Tuesday, December 30

camera happy

It's been a busy couple of days up in wis-CON-sin. Yesterday, Rebecca and I went over to her paternal grandparents' house, Frex and Arla. I spent the day in the woodshop with Frex building a cabinet, and the women did who-knows-what in the house. It was a great time getting my hands on something, I made my own cabinet for our little office/study in Chicago, and I got to have a little male bonding time. The videos speak for themselves:




One time for posterity:



And the finished cabinet:



I think it turned out really well. Unfortunately, we made the measurements up as we went a little bit, and the thing won't fit in Rebecca's car. So, we'll leave it at the G'parents' house until the end of January, when they'll bring it down to Illinois. Then I'll paint it...


Today, we visited Rebecca's maternal Grandmother, Abbie. She lives in Iowa, which is right over the border from LaCrosse. She's a funny lady. Irish.




Also, at Christmas, Rebecca's mom gave me a set of magnetic shapes that you can stick together and make different creations with. A good gift for the Lego-minded not-yet-adult. I, of course, put my creations to the most practical use:





Barry and Lori have agreed to adopt "The Cloud," which is what we've renamed Carly the lucky as hell cat. The short sob story is that her death march was interrupted by Rebecca, and we've been trying to find a home for her. She's a good cat, but she has some issues. She seems to like the laser pointer though:



And finally, after all the holiday binging, Abra is cleaning up her diet, getting back on track:



Broccoli.

Saturday, December 27

slowly downward

I'm excited today, because we went to an art store and bought some supplies. It's been a while since I've painted anything. When we get back to Chicago, I am going to make a conscious effort to nourish my creative side, see what comes.

I've been recently re-inspired (respired?) by Stanley Donwood's art. (see below)

He seems to have a unique access to the places I like to go, and that's all the more motivation for me to make my own effort.







Mister Donwood is actually indirectly responsible for the title of this blog. His site, Slowly Downward is a mangling of his name. In the same way, Jeremy Cornish becomes Gently Cornered. My favorite rapper, Sage Francis, did the same sort of thing to name his record company, Strange Famous.



I also picked up supplies to make a few linoleum prints (inspired by the image above). We recently discovered Chicago's Printmaker's Collaboration. This is a local collective of talented folks, who teach classes and sell artwork. I would like to take some classes from them, but since I already know how to make linoleum prints from high school art class, I may just start there on my own.

I always think I'm going to have so much free time.

Wednesday, December 24

holy days

la crosse

I was on the fence last night whether to leave or not. The thought of staying in last night with a cup of Rooibos Tea, and leaving early in the morning was quite appealing. Then Rebecca came home from work and told me she got the weather report. The roads were great, but would freeze by 2 am. So we got the hell out of Chicago as fast as possible!

We took her car, and learned more about it. Some fun facts:

1. The heat doesn't work.

2. The wipers need very much to be replaced.

3. She bought windshield fluid in California (only good for +32 degrees) and it froze in her lines. (my favorite)

So, needless to say, the drive got a little hairy a few times, but we made it safely into LaCrosse at 1:30 am.

I harass her that we should've taken my car, but it really doesn't matter. I'm happy to be on vacation here, and glad we made it safely.

By the way, the car is buried in snow already. It's really coming down.

Sunday, December 21

negative two

Yep. It's cold in Chicago. There is also a lot of snow. I am not allowed to complain about the weather, since I willingly moved here from San Diego. What I can complain about, though, is the city's lack of maintenance of the streets!

Apparently this year is the first year that the mayor has decided not to plow the side streets (the ones everyone lives and parks on) in an effort to save money. Great. Parking is a nightmare. I encourage myself to stay home whenever possible.

As I type this, we are sitting in Whole Foods. Rebecca's work Christmas party is tonight, so we were obligated to actually leave the house. This was quite a process involving de-icing the car, shoveling some of the (iced over) snow that it's buried in with a dustpan (just bought a shovel!) and laying the floormats in front of the wheels to get the thing out of the snow. One day I'll send pictures. Street parking in a winter city is a nightmare. I had no idea.

On the bright side, the kindness of strangers has been shining through. Yesterday, we tried to move a desk we found at salvation army. The thing turned out to be a behemoth. We were trying/attempting/struggling to walk it up our front stairs when a kind stranger offered help. I was pushing Rebecca's car out of the snowy depths of its parking spot an hour ago when a guy got out of his car and gave an extra shove with me. That was all it took.

I am inspired to be a kind stranger.
(If I ever leave the house...)

Sunday, December 14

squirrels



My favorite part is when the little visitor turns to leave and Chuck scratches the glass like, "hey get back here." And it comes back.

Later on we opened the window, and they touched noses through the screen. Apparently the squirrel wasn't ready for that level of intimacy..

Saturday, December 6

thanksgiving

We went for a nice little hike on Thanksgiving. We drive past a little patch of woods every week, and have always wanted to explore there. When we finally did, it turned out to be an enchanted land of mystical creatures!!




Tuesday, November 25

sunday sky

Make sure you get out on Sunday evening and look at the southwest sky. Venus and Jupiter are getting together with the waxing crescent for a secret meeting. Should be pretty cool.

Learn a little more.

Or another article.

If you miss it on Sunday, go out on Monday...

Sunday, November 23

double o seven


Last night we saw Quantum of Solace. A very vague title combining big words that I'm pretty sure don't normally go together, and don't mean much when combined. Despite being unable to understand what the name of the movie means, I enjoyed it.

Daniel Craig's James Bond is definitely my favorite Bond. All the other Bonds are so stiff and clean, so British proper. Daniel Craig's Bond seems to always give the impression that he barely has any idea what is going on, that he's winging it, and hasn't learned how not to muscle through everything. He seems to always be thinking "Dammit!"

I like that.

I thought the movie was entertaining, though not as much as Casino Royale. I couldn't really follow the plot that easily, not sure what was motivating the characters, etc. But that doesn't really matter. You go to a Bond movie expecting some specific things: great fight scenes, pretty girls, fast cars, etc.

This installment delivers all that. I especially like the lack of corny puns. This Bond isn't a witty,intellectual Bond. His actions speak for him. Loudly.

The Bourne Ultimatum had a lot of shaky camera work, where I couldn't really make out all the action. Quantum of Solace dabbled in that a little bit, but not as severely. I hope that's not the direction of the action movies. I like to see what's going on and be able to pick apart the fight scenes.

Speaking of which, Bond's techniques in this latest favored Katate Tori Ichi (Aikido practitioners know it as "KotaGaeshi"). This is definitely a more difficult technique to get when facing a resistant adversary, but Bond used it to disarm a knife attack, and also to take a gun away from a baddie.

This technique can be seen in this clip from the Bourne Ultimatum around the :35 mark. There is a pause in the action, enough time for the bad guy to fancily maneuver out of it. That is such a hard lock to get, but once you've got it, if you know what you're doing, the fight is over.



It's pretty cool, the way you twist the wrist that it becomes very difficult to close the hand in that position, so it's a great technique for disarming someone since they have a hard time holding onto their knife, gun, spatula, etc.

Keep your eye out for this lock in Quantum of Solace.

Another thing I really liked about this movie was the continuity. Every other Bond movie begins with a sense of induced amnesia regarding the past. There are constant characters like M, but never any mention of the past. This movie is more involved in carrying on the story. I don't know if any other Bond movie has made reference to any of the ladies of Bond's past.

This is probably as realistic as a James Bond movie will ever get. (I am, of course, overlooking the parachute scene in the desert, and the scaffold fight...)

Hollywood is making a bunch of crap. This is comparatively a diamond. Go see it.

Monday, November 17

americanos

I recently received a video of what Sundays are like in Chicago without me:




Wish you were here:

last day in greenville

It's been a great little vacation, but it has flown by. The Ju Jutsu convention was just what I needed. I have some new things to practice, to ponder.

First thing this morning, I went out to the lake to do some Qi Gong. Here is a short sample:




I had a close Sasquatch encounter:




I quickly befriended the lonely beast and tamed her with my aura of compassion:




One day it'll look more like this:




In my search for the Qi people, I revisited a holy site where I had once found sanctuary:





But it looks like they had to move. Maybe Greenville isn't ready for a mountain of Qi.

My last full day here was spent primarily with Heather. We went to the school my mother works at to visit her and meet her coworkers. It's a nice place, clean, new, spacious. Those kids are lucky to have a school like that.

Heather and I then headed out to downtown Greenville. I love the downtown. It's so cozy, without being cramped. I had a great time with my sister:




Look at that pretty girl:




And from this angle too:



What can I say? I just got back from three solid days of Ju Jutsu.


Wait?! Did you see those creatures in the water? I hid behind a tree to obtain this footage:




Tomorrow I have to load up my car, and then I'm off to Asheville for some hatchet throwing with a mentor.

I can't even imagine what boredom feels like anymore.

Tuesday, November 11

in case you miss me

I got pretty drowsy a little after talking with you on the phone last night. Went upstairs to "rest my eyes." I made the mistake of not brushing my teeth.

Next thing I knew it was 2 am and I woke up after having had some wild dreams, ideas, and images. I brushed my teeth, finding myself wide awake. I stayed up until 4 or so. Then went to bed. Woke up at 11. I've been sleeping a ton.

I feel good though. Hope you enjoyed the work and are feeling more centered.

With my energy today I shot a couple videos for you, so you don't miss me too much.

The first one you have to tilt your head to watch. Sorry.




Sunday, November 9

sunday

I slept really well last night. Played with the dog this morning. Did Qi Gong by the lake. Gave out a little thai massage to my mom, dad and sister. They like the rock climber a lot. Big pops in the back.

I've put my sister in Hadaka Shime San, Kote Guruma, Katate Tori Ichi-Go, and Tenada Jime. I also successfully disarmed her when she came at me with a spatula. I'm getting excited for the convention.

I told them about the farm in Wisconsin, and how great that would be if it panned out.

It's nice here.

I'm glad I came.

Wednesday, November 5

bonkers

Chicago was bonkers last night.

Rebecca and I went to our favorite coffee shop to watch the election results. There was no one around. (everyone was downtown.) We saw that Obama won, and then went downtown. There was a huge rally down there. People had tickets and there were so many streets closed, cops all over. Obama was there giving his speech. We caught the end of it. "God Bless You All... etc" The air was electric.

It was really warm out last night and there were thousands upon thousands of people in the streets, in the parks, shouting from concrete walls. It was great. So refreshing to be in a place where a ton of people are excited about something, optimistic. I'm still processing it.

I don't really know what it's like to live in a place where the people actually like the government, I am in awe. I guess I am so used to dissent, it's almost uncomfortable to be enthusiastic. I want to be enthusiastic.

Hope. Change. Catchy words. Now he has it, it's up to him to back it up. I'm excited.

There are two things I'm very interested to learn more about, though.

One:


The North American Union is widely known about in alternative media. I find it shocking that he wouldn't even know the name of it. Unless, of course, he was stalling while trying to think of a way to deflect the question. He knows more than he lets on.

Two:


Joe Biden has made similar statements.


Don't let us down Barack.

Monday, November 3

speaking of beards

Something to aspire to:

it's growing on me

I usually have a scruffy face. Sometimes the scruff becomes a beard, and then sometimes it becomes a big beard. That's usually when I trim it down, and start the cycle all over.




I don't just shave. I play games with Rebecca. "Would you still love me if I looked like this?" I ask her as I stick my face out of the bathroom door, with a fu manchu and sideburns. "Yes," she reassures me.




"Would you still love me if I looked like this?" I am wearing a goatee, reminiscent of a bank manager or used car salesman. "Yes," she reassures me.




"Would you still love me if I looked like this?" My facial hair is gone, except for a nice moustache covering my upper lip. Tom Selleck would be jealous. She falters. "I'm not sure about that one." I consult the mirror again. I'm not sure about that one either. There's something so 1980's and so suburban about the moustache that just clashes with my constitution. Some men can do it. I am not one of them.

After showcasing my facial hair creativity, I buzz it all off, and begin again.

Last night I tested Rebecca's devotion with an Abe Lincoln style beard. Something rather Amish looking. Heather calls this style a "Chin Strap." It looks like I should be wearing a helmet. "Would you still love me?" "Yes."



I returned to the bathroom to buzz the fuzz, only to find that my beard trimmer's battery had died. Our apartment is relatively big, but not big enough to lose anything in. Except, of course, for the charger. I tore the place apart, unable to find it.

The beard trimmer lies waiting for renewal, and my new appearance has transformed me from the Jeremy that everyone knew to Jeremiah, a simple man with a Chin Strap.

Despite my new found urges to raise barns, churn butter, and hand carve quality wooden furniture, she does still love me. I suppose I'm lucky for that, and of course, lucky I'm not stuck rocking a molester moustache, alone.

Saturday, November 1

november

November is here. So soon.

Rebecca and I have a faorite coffee shop that's a couple train stops away from our place. We are there now, empty mugs in front of us. The days go by quickly, the weeks slip away.

I'm going to Greenville next weekend. I'll probably get there Saturday night. By the time I get back to Chicago there may be snow on the ground.

I tuck love notes into my sketchbook, whle she eats rice crackers.

Thursday, October 23

i don't want to scare you...

...but what the hell is this??



Keep an ear out at the 3:05-10 mark.

Monday, October 20

hack. cough. spit.

Getting the phlegm out today. Lots of couch time. I do have a minor errand to run, picking up supplies for turkey chili. I'm making it for my eastern nutrition class tomorrow.

Taking some herbs today, and lots of time surfing the net. Maybe a movie later.

Rebecca's at work all day, but there are two cats keeping me company on the couch.





What's Frosti's poster of the day?

Wednesday, October 8

3 haiku for you

1

it's an illusion
we're not as clean as we think
dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt




2

no space of my own
all energies overlap
someone else's field




3

don't let them get wet
don't feed them after midnight
otherwise good pets

Thursday, October 2

ok, here's a game



I'll show you two images, and you have to tell me where they were taken. Your choices are simple: La Crosse, WI or Chicago, Il. To be fair, I will warn you that La Crosse has a nice downtown, and Chicago has some great parks...

Let's play...

1) Here are two shots of Rebecca taking a walk. Which one's which?





2) This one's tough, cause the cats do the same thing no matter what.





3) Squirrels.





4) Here are some street scenes.





5) Now some signs on the street.





Minor differences...
Please submit your guesses to my comments section. Winner gets to come visit...

Monday, September 15

quasimodo action

4704 n troy st.



Look at Rebecca's load that all fit in her Accord. That's quite a pile. However, I must direct your attention to the Hyundai accent.



I played a lot of Tetris as a kid.



And unpacked...wow...



The whole apartment was pretty dusty when we moved in, so I took pictures while Rebecca's OCD fueled her cleaning spree.



(where's waldo?)



Our first piece of furniture, we found at a used furniture store for $8. This chair is a great thing to sit in, read in, or store your cat on.



This little yoga/reading room is the first one to start looking like an actual room. We are in the market for a couple cheap comfy reading chairs, but until then, zen prevails.



The sunny room hasn't really found its special purpose yet, except that the cats lounge all over the window sills. I was thinking about putting some sort of screen/curtain/beads/whatever between the doorways and turning it into a treatment room. That way patients walk in and they're right there without traipsing through your house. We'll see.



The fridge originally opened on the left. Strange. I don't know why you'd want a fridge to open into a hallway when there's a perfectly good kitchen on the right. We kept grabbing at the wrong side on accident, so I flipped the doors around. When I did that, I couldn't get the handles to go back on, so we left them off. Nice and minimal, good feng shui.



The first night in Chicago, we rode the trains down to Broadway, where PCOM is located. We wanted to explore, and that was the only address we really knew. So I got to sample my commute, and we stopped at the Whole Foods that's right over there. When we came out, there was a tea kettle sitting in a little landscape box on the street. No one was around, and it didn't look well loved, so Rebecca rescued it. We disappeared into the night with our treasure. All cleaned up, it looks nice. Inside, though, the surface is peeled. I'm not sure it's safe to drink out of. Maybe I'll post a pic of the inside and someone can give me their expert opinion...



We slept on the floor of the carpeted office for a while until our bed arrived. I picked up a couple used Shiatsu mats, so it wasn't all that bad. The cats liked "camping" on the floor, and Charles/Juji/Worm got to go hunting before bed:

wisconsin


We finally located the missing cable to upload photos, so here goes...

Wisconsin was a blast. Rebecca has a lot of aunts and uncles, and also some grandparents that were all excited to see her/meet me. We stayed with her mom and Barry for the most part, taking daytrips/excursions to hang out with other family members. Barry is a retired economics professor. It was fun for me to talk to him about macroeconomics. He is of a very progressive political persuasion. Which, actually, is a conservationist attitude. It's progressive to be frugal. It drives me nuts that people who call themselves "conservatives" are actually behind a lot of the most wasteful, polluting practices of big business. Just shows how words can get twisted. Anyway, enough rant. I showed Barry The Story Of Stuff, which I was surprised he hadn't seen yet. By the way, if you haven't seen it yet, please watch it, and pass is to your friends. All children should see it. Even grown up ones.

I had a lot of interesting conversations and interactions with Rebecca's family. Her aunt Janice and uncle John took us out on the Mississippi one evening.



Her uncle John and I were talking about how our social customs and culture aren't always conducive to good health. This came up because he was telling me about how he used to have plantar fascitis. He was given ortho shoe inserts and everything, but nothing really worked for him. So he started going everywhere barefoot, and the problem corrected itself. I should say right now that this man is no hippie. He's just a guy who didn't want to deal with excruciating foot pain, and found a simple, natural way to change it. However, our culture dictates that bare feet are a no-no, so he always received funny looks from people, or was forced to put on shoes to go places. Little things like that are so interesting to me. Why is it such a big deal if someone is barefoot? Who really cares if the bottom of their shoe is dirty or the bottom of their foot? Either way they are dragging dirt around.

This, of course, led to my belief that the American toilet is not conducive to properly moving the bowels. The seated posture doesn't allow much room for things down there, and the squat that citizens of "developing" nations use is more physiologically appropriate. Of course, they are crapping into a hole in the ground, but really so are we, it's just a hole above ground. So, I'm doing my part to educate the pooping public...

Speaking of pooping, I got to use a nice outhouse on our trip. One of my favorite things we did was to stay at Jeannie and Steve's cabin. We had to drive down a gravel road to get there, which made it all the more exciting.

There was a gas stove, electricity, and a sink, but no running water. Not too bad for "roughing it."



I took a lot of naps during our time in Wisconsin!



We heard a rumor there were blackberries growing on the property, so we set out in search of them. We brought a small bowl with us. Once we found the patch, we realized that our small bowl was filling up too fast, so we came back with a bigger one. I think we spent about three hours out there just picking berries. It was so peaceful. I didn't even notice the time go by. But look at this haul:



Eventually we made it back into society, and we couldn't wait to show off our blackberry pile. We took the whole stash to Rebecca's grandparents, Frex and Arla. Arla makes her own jam, and we thought maybe we could somehow leave the berries there and hopefully she would just go to work. When we showed them our score, they seemed ambivalent. We were nonplussed. Where were the dropped jaws? The words of praise for our outstanding foraging skills?

Apparently, we put the berries in too deep a bowl, and the weight of the pile was crushing a lot of them. I thought they smelled vaguely alcoholic, and Frex confirmed. "These are getting a little winy already on ya."

So, what do you do with berries that are turning into wine? Help them along! They went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of blackberry wine they had made a while ago. It was delicious. They didn't have the recipe anymore, so they had to call around to find which lady from church had the good wine recipe. Frex got somebody's grandmother on speakerphone, and we got to hear the instructions. Juice the berries, add water, and a ton of sugar. Leave it out on the counter and scrape the muck off once in a while. In eight weeks you should have wine.

So that's what we did. Hopefully in early November, our work will pay off.

Rebecca also has an aunt Tony and uncle Jerry who live about an hour and a half outside of Chicago, just before the Wisconsin state line. We stayed with them on our way back form finding an apartment in Chicago, and then again when we were actually moving down.

Jerry is a carpenter, and has been "doing green building since the 80's. But nobody called it that then, cause there wasn't any money in it!"

Needless to say we had a good talk about sustainability and trying not to screw up the planet. And a lot of laughs. They built their house in one of those rural developments that has a HOA code to maintain property values. Apparently Jerry's neighbor took issue with his mulch choice and came over to let him know what he thought. Jerry described his moment of enlightenment when, after spending time listening to the man rant about mulch, he realized that he just didn't care, and shared his realization with the befuddled neighbor. Way to go Jerry!

Their son/Rebecca's cousin, Nick, works night shifts in a warehouse. He was one of those kids that flew through high school at an accelerated rate, and then decided to wait to go to college until he knew he really wanted to. (Sound like anyone you know?)

The irony of his situation is that his friends are all just graduating from college and can't find jobs with their degrees. So, they are all taking blue collar jobs because they have to do something. So, Nick explained, because he's been at the warehouse for a while, he's actually making more money than his college grad friends, and he doesn't have the debt to pay down! A lot of people are realizing that college can be a very empty promise. Of course, Nick is in a good position as he still lives at his parents' place, and supplements his income with money from chess and online poker tournament winnings.

It was a great time. I needed some nature, and some naps. Also, people cooking for us every where we went didn't hurt either...

Saturday, September 13

the ten commandments

People seem to think that the ten commandments, or any other religious rules, are codes of behavior that, upon your death, you will be judged against. Did you follow those rules of living? If so, you go to heaven as a reward. If not, you go to hell as punishment. That sort of thinking, of course, makes it impossible to know if someone is genuinely behaving well, or simply in hopes of a future reward.

I don’t think the ten commandments are rules that, when followed, allow you access to an ethereal heaven after your death. I am more of the mind that they are suggestions, that when followed, allow you to create a heaven during your life.

(I mean it’s a matter of the simplest explanation. The common notion of posthumous judgment and heaven would entail a lot of extra energy in the form of a supernatural dimension of heaven, and some sort of heavenly employees that record your actions and judge you. The heaven on earth scenario is simply cause and effect.)

Saturday, August 30

sebastian



As exciting as this move has been, and as much as I needed to get out of San Diego, I must say I miss Ju Jutsu. Sebastian and I spent a lot of time together over the past couple years, at least three days a week, usually more. He began my initiation into a sub culture, an almost secret society.

Our meetings consisted of exploring the mechanics of the body, with the goal of making a lot of weight easy to move, making another's will easier to conquer, thinking ahead - our own minds clean in intention.

We've hit each other, kicked each other, thrown each other, choked each other, pinned each other, and locked every joint of the other's body countless times since the end of 2006, and never injured each other. All this for the sake of keeping alive a tradition of knowledge that stirs an inexplicable passion in both of us.

Why learn Ju Jutsu? The confidence gained by learning techniques is conditional at best. You never know what would happen in real life. You could get stabbed, shot, or just plain get your ass kicked, and would all of this training be wasted time? In this country you'll go to jail if you actually use any of it anyway. Why spend all of this time just to learn Ju Jutsu?

Because there is a lot more to it than hitting, kicking, throwing, choking, pinning, and joint locking.

Physical techniques are a first step of understanding esoteric principles of how to move through life. Ju Jutsu is the art of gentleness; life shouldn't be a struggle.



Our conversations were inspiring. Between the philosophy, and the physical exercise, I managed to stay sane throughout an otherwise stressful time (school is boring).

I had been looking for a long time for a martial art to study; finally things just fell into place. Some places I had trained at just didn't feel right. The techniques may have been interesting, but perhaps there was no connection with other students. Or maybe the people there were clearly out to prove something. Other times, I would find a place I liked, but life happens, and moving across the country makes it tough to stay in one school. Sometimes in the past, I could feel instructors' egos guide the classes I had been in. Due to my strong aversion to feeding already bloated egos, I would soon abandon those schools. For one reason or another, I could never stay in one place long enough to learn anything. I feel very lucky to have met Sebastian when I finally did.



He, of course, would deny that there's anything special about him. He would claim that all he did was his job, to teach a list of techniques in a system. He would claim that it is normal for him to show up on Saturdays, essentially teaching private lessons to the only student willing to show up. He would credit me for doing the work. His humility, of course, only reinforces his genuine nature, making me all the more grateful for the kind of teacher and friend that he is.

Thursday, August 28

Tuesday, August 19

miles

It took us forever to get out of California. I don't know what happened, but a four hour drive took six hours. Somehow. It's like we were in a time warp. Our clocks moved, but we trudged along through space, supposedly going 80 miles an hour. But we endured.

The cats endured as well. It was a hot drive getting through the desert. I looked at Abra at one point, and she was panting like a dog, her fur all matted and messed. We stopped, and both cats were put into Rebecca's car. She has a/c.




No one liked Death Valley. What is missing from this video is the giant thermometer in Baker, CA that read 107. It was sunset!! We waited for it to cool down (104!) before we headed out again...

We stayed the first night somewhere in Nevada, past Vegas. The next day, we drove through Arizona, and then up into Utah. I bought a little necklace from a Navajo woman for Rebecca.



There is a stretch in Utah of 110 miles where there are no gas stations, motels, restauarants, nothing. Just rocks. Really cool rocks, but rocks nonetheless. I had driven through this stretch three times before. I think it's pretty, and very rare that you get to be so removed from the conveniences of society. The last town before the stretch is called Salina.

We saw the sign for Salina, and walkie-talkied each other:
"Do you have enough gas?"
"Yep. How about you?"
"I'm good for 110 miles."
"Should we stop anyway?"
"Hmm. Yea why not?"

So we stopped to get gas. After we filled up our tanks, we jumped around like idiots to move some blood. We were swatting at each other, wrestling a little bit, jumping jacks. We looked like clowns in the gas station parking lot but we didn't care. We jumped in our cars ready to blast off, and ...........nothing. My car wouldn't start.




Needless to say this came as a surprise to me. I of course tried to start it about eight more times. Thinking somehow I might've forgotten how to work my key. But it really wasn't going to start. I called AAA. After an unusual amount of time farting around with the operator, she figured out where I was, and sent a guy out.

It actually didn't take him very long to arrive. He showed up with half a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I greeted him, but he didn't respond. He was silent as he approached my engine, jumper cables in hand. But I knew this was no dead battery.

We were unable to jumpstart the car, and the man went to his truck, returning with a small sledgehammer. He confessed to me that he wanted to "tap on the starter," but was unable to reach it. I needed a new starter. He gave me a recommendation of a good garage "back a little ways" in Richfield. And then the moment came when he warmed up to me. "You ever push started a car before?" "No sir." "Oooh boy! Gotta get it going and then pop that clutch!!"

I pushed it, he did the clutch popping. I still don't know if pop the clutch means push it in our let it out, but I'm guessing the latter.

At any rate, we made it to the garage, despite it's lack of signage.




The little town was actually nice, and I got a kick out of making small talk with the mechanics. They got the part in that night, and we drove off the next morning.

The interesting thing for me is this: Why did we decide to stop at Salina and get gas? We both had enough to get through. Keeping less in the tank would give better mileage. Deciding to stop was just not logical. But since we did stop, the starter went while we were in a town with services, instead of dying in the middle of lonely I70 when we stop to take a picture like this:



I can only imagine how friendly the AAA guy would be having to come push start my car in the middle of nowhere. Why do all of my car problems seem to work out so well?


Later that day we made it into Colorado. We had lunch in Grand Junction.




We were excited to notice more trees. The landscape was starting to become something more familiar. Less death valley. More like home.



The cats liked the change too.

We stayed two nights in Denver. It was great to have a break from driving for a day, and to see Paul, Dave, and Minidave. Those guys are still so funny. Every time I see them it's like we've never been apart. Rebecca, Minidave and I went downtown in Denver and walked around a little bit. We stopped at the "One Mile Marker" that officially declares your elevation. We talked about America, and what it would be like to live in other countries. Maybe a country that doesn't use bake sales as the primary form of fundraising for schools. Maybe a country that isn't meddling with the world. Maybe a country with some history and sustainability. We're still looking for that country.

We left Denver Friday morning. We made it through Nebraska, which is quite an accomplishment. We decided that we would pass Omaha, cross into Iowa, and find a room for the night. It was getting on 10pm when the debacle began.

Super 8 is the best motel for us. They allow pets in non smoking rooms. As far as we could tell, this policy was unique to Super 8. We tried checking into a Best Western, and they demanded we take a smoking room. Disgusting. They say there's no difference when they're trying to sell you the room, but then I am forced to ask, "so why call it a smoking room?" If there's no difference, why designate it?

So anyway we get to a Super 8 and drive into the parking lot, ready to pass out. The man in front of me is driving extremely slow, and I fantasize about passing him. I think to myself, "you'd better pass this slow person, and run in there. Maybe there's only one room left."

Well, we take our time, and watch the slow man go into the motel. When we get to the desk we watch him rent the last room. Holy smokes. I knew it! We are told there's another motel just up the way.

Back in the car we go. We drove from exit to exit, stopping at every Super 8 along the way. They are booked out. Front desk people refuse to call the next one for us. One man is in such a hurry to get rid of us that he gives us Super 8's reservation number. Rebecca calls and makes reservations. She hangs up the phone and says, I'm pretty sure the lady on the phone gave me bad directions.

Here is what we did:


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At this point the cats had been in the car for over twelve hours. Rebecca let Abra out of her cage to wander in her car as we drove to our destination (F). As we pulled into the parking lot, Rebecca came over the walkie-talkie. "The cat just took a DUMP on my floormat!!!!!"

Poor kittie. It's been a long time since she's seen a litter box. Rebecca removes the offending floormat from her car. Some turds tumble out of it onto the asphalt. The cat is clearly confused. We throw out the floormat and attempt to check in. The operator of course gave Rebecca directions to a different Super 8. Ours was "just up the road."

By the time we checked in to G, it was 2 something in the morning. We slept the sleep of the dead.

As it turns out, the Iowa state fair was in DesMoines. That's why we couldn't get a room. A bunch of fried dough eating, pig-gawking americans had occupied all of the non smoking rooms for miles. Bizarre. It was nice to be past DesMoines though, because when we hit the road in the morning, the traffic headed towards the city (towards the fairgrounds) was at a crawl.

We made it up to Minnesota, and had breakfast at a diner. I think the total cost was $11.00 including a $5 tip. It's refreshing to know that things aren't California expensive everywhere.

By the early afternoon we arrived in La Crosse, WI and released the cats from their containers. It's gorgeous here. Very green. It reminds me of home.


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Saturday, August 16

update

We made it to Wisconsin today! More extensive updates coming soon. Just wanted everyone to know that we're safe. Sorry my phone died yesterday, but it has been recharged....

Monday, August 4

my legacy




Since I won't be in the graduation photo, I had to slip a funny photo of myself onto the PCOM wall of fame. Move over, Deepak. I wonder how long until anyone notices...