This is not your tragedy. You can't have it.

Too often we humans like to be involved.

"Yo, my best friend's cousin's sister-in-law's ex-boyfriend's nephew died today!"

Watch any tragedy on TV and you'll see what I mean. I live in Dallas, so all day it's been anchorpersons telling us how we can identify with this tragedy. Citizens without souls describing how the piece of debris that landed a thousand yards away almost killed them. How their worlds have been rocked by this event. You know who they are. They're the same people who survive the flood, tornado, serial killing, and always manage to witness the horrific accident on the freeway that killed three people. "I swear to God I thought I was gonna die!" The people who claim it hits so close to home.

Bullshit. You can be sad. You can be shocked. You can be indifferent, mad, happy, or traumatized. But you cannot identify with this. You have no idea how the families, friends, and co-workers of those seven people feel. I grew up in the aviation industry. I know people who have died in aircraft accidents, my own father nearly several times. I can't begin to imagine how those people feel. Nor do I care where the hell you were when it happened. I know where I was, but after this do you think that matters in the least? It's ok to know where you were when Kennedy died or on the morning of September 11. Those events affected and influenced us all. Those were days when we lost a little innocence. This is not one of those events.

This is not your day. It's their's. Be respectful, you savages.

Right on, Skoob.

I am, as are we all, saddened by the loss of the lives on the Columbia, but it is not a personal tragedy for me. My feelings are no less valid, but they should not be sensationalised. Real people are dealing with real grief out there. Others are dealing with the fear that must naturally follow after great chunks of space shuttle fall in their backyards. That does make it their tragedy. Not as much as, say the children of the astronauts, but theirs nonetheless.

A fine example of this is the terrible bushfires which swept Canberra two weeks ago and are still wreaking havoc in the surrounding region. I did not lose my house, in fact the only thing I lost was a box of Bob the Builder chocolates. My childhood home and the current dwellings of all my immediate family still stand. I did not know well any of the four people who died. So this has not been my personal tragedy.

I have certainly been scared, and that is perfectly alright. Anybody who was in Canberra or had family in danger had every right to be scared, and it's also acceptable that I have had a few nightmares. So have many other people in Canberra.

I am not upset by the terrible things which have happened to my friends and acquaintances. I am emotionally exhausted from listening to their stories and feeling for them. I tend to get teary driving past the burt bits. I have even sat down and bawled my eyes out a few times. That doesn't make it my tragedy.

Some people survived just fine, but still had scary, life threatening experiences. Orpheum, for example, was in real danger. That makes it a tragedy he has experienced and survived.

Someone for whom the bushfires were not a personal tragedy is a man (if I may use the term loosely) who lives in the suburb, if you know Canberra, of Latham. Latham was quite a way from any fires and backs only onto other suburbs, not onto bushland. It is nowhere near the affected suburbs. He is still scarred by the terrifying experience of flying into an absolute panic and convincing himself that his house was going to burn down. He was so panicked that instead of stuffing his gutters with tennis balls, towels and plastic bags filled with sand or dirt, he used his new wife's favourite Calvin and Hobbes T-Shirt, which he cut up first.

The bushfires were definitely not his personal tragedy. Or even something that really had a damn thing to do with him. So why he is still telling us the dramatic story of his near-death experiences in Latham is beyond me.


Okay, sorry everyone, my rant is over and I will go back to my cave now. Have a lovely day and reflect on the fact that despite all the sensationalising, we are still human enough to be saddened by the loss of a small number of people we didn't even know. I think that's a good thing, and I'm sure it has to do with they way you can be yourself, emotions and all, on E2 without being embarassed.

Thankyou also to all the people who /msged me after I noded about the bushfires in January 20, 2003 and Canberra bushfires, January 2003 to express their concern and sympathy for those affected. Canberra, and Weston Creek, are small, friendly communities who have done so much to help each other over the last two weeks, and I think it's wonderful that another small, friendly community was kind enough to make a fuss over us. :) I love e2.

* Let me add a disclaimer: I wrote this daylog before the tragic events of Saturday morning. My sympathies to the American people. Per Ardua Ad Astra.



FRIDAY! FRIDAY! FRIDAY! Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages:

Please direct your attention to the center of the arena
Introducing: THE OUTLAWS OF MOTOSPORTS!

CANADIAN MONSTER TRUCK NATIONALS!

On Friday, I went to see to see something I have been waiting for for about 20 years. Monster Trucks. Oh yeah. Living in northern Ontario, not a lot of the traveling spectacles of North American life came through town. I saw some second-string WWF action when I was grade school, but it was nobody spectacular. It left me feeling kind of sad really. Why did nobody rate my hometown worthy of a visit?

So, gripped with a young boys love of roaring engines and fulfilling the promise I made my young self, I saw me some BIG TRUCKS. I had a blast, noting to myself that now that I live in the big city, nothing was skipping town. I also noted that it was mostly kids and their parents bustling into seats around me and my friends. Oh well. Better late than never.

On to the spectacle! I saw the likes of:

Sheer Insanity
The Ozz Monster
Cyclops
Thunderstuck
Predator

And boy was it loud! Dang! I brought some earplugs from home, as had most of the crowd. It was still loud! Methanol engines 10ft away on top of a dirt covered NHL Hockey rink is a treat! I think it must have been about 100 DB all night, if not over for some parts. It was one of those sounds you felt as much as heard. Sitting close was great - we sat in the third row from the dirt. The space inside the Corel Center was limited for them, but they pulled it off. It was a little sad to see them penned in like animals, but what a show. I was grinning like a fool all night.

My friends and I identified all the makes and models of the poor whitewashed victim cars that sat on the dirt while waiting for the show to start. The show was amazingly long and varied, with "Tough trucks", regular off-road trucks running a dirt track at breakneck speeds, Motocross riders doing amazing tricks 30 feet in the air, and even "Mini-trucks", a go-cart spectacle for the kids, with the home town hero taking the checkered flag from the bad guy, a driver from Toronto, the local hockey teams nemesis city. The kids loved it. So did I!

Tragic

The events concerning the Columbia are indeed tragic but let us not be too quick to call it a national tragedy. It is a terrible thing when people die but this has no relevance to the people of a nation as a whole. I didn't know the seven passengers and you probably didn't but their families did and it is them that I feel sorry for.

I especially feel sorry for the family of Ilan Ramon. The first Israeli in space. While America may mourn at this "national catastrophe", the fact that there was a non-American on board may indeed be overlooked. Let us not forget that the events on September 11th were deemed a national tragedy and that there were many foreigners killed on that day, too

In other news, John Gregg was shot dead in Belfast and this could lead to more troubles in Northern Ireland, for which British Forces may be needed in a peace-keeping capacity. Combined with the second day of the current fire-strike, for which the British army and their Green Goddesses are covering, this leaves the British army stretched. Let us hope that the War on Iraq does not happen because we do not have the forces to deal with that as well.

Bite me!

It is too my damned tragedy!

I paid for it.

That was my truck that crashed in the heavens.
The remains of my national heroes are scattered across Texas.
That was my dream, another little piece of which died yesterday morning.
It is my space program being set back by a decade by a cautious congress.
My friends, my family, my coworkers -- all the Americans I know feel this as our tragedy

I am an American shareholder and these are my feelings -- whether you like it or not.

I think what you meant is that it's not your tragedy...Well fine.


But the morning of February 1, 2003 will haunt my memory for the rest of my life.

When the cop-cold suckers came in, he knew it was over. He just looked from his shaky hands to the floor. They were friendly, at least.

Then they took his stash and left.

We sat there, not talking until he said, "I don't feel guilty." I nodded, and he continued, "The boundaries are real. I think they had it out for me to begin with, though. Somebody narced me out."

Later that evening, he said, "I need to get out of here. It's this place that's doing it to me."

"Well," I said, "you know, you can just ride it out. Just try to be happy."

"I can't, though. What would possess them to do that?"

"It's their job."

"I know, but did they have to be such pricks?"

"They really weren't."

"I need to get out of here."

I've never daylogged before, but the news just got to me here.

I was running a scholastic chess tournament yesterday when we heard of the news of the Columbia. I was saddened, and managed to catch a little of NPR news about it. But I knew that any real news (why it happened) and such won't be known for a while, if ever, so I turned it off and have been trying to avoid it.

My wife; however, has been watching CNN like crazy, and this morning she informs me that people have been stealing the fragments. And not only that, but they are saying "if the piece fell on my property, it's mine and I'm not giving it up." And then also people are trying to sell fragments (real or fake) on eBay. NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham said, "We live in an evil world, and there are people that will do those types of things."

Has our culture become that crass? Have the property rights crowd become so powerful that nothing can be done about these kind of attitudes? If that fragment contained human remains, would that still belong to the property owner? "After all, it landed on my property."

I admit that I'm a liberal who feels that Dubya is incompetent and willfully and arrogantly ignorant of history and the consequences of governmental actions. That said (so you know my bias), I believe that the property rights populism started by Barry Goldwater, and mainstreamed by Ronald Reagan have created the climate for these kind of behaviors today.

The disrespect for governmental authority, the distrust for governmental decision making, the belief that the goverment should not do anything to interfere in what the individual wants to do, no matter what the consequences to the rest of the population.

And remember that this is happening in Northeast Texas and Louisiana. The heart of Dubya country.

Now I certainly admit that government is not always right, but individuals aren't always right either. There needs to be a balance, and as long as you have demagogues like Dubya, Tom DeLay, Rush Limbaugh, and the like with the political power they have, this country will be in trouble. Probably not in the short-term, but Pax Americana will not last.

And of course the leading Democrats will be too spineless to say anything about it.

And so it goes.

Lost

What has happened? In the blink of an eye, things can be turned upside down. The things that you once knew and grew to associate with everyday life, are suddenly thrown into inexplicable turmoil.

How can something that has been so familiar and close to me for seven months, be deteriorating so quickly. I know not what the next day, or even the next few hours have in store for me. I feel as if all the signs on the path I have been traveling for the past seven months, have been suddenly taken away, and I am horribly lost. Even though this path has become hard to follow in the past, never before have I felt completely out of control over where I am going, and where the path is leading. I hope with every ounce of my being that I will soon be back on track with what I have come to love and come to depend on.

If not, I may very well be; lost forever

so bored...

39 minutes past "the weekend", no didn't get the work done I wanted to do until Monday, and now instead of doing it, I'm doing this.

So yesterday was Groundhog Day, remember that movie where Bill Murray gets stuck in a day, living it over and over again? I guess that's how I'm feeling at the moment, living everyday just like the day before, being bored. 20 19 days before one exam, X days before the next one, having to go to work and study in between, and not much else. Gee, now I remember that my last exam will be on April 2, and that when that day is over and done with, I'll get about 3 and half weeks of holidays.

Groundhog day. I've always thought it fell on February 1st, but I was wrong. This year's Chinese New Year was on February 1st. My birthday was on February 1st. 7 people died on February 1st.

I speculate...

I read about the impact that happened during take-off. About their inability to perform a spacewalk to the other side of the shuttle to see, much less fix the damage. About how ground control calculated the damage to be minimal, dismissing it as nothing to worry about. Not that anyone at the moment can say surely the impact caused the explosion. I wonder, what could they have really done if the damage wasn't that minimal, if they had realized in orbit "This thing can't make it back to earth in one piece"? It would have been really cool if they could send another shuttle up there to dock with and rescue the passengers of the drifted ship. Is that something that have been doable? Not so much a what-if question that is related to the accident 2 days ago, but a what-if question, what if a space shuttle ends up in space and they realize they can't make it back? A question asked too late maybe, considering the shuttle fleet is grounded at the moment, and who knows what catastrophes-waiting-to-happen (like with the Concordes) they're going to found.

Well, yes, what if? do they have the capability of sending another one up there in so quickly? Do they have the capability of tracking two shuttles at the same time? Could two shuttles dock? What is the minimal amount of crew needed to operate this rescue ship, considering it will have to take extra people back? It would have been really cool if NASA managed to pull something like that off, cool for its PR department, the ratings-hungry-media that will be reporting all about it and for anyone interested in the space program.

If only someone could groundhog-day the whole thing.

Sometimes
the silence can be like thunder
Sometimes
I wanna take to the road and plunder
--Bob Dylan
Love Sick

Sometimes I feel like I am standing on the same street corner waiting for a broken light to change. Sometimes I think I have to rip the mechanism open myself and fix it but I don't have the right tools. So I wait some more. The horizon keeps changing colors but I stand in place, sometimes shuffling back and forth, sometimes standing still.

It has been a month since my last contact with the other side. I felt a deep sorrow yesterday when news of the Columbia disaster reached me. My sorrow was unlike that of most who wept and were troubled by this loss. They were explorers. I am an explorer. We are both riding out into dangerous territory from which there is always a chance we will not return. I began to realize how fragile our forays into the unknown can be.

A month ago my contact with the other side came in the form of a woman I loved and who had passed. She reached out to me from there to let me know she was in a better place and had found happiness. Last night I crossed over again in my dreams.

"If you abandon the path you are meant to take
we will remind you.
Don't you know that by now?"

The dream began in a strange and freaky way. Most of my dreams where I enter another world are slow moving and clear cut, relaying slow and steady messages that are not very difficult to decode. This time I was in a burned out dormitory building going to breakfast with a group of cartoon characters. One of the cartoon characters, Porky Pig, didn't have money to pay for his eggs over easy, 1-1/4 toast and bacon. I picked up his tab for him. No, I don't know what 1-1/4 toast is, except that it is quite black. Yes, I do realize there is something odd about a pig ordering bacon for breakfast.

"Now that you have finished what you were sent back to do,
we give you a gift.
The door is open for you to find what was lost.
This is the hardest thing you will ever do."

Am I supposed to take such sentiments seriously when they come out of the mouth of Porky Pig, even if they are spoken in a voice that definitely does not belong to said pig? I question this. Yet, I went on, to the place that always appears in these dreams that have grown from my death experience. I went to the cabin in the woods. I walked along a dirt road covered with snow. As I approached the cabin I saw a truck parked in front of the place. A man was standing outside of the truck speaking to she who has been lost. He was showing her a document and asking that she sign it. The name of her horse, Trouble in Tucson, was at the top of the sheet of paper. The rest of the words were too small to see, but at the bottom was a large word, all in caps, stamped onto the page with bold, red ink.

UNSAWETTABLE

"Trouble is gone," she told me when she looked up from signing the document.

"I'm sorry."

"It doesn't matter any more. Do you want to come inside?"

We were inside the house for mere seconds before we began to kiss each other with overwhelming passion. We threw each other onto the floor and wrapped our arms tightly around each other. She reached down between my legs and smiled.

"Notice how you aren't sexually aroused by this. It isn't about sex, you know."

"I know." We resumed kissing.

"What do we do about this? I can't take it any longer," I told her after a lengthy period of intense kissing.

"You can't stay here. You need to call Uncle Fishnets. That's where you're staying, isn't it?"

"Yes," I said, feeling a sense of responsibility and the need to get in contact with Uncle Fishnets, even though I don't know who Uncle Fishnets is. I disappeared from the cabin and appeared at my Uncle's house. He sent me down to the basement where my brother, his wife, and their two sons were playing with a very elaborate model railroad, complete with an entire village of little houses and cars. My oldest nephew, who is autistic and has serious Rain Man tendencies, looked and me and then pointed at the model railroad. There was a house that looked exactly like the cabin in the woods, except it was a plastic scale model.

"That's where she is. You have to make yourself smaller."

When Alex was six I bought him a game program for his computer. I loaded it onto the computer with my brother-in-law and we could not get it to run. We kept trying to figure out how to get it to run, and six year old Alex tried to stop us. "You are wasting your time. The software is not compatible with my system. It will not run until grandpa buys me a new computer. Let's go upstairs and play with something else." He was right. We wasted the next hour trying to get the game to run. When we went back upstairs, Alex handed us glasses of orange juice and told us with great exasperation, "Fifty-six minutes we could have played." I guess it wasn't an hour after all. He has this ability to speak the plain truth and sees things others don't. He was the only person I know I would have trusted to point me in the right direction. I just don't know how to make myself smaller. Maybe I'll call him and see if he knows how. He'll probably just laugh at me.

I'm crossin' the street to get away from a mangy dog
Talkin' to myself in a monologue
I think what I need might be a full length leather coat
Somebody just asked me if I'm registered to vote

The sun is beginnin' to shine on me
But it's not like the sun that used to be
The party's over and there's less and less to say
I got new eyes, everything looks far away
--Bob Dylan
Highlands

Previous
Next

Paraphrasing Q on the bridge of the Enterprise:

She is baaack!

On July 29, 2001, she told me that she was moving away and I wouldn't see her anymore (since I only saw her at the restaurant where she worked).

Tonight, I felt like going out for dinner, and after rejecting a couple of possibilities, decided on my old standby, Red Robin. Despite the fact that I was alone and carrying a book, the ditzy hostess started leading me to the bar section, where they do have a few tables where they serve meals but also has loud televisions. With two hints I managed to make her realize that I wanted to sit in the restaurant section (which was less than half full). After an about face, she led me to one of the two-person booths there, rather than one of the many four-person ones that were available.

I was kind of irked at the seating, and it didn't help that my server was an obsequious young man who, without doing anything wrong, just seemed to rub me the wrong way. I asked for a strawberry lemonade before perusing the menu, then placed my order upon his return.

I was settled into my book when an employee walked past, dropped a folded to-go check on my table, and just kept on going. This seemed odd. I unfolded it and read the message written within:

I've heard the seafood pasta is greasy here…
My hormones surged — that could only mean one thing. Unless there was a noder there who recognized me and had memorized my early writeups, the only person who could have written that was Rebecca! I put down my book and waited. A minute later she came around the corner and said "It is you!", and was greeted with what had to be the biggest smile she'd seen in at least a week.

We talked a bit; she said that the commute from Santa Maria to Santa Barbara (where she attends UCSB) was a bit more than she had bargained for, so she was back in town. I didn't ask how long she'd been back, but it's probably been at least four months since I went there for dinner. She didn't mention not seeing me there, so for all I know her return was quite recent and all of the events of the evening that directed me into her presence are the evidence of fate's hand preparing us for a long and happy life together.

Not! But I was still very happy to see her, and I can predict with great certainty that I'll be a regular Red Robin customer again for the foreseeable future.

This was the best day we’ve had in a while, with respect to weather. At noon, the temperature was in the upper forties, with a further ten-degree rise anticipated. Growing up in Louisiana, it seemed odd to pine for the forties. But, after only seeing just above freezing once or twice over the last two weeks, it was like a trip to the Tropics. After weeks of riding myself bored on a stationary trainer, I would get to take my road bike out for the day.

I probably set too high an expectation, but it was looking to be my one good day for the foreseeable future. The next day was to be even warmer, but rain and work would interfere. The day after that would be a return to the Arctic. So, I decided I would hit the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a rails to trails project that extends 72 miles. I planned to ride up from one point for ten to fifteen miles, then head back to the car, for a total of twice that. On reflection, that might have been too ambitious—my excitement and cabin fever getting the better of me. However, I felt fit enough to do it, and couldn’t see any problem.

Except, perhaps that the trail is not shoveled, and a good bit of it was in the shade.

I put the bike in the Brick, and drove up to the trailhead. There was a bit of snow in the shady areas of my neighborhood, but the road was clear. Dressed in tights and a Postie jersey, I was set for fun afternoon. As I rolled away, I saw that the trail was moist, with bits of snow and slush going under my tires. A mist came off my tires—I was getting wet. I didn’t care: I wanted to be on my bike. And I’m tough. And it’s still better than a stationary trainer.

I was maintaining a pretty good clip. Not as fast as I was going last time I was on the trail, but, given the cold and the lack of riding, it was much better than I expected. Here and there I would have to slow down for snow, or a walker, however, my brisk-but-wet pace was going well. I was having fun.

It really wasn’t until I was four-and-a-half miles out that my first problem began.

The whole trail was covered by snow that I couldn’t pass on my bike. I didn’t want my ride to be just nine miles. I decided to walk it. The slush was not easy to walk on, and my bike became heavy on my shoulder, but, after half a mile, I was clear. I cleaned the snow out of my cleats, and took off again. I went over one of the streets that cross the trail, and, a mile and a half since the last part covered by ice and snow, hit another.

I tried to walk it. However, it clearly was getting worse as I headed north. Walking was possible, but I watch slush build up on the brakes of my bike as I pushed it along. It was cold. It ceased to suck in a character-building sort of way, and began to suck in a sucky sort of way. And, if I returned on the trail, I’d have to cover both this and the first patch I traversed.

So, after a quarter mile of walking on the snow patched, my bike and I turned around, and walked back to the cross street. This time, my cleat was totally encased in snow, with half-an-inch stuck up in my shoe. I took the shoe off and beat it against a tree to clean it out, then bounced my bike to clear off the slush. I was almost seven miles away from the car. I decided surface streets were my best bet.

I pulled out my cell and called my wife, to let her know my plan—this might take longer than I thought, plus I wanted to let her know where to look for my body. I also wanted to let her know I might call for directions—I wasn’t terribly familiar with the area off the trail, but had driven through it a few times.

So, the next hour I rode on instinct, going in the general direction of “south.” I was west of the trail, so once in a while I would try to head east, only to realize it wouldn’t get me there. At one point, an SUV had to wait for me at a four-way stop (I got there first). He made great show of gunning his engine as he passed me later on.

Finally, I started to see landmarks I recognized off the trail. First the river. Then a cell tower. Finally, a sign for the trail. I got back on, south of any of the icy patches. Three miles later, I was back at my car. The ride totaled twenty miles, and built character: I don’t have to know where I’m going to get somewhere.

The ten-day forecast doesn’t show any day above forty.

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