I try to keep the self-congratulatory back-slapping to a minimum 'round these parts, but...I Got Promoted.

New Title: Associate Production Editor
Salary Increase: 28.5%
Duties: Coordinating between our company and our clients and overseeing the work of two other writers at a time on heavily tracked programming.

W00t.

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Anecdote 2 (Gerasim).

No, not one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved.
Kierkegaard

The Chistye Prudy, or Clean Ponds, are so named because they were cleaned once, under some tsar or other. They haven't been since; on a sunny day, it is possible to see the rainbow's entire spectrum splashed across the glistening surface. Still, on the benches that line them, you can always see a few old men, engineers who have found nothing they wanted in the new order but left nothing behind in the past--and you can always see Gerasim, hiding his soft gray eyes and potato nose behind a tangle of thin white hair.

Gerasim has never said anything to anyone. Every day, he sits on the bench and gazes outward with a placid countenance. Sometimes, a child or a small dog will walk past him, and as he turns his eyes toward them, his expression changes into a beatific and gentle smile, filled with the joy and the wonder of perfect innocence. Other times the remembrance of some past tragedy flickers on his face and he turns his head sideways as if trying to shake it out of his ear.

Gerasim is a sandstone crag carved by a Chinese monk between cups of green tea, the face of an awakening Buddha that watches sideways over a tiny harbor. The Lord comes and goes, but Gerasim endureth forever. He does not ask himself if time is a circle or a hexagon, if souls transmigrate, if men have free will or anything to lose but their chains. His love is perfect; it is a love for the human race and for each member of it, a warm blue glow, like a prayer that breathes. It has the cleansing power of ten thousand hot baths, fifty-nine million cups of hot cocoa, eighty billion quilted comforters.

Gerasim cannot move, for in moving he would destroy. He holds his love like Atlas; at the slightest touch it will plummet and shatter.

Anecdote 3 (Pugachev).

Turned away from you, the one, I spent myself upon the many. For in my youth, I burned to get my fill of hellish things.
Augustine, Confessions

Pugachev dreamed that he was the commander of an army, rallying his forces, the musclebound hussars on his strong right wing driving like a polished saber into the enemy host again and again. Bayonet, lunge, parry, smash through bone and gristle, crimson fountains like the spit-ups of some infernal newborn. He woke up without knowing if he had won, remembering nothing but the opal eye of a vulture circling high above the blood-soaked steppe.

He left the house by a back exit, creeping along the sides of courtyards, the hood of his raincoat always raised, crossing the street only with a thick crowd, avoiding the subway's too-intimate embraces, lingering in a store under the shoddy pretext of reading a day-old tabloid newspaper, running past churches and libraries and dive bars, lighting cigarettes and dropping them a minute later. His fake passport was clammy with cold sweat, the imitation watermark blurring like a camera lens smeared with Vaseline. With the help of five years in the mountains and a few bottles of black dye, he could now pass for a well-off Chechen; this meant that if he was stopped, a five hundred ruble note slipped into the proper sweaty red hand could make him invisible. A man with a Makarov in his shoulder holster and a knife in his boot and a revolution in his head cannot afford to take risks.

Every flat-screen Sony television in every glittering white store bore the grinning face of some government stooge, some bulbous oil-fed apparatchik. They spouted their lies and their buttery honeyed promises for the future, as if anyone believed them. They were the oppressors, the inheritors of the sins and the mahogany offices of the old regime, and there was nothing to be had from them except the whip and the late-night basement cracks of ten rifles under Lubyanka Square. They were going to hold us down and sell us off to the Americans. He knew this much to be true.

It will not take much. We have not tolerated this in the past. We will sweep them before us. We will rise like vampires, we will not look back. It will not take much. We need just one more try at ruling ourselves. This time the same butchers will not come back to their leather chairs. It has only been fifteen years, but already they are rolling up their sleeves, as the song goes. They are sharpening their axes, flashing gold teeth in the headlights of black cars, dreaming of dachas and villages of six hundred souls. We must stop them again, it almost worked last time. It will only take one more revolution, then we can at last march onward to a radiant future of passion and hope.

One more revolution.

Has anybody here seen my old friend John? Can you tell me where he's gone?


The Republican congress is imploding under its own weight proving once again that most in politics fail to live up to their own ideals.

I am Joe's judgmental projection.

Despite my displeasure with the maneuvering of this administration, the meltdown doesn't make me the least bit happy because this disgrace belongs to all of us. I believe in democracy. I may disagree with fairly elected officials but I support the system, and at some level it is the duty of each citizen as said Intel founder, Andy Grove, to "disagree and commit".

Shut up and get with the program. The majority have spoken.

The argument will boil forever. When we invaded Iraq I remember writing a couple notes in the chatterbox that made people think I was drunk. I was not. What I said in 2003 was that as a U.S. citizen I was required to continue my disagreement in private but salute the fairly elected commander in chief in public. A family doesn't take its disagreements into the street.

Yet every day I listen to the news I can't help but wonder: what the hell are we thinking?

Here is the standard and embarrassingly customary litany of pre-election congressional malfeasance. Here is the standard dodging and lying and hoping that by saying something repeatedly, it will become true. Here is the customary disdain for the public's intelligence. Here is the immoral, criminal behavior that is somehow not illegal.

I remember a similar litany a decade ago, when the sitting Democrats were subject to the cold light of scrutiny and were exposed as failing. Then, the populace expressed its displeasure by voting for the opposing party. The same will happen now.

Good riddance, we think. Throw the bums out.

Yesterday Bill Moyers wrote on TomPaine.com:

Once upon a time the House of Representatives was known as "the people's house." No more. It belongs to K Street now.

Is that an opinion, or truth?

Could it be that the issues are irrelevant? That moral standing is irrelevant to an election? That there is no more "people's house"? Has the concept that a small town could band together their votes and send Jimmy Stewart to congress a quaint anachronism?

Sure.

Unfunded candidates do not get elected in our country. End. Of. Story.

Poorly funded candidates may get elected. But once in Washington their ability to influence the seat of power is nil in comparison to those backed by billion-dollar international concerns.

This is the system we built. I support it because I think that despite how bleak it may seem it's better than many other systems of self-governance and it's actually possible to modify over time. Lots of time.

Despite Republican fear mongering, I have little concern that a Democratic majority in congress will lead us to more terrorist threat. What concerns me is the moral fiber of politicians as a breed. Politics attracts scum and we are just plain out of FDRs and Jack Kennedys.

So, we will replace the likes of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley with equally flawed individuals who two to eight years from now we'll have to sweep out of their offices in handcuffs.

Yesterday I saw Mark Foley's Democratic challenger on television. Tim Mahoney is now running virtually uncontested. The Republicans have named a replacement for Foley, who will be languishing either in prison or a halfway house on election day. But the replacement's name will not be on the ballot: Foley's will. So the election is all but locked up for Mahoney.

But it's evident why Mahoney was trailing in the polls. He doesn't have "it". He appears weak. He spouts platitudes instead of offering ideas. He does not project confidence. He withers under white-hot questioning.

Most Democrats are lily-livered, save for the likes of the old guard: Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahey, and a couple others who have strong convictions but who have zero credibility in terms of nationwide leadership. Meanwhile, most of the conservative candidates seem controlled by beams of radiation from the holy mother ship.

What do Democrats stand for except to say they're not Republicans? Where are their objectively defined morals in all of this controversy? Clever politics suggests that the "smart" tactic is to do nothing, stand back, and let the Republicans destroy themselves. Don't get dirt on yourself. Yet for the party that stands for stronger centralized resources they seem to be terrified to offer an opinion with the excuse that by standing firm on any particular point they will open them up to criticism they cannot defend.

It reminds me very much of some business colleagues I've had through life. There were those whose track record of accomplishment certified their incompetence. But because they had conviction to one or many concrete ideas they rose in the organization on the strength of having any conviction at all. And then there were who had a long list of successes but had "topped out" career-wise. After a long stint of disappointing promotion "pass-overs" they settled into risk-free scheme for success that consisted of blame avoidance while casting doubt on everyone who took action.

Once I questioned my Vice Presidential colleagues why so-and-so had been promoted when someone clearly more adept had been passed over.

One said: "Because he's not confused." That was in 1990, before Donald Rumsfeld, when W was still doing lines off random womens' tits.

Republicans have done their best to not appear confused, while Democrats appear to be soul searching. It's a frustrating - "fiddling while Rome burns" approach.

The baby boom generation grew no heroes. This is a "bad scene" in the truest Dennis Hopper sense. And come November, when nobody gets what they want this election, we're going to be combing the countryside for Abraham, Martin, and John.







The first iceowl broadcast radio show took place on October 1, 2006, on KTOO radio, Juneau, Alaska 104.3 FM.

You missed it. That was intentional. My slot came up with less than 24-hours notice. And I had exactly 5 minutes to learn the operation of the board & other studio gear before the last song ended and the promo played and I had to turn on the mic and say "hi" to the world at large.

So I wasn't looking for a large audience. I want to generate some humorous anecdotes about my first big-time broadcast radio appearance. But I can't. It was pretty straightforward. And it was a lot of work. It took me about 6 hours to develop the playlist for the 2-hour show, to plan my breaks, and to work in the necessary station IDs, public service announcements, and promos. I think it went off without a hitch.

Of course, nobody listens to the radio at 9PM on a Saturday night. Not even in Alaska. And especially not public radio.

Though it hit me on my way out of the station, when I left the late-night DJ alone in the studio where I had been, that for two hours I had completely control of a broadcast station. There was nobody in the building but me. Had I decided to start reading my E2 writeups over the air, they would have had to send in the police to stop me.

But the thought never occurred to me to do anything but what I had promised to do, which was to play blues/rock CDs and say nice comforting, family-oriented things.

KTOO has an internet feed. Had you known I was on the air, you could have listened on line. But as I didn't tell you, there was no reason for you to look for it.

KTOO has purchased two additional radio stations which will come on line next month. When that happens I may get additional shots at the airwaves. There's a possibility I'll get a slot on a spoken-word program. They liked the "My Alaskan Life" series I was posting here on E2.

I will do these things because they are completely apolitical and they calm me down. Yes: stage fright quells my outrage over politics. I plan to do it as much as I can.







This weekend Juneau-based Alaskans are putting on something called, "The 24-hour miracle." Here's the idea:

At 8pm on Friday eve four writers will be handed a topic. They will then have twelve hours to write a one-act play on said topic. At 8am Saturday morning the authors will hand over their scripts to a director who has been chosen directly to them. A cast for the play will be chosen. At 8pm Saturday eve the four plays will be performed on stage in downtown Juneau for the public, who will pay $5/seat each to watch.

I was not chosen as a writer by the central committee. However, one of the writers who was chosen chose me as an "ace in the hole". I get to co-author one of the plays, though my name will appear nowhere on the final result.

I am Joe's aching ego.







Sunday I will do my first live radio "remote". I will set up a broadcast of a Jazz band from Doc Waters' pub in downtown Juneau for KTOO. The band goes on at 4:30 local time. I will not be on the air. I will be providing the air for others.

But when things go poorly, I will be one of the guys to blame.

I am Joe's masochism.

One year cancer-free today. Go, me.

This is a daylog, so I don't have to chain all these random thoughts together.

Why am I writing letters or having conversations in my head with so many people, but unable to write things down or mail packages or pick up the phone? You don't even know I'm talking to you, writing to you, thinking about you, arguing with you, and then I get irritated with all of you that you don't know. Why don't you LISTEN? I simultaneously long for conversations with so many far-away friends, and I want everyone who is in my head involved in these conversations to either answer me, or shut up and go away. I want to sit and drink tea and stare out the window and move so slowly that I can watch a flower open, and the brainmonkeys keep chattering away and distracting me.

One too many things.

Dear you:
I am sorry to be avoiding you. I am struggling with our friendship as it is, and I don't quite know how to put our relationship on a different footing. So I am hiding instead of bringing up a conflict, since I don't exactly know how to ask for what I want, and I'm worried that even if I do, you won't hear me. I want to be seen and heard as I am, not as your construct of me as I should be, and I don't know how to shft us to that place.


Dear you:
I wonder why I still invest energy in you. You manage to be the splinter under my fingernail that I keep fussing about, yet never quite stops irritating. You constantly disappoint me, and frustrate me, and yet I still give my time to talk with you, when there are so many other people who are far more interested in what I have to say than you are. Please forgive me for assuming you are interested in another perspective.

I have the suspicion your sureness about your own world view is a very comfortable place. Me, I think comfort and being sure about what I think are overrated. In some ways I prefer discomfort...

I suspect the main issue has to do with your anima - You have the idea that you admire me, but you admire your IDEA of me, not the reality of me. You would love to believe that your idea exists - a gal who can run a chainsaw or jump out of airplanes, but would still fix you a martini and rub your feet at the end of the day. News for you: she doesn't exist. Truth is, I'm irascible, challenging, grumpy, opinionated, and a feminist. Your complacency boggles my mind.

However, as above, I grow incredibly weary of longing to be seen and heard as I am, when it's clear you're not able to do that. I see evidence that this is unlikely to change. If you choose to start listening, let me know, otherwise I will probably stay quiet.


Dear you,
I am missing you both hungrily, and I don't know why I let the days slip by and I don't say, Come! I need to see you! Distance sucks. I want everyone I love to live on my street. This is why I daydream of that 10-40-600 acres where I can invite everyone to come and stay and build a yurt and hang out and write and argue until we are tired of it, and then everyone goes away for a little while but then comes back soon. I don't want to talk about anything in particular, I just want you around, so I can say, wow, look at this, isn't this weird/interesting/fascinating/disturbing and know that you both will, pause, consider, and engage, no matter how silly or profound or surreal the topic is. I love both of you for transparency, your willingness to be who you are, warts and all.


Dear you,
I recently read a journal entry of yours (livejournal, I wasn't prying..) and I want to, hrm, perhaps not answer all of your questions, but ask you more questions about all of your questions. If that's what you long for, why not stop writing for a while, and dig or craft or be 'the brute' for a while? I go off and run chainsaws or knit or build things or dig in the soil when I run out of words or get tired of them. Maybe growing lettuce for everyone is more important to the community than your words. I don't know, I just know if you are weary of words, you are allowed to take a break from them.

You inspired me with this thought - your reference to our tiny bodies, I think it was. We are moths, and our world is the light we hurl ourselves against. We are tiny, and we don't make much difference in our little individual works, but I am still I suppose a foolish optimist in that I think my work can somehow improve some little corner of the planet. There are times I long to go off into the wilderness and spend the rest of my life planting acorns, and not have it be any more complicated than that.


Dear you,
Why is it so easy for us to forget about paying attention to our spirits? We tend to forget the rituals that keep us all centered when we get busier, and that is precisely when we need the balance it provides the most.


Dear you,
I am worried about you. Having a touchstone, something you desperately want to make your life's work, but feeling that that work is not valued by those around you is horrible. I want to help - to tell you that the audience doesn't matter, that what matters is you give your time to doing what you love most. Life is too short to spend your hours doing something you don't love. Not just like, but LOVE. I love my work. Is that silly? I don't think it will shatter the Berlin Wall, I don't think I will win a Nobel Prize, but I fix one tiny part of the world, one oak tree at a time.

On the other hand, I envy you for having that One True Love of a thing that you want to do with your life. I have too many to count - paint and draw and ski and plant trees and play music and love and be with my family and write the Famoose American Novel and and and....oh life would seem so simple if there were only ONE...

These oak trees are living in the most ridiculously poor conditions you can imagine. A highway interchange, for Pete's sake. No water, ludicrously loud noise, nothing faintly resembing soil, unless soil can be made out of old road bed, gravel, chunks of concrete and asphalt, and don't forget litter and broken glass. And yet they grow. How is this not magic?




Yet. The best evidence that I have that I am now really "recovered", is that I have started to ask, what's next? A PhD? Teaching? Writing a book? Painting like a madwoman in all my spare time? I don't know. I'm at yet another junction at the moment, and I'm not sure where the next step is going to take me. In the meantime I've grown very fond of butterfly soup - I really like that falling through the air phase of wondering what's next. And time is short. I think of our Sumati, who's very name means "stepping our fearlessly into change"...now it's stepping out joyfully into thin air and seeing where I land.


Dear you,
No one but us knows how much cancer is a disease that affects the whole family, not just the person with the disease...unless they've been through it. If I forget sometimes, thank you. With all my heart. I think you sometimes forget how hard you worked - it's okay for you to sit and drink tea and watch the flowers open as well. Maybe now it's YOUR year to recover from the side effects of cancer treatment.



transparency.


I know, most of this has little to do with being one year done with cancer treatment. Or maybe it does. Blessings.

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