Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Who's responsible

In this our culture and society based on instant gratification and quick fixes, people seem to have forgotten the most basic rules of behavior and sense of personal responsibility. We've all been hearing for years that music, movies, cartoons, violent TV programming, R or X rated media objectifying women and so forth, will warp the minds of the young or impressionable and cause them to behave in an antisocial manner. There are others that will espouse the idea that early experiences such as abuse, physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect, can cause people to develop behaviors and social disabilities that make them incapable of behaving normally or being held responsible for their actions.

Now while I realize that there are extreme cases where some people are unable to deal with certain experiences and do truly have an illness or disability of the psyche, these are few and far between in comparison to the sheer mass of humanity that every day points the finger in reaction to having done something they know to be wrong. Also in order for us to all be on the same page as far as definitions go here; as far as I'm concerned there is nothing wrong with actions provided they hurt no one. If you want to sit in your apartment with the lights off and abuse yourself with drugs or scarification or any of a remarkable variety of harmful activities we've come up with to distract ourselves from reality, I couldn't care less. Something is only a crime if you're impugning upon someone else's happiness or well being, or through erratic or irrational behavior creating an environment that is unsafe to others.

On that note, someone that DOES drugs, *(come clean there are enough of you that have recreational habits that aren't necessarily harmful to anyone but aren't socially acceptable)* isn't committing any crime in my book, but someone manufactures with the intent to sell or sells knowingly where it might reach kids is definitely committing a crime against society. And should be fully aware of that and be prepared to deal with the consequences if caught instead of whining that his parents never loved him\her.

To expand on this social theory, anyone who goes about making excuses for their behavior in order to escape punishment should then waive any future right to play a part in decision making for their lives. They've as much as admitted that they are incapable of making proper decisions on their own, so they should have their rights to make those decisions stripped from them and be under 24 hour surveillance with restrictions so tight to be just short of marionettes.

But the greater point of this is that there is a universal sense of right and wrong that there is demonstrative evidence that we're born with. A child that is abused, although they have no frame of reference with which to compare their experiences, knows that what is happening to them is wrong. Quite often they attempt to justify it to themselves by creating things that they have done wrong to deserve the treatment they receive, but ultimately they understand that there is something wrong about the behavior that their abuser is exhibiting. So if we're BORN with this sense of right and wrong, and we all are provided with the same choices at one point or another, hit him in the head with a hammer or not? Go buy a gun and shoot someone to death with it or not? How is it that there is a prevailing belief that certain types of media can influence people to make poor or irrational decisions. In other words, how is to be believed that if these people making poor decisions ARE being effected by this media, how could we trust them to have a firm grasp on reality in the first place? How does it mitigate the fact that they had a chance to make a good or bad decision, and they consciously chose to make the poor one that resulted in the discomfort or death of someone else.

The reason that I feel as strongly about this as I do is that I didn't have a stellar childhood myself. I have experienced, emotional, and physical abuse and lived in fear of my living environment for much of my childhood. But I came out of it with a clear picture in my head of what is right and what is wrong and a sense of personal responsibility to adhere to my own sense of morals and code of honor. That someone else could come away from a similar experience and decide that that gives them leeway to commit crimes or exhibit empirically antisocial behavior is anathema to me. The very idea that someone would use that, or anything else for that matter, as an excuse for their poor decision making casts doubt on their worthiness to breathe, and doesn't cause me to feel pity or remorse for them. Moreover that is the easiest and fastest way to lose my respect and earn my enmity.

So at the end, what I'm trying to say at large is that we all need to take responsibility for what we say and do every day. Thinking about doing something is perfectly normal, everyone has a dark side that peeks it's head out every once in a while, and denying it won't do any good. But having conscious control over behavior and understanding the difference between right and wrong is what defines humanity. If someone is unable to live up to that, they shouldn't be allowed that luxury of being defined as human, and should be relegated to a cage like the rest of the refuse of society.

Listen to death metal, watch horror movies and cartoons all you want. But when it comes time to pull the trigger or sell the drugs, just remember, you are the only excuse you'll ever have.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Air Travel

It has occurred to me in my brief experience with this curious human phenomenon, that there are a significant amount of parallels that one can draw between this form of travel and another. I see a world where airports are trailer parks, and flight attendants are the bored housewives stuck in them.

It's quite easy if you imagine yourself as Dorothy, the first time flier, entering the place where tornadoes pick up houses and toss them into other worlds. And that somehow madmen have harnessed the power of these whirlwinds and set them to a schedule by which you can ride these Winnebagos with wings to far distant local with different times maybe different days or languages and certainly cultures.

And this type of trailer park has picked up it's own version of trailer trash. There are practically full time residents who spend the greater part of their time leap frogging from one tornado ridden Kansas farm to another. With no real grasp on the world beyond what they can see out the windows as they ride merrily over all of it, or glimpse in flashes from the TV in the ever present sports bar that exists in all places and yet seems to be one place unto itself outside of the basic physical reality of matter and time. There is at least one of these, what I call quantum similarities, in each Airport. Sometimes one per terminal. No matter which one you step into, in which part of this world, they are all the same. They serve airport food, and stiff drinks for the edgy people like me. But one thing is certain, you could take each and every one of them out of their respective buildings and shuffle them like cards and no one would be the wiser.

The even more die hard residents are the proprietors of these parks, the maintenance men and the landladies...otherwise known as pilots and flight attendants. They seem almost uncomfortable to be on firm ground. Only in the air do they have complete control of the situation, they know where the exits are, they know the exact buoyancy of their seat cushions, and they are fully aware of how the emergency landing equipment functions and how to implement a speedy escape down an inflated rubber slide. But on the ground? None of this applies. There are no emergency exits, not the way they think of them. There are no seat cushions to be used as flotation devices, and even more unnerving, no captive audience to listen to them explain all about them. They feel out of place sitting on a seat that isn't attached to a flying single, or better yet double, wide manufactured home. All they can see is the horror of the simplicity and mundanity of Kansas, and they look at each other and murmur quietly..."I don't think we're in Oz anymore." As they wait for the next flight to board, and the next batch of Dorothy's to initiate into the culture and beliefs of their world.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I have returned

Well I made it back from Hawaii. Although I can't really say in one piece as a goodly portion of my mind is still stuck over there yet.

But I have returned physically to my erstwhile home in the Yosemite Valley, and have a number of times wondered why, only to remind myself that I can always leave again and what's the hurry. Due time, due time. I'll get were I'm going wherever that is. Maybe Maui, or Kauai, or the north shore of Oahu, or Costa Rica, or Ireland. We'll see.

The return trip wasn't quite as exciting as the first time I ventured in a flying soup can, but was still definitely indicative of something you'd expect to happen to me. The flight out of Hawaii went fine, was sad to be leaving but beyond that it was uneventful. Had gotten up at 6:30am Maui time so 8:30 WST, my plane left the terminal at 10:15 pm and arrived in LA at by the time I get to LA I'd already been up for 21 hours...starting to get tired. Then I catch my flight out of LA at about 7:25 and I get into Fresno around 8:30. that's right...24 hours right there...but wait! I still have a two hour drive to make it to the valley and I'm waiting on my ride to get me before that even starts. So I make a phone call to find out the status of my ride...I'm told that they had planned to leave once Mark *(my roommate)* got off work. He gets off work at I figured it out in my head and said, "Hey, great, about an hour. Not bad." So I go sit down and get some coffee, try to unwind and forget that I'd rather be on a plane going back rather than waiting for a ride to go to the valley. And I wait. And I drink more coffee...around noon I start wondering what the hell is going on. So I make another phone call. And am told that Nick, the guy with the car, just popped his head into the cabin to ask if he's supposed to come pick me up.


Yeah, so I figure at this point that I have a good 2-3 hours until my ride makes it...I've already been up for 28+hours and am looking to be up at least 33-34 just to make it home. Not to mention that I have the shakes like mad from drinking way more coffee than should be legally allowable, and the only thing keeping me awake at this point *(besides a desire to pummel Nick to death)* is the remarkably short intervals between which I need to use the bathroom.

So I wait, and sit, and slap myself a couple of times for thinking about more coffee, usually on the way to the bathroom. And lo and behold around 4pm, seven and a half hours late, my ride shows up. At this point, while I would have felt very justified in pummeling Nick into the ground, I didn't really have the energy. Perhaps that was the point all along...hrm.

Whatever. I'm alive, although not all well. During my stint in the Fresno airport I managed to tear one of my contacts and am now making due with one, as I recently had an incident where in my glasses were melted...don't ask. So I'm monoculous as it stands, and still tired, and getting over a cold I caught over in Maui. Not to mention that the connection between the brain I have here, and what I left over there is tenuous and slow. Like trying to download movies from China with a 28.8 modem. But hopefully I can get it shipped to me sometime soon. I'll have to look into what that goes for nowadays.

Beyond that? NOTHING. Sleeping, eating *(maybe)*, working. Yeah, life.

Hope you are all well, safe, happy, prosperous, and prepared for the years ahead. Cause they're a mystery to me.

Happy Breathing.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Salty heaven

So, here I am in another of the most beautiful places on the planet and I'm trying to make the most of my time here. Let's see, I've swam in a quiet part of the ocean...just floating with the current. I've swam against the waves, body surfing and getting crushed by breakers against the beach...that was fun. I've watched the sunrise from the top of Haleakala and then ridden a cruiser bike down the face of the volcano for 36 miles back into town to have lunch. I've hung out in a sauna, watched some movies, cooked some good food, and seen a great deal of beautiful things. There isn't much to complain about here, aside from traffic and temperatures that I'm not used to, and prices. But those are all things that I was well prepared for when I decided to come in the first place. So I'm almost at a loss, nothing to complain about? What is the meaning of this!

Oh, I'll find something, and then I'll have more to write about...maybe.

For now, everything's going well, and while improvements could be made on where I'm at in general, there's nothing specific that I have any right to be unhappy about. Life is a beach.

Love you all, hope you're happy and safe.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


So I decided that I needed a vacation from my vacation home. The valley can get pretty constrictive for all its beauty and I had a need to see somewhere else, and where better in the middle of January than a tropical Island right? So here I am in Maui, Hawaii. But it wasn't easy.

The drive out of the park itself was something out of a horror has been snowing/raining for the last two weeks, all the roads have been closed by a variety of avalanches 2 foot deep snow drifts and rock slides, on and off for quite some time. We decided to take 140 out as it was the only road without restrictions. More the fools we. Not even to El Portal we had to stop the car three times and get out to clear rock slides that we wouldn't have been able to drive through or around if we had been on motorcycles. about 45 minutes into the drive we got stopped by a huge utility truck whose driver told us that the road was out up ahead due to a massive rock slide and would be out for at least a couple of hours. So we turned around, and went to my friend Nicks moms house, and hung out there calling periodically for road conditions. By the time the road had been declared driveable it was almost 2am and Nick was quite firmly passed out on the couch. So I decided that we could sleep some and leave early in the morning on Monday for Fresno.

My mistake, I decide that I need something from the car, I walk out into the gale force storm to get into the car and manage to neglect to leave the door open enough to get back into the house. So, standing out in the pouring ass rain I despartely hammered on the door in order to wake Nick, but he was non-compus-mentis. So, I managed to get a few hours of sleep in the car...COLD. Oh well.

The next day proceeded as planned we left early, around 8am, and made it to Fresno without too many mishaps. A lot of storming and whacked out drivers, but nothing serious. In Fresno I decided that it would probably be a good idea to verify my tickets with the airport. Well, apparently AIRPORTS don't do have to contact the AIRLINE itself. So after playing phone jockey for about 2 hours I get a hold of the customer service for Delta. I then end up spending 45 minutes talking to a woman that couldn't have been working there for more than 30 seconds before answering the phone, who told me that my tickets didn't exist and the flight was booked under a different first name, and that you cannot fly to Kahului on their airline, and a number of other things that I know firsthand to be demonstrably untrue. Once I FINALLY get that worked out it's time to go back to bed to get up and catch the flight on Tuesday.

We, Nick and I, make it to the airport 2 hours early, which was good because although I purchased the tickets through delta, and my itinerary said delta, and every other indicative factor pointed to delta, I was told at the delta terminal that I was flying sense at all. So I spent some time in the bar before getting on the little 2 engine Saab prop plane to get to LA. After getting pretty well mentally armored versus the coming potential disaster, I board the plane, which is less than half occupied thank god, but starts shuddering like a monster truck when they turn the engines on. Taxiing to the runway took at least a half an hour and the pilot was kind enough to set the mood by explaining that there is a warm front and that at 17000 feet where we'll be it's gonna be pretty rough. Terrific.

So on a tiny prop plane 17k in the air, the turbulence is more reminiscent of a maniacal elevator dropping in between floors. 3-5 foot drops and surges were pretty constant for the 46 minute flight and they explained that they would normally be distributing refreshments but that they would be more likely to infest our clothing and coat the walls than be imbibed.

That flight done. In LA. I get off the plane feeling as though the worst is over, and that I handled it all pretty well, although at this point I'm trying desperately to ignore the massive headache and muscle cramps from tensing like I was in a body-building showcase. The lady at the front desk at the incoming terminal told me I needed to go to terminal 4 to get on the plane I needed...I had at this point about and hour to get to the plane. So I get on the bus, get to terminal 4 and look for my gate. The only flight out of terminal 4 to Kahului doesn't leave until 5:55. My ticket says 3:25...I start asking questions. No one knows what I'm talking about. I get told to just wait for the later flight...I'm understandably uncomfortable with this idea. I ask some more questions, then get told I'm at the wrong terminal. I'm supposed to be at terminal 5, I now have about 40 minutes to get to my plane. I can't just WALK to the terminal there's no way with security guys and planes taxiing, I get rushed onto another bus. THIS bus takes me back to the god damned front desk, where I'm told I have to wait for ANOTHER 25 till I start asking where the terminal 5 bus is...they call it, no answer. I start getting really anxious and demanding and someone hops in a little van and just drives me straight to the loading gate for my plane. I get on the 767 with 10 minutes left. Closer than I wanted to make it for sure. I get on the plane and find my seat, it's located at the exact rear of the plane. Right up against the rear wall of the plane next to the service area, which makes for easy access to the coffee, but makes for a lot of fun during takeoff. To top it all off, during THIS flight the pilot starts out by telling us that we're flying into a 150+ mph headwind and we're likely to be late and experience a lot of turbulence. To which, at this point, I think, "yep, gonna die." No question this plane is going down over the Pacific all hands lost. It was a rather calm realization, no panic or sweating, just acceptance. One of those "oh well" moments when you go all in on a bluff and get called. No amount of whining or gnashing of teeth is going to help and is just gonna cause you more grief than necessary.

So I drank about 2 pots of coffee, and read most of an 800 page book, but I lived. Made it to Hawaii, got my hiking pack from baggage handling and tried to walk out the shakes. Since then I've been picked up by Misty from the airport only to hear that she wrecked her car earlier that day. Her car runs, sort of, but the front end isn't really there anymore.

Yet throughout this harrowing experience I have high spirits and a positive attitude for the most part. I made it this far, I'll make it back, and I can do anything I want. Next big thing is Ireland. I'm gonna go, don't care if it takes a couple of years, but it's going to happen. It's beautiful here, but the first thing I noticed is that you can almost chew the air. From 4000 feet in the Sierras, where no matter how much it rains or snows it's still dry as a bone, to basically sea level in the tropics is a pretty severe atmospheric change. But there's no comparing the sunset here, it's like perpetual spring...everything is green as can be. And not from mold and lichen like in Eugene. It's all bright colored and leafy and petaled and growing. Stark contrast to the white/gray of the valley right now.

This is my first day here and I mean to make the most of it. The beach awaits, and I can already taste the sea wind in my face. Gonna soak the sun, make a sand bed, and try to forget that I can't stay. I'm definitely going to come here again, when I have less on my plate at home and more time and resources to be a bum.

I hope that this finds you all well and happy, here's wishing you all margaritas and paradise.