Notes from the Surf

Lighter in Blender (Video)
I once had a similar effect dumping water into a pot of burning oil - don't try that at home either...

Vancouver - also known as Cloud City (Pic)'s one without spaceships

Backflip on a big wheel (Video)
The next Xtreme sport?

Cost of health care around the world
Life expectancy graphed against per capita spending.

Iraq for Sale "banned in Congress" (Video)
You and your children's tax dollars at work.

Secret Documents Show US Aware of Colombian Army Killings in 1990s
"When the killings became more and more widespread, the armed forces themselves asked the paramilitaries to hide the remains, to keep the country’s homicide rate from soaring any further"

Privatisation killed one million behind former Iron Curtain
Researchers "conclude that as many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies."

"Unarrested" at RNC 2008 (Video)
"Cop Heroically Sprays Mace Indescriminately At Crowd In Retaliation"

Violent unrest rocks China as crisis hits
"television journalists were punished after they prepared a story on the occupation of a textile mill by 6,000 workers."

Influences on Chicago occupation: Land occupations in Brazil, worker-run co-ops in Venezuela, Argentine factory occupations
"On the other hand, for this event to be a spark others will have to pick up the baton."


Not exactly stuck in Lodi again...

"Tow truck drivers are here either to be evil hillbillies or to be hillbillies eaten by monsters" - Jet-Poop

It was one of those days. I'm in the midst of three weeks of leave, serving the dual purpose of nursing Christine through her last three weeks of chemotherapy, and looking after my own body and soul. To that end, I'd taken an hour or so out of the house to do a little grocery shopping, and to find a place where I could sit at the edge of a field and watch the clouds in the big sky that is California's Central Valley.

Would that it had worked out that way. Instead of a nice half-hour of navel-gazing and the collection of half a gallon of milk, I wound up in a ditch on Road 70 a mile north of Davis, waiting for a tow truck that took an eternity to arrive. Not entirely a Good Thing, but not without its benefits either. You see, I've not been looking after myself as I should have been - I'm inclined to feel that sort of guilt that tells me that I should constantly be doing things, and whilst Christine appreciates that, she also recognised that I've been inclined to neglect myself and work up my stress levels. So I did my best to relax as I leant on the truck's bonnet and gazed out over the bedraggled landscape, trying not to observe the mud and roadside shingle that had bogged the truck down off the road.

It's sort of hard to do this when you're angry. Yes, I was angry, with the guy who'd made the decision to overtake an oncoming car and force me into an emergency avoidance manoeuvre. A few days of rain to soften the ground, a swerve off the road, and Bam! I was stuck. Thankfully, the chap who was the object of being overtaken had stopped to help me out, which helped me feel a lot better about it. He was quite apologetic, not on his own behalf, but on behalf of the aggressive nitwit who'd forced the situation in the first place. As neither of us had his license plate number, there was little recourse to have him tracked down and kneecapped, so we settled on trying to extricate me from the morass. Which, I'm sorry to say, failed. I called AAA and arranged to be towed out.

The driver, when he arrived, was helpful in the extreme. Turns out he was originally from Dorset, still had that English West Country twang, and was as curious as to how another Englishman managed to wind up in this state, so to speak. I was as curious as he, and we swapped stories as we fought to drag a 3000-pound truck back onto the asphalt. His was more exciting than mine; he'd fled Venezuela in the 1950s, amidst a silent revolution involving a complex story that sounds more like a X-Files episode than historical fact. There were UFO scares and whatnot, and evidently I missed a vital bit of the tale, because it all sounded fantastical to me. Still, he didn't meet Jet-Poop's expectation, which was Did the tow-truck driver look like an extra from "Deliverance"? Did he say "Heh, yew tawk funny. Yew frum Nevaduh? I hear they gots daincin' gurls thar..." No, there were no dueling banjos, thank goodness.

Looking for snakes in all the wrong places

No, there were no snakes, and not enough water for there to be water snakes, so I had no worries about getting bit. There was a lot of empty quiet, and time to meditate on what's going on in my life right now.

Christine keeps asking me what I want to do when I grow up, and the answer I most often give is along the lines of "lead a quiet life, tread lightly on the Earth and leave some people better off for my being here". I'm not motivated by vast quantities of money, so starting a multi-million dollar business is not on the radar. Writing is, and working the land is. It doesn't leave much for me to do that will provide an income. I'm not likely to write the Great Anglo-American Novel, so the best I'm likely to do is to earn a few shekels writing occasional articles for magazines, somehow completing one of the three books that occasionally pop into my consciousness, or finding some way of making money writing on the internet.

Various book ideas come and go. There's a novel that I'd love to grow from Moonshadow and another based on the fictional life of John Thomas Cholmondeley-Minge. There's one I'd love to write with Christine, on the care and feeding of cancer patients and their carers. There might be another on American beers, if only I can get my arse in gear long enough to drink enough of them, learn how best to write reviews on them, and visit the many microbreweries in the area. There's also a chap we know who is starting to make lots of money from the internet, and he's invited me to write for him. Maybe what I really need to do is to go over one day, armed with a few of the aforementioned beers, and drink a few with him while we set out what I should write, and how.

But I'm too cowardly, too cautious, too tired, too disorganised, and finally, too ill-disciplined and lazy. Christine laughs when I say I'm lazy, but I am. I tend to take the path of least resistance, which provides fewer opportunities for growth and wealth. Good job she didn't marry me for my money, she'd be terribly disappointed about now. That said, I've written over 400 writeups on E2 in a tad over eight years, and they total probably 225,000 words, about two novels' worth. What I need to do is harness that somehow, in a way that will enable me to replace the $1200-odd that I currently earn at work. Can I? Probably, yes. Should I? Maybe. There's the cowardice, right there.

So here I am, out of the literal mud, and stuck in the spiritual. If I can but write my 750 words a day, maybe I'll get up the courage to find an outlet for it. Had I written two novels rather than write for E2, what would I have earned in cash money? Probably not a lot (doubtless there are people here who could tell me that), but it would certainly have been good practice. For now, I need to try and keep my promise to Christine, and write every day, and to try and finish three pieces a week. If I have the self-discipline to do that, maybe I will find the courage to follow one or more of the other options, and turn the dream into reality. Watch this space, and this one.

Staying somewhere cool today. Linda rang up from Gembrook last night. She was sitting outside with their dog Jess. Andy was in training with the CFA (He used to be with them before). Linda said they had burned a very large containment line behind Warburton, but it all depends on the wind now. When she was allowed to check the house a few days ago there were several firetrucks and emergency vehicles down the Warburton East Road which was a comfort to her.

A couple of locals did a citizen's arrest on a guy trying to light a fire behind the Gembrook Pub. Think they dusted him before handing him over to police.


Somebody loves to see your beautiful smile.
Somebody is dying to hear your laugh full of happiness.
Somebody wants you to live.
Speak up!
Somebody wants to hear what you have to say.
Look up!
Somebody wants to look into your gorgeous eyes.
Somebody loves to see your beautiful smile.

Ben's dead. He died 10 years, 5 months ago as of tomorrow. I miss him terribly. I want to talk to him when things are different (when I'm actually going to the gym, how much Al-Anon has changed my life, the fact that my hair is really short now) and when they're the same (talking to friends about Star Wars, any fucking thing that I know he'd understand--and he would, that's part of what made him Ben.) I'm almost 43. He never got to be 33.

I'm re-watching Queer As Folk. Gale Harold's character is not a particularly laudable character, but he does have Ben's mouth, and some of his expressions. When Brian Kinney is upset, he looks like Ben. I could tell you specific moments--the episode, the season, the time on the DVD--when the brows crease and the lips curl and it looks, breathtakingly for me, like Benjamin. It makes me dream of him, and for that the DVDs are beyond price.

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