it's french, bitch

Making love to my heater

Coming back to “civilization”, as I call my return from a 2-week road trip, is bittersweet. I’m exaggerating about the whole Encino man thing, of course, because I didn’t really wander too far out of town. Sure, I was in a few small towns and sleeping on a crash pad in a tent, but the closest 24-hour all-American supermarket was never any more than a 30 minute-drive away. Hell, I was 15 minutes from The Strip in Vegas for a week while at Red Rock Canyon.

The only real difference during these past two weeks was my lifestyle. I would wake up when the sun or the wind rattled the tent (which was unfortunately too often and too much). I resorted back to the most basic survival needs: keeping warm and keeping full. I would hike, climb, meet people, and curse or love the elements, depending on the day and the way the wind blew. Then when night fell, I would go back to the tent. James and I would cook, and by six or seven o’clock, we would be inside the tent, playing chess, reading, or writing, and we would pass out by nine or 10. Some nights, we would have friends from another camp site over, making a big ol’ campfire, and philosophize about climbing and the state of the world, or the state of our minds.

I admit, I really missed my computer. And by computer, I mean the Internet.

I missed instant messaging, my emails, my rss feeds, my celebrity gossip blogs, my dots, my diggs, my Ideal Bites on how to live greener, my girly mags on having great hair, flawless skin, glamorous office-to-cocktail wardrobe, and of course, better sex (There seems to be a collective American conscious that whatever sex we are having or not having, it could be better, as the myriad of magazine headlines loudly proclaim.)

And then amidst this depravation, this… this… "starvation" of instant information, something pretty remarkable happened.

Apart from the unforgiving and cynically cold wind, apart from the fact that hot water was a rare luxury, I really appreciated not having all that sensory overload. There was just this *one* book I had to read, not an entire book shelf of “books I’m gonna get to someday” or an amazon wish list. There were just pens and papers to write and my thoughts to lay down in words, not a million web pages to get inspirational or motivational or beautiful quotes and ideas on what to write.

In short, I became a little bit more aware of the things around me. I also became very, very, very thankful and appreciative of basic, common things that I have come to take for granted – things like a shower, hot water, a solid roof over my head, and electricity. Oh, glorious, glorious, electricity. If you are reading this now, stop for a second, and go kiss your heater. Go ahead, kiss it and tell it how much you love it, because you don’t know how much you rely on it until it’s night time in the desert and the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour and the only thing between you and that wind is a Mountain Hardwear tent.

So now I’m back in my studio in Long Beach, complete with heat, electricity, water, and all things a modern life blesses and damns on us. My mom told me that humans have a very short memory, and she was right on. I am already forgetting how I did the dishes in icy cold water and dreamt about a sink with soft light overhead and warm water ready to pour out of the faucet. There is a huge pile of dishes in the kitchen right now, and I am dreading it. Maybe I’ll head over to amazon.com, the ideal place to distract, procastinate, and fantasize, all in one click.

You can see pictures of my road trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonc/
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

Who killed Hannah Schneider?

I finished Special Interest in Calamity Physics today, and cannot shake it off my head.

Sadly, I am one of those Americans Gareth Van Meer speaks of on page 411, "L'Aventura had the sort of ellipsis ending most American audiences would rather undergo a root canal than be left with, not only because they loathe anything left to the imagination--we're talking about a country that invented spandex--but also because they are a confident, self-assured nation. They know Family. They know Right from Wrong. They know God--many of them attest to daily chats with the man. And the idea that none of us can truly know anything at all--not the lives of our friends or family, not even ourselves--is a thought they'd rather be shot in the arm with their own semi-automatic rifle than face head on."

It's true, I wanted to know, Know, what happened at the end of Before Sunset. Do they get together? Does he move to Paris? Is she gonna move to New York? What Became of Them?

But I digress.

Really. Who killed Hannah Scheider? Did Gareth have an affair with her? Was Andreo Verguda a private hitman?

Arg... all these questions... they haunt me like I'm Haley Joel Osment.
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

That Apathy *Does* Make Your Ass Look Big

The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. - Plato

I am asking around to see if anyone is going to the protest on Thursday. I can't tell you how people have responded, but let's say I feel like Steve Urkel on a particular Saturday night, having just been turned down for the umpteen time.

Am I dissappointed in my friends? Yes. But I also understand them. They probably hold other things as more worthy of their time, like I Have Lots of Work, and some arbitrary deadline, and Pointy Haired Bosses, and "oh man traffic is gonna be so bad", and "I have something else going on". Yeah, capisco. Gotcha. Point taken.

Next time though, when they bitch and whine about Bush this and Rumsfeld that and "that awful law Congress just passed" and how our country's so messed up, I will just slap them. Very, very hard.

It looks really bleak, but man, Robert Jamieson's commentary is right on.


Writer Gore Vidal is spot on when he says we live in the United States of Amnesia.

People are not attuned to the lessons of history. Citizenry isn't as informed as it needs to be.

And news such as last week's startling turn -- a bill that could empower the president to possibly declare even American citizens "unlawful combatants" who may be detained beyond the reach of court review -- draws a snooze.

Meanwhile, the country is titillated over the latest distraction du jour: the GOP Florida congressman who sent sexy e-mails to boys.

So long as we are distracted, we tend not to notice important things such as how former Secretary of State Colin Powell recently said the White House wanted to "keep him in his place" as he expressed Iraq misgivings. For stirring things up, President Bush put Powell out.

Distraction makes the public lose track of the erosion of rights that form the bedrock of democracy here. People grow numb to U.S. soldiers losing their lives abroad for a cause that seems adrift.

Thursday's "Drive Out The Bush Regime" event is being held in more than 150 cities across the country. In Seattle, the day calls for school walkouts and includes a morning rally at the University of Washington, a noon gathering at Cal Anderson Park and an afternoon march to the downtown Federal Building. (More information is available at the Web site worldcantwait.org)

The event has its heart in the right place, but one has to wonder if Seattle -- or the nation -- cares. An Iraq war with no end in sight has beat people into silence and paralysis. The way the federal government bungled its response to Katrina did make Americans angry, but they quickly returned to regular programming -- new episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost."

It would be inspiring to see crowds turn out Thursday the way people did this year to support undocumented Latino workers.

But this being a land of amnesia and apathy, it seems as if people have forgotten the lost art of the war protest, which begs a question.

What good is freedom of speech or freedom of assembly when people seem unwilling to use it at this crucial juncture in history?
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

Bush Bop Bag. Go Protest. World Can't Wait.

I'm going to the protest on Thursday in the afternoon. Comment/call/email/IM me if you'll be there too.


On October 5, people everywhere will walk out of school, take off work, and come to the downtowns & townsquares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to join us - making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"


Seattle, WA
OCTOBER 5TH, 2006
All Day and into the Night
University of Washington, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle
We'll grow in numbers and spirit throughout the day and call on all of Seattle to JOIN US! THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT! DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME!

Morning--School Walk Outs!
10:00 am--College and High School students from all schools in and around Seattle gather at Red Square on the University of Washington Campus followed by march to Capitol Hill.
12:00 Noon--Gather at Cal Anderson Park, (11th Ave and E Denny in Capitol Hill) followed by
1:00 pm--Rally with speakers and music
3:00 pm--March into downtown Seattle to the Federal Building (2nd & Marion)
4:00 pm--SIT-IN AT THE FEDERAL BUILDING--As the night unfolds, people will talk, debate, create music and art, and work together on visions and plans for driving out the Bush Regime and reversing the whole direction it has been taking the country and the world.

More to be announced! Volunteer now by emailing seattle@worldcantwait.org.

Come get organized and pick up materials on Sundays. Check this website under CHAPTERS for meeting times and locations.

PICK-UP LOCATIONS FOR POSTERS & FLYERS:

Not a Number Cards & Gifts
in Wallingford
1905 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
206-784-0965
Hours: Mon-Thur: 11am-7:30pm; Fri-Sat: 11am-8pm; Sun: 11:30am-6:30pm

Respect Records
in Capitol Hill
1315 East Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122
206-320-1111
Hours: Tue-Sun: 12noon-8pm; Mon: Closed

DOWNLOAD & PRINT SEATTLE POSTER & FLYER:

Weblink: http://seattle.worldcantwait.reallyfast.info

phone: 206-322-3813
seattle@worldcantwait.org


From World Can't Wait's Site FAQs

Q: Does protest make any difference?

A: It does -- and it doesn't. Let's start with how it doesn't. Protest doesn't make a damn bit of difference if it's "protest as usual". Protest that trims its sails to the political terms set by electing Democrats, or that tries to be respectable, or that doesn't convey that THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND MUST BE BROUGHT TO A HALT. No, protest like that doesn't really amount to much. Never has and never will.


We're talking about tens of thousands going into the streets with a clear standard -- BRING THIS TO A HALT -- and a spirited call to others to join this. Our recent statement envisions "a great wave of people unleashed from the huge reservoir of people who are deeply distressed over the direction in which the Bush regime is dragging the country and the world, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school -- joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition."


That kind of protest could and would make a difference. It would begin to galvanize into an active political and moral force the millions who hate the way things are going but are now paralyzed. The possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality. This would send a different message to the whole world.


Face it: no great change has ever been won without protest, without people acting "from the bottom up" to set a new agenda, without struggle, without upheaval. No. The protests in 2002 and 2003 didn't succeed in preventing the Iraq war, but they let the whole world know that Bush was acting in the face of huge public opposition. They put him on the moral defensive. And they helped to set terms for the future - as the ugliness of the war got revealed and people increasingly have come to oppose it. The problem is not that our actions have had no impact; it's that we have not acted up enough. A new season of upsurge must start now, one that sets out to reverse the whole direction in which this society is now hurtling, and to dramatically change the course of history.


The stakes now are too high to keep going through the motions of protest as usual -- politics that say: the people in government exercise power and make the corresponding decisions and our only role is to protest certain things they do. Instead, we need to act on the truth that when people take massive and independent political action, they can change things very profoundly. People in the 60's did not ask the liberal Democrats then in office for permission to fight for civil rights and Black liberation or to protest the war. They just did it, mobilizing millions and effectively saying in the immortal words of Bob Dylan that "your sons and daughters are beyond your command." The whole ethos of a generation and a country changed.
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

Help Needed! A Norwegian Cyclist in Fremont

This guy biked around the world and ended up in Fremont Washington and lost everything. Let's help him out.

If you live/work near Fremont, you can reach Rune Monstad through Daniel Humes at Marketime Foods.

Cycling around much of Central and South America, Mexico and the United States, Monstad had arrived in one of the safest neighborhoods in one of the safest cities in the United States.

Welcome to Fremont.

So when Monstad parked his bicycle in front of Marketime Foods on Fremont Avenue after spending the day pedaling 160 miles from Wenatchee, the last thing he expected was to be robbed.
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

Being a leader

Last week I went to St. Louis for a “Leadership Training”. (And by St. Louis, I mean, somewhere on the outskirt of St. Louis burbs). Oh yes, it is as intense as it sounds. (That’s right, I am a leader in training. Oh, f*** you).

In one workshop, we had to write down the name of five leaders.

Yeah, get a piece of paper if you want to play this game too.

So there I was, biting my pen as the moderator counted down the minutes. I scribbled the names that came to my mind first, you know the usual suspect, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann, my mom, my boyfriend climbing 5.13 after eating a 5 lb bag of Jalapeno chips, …

"Ok, time’s up class. So WHO’s your leader?"

"Did you put down yourself?"

Only one person did.

"Well, you should put yourself down too. You are all leaders. We are all leaders!"

That’s right, beecheez, we are all leaders.

Ok, snobbery and snide remarks aside, this got me to thinking, “what is leadership training?” and more importantly, if we are all leaders, who will be the followers? What if my shadow wanted to take leadership training, what would I tell it?
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

Sleep monster

I just want to sleep, sleep, sleep. Even when I'm awake I'm sleeping. Am I tired because mono is still at large, or because I haven't exercised in a month? I just slept 14 hours last night, woke up, had lunch, and now I want to sleep again.

I feel like a sack of potatoes.
bouldering, nikki chau, joshua tree

The couple that fight together...

[19:15] eketo00: you and james are great together
[19:15] dragoncnikki: why do you say that
[19:15] eketo00: cause you too seem to have the right balance of love an dhate :)
[19:16] dragoncnikki: bhahhaahha
[19:16] dragoncnikki: quotable