Monday, June 30, 2008

The Monday Stein

It comes too easily it comes to me too easily it comes too easily to me too easily to me too easily. Yes sir.

--Chapter 52, in its entirety, of A Novel of Thank You

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Moscow Covered Bridge Festival

Ah, it's the end of June, and that means Moscow, Indiana, is having their shindig. This year, however, it's gonna be different.

Hearing about the bridge yesterday evening made me really sad--I vividly remember riding my bike across that bridge--all the more so because the gaps between the wooden planks that formed the roadbed were about an inch to two inches wide, which was more than enough to stop my forward momentum in a quick and decisive way. I rode slowly and in the middle of the planks, trying not to focus so much on the clearly visible water swirling around the rocks directly under my wheels.

For those interested in small town festivals, this one is a good one, and you oughta go. They are still having the festival this week as a benefit toward reconstruction of the bridge. It's a great place for corndogs, flea market bargains, and the nearby Amish clean up the buggies, wear their good clothes, and hang out to impress the Amish girls.

My promised commentary on books is postponed, as I still don't quite know what to talk about yet.

One last memory of the Covered Bridge Festival is of the road past the bridge--after a couple of sharp turns and an incline, the road straightens out into open country, with a wonderful long steep hill , then about a mile or so of perfectly flat road before a corresponding incline. As I reach the top of the hill, I notice in the distance a one-horse, two-wheel buggy heading my way. By the bottom of the hill, I'm f l y i n g . I'm nearing the buggy rapidly. The horse, at a trot, perhaps has never seen a bike on this road before--certainly nothing making a beeline straight for him. The horse freaks right on out, rears, moves to the ditch, rears. The buggy bucks wildly, and as I speed past, I can see that the young man behind the glass is, while deperately trying not to wreck the buggy or lose the horse or get hurt, is managing, at the same time he is handling the reins, to doff his hat in a neighborly hello. What a guy.

--photo from

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Governmental Grammarians

Not having done much today other than read and prespire, I thought I'd treat my fives of readers with part of a placard on display in the Indiana Capitol building. You can click on it to make it big enough to read easily. Don't these people have other people that proofread this sort of thing? Do our squillion pages of legislation also have this level of accuracy? Does "centennial" really need to be parenthetically defined? So, so many questions...

In other news, I have done a bit of tidying up at LibraryThing and can happily say that, in spite of my unprecedented rate of book acquisition in the past two years, I've actually upped the percentage of books read--I'm now at almost 30%, as opposed to only 24% ten or so years ago. I plan to comment on a couple of them in tomorrow's post, but I need to let them mull a bit more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Valley of the Shadow of Internal Revenue

Heigh Ho, Davo the Blog here.

Earlier this week I received a rather confusing note from the State Department of Internal Revenue, stating that I owed over twice the amount of tax that I paid them back in March. Attempting to contact via phone simply didn't work, so, I headed down there in person. Once past all the crazies waiting outside either furiously smoking or reading pulp novels while furiously smoking--they all appeared to be State employees--I sat down with someone on the other side of a grey cube wall and found out that they were missing my Schedule 1 and therefore were disallowing all of my deductions.

So, after a day or so, I scared up my Schedule 1 and headed back in to Government Complex 1 (or was it Government Complex West?) to show them that I did, in fact, have deductions worth considering.

That appeared to be the magic key. The nice lady photocopied my Schedule 1, stamped my own copy, and my penalty, interest, and additional tax liability were summarily erased. It all happened so quickly I began to doubt that I was, in fact, dealing with State government.

Considering that I still had so much time left on my parking meter, I decided to walk across the street and check out the Capitol building, which I hadn't been in (aside from killing time waiting for a bus back in '97 or so) since I was there with the Glee Club. We were, of course, there to sing the State song and moan through the background for God Bless the USA, and did so both in the House as well as the Senate. But that was back in pre-terrorist times. I remember walking in through the big oak doors that led onto the main floor. Nowadays, the public must enter through the west basement door, go through the obligatory security checkpoint, then weave through a warren of cubicle-land offices, pop-machine alcoves, and so forth before you find either the elevator or the basement steps. The general populace now needs to enter, if you will, by the service entrance. This doesn't surprise, but does disappoint.

In other news, my great friend Joe took Royce and me out for dinner and spent an exorbitant amount of money on us. We were at the restaurant for four hours. By the time the creme brulee came around, I was so full I could hardly move. Thanks, Joe, for a wonderful dinner and grand conversation!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Regarding QR codes... is a link to nothing but the tearpad part of the PSB video, which recently won an award at Cannes. For those that want to explore the QR code frames in the here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Canoeing; variability and fluid dynamics

Regarding canoeing yesterday, the weather was, shall we say, up and down. We managed to luck out rather well, in that the rain only hit on the way back to the canoe rental place after we finished lunch, and within minutes of our getting to a place to eat for dinner after we docked.

The waterway itself seemed like a locale, in other meteorological conditions, for l'amours,the entire length of the wooded banks. The stone formations made inlets and lees and banks of current-smoothed stones where various couples met or miscellaneous articles of clothing lingered, in the silt-coated extremities of tree-limbs in various shady nooks the banks gave on the way to the southwest.

Once we clambered back up on the bank, we found this tourist photo souvenir place as we trudged to our cars. As various people can verify regarding my longhair days, I don't do well with shoulder- length. It only gets tangly. One wakes up with it up one's nose, or wrapped around one's neck. Ergo, long hair doesn't work for me. Or a bikini top.

The weather was wonderful. The sandals were variable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Accumulation of Errors

Today was the big day that Erin, Kim, and I were to meet up at Turkey Run to go canoeing. It was a good idea, spearheaded by Erin and Kim, and it fit in well with my exercise/ outdoors- based regimen that I mentioned in my previous post. Kim called last night with basic instructions on how to get there from here and that was that.

I woke up this morning bright and early, logged on, and checked the approximate drive time between there and here on Mapquest. 1 hour 45 minutes. Looking at the clock, had I dropped everything and shown up at the dock in my underwear, I would have been ten minutes late. Luckily, I noticed that the route chosen was rather illogical. The most likely route would get me there sooner. I cleaned up a bit and then hit the road, with my ever-attentive mind making sure to leave my towel, cooler with bottled water and soda, and sandals behind.

Of course, the one exit necessary to get off 465 to the necessary highway was closed, with an illegible flashboard sign evidently trying to indicate such only a half mile earlier. Cue various choice words directed at the forces that chose this particular exit to be closed.

15 minutes later, once on the correct highway, I settled back a bit, looking at the clock--at normal highway speeds, I'd get there with time to spare. Unfortunately, the highway for miles had a speed limit of 40-freakin-5. After an eternity of stop-and-go, I finally got to open road, then to the final highway turnoff that would take me to the canoe rental.

With three miles to go, the signs indicate that the highway is closed. Cue more choice words yelled over the dash. Consulting my trusty Indiana County Road atlas, I find no real options to get from there to my destination. I have five minutes. After consulting my second power-walking soccer mom, I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't gonna make it. I'm speeding down winding country roads, then literally through a cattle farm, then off-pavement, then through some woods, to return to the highway I need...right in front of the wrong side of the roadblock.

After yet more choice words, I call Erin/Kim to let them know of my predicament. They were stalling the folks at the canoe rental. Good. I made my way through the trailer-park desolation of Bloomingdale, Indiana, to get to the canoe rental place, just in time for my other party to lock their keys--and some of what was necessary--in their car. Cue, no doubt, more choice words spoken internally by Erin and Kim. Luck was on our side--the canoe folks had slim-jims. Unfortunately, none of us had any luck in breaking into Erin's car. The mosquitoes were spreading the word that fresh meat was available, and the recent heavy rains ensured that there were plenty of their numbers.

Long story short, after three or so trips to/around Rockville, we got sunscreen, got food, ice cream, and a man to give the final magical open sesame to Erin's car, which is a rather formidable challenge, even to professionals. We were ready to hit the water at long last.

Within 100 yards of our launch, we find ourselves snarled by a tree in heavy current, which we got almost past before we flipped over, putting everything into the drink, including our food, my bookbag, camera, and our oars. Once we got all that put back to rights, we found ourselves in pretty darned good shape. The food was ok, the camera was untouched by water, and we got settled into shipboard life. In spite of all the permutations of our trip (were we to actually canoe? Might we hike instead? Perhaps just go garage-saling? ), no one got inordinately frustrated. And the change in our luck? Eating ice cream. I wasn't thrilled with the place: it was deserted in a sort of "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" kind of way, and the rest-room, swathed in spider webs and, well, extremely primitive, certainly didn't make the place seem good, but after ice cream there, the clouds parted, the car was unlocked, we sang songs, and we achieved our objective. More pix in the next post.
Thanks to Erin and Kim for havin' me along! And happy birthday, Kim!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Biking starts...

...and the burgers stop. Yesterday was my first day of the new regimen-- the bike as a car, the car as a way to keep weeds from growing in the cracks of the driveway, and no stopgap trips to McCorporate Deathburger. Honestly, I can't eat that crap anymore. Ugh. And the people one meets there. Three days ago, I sat down next to a table where an off-duty employee was trying to cheer up an on-duty employee who had just found out that she is pregnant. In looking around, everyone else in the place had little kids. One came up, wanted my fries, tried to grab them, then ran back to her table. From then on, every single customer that came in had at least one kid under three in tow.

Or two days ago, when I walked in and there was no A/C. The same creepy off-duty employee with the Ray Parker Jr. Jheri-curled hair was there, acting as personal greeter to everyone. "Hey howyadoin," he'd say, "nice ta seeya. Your daughter has really pretty hair. How it curls and such. Yeah, really pretty hair." And everyone in there looking as if they had a glandular disorder.

It's the 21st and time for a change and therefore time to put serious mileage on the bike.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The American Way? Or, Omelettes and Breaking Eggs

"[...] Tell me straight out, I call on you--answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears--would you agree to be the architect on such conditions? Tell me the truth."
" No, I would not agree," Alyosha said softly.
"And can you admit the idea that the people for whom you are building would agree to accept their happiness on the unjustified blood of a tortured child, and having accepted it, to remain forever happy?"

--Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Chapter 4.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Down Another Rabbit Hole

A badly- formed entry, but I've got motivation to read this evening more than writing.

I'm not sure how these things happen, but every book I've opened today--and I've been pretty random these past two days, actually--all seem somehow related, though the connection is something I have to look more deeply into. Mandeville's ambiguous Fable of the Bees links in some mysterious way with the idea residing in the difficult mess of prose of Rene Daumal's philosophical treatise You've Always Been Wrong [I found there also is, in translation, his last, unfinished novel Mount Analogue, subtitled A Symbolically Non-Euclidian Adventures in Mountain Climbing (!)], which speaks of sleepwalking, and laughter as a means of rejection, rebellion, of negation. This ties in, perhaps, with Herrmann Broch's The Sleepwalkers which I read a couple of times five years ago, perhaps also with Demons of Heimito von Doderer. And for some reason this reminded me of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor chapter. I open Karamazov to, not the chapter in question, but to two pages before. Oddly enough, Euclidean thought shows up here (how often does one run into that word in a day outside of discussions of geometry?) and rejection, rebellion is here, too:

Atheist Ivan and newbie monk Alyosha are in heated discussion:

"Oh yes, when the mother and the torturer whose hounds tore her son to pieces embrace each other, and all three cry out with tears: 'Just art Thou, oh Lord,' then of course the crown of knowledge will have come and everything will be explained. [...] It may well be that if I live until that moment, or rise again in order to see it, I myself will perhaps cry out with all the rest, looking at the mother embracing her child's tormentor: 'Just art Thou, Oh Lord!" but I do not want to cry out with them. While there's still time, I hasten to defend myself against it, and therefore I absolutely renounce all higher harmony. It is not worth one little tear of even one tormented child who beat her chest with her little fist and prayed to 'dear God' in a stinking outhouse with her unredeemed tears! Not worth it, because her tears remained unredeemed. They must be redeemed, otherwise there can be no harmony. But how will you redeem them? Is it possible? [...] And if the suffering of children goes to make up the sum of suffering needed to buy truth, then I assert beforehand that the whole of truth is not worth such a price. I do not, finally want the mother to embrace the tormentor who let his dogs tear her son to pieces! She dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she wants to, let her forgive the tormentor her immeasurable maternal suffering, but she has no right to forgive the suffering of her child who was torn to pieces... And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, then where is the harmony? Besides, they have put too high a price on harmony; we can't afford to pay so much for admission. And therefore I hasten to return my ticket. And it is my duty, if only as an honest man, to return it as far ahead of time as possible. Which is what I am doing. It's not that I don't accept God, Alyosha, I just most respectfully return the ticket."
"That is rebellion," Alyosha said softly...

Rebellion, negation, Euclidean thought, remaining wakeful. I'm not sure why all the books I open all tumble these ideas end over end. I strive for connections--and further fodder for essays.

photo: Davo, taken at Archie McPhee's, Ballard, Washington


My vague interest in the Queens of the Stone Age is officially over. Regardless as to what a dick one is being, referring to sexual orientation as pejorative is out in my book. Fine, the lead singer is sick. Fine, the guy may have been an asshole. But calling him a fucking faggot? No more concerts for me, thanks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Sleepwalkers

An announce- ment was made on the news this evening that the Marines were going to be holding manoeuvres here in Indianapolis. They declined to say what they were or when they were going to be, but, the news anchor said, they were to train the Marines to act efficiently and effectively in the event of a terrorist attack in the area. Whatever it was and whenever it was, its happening is only a drill and not the real thing.
Now safely past twilight, large Chinook helicopters have moved swiftly and at low altitude over our neighborhood, heading northwest. Not long after, they moved in the same path right back to the southeast. Hopefully they won't be doing horse-laps over the Metro area all night keeping everyone awake...

A few months ago, I heard a radio show on Memory which gave, as one of the examples on how strangely memory works, a man who, in a traumatic accident, even today remains in a state of complete and never-ending amnesia. He isn't the classic made-for-TV-movie example, wherein one suddenly wakes and starts all over. He can make no new memories whatsoever. Of the things he carries with him, he remembers language perfectly, and he remembers his wife, though rarely can he remember her name. His face lights up when she comes to visit: Thank God you've come. He constantly has moments of complete clarity, but they are almost instantly lost. He looks across the room and exclaims I'm awake! I'm awake! When he is led to his old church and placed in front of a choir with a score, his old profession comes to him automatically--he conducts wonderfully, sculpting the sound from the air there in the loft. When asked about what he'd just done, he has no memory of having done it. He looks at wonder at video of himself doing the conducting, the expression on his face there on screen, living in some sort of other present where a past doesn't so much matter; where the music is all that there needs to be. But outside of music, how exhausting it must be, to work at forming those connections, to piece together where he is, who he is, who these people are. He figures it out, the synapse fires, the spark jumps across: I'm awake! I'm awake! And then it's gone. He pieces these things together again and again until his nameless wife opens the door--some small bit that he can fall back on, that will allow him some rest.

I found a book not long ago by Rene Daumal, someone who died young and whose work is haunted by the need to be conscious; of being awake. "Awakening," he says, "is not a state, it's an act. " He continues:

"A man wakes up in the morning in bed. Scarcely on his feet, he's already asleep again. Going through all the automatic impulses which make his body get dressed, go out, walk, get to work, go through the prescribed daily routine, eat, chat, read a newspaper (as it's generally the body which takes care of all that by itself)--doing all that--he's sleeping. ... He can thus spend entire days without waking for a single moment. [...] And it's easy for slumber, which is the inertia of consciousness, to catch man in its traps; for man, being naturally and almost irremediably lazy, might indeed be willing to awaken. But since the effort is repugnant to him (and naively he thinks it is possible ) in a permanent or at least lengthy waking state. Then wanting to rest in his awakening, he falls asleep. Just as one cannot will oneself to sleep, since willing, in whatever form, is still an awakening, one can remain awakened only if one wills it at every moment.
"And the only direct act which you can carry out is that of awakening, of becoming conscious of yourself. Look back on what you think you've done since the beginning of today: this is perhaps the first time you have awakened. And it's only now that you're conscious of all you've done as a thoughtless automaton. In most ases people never awaken even enough to realize that they have slept. Right now, go ahead and accept, if you wish, this sleepwalker's existence. You will be able to behave in life as an idler, a worker, a peasant, a merchant, a diplomat, an artist, a philosopher, without ever awakening more than just enough, now and then, to enjoy or suffer from the way in which you sleep. It might even be more convenient, without changing anything in your appearance, not to awaken at all."

--All rather heady stuff for someone writing this in his early twenties. Even more interesting that this man so concerned about remaining ever-conscious was hooked on huffing dry-cleaning chemicals, weakening his lungs to the point that tuberculosis saw its opportunity, killing him off at the age of 36.

photo: Davo: museum exhibit, Loveland Museum, interior of wrecked Pullman car.

Monday, June 16, 2008

If You've Nothing to Hide, You've Nothing to Fear: Hogg, The Presets, and Violence

I know, I know, like this is a new thing. I woke up after vivid dreams to cough for about 45 minutes, then continued where I left off two weeks ago with James Hogg's The Confessions of a Justified Sinner and find it--again--especially timely. My colleague Mr. Sealy tried to teach Crime and Punishment a while ago to his freshmen (much to my great admiration) and I think that it could readily be taught alongside this much shorter novel, with its first-person perspective of a religious zealot who sees any means within his power to be justified and the "higher path," even though we as readers all see him as an agent of nothing but evil:

"But if it will be accounted unfair to take up a conqueror, and punish him in his own way, I answer: That if a man is sent on a positive mission by his master, and hath laid himself under vows to do his work, he ought not to be too nice in the means of accomplishing it; and, further, I appeal to holy writ, wherein many instances are recorded of the pleasure the Lord takes in the final extinction of the wicked and profane; and this position I take to be unanswerable."
So long as one can get a holy book to justify one's actions, one's accountability evaporates. Sheer insanity. It's the same argument used by those who shoot and bomb abortion clinics, then go home or to church to praise the God that supposedly put them on such a mission.


While shopping for books in the same shop I, not long ago was book-trolling with James and Mike and others, I found volume one (solely, unfortunately) of a scholarly edition of Mandeville's Fable of the Bees, which seems to also touch on the same subject, in which the "poem" speaks of a "grumbling hive" where we have Swiftian representation of Society in which corruption works alongside with goodness to make the hive function. And some things don't change even today:

The soldiers, that were forc'd to fight,
If they surviv'd, got Honour by't;
Tho' some, that shunn'd the bloody Fray,
Had Limbs shot off, that ran away:
Some valiant Gen'rals fought the Foe;
Others took Bribes to let them go:
Some ventur'd always where 'twas warm,
Lost now a Leg, and then an Arm;
Till quite disabled, and put by,
They liv'd on half their Salary;
While others never came in Play,
And staid at home for double Pay.

This and the other works are fermenting toward the possible end result of some sort of essay.

In other news, I've run into the new release by the Australian group The Presets. For fans of the 80s, that decade is officially back, by the sound of this disc, and the Presets have a Cd that, at least initially, has all you could ask for. The music is spiny, angular, and actually has ideas behind it, aside from some bunch of newcomers out to plunder the vaults for suggestions of a Sound. Ultimately, the new CD sounds like a melding of the darker moments of Information Society with Nitzer Ebb fronted by the vocalist of Blancmange, the "Blind Vision" of which could point to the uniformity of purpose that seems to justify the universal ID card craze that has hit various country governments and which the Pet Shop Boys skewer in their most recent video, "Integral," with its pixellated representations of planes and eyescans. For an annual fee, you can wait in a much shorter line for the airplane, so long as you give the government a retinal scan and a DNA sample. The video, in it's tearpad pixellations, includes many subliminal scan codes that lead to documents that deal with civil rights issues and governmental invasiveness.

On repeated listenings for those who like their sonic background more sophisticated the Presets disc sounds a bit cheap and shallow in spite of all the sonic ideas that show up as the disc plays out. Some electro discs draw the listener inward with a great maze of interlocking sound, but this one tends to only skate along the surface. I'm entertaining thoughts of a brief discussion on visual rhetoric on the Presets' video This Boy's in Love, in which the violence of the video is brought into an entirely new context--that of the homoerotic--simply by being shown in slo-mo. It reminds me of a video I saw somewhere where a techno song is played over slo-mo video of people being punched in the face. Violence, after all, is what people pay attention to.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Tents, No Cats, No Siding

I'm home. Dad left and is likely still on the road. The lawn isn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be, and I'm tired. I'm going to bed. And I can actually say, for the first time in two weeks, that it is, in fact, a bed I am going to.

'Night, all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If Only...

...grandpa's house was three stories high. If it was, this'd be the view from one of the bedrooms. I snapped this while wrestling with the chimney a couple of days ago.

Today is my last day here in Colorado (and there was much rejoicing...)--I'll be on the shuttle by 6:15 in the morning tomorrow. I'm going to look in to having the bike shipped, but I might just leave it here. I seriously considered riding it all the way back to Indy on an epic trip, but thought better of it. With the lungs, etc., this just isn't the time to do it.

This trip certainly could've gone better. But the bike, the lovely beer from Ft. Collins, and the baby bunnyrabbits frolicking in the backyard have helped quite a bit. After lunch, Grandpa and I will go to see how much it will cost to ship the bike back, as well as the tent and sleeping bag. It'll be great to get back to my house, where I can resume my reading schedule and not deal with any siding for a while.

The bike shipping would be over $100, with an additional $30 for the necessary crate, so it looks like the bike will be staying here in Colorado for the nonce. It appears we might actually be working on trim, but considering it's after 2p.m. I'm not sure how long Dad'll be working. Once we're done, I'm getting some Fat Tire, by g-d.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fat Tires and Tiny Glasses

Today, partly stemming from needing some sort of exercise to get the lungs going, and greatly as an exercise in maintaining my sanity regarding working with Dad on a home improvement project, I decided to ride the Goodwill Bike all the way from Loveland to Ft. Collins, birthplace of the revered Fat Tire beer. The wind was practically nonexistent, the scenery was lovely, with the foothills of the Rockies to my left, but all that still didn't get me there in time for the last tour of the Brewery at 3:30. I arrived 15 minutes late, and had no choice but to sit in the crowded tasting area and get four samples of the various beers on offer. I sat next to two lovely ladies who became friends exactly 23.5 years before. One lived in Ft. Collins, and the other lived in Travers City MI, flying out to visit. This was her first sightseeing jaunt after landing and they both, in addition to being charming company, were kind enough to snap my picture. The red face ain't from the beer, folks, it's from being perched on a ladder for the past week. I officially have the weirdest tan lines ever. After cycling around the lovely downtown Ft. Collins has, and after the beer-tasting, I rode along the Cache de Poudre River (French for Powderkeg?) and snapped some pix of the massive cottonwood trees. From there, I pedalled, much parched and much fatigued, back home. All told, I cleared about 30 miles.
On the way, I found a brand new hat along the highway. Considering the sun and also considering how burnt my nose is (it feels like hamburger) I snatched it up and put it on. I now appear to be a fan of South Carolina football. Yay Cocks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sun, Surf, and Siding

The lungs are alternately worse and better. I bring the laptop into the tent every evening now so I can listen to music--the Bartok string quartets, lately--and hear something other than my sludgy lungs. This morning I actually woke up earlier than Dad did. My coughing woke me up at 7, I bummed around on the patio for another hour, enticing the squirrels to come closer and closer with my store of grandpa's in-shell peanuts. Sometime after 8 Dad makes an appearance, then disappears for another 20 minutes. Evidently the ladder-climbing is taking its toll.

I'm not sure if I am sliding into bronchitis or not--I still cough for about an hour to an hour and a half in the morning, but after that things seem to be better. Today was spent taking off all of the siding that we put on yesterday, adjusting things, and then putting it all back on again. We have one new sheet up. I'm not at all enjoying this siding application part of the program, and if I was to pick an after-grad-school job, the siding business would not be it.

During Dad's first break I rode down to nearby Lake Loveland and walked around a bit in the perfectly chilled water, finding various stones of pretty colors to take home or lose or something. On riding back, we got the last of the stuff we had cut put up, leaving the odd cut-out sections at the top for tomorrow. This is thrilling news for the general reader, i know I know...

The bunnies are practically impossible to photograph, and in the pix I have, one can tell that it is a bunny, but not just how adorable they are. The temp reached 90, though humidity is only 10%. Dad indicated that he was pretty much done with stuff I'd be helping out with for the day, so I'm back downtown at the library. I'll probably have something to eat here (there's an old place called the Bum Steer or something like that--it has a picture on its sign of a steer's ass--which I might try after I tire of the internet. I've got my fantabulous issue 59 of Willow Springs to read, along with a back issue of Redivider.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Free Davo--Davo Free!

Davo's got wheels! Hot damn! On one of our multiple trips to the hardware store, Dad said from his place in the back seat (the siding flashing running from the dashboard out the passenger window made it impossible to sit shotgun) that we should turn in to the Goodwill store on Eisenhower to see if there is a bike my size that is available for purchase.

I wasn't all that impressed as I turned in to the lot--on view were a lot of bikes that had training wheels still attached to them. Bikes in shades of powder pink or blue that had decals of Dora the Explorer on them, etc. I put on the hazard flashers in the loading zone and jogged over to the front of the store to take a look. I wasn't planning to be there long. One of the bikes, a Mongoose (eh?) with 21 gears and a too-low (but easily adjustable) seat was there. My size. Chain a bit stiff, tires a bit low, but not in rough shape at all. I looked at the other bikes to see what the pricing was.

They appeared to have bar code stickers on them in various shades. I looked for a corresponding sticker on my bike. It was there, right on the handlebars--$10.99.

Really. Eleven bucks for a bike? Consider it sold. Asthma or no, this bike was getting to Boulder Drive somehow. There was no way for it to fit in Grandpa's sporty car, so Dad drove the car home and I pedalled around Lake Loveland to finally pull in to the front yard. With tires pumped up and now properly lubricated, it isn't as fleet of foot as my '60s Schwinn racing bike back at home, but it has a far more comfortable long-term posture. Once things were in order, I worked my way to Old Town Loveland and had a beer and read my book--sheer bliss. The ride back wasn't all that bad, considering the altitude and rheumy lungs, etc. I don't want to leave this bike behind in 5 days. I want to see how to get this bike home.

In other news, we have put up 3 of the 10 panels of siding that we've got. I'm lobbying to work on the lower level stuff (a/k/a not the top half of the chimney) first, so we've got all of the 9-foot-panel necessities out of the way. Dad and I spent much of the day cussing at the panels, the nails (mentioned in the previous post) and each other, but discovered that tiny baby wild bunnies have found the back yard a sort of sanctuary. The parent bunnies are nowhere to be found, but the little things will, in the afternoon, come out to nibble on the grass, and as soon as they do, everything becomes a scene from Bambi. They run rings around the base of the ladder and chase each other, etc., and Dad and I both have no choice but to laugh at each other and our struggle with substandard building materials. I'll work on pix of the little things soon.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Crap, crap, and crap

I'm feeling like crap, folks--no oxygen is getting to my system due to various reasons--I've resorted to Primatene for the first time in about a decade. The stuff allows you to breathe, but I feel like my chest cavity is being artificially expanded by springs. Which hurts. So, I still feel like crap, but each inhalation isn't accompanied by strange notes and bird trills.

We've moved on to replacing siding. It's my first time working on a new construction house, and I have to say I'm appalled at the crap quality of the materials. Constructed in 1987, the siding, which is made essentially out of pressed sawdust, has, from day one, been absorbing rainwater and swelling and falling apart. For no plausible reason, the stuff is put on with 20-penny (3-inch) galvanized nails, which is kinda the equivalent of using a nail gun to fasten an antimacassar to the back of a wing-back chair. Or using a .22 for wart removal. The siding is disintegrating, leaving one with crap everywhere and huge nails to yank out of the framework. For all my gripes about refurbishment, I'll take my 1926-built bungalow any day over a new-built subdivision home.

Well, the sun is down, and it's about time I headed back to my tent. Hopefully things won't be like last night, with a nearby outdoor wedding reception (with horrible outdoor live band) followed by 4 hours of rain. At least I know the thing sheds water now.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Congestion and Intervals

It appears that, with sleeping in the tent the first few cold and stormy days has brought on a cold, which, in addition to the altitude, the asthma, and the allergies, is doing a real number on me. The sun is slowly coming up, which I hope will warm things up quickly, as I'm not terribly warm here in the tent at the moment.

I brought along some review CDs to write up on. Perhaps, if I am able to get access to a bike, I'll do some review-writing at the library. Or perhaps at a used bookstore I found during my walk through the rain a couple of days ago. In light of things musical, I found this in my peregrinations of Cyberspace. I don't know much about this show, but given this snippet, I plan on searching it out...

Today we get plants to put in the beds and perhaps locate a table saw for the siding. Yay.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Day, New Location, and Yard Maintenance

Moving my tent away from the bird feeders, as well as the change in weather, actually conspired to help me sleep in a bit today. Not to jinx it, but the neighbor's dog has not come out to plague me with incessant barking. The kitty chronicles continue--after the big asthma bustout of yesterday, my histamines are on super mega high alert, so now anything that could remotely be considered an allergen is something I'm responding to. Pollen? Check. Dust? With the wind, check. Standing in the house? Triple-word-score, baby. In addition to the lungs, I'm sneezing and have no skin under my nose anymore.
The change in weather has brought out a new feature of the tent--that of solar collector. With vent flaps open and all, temps would mount in the tent to rival a parked car in a sunny lot, as I found out after a brief nap.
We went off to a nearby nursery to check out plants to put in the now-cleared flowerbeds, and in my walking around the place, found the following planter, which I could swear I've seen on some blog or other. At any rate, it bears a very striking resemblance to Iraq War Cheerleader and Fox News fixture William Kristol. The consciously pot-like plant growing out of his head was a nice touch, I thought.
Dad appears to be good for work in the morning up until about eleven, then all action stops until 4. If this schedule holds, I'll be having a lot of time on my hands. I'm hoping I can get my hands on a bike so I can get some exercise and actually see something of this town. It'll also allow for marginally more exciting pix than i've taken so far.
In reading news, I'm about 10 pages from finishing The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and I have to admit I really don't get it. He writes rather like Kafka, with that dreamlike unreality, but i'm not sure what he's satirizing, if he is satirizing. The short stories all interlock, rather like Kate Bernheimer's do, only without so much of a sense of trying to be fairy tales. There is arresting imagery, but I'm just not quite sure what it's all going to. It kinda seems to be about memory, kinda about the dead of the Lost Generation, and kinda about technology:

"It was not man who had broken into the laboratory of nature, but nature that had drawn him into its machinations, achieving through his experiments its own obscure aims. [...] According to [his father's theory], man was only a transit station, a temporary junction of mesmeric currents, wandering hither and thither within the lap of eternal matter. All the inventions in which he took such pride were traps into which nature had enticed him, were snares of the unknown."

This also seems to fit in, if I remember correctly, something similar spoken of in the James Hogg novel, which I unfortunately left at home..Illl have to check on it when I get back.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lows to Highs

Today began a bad day. A bust. The weather crap, cold, and a dismal rain. The night was really bad, with enough of a wind to carry off the tent, had it not been for me lying in it. By the time the birds showed up at 5:30, I was exhausted. A shower didn't help. The weather meant that no siding was going to get done, no yardwork, and the wind made sitting in the tent a stupid option. the lungs bothered me all night, to the point where I chewed an OTC antihistamine to help avoid an actual asthma attack. A day best spent indoors. Unfortunately it was not possible for me to do that at the house, so, after what all parties would consider too much deliberation, I found myself dropped off downtown in the rain. A cup of rank coffee later, I settled in at the City Library for a potentially very long long time in a chair in the Biography section. Luckily, they didn't have lock sleeves on their CD collection, so, after getting hooked up to WiFi, I listened to various CDs while typing emails.

Grandpa and Dad picked me up after noon, and we went driving up to Black Hawk, not greatly far from Estes Park. The rain had turned to snow at some point and I have the pix somewhere in my camera, which is in the house. I've run the weedeater extension cord out to the tent so that I might be able to surf the Internet without further pulmonary shutdown, so instead of a general picture of snow on pines, how about this?

Grandpa, ever the man to grease the rails toward Perdition, handed us each $20 gambling money and set us off on the slots. There was a point where I was actually winning at computer blackjack, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Doubling Down? Splitting? What the hell, I'll try it. I got a free Fat Tire beer, which I figure was worth the five bucks I subsequently lost. My biggest coup was when I stuck in 50 cents in a penny slot and came back with almost five bucks. This, however, didn't make up for the $20 of Grandpa's, that I really hoped I'd make good on, considering how nice he was to get things rolling. We all did just as one would expect.

By the time we were through gambling (Dad and I hazarded a stint at the $5-bid blackjack table, which was very short-lived), the sun was on its way out. By the time we were back home from our picturesque drive back to Loveland, the skies were clear, and the weather tomorrow will be in the 80s and sunny. The wind has picked up, though, which took the tent and flipped it like a bug downwind. I've staked it in the yard, hoping that things are dry enough for me to not have soakthrough at 2a.m.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Ent in a Tent...

Well, the flight, aside from a group of Satan Babies screaming the whole way to Denver, went fine, the bus ride went fine, and the cat-free accommodations are, well, out back. The birds are early on the scene--I woke up feeling like I was in the middle of a Hitchcock film at 5:30 am.

We set to work on the bushes not much later. My project is to convert this
into something that once again resembled a couple of bushes. tonight it's supposed to rain, then more rain, then cold temps in the low 40s, then temps in the 90s. Today there is a tornado warning, a snow advisory, and a flash flood warning all in the same county. Indiana appears to be having similar difficulties. Dad has salmon patties on the stove, and here's hoping that the rain won't blow under the patio roof tonight. The box said that the tent was a "3-person" model, but I'd say that the people they used to gauge the capacity were substantially shorter than I am. I'm sleeping diagonally and things work out fine.
Ok--I'm off to walk around the neighborhood to take pix of things.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Conversations with Satan and Other Ideas

"'you mean "everything is permitted"? Everything is permitted, is that right, is it?'"
The Brothers Karamazov--The Grand Inquisitor

I'm thinking of ideas for upperclassman/grad level classes at the moment and the James Hogg book is helping things along. It is, at times, typically a novel of the 1820s timeframe, and often much better than that typicality. It fits in quite well with timely discussions of religious radicalism. This from page 109:

"'Do you not perceive what mighty powers of mind [mysterious character Gil-Martin] is possessed of' said I, 'and also how clear and unhesitating he is on some of the most interesting points of divinity?'

'It is for his great mental faculties that I dread him,' said [Blanchard] ...He indeed pretends great strictness of orthodoxy regarding some of the points of doctrine embraced by the reformed church; but you do not seem to perceive that both you and he are carrying these points to a dangerous extremity. Religion is a sublime and glorious thing, the bonds of society on earth, and the connector of humanity with the Divine nature; but there is nothing so dangerous to man as the wresting of any of its principles, or forcing them beyond their due bounds: this is of all others the readiest way to destruction. Neither is there anything so easily done. There is not an error into which a man can fall which he may not press Scripture into his service as proof of the probity of...'"

More connections between novels. Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus has a civilized conversation with Satan at its heart, at the mathematical center of the novel. Brothers Karamazov has, technically, two, one at its center and one toward its end. Karamazov has a sort of boyish holy fool who intentionally throws himself down a flight of stairs. Gunter Grass's Tin Drum has a similar character who does the same thing to stay forever a boy. Tin Drum allows this character entree to a concrete hell, as does Mann's Faustus and we are back to the start of this circle. These, among others [Dostoevsky's Demons paired with Heimito von Doderer's Demons (unjustly forgotten); Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, with the first three volumes chronicling the same timeframe from different perspectives, with only the fourth volume as an actual sequel; large novels and structure--the linearity and gridwork of certain novels versus others: Anatole France's novels run in a line as if on rails, versus von Doderer's radial patterning of Demons versus the unfinished Man without Qualities which is a sweeping arch of a bridge into empty space. The open-ended angles of Andrei Bely's Petersburg.] Fodder for essays, maybe.