I am listening to Grandaddy's album The Sophtware Slump. The first song, He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot is absolutely beautiful. It has been a long time since I heard a song that touched me so deeply. I want to go home right now and figure out every note. I think I will.

For me the weekend was mostly dominated, in terms of mind share, by the "Plunderphonics 69/96" "boxed set" or whatever it's being refered to. I finally went out and bought a copy. 10 years ago or even 5 I would have been waiting in line at the record store the night before the official release date, or somesuch obsessive otaku behavior. But I am really tired of obsessiveness, especially obsessiveness with idols.

I've always disliked idols, even thought I've had them occasionally. but the more I see a certain figure being "idolated", the more disgusted I get, and lately i have just been gradually getting more and more bothered about John Oswald, who is an idol for many of my artistic colleagues, to be sure. I still think his work is absolutely brilliant and mostly wonderful to listen to, but something about the way he presents himself, in interviews and on the "pluderphonia" mailing list and elsewhere, has really started to stick in my craw. So, I waited a really long time after this new Plunderphonics set came out, hoping that maybe Seeland would send me a copy free, thanx to my own almost godlike status in the pantheon of appropriation artists. hah. that was a joke. but, hey, i do run Detritus, so I thought i deserved a comp. but no, no copy every showed up in my mailbox.

And now i'm supposed to write this catalog entry about plunderphonics for this festival i'm going to be in, because they're calling the part of it that i'm in "Plunderphonics", which is a mistake, but at least i get to explain why I think it's a mistake. But anyway, before i write that I figured I should at least look at the extensive 45-page liner note booklet in this new release. Especially because it's possible that the plundermeister will even be there! gulp.

so i buy it and i read it and listen to it and wow i feel great, i have all this ammunition now. See, now I really know that I have a problem with Oswald. Even ignoring the semi-pretentiousness, I have a problem. But, hey, I'm not going to enter my whole essay here as some sort of rambling rant. no. maybe i'll node it later, when it's finished.

But anyway, so I've been thinking a lot about this stuff. even more than usual. it's pretty great to just really concentrate and drill into a subject and just see how goddamn lucid you can get about it in a short time. But I have to be motivated. Which I am.

Ah, but i have still had time to do some noding, or shall I say "node-sprucing"? I've been looking at my little cow of doom node tracker graph, pretty thing, but i would really like to see some of my low-rep writeups get noticed for the actually great things that they are and move up that cute orange histogram... not to be bragging, i just see a few that have no votes at all, or only a few and they're positive, and so it seems like they just need more eyes looking at them, and in some cases a little work.

so, yeah, if you need something else to use a few votes on, check them out. please. they're good. really. thanx.

I thought she had told me in the past about how she'd go read old journal entries and poems and feel a little regretful that she saw patterns repeating that kept her from being as happy as she could be about herself.

I thought maybe I represented this time around a way to change one of the main cycles of her life. The main loop where she gets into relationships hastily, decides she doesn't like them, and then breaks out of them. And then it was typical for her to always reflect upon them somehow as mistakes. Either because they were things she wished she hadn't tried, and she felt regret for the baggage. Or because they were things that could have been great but she didn't realize why she let them go. She'll instantly assume that I see myself as one of those she'll regret she let go. But no, I won't. I understand there were always insurmountable obstacles keeping us from ever being happy together in such a special way.

I just know that in my own life I don't have regrets or feel like I made mistakes about past relationships that turned into good friendships. It's the ones I ran from that linger in my mind in bad ways. I thought she really did enjoy my company at times and just felt bad about being romantic in spite of her love for me either being incomplete or perhaps not even existent. If she could turn that around into a friendship, I thought maybe she could break from the pattern of feeling bad about her past. At least in one instance.

It saddens me that she is leaving things as they are, and that in years to come she'll feel horrible about having met me and wasted time with me. I honestly don't think my requests are selfish. I think there are mutual rewards that are obtainable if she went for them.

And I'm not being selfish because I've found an outlet for my feelings. I don't intend to give up on my ability to find peace. If there was ever anything she could have learned from me... Besides, the times of you controlling my life with your mood swings is over.

I apologize for the emptiness of my journal, these past months. And not to any imagined audience, or fourth wall, but to myself, because it has seemed as though there is nothing to say.

And I know that is not the way things are, but the way I've allowed myself to see them.
Unlike my rapturous Portland experience, interpreted (by myself) as an ecstatic but ultimately anomalous, one-time blossoming, I have somehow managed to stretch out my Seattle high for over a week beyond its extraordinary conclusion. Whether this discrepancy is because of qualitative differences (no Slam in PDX - but then again, no Powell's in Seattle) or quantitative ones (Portland was only granted a night to impress me, while I leisurely took almost an entire week to get thoroughly mired in love with Seattle) is as yet unclear. Perhaps the heightened state I'm experiencing isn't an epilogue from Seattle but an entirely new volume heading off in a new direction.

It would be easy to suggest that I'm in a better mood now that I'm spending what would have been cycling time reading books again (cycling producing an equally-effective but much more intensive, internal, focus-requiring euphoric experience) but I want to believe there's something operating at a deeper level here.

Somehow for the first time since 1999 my regimen has subtly but strongly shifted from interpreting life to experiencing it instead, as followers of my increasingly-dwindling (is that an oxymoron?) noding output may have noticed. I'm doing what I can to take this life and run with it. Live - you can node when you're dead.

I am almost now fully recovered from the antics of this past weekend, ready for the tax two Living Closets in four nights will sap from my willing and eager shell. In case what remains of me cannot adequately string together words and phrases (as if what is here now can) the account of my recent activities will here be made.

    * Friday night I miss, completely, an opportunity to scout the site in-use where we plan to mount the Momentum / Living Closet Literary Cabaret this coming Saturday when a close friend suggests I could accompany her to the Greyhound terminal in my neck of the woods and see her off to Las Vegas.

    * After interminable funny faces are made between darkened glass, the vehicle pulls off at last leaving me to hie myself to the evening's second destination: the Green Room. No, it's not a gear-storage space nor what is to be found behind the green door; a friend, co-founder of Concrete and ex-roommate (the bum still owes us a couple hundred in outstanding phone bills!) has invited me to an absinthe party, featuring eight different varieties from six different countries on three continents. Somehow, I manage to politely defer wormwood's possible permanent neurological damage while making pleasant enough conversation, noting which books in his well-stocked bookshelf were stolen from myself, and introducing Eat Poop You Cat to a group of people who might have been much better at it had they been less soused.

    * Following a nap on my host's sofa I finish my most recent library book, a volume of essays by Italo Calvino, and remove myself from the premises - returning the book to the library en circuitious route to the Sugar Refinery, where the weekend's main attraction looms: The Beans are twelve hours into their 48-hour concert (you thought the weekend sound track was a monumental effort? Imagine it all being performed by four musicians, non-stop!) and I plan to take in as much of it as I can, implanting myself into a milieu of forced creativity and seeing what energy I can suck from the proceedings. (Ultimately, despite three panels of comic book and a tabulation of possible plot elements for this year's 3-day novel, I give more to them than I get - a rare (and doubtless Seattle-provoked) and bizarre 240 degree multicoloured line drawing from me in their guest book - not a good sketch by any means, but compared to my median graphic renderings a veritable tour de force!)

    * Six hours of this noodling (think Godspeed you Black Emperor! slowed down to a rate of one song per hour) gives me a taste for tomorrow but by 6 pm Saturday night I am already late for the launch of Shane Koyczan's spoken word CD, perfect, at a site I have really been meaning to check out again - the Church of Pointless Hysteria, a graveyard to the Living Closet's highest and lowest moments. The guest performers, a sprinkling of the best poetry slam talent from around the world, rock the house as verily it never hath rock-ed before, but unfortunately for Shane the location is too hardcore (in Vancouver's harmless-but-scary Downtown Eastside district) for casual poetry enthusiasts to attend and he doesn't quite raise the funds he'd hoped to tour on. Even if that night's finances flake out, something soon will work out for that man - he is a Big Thing for which there are Bigger Things in store.

    * Without hyperbole, the next 23 hours are spent holed up on a sofa back at the Sugar Refinery, wondering if the playing-and-sleeping-on-shifts musical performances will attain the blithering frenzy I myself reach on day two of novel contestry. Though actual sleep is never attained, I bounce in and out of nap all day as various friends - Rice Paper darling Doretta Lau, kazoo conspirator Swill Austin, and indie rock goddess zaykay! filter in and out to taste of the musical feast on which I have, I fear, glutted myself. The music sets me implacably in a constrained place where I don't get wholly bored but can't get very excited, resulting in an inability both to sleep and to remain awake. The sun rises. The sun sets. I think I catch a(n hour-long) repeat of a song I'd heard last night. The room fills with art school beautiful people, and a friendly stranger goes far beyond the call of duty to ensure that I don't mind the incense she's lit, not even though I'm eating, and to let me know that she'll be happy to make room for me once I return from my fresh air expedition. The band plays on, every hour a new song illustrated by a new slide. Fractions are endlessly calculated: twenty-six on fourty-eight, thirty-three on fourty-eight, fourty-one on fourty-eight, fourty-six on fourty-eight. 11:30 pm some joker wonders aloud what the band will play for an encore. When the last slide is changed the room delivers a standing ovation for 20 minutes, in duration one third of one of their fourty-eight songs. In dire need of freedom from the swamp my attire has become after two days, I march a fascist beeline home to the shower; I make it home but don't reach the bathroom until the next day.

Every time I find myself short-changed by some cashier I (puzzling and infuriating to company) let it slide and invariably find the difference made up within 24 hours by being given back too much - which tends to end up in the tip jar, despite the seeming problems inherent in rewarding wait staff for poor arithmetic or employer sabotage. Likewise in reverse. Is this karmic turnover, all things coming to an ultimate cosmic balance, or do I merely start paying more attention when an injury is perceived and stop when an unrelated compensation is believed to have occurred?

The other day a plumber doing work on my parents' sink asked them if they were related to "the poet, Rowan Lipkovits?" They weren't really sure, but ultimately came to the conclusion that maybe yes, they quite possibly were. It seems my notoriety in the real world has grown during my years of online seclusion. Still, there's something that thrills at being described by an objective observer as a poet. These funny and terrifying things occur when you put your persona on the table for the public - I personally have to assume that no one is ever listening.

And to think I claimed I wasn't interpreting my life anymore. Keep me away from this keyboard.
Hey p_i - get some sleep. You're rambling again.

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

I want a new type of game. Maybe a new type of interface.

I've seen the results of research into the influence of the human mind over entropy. This is cool stuff. If you have a simple entropy-based random number generator, then person sitting nearby can affect the results. It helps a lot if they have some kind of feedback (blinking lights, or whatnot). And it's kinda fun to make electronic devices do stuff just by concentrating.

What I want, is to make a game that uses this as its interface for spells and such. Hell, if you added a speech proccessor, you could even incant the spell to activate it! Wouldn't that be cool? Being able to say the words of power, and give it force from the strength of your mind?

The problem: random-number generators that are affected are not cheap to build. Finding depleted plutonium is diffucult, building a neutrino counter is expensive, and parsing white noise from the air isn't entropy-based! (Those are the best random-number generators I know of. Got any others?)

Introduction to Memories of J (8/14, 10:16 EST):

Before you read this, you ought to know that this node incorrectly assumes that my college friend J is dead.

Fortunately, she is still very much alive--when I searched for her obituary this evening, I discovered that the alumni association was just plain wrong (not the first time, sadly enough). Sorry to say, I trusted the alumni association to keep their facts straight, and they didn't.

I have sought advice from the Powers That Be on my mistake and was told that a note to the reader would suffice. This node still means a lot to me, so hopefully you can think of Five Memories of J as an early morning monument to a massive crush. *wistful smile*


Five Memories of J

It's 4 AM EST and Big Star's "Holocaust" is playing quietly in my little room. Last night, just before I went to bed, I found out from the university alumni association that J had died a few years ago. She was a fellow English major, an old college friend of mine, and one of my very own femme fatales.

Unfortunately, I was shocked, saddened, but not necessarily surprised when I found out about her death. Like many femme fatales, J always gave this unstable tilt-a-wheel vibe and always seemed in perpetual peril.

But when J was happy, you knew-it--her smile could light up a three-story building. And she was absolutely knock-down beautiful in a Roaring Twenties kind of way--she might've given Clara Bow (also known as the It Girl) a run for her money.

Five old college memories of J:

Memory 1

When I first met her, J was working at the college shuttle service. The service had its HQ in my dorm building, so she was hanging around with nothing to do. We ended up chatting, and for the life of me I don't remember what we were talking about, because at one point she looked deep in my eyes and kissed me. I was so startled that I couldn't speak.

Memory 2

Watching girls with J during her bisexual phase. This was amazingly great--one day she looked at a cute girl and said "hey, nice tits!". I smiled, nodded, and said "yeah." It was priceless and I've told that story a hundred times. At that moment, I realized that lesbians and I had something in common--we both liked girls!

Memory 3

Talking with her in the college pub about one of her love affairs, which, of course, always seemed to go wrong. I remember the smoke from her cigarette spiraling up into the air as she bitterly recounted yet another lover's offenses. For some reason, her words felt very inspiring and I tried to write a short story about the incident (changing her name to Ilya for an exotic faux-noir feel), but the story was a dismal failure and I never got past the first few paragraphs.

Memory 4

I took a total of ten photos in college and J was in one of them. She's in the quad, faroff in the distance, far away on the right. She was wearing a red dress and her hair was some terrible shade of green--guess she didn't want to get a closeup of the terrible dye job. In this photo she is smiling a close-lipped smile, as if she'd rather be somewere else.

Memory 5

Sometimes the truth is very strange and too melodramatic.

On the very last day I was in college, I ran into her and we chatted for a bit. It turned out that she had been dating some guy who had pissed her off. So she was planning to break it off that day and she was wearing a transparent black bustier underneath her shirt. "Yeah, I want to show him what he's missing!," J explained.

She opened up her shirt and showed me. I took her hand and within seconds, we ran into an empty classroom and began making out like bandits. But our thrashy little bit-o-passion didn't last long, as you might've guessed. She had to go to an English magazine meeting and my mom was waiting--I was moving out and onward.

The End of Memories

So it's now 5 AM and Big Star's "Nature Boy"--what a stupid cover tune!--is on once again. I really must sleep. I guess, in the end, I loved her. I loved J very deeply in that peculiarly hopeless way that only belongs to addicts of unrequited love. Frankly, I can only hope that I never love that way again, but she was extraordinarily smart, generally wonderful, and at least I had the privilege of knowing her.

So good night, sleep tight.

Today I started in earnest my diabolical plan to get her back.

I realized that our breaking up was the largest mistake of my life.

So today I began to try and rectify that. I am determined to win her back. Not that I see it as a contest. I just think I can do it. That she still cares for me, and that past mistakes can be put behind us if I just TRY and be better.

Past mistakes I hear you say, yes. Past mistakes: thinking too much about silly shit... (sex) not thinking enough about important stuff (bringing her flowers, writing her love letters, calling her every day).

I'm not irredeemable and I hope neither is this relationship, becasue I'm lost without her. I'm losing it daily, and daily my mind becomes more and more occupied by her. I can't stand it. Why do I allways shoot myself in the foot?

So today was day 1 of the campaign. I sent her two letters, and even tried to phone her over the weekend. But she's in Spain.

Day one... and counting...

what i did (or didn't do) on August 13, 2001
  • Ring the two recruitment agencies that showed an interest in my CV(yes)
  • Work on the poem (no)
  • install MySQL and get it to read in a foxpro file (no)
  • leave in some film to get developed. (yes)
  • talk to belinda (yes)
  • again again continue to tidy my house (yes)

Things to do today

  • Go to the climbing wall
  • Buy some hiking trousers.
  • meet catherine for lunch

15:37 Well, it has been quite a boring day so far and yesterday was not much better. The only reason for adding this daylog is for the sake of consistancy. I am still waiting to hear from Edinburgh. I was told by a recruitment agency last night that I ought to contact companies directly in the search for work. I was told people are hoping for an upturn in the job market by the middle of September. The Data Entry is beginning to get to me, oh well.

I did ring belinda yesterday, told her about Claire. I went out with belinda for almost three years and we are still very close. We only broke up a few months ago and I know sh has not seen anyone since then. I was a little concerend about how she would take the news of my new relationship, goodness I know this is boring to you all, she took it well and I guess the point is that we must credit people with being stronger than we might expect.

I rang Claire too, I will see her again at the weekend.

The tidying of my hose consisted soley of doing some clothes washing. Ahh what an exciting life.


last,up,next.
I have made a terrible, terrible mistake

Well, maybe not, but it sure felt that way at the time. Yesterday I recieved an email from an ex-girlfriend / ex-friend (see July 8, 2001) stating:

    "Hi! How are you?
    I send you this file in order to have your advice
    See you later, Thanks"
    Attachment - Chapter 31-33 AHAs

Having read this, I was rather angry. The girl had not spoken to me in six months, and the last time she did she was extremely rude to me. I wrote a somewhat scathing reply along these lines:

    "Well Babe,
    I'd love to help you if it weren't for a couple things:

    #1 - Norton detected a virus on the file you sent me

    #2 - The last time you spoke to me you were incredibly rude and it seems to me that you only take time out of your precious life to talk to me when you want to try to use me.

    So, uh uh, no. I will not be helping you. I'm sick and tired of you and other women like you fucking me over, get over yourself, you're not that hot, you're not that incredible, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake, and I am not about to bow to your wishes. You cannot continue to use men the way you do and expect nothing but good to come of it. If you ever want to amount to being anything but some football player's concubine, I suggest you learn to think for yourself and stop being a bitch to those who help you.

    If you feel what I say is in error, please feel free to attempt to correct me, giving reason of course. If you can, then I may reconsider and I may help you, but I doubt it.

    Have a nice year,
    ~Tony~


Unfortunately, it was not until after I sent the reply that it occured to me... "Isn't that the letter that SirCam sends you... OH SHIT...."

I was amazed that it didn't occur to me earlier, firstly because she didn't sign with her name as she usually does, and secondly because, if it had been from her, advice would have been spelled with an "s" (yeah yeah, I dated a ditz, but she was hot and I was a very desparate nerd, can you blame me?). I can only imagine what she'll think if she ever reads it. I just know it felt damn good to write it.


*To all the women out there who use men to get what they want - I find your actions dispicable. This is one man you will never manipulate again!*

Today :

Had bike lesson, got cheated out of around 3$ in change, Just Don't Give A Fuck.

Worked, Sat around with this older chick who hit on me a bit until she learned I was just 23.

Ate a horrible lunch of sweet and sour chicken that I should have known not to order.

Worked some more. Finished a bit early so I went to visit a friend of mine who was bummed because it was her last day of work and she didn’t feel like working… oh.. she was also pissed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had canceled their concert in Israel.

Terror Sucks, Especially when it interferes with stupid things like rock concerts.

We wrote them a few e-mails (like they will help) And I bought her a big ice cream thingie and some bubble gum.… I think she felt a bit better.

Had dinner at Dixie’s with my mom, really good steak, medium-rare, cut through it like butter.

A day in the life of me.

Bet you thought I'd gone. Not quite. The past couple of months have been hectic considering all I've accomplished and endured.

I'm currently in pre-production of the soundtrack for a film. I had two tracks from other artists that I wanted to use in the film, and everything looked wonderful. Then, the artist that held the opening spot in the film declined, which left me lacking an opening number.

During the frustration, the week of July 4th, I had another musician and soundtrack designer come down from Memphis TN. to record much of the soundtrack he is working on in my studio, which I am co-producing. We managed to put in 16 - 20 hour days for 4 days.

As all of this was happening, I go to my physical exam and discover that I have a spot on my lung in the X-ray. The adventure through the twilight zone begins leading me down a desolate path with small creatures residing under every stone.

I found myself surrounded by this huge metal doughnut while a cute nurse injected radioactive isotopes into my arm. The fun part was being stuck by a needle 15 times while they find a "choice" location. Then the doughnut told me when to breathe and when to hold my breath. Go figure. So having been put through all of that, still looking for a new track for the film, going on a rabbit food diet for my cholesterol, I still had time to brush my teeth at night before getting my 4 hours of sleep.

The results came back yesterday and were negative. Relieved is an understatement in this case. But wait, not only do you get the good news, you know it always comes with bad news. Turns out the doughnut pictures tells them that my liver is larger than it's supposed to be. I was also instructed by my friend the nurses' aid to avoid alcohol for six weeks until my next appointment. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, yea, right.

In the midst of all this fun and excitement, still looking for a track, a new kitten is suddenly living with me. Oh such a cute kitten, been here a week now, but wait! Remember? Good news always comes with, well, you know, BAD NEWS. The sweet kitten got to go to her first doctors visit today as she started to act tired, which is exactly how I feel so I could relate to the symptoms. Turns out she has an upper respiratory infection and is easily curable. Of course only after the nice veterinarian gets his $100.00. Now, she is well on her way to recovery, already feeling perky and battling the tree trunk legs of the Black Lab. Oh yea, I have a dog also, and two birds, fish and a hamster with amazing abilities to stuff food in her jaws doubling and even tripling her own body weight.

Back to the film. I managed to get the second band to send the director the release form and continued my search. I made efforts to get the attention of David Bowie for the spot, as the original song was 90% influenced by his work, but one can only pray to a god. There are no guarantees that they will be heard or answered, so I move on. I then found a track that may work well, and have a commitment by the artist so if all else fails, I've done everything2 that I can. The film must go on.

Until next time
PiB

My new neighbor found out I'm a witch and he didn't believe me.

I told him because he asked me how I get to work, and I kiddingly grabbed this broomstick I have and straddled it. Then I told him I ride the bus. His reply? "Well of course, you're too pretty to be a witch."

My response was a startled, "Excuse me?" I told him I hoped he was kidding. It turned out he didn't really even know "real" witches existed. THAT is weird. Especially considering he's been in my house and seen my altar, and that I openly wear my pentacle necklace most of the time.

He agreed there could be "pretty witches" when I showed him a picture of an attractive, albeit naked, woman holding a sword in her circle. Then he wanted to know what I do different from "normal people" that makes me a witch. I was a bit vague, but I told him I celebrate the seasons and do rituals at the full moon and use magick. He asked if spells really work. I told him that depended on lots of things, but he seemed kind of impressed.

All in all it was rather weird, and now I wonder whether he thinks I'm a big freak (since I'm obviously the first exposure to modern-day pagans he's had) or if he thinks it's interesting and will ask me other questions next time he randomly drops by.

Maybe I'll let him ride my broomstick sometime.

I looked under the bed, searched in the closet, and in my desk drawer.
I walked to the middle of the road and looked both ways to see if I could see.
Nothing
I saw nothing. So I looked some more. I looked everywhere, hoping, I would find what I was looking for. I have not found any hint yet.
Where are you?

I keep expecting her to pop up out of no where. To suprise me and say, "I'm here, I miss you heres your ice cream."
Half of me tells me I'll never see her again, the other says I will.
I've realized that I have never enjoyed someones company as much as I have hers. Shes one of my best friends. COME BACK

I need to get a life, make some new friends. I can't always depend on the friends I have now to put up with me forever.

Can I?

Thirteen hours of work and a breath of fresh air floating around in it. That would be work today.

I arrived at work slightly late because the bus driver who looks like a pedophile dumped a bum bus on our awesome black woman with attitude bus driver. I walked into the warehouse and who do I hear but Rebecca, our late and great warehouse manager of 35 years. Rebecca is Wonder Woman. Firstly, she survived all those years at the non-profit; secondly, she survived a very bad house fire that left her with burns all over her body and permanent scars (luckily they can be hidden). She has this crazy energy that keeps her twenty years younger than she is, a positive attitude, and a professional mindset.

So, there stood my breath of freah air ('scuse my cliches) and she soon turned into a whirling dervish, moving, sorting, cleaning, and organizing. She reminded me of all the small details and helped me with a better configuration for the outdoor setup and the lines. She gets along with Cecil, and well, just about everybody, some in smaller doses than others. Then Paul showed up and everything was complete. A group of four great workers and a crazy warehouse to be all dolled up.

For the next part, a recap:
A week or two ago, our lovelt Shmoozer comes into the warehouse to inform me that this girl is calling to volunteer. OK. I pick up the line and find out that she's a student at a local arts school and was just wondering if she could volunteer. I just sat there stunned. Stammering, I told her that she was quite welcomed to volunteer.

Today a girl my age in a dress way too nice to wear in the warehouse showed up. Her name is Maria and she is a fashion marketing major. Maria was so happy to be there. I gave her the penny tour and asked her if she knew designers. Ta da -- a new designer pricer was born. She spent her time in the air-conditioned area (I felt bad with her dress and everything and I like to use people in their element) tagging our wonderful designer outfits as Gwen, our warehouse staffer from AARP, put golden D's in the inside of each garment, one of our ways to protect theft.

Soon our purse and jewelry pricer showed up to peruse the area for any items she neglected to price. Her friend showed up bearing clothes :( but also volunteered for a few hours :). I finished hanging up the neverending bags of scarves, moving 2x4s to the side of the building, adjusting jewelry counters, etc., etc.

Work ended and only Cecil, Rebecca, Paul, and I were left. After hoisting this huge pegboard into the warehouse, we declared that we deserved dinner on the non-profit. We rejoiced at Denny's and had a great time talkin' and gawking out the menu and listening to Rebecca recount her Greyhound Nightmare to Ohio.

Cecil and Rebecca left shortly thereafter and Paul and I stayed until 10 PM, tagging men's pants, storing shoes behind the pegboard, cleaning up the floor, and admiring Rebecca's work. We found some sci-fi books in so-so condition to take home (we would have donated them to Brandeis otherwise). I really enjoy working with such casual, earnest, and unpolitic peers.

The only downside of today is that I am now investigating the possibility that one of our best member volunteers has been stealing from us for years. I wonder whether or not this is even worth the time. This is the last sale and maybe I should just let it go. Everyone would support her. Then again, she has a profound problem if my suspicions, supported by very reilable source and to be backed up by many others if necessary, prove true.

I just can't wait.

August 14, 2001, or 'How was your trip to San Francisco, TallRoo?' -- Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

I awake to a dark and foggy morning. There is a false horizon, I can see only 4 blocks in any direction. My head feels a lot like the weather. Misty. Opaque. I was up until 11 last night drinking with some new friends. I reflect on how quickly one is able to make friends with total strangers when travelling alone.

I awoke at 6am. One hour later than yesterday. Clearly my jet lag is still there but getting better. Someone once told me that jet lag is overcome at a rate of one hour per day. He seems to have told me the truth.

I get to the conference early; before 8am. I spend several hours preparing for a talk which is to be given at 11:45. This preparation time is stressful. The presentation I had carefully crafted last week is totally blank. 29 slides of whiteness. What has happened to it? I practically have to recreate it from scratch. I actually end up using the printed handouts for the presentation as a basis for re-writing it. Much stress. My happy afternoon and evening yesterday are forgotten. This is what travelling is about. Horrible lunches, long waits in airports and unexpected stress.

Fortunately, the talk goes really well. There is lots of laughter in the right places and some heavy-duty applause at the end. Afterwards its lunch; a chicken BLT and a can of Cherry Pepsi (picked just because I'd never seen it before. It turns out that Cherry Coke is better).

The fog lifts and the sun reveals a warm day.

In the evening I meet up again with my new friends and we go to Scomer's. A great restaurant with a speciality in sea food. Afterwards we wander across to the next pier along. Seals. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of real live seals. They bark. They snort. They sneeze. They stink like shit. During a walk along the street we find that there are as many crap shops full of crap as there are seals. I buy a $12 pair of sunglasses. Wearing them at night makes me feel like a rock star, so I stop.

Bed. Sleep. Tomorrow I will be a tourist all day.

I'm in Bangkok. Okay, so tonight I go and see two movies... the very silly Planet of the Apes and the better than I expected, very colorful, a little goofy, but still fun Moulin Rouge. The latter film gets out at about 11:35PM. I walk from Mah Boon Krong [MBK] Centre and climb the stairs up onto the over-road walkway — one thing I don't like about Bangkok is the way somehow it's cars first, people second in some areas. Anyway, I stop and look out over the traffic. I'm thinking
"That Ewan McGregor had a pretty good singing voice..."
I can think of only one coffee shop that's open now, but it would mean taking the Sky Train a few stops and frankly, I'm not that hungry.

So I decide to stop at a 7-11, grab a small thing of milk or something and catch a cab back to my guest house. I descend the steps to the sidewalk on the other side of the wide street and start walking. In front of me a couple of meters is an old Thai man pushing a cart full of cardboard and the like; I think he's either employed to collect the trash or else he's homeless. I raise my hand and say sawadekrop [hello] to him. He doesn't reply but moves a little as if he's going to put something in his cart. Oh well, I think, and keep walking.

A few more steps and the right hand side of my face is at once hot and cold — like when your hand's in a hot bath and you suddenly hold it under the cold faucet. I realize that he has hit me! With a fucking stick. I whip around and he's walking off like fucking Obi-Wan with a four foot length of broom handle. He's just played stickball with my fucking head. I'm holding the side of my head and my ear is really hurting. I look at my hand and look at him walking away and scream

"You... (pausing while my brain struggles to pick the appropriate adjective and noun for the situation) ...fucking bastard!"
I'm pissed. I mean what the hell! What's the point? Are you insane?!
I start after him and he stops and raises his stick. My mind is racing I'm thinking
"I'm totally in the right here, fuck you"
so I start yelling
"Police! Police! Police!"
And he starts to trot off. And I start after him.
And he starts to run. And I start to run — keeping about fifteen feet between us but yelling "Police!" every second or so.
He doesn't seem to like that.

As we pass the stairs, a couple I passed on the Skybridge sees us and the woman starts chasing after him as well — she's in front of me and gaining on the guy. I yell to her to stay back; that I'm chasing him because he whacked my head with a stick. She falls back, much to the relief of her boyfriend.

We round the corner where several tuk-tuks and taxi's are waiting for fares. The old man ducks behind a taxi and hops into a tuk-tuk. With my chasing him and yelling, these guys aren't taking him anywhere. He's seems to catch on to this fact and hops out and starts running again. A motorcycle cop pulls along side him and stops him.

The next few minutes the cops talk to him and keep him from walking away which he tries several times. A moto-dope driver talks to me, he's telling me the guy is speaking nonsense to the cops. That makes sense to me; it seems to me that you'd hafta be a bit off your nut to go about whacking people and walking off.

While we're standing there I'm shaking from the adrenaline. I keep sticky my finger in my ear checking for blood or liquid or something — I don't know, my ear just hurts. And the side of my face feels swollen.

The moto-dope driver asks me if I want to go to the hospital, but I tell him I want to go to the police station; to file charges or what-have-you. I figure I can hit the hospital after.

One of the taxi drivers comes over and rubs some Tiger BalmThailand's universal cure-all — on my swelled skin. The Tiger Balm makes my check warm, but in a way it's nice; it's like someone holding their hand to my face. As he turns to walk away I place my hand on his left shoulder and when he looks at me I'm looking at his face and I say

"Thank you."

I walk over to couple standing on the sidewalk. Resting my twitchy-feeling arms on the fence that separates the road I talk to them a little. The back and forth of conversation seems to help calm me and I am thankful for it.

While I'm talking to them the old man tries to wander over; he's holding a small bag of something. The moto-dope driver thinks me he's offering me fruit. I feel a little bad. I mean: old man, probably not in his head, now maybe he feels sorry?... But I stop myself. You can't just go about attacking people who say hello — you're not allowed to do that!

A couple of more minutes and a police pickup truck arrives. Two policemen get in the back with the old man and I get in the cab. The old man is in cuffs and I feel bad again. He's an old man, we should respect our elders, it's not his fault; he's crazy. But I keep telling myself

"No! What if you had seen him hitting that couple? That's just what might happen tomorrow if he just walks away."
I don't really know what role I had anyway. I'm not sure if they would have let him go if I had asked or what. Seeing how Thailand really doesn't like tourists getting attacked, I'm thinking he was going to the station regardless.

So anyway, we ride to the station. The two policemen in the front seats talking back and forth. It's all in Thai of course so I can only understand when they say farang [westerner] or numbers. We arrive at the police station and I sit on a bench waiting to give my side of what happened. I had already done that a couple of times, but figured we'd do it "officially" at the station and write everything down.

An officer takes the old man into a small office where someone at a desk talks to him or fills out a form or something.

I sit and talk to the three police who remain in the room with me. One has braces on his teeth so I ask him about those. He's had them on a year and has two more to go. I notice that has blue bands holding the wire to the brackets. I remember how I could of have gotten those but opted for the clear (or clear-ish yellow). I tell him I had my braces on for two years and then smile so he can check out my teeth. Nice, he tells me.

I unconsciously raise my hand to push up my glasses and then it hits me — I'm not wearing them. They must have flown off when the stick hit the side of my face. Nuts! Those glasses have lasted fourteen months and I was just looking at the lenses the other day thinking

"Hmm, not too bad considering... a couple of small scratches but nothing big..."
And now they're gone. Damn. I talk to the policemen and ask if the can radio the people in the area to check (they had told me that there was a little police outpost maybe one hundred feet from where I was hit). They radio someone and I wait. A few minutes later they tell me. The glasses are gone. Probably someone stepped on them one of the officers tries to assure me.

A burly officer is on his way out and stops to say hello. He's wearing his civilian clothes now and carries a bag. The officer with the braces tells me that the man is studying English.

"You help him?" the officer with braces asks.
"Sure." I reply.
The burly man smiles and rushes back into his office, coming out a moment later and laying three English workbooks in front of me.

I flip through the pages of the "Level 4" workbook. "Blanket, Starfish, Faucet..."

"How can I help... um, do you have any certain questions?"
He picks up the "Level 6" book and lays it open to a section on different types of words — nouns, verbs, adverbs...

For the next several minutes we go over them. A couple of types of words I'm not comfortable with and can't explain, so I point to them and shake my head and raise my hands. I mean, it's stuff I know, but I never knew the name and rules and don't really understand the ins and outs enough to recite them. He's understanding the various types of words and soon we're discussing syllables. Who knew there were so many crazy rules!

Finally we're done and I convince one of the officers to drive me back so I can search for my glasses. They try to dissuade me, but I'm thinking they looked where they picked the guy up and not where the event actually happened. Plus, I really don't want to have to replace my glasses. Perhaps most of all, I like the fact they've survived so long. Me and those glasses have been through seven countries together.

Before we go, the officer with braces take me over to the lock-up area to show me the man's being held. I asked him how long he would be held; what would happen to him; where would he "go", but the officer didn't seem to understand my questions.

What could they do with the old man. Jail isn't the right place. Is the state going to put him into some kind of mental facility? Somehow I think the funds would be lacking.

Well, I spend a few minutes looking for my glasses, but they're clearly not there; someone must have picked them up in the last hour or so. Damn. I guess tomorrow I'll be shopping for new glasses.

I grab a cab home and slip into a shower. It helps. The smell of the shampoo is soothing — the water pleasingly cool against Bangkok's warm breath coming in through the open window of the guest house's shower area.

Although I didn't see it happen, maybe I've seen too many movies because I can see in my minds eye. You whack a piñata as hard as you can because you want candy. It's tough to think of someone doing that to your head.

While I was looking for my glasses I had stopped for a moment and thought

"Oh man, I'm glad he didn't have a baseball bat or a pipe."

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