Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lauren Still Wants to Date Brody, but Hates Heidi

Lindsay's been hearing about it all weekend, she's sick too, but for those of you that haven't let me complain to you about how sick I was this weekend...

Friday I woke up with a pain in my jaw, right side. Thought I slept on it funny. Turns out it was a viral infection of the perotid gland. So it was kind of like having a lopsided case of the mumps. See the pic? My #1 got swollen and I couldn't chew until Tuesday.

But wait! You say that's not good enough? I agree. I also got a cold at the same time, thanks to the compromised immune system (according to the doc I saw) and
that woman from work snotting everywhere last week. So now I'm done sniffing, only coughing, with a headache.

My eyeballs hurt too. And my soul because I watched every episode of the MTV girly drama "The Hills" during my sick day from work. Ask me anything about it, I'm an expert. Sad.

Picture of the Day

This is another favorite picture of mine.

Bus N Blood

I thought I'd share with you the rich and inspiring monologue from the very young mother (about 15 years old) on the bus today. She sprawled out over the back bench seat of the articulated bus, her 1 year old kid propped up like a sack of rice on the arm rest.

Actors: "Baby's Momma" and baby. She in super tight jeans and a cropped furry hood arctic jacket, with hood up, baby is something startlingly similar.

(Her cell phone rings on dead quiet bus) She at top volume: Hello! Hello! Hello? Hello? Damn. (Her cell phone rings again) Hello? Hello? Hello? Um, hello? (Her cell phone rings again) Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?

To cell phone caller: NAW!!! She gonna have to kills me. I don't care. Just kill me then. I don't care what she say. You better kill me. Um, naw. What I gonna do be skared of them girls? Go'head try and kill me.

Unattended baby wobbling back and forth, but no concern from her. Everyone on the bus is waiting to leap to catch the kid.

(Her cell phone rings) Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?
(Her cell phone rings again) Hello? Hello? Hello? Um, hello?
(Her cell phone rings) Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?
(Her cell phone rings) Hello? Hello? Hello? Um, hello? Hears someone on the phone (finally): "Vashwanda's [like the island?] nose is bleeding again. Naw. At the jail just now. No he ain't. No. I can tell it's not her pickin' it because there's blood in her snot and it's all over her hands and shit. I don't care. (pause) Just get her some ice cream. Chocolate. And she's got the runs, and she's vomiting all over. Green. Last night. Get her some Sprite too. No, she's not picking it again. I could tell. There's blood in her snot and shit." Bus stops. She drops her bus pass and two of us squirm under the seat to get it for her as her baby is in her arms. She says nothing, but wanders off the bus toward the government housing.

Such a beautiful moment. The love shared between mother and child. The miracle of birth, of motherhood. Ah, I love the bus.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Freedom Fries

This is what it's going to look like when Osama plants a bomb:
But we don't need to worry, because we've got dolphins to defend us:
Ok, just checking in on how the war on terror is going. See I had it all wrong, I thought the dophins were bad and the mooninite cartoon dudes were the goods ones, but I had it backwards. Whew. Good thing I checked.

Redneck Urges

I'm so looking forward to working on my Chevy again tomorrow. I don't know if the weather will hold out, I hear it's supposed to rain (shocking I know), but I'd love it to be dry and a little warm so I can get "big green ugly" as I call her, ready for Spring yardwork.

I finally adjusted the wipers last weekend, they had been stuck in the up position, as well as a few adjustments to the idle level and fan belt tension. My Dad got me a bunch of tools for Christmas last year and I'm happily busting up my knuckles more efficiently than ever now with the right tool for the job at hand. The Chevy is up on it's ramps in the back yard, waiting for me to slide under and figure out where the transmission leak is coming from so there's still plenty to do on her. I just added creeper to my might-get-this-weekend wish list in fact to avoid laying on the ground with I do my dirty work. Note the piece of cardboard I was using as my creeper in the picture above. There are something like 24 bolts on the trany case that I need to undo to change the gasket so I'll be there for a while, better get comfortable.

Someday I'd like to use this truck for actual picking up of things and not just learning how to work on cars with. Someday. I don't see that day anytime soon though. Still, I'm really looking forward to it. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Do What's Right, Even When No One is Looking

I saw a special tonight, on Frontline, about the history of the Marines. It got me thinking about my time in the Army. Bottom line - Joining the Army was the best thing I've ever done in my life. Yes, bold words, but true.

Not for the bravado, not for the fraternity, but because it taught me more about life than anything ever has. It gave me a deep connection with the history of the United States, more than I ever thought possible, for I am in George Washington's Army, Patton's Army, and I am the soldier in the jungle, in the desert, and in places we can't talk about. I know what hardship is by seeing people around the world that most Americans can't even imagine living like and it's made me a better person I'm sure. I appreciate what I have as I'm living it for those that died for their country. Looking back I wouldn't change a thing.

Maybe the biggest benchmark is that nobody in my family - no body at all - wanted me to join. It was a decision I made alone and listening to my gut and I knew was right, I just knew. Part of me really wants to still be there, in the Army. Where my NCO creed gave me a pathway that I'll never forget and still apply every single day. I'd love to go to Ranger school, and then attempt Special Forces, and I honestly believe that I could have made it and then made a difference in the world on that wonderful one on one level. How different would my life be? Radically different I'm sure. Still I'm on a great path now so I'm happy with my choices.

My contribution was insignificant in the grand scope of things, but I did my part no matter how small, I am part of a brotherhood that's cemented in my core. It'll be there forever I'm sure, and after having served my country, in war, and having dealt with all the suffering, fear, loneliness, loss of life and more I wouldn't change a thing. It's not for everyone, but it was for me. I don't roll out this speech very often, as it's a private issue and mine alone, but here it is. I'm not looking for thanks, or anything like that (if you feel so compelled go thank a WWII, Korea, or Vietnam vet) I just hope I made the millions of men and women in the armed forces proud of my time representing the United States of America in the Army.
(Me in the Philippines standing among a very small part of the American soldiers killed in the PI in WWII. These boys never came home, so I count everyday as a blessing.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shooting Hip

This photo of the fence is my favorite photo, as of late. I need to take more, but I don't. I think it's a conflict of why I'm taking them. Is it for me? Is there a show I need to prepare for? Does someone want to see this stuff? I love the squeezing of the mind that comes from a good afternoon looking for images. It's so consuming, and exhausting that it creates the same feeling as a good workout. When I walk around the neighborhood and take pictures it's a lot harder than anything else because I have to force myself to see things differently, to see what makes everything special. Therein is the reason I need to do it more. Plus, I'm concerned that I'm just taking pretty pictures and not telling a story with these kinds of images. I think that's a big part of my reticence.

Oh, and this one below is a close second. I'm trying to not use color as a crutch, and also try more texture.

Maslow Anyone?

I find myself thinking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs here and there. Tonight, after dinner with a good friend I thought about it on the way home as I was reflecting on being firmly in the third Maslow tier of having love and belonging. Now. I'm not going to deconstruct it, or contribute to it or anything like that, but my thoughts on it are that life just isn't this simple. Sure there's some patter here, some logic, but it's not an illumination of the soul. Still, it is something to get us started with. So I thought I'd post it up just because I think about it a lot.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lt Dangle Would Be Proud

I'm sitting at a stop light on the way home from the gym tonight when 2 sheriff's cars fly by with full lights and sirens. I nudge over to to the curb to let them by only to catch back up with them at the Safeway gas station down the street from my house. Apparently just seconds before I got there the Safeway gas station was robbed - again. As far as I know it's the 3rd time in only a few months. Apparently the thief likes to rob it at about 9pm, or about when I get back from the gym. Each time I rolled in just after it's happened and pump my gas under the watchful eye of the sheriff's department.

From what I hear the robber's been getting away each time. This time, however, they caught the guy. I suppose the cops were sick of coming out to Safeway to take the we-just-got-robbed report. I counted 5 sheriff's cars, 3 Seattle PD cars and one Seattle PD helicopter...and one Subaru Outback (mine). As always, I went looking for trouble. I rolled around the neighborhood looking for the bad guy right along with the orbit of cop cars. Why? Because I believe in citizen government. Stand up and do something about something. That's the crux of why I joined the Army in fact. Less talk more action people. That and I was bored. But let's stick with the first one.

No action for Deputy Yost though. They caught the guy hiding behind an apartment building across the street. The gas station workers where loaded up and taken over to identify the guy and that's all she wrote. Kind of got me thinking how bad someone's life has to be to rob a gas station. I can't imagine you'd get more than $200 at most, and that won't last you long. Someone's got it tough. At least they'll get a free meal tonight in jail.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Tales from the .com Life

I had dinner last night in San Francisco in one hell of a nice joint. As always there for the grace of God I was. Somehow I was on the receiving end of the generosity of a well-off vendor and got to stuff my face with hedonistic abandonment at one of San Francisco's best restaurants, the Asia de Cuba.

We were fortunate enough to sit at the best table ( you're looking right at it in the pic at right) smack dab in the middle of the place. The tables literally glow as they're two layers of glass and lit from the inside, the walls were long sheets of velvet lit from above to give the room a dense and calm feel. The food, too much of it to finish, was perfect. I had seared Ahi, and shared some lemon grass chicken, had some beef tips, and a few prawns and some unknown rice
puff ball things, and some other oddities in banana leaves--that I didn't know, but ate. Most of it was more than this culinary troglodyte could identify, but I enjoyed it all.

Top it off with more drinks at the neighboring Redwood Room (pic at left) and I was in heaven. Sure work can be hard, and dull at times, but I thank my lucky stars that I have really good relationships with my vendors and we get to celebrate like this. I'm lucky indeed.

Today, I'm in LA though and on my own budget. Hello Burger King!

Blog in the Smog

News flash: LA is smoggy.

I flew in to LA today from San Francisco and descended through what looked like a giant piece of well done toast hovering over the city. It's gross. The entire city is bubbled in a brown fog. I'm stunned people live and work in this stuff. I've been here a few hours and I think I'm feeling it, I'm a little light headed and I keep clearing my throat. Good news is I plan on going drinking tonight with Lindsay so the light headedness from the smog might accelerate the drunkness too. Don't say I don't look on the bright side.

Another thing about LA, is apparently there's a gang war on here. Not the Bloods and the Crypts, but between the Priuses and the Suburbans. Everywhere I look there's either a skinny white guy/girl in a Prius zipping down the road creating a wake of in-you-face environmental
self-righteousness or a huge black (always black) Chevy Suburban (or it's close relative the Cadillac Escalade) piloted by a big sunglass wearing celeb wanabe. I hear this battle started long ago with the Honda Insight crowd vs the Hummer set and the rivalry is right up there with the Jews vs. Muslims, Jets and the Sharks, Kobe and Shaq etc, but there's no Jimmy Carter Insight (the puns keep on coming!) to intervene in this SoCal showdown. Nope. It's the battle of the environment vs the ego and there's no winner to be declared in that one anytime soon.

Want to keep up with the hatin on hummers? Check out this lovely site dedicated to keepin' the H2 down:

Thursday, February 8, 2007

San Francisco Idee Fixe

My word of the day today was: idee fixe. Really? Are they making this stuff up? Apparently it's French for fixed idea, or something you can't get out of your head.

I'm in San Francisco today, for the next few days in fact, for work. Like everyone else I love this town. I've been trying to put my finger on it, but it's elusive. My best guess is that everyone that's here wants to be here. It's not a transition locale, but a destination. There's an optimism here, possibly brought on by the mild weather and rolling hill landscape, that leaks into visitors like me.

I'm staying at the Hotel Carlton, that I've learned has nothing to do with the cousin from Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Carlton) unfortunately. I would have loved to take advantage of their social hour dance classes if he had taught them--but I digress (down an unfunny path). The hotel is a very European boutique style hotel. Small, but charming. Upon my arrival I was entertained by 20+ gorgeous French travelers , all about 21 years old and every one of them stunning. Is there a model convention in town? Hope so. I felt like a dot com
Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman) and shuffled on to my room.

It was only 10:30pm when I arrived so I decided to wander the city before bed. It was raining, but that was kind of nice. I wandered down streets that I seem to wander down every time I'm here, to the Fairmont, where I stayed last time, through Chinatown, over to the Coit Tower and a few other areas. It was nice timing to see the those on dates starting to spill into the streets after dinner, arm in arm. Lots of drunk kissing in the middle of the street here in San Fran. Maybe that explains the police scene I saw too. Apparently a car had hit someone right before I got there, giving lots of bar patrons something to watch on their smoke breaks. I stood there for a while and watched the cops (that still carry night sticks and walk the beat) investigate, but got bored and moved on. This kind of thing is much better on TV I suppose. I had a burritto and a beer from a hole in the wall and hopped a cab back to the hotel to catch up on some work. Always nice to see what SF is up to.

It's morning now, and I woke up enjoying the view from my room of the city. I'm pressing my business man uniform and reviewing notes for the meeting I have today, but making sure to enjoy every minute of it. I don't know if it's the war or just maturity, but I haves learned to appreciate everything I have more than ever these last few years. It's important to do that, it's idee fixe for me.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Super Bowl Ad Quotes

Two of my favoriate Super Bowl quotes:

"Nothing says delicious candy bar like homoerotic auto mechanics."

Or how about this gem:

"Worst commercial of the night? The one where that one guy keeps throwing wobbly, drunken footballs high up into the air and other guys wearing a different uniform keep catching them. Wait…that’s the actual game…."

Well that sums it up doesn't it?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Photo of the Day

It's good to be in IT.

Mr Bush's Fight Club (Part II)

The final and most interesting point directed our attention to the great American jihadist film: Fight Club. It's a perfect insight into the mental shaping of the most dangerous jihadists. The majority of Muslims are moderates and do not condone violence, the next segment are the Muslims that are frustrated and standing behind radical change groups, but do not openly inflict extreme violence on their ideological opponents. The protagonists in Fight Club are the terrorists that we fear and that we hunt down to kill as no amount of psychological influence effects them. This is who we should be fighting, with small scale clandestine special operations, to stem the growth of terrorist acts. It should be a surgical removal of this malignant element rather than an amputation of the culture. Fight Club is a textbook for jihad. Brad Pitt turns the spotlight on Ed Norton's emasculation and oppression and gives him the tools to finally be able to change his downward spiral, one that has been numb and distracted by cultural hedonism from any meaning. Ed Norton attempts to regain is influence on a world that has escaped him by acting out and violating it's rules to gain attention to what he believes is the death of not only his manhood, but everyone else's. It's a step by step how-to of the most extreme jihadists, the suicide bombers and the IED makers.

Tactically the American revolution was successful because of
guerrilla warfare. We still celebrate the antihero in our media with films like Rambo and Red Dawn the glorify Sampson vs Goliath match-ups where the once oppressed out think the enemy and defeat the large organized army because our motivation is ideologically more powerful and right wins over superior fire/manpower - in the movies. The possible lesson we learn is that we could possibly identify with the 'insurgent' Iraqis more than we despise them.

I hope our leadership, our media (Fox), even I get over the painting with only a black or white brush and 1.understand what fuels the rise of violence in Muslim cultures and 2. realize the majority of Muslims are not nefarious sleeper cells waiting to kill us when given the word. We can not afford to lump all of the problems into one generic Global War on Terrorism as the causes for each of the uprisings, that just happen to be predominately in Islamic countries, are separate and containable (ref: USS Mercy). We are no longer the "deciders" in the world, Mr Bush, as we were in the Cold War. However, we are the influencers. All we can do is influence and hope for the best.

Mr Bush's Fight Club (Part I)

A recent article in the New Yorker has a lengthy interview with an Australian military officer, on loan to the Pentagon as an advisory, discussing America's inflexibility in adapting the Bush coined "Global War on Terror" into it's smaller ideological buckets. He points out that Bush is helping the terrorists by lumping them all into one group and not recognizing the differences in Somalia compared to the Abu Saif (Philippines), or Hesballa, or most importantly Iraq. By broadcasting that they are all the same their once separate grievances are perceived as one and allows them to be one unified force around the world. Ben Laden knows this and has been successfully using the media outlets to encourage the phrasing "global war on terrorism" as it makes him an iconic figure for all the world's radical Islamic groups. The Australian analyst argues that if we'd deal with each group's issues individually and see them as political groups rather than Muslim/Islamic groups under the same blanket ideology snuffing out each conflict one by one would be much easier.

The author goes on to site a famous psychological operations maneuver that won the hearts and minds of thousands of rebel Muslim fighters in Indonesia just recently. The United States, after the tsunami in early 2005. The US deployed the USS Mercy hospital ship (see pic below) to the region (with military support at the ready) to aid in the disaster relief. Over 61,000 locals over the length of it's tour (mostly Muslim) were treated to top-notch health care free of charge by this vessel. A poll conducted says it all: "87 percent of those surveyed in [the region] said that the activities of the Mercy made their overall opinion of the US more positive." In other words with out a shot being fired the US changed the philosophy of the residents of the area to a favorable view of the US.

If we are as strong as we say we are our greatest challenge is compassion. One solitary Navy vessel, the USS Mercy, has done more for the abatement of terrorism than 5 years of war with Afghanistan and Iraq.

Zen on Two Wheels

Thanks to Google I happened to run across a web site belonging to a monk that rides a motorcycle. There's no real reason why they shouldn't, but it's great that he's not rejecting the new world. It means he thinking and analyzing the options around him and not imitating the past. He's got some smart observations on travel and is a bit of an inspiration for just getting out there and trying new things.

Q - As a monk, I thought you weren't supposed to own anything?

A - According to Buddhism I don't really own it, I'm just using it until it's taken away by theft, rust, accident, or my old age. It's really more about not being attached to the stuff you use and think you own.

Q - Why did you go on a 5000 mile motorcycle road trip?

A - I was 52 and felt I needed to do something special. Being a Buddhist monk in one kind of challenge, a 5000 mile motorcycle road trip is another. It was a mid-life thing, I suppose. What is life really all about? Is it more important to be something, or to do something? The teaching's of the Buddha gave me one answer, and I thought a motorcycle road trip would give me another. As it turns out, the truth found in the Dharma (Buddhism) and the truth you find on the road is pretty much the same thing.

My family lives in Wisconsin, so I had someplace to go. I thought a motorcycle road trip would answer stuff like... Could I ride 5000 miles on a motorcycle and not kill myself? Would I be flexible and resourceful enough to meet any problems that might occur? How would it feel to be in the rain, heat, and cold of the open road, hour after hour, day after day? Could I walk after 12 hours in the saddle?

Q - What did you learn?

A - A lot, for instance wherever you go, there you are. Your baggage travels with you. A change of place doesn't necessarily change the space inside your head. You suffer a lot more when you want things to be different than they are. My road trip began and ended in the very same place. I really didn't go anywhere, but what a journey!

Buy American (I Forgot Why)

Technorati ProfileLast year was the first time that non-unionized workers at a foreign-owned assembly plant made more than members of the United Auto Workers union make on average in a year. The Detroit Free Press reveals in a very interesting article that Toyota paid out bonuses of $6,000 to $8,000 last year at its largest U.S. plant in Georgetown, KY. Combined with the base pay made by a non-union worker at the plant, that equates to $30/hour or $60,000/year based on a 2,000-hour work year. That is more than the $27/hour or $54,000 a UAW member made on average last year. Union workers, or course, hardly received any profit sharing bonuses last year due to the poor overall performance of the domestic automakers.

This says a lot. So just to be sure we're hearing this right we're talking about American made cars - made by Toyota. And why are American car companies not making as much as they used to? Unions! They're paying their retired workers their pension still. Why did they get a pension? Because they didn't make enough when they worked in the factory to save for retirement. What's this all add up to? That the American car companies screwed their work force and now it's coming back to haunt them. A screwed work force was angry and bitter and made shitty cars. At it's peak in 1981 Detroit built cars had a defect ratio of 8:1 over Japanese cars. Not good. So why buy American? To help GM and Ford screw their workers? Buy American and buy a Toyota. Be sure not to buy America's best selling truck, the Ford F150 though. They're made in Canada.