can’t identify with being saved? ;-) Her book (path?) is called “Refuse to Choose.”

Apparently my problem is I am such a learning, problem-solving, multi-talented, super-genius that I can’t be expected to finish anything. Additionally (and a slick bit of psycho-therapeutic infusion) any unhappiness I have is because my relatives are too dimwitted to see this and support me properly.

The bastards.

Ms. Sher has developed a line certain to attract many an underperforming egomaniac. Which covers most of the citizens of this fine Republic.

For only $275 I can gain access to all of her wisdom (CD and hardback book!). I started to send away for this stuff, but then I kind of lost interest and did something else. I blame my family.

Now the show ends and.. Oh no.. “renowned teach and spiritual counselor” Irwin Kula may have a different path for me. Time to change the channel. Good thing there is an NBA game on!

In the meantime I will continue to draw my spiritual sustenance from the groundbreaking work of the philosophical collective that was Hüsker Dü:

“If I listened to the things that you said
everything would fall apart
If I did all the things that you do
everything could fall apart
Let's not listen to the things that they say
everything can fall apart
Let's think about our actions before we do them
everything will fall apart
I got nothing to do
You got nothing to say
Everything is so fucked up
I guess it's natural that way.”

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The second rough draft of the thesis is now complete at 17,057 words excluding footnotes. Now it goes out to the various readers: The Sister, The Korean, and The Professor. Give them a week to digest the thing (while continuing to do some line-editing) and when it comes back roll it all in and send it off to The Advisor. After his changes, formatting and then, dare I say it(?), approval and binding?

An amusing note about “Barely Accredited Master’s University.” Apparently I need to file some notification of intent to graduate paperwork. How did I find this out? A random meeting with my academic advisor as she sat at a table in our “College Transfer” day. I’m sure they would have got around to officially notifying me about this.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Remembering the Word Count Days

Aaah.. those happy days in which my struggle was to create enough output for this thesis thingie. Now the beast rests at slightly over 17,000 words and I must have cut at least that many out in drafts.

Anyway, I have done three revs this weekend. Obviously it gets easier as it gets better. And between coffee bars and the old-fashioned kind, I have had the sit-down, sit-up and write time that is necessary for this thing.

I think it will go out to my informal editors at the end of this week, and then to my advisor next week. Could it be concluding?

Would be nice. Then off to Korea for a year or so and some more writing.

Or something. ;-)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Vacation Land(ed)

When, last spring, my friends (the three of them and some barfly acquaintances) heard that my mother would be flying me and my BAG to Mediterranean climes they chimed in with a lot of jealous palaver.

If by jealous palaver you mean hatred, despair and wishes that I would die.

If I had a dime for every time someone claimed that the Continent would be wasted on me or…

Oh.. wait, they said I’d be wasted on the Continent and they were dead right.

It’s my mom for god’s sake. It’s the Continent for god’s sake. And with all else moms and I share there is also the love of the grape. And there we were, with all that lovely grape juice, pops with a pipe, and the BAG with bookstores. So we all fed the beasts within.

We wandered from lovely place to lovely place.

I, as is my wont, snapped pictures.

I think I’ve covered this elsewhere, but I hate pictures with people in them. To me a picture of an architectural or natural wonder with people in it is like a picture of a porn star with her yeast infection and tattoos showing.

Just wrong… a kind of defilement.

“Hey look Palookaville! I’m here in front of something that dwarfs my pathetic life. But the group tour stopped here before we went to the Microtel (outer) Rome!”

er… this wasn’t supposed to turn all bitter.. the point is..

some of the photos came back to roost in a semi-lovely university publication…

this would be a screen shot…

and this would be a link to the pdf

as if you stupid tourists care..

I’m off to base-jump into a undersea cavern filled with lo-cal rum, the best margaritas you have ever had, a native guide with a well-stuffed loincloth, slivers of the true cross, and food as the savages themselves kill, prepare, cook, and eat.


I’ll parasail out with a fistful of antiquities.

So.. like… your vacation sucked compared to mine..


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Red Meat Love?

I may be turning young again.

Or red meat is the drug I’m dreaming of.

Or both.

I cleaned 1.5 gigs of some stupid pix (the clean ones) off my computer and re-installed Final Cut Pro in expectation of some serious editing tomorrow. Getting all this done has made me giddy in the simple way I used to get giddy when contemplating a future project, and a project I’m not all so fond of at that.

Look at me.
I’m giddy.
Like a schoolgirl.

So.. is red meat an upper? I must also say that House was on again, and I’ve had three beers.

So maybe that is the prescription?

And it was a great House (though must every patient lose sight in one eye?)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Home.. home again..

Aaaah.. a lovely evening… a cranky day at work with moronic tasks.. “find the chancellor a lapel pin from Institution A.” Really. I spent about an hour looking for a freaking lapel pin. That’s a good way to burn an hour of your expensive paid-liar’s money when we need to grow like cancer this summer and fall.

But I got home and, pursuant to the new personal budget (The vacation was very expensive) I took a walk to the store and purchased food-items that I could eat all week. Nice weather and got some fruits and meat. Yeah, that food group. Cooked up a piece of some kind of lean pork and had two delicious Fosters. Well, I’m unused to the cooking and eating thing in my more efficient than efficiency apartment and first I undercooked the meat, then spilt meat juice (man, that sounds like a line from a gay porno) from the plate onto my couch-duvet (whatever that might be? The fact that I can type “couch-duvet” without vomiting makes me wonder if I am growing ovaries as I type?), and finally kicked over the second Fosters. Still, the combination of beer, meat, and “House” on the Tebelision? I just got that “good all over” feeling that work keeps trying to kill.

Also had finished my latest of round paper markup on the thesis.. this something I have been avoiding for a fortnight (crap, can a guy grow a THIRD ovary?). Other than rewriting the first two pages, I think I did the last structural changes. This was in the 10 pages imported from my first paper on The Author and it had never been a complete fit as it had been written for different purposes. But this look made it fit and I got about 20 pages of changes typed in. I think that one more go round will mean I can pass this on to others to critique. After that it would just be format of paper and sources.

And “Loveline” to end the evening! This fine show brings me news from the outside world. I am not the cruelest boyfriend in the world! There are men with smaller dicks than me! I did not set the land-speed record for premature ejaculation! My addictions are minor compared to the idiots who call Loveline!

Now I will drink some whiskey, and masturbate for 13 seconds while dreaming of beating the BAG.

Now that, my delicate friends, is an evening.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Long Ride Home

The next day we were crippled. We limped into Yosemite and did very little things. One thing we did was take a small diversion. On both highway 120 and 140 I had noticed a little road named “Foresta” and it seemed to run off to an area where there had been a serious fire. There was also a meadow and some A-frames. Over the serious whining of the BAG I cut off here and we drove down to into the meadow. We found, go figure, a moribund town named Foresta which consisted of an apparently abandoned fire-station and a lightly occupied cemetery named the ‘Foresta’ cemetery. This made the BAG happy – since she has me as an older boyfriend she is always happy to see where the old go to die.

Took some photos, wander about, and headed to the valley. We walked to Bridal Veil Falls. This is an epic journey of up to .25 of a mile (if you stagger as seriously as we did). We headed out to Mirror Lake, where we had been a few years ago in the dead of winter, with a trio of Koreans, slipping, sliding and falling on our dumb asses as we struggled up and down the last icy quarter mile. When Yosemite is dry the walk is trifling and we made it in a trice. We sat up there for a while and that is where these tricky "mirror" pictures come from. At some point the BAG grabbed me by the shoulder and had me take the picture you see at the bottom right. That's right. No vapor trails. I don't get it either.

After that it was to the Yosemite Cemetery where the BAG fruitlessly searched for the grave of a Native American. She took it badly when I suggested that anywhere in the US she looked was pretty much the grave of a Native American. They are pretty testy considering all the Government cheese we’ve squandered on them. I was happy to see the gravestone (pictured) with the phallic headstone and the inscription:

“Ah, that beauteous head if it did go down, It carried sunshine into the rapids”

which is pretty much how I feel about getting good head.

It was getting late and the BAG wanted to go back to Yosemite Falls so that I could take more pictures. I didn’t want to walk anywhere and we bargained for an hour and a half of time sitting on the valley floor. If there’s a better place to read a book I don’t know it. So we headed to Groveland and the Charlotte Hotel. A lovely place and we settled in. I wandered across the street to the Iron Horse Saloon and had two beers. The BAG went back to the hotel to check out dinner at the restaurant there. I headed back as well and we read for awhile. Then it was an excellent dinner. I know that I’m comfortably off now, because when the bill came in and they’d missed a glass of wine I drank, I mentioned it to the waitress so that she could add it in there.

Later, on the way to the car, or something.. perhaps to pick something up for the lovely BAG, I heard the band in the bar across the street playing “All Along the Watchtower” and was seduced by its mighty beauty. I shot across the street and sat in for just three songs (after all, the mighty beauty of the BAG was still in the Hotel and she would clock me a new skull-hole if I didn’t come back in a timely fashion) and slugged down a quick shot with a beer back. It was a beautiful thing.

Next day we had some lovely breakfast and the BAG asked to see the map. She picked out a path home that I had been considering – highway 49 to Jackson (we know of a bar and bookstore there) and we decided to take it. I was slightly impressed by this, since the BAG is not a map-reader at all, and there’s a tangle of roads right around there. Anyway, we had agreement without discussion, which is the sign of a happy couple or a fascist government – perhaps I have switched the adjectives there? This path took us back through Jamestown, Sonora, and up to Jackson. On the way I saw this lovely sign indicating a pleasure pit off to the left. I also tried to get some pictures of Hawks on the wing, but this is like sobriety – it never works out for me.

We had lunch, she headed to the bookstore and I to the bar. The bar had this lovely old-school machine offering devices of pleasure for less than one dollar. The dispensing slot in the middle actually suggests that I purchase all 12 "extenders" and "pleasurers." Like I want sex that much anymore! An hour later I was done with the bar slightly before she was done with the bookstore. Just slightly though, since as I drove down old Main St. to the bookstore, she was walking back.

We rolled the Delta and ended up home. It was a splendid nature adventure.

Friday, April 06, 2007

You only Yurt the Ones You Love

The next day we headed back into Yosemite. The sign for services/stores which had previously said “services open on Friday” now sported a penciled-in “at 5pm” which we both found a bit disappointing. We ate some breakfast from cellophane containers and headed for the Mist Trail. Getting off to bus we were treated to a couple of deer doing that dear thing that only deer can do. I snapped some photos and then we started up the trail proper. The trail was lovely. I was told the trail was lovely. I could not see beyond the stinging sweat pouring into my eyes and all I could hear was the threat that the explosion of my heart might overcome the thunderous rasping of my lungs. Since this was wintertime, the Mist Trail itself was closed (that is the inside bit of the trail that runs up next to Vernal Falls), so we were forced to take the Muir Trail loop instead. It is considerably longer and much less scenic if you are interested in hiking waterfall trails in order to see, well, waterfalls. We trod mightily to Clarke Point at which case the BAG’s hip was tightening up and I was in complete systemic failure. We took a couple of photos with Nevada Falls in the background, a few little nature shots (the bluejay, for instance), and then headed down the hill. All the way we were either right in front of or right behind a single-mother with a hideous little gang of children who insisted on throwing frozen snow at each other, and when that wasn’t available resorting to sticks or dirt. I almost nobly offered, to the harried harridan, beating the little shits soundly for their misbehavior, but decided it was her cross to bear. At each turn of a switchback, Yvonne looked up to the sky and cursed whatever vapor trails she saw.

Eventually we made it back to the bottom of the hill a process which, surprisingly, involved a minimum of falling.

Despite how painful it had been, this entire ordeal had only consumed 2 hours or so of the day. By the time we were done, of course, we were too weak to do anything but screw around in Yosemite Village and hang out in the meadow and take 8-million shots (SmartCard in camera!) of a Red Robin, which was the only the second animal (see bluejay above) stupid enough to get within three miles of me the entire vacation. Well, at least when I had a camera and there was a card in it.

Eventually, wounded badly, we headed out on 120 to the fabled Yurt-Hut. About as soon as we left the park boundaries (with the odometer set to 0 again, so I could get a 5-mile notification) the BAG and I both began to have a squirmy belief. She was sitting in her seat kind of twitchy and so was I. As we began to round familiar corners, I believe it was the BAG who first said, “you know, this is going to turn out the be….” And then we saw it. Yosemite Lakes was the very same store, gas-station, and Inn that we had stopped at two days previously. We had been unable to find it DESPITE HAVING BEEN THERE less than 48 hours earlier. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. The store, of course, was closed, so after driving down to check in, we had to roll to Groveland to get some vittles for fixing.

The good news was that the Yurt was nice, very big, and on a sort of scenic rise. The bad news was that the folks in the yurt next to us were a bit loud – we heard their TV blaring as we came in. We ate dinner, watched a bit of TV (the yurts had TV’s, stoves, refrigerators, full bathrooms, and skylights – not your Mongolian father’s yurt).

We went to sleep at exactly the time the folks next to us, well, a woman anyway, went mad with either her lover or her vibrator. The young woman had an astounding line in profanity. I, still unused to having a hand-held recorder, was a bit tardy in remembering that it was in my computer bag, but eventually I did and recorded one of her lesser outbursts here (mp3 (smallish) or aif (largish)).

BAG watched the full moon through the sun-roof and we eventually drifted off agreeing there was no way I was making it back into the valley in time for my photo-walk. It had been doomed from the start, and now it was official. Opening the 6th Heineken was merely the christening of the event. The lovely fireplace/heater was also complicit and the BAG had her evil role as well. All in all, a pretty good day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Into Yosemite and Out of My Mind (Day 2)

The next morning we took a quick walk around Jamestown, and I photographed the BAG with every wooden statue I could find. Then it was a quick trip up behind Jamestown to check out the Railroad Museum which was astoundingly boring. I headed down a west-ish cutting road which I reasoned must cross Highway 49, since we had crossed 49 on our way up. We drove just long enough for me to begin regretting I hadn’t gassed up in Jamestown and then, lo and behold, I saw from above the big stinking reservoir below Priest’s Grade. The mystery road had cut neatly back to Highway 120 and within minutes we were shooting up New Priest’s Grade. Got to the top and passed the first gas station at Oak Flat as well as the one at Groveland. I knew there were gas-stations in Buck’s Meadow as well as another one just before the park entrance. Got to Buck’s Meadow, pulled in and was just starting to get out of the car when a Cooter-esque dude sweeping the gravel off of the.. well, the gravel.. said, “them pumps are empty.” This was also true of the other gas-station in Buck’s Meadow and now I was getting a bit uneasy. We shot on for another 11 miles or so and, lo and behold (really, "lo and behold" twice in the same post? Three times now?), there was the other store/station I knew about and we quickly skipped off the road which revealed to us --- the “closed for inventory” sign. Down the road there was an Inn, but it was deserted, so I pulled around and back onto the highway.

We made Crane’s Flat without any trouble and gassed up, but some aspects of the closed gas station and store would come back to be amusing later.

Anyone who’s ever driven into Yosemite knows the feeling you get the first time you see Half Dome neatly tucked between the two walls of the valley. So we had it. There was road construction everywhere, but the park was essentially empty as that photo on the left shows. That is the road to Yosemite Village and we were literally the only car on it.

We drove into the Village and as we did I pointed up to the sky where two vapor trails crossed, “look,” said I, “it’s a cross.” That seemed uncontroversial, but in that very moment the BAG developed an unwavering and psychotic hatred of the vapor trail and every time a plane crossed the valley (pretty often since it is on the way to Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose and SF airports, and that’s just going west), the BAG bristled like a rabid dog and hissed, “there’s another one, why do they have to do that?” Sometimes her finger pointed shakily into the sky, sometimes her little fists were balled in rage, but each time her voice and body shook. I began pointing vapor trails out just for fun.

After a bit of time in the village (and signing up for a photographic walk at 9 am on Saturday that I was certain to miss by sleeping in) we headed off to Curry Village which was essentially closed for the season. Again, a weird scene since it is normally packed tight.

We headed off to view Yosemite Falls and when we got up to the top viewpoint I took out my camera and started taking pictures. Other photographers were there as well, and since I had a cooler camera and bigger lens in my bag, I took them out and began using them. I also clambered on the rocks and scrambled up towards the fall to take even closer pictures. The other photographers, I noted, were in awe of my equipment and skills and looked at me with something approaching reverence.

Too bad I didn’t have a SmartCard in the camera I was using. So. No pictures of that. Vastly over-rated in any case. A bit of bad landscape.

This is getting to be a disturbing habit.. I change cameras and don’t make sure they can actually take pictures. I later discovered that my newer camera has a setting that doesn’t allow you to “take” pictures without a card in the camera and I set it that way. I hope this helps. I could use the help..

After a short visit to the meadow, it was starkly revealed how much help I need. The night before I had realized I had left the cord to my iBook at home so I was only opening the laptop to download pictures to it or to access the screen-shots I had taken of our hotel reservations. This is my normal technique for saving such things and I was a bit confused when I opened the screen-shot for our lovely two-night stay at the Yurt-Village and the screenshot had no phone number, no address, nothing but the name of the place, “Yosemite Lakes.” Fortunately I did recall a little about the web page and knew that it was located 5 miles from the western park entrance. No problem, I’d shoot down 140, set my odometer to 0 at the park entrance and start eyeballing places about 4 miles down. A brilliant plan, but it revealed nothing. Between 3 and 7 miles down the road was a lovely stretch of river and trees, nothing else. I stopped at the El Portal store and they had no idea what I was talking about.

We rolled back up to the park. Back down 7 miles, back up to the park. Trying to phone anyone we could as eception kept cutting out. We finally reached the BAG’s brother who in a quick (and wildly inaccurate) Google search informed us that we had reservations in Modesto. This was not gonna do. We stopped back at El Portal and this time there was a guy who made the previous day’s Cooter-esque dude seem positively like Cary Grant. But he said he knew of a place like the one we described and in fact had applied for a job there. I paid half-attention, more fascinated by the mossy cave-opening he had by way of a mouth and the teeth that wobbled loosely in their settings, shining green and black in the waning sun. Well, those teeth that were still there, anyway. But the place he was talking about was back on 120 which is not, as everyone knows, the west entrance. This sounded a bit better than Modesto (so does Hell, to be honest), but since the guy was cradling a half-empty fifth of Vodka in a brown-bag I wasn’t gonna take his word for it. So we rolled back up to the Cedar Lodge (a hotel we had noticed along the way) and the very helpful Cara Googled “Hillside Yurt” and “Yosemite” and, wondrous thing, old snaggle-tooths had been dead on. By this time it was getting dark and the BAG was making a remarkably wide variety of snide remarks about my navigation skills. I decided to get a room at the Cedar Lodge, call the Yurt-hut and say we’d be in the next night. This cost me the price of the Yurt for that night, but it was worth it to get off the road. Cara, impressed by our tale of woe, upgraded us to a room with a big old spa (that little head in the "spa" pic is the BAG) and we spent the night there, BAG spa-ing and me cursing the Yurt-Hut for calling 120 the “west” entrance (I cursed them because it couldn’t possibly have been my fault for not having their address or phone number).

The BAG proposed that, according to a theory that I have long held about terminal degrees - they produce stupidity not education - my day without a computer cord, without a SmartCard in my camera, and with no direction home was the result of my proximity to my MA. I think I only hit her once. So that's good.

I’m sure the stars were out, or something… but I focused on drinking myself into oblivion and so largely missed them.

The next day, we were to head for the dreaded Mist Trail...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

To Jamestown

I was scheduled to get out of work at 4:30 and to my complete amazement did. The trip from Big City to the Delta went relatively easily and by the time we hit Highway 5 we were contemplating possible hotels for the night. I had seen a bed-and-breakfast somewhere out in “Fish Something or Other” but I had no idea where this might actually be. I knew that once we were past Escalon hotels would get scarce so I stopped at a gas station, gave the BAG a $20 bill and asked her to purchase a map of California. 5 minutes later I was still sitting in the car and the BAG had not reappeared. I stepped into the store to enquire and there in the corner, under a large mound of opened maps (most of which were of Sacramento) the BAG struggled to breathe. I refolded most of the maps and stopped the BAG from continuing to drill through the rack with maps of Sacramento. I pointed out that since one map of Sacramento was pretty much like the other, it might be time for other options. Unfortunately, none of the other options included California or Northern California. As the BAG continued to juggle maps she lost track of the $20 bill and left it behind for the lost (“lost?” by the map racks? Irony baby) homies of 7-11.

She has a loose way with money. If it is mine.

We could neither find “Fish Something or Other” nor raise the hotel on the telephone and thus we soldiered on after determining (a bit of mathematics based on road signs) that Sonora wasn’t too far away beyond the turn-off to Yosemite. We stopped a bit short of that in Jamestown and found a lovely little hotel (The RailTown Hotel) which charged less than seventy dollars for the evening. As we walked in I nearly had a heart attack as a savage canine of massive dimensions gathered itself to leap at me from the bed. Reeling backwards I stepped aside and yelled, “take the Indian! I’m a heart attack waiting to happen.” Perhaps I also pushed the BAG in ahead of me. She has one version of the story and I have another.

It was a stuffed animal, but I could have used a bit of warning. You can see a picture (over there on the right) of the savage beast completely sucking up to the BAG. Shameless. Both of them.

We went around the corner and had a lovely dinner before retiring to bed. I locked the stuffed animal in the bathroom, just to be safe. The BAG kept getting out, so I finally gave up on her...

Back from the Wilds

Just got back from a 4-day expedition to Yosemite (about which more soon) to discover I have no intarwebs access at home, either on my normal wireless or the one I sometimes swipe. This is dire.

While I was in Yosemite I read the Sac Bee which had the comic "Frazz"

Now, certainly Bill Watterson ("Calvin and Hobbes") has something to complain about here?