"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Friday, October 27, 2006


I dreamed last night that one of the cats (Amonke) had apparently learned a couple words in English. At first I was just impressed at how smart she was, that she was picking up some vocabulary, and that she kept repeating the two words in her very strange furry (but not necessarily catty) voice, and I didn't really think about what she was saying. She was walking around in circles as a cat might likely do, repeating the words "working," and "tired." Tired, tired. Working. tired.

Huh. Silly dream, talking animals! Whatever! If the cat ever hopes to be taken seriously she'll need to learn some pronouns, some verb conjugations...maybe a preposition or two would be helpful.

Coincidentally my boss expressed some concern today that I seem to "have a lot on my desk." I'm not sure if she meant it literally (she could have, though). I didn't feel that it was a criticism so much as a tentative extension of one of those long aluminum poles used for fishing people out of the swimming pool who don't appear to be treading water with complete success. Nevertheless, this week I filed my first civil harassment restraining order & request for ex parte orders, (which were partly granted pending a hearing in a week), attended a corporate fundraiser for LSNC in Sacramento, completed an IRS Form 1023 Application for Tax Exemption on behalf of a local Hmong organization, made it through a co-op board meeting (I would have considered skipping it in favor of staying a few more hours in Utah except that right now I'm the board VP and the Secretary so I was worried that my absence would be felt a little too keenly). Among other things.

Maybe the dream kitty was just trying to save her breath by not using more parts of speech than required to make the point. Which is actually fairly true to character for the real Amonke; she doesn't really vocalize unless she wants to draw your immediate attention to her current need.

Friday, October 20, 2006

middle english for the middle o' nowhere

I learnt this in high school. Pronunciation may be a little off and I think over the years I've dislocated a word or two, sort of like a one-person game of telephone. Mrs. Townsend had an LP recording of it that she played to help us get the sound more or less right and had us memorize it. I always think of her when I repeat it. I remember her disclaimer about the bawdy parts of the Tales which she officially did not assign us to read and which I dutifully avoided until the medieval literature class at SF State. I think it was during this class that the detail came up that Geoff survived two outbreaks of the black death. No wonder folks were looking for a little holp whan that they were seeke. Also he had some really dull sounding day job, like tax collecting or medieval bureaucracy or something. Maybe my problem (in terms of attaining literary immortality) is that my day job isn't dull enough. On the other hand it would seem by definition impossible to attain this status during ones natural lifespan anyway so it can't be correctly identified as a "problem" right now.

this is an audio post - click to play

Speaking of obstacles to creativity, though, a homeless woman came into the office this morning with the citation she'd received for "camping" in the park. This issue reappeared on my radar earlier in the week when the City Council decided to pass an ordinance closing most all the city parks at night and giving the cops more authority to shake out troublesome behavior...but also to ticket people for sleeping. Here's the rub: Chico has a homeless shelter that is hardly ever filled up because you have to be 1) really together (i.e. not under-medicated, over-medicated, or intoxicated, and not a parolee if they have reached their quota of parolees for the night, and not too late for the curfew) and 2) willing to surrender most of your rights as a free adult citizen, in order to stay there. Ms. Camper this morning said her beef with the shelter was that if you don't show up by 6:00 pm they won't let you in, and then you can't leave, so that means no participation in downtown life that the comfortably housed take for granted such as the Thursday Night Market, or caf├ęs, or poetry readings. There is in fact a poetry night in a cafe that a number of local underhoused but adequately caffeinated folks regularly attend. I have never been in a position of having to choose between art and comraderie or shelter. I wonder what I would choose.

shyness is nice, but shyness can stop you

this is an audio post - click to play

I lit out from Reno

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 16, 2006

mile repeat redux

Ran mile repeats at the track again yesterday and I feel like I'm making some progress, though I packed it in after 5 miles with a recovery lap and some stretching between each repeat. I am pleased to report in at 7:36, 7:42, 7:57, 10:00 (a much needed rest mile), and 7:49. Based on these results it seems that I couldn't possibly have run 7-minute miles last week though. The course I ran last Monday must have been a little shorter than 3 miles.

My goal for the workout was to do 7 x 1 mile repeats but I'm just not there yet. Maybe I should try alternating hard and easier miles.

I was also pleased that the ol' I.T. band didn't seem too aggravated by this workout. On Saturday I ran 8 miles in the park and had to ice the side of my knee afterwards; when the IT band flares up the outside of my knee develops this temporary bulge at the connecting point of the tendon to the knee (that can't be right!). Yesterday there was no bulging.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

suspension of outdoor privileges

Kato got into a rumble of some kind on Saturday night; I couldn't see him but I'm sure the whole condo complex could hear the screaming. In addition to worrying that he was either killing or being killed, or perhaps both, I was thinking about how our phone number conveniently appears on his collar tag so that the family of whatever cat he was shredding would know who to call about their vet bill. So I went out calling and looking for him. By the time I came back of course he'd come back on his own, mostly intact but he'd broken off a claw past the quick on his back foot and the foot was all bloody. Tried to clean it up with warm water and peroxide and tried to apply some styptic powder to the broken claw but he was sort of resistant to the doctoring. Today his foot looked cleaner (more his doing than ours) but I couldn't tell whether the claw looked like it was getting infected or not. I scrutinized his gait all day to see if he was limping (only very slightly, I think); felt his foot periodically to see if it felt unusually hot (it wasn't)...I guess tomorrow will be time to decide if he has to go to the vet and get antibiotics or a cast or one of those embarrassing E-collars. Meanwhile we're relieving him of the stress of trying to figure out where his turf boundaries are. He is so grounded. So far he hasn't really campaigned to go outside again though.

Monday, October 09, 2006

fast times in bidwell park

It is hard to replicate the pressure of a real race in a solo training workout, but I tried to move as fast as I could convince myself to go this morning for my solo 5K. (Guess what, I came in 1st place and had my pick of any t-shirt I wanted from my closet.)
Either my estimation of the distance is a little off, i.e. somewhat shorter than 3 miles, or I ran 3 straight 7-minute miles. I'm afraid that the former may be true, but STILL, it can't be that far off. I guess the proof would be in going back to the track to see if I can get a similar result in 12 laps.

Today was a legal holiday and after my run I had the luxury of walking Celia to work downtown, stopping at the hardware store for more supplies, and lingering at the Peet's where I did a whole crossword puzzle (not a big one, maybe 50 across x 50 down) and the "Celebrity Cryptogram" below it. I was disappointed that the latter was too easy to guess after a few of the words started to become obvious--though it's a memorable saying that has appropriately graced many a poster on many a wall of many a high school English classroom. Though I can't remember for sure where I first saw it: "The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."--Marcel Proust.

Anyway, great quote, but it made the puzzle too easy.

Then I came home and set about more housekeeping. It was a day of learning about wall anchors and what sizes and types seem to work with what kinds of screws. I have a stud finder that doesn't seem to work very well...maybe it's intended for finding some other kind of studs. I could try some experiments: running it over the Personals section of the newspaper and see if it beeps at anything, or maybe take it with me next time I go to the gym. I could scan people as they walk in, I'm sure they would hardly notice.

Despite the unreliable stud finder I succeeded in moving the towel rack to a higher point on the wall, installing our 2nd smoke detector (bedroom ceiling), hanging Ce's old spice rack which, though inadequate for our quantity of spices, matches our 1970s-brown cabinets as if they had been separated at birth and together they are kind of a beautiful thing. I also mounted a new stainless steel paper towel holder under the cabinet since the jaundicey-yellow plastic one that came with the house was promptly rejected by C.

Then rounding off the day was a special board meeting for Chico Natural Foods to ratify the results of the membership vote on whether or not the store should carry meat. My feeling at this point is that all the to-do over this was fantastic publicity for the store and probably accounts in part for a rockin' month of sales in September, but the image of tempest-in-teacup comes to mind as well. The store will have some meat that will probably be all frozen or canned; for a big bloody slab of dead animal folks will still have to go elsewhere; so ultimately the difference between buying a big frozen cheesecake and a frozen chicken is what? I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a cheesecake from a chicken.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The oldest light in the universe

With the disclaimer that I'm writing about a topic I can barely comprehend beyond the brief report on NPR yesterday (and parts of that lost me too), something about the recent Nobel Prize announcement was deeply stirring. A scientist was quoted as saying that the discoveries about cosmic background radiation which apparently confirm the reality of the Big Bang theory were akin to seeing God as a religious person. I think he said quite a lot in that statement--for the religious (and inquisitive) person, this discovery seems to represent quite a breakthrough in the reverse engineering of the universe.

Also this notion that we go about our lives awash in energy left over from the early millenia of the universe (about 380,000 years after the "bang") is beautiful, even if it shows up as static on TV. I will have to think about that for awhile. I know that some people are far more aware of things happening on an energetic level than I am, but golly, we're oblivious. Probably for our own protection most of the time. People who are even slightly more sensitive than average often have a tough time managing the noise and smell of this planet.

Finally I think I was moved by the Nobel Prize report for the reason that I had, without knowing it, just about given up on the idea that humans were pursuing anything worthwhile. Cosmology seems such a pure and godly field. It seems unlikely to produce anything that will be used to oppress people in developing countries or to bloat American consumerism into a bigger and bigger monster. For once, a bit of news that wasn't even a tiny bit depressing or fear-mongering.

Maybe the human (primarily male) fascination with blowing stuff up is rooted in a misplaced urge to create. It's easy to visualize the Big Bang as a Big Explosion but from what little I'm beginning to understand, maybe this is not an accurate way to describe the events that took place on the morning of 13.7 billion years ago. When something explodes usually that's the end of it, but this was the beginning. Perhaps the Big Birth is more apt. Not all that rapidly expands is an explosion.

Don't really know what I'm looking at, but it was either this image of the cosmic background radiation, or a picture of TV static.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

calling all abuelas...

...and those who are de-facto grandmothers to march on the
School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA in November and shut the place down for good!

If we want to look at the reasons why people risk life and limb and the long arm of the law to get into the U.S., it seems safe to say that the U.S. has had a role in fostering some of the desperate conditions people have been trying to flee from. The School of the Americas (renamed in 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) has
"trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School...."
From the School of the Americas Watch.

After the Grandmothers shut down the SOA / WHISC, perhaps they can march on the White House and / or Capitol Hill and give those places a good scrubbing too. No doubt there are already a few grandmothers in Congress but I don't think there are enough to tip the balance of power in their favor which is what we want, essentially a silent coup of grandmothers, or a controlling interest in the shares of government stock.

Which brings up a great idea I have for the Republicans, maybe somebody already thought of it, and that is to get the government completely out of this expensive governing business and let private companies take care of it. One parent company could win the bid on the federal governing and perhaps the states could be wholly owned subsidiaries, or else state governments would be run by other, smaller companies. This could actually require some corporations to hire on a few more U.S. workers to administer the programs...or not. Imagine, you could call EDD for your unemployment benefits and someone in India could take the call. Trying to draw the line between corporate influence peddling and our elected representatives is too hard, why not just stop trying. The government corp. could provide stock options to youth to help them get a start, maybe even pay for college. Folks who want to vote for something can do that as long as their stock has voting rights.