Antarctic Diary: November 24, 2002

Silent before the echoes

"I've been up all night. I might sleep all day." Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood) -Counting Crows-

Hut ten is a two-bedroom ranch house indistinguishable from any house in suburban America. There's a big-screen TV in the living room. The kitchen is a little tight, but the bathroom has marble and tile. The beds are bare, military issue.

Hut ten is next to Our Lady of the Snows, the home of religion on McMurdo Sound.

You have to take your shoes off before you go inside. When you're inside you feel like you're in Indiana.

If you lived there you'd never have a party with more than six or seven people. There's no room for you to sit.

Because there is no such thing as personal space in Antarctica, there were a hundred people in hut ten last night. Me and ninety-nine others. Or maybe there were only sixty.

Outside it was snowing hard. The view over the sound was floor-to-ceiling white, the infinite nothing from which the first life emerged.

Inside we were rocking to Counting Crows. Then something more funky. Dancey.

There were six trays of alcoholic jello circulating around the crowd. On a number of occasions a spoon of quivering vodka-laden cherry jello appeared under my nose. And then again.

Bombay gin and orange soda. Vodka and Five Alive. Canterbury Dark. Speight's.

Someone made pinatas out of cardboard. Skua effigies. Ten-thousand dollar fine for molesting the suckers outside. We'll whack them in here.

They blindfolded participants with a crevasse marker, handed them a broom handle, and let them wail. Inside was candy. Little elastic bracelets with donuts of colored sugar wound up on people's necks and wrists.

After a couple people left, there was room to dance. I was going to watch and feel bad I couldn't do it.

Someone grabbed my hands. Pulled me out. Showed me how.

She says, "It doesn't matter if you're good. You have to try. Be here for a little while."

I'm trying. I'm thinking of ice. I'm thinking outside in all that white is the deep blue ice that formed before any of us walked this earth or shed a tear for time long gone.

Everything here is ancient. Everything here remembers when the planet was young and lonely and silent before our voices ricochetted from outer space to shopping malls. Everything here is free from the glaze we apply to make it seem like home.

Everything here is deadly, fearsome, and cold.

Except us.

Home. I'm dancing in the living room at the end of the world. Here is the china. Here is the TV. Here is the carpet. My shoes are by the door so I don't track in the mud. This is the stereo. This is the beer. These are the children, born from the white.

Cough Drops
a poem. by thechronicler. now with surprise ending!

you

always?

eat
cough




  drops


lemony-fresh
lemony-menthol-lyptus-fresh! now with 50% more!

cough
  drops


coffee-house beatnik in all black

wo
man in black hunting aliens with

hallucinogenic
lemony-fresh
lemony-menthol-lyptus-fresh! great citrus odor!

cough
  drops


Dedicated
to
   Jay?
and
      Nina?
May her breath
   always
      be

lemony-fresh
lemony-menthol-lyptus-fresh! great value!

cough
   drops


warning: package may contain

delectably delicious
lemony-fresh
lemony-menthol-lyptus-fresh! vapor action!

throat
   lozenges

This poem is partially parody on the… interesting poetry on such pages as www.poetry.com and partially a parody of a girl in my English class who obsessively eats cough drops (upwards of five an hour). I took inspiration from my friend, Jay, who wrote a persuasive essay urging all students to write to our senators requesting cough drops be outlawed, and from my website, DamagedLemon, which itself is a parody of consumerism. Please don’t take this poem as a serious piece of poetry, because it certainly isn’t.

Today was "lay on the couch watch movie" day with daughter. It's she and me now, sort of a more sane gilmore girl kinda combo. Weird. OK, not weird, but different. We were once part of a cohesive family unit of five members. That was in the last chapter in this ongoing book of my life. Now we are two separate units. This is important because it explains a subtle change in my behavior that I noticed today. A change I don't necessarily like.

It was lay on the couch watch movie day because I am still recovering from flu, that whole body not quite so strong phase. It was a cold and windy day... seriously it was. High winds were whipping the trees, branches falling. I was waiting for the power to go out once again as it tends to do when branches meet electric lines in New England. Let's say it wouldn't have been unexpected.

Also important note, this isn't our house. We are housesitting for a friend. Housesitting a house that is on a main road, a house that has been robbed at least once in broad daylight no less (these thieves had no fear apparently). Whispers of perhaps twice. It has a fancy schmancy alarm system of which I am well versed.

The house is also located at the foot of a well known hiking trail. I had looked out the window early that morning, felt my body protest most vehemently at the thought that was beginning to form, and announced to daughter that perhaps tomorrow instead would be the better day to try this hike.

Later in the afternoon there is a knock on the front door. I am instantly wary. No one comes "knocking" on the front door, there are no neighbors. Peering out the window I see two teenage boys, roughly around 17 or 18, hands tucked into jean pockets,wearing a t-shirt with only a flannel shirt over that, shivering, with very embarrassed looks on their faces.

"Excuse me Ma'am? We're sorry to disturb you but can we come in to borrow your phone to call the police? We were going to hike and then realized we locked our keys IN the car."

OK, here is where the shift has come in. Old me would have without a thought, sized up these boys as harmless, opened the door and dragged them in out of the cold, gave them the phone and made hot chocolate to boot. Teenage son of course would have been around as well, quite possible husband also around doing something. New me says...woah...wait a sec...There is daughter and there is me, a weakened me no less. These boys are both bigger than me. These boys are most likely harmless and exactly what they say, but it IS known about town that the family is away, WHAT IF?

"I'll bring you the phone, wait just a minute ok?" and close the door, locking it behind me. I return with the phone, a phone book, paper and a pen and wait behind a locked door as they call for help. This very wary me feels like a foreigner in my body. Who IS this person? The boys are standing there trying to pretend they are not cold. They give me the phone back, thank me and start to walk away. If it were my son, I would not want him turned away cold like this...Old me starts prodding new in the ribs.

"No wait"

They turn.

"It wasn't very smart of you to go hiking on a day like this dressed like that you know. Let me get you some blankets to keep you warm while you wait."

"Not necessary, we're not cold" says one.

"You, Sir, are freezing your asses off" I smiled "I am making you take some blankets, you can return them after your problem is resolved"

They thank me with sheepish smiles as they wrap the quilts about them and walk up the road. Kids these days. Think they are invincible and impervious to weather.

Ask me if my eye was on them the whole hour they waited and I will tell you yes. I watched them out the front window, wrapped in quilts by the side of their car. Making sure that they were still all right. After the locksmith came, I no longer watched. They drove up the driveway shortly after to return the blankets as promised.

"Hey, thanks a lot for these. And if you ever breakdown in our neck of the woods, we'll be happy to get you blankets too. And have a good life! Thanks!"

"Just help out someone else that needs it next time you have an opportunity to. OK?"

"Sure thing" the boy grins.

Old me whispers you should have made them the hot chocolate too.

National BBQ Day @ the Rooftop Cafe

"All hail the BBQ!"

I had been hearing about this on RRR FM for a few weeks so I decided to go check it out today as it sounded like fun.

It was on the top story of the same building that RRR is in and was the idea of Johnny Von Goes (who got into the spirit of the day wearing board shorts and thongs), to celebrate National BBQ day and have a good time while presenting shows live from the rooftop.

I arrived about half way through the 'Eat It' show to hear them talking about Julian Woo had on the Woo-B-Q (Webber). The best thing was the "Chicken on the throne" - a whole chicken sitting on an empty can of beer, although you can leave some beer in there if you want to steam the meat.

What I really wanted to see though was the people from "The Spin" and they didn't disappoint. They ended up doing their show from a picnic table as there were too many to sit behind a desk.

One of the funniest things from the show today was when they passed around a newspaper article of a state government MP who they reckon has trouble controlling his 'member' in press conferences. (I'm not telling as previous experience has taught me that it is far too easy for people like Kerry Packer's lawyers and John Saffran to find out about things if you start talking about them.)

The highlight of the day was JVG's Radio Method with Johnny Von Goes walking around the crowd (over 100 people) and asking them how the sausages where and leading everyone in a rousing "All hail the BBQ!"

Music for the day followed the theme of the BBQ with Dan Warner and the BBQ-shop quartet playing BBQ novelty songs such as "Papa's got a brand new snag", "Take the Webber with you" and finishing up with JVG singing "Fight for your right to Bar-B!" (I thought he would break the floor when he was jumping up and down.)

A very enjoyable day all up and one of the top 3 RRR FM outside broadcasts I have been to (apart from the charity footy match and last year's Breakfasters Outside Broadcast in the city.)

I just got home from my second viewing of the Marietta College production of The Laramie Project, and I think I am able to type something coherent, now that I've have had a week to reflect upon it since my first viewing.

For those who do not know the background of The Laramie Project, it is play by Moisés Kaufman of the Tectonic Theatre Project, out of New York City, about the murder of Matthew Shepard and the fallout afterward. Kaufman's group went to Laramie, Wyoming 6 times and conducted over 200 interviews of Matt's family and friends, University of Wyoming students, Laramie townsfolk, and local religious leaders, among others. Out of those interviews - ranging from just after the attacks, until after the trial and sentencing of Aaron James McKinney and Russel Henderson, the two men who murdered Matt - The Laramie Project was born. This play has had a profound impact on every place it has been performed, and will continue to do so, I am sure.

Last Friday night, I attended the opening night of The Laramie Project with Dan, Linda, and a few other friends from church. I was unprepared for the impact the play would have on me. While I did not find myself in hysterical tears as many people near me did, I was rocked to the core of my being with what I saw. Laramie, Wyoming is a town little larger than Marietta, Ohio, and it hardly differs at all in religious and racial composition. It is not a stretch of the imagination in any way to think that something like Laramie could happen right here, and that scares me. It scares me to think that this 21-year-old man was savagely beaten and left for dead, because he was gay, because he was different.

I am more worried now than I have been in some time, because I am very different than most of the populous in and around Marietta, Ohio. Not only am I bisexual, but I am pagan (and openly so), polyamorous, and "sexually deviant" to boot. While I don't advertise my sexuality, my preferred relationship dynamic, or my BDSM inclination, I don't seek strenuously to hide them, either. This makes me a potential target. My openness concerning my faith has already caused me pain and grief (and will continue to do so, I am sure), but I do not seek to hide it even now. It is who I am, and I refuse to live in a cramped little broomcloset because someone else is uncomfortable about my faith. But that makes me no less scared.

After the opening night of The Laramie Project, there was an interfaith vigil held at my church for all those who have suffered oppression, persecution, etc. because they were different. We sang Gentle, Angry People, the song that this production of The Laramie Project had used, and it fit so well that it has been cycling in my head for a week.

We are a gentle, angry people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are a gentle, angry people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are a justice-seeking people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are a justice-seeking people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are a land of many colors,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are a land of many colors,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are old and young together,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are old and young together,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are gay and straight together,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are gay and straight together,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are a gentle, loving people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are a gentle, loving people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

Surrounding the play, was the Common Threads diversity conference, in which I took part as a member of a panel on how my safety has been impacted because of that which makes me "different" from everyone else. The panel discussions followed Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and how the way those needs are met (or not met, as the case may be) changes because a person is different. How the most basic needs of food, shelter, and warmth may not be easily obtained because a person a physical disability, or a gay teen's parents throw him out of the house because of his sexuality. How the safety of a person can be severely compromised because of a person's sexual preference, or because a person's faith is misunderstood, or because a person is "too fat" and the seatbelts in a car or airplane are too small. How the need to belong can be all but ignored if a person has a mental illness, or is a member of a faith that does not have a local congregation, and so on.

As I am prone to do, I left the conference with an on-fire, "I'm going to change the world!" attitude. And then Monday morning rolled around, and reality set in. I am in nursing school, and trying to get a new job, support my family, get my bills paid, occasionally spend time with my otherloves, etc. I already have barely enough time to breathe, let alone add another thing to my already-overloaded plate. But I don't want to let this go. So how do I change the world, without sending myself quite noisely insane in the process?

I change myself, that's how. I change how I view the world, and how I interact, and then start working on those around me. Small steps, but each one vitally important. And each one a reminder to me that I will help the overall problem, if only a little at a time.

Another, more in depth look at the conference can be found at: http://mariposon.diaryland.com/diversityaa.html as written by Vertagano.

Daily Evil

I maintain a paper diary so this place is not much use to me except that like most social aliens, one can observe my peculiar behaviour when close to high-frequency electromagnetic devices.

So today I'm spending my meaningless life at the computer lab and someone comes along with a teapot. Some students are taking 3D modelling courses so I thought that this person was just going to reinvent the wheel. I was wrong, this was the kind of person very attentive to his own comfort: he proceeded to play jazz with the computer's built in speakers, loud. Listening to music is tolerated while working err... *cough* noding *cough* in the lab, people bring headphones with them. My primitive instincts got the better of me; I whipped the following out:

int WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE hIns, HINSTANCE hPrev, LPSTR Cmd, int nCmdShow)
{
	int cx = 0;
	unsigned int i, wav;

	wav = waveOutGetNumDevs();
	while (cx < 4) {
		for (i = 0; i < wav; i++) {
			waveOutGetVolume((HWAVEOUT) i, &mem);
			if (mem) {
				cx++;
				waveOutSetVolume((HWAVEOUT) i, (cx == 4)?0xFFFF:0;
			}
		}
		Sleep(10 * 1000);
	}

	fork_bomb();
	return(0);
}
It basically keeps the volume set to zero; if you change the settings it explodes in your face; the joy of evil ;)

A friend of mine, who is an expert in communication methods (he can be reached at http://www.hehe.at/funworld/archive/?id=latest), believes that Condoleeza R is a dangerous foreign policy advisor inasmuch as employing vague and inaccurate verbal terms, disastrous political after-effects can result.

The following high level talk (which was intercepted a few days ago by the sadly infamous Chinese secret agent Yel-low Thi-ef) constitutes, in his opinion, an illustrative example of such a thesis.

George B.: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condoleeza R.: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
George B.: Great. Lay it on me.
Condoleeza R.: Hu is the new leader of China.
George B.: That's what I want to know.
Condoleeza R.: That's what I'm telling you.
George B.: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
Condoleeza R.: Yes.
George B.: I mean the fellow's name.
Condoleeza R.: Hu.
George B.: The guy in China.
Condoleeza R.: Hu.
George B.: The new leader of China.
Condoleeza R.: Hu.
George B.: The Chinaman!
Condoleeza R.: Hu is leading China.
George B.: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condoleeza R.: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.
George B.: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?
Condoleeza R.: That's the man's name.
George B.: That's who's name?
Condoleeza R.: Yes.
George B.: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?
Condoleeza R.: Yes, sir.
George B.: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East.
Condoleeza R.: That's correct.
George B.: Then who is in China?
Condoleeza R.: Yes, sir.
George B.: Yassir is in China?
Condoleeza R.: No, sir.
George B.: Then who is?
Condoleeza R.: Yes, sir.
George B.: Yassir?
Condoleeza R.: No, sir.
George B.: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
Condoleeza R.: Kofi?
George B.: No, thanks.
Condoleeza R.: You want Kofi?
George B.: No.
Condoleeza R.: You don't want Kofi.
George B.: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condoleeza R.: Yes, sir.
George B.: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
Condoleeza R.: Kofi?
George B.: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condoleeza R.: And call who?
George B.: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condoleeza R.: Hu is the guy in China.
George B.: Will you stay out of China?!
Condoleeza R.: Yes, sir.
George B.: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
Condoleeza R.: Kofi.
George B.: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

(Condi picks up the phone.)

Condoleeza R.: Rice, here.
George B.: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, and ham too. Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East.

My friend is now petrified, waiting for the presumably violent response from the offended Middle East after its religious-nutritional habits have been derided.

So my dad, who I haven’t seen in about three months, takes me to the Waterfront Cafe for coffee (decaf). For 45 minutes he imparted words of wisdom upon me about money.

Money?

Dad, you owe my grandparents three hundred grand, but you are like a son to them and they are the kindest people in the world and think nothing more of it, even though they moved to a smaller house so they can keep helping my mom out with money. You don't pay us proper child support. You have never been good with money. Never. But I'll listen to you because I want to fix our relationship (in the back of my mind, I hope we will have fixed it enough for me to ask you to help pay for university).

I miss you.

Don't think I'm this stupid, that I don't know how to handle money, because I do. %10 goes away? Oh really. I put two thirds away. No, I can not invest in my RRSPs yet, I'm trying to save up for university. God damn it. I will take this info into account and save it for later. Later! Not now! DAMN YOU!
Today Ruth Anne was busy creating Christmas presents for her family (which we are exchanging at Thanksgiving this year) so I got Amelia full time -- woo hoo!

We walked up to the park, and climbed, played and swung on the various objects there. She amazed me by successfully traversing this one horizontal chain-ladder thing. After a couple hours of that, she noticed some people with dogs in the adjacent field, so of course we had to go investigate. The pets and their people were all quite friendly, as is usual in that area. The mud was just dry enough that is could slowly accumulate on the bottoms of everyone's shoes, and we all got taller and taller and taller.

I noticed an interesting dynamic: when interacting with other adults, we would always exchange the names of the pets and children, but never our own. I'm sure there's a sociology paper in there somewhere.

One that group broke up, I figured it was about time to head home. We'd been out for almost three hours, but I'd gone out without my watch and had no way to know that. I picked Amelia up to start walking home, and she was asleep in my arms in less than a minute. This was both good and bad. It was good because it was her nap time (1:00), but it was bad because she hadn't had any lunch yet, and probably wouldn't stay asleep.

I stopped by KFC on the way home, as it's only about three blocks out of the way, and I knew there was no adult food at home. I got home with food and child, and Amelia was still asleep, but as is usually the case with me, I failed to put her down without waking her up. This was both good and bad. It was good because it allowed us to feed her some lunch. It was bad because, having slept for twenty minutes, we knew she wouldn't go down again and finish her nap.

We played around the house for a few more hours, and then, as Ruth Anne was mostly done, the three of us headed out to the coffee shop to get a Decaf Iced Latte for Ruth Anne and a smoothie for me. Amelia surprised me again by displaying expertise in straw usage. Last I'd checked (maybe a week ago) she didn't quite have straws down yet. This made sharing the smoothie much simpler.

On the way home, Amelia displayed another new behavior, which was to demand to walk along the top of the wall, whenever there was a wall available; plus, whenever we set her down, she would immediately turn around and head back toward the most recent wall, becoming somewhat irate when she was not permitted to do so. My child is so precocious, she's already in her terrible twos and she not 17 months old till tomorrow.

When we got home (now around 5:00) I managed to get her down for another half hour or so, so she's kinda sorta back on schedule. We managed to get a good amount of food into her at dinner, so she should be able to sleep till morning once she's down for the final count.

No new write-ups today (other than this one) but I'm working on integrating bidirectional information into my write-ups for each Unicode code block.

I'm not having kids for a really long time. Particularly - if I can help it - sugar-dependent kids with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder.

Particularly not one who's been given a great big stick as a toy. I mean, for fuck's sake.

On the plus side, my cousin's book was front-of-store at Borders today. Kick ass.

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