sweep it under the rug

Bath party?
Man, I don’t know about this war. The longer it goes on, the less and less progress I see. Now, I know that’s just me – and I’m not as educated on things as some may be. But the daily bodycounts reported on CNN and other news outlets seems to recall Vietnam just a little too closely. (I know you’re not supposed to start a sentence with “but,” but sometimes it just makes so much sense. “However” can get overused and there’s not really another easy contrasting lead-in. Anyway, Stephen King does it – and he makes millions, so I’m OK with it.)

I really don’t know where I stand on this war. In general, I’m against war – like I think any intelligent person would be. Then again, I realize that not all situations can be resolved in a peaceful manner – and that sometimes you need to take action. I think most people with a little intelligence would take a stance somewhere in the “fighting sucks, but I won’t just roll over” vein. Protecting yourself, or someone helpless, seems OK to me. But fighting should be used only as a last resort. I know, it’s an over-simplified outlook on the whole thing – but I’m not trying to solve the whole war and peace thing right here and now.

This war, however, seems a little less than “right” to me. I realize these people were under the rule of a tyrannical dictator. I realize that freedom to do and think as you please is important, and that all people deserve it. I realize that without that oppressive leader in place, the people of Iraq stand a better chance of gaining some of those all-important freedoms. However, I’m not entirely sure that our purpose over there was that noble. And I’m not so blindly optimistic as to think that those freedoms will be miraculously bestowed after a few months of military “house cleaning.” And will those freedoms now come with new strings attached?

I don’t think I’m too hung up on the “Bush lied about WMD” thing, for a couple reasons. 1. He could have. 2. We would’ve gone anyway. Yes, I agree Bush may have used a lot of misdirection to try and gather national and international support for the war agenda. But if it wasn’t the threat of WMDs or harboring terrorists, it would’ve been another reason. Did he lie to his country and the world?, perhaps he did. But shit, you’re telling me that world leaders don’t bend the facts to suit national agenda? C’mon. Even the UN didn’t buy the immediacy that Bush placed on Iraq’s WMD prospects – so there was no way I’d be jaded enough to buy it. But, shock and horror, presidents lie too. Bush said Iraq WMD, Clinton said he didn’t sex up Monica, Reagan couldn’t recall if they sold guns to those contras, and Nixon wasn’t a crook. Problem is, people are dying.

Now we’re screwed though. We went in and fucked up that whole country. Shook the leaves off the Baath party tree and are busy installing a more “friendly” government. We exploded peoples’ houses and buildings, cut the power, changed the lives of a whole country full of people in a matter of weeks. We stirred up the beehive, and before things get any better – they are going to get really turbulent. Meanwhile, we’ve got people dying – not at the atrocious rates we saw in Vietnam, but they are still people. People from all over the world are there and are dying to help “rebuild” this country. I just hope it’s worth it. Saddam was bad, his ruling party was bad, and the people will be better off being out from under their rule… right? I’m just not sure which way the balance works out.

See what I mean? I can’t really articulate my position that well. We’re there now, and we better be committed to fixing what Saddam and we ourselves did to bring that country to the ruined state it’s in now. I’ve got asinine friends at work who think we should “turn that whole desert to glass.” Y’know, drop a nuke on all those “camel-jockeys” and be done with the whole dirty, evil, ignorant lot of them. I can’t believe there are people who think like this. As long as Anheuser-Busch keeps putting Bud Light in cans and there’s a Winston Cup race every week, the rest of the world can eat a big fat A-bomb. My God is more right and more just than your God, and the world would be a better place without you and your blasphemous country anyway. These are intelligent people too! Intelligent people who would actually support us annihilating an entire country full of people. Sweep that shit under the rug I guess. I can’t fathom that mindset. Ahh, but I’m getting off track now.

War is bad. Saddam was bad. Him being gone is good. People dying is bad. But what do we do now? Leave? That would be a worse fate than leaving Saddam in power. I’m just a dude with a very marginal knowledge of the politics and power that are in play here – but the previous paragraphs are my best attempt to categorize where I stand on the whole thing. What’s that? I didn’t clarify where I stand at all? Yeah… that sucks.

On to non-war talk. This weekend we went to see the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Man, what a great film. I hate Jim Carey, but he did a great job in it. Really interesting. Since we didn’t go to Chowchilla as planned, I worked in the yard all weekend. On Saturday I bought all the parts for the sprinkler manifold and control valves for the backyard. Then put it all together and spliced it into the main water. Everything worked, and now I just have to connect the valves to the controller in the garage and lay the main pipe.

I had planned to rent a trencher and share it with Dan, since he’s doing sprinklers as well. We figured we could split the cost and save some money. Well, at the last minute Sunday I changed my mind and went ahead and rented one solo. It took me six hours of wrestling and fighting with that 400lbs beast of a machine to get all my trenches dug. And I still have another few hours of trench “cleanup” before I can actually put the pipe down. I’m physically drained from pushing and pulling that machine, it really beats you up. My yard is so unbelievably rocky that it’s akin to cutting through granite the entire time. There would’ve been no way Dan and I could’ve both got our trenching done in one day, so it’s a good think I rented it alone. In the end, I got all the trenches dug according to plan. I plan to use the light hours after work this week to clean up the trenches and layout the pipe for quick assembly.

OK, I’ve written a lot here. Time to sign off. Check out this CNN article about emulation and retro gaming. Now the secret’s out, as am I.

pray or die

He parted a sea?
Seems like things have slowed down a bit at work since I cancelled my trip. The urgency that was driving me last week has lessened a bit, and now I’m a little more relaxed about the deadlines that are coming up. It’s also coming up on that nice time of year where I start getting itchy for a vacation. Luckily, there is already some stuff on the horizon that I’ve got to look forward to.

Since I was writing about the backyard project yesterday, I got to thinking about how we can get going again and start making some progress. I took some time to update my backyard drawings with a detailed irrigation plan. I’ve been delaying the relatively cheap task of installing sprinklers, mainly because I just hadn’t planned enough to jump in. So, with the help of some online resources, I mapped out pipe layout, sprinkler head location, spray radiuses, hydro-zones and associated flow rates and pressure requirements. It was kinda fun actually, appealing to the engineer in me I suppose. Now all that’s left is to rent the trencher and see if it can hack my rocksoil. Supplies should only run about $200 and the labor is light, so this could potentially be a one-weekend project.

Easter is this next weekend and that gets me thinking about church. We haven’t been to church with any regularity in years. Back in Florida, we went twice a week. I miss it. Without getting into my views on religion, and how they’ve changed in the past few years – suffice it to say that I do enjoy going to church. I enjoy the people at church, I enjoy the setting, I enjoy the history, and I hold the majority of values taught there to be important human qualities. My alliance with some major points of doctrine may not be where the church would ideally have them, and I have adopted a very liberal stance on a few of the absolutist-positioned items that most good Christians stand behind – but I do still have some sort of “faith.”

A few years ago I realized my view of religion was changing when I asked myself: “If someone all-knowing challenged you to put your life at stake by stating your unequivocal belief that certain biblical events happened as they are written, would you?” When it came down to it I guess I just didn’t have enough faith to risk my life on whether or not a man really did get swallowed by, and lived inside, a fish. Sure it’s a hypothetical, but it serves to show what I mean by saying my beliefs have changed. While I’m a far cry from a cynical atheist, my views on certain aspects of religion have changed. Having said that, I still miss church.

Well, I guess I did end up “getting into it” after all. Summed up, I think I’ve adopted a more common-sense approach to religion. Sorry to get all God on you guys, that kind of writing typically stays in the not-on-the-internet journal. Back to my normal hedonistic rambling in 3, 2, 1…

The lead story on CNN this morning had a sentence that I found hilarious: “U.S. Marines engaged in intense fighting in Fallujah today in an attempt to pacify the city…” Fighting to pacify? Am I the only one that finds that to be an odd concept? Kind of like a “peace-keeping missile,” I can understand the intent of the wording – but in reality it just makes you sound pretty dumb. They also had a sidebar item noting the news that Senator Kennedy is calling Iraq “Bush’s Vietnam.” While I don’t fully agree with the comparison in terms of the reason for fighting – I do see the parallel he’s trying to get it with the whole “spirit” of the situation. Without outing myself as a dove, I do wish we wouldn’t have gone to Iraq without UN blessing. WMD or not, Al Qaeda or not, I just think it wasn’t the wisest decision to go all commando and defy the UN.

Why didn’t someone tell me that yesterday’s entry was rife with spelling errors? I re-read it last night and was embarrassed at how dumb it sounded. OK, I’ve reached the “been staring at the page waiting for the next subject to pop into my head” time-limit and must therefore bid you all adieu.

Dave out.

this bitchin’ secret cave

I pledge alligiance, to whatever I like.
This morning I woke up thinking it was Wednesday. I even checked my calendar to see what I had going on. I don’t know why, I guess I’m just thinking ahead or something. Looking forward to the weekend perhaps. I kinda wish it was Wednesday.

Man, last night was a crazy dream night. I woke up with so many dreams still lingering in my head. The main one I can remember involves being naked in public places. I found that strange. I mean, I’ve heard of the classic “at school naked” dreams, but I’ve never actually had one. I this dream, I was about to take a shower – so I stripped off my boxers and started walking to the shower. Only thing was, I was at work. To make matters worse, the bathroom at work with the shower was on a different floor than I was, and I hadn’t realized it. Funny since there are no showers at work. In my dream I realized about halfway to where the shower-equipped bathroom should be that I was on the wrong floor. At that point I was stuck. At first I started looking for another bathroom to duck into, but there were none on whatever floor I was on. So I had to walk back to wherever I had come from, stark naked. I remember trying to act like it was all normal as hell, ignoring the stares from strangers. At one point I think the scene changed from work to a shopping mall – just for added humiliation I think. You know how dreams are. Anyway, I remember being all self-conscious and terrified. Strange dream.

The other dream I remember is, I think, somewhat of a revisit to a dream that’s slowly becoming a recurring one. In the only other two recurring dreams I have, the scenery is what makes them “recurring.” However, in this dream – it’s the events that happen the same, not necessarily the surroundings. I think I wrote about it before, but it involves swimming or diving underwater and discovering a hidden cave. Often I’m trying to escape from someone, or hiding from something underwater. Then I always find this bitchin’ secret cave, which in my head is kinda similar to One-Eyed Willie’s pirate ship cave from the Goonies. One element of the story that never fails – there’s always a ladder leading down a small rock-chimney into the cave proper. I think the ladder and underwater/secret cave must signify something, but I dunno what.

There was even another dream, where I was living or at least staying in a trailer park. I was the friend of a woman who was in the middle of a failing marriage. I recall lying down in the room where I was staying, hearing them fight, and feeling sad. I remember seeing her in her all-black underwear, crying on a bed in the room across the hall after the fight was over. I think that’s when I left to take a shower… and it turned into the naked-at-work thing from above. Such crazy dreams, I never remember them like that. Wonder if the dream-gods are trying to communicate with me or something.

Well, off dreams and onto reality. I saw the governor on TV this morning before work, talking about the two propositions he’s got on the March ballot. Since I have no idea what either is, I wanted to check it out. On the commercial, if I understood the Austrian accent right, Arnold describes the two propositions as: One to balance the budget and stop the overspending, and one to “tear up the credit card for good.” I liked the credit card analogy at least. Anyway, from what he said in the thirty-second spot, both items sounded reasonable to me. However, being a child of the ever-mistrusting Gen X, I wanted to do a bit o’ research for myself. I found this site which summarizes the current propositions, as well as this one. I found this “yes” site for 56, as well as this “no” site. I found this “yes” site for 57 and 58, and couldn’t seem to find a “no” site. So, I started reading.

After some research, I think I figured out the following: Prop 56 eases the quorum by which a budget is passed – requiring only a 55% vote versus the current 2/3. It also sets aside money for “certain circumstances.” I’m assuming that is the equivalent of me putting extra dough into savings for “what if’s.” Also, and I like this part, if the budget isn’t balanced, the governor and legislature don’t get paid. The opposition to this one say that it also makes it too easy for the legislature to approve tax hikes without enough constituent representation. Prop 57 is getting us some near-term savings by getting what’s essentially a debt refi bond, giving us lower payments over more time (the whole time-vs.-money thing again). Prop 58 makes a balanced state budget a constitutional requirement, and limits the taking out of new bonds to solve the problem (this must be “tearing up the credit card for good”). To me, 56 and 58 sound logical, while Prop 57 sounds kinda iffy. Then again, 56 could be dangerous in that a slim majority (55%) could potentially pass bad stuff. Seems like 57 and 58 enjoy some bipartisan support (1st Google link), which is interesting.

Well, there’s an ignorant voter’s take on what these things mean. At least I feel better for looking into it, now I can vote with some knowledge. I still don’t know if I trust the websites I read… it’s times like these when I need my politico friend Kristi to walk me through the stuff, so I can get a better handle on it. Owell.

Wanna see what Anthony’s gay ass did? He made a color-coded spreadsheet to figure out who owes who what for our recent concertgoing. You can tell he made it, because I ended up owing everyone everything. Peace out y’allz. On the real.

lost in cyberspace

The original sin.
Ever since I being a teenager, I can remember being interested in religion. No one religion in particular, just religion and theology in a historical sense. I find myself fascinated with the various ways mankind dealt with the unknown throughout history. How beliefs developed, how they theological issues affected culture at the time, and just the sheer amount of beliefs and ideas that are out there. I routinely try and trace the branches in the family tree of religious and philosophical thought, going back to the “beginning” and working forward through names like Hermes, Zoroaster, Plato, etc. There are so many interesting insights that can be made into how certain lines of thinking either came to prominence or got squashed. It’s not just age-old religion and philosophy that I enjoy, I also enjoy reading up on the more modern developments. Everything from Mormonism to Scientology, and as far-reaching as modern Freemasonry and Extreme-Right Militia nuts. There are nuggets of wisdom to be found in all of them I guess, even if they are the Berenstain Bears “what not to do” kind. Example? While reading about post- and pre-Christian Gnostic thought, I found a very interesting redux of the Gnostic creed: “Gnostics do not seek salvation from sin, but instead seek to escape ignorance, believing that sin is merely a consequence of ignorance.” Sounds relatively right to me.

Thanks to the great free online encyclopedia Wikipedia for all the reference links in the above paragraph.

The creepiest thing happened the other day at work. I got a phone call from what I think was my dad’s cell phone. However, instead of my dad on the other end, it was a kind of radio-static sound, like someone switching stations. There were several voices talking over each other at first, and I couldn’t make out much. After a couple minutes the signal cleared up and I could hear a child’s voice reciting a list of dates. It sounded like a little girl, and she was just reading dates: “January 15th, January 26th, August 12th, etc.” She read dates for about 5 minutes (I copied most of them down in case it was a message about my future or something). As the call went on, it became clear that the child was talking to her mother, and I could eventually hear a woman replying. I heard some brief talk about money and insurance. Finally I decided that my dad must’ve inadvertently called me from what I figure was most likely the pharmacy. So Pop, either you’re gonna get a huge cell phone bill for accidentally calling me and not knowing it – or I got some freaky Twilight Zone call from the future, with some child letting me know important dates-to-come. Weird.

So, to kinda follow up on the whole Super Bowl thing, some news outlets are carrying a story about how TiVo says the halftime show “wardrobe malfunction” was the most replayed TV event in the company’s history. Now, call me dumb – but I didn’t know TiVo was tracking my viewing habits. I don’t remember signing any kind of agreement about that, although I’m sure it’s in some EULA somewhere that I “accepted” by getting their service. Seems strange that they can just watch and monitor what I watch and when, even to a level of detail to see what I rewind and pause the most? Big brother truly is watching. Although I try to watch as little TV as possible, I have found that TiVo has totally changed my habits. I no longer “have” to see anything, I just record it and watch it when I want. If something sounds even remotely interesting, why not record it and check it out at my leisure? I can always fast-forward through it or erase it. Plus, jumping through commercials makes the whole thing that much more rad.

Reading another of the online journals I keep up with, I found this “President Match” test. By answering the questions (it’s pretty short), you can see which candidate is most compatible with your thinking based on where they stand on the issues. When I took the test, Bush scored dead last with 55% commonality with my answers. Edwards was 100% aligned with my answers, and Kerry was 98% aligned. Kind of an interesting survey in that it really boiled down some major issued to nice, pointed questions. There was a lot of stuff on there that I really have no opinion on, like some of the Medicare and prescription drug coverage stuff, as well as things that I’m just ignorant about like NAFTA and certain aspects of foreign trade.

Looking at the questions and issues the survey covered, you can really see a dichotomy in the thinking that must be prevalent here in the US. While it’s never as simple as black or white, there are just some issues that will never be decided: abortion, capital punishment, religion, etc. They will always be fiercely opposed to each other and almost certainly never be able to find a happy medium. It seems the US is still a pretty conservative country on average, with things like a national furor over the Super Bowl halftime show showing just how not ready we are, as a country, for that type of display. Whereas in Europe, soap operas show more than that on a daily basis.

I’m not saying that all conservative viewpoints are wrong, nor am I allying myself with all liberal ideals. Hell, for the most part I don’t really care that much – but I know a nut when I see one, and I can spot a crazy idea, liberal or conservative, fairly easily. Politics aren’t really my cup of tea, but I do respect the fact that I can play a role in how things go by voting. While my prevailing attitude towards politics is one of apathy and “who cares,” I do try and keep abreast of things so I can at least know what’s going on. I guess that’s better than most of the Reality TV generation coming up now. Sorry Reality TV generationers, but it’s my duty as your senior to look down upon you as the eventual downfall of this world. Because as we all know, each generation’s junior generation is always taking this world to hell in a handbasket? it’s just your lot. Prove me wrong.

Well, I had some other stuff written which I e-mailed to myself, but it has apparently gotten lost in cyberspace. Guess I can post it tomorrow instead. Dave out.

no vehicle access

tippecanoe and tyler too, we like ike, and all that jazz
Tomorrow’s the big election. And since it’s my civic duty to vote, I am scrambling to read as much about the major players as I can before the I head to the polls. It’s pathetic that I don’t know who I’m gonna vote for, but I’ll do my best. I’ve been visiting the candidates’ websites, which (in my mind) does no good – they’re gonna make themselves sound rosy. So I’ve been reading debate transcripts and whatnot. Basically, it’s down to three choices: no recall, Bustamante, or Arnold. Any other vote would just be a throwaway. Kristi (a federal lobbyist, and by far my most political-minded friend) was kind enough to put together an e-mail for me, collecting some of the better links re: the recall. Hopefully, I can get this all sorted. Argh.

Yesterday, Anthony, Ben, Brontë… and I took the Discovery out for another intended 4×4 romp. The plan was to head to this 4×4 park that’s near my house. When we got there, however, it was closed down due to some special race they were having. We were pretty bummed about that. So we drove around, trying to rack our brains and think of some exciting places we could take the truck. The idea of the Auburn State Recreational Area came up again, as did Ruck-A-Chucky. Ben said he knew of some dirt roads up that way, near the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge and Mosquito Ridge Road. So we settled in for a drive towards the Auburn SRA.

Eventually, we ended up just deciding to try out Ruck-A-Chucky. Ruck-A-Chucky is a famous rapids/waterfall section on the middle fork of the American River. It’s where most of the middle-fork whitewater trips end, and it’s also where Sharaun and I love to go camping. The middle-fork is set in this huge canyon, and it’s really quiet and awesome being down by the river. To get down into the canyon to the river, you take this washed out dirt road that winds down one canyon wall to the river. The road is pretty rough, so we thought it might be fun to test the Rover on it.

We crossed the Foresthill Bridge and continued on towards Driver’s Flat Road, which is were you turn to get down into the gorge where Ruck-A-Chucky is.

<begin tangent>
On the way, we saw some dude in a minivan towing a couple dirtbikes (there are several OHV trails for dirtbikes and ATV’s in the Auburn SRA, so you see bikes being towed all over place). The guy’s tying-down job on one of his bikes wasn’t perfect, and he lost the left one right in front of us. It smashed onto the highway and was dragged for about 30ft before he noticed it had fallen. Sucks for him.
</end tangent>

Anyway, we started down the dirt road at a reasonable clip. The truck effortlessly tackled some washboard bumpiness that would have left lesser cars (lowered Civics) stranded. We drove down to the river and went as far upriver as we could. Eventually we turned right at a sign marked “no vehicle access,” and did some decent offroadin’. The day was pretty fun, and Ben captured it on his new camera. Being the second-best web dev he is, he’s already got the pix up in his gallery section. You can view the day’s events in living color and moving pictures over at this link. (Note: as of Monday morning, Ben’s site was experiencing some technical difficulties – so these links may or may not work when you click ’em).

In other news, the retaining wall is done! Well, let me qualify that. The retaining wall is stacked. It still needs to be backfilled, but other than that it is complete. I will add some pix to the backyard site as soon as possible (it’s on my long list of junk to do).

I’m out.