27 August 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 3

(Days: one, two)

19/viii/04: Nephi, UT to Torrey, UT and Capitol Reef National Park
158 miles/254 km

I woke up in Nephi feeling congested and puffy. After a shower, I felt much better and chalked it up to the motel's pillows, probably filled with allergy-inducing down. As usual, I was getting my start right around check-out time, so it was already noon when I drove into Salina.

When I stepped out of my car to pump gas, the air was permeated with acrid smoke. I looked around urgently to detect the source 'cuz really, fire and gas stations don't mix favorably. FireThen I spotted it; over the trees in the distance, a long plume of black smoke rising straight up. I wondered if there was a fire station nearby, but no one else looked the least bit concerned. Calling 911-- assuming my cell got reception and the town had 911 service-- wouldn't do much good because I couldn't even say where I was specifically at the moment; so with visions of fast-spreading wild fires in mind, I decided to just proceed carefully.

It wasn't long before I encountered the fire itself. And some town fire trucks, as well as a few onlookers talking to a couple of firemen who were just standing by. I pulled over and took a couple of pictures. firetruckAs far as I could tell, it was a controlled burn of a demolished property. Again, I was wishing I had a longer lens. I suppose I could've walked closer to the fire, but I didn't want to get yelled at, and I'd already snuck a close up shot of one of their trucks. One of the fire fighters looked over at me, so I said, "Hey," trying to look all casual with my SLR slung around my neck before walking back to my car.

A ways down the road, I stopped at Mom's Cafe for lunch. As I ate my turkey sandwich, I felt like I understood the country better (not meaning the rural bits, but rather all of it). Though I was in Utah, the clientele reminded me much of The South, minus the accents and plus more cowboy hats. Small town, sure but yeah - this is why the right wing is, I commented in my moleskine. Two years later, I'm not sure I can articulate it better than that; it just made sense to me in that moment.

I took I-70 out of town and picked up Rt. 24 for one of the most beautiful drives of my whole road trip.
Rt. 50

At 2:52 PM, I reached Capitol Reef National Park; it was raining, but the rock formations were still awe-inspiring.
Cap Reef Fern centerCap Reef Fern right

The weather cleared by the time I reached the visitor's center about a half hour later.
Cap Reef MS
There were numerous pull-outs along the 25 mile round trip Scenic Drive; I cruised slowly, stopping frequently for pictures and short hikes, trying to take it all in.
Cap Reef Rock canted Cap Reef Stria
I learned to be wary of the dirt roads in the park. They were narrow and more than once vehicles whipped round corners heading straight at me; my car shook in ways I was certain wasn't good for it; and signs warned of flash floods by gullies still covered in water of indeterminate depth from the rain earlier.
Cap Reef Rock
The park wasn't very busy, so when I walked through the Grand Wash Trail and later hiked through Capitol Gorge, I was alone most of the time; I loved the quiet of it.
Cap Reef Rocks
The terrain reminded me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and then I encountered a sign which said that Butch supposedly did have a hideout somewhere around there.

At 8:07 PM, I finished off my fourth roll of film with some sunset shots on my way out of the park.sunset

I booked a room for that night and the next at the Go West Lodge in adjacent Torrey, Utah. The desk clerk "Sylvia" (it was in quotations on her name tag) was from Romania (it said that on her name tag too). "Lucy" from Bulgaria passed by and went into a back room. A new motel in a tiny town outside of a national park in Utah seemed like a really strange place for two young foreign women to have ended up, but I decided the mystery was probably more intriguing than the truth, so I didn't ask. I thought of asking "Sylvia" if she'd been watching the Olympics, but then I couldn't remember how the Romanians had done in gymnastics the night before, so I just took my key and drove around to the side of the building to park.

As I walked up the exterior stairs, I was totally stoked to find that she'd given me a room with a view of the park. I dropped off some gear in my room, washed up, and then drove over to the Rim Rock Restaurant, arriving 10 minutes before the kitchen closed. Considering the previous night, I feared I was out of luck, but instead I was met with a kind waiter and a tasty gourmet dinner.


One year ago at TTaT: Return to status quo
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26 August 2006

Latest guilty pleasure

First, a quick word on guilty pleasures. As a concept, I don't really buy into it which is to say, for the most part, I'm arrogant enough to think that anything I like has value just because I like it. That said, I still find it an apt descriptor for some things which brings us to:

Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty

I was clicking through channels, looking for something I wouldn't have to pay much attention to while I did some stretches when I stumbled onto Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty. I'd seen ads for it, but it was so much more entertaining than I ever expected it to be. It kind of makes me wish I was in LA and had someone I needed to break up with or give an ultimatum to, because wouldn't it be awesome if Shannen Doherty did it for me? Oh man, this show just strokes my non-confrontational soul.

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Saturday, meme? Sure.

(from Kevin)

Checklist Meme
Just bold the things you have accomplished in your life.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (a small one)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables Technically it was my parents' garden, but I had to weed and stuff.
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne (gah, can't stand the taste of the stuff)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon, yes
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (not for a whole day)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
(small scale climbing without all the harnesses and stuff)
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand Not in a meet a stranger at a bar type of way though, or is that inherent to the definition?
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone Maybe civil war battlefields don't count though?
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship Not for a cruise though. I was working on a film that shot on the Queen Mary.
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (close)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over I would've said just to leave where I was, but sure, I guess starting over was part of it too.
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart (I don't think so, but I couldn't swear to it.)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours I'm sure I did when I had mono.
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school (I got all my degrees straight through, so I suppose no.)
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach (hell no!)
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions so far, yeah.
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident It was more the driver's fault because he was speeding over the top of a hill, but me crossing the street on my bike is what caused him to skid to a stop, veering off the road what would've been 50 ft too late if he'd actually hit me. I was lucky I didn't get creamed.
150. Saved someone's life So two've said.

One year ago at TTaT: Grudge memory
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25 August 2006


Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel (3/5)

Not long ago, I read an amusing recount of an author's reading over at Bread and Bread. The author was Andrea Seigel, and to spice things up at readings for her new book To Feel Stuff, she's opted to start them with a dance routine. Pictorial and video evidence is available on her blog.

I was amused, so when I discovered her first book was available at my local library, I picked it up to read. It felt a little odd looking for a book on a low shelf in the "Young Adult" section of the Children's room, but after reading it I find myself wondering what makes something "young adult" as opposed to "adult" fiction. I guess I used to think it was just a matter of vocabulary and subject matter, but with this book it feels like it's more about setting and the protagonist's age because the story includes mature elements. As do young adults, I suppose.

Mostly I'm thinking of my niece (now 3) and hoping that high school will be more bearable for her at the least.

One year ago at TTaT: Rocks, The Prom: Take Two (part 3)
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24 August 2006

When acronyms go B.A.D.

Or maybe it's bad in a pre-creepy Michael Jackson at his apex sort of way. In any case, Happy Blog Appreciation Day everybody!

One year ago at TTaT: The Prom: Take Two (part 2)
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23 August 2006

With Pride

A talented filmmaker whose work, ambitions, and vision I deeply respect, Brandon Wilson is a friend whose intellectual discourse I always enjoy.

His first feature film The Man Who Couldn't is having its New York premiere this Saturday, and I'm so proud of him.
Voyager Film Company invites you to the New York premiere of
The Man Who Couldn't
Saturday, August 26, 2006 @ 3:30pm
The Anthology Film Archives in the Maya Deren Theatre
Lower Manhattan
32 Second Avenue (where 2nd St. and 2nd Ave. meet)
Admission: $9

Filmmakers Brandon Wilson & Jena English Wilson will introduce the screening
Earlier this week, he gave an engaging interview at 3 Black Chicks. I would love to be as articulate as he is off the cuff some day.

Go see his film and tell him I sent ya.

If you can't make the screening this weekend, it's playing again in NYC on 9/9/06 at 7:00pm at The Interborough Repertory Theatre - 154 Christopher St. #3B - (212) 206-6875.

If you live elsewhere, check The Man Who Couldn't site for upcoming screenings and DVD release information.

One year ago at TTaT: The Prom: Take Two (part 1)
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22 August 2006

Non sequiturs

I was on my way to the kitchen when Mom stopped me with, "Claire."

"Vitamins," I replied, looking at her. "Or I could just call you, 'Mom.'" She looked at me blankly, as usual missing my small joke or finding no humor in it, so I explained, "That's what I forgot I need earlier. I'm just saying it out loud because I keep forgetting it."

"Speaking of saxophone reeds at Walmart," she began--I'd pointed them out over four hours before, "you have a saxophone, right?"

"Yeah." If that was her attempt at a segue, I wasn't getting the new thread.

A section of newspaper was dangling from her hand over the edge of the recliner. "Did you want me to look at that?" I walked over, picked it up and started reading about the Share the Joy of Music Campaign.
Donate musical instruments to help New Orleans musicians recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. When you donate musical instruments, SOYJOY will work with the nonprofit Steven Spring Foundation to ship these contributions to New Orleans and put them in the hands of local musicians, students and children. Feel free to personalize your gift by including a photo, note or story about the donated item. Who knows? You may be responsible for inspiring the next great jazz artist.

Check it out at /www.stevenspringfoundation.org and www.SOYJOY.com.
When I finished reading, Mom looked at me expectantly and asked, "What do you think?"

Over the years, I'd considered selling my sax or donating it to my high school (where it spent a lot of time because I had a knack for sight-reading and rarely took it home to practice), but I never got around to it. "Yeah," I nodded, "Sure."

When I was in stage band, my band teacher used to tell me that all I needed was to be in the back of some smoky bar with a whiskey and I'd be great. Out of context, that sounds so wrong, but it was just his way of addressing the stage fright which filtered into my playing. I never had much tolerance for smoke, and I don't care for whiskey, but maybe my sax will have a chance to get there now.

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- Bug Me Not
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21 August 2006

Blogger backup tips

I find myself typing this out in comments often enough lately that it feels post-worthy. Here are some simple ways to back up your Blogger layout and entries.

1. Copy and paste your template into a text file, and save it on your hard drive somewhere. That will preserve your layout, sidebar, header and such so you won't have to start from scratch if it disappears for some unknown reason.

When you change your template (add links, change colors, whatever), save another copy of your template.

If you need to use your backup, just copy your backup file and paste it into Blogger's template field.

2. Use Blogger's dashboard to save copies of your posts automatically.
Go to Settings
Select the Email tab
Enter a BlogSend Address (i.e., your email address)

Blogger will automatically send a copy of your entry to that address each time you post. It's just text, but it's better than nothing. I use an extra email address just for this to keep life simple.

Please note: this will only back up posts published after you set up your BlogSend address, i.e., new posts.

3. Save your monthly archives each month as html files.
E.g., open the page for July 2006 from your blog's archive.
Go to the File menu of your web browser
Select 'Save as...' or 'Save page as...'
Name the file,
Select a destination for it on your hard drive,
And save it.

This should preserve a copy of the month's entries on your blog as it looked (including graphics) when you saved it. If you archive weekly, then just follow the same steps each week.

Alternatively (or in addition to #3 depending on your needs), you could:
4. Save your monthly archives each month as text files.
E.g., open the page for July 2006 from your blog's archive.
Select and copy all of the entries on the page
Open the word processing software of your choice
Paste the selection into a new document
Go to the File menu of your word processor
Select 'Save as...'
Name the file,
Select a destination for it on your hard drive,
And save it.

One year ago at TTaT: Hamlet was my undoing
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18 August 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 2

(Day 1)

18/viii/04: Winnemucca, NV to Nephi, UT
435 miles/700 km

I had heard of Winnemucca before arriving there. Though the Tales of the City series made it out to be a town of whorehouses, it felt more like a smaller scale Reno: casinos, neon lights, spectacle; in the morning light, just a desert town with big signs. Leaning out of my car window, I took a few shots of the Scott Shady and then got back on I-80.
storm skywet roadThe long, open expanses provide a rare opportunity to accurately foretell the weather. A sunny stretch of road gives way to a wall of hazy grey: rain. At a rest area near Pequop Summit (elev. 6967 ft.), I stopped to take a few storm cloud shots. The rain had mostly stopped, but my right knee stiffened up in the cold, a reminder of past injury.

I drove past West Wendover, NV thinking I would stop on the other side of the mountain in Wendover, UT to fill up my tank. Once I was there, however, the Utah exit looked like it backtracked a significant distance before getting to anywhere that might have gas, so I kept driving thinking I would stop at the next exit. FYI, there are no gas stations for the next 109 miles.

Utah highwayIn Utah, I switched to Mountain Time although the land was very flat. Behind me, clouds blanketed the sky and sat on Nevada mountains. There seemed to be a lot of lakes, but it was probably just flooded bits from the passing storm. A couple minutes into a catchy rock tune on the radio, I caught the word "kingdom" in the chorus and cursed myself for falling prey to another Christian rock station; they always managed to have the strongest reception.

Big, orange signs warned drivers repeatedly to pull off the road if they were tired. Snow covered the land on both sides of the road. Then I remembered it was August, so it must be salt. Salt flats. It was white like freshly fallen snow in places and darker like beach sand with debris in others.

Like the other times I'd driven cross-country to move, I felt like part of a loose convoy: jeeps, SUVs, a Miata towing a uHaul thing, all full of personal detritus. Another orange sign admonished me to stop, so I did at the next rest area since all the regular exits boasted "No services." I needed to chow down on some snacks and stretch my legs. As I walked to the restrooms, I noticed a guy sitting on top of a picnic table. He wore a white shirt, tie, slacks, and was smoking. I wondered if he was a Mormon.

Utah roadsideA short trail lead away from the rest stop to the top of a small rocky hill with views of undeveloped land for miles. I hiked up, took some shots, and then got back to the road.

The orange signs kept appearing, a mockery of my increasing tiredness, as the last thing I wanted was to run out of gas by stopping and starting repeatedly when there was no gas to be had. The low fuel light came on, but if my miles per gallon calculations were right, I'd just be able to make it into Salt Lake City.

The city's namesake, the Great Salt Lake, was hard to see since it was about level with the road. At first it just seemed like a mirage, but then I noticed the base of a distant mountain range reflected in it.

At 4:38 PM, I coasted into Tooele, home of the first gas station to appear in 109 miles. Ok, technically, it was the second. The gas prices at the small, dilapidated station in nearby Delle were so high ($2.09/gallon, ha!), I decided to push my luck a bit further. The truck stop in Tooele was huge: rows upon rows of pumps, a restaurant and mini-mart: salvation.

Then I read the sign on the pump that said they were out of unleaded gas. I almost panicked, but when I finished reading the notice I realized they were offering premium at the regular price ($1.81/gal!). With much relief, I filled my tank and then went inside the Country Market Restaurant and Buffet for dinner.

After so long with no or sketchy services, I was surprised to see a phone and internet hookup at my booth. However, later when I was leaving, a voice over the intercom announced, "Shower 749 is open." You don't get much more truck stop than that. The food was passable, but what I remember most was my "Right on" waitress. She was young and friendly and no matter how I responded to the usual travel banter, she said, "Right on." Though it might seem like a canned answer, her usage was quite expressive and varied, and it made me smile.

SLC eagleRejuvenated, I drove the 50 minutes into downtown Salt Lake City and stopped to look around.Tabernacle

"...beautiful but strange," Robert had written to me on a postcard once a couple of years earlier: it was true. Most everyone was wearing business casual black with white or colored shirts. Despite some shirt color variety, it looked like everyone was wearing the same label; except for the tourists and the brides. Temple Square is the place for wedding photos apparently. I snapped a quick shot of a photographer and bride in a flower garden, and then another of a bride and groom walking away from the Tabernacle. Those are the types of moments that make me wish I had a longer lens.
Church of Latter Day Saints Conference Center
After a few more shots of the Tabernacle, I walked over to a very cool looking building which turned out to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Conference Center.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Climbing the exterior stairs to the top is well worth it for the city views it affords.
Salt Lake City, UT
It started sprinkling, so I headed back to my car as 3 Segway riders wearing helmets passed by. A rainbow arched across the sky as I drove out of the city and into a severe thunderstorm.

Construction narrowed the South-bound highway to one lane and the car behind me was riding up my ass so much, I was driving much, much faster than I cared to in the heavy rain. Except for the minimal illumination coming from headlights, everything was black until thick bolts of lightning would briefly illuminate the surrounding terrain. The thunder was so loud and immediate, it felt like the lightning strikes were falling right next to me. There wasn't much I could do except get past it; the storm was moving in the opposite direction from me and the town at which I intended to stop for the night wasn't much further.

The rain finally let up and I pulled into Nephi. After a quick referral to my AAA guide book and a visual survey of the actual motel, I got a room at Roberta's Cove Motor Inn. It's a fairly standard looking motel, but I liked the name; it was pretty nice actually. I dumped my luggage on the second bed and saw myself in the mirror: pleasantly bedraggled.

There was a Subway across the street, so I walked over to get a late supper. I checked the hours on the door; they were open until 10 and it was only 9:45; I'd just made it. It was all dark inside though, and there was a guy standing out front who looked like he was waiting for a ride; someone had decided to close up early. I walked back to the motel and grabbed my bag of snacks from the car. The staples included: water, saltines, pretzels, Trader Joe's chocolatey cat cookies for people, and Keebler's fudge-striped cookies.

The summer Olympics coincided with my trip, so I watched the competitions every night. Though I'm not a big fan of gymnastics, I really got a kick out of the way the US women's team would yell encouragement during their teammates' parallel bars routines. It was loud: "C'mon _____! You can do it! You got it! Stick it!!!" This ain't no tennis match, they were in it together.


One year ago at TTaT: Furry thing
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17 August 2006


Yesterday my mom asked me about my plans in relation to a storage unit we're sharing, and in that moment it was just so clear to me that I have none. When you approach life in a day-to-day fashion, thinking ahead becomes so foreign. 5 years from now is as hard to predict as five weeks from now.

It was never something I was much good at; setting life goals beyond college just wasn't something I did. Wanting a master's degree was as far as it went, so completing my MFA was perfect since it's a terminal degree*. I sort of morbidly didn't expect to be around still this many years later.

So what next? What effort will I be willing to commit myself to? I have no idea. I'm both envious and annoyed by people with a sense of a life's mission for themselves or pursuits they care enough about to endure the frustrating along the way.

*There's no degree higher than it for that field of study.
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National Geographic at the iTMS

Cool. National Geographic has free podcasts and videos at the iTunes Music Store. I'm listening to one of their "50 Walks of a Lifetime" that takes you through San Francisco, right by my old 'hood.

One year ago at TTaT: Just ten more minutes
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16 August 2006

Making proverbs more appealing

SAT fortune
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Beijing by way of catering

The photos here don't do it justice, but it was very cool. The outline of the exhibit is somewhat irregular as it's a representation of Beijing, but it covers at least 12 x 15 feet of floor space.

At the foot of the exhibit, he had photos of different iconic structures in Beijing to help you could pick them out from the stainless steel city. I want to build one now, but I'd have to knock over several catering trucks to get enough pieces together.

One year ago at TTaT: Advanced sleep
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12 August 2006

One book

(From Kevin)

One Book:

1. One book that changed my life: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. My reasoning is similar to Kevin's if later in practice. I never read much for pleasure as a kid. My mom suggested this book when I was looking for something to read on a plane when I was in or just out of college. I got hooked on reading- it's still my favorite mystery series.

2. One book that I have read more than once: Just one? Most recently, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

3. One book I would want on a deserted island: Maybe Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I enjoyed it the first time around, and I know it would take me a while to get through.

4. One book that made me laugh: Most any of the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters.

5. One book that made me cry: There must be at least one but none are coming to mind. There are books I found upsetting (like Blindness by Jose Saramago), but I'm not likely to pick grief-inducing stories generally. I'll go with Hamlet by Shakespeare.

6. One book I wish I'd written: either Yoga for People Who Can't be Bothered to Do it or Out of sheer rage: wrestling with DH Lawrence by Geoff Dyer. If I'd written either, it'd also mean I was rather well traveled.

7. One book I wish had never been written: Billy Budd by Melville came to mind first because I hated it so much, but I think Kevin was onto something when he said Dianetics. Of course, in the ultimate act of blasphemy, I would wipe out all religious texts (I'm sure some are fine, but I'd want to be fair). I think too many people rely on/use them to excuse their own rigidity and intolerance.

8. One book I am currently reading: The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer and The Great Book of Archaeology

9. One book I have been meaning to read: I've been wanting to reread Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman because the artists' comments on other people's works made me feel better about my own artistic struggles and it's a really fascinating read.

10. One book I think everyone should read: This crossed my mind when I read it, so I'll go with: Exterminate all the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist, translated from the Swedish by Joan Tate. It should be an accompaniment to Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Steal if you like!

One year ago at TTaT: mogh*go's
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10 August 2006

When the photos precede the text

I'm remembering why I don't tend to post photos that often on my blog. My brain approaches the visual and textual from largely non-intersecting directions. Reliving my trip through my scrawled notes, photos, and memory is proving more challenging than I'd anticipated. It's coming, it just may take a while as I want to do it justice.

In the meantime, I've uploaded photos from day 2 to flickr which you can check out here (with any luck). I don't use flickr that much so this is my first stab at making my road trip into a set.

Enjoy the sneak peak.

One year ago at TTaT: Denim's old age, De La Worf
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09 August 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 1

17/viii/04: San Francisco, CA to Winnemucca, NV
402 miles/647 km

CA roadWhen I'm traveling alone, I love the luxury of not having to plan ahead. Sure, I have a sense of where I'm going to stop each night -- although I don't make any reservations -- but along the way, anything that catches my eye is mine to pursue.

Since it took me a while to find the proper moleskine volume for this trip, I'll indulge in some quotes from my notes on the day: they will be in italics.

Pine treeCouple bad shots off road - short of vista point - doh. off 80 E in CA

lunch in Reno after 2. Drove through on 4th. Directions from turbaned guy owner liquor mart.

Nevada - stretches of newly paved road, driving through mountains - evergreens, dry grasses, lakes then flat w/ mountains distant both sides, marshy & deserty. Untamed except road, power lines, occasional trailers, 1 prison - great views

Big sky country
Nevada - Big sky country. Mountains rising up from sand.

cloud shadow mottled mountains

actual sun rays Bierstadt
wasn't imagining them
light is already softer

My road atlas had ghost towns marked on it, so I picked one not too far from the highway to explore. Instead I found an active mining operation.

6:33 Winnemucca now. Even a patch of spitting rain "Fog may be icy"
Started roll of 200 w/shot of my "Santa Clara" bungalow at the Scott Shady Motorcourt

Scott Shady MotorcourtSanta Clara bungalow
7:38 PM Eating at Las Margaritas. Woman at motel said it was good. Back in the world of smoking or non. Toddler boy in booth behind is giving me flashbacks of the spitter. He hasn't though he's been looking at me through a trellis - I'm just paranoid.

10:36 PM The Scott Shady has Vegas style 50's neon signs that rock. I'll have to take a pic tomorrow though won't be as good unlit. Too hard to dig out tripod and 200 in camera now. Winn. has that Reno/Vegas feel- like Reno small scale of Vegas, casinos, lights, spectacles.


One year ago at TTaT: Unimpressed
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08 August 2006

How many posts does it take to start a road trip?

I never would've guessed 6. I swear photos from the actual trip are forthcoming. How much I'll be able to decipher and make of my 2 year old notes, however, remains to be seen.


The Last Day is just the Beginning (part 2)

Part 1

(More background available here: Trip Prep; The Screws of The Man: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

stuffThe temporary No Parking signs worked their mojo, so I had a half a block all to myself the day I was leaving San Francisco. The gutters by the curb were filled with refuse since no one ever moved their cars on street cleaning days. A partially eaten plum spattered with mold continued to rot next to my tire. I dropped a plastic bag next to it while I was loading my car and got thoroughly grossed out. I tossed the contents into another grocery bag before shoving it behind the passenger seat in my car.

Mrs. G came up behind me and said, "Hello."


She continued talking, but I couldn't make it out, so I said, "Excuse me?" while trying to decipher her thick accent. After a couple of tries, I realized I was never going to understand the words because they were in Chinese. She gestured to the studio. I followed her in and started guessing: "Elroy's going to take care of the rent." "Is the radio too loud?" "Do you want me to turn it off?" The queries were only to myself really because she was still talking and gesturing at stuff in the studio.

Her English was more limited than I'd ever supposed. Her vocabulary might well be summed up with "hello," "rent," and possibly "late," but now that I think about it, she usually conveyed "late" by holding up fingers to indicate how many days the rent was past due. In those cases I always already knew what she wanted, so it wasn't a problem.

She grabbed my arm and pulled me into the back alley, pointing to the long pieces of wood propped in a corner and a sink that had been too heavy to move when I'd taken over 700 pounds of junk and trash from the studio to the dump. I got it. I nodded and said, "I'll make sure Elroy knows everything has to go when he leaves."

As we walked back into the studio, I stressed, "Not all of it today." She pointed at the stove, the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, and then the bathtub/shower rig in the next room. "Ok," I nodded, "but not today."

She smiled and nodded and gave me a gentle squeeze on my upper arm as a goodbye.

I finished packing my car, locked the studio, tossed my key through the mail slot, and started driving...

(Join me on the road.)

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- tennis anyone?, Assorted
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07 August 2006

The Last Day is just the Beginning (part 1)

(Not a direct sequel, but a continuation of the 2004 travel saga begun here: Trip Prep; The Screws of The Man: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

14 months.

14 months living in a store front in San Francisco only to confirm my first impression: a cool place to visit, but not somewhere I wanted to live. Normally, I would've trusted my gut, but a couple of SF buds hooked me up with a live/work situation through a friend of theirs. I had recently had an apartment fall through in LA the day after I'd been given the keys, so a place to live where I could bypass the usual applications and lease agreements was tremendously appealing at that time. When my car got totaled the day before I was supposed to move to SF, and one of the other drivers commented, "Maybe someone's trying to tell you something," with an upward glance, I just shrugged and said, "Maybe," to be polite. Ill omen or not, I was moving to San Francisco because it was the convenient thing to do at the time.

Studio 2A month later, my 14 months at the studio began. It was a store front really, with a big front window street level, French doors with long vertical glass windows, an uneven linoleum floor, high ceilings, a couple of back rooms with no doors, a tiny half-bath, and a long, narrow side room with a series of rectangular openings to the main room that would be my bedroom.

Elroy was renting it at the time to use as his art studio, a playpen really for an energetic guy making good money at an art gallery. To get more use of it, he agreed to let me live there in exchange for work on his various extracurricular projects. The first thing I did for Elroy was shoot and direct his video entry submission for The Apprentice. Believe me when I say I'm sorry he didn't make it on; we had a good bonus schedule worked out for each level he attained.

Studio 1The studio is easily the strangest place I've ever lived though I was not the first to call it home, I was the third. The first guy to live there converted one back room into a kitchen and set up the other with storage shelves and a bathtub and shower rig that drained into the kitchen sink. My bedroom was 6'2" wide and 16'6" long, but most of the length of it was under the slope of stairs that led to the upper floors from outside. The whole time I was there, I slept on Elroy's queen sized air mattress which basically covered the span from wall to wall.

Even though other people had lived there before, the studio wasn't meant to be residential. Elroy told me that if the landlord ever happened by and asked about my bedroom that I should just say the room was for breaks if we were working late. He assured me that Gary knew people had lived there, they just had an unspoken agreement to never mention it to keep everyone out of trouble.

Gary worked across town somewhere so he wasn't really an issue, but his ancient mother lived above me. The rent checks I coaxed out of Elroy each month were made out to her. Being entirely unofficial, I was always anxious those months when wrinkled Mrs. G would knock on my door because Elroy had been too busy to drop off a check on time or during that especially unpleasant period when he withheld the rent in order to renegotiate his lease to a lower rate. (I'm still amazed that worked- I most certainly would get kicked out if I tried such a stunt.) Mrs. G would raise her eyebrows, put out her hand, and speak expectantly in her thick Chinese accent. That she wanted the rent was always clear. I would apologize, tell her I was trying to reach Elroy, emphasize "Soon" or "Today," and abundantly nod my understanding until she would leave.

It wasn't until the day I left that I realized just how little English she spoke...


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I'm in the mood to throw stuff out. Clothes I'm keeping for no good reason come directly to mind (of course, I'll donate anything still in good shape). The desire to do this feels good, a by-product of an ill mood dispelled, a readiness to dispense with stuff I don't need or that doesn't suit me anymore.

And here's a treat for you: Ani DiFranco songs on The Hype Machine. Click "listen" et voila, a variety of tracks in full! It's an audioblog aggregator so if you're not into Ani, there's probably tracks of another artist you like available for the listening. Enjoy!

One year ago at TTaT: No justice, 3 waggers
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05 August 2006

The Screws of The Man (Part 3)

(2004 travel saga continued: prelude: Trip Prep; The Screws of The Man: Part 1, Part 2)

From the moment I found out there was actually a fee for a temporary No Parking sign permit, I knew that I'd hand over fifty bucks without blinking an eye. $112.75, on the other hand, was worth serious consideration: that's a good chunk of a day's travel expenses. I could stay in truly divey motels for 5 days to recoup, but five days? Not really what I had in mind. Besides, that might increase the odds of my car getting broken into while I travel.

I felt certain that if I committed to getting the permit, I would subsequently find a great spot on my block. A street cleaning ticket is only $35 after all. However ultimately, since I plan to load up and then leave, having a space directly in front of the studio is integral to a smooth start. I would pay the damn fine, I mean fee.

I called the station and got Officer McIntire again. He seemed to remember me. Since I didn't have access to a fax machine, I said I could stop by the station. I had to feed my friend Chala's fish anyway and the station is about halfway en route. He noted the time and asked how long it would take me to get there since it was the end of the day.

"Ten minutes."

"Ok, I'll wait for you."

"Or I can come tomorrow if that's easier."

"No, that's all right. If you can be here in ten minutes, I'll wait," he said.

I grabbed my checkbook and hoofed down the street. I knew I could make it just walking, but I ran a downhill block just to be safe.

When I walked into the station, I saw a woman and her daughter waiting by the window. It reminded me of the last time I'd been there, when my car had been broken into and I had to wait a long time before someone came up to the window. There was only one officer towards the back of the room and he was on the phone. I wondered how long they'd been waiting and checked my watch.

Another officer came up, opening the door to the little lobby. After explaining I wasn't with the others, I told him I was there to see Officer McIntire. The mother asked if her daughter could use the restroom since she was desperate, so he led the girl back and went to get my cop.

"We just got burglarized. I feel so violated," the mom said to me.

"Yeah, the last time I was here was because my car had been broken into." I didn't think to ask if they'd been mugged or what exactly, though it occurs to me now it'd be good to know what's going on in my neighborhood even if I am leaving soon. In fact, I acted just like most everyone did when I said my car had been broken into: preoccupied with my own errand, I responded with my victimization and little sympathy, just a commiseration that the police wouldn't be able to do much, if anything.

The door opened again, this time for me. Officer McIntire introduced himself and his 10 year old daughter, Caroline. His handshake was a notch or two below bone-crushing so I responded in kind as my best defense. As we walked back, he gave me the fifty cent tour pointing out the main office, the holding cell where they detain bad guys (there was one in there! I should've paid more attention to what he looked like), and other features of the station. What struck me most were the benches along the wall; for each bench, 4 handcuffs hung from a bar bolted to the wall above them. Otherwise, the main office just had a table surrounded by maroon vinyl chairs and some desks. His office was beyond that.

He and Caroline sat down, but then he asked her to get up so I could sit, so she moved to the chair beyond him. It was more of an alcove than an office since there was no door, but it was away from the main rooms with a hall separating it. Two desks sat across from each other, but the other occupant was out.

He started filling out the paperwork and telling me about his life. He's a widower which is why his daughter was with him at work. He has three kids: 10, 12, and 13; two boys, one girl. He showed me a recent photo on his desk located under a clear protective sheet with several others. Caroline retrieved the logbook and signs and started helping him with his old computer. When I told him I was moving to Massachusetts, he launched into tales of his wife who was from Attleboro, pushing aside papers to show me more pictures of people in areas of MA of which I was largely unfamiliar. I sputtered the occasional comment and nodded politely; he was gregarious and didn't mind that I was quiet.

The signs would have to go up Saturday. "If I print them out now, could you take them?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied somewhat half-heartedly as I considered having to lug them on to Chala's and then back, or going home first and then going to feed the fish.

"Are there trees or poles around you can hang them from?"

"Yeah, there's a couple poles."

"If you can put them up, then that'll save me coming in on Saturday."

Knowing how much of a drag I'd consider that if it'd been me, I said, "Sure."

His computer wasn't responding. I waited patiently, unfazed, because it reminded me of the computer I'll return to once I get it out of storage, how slow and finicky it was, and how much more so it will be if it even still works.

"After you got here so fast, I can't believe how long this is taking."

"That's ok," I assured him; and it was as I was glad to be taking care of it once and for all.

"You know, because you're from Massachusetts, I'm not gonna charge you. You just have to hang the signs."

My relaxed attitude had left me present enough that there was no question about what he'd just said. "You totally rock," spilled out of my mouth in an unexpected wave of elation.

"What's that?"

"I said, 'You rock.'" It felt like an awkward age displacement within myself when repeated. Still, my very nice officer turned out to be a VERY nice officer. Inward leaps of joy; I started paying more attention to his tales and committed his daughter's name to memory the next time he said it.

He told me how he'd gotten a speeding ticket in MA years ago, and not thinking he'd ever marry someone from the state, he didn't pay it because the state trooper who'd issued it had been a real jerk. Years later it caught up with him-- even though he had eventually paid it-- as his license was suspended. Apparently when MA switched over to a new computer system, they'd added a $10 "administration fee" to tickets to help recoup the cost: this he hadn't paid. When he called, he got the person who'd suspended his license. She took it off for him. This was his example of humanity within bureaucracy.

The printer jammed. He pulled out a crumpled sheet and I laughed; no amount of waiting could diffuse my happiness. More stories followed, he offered me water, producing a bottle from a white mini-fridge behind him that I hadn't noticed because it was covered with a fax machine and printer. A post-it kept losing its stick on the hutch above his desk, so he finally set it down.

When we were finally done, the two of them walked me out. I had 4 signs rubberbanded together, with strings through their holes-- he'd made sure Caroline picked out signs with strings attached for me-- and an envelope with "Ms. TTaT" written on it, containing my copy of the

I thanked him again, and he said he'd remembered that I was hesitant to pay the fee when we spoke on the phone.

"Yeah, it was really tough for me to decide to pay it."

"Well," he smiled, "now you can have a really nice dinner when you get to Massachusetts."

"Thanks again." I ambled home, clutching the signs against the wind, hoping the guitar for his son's birthday-- he was turning 14 on Saturday-- would be ready for them to pick up on the way home.


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04 August 2006

The Screws of the Man (part 2)

(2004 travel saga continued: prelude, Trip Prep; The Screws of The Man: Part 1)

The next two days I agonized over the efficacy of every possible alternative to paying $112.75 for a temporary No Parking sign permit. If not for the damn cable cars, it'd be more doable, but I live by an intersection with 3 lines running. I could:

Double-park and load as much as possible before having to lock the studio and drive around the block to get out of the way of cable cars every 10-20 minutes. Or double-park and load up between 1:30 AM and 6 AM when the cable cars do not run. Once done, I'd still need to find a parking space (which could easily take hours), so I could go back to sleep until a reasonable hour so I can be functional when I drive. Not having renter's insurance, I'd just have to hope my car wouldn't get broken into again before I left. Why they don't offer coverage I could tack onto my auto insurance, I'll never understand.

Park in the driveway across the street, if it's not already blocked (which it typically is) and haul stuff across while dodging cars and cable cars, particularly the one that swings around the corner without stopping, and hope none of the myriad tourists and pedestrians decide to walk off with a souvenir while I'm getting the next load from the studio.

Park on the sidewalk in front of the studio, assuming the way in is not blocked already by someone parked in front of the fire hydrant, and then hope not to get ticketed for doing so.

Park in front of the fire hydrant on the corner (if someone else hasn't already) and try to get all the tourists standing in the street waiting for a cable car to move out of the way, all the while hoping not to get ticketed.

Spend days driving around the block looking for a legit space, knowing that if I actually find one on my block, I then risk getting ticketed because of street cleaning if I find the space before the day I'm leaving.

Try to swoop in apres street cleaning for a spot: this is useless though because no one actually moves their vehicles; they all risk getting ticketed instead.

Enlist help to keep an eye on my stuff while my car is parked further away, and I haul stuff, except that everybody I know works or has class the day I want to leave.

Or finally, I could park in the Public Utilities Commission zone in the next block over and haul stuff while risking a ticket. Most of those spots are less than ideal, however -- as are many legit ones nearby -- because they involve walking steeply uphill.

What then, is the monetary value of the possible hassles I may have to endure, and how much satisfaction will I derive from depriving The Man once I'm actually trying to load my car?


One mighty prolific day a year ago at TTaT: It's never to late to call your blog (#9), Audioblog #10, Pants on Fire, Anytime after six, Victoire! Victoire!
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03 August 2006

Obsessive week

Life's been all headspace of late. The humidity is not helping; my concentration is shot. To combat the depressive musings, I've inundated myself with bits of vids, corresponding interviews, and the like. YouTube is quite the time-suck in that regard. It's feeling a bit obsessive at this point, but it has helped redirect my thoughts.

I'm tremendously amused by the way people pull out their favorite storylines or bits from larger pieces. A show with an ensemble cast can be reduced to the arc of one or two characters, or one of those awful "music videos" highlighting some couple's relationship. Still, YouTube is tough to beat if you want to see clips of other stuff actors you like have done.

Anyway, just as what other people post and how they edit it reveals things about them, I'm considering what my own stream of obsessive behavior is indicating about what I want. A desire for change is certainly present; whether I'm able to follow through with it and to what end remains to be seen.

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02 August 2006

The Screws of the Man (part 1)

(A continuation of the 2004 travel saga begun in Trip Prep, though not a direct sequel to it.)

I almost said, "You've got to be kidding," but I could tell that the very nice officer really wasn't. A permit for a temporary No Parking sign would cost me $112.75.

Without it, the chances I would find a parking spot in front of my flat the day I was moving were exceptionally slim. It was foolish of me, but I hadn't even considered that there'd be a fee for this. I'd been prepared to lie about having a moving truck if that was a technicality required, but now I didn't know what to say.

I would think $50 would be enough to dissuade people from making this request with any frequency, but since this is San Francisco, any opportunity to gouge its citizens with cars must be taken.

Officer McIntire told me some people balk at the price. "Really?" I replied, keeping my sarcastic "Imagine that" to myself; I understood he has nothing to do with setting the price for it. It's just his job to coordinate with the Department of Parking and Transportation, the very essence of The Man.

I told him I'd have to think it over...


One year ago at TTaT: line of the day
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01 August 2006

Helvetica is not my font

I like the look of Helvetica, but damn if it doesn't print small. I'm used to the 12 pt. of Courier. So why am I not using Courier? I don't know... I just left my plain text program how it was set.

I'm working on the next section of the travelogue saga, two pieces that need to integrated and probably broken up again; when pieces have overlap, I usually find it easier to edit from paper. Unfortunately, round 1 printed at 10 pt., which I could read, there's just not enough room for notes. I should've gone up to 14 pt. for the second run, but the 12 looked fine onscreen.

It's just making me feel old. I suppose I should thank the gods I've gone this long without glasses considering how much optical wear appears in all the photos from both sides of the family.

Bah. I'm just all in my head lately.

One year ago at TTaT: What's on now
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