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I wish to start a political party. It will be founded on the principle of total predictability. I will call it the Logic Party. This will not be your "Vote Vulcan" are-you-a-trekkie-or-a-trekker kind of bullshit--OBEY WILLIAM SHATNER and GET A LIFE--kind of thing. Rather, the fundamental tenet of the Logic Party will be that A) lots of decisions will be made, every day, and B) any decisions that get made will be totally predictable and consistent given the constraints of any situation.

No magic will be invoked. There will be no non-sequiturs. There will be no stupidity or evil. Only rationality. The number one rule of the Logic Party will be: never remove your brain. Operating a human body without a brain will be punishable by banishment (see below).

The Logic Party will infuriate exactly 50% of the population of the United States with every decision it makes. But every decision will be totally predictable, unalterable, and understandable.

People will say, "I hate this shit, but I understand it."

For instance, if there is money to be spent, it will be spent. All of it. If the accounts run dry, there will be no money for anybody, no matter how hard you whine.

We will not threaten to shut down hospitals, libraries, sewage treatment plants, water towers, or electric power generation stations, to get people to pay more taxes or higher prices for things. There will just be no money. These things will disappear. When they are out of your life, the Logic Party will suggest ways to get them back. You will choose how this happens. You might not like it. But you will get them back. Taxes or higher prices may be involved. You as an owner of a human brain will decide. It will not be decided for you.

The Logic Party will not misappropriate your money. The penalty for corruption like embezzlement will be banishment to Johnson Island. You will be dropped off on Johnson Island, naked and penniless. It will be up to you to decide how to survive and how to get back, if you want.

There will be no death penalty. Nobody will be killed in the name of the state. Instead, there will be Johnson Island.

We will not threaten other countries. When we are mad at them, we will obliterate them. Our ability and total willingness to obliterate anyone we get cranky with will be our national defense. It will be totally understandable and reasonable.

National policy corollary number one will be to never to get mad at anyone for any reason. It will be a national goal. We will celebrate "100 years of never losing our temper," and then 500. Getting mad will require a vote of congress and a general vote of the population. 100% of congress and 3/4 of the humans in the country will need to be mad before "a state of madness" is declared. The 25% of those unmad people will be invited to watch Tom Hanks movies while some part of the world is vaporized. Chits for free popcorn will be distributed.

People will be encouraged to worship the God of their choice, or to not worship anything for any reason. The requirement will be to have an opinion on the subject. God worshipping will be viewed as a human right. Not God worshiping will be viewed as a human right. Everyone will get one day off per week to either worship God or not. Movies, books, and National Park entry will all be free on that day.

I think it should be Thursday.

Consenting adults will be able to stick any appendage, device, appliance, limb, into any of their personal bodily orifices or those of another consenting adult without state involvement.

Any two people will be able to form a union that allows them to take care of each other until they die.

An important national goal will be to outlast the duration of The Roman Empire. Then we will try for more.

We will have national goals. People will be encouraged to help the nation meet them. Participation will be optional, though chits for free burgers will be given to those who can prove they've helped.

I live in California. It's a blue state. This year I learned that blue means Democrat and red doesn't mean communist anymore (which would probably be ultraviolet in the political spectrum) but rather, red is Republican. In the days of Nixon, we called the Republican Party the G.O.P. (grand old party). But now it's red.

My friend and I were driving to Starbucks for our afternoon coffee and a pickup truck cut us off. The truck had a broom handle mounted in the bed, vertically, and upon the handle was stapled an American flag. My friend said, "I didn't think they allowed those guys over here on the peninsula."

For those of you who don't live in California, what he was referring to was the demography of San Francisco bay-area politics, which suggests that people who live closer to the Pacific Ocean are more liberal in their political leanings than those who live closer inland.

I said to him, because he's my friend and I can say things like this: "This bugs the shit out of me. I'm probably more liberal than that guy, but if I were to display the American flag so haphazardly, people would presume I was conservative Republican. Why is that? Why can't I be American, too?"

He said, "That's because more people on the liberal side of things are likely to abuse the flag by burning it or wearing it like a diaper than people on the right."

Now, since Abby Hoffman, I have personally not seen this happen. Not even on television, which I don't watch very much of, admittedly. Maybe that's the problem. If I'd watch more Fox news I'd see more flag burning and hate mongering. Because I have my head in the sand I think Democrats are Americans, too.

Silly me.

By the way. I have avoided political designation but if my arm was totally twisted around the back of my head I'd claim to be Libertarian, would arm myself to the teeth and go hide out in a valley in Idaho and wait for the UFOs to land. While I was waiting I would found the Logic Party.

I am for John Kerry in this election. As I have said before, I believe George Bush's agenda can be summed up as follows, "Surrender your liberties to me, and we will subjugate the profitable sections of the world."

By the way, I think John Kerry's agenda can be summed up thus: "...hey, what did I just say, before, yesterday, whatever?"

I have given money to John Kerry's efforts, because I believe that if our only weapon is stupidity, then stupidity must defeat evil. A man who hides behind God while violating the word of the same God, is a false prophet. Probably THE false prophet. The great thing about the separation of church and state is that the President of the U.S. at times MUST KILL PEOPLE, thus effectively violating the fifth commandment God himself gave to Moses a couple thousand years ago. People will be killed. Evil will be performed in the name of National Security. Pretending God wants this to happen is a sin according to God. Yaway, Allah, Father-son-holy ghost--never said, "Kill your enemies in my name. Your enemies are my enemies." Never. Not once. Anywhere. Plain and simple. If we did what Jesus said, we'd be Gandhi. We'd be standing in front of an advancing army in our underwear. Russian nuclear weapons would have wiped us out in the 60's, if we'd all been devout. We'd be under France's thumb like quivering lab mice. We'd be slaughtered like lambs.

I believe that's the biblical term. Like lambs. Lamb of God.

Turn the other cheek. Render unto Caesar. Blah blah. If we truly followed the teachings of Christ we would not be enriching ourselves via our political connections. We'd be Saint Francis. We'd run around naked until someone clothed us. We'd starve until someone fed us.

This is one reason why there's a separation. It's not feasible to run a religious government. In fact, history has proven that any government founded on religion is doomed. (Of course, all governments are doomed, eventually, I suppose, but religion drives you to hell faster.)

The other reason is because there is no national religion here. The founders of this place escaped religious persecution by coming here. Etc.

(So we came here and wiped out the indigenous culture, who were in their own way a warring bunch, and in our infinite purity we made them open casinos and dance in our National Parks.)

The work of the state is exclusively the purvey of mankind. It is messy and non biblical. Nobody wants to be devout and be slaughtered like God suggests. Especially not me. I'm for fighting and wiping floors with my enemies' scalps. God has nothing to do with this. There is no rationalization that makes sense. Standing up and being Christian, and worrying about stem cell research and gay marriage while killing people half a world away is just plain comedy.

By the way, how many of you Americans out there are traveling internationally on business? How do you like the work out there in the "rest of the world(nudge nudge)" with "W" in the White House? Kind of makes you feel EXPOSED, does it, walking around in a train station at the middle of the night in a foreign land, looking all American, with your western accent and the last episode of "Joan of Arcadia" running through your brain? Worried about flying? Eyeing every dark skinned guy in coach with a beard and bushy eyebrows? Maybe you can just stop doing business with Europe or Asia and just stay here and buy things from Texas(deep red) or California(purple).

By the way, the trade deficit means if we stop buying stuff from THOSE people, we die. Ok? Because we don't actually MAKE anything here anymore. Italy will have us subjugated in no time. Hope you can speak some Italian. I can.

I will vote for the, "Duh, what the fuck?" candidate, because I believe the confusion he causes will mean less death and destruction for the less enlightened peoples of the world than the focused, "Get the fuck off my planet," attitude demonstrated by the undereducated, so called Christian whiny boy currently occupying the seat of power in my country.

And then the next thing I'll do is work for the campaign to help Arnold Schwarzenegger defeat that equally mindless idiotrix, Barbara Boxer, for the senate seat she has occupied for the last twelve miserable years.

Actually, I wish to clone Dianne Feinstein. I want her ass in both seats. Maybe we can just skootch one over. Her ass would probably be better accommodated by two, anyway.

This, "No Child Left Behind" idea seems like, "Put all poor kids in jail," to me.

Let's analyze: Federal standards for public school performance seems like a great idea. It is, actually, a great idea. Then maybe our high school graduates would be able to hold their own in math contests with second graders from countries like Japan if we actually made sure American kids learned something.

Another good idea (irrespective of my wife being a card carrying member of the NEA): giving teachers yearly reviews like the WHOLE DAMNED REST OF THE BUSINESS world. Chucking tenure. Making people answer for the quality of their work. Good idea.

Really good idea: Pay teachers 2-3X what they get now. Did you know you can make more money collecting garbage in Santa Clara county, California, than educating its youth? True story. Maybe if teaching jobs paid well, better qualified people would try to become teachers instead of garbage collectors.

Another good idea (these Republicans have a lot of them. I vote for them occasionally): Test kids to see how they're doing. Maybe we could actually find out if they weren't doing well BEFORE they graduate and have no alternatives left to them than teaching or garbage collection.

Now here's the Really dumb asinine idea: cut off funding for schools whose students don't meet federal minimum requirements as measured by the testing.
Hello, is this thing on? Did I just hear that?

The fucking car is running out of gas, and the solution is to take away all the gas money? WTF?

As the charter member of the Logic Party, I smell the fetid stench of stupidity at play. Under the Logic Party, stupidity is a federal crime.

In San Jose, California there are school districts where more than 80% of the enrolled students are legal (notice the word LEGAL is not the word ILLEGAL) immigrants with little English language skill. In our state, we have passed a law forbidding bilingual education in the public schools. After all, which should be the OTHER language? Why not French or Inuittuktuk?

There will soon be Logic Party applications. I will hand them out.

The kids can't speak English, but they can only be taught and tested in English. They can't possibly make the minimum Federal Requirements, EVER. So what will happen to those schools under our illogical President's administration? Their funding will be cut off, so their teachers will be laid off and there will be no school supplies or electricity in the school house.

The children will go to school, and there will be no fucking school at school. Their parents will be given vouchers to go to private schools they will not be able to attend because they do not meet the minimum standard requirements for private school. As they are poor, they will certainly not be able to pay the "surcharges" demanded by the private schools above and beyond the voucher amount, because nobody could profitably educate a child for the ridiculously small sums allocated by our government--so when we privatize education there WILL be surcharges.

So they will grow up stupid (which will be illegal), unable to work in any job (except teaching or garbage collection) and many will opt to exercise their second amendment rights to own firearms, and being stupid and uneducated, they'll go to jail. Because what is being said here is that the public education system is failing, and we should just give it up because it's unfixable.

Next is, "Goddamned this whole private property mess. It would be easier if we could put the gun batteries wherever we wanted. Let's just condemn Los Angeles."

The Logic Party doctrine suggests two courses of action are possible: A) Put all native Spanish-speaking children in jail at birth. B) Elect a president who isn't a fucking dickhead.

Have you been with me till now? Will you follow me my lead? After this you'll be tossing rocks and checking the internet for sources of plastic explosives and Bibles.

Last weekend I decided it was time to take the children shooting. I've been a gun owner since I turned 18. I own handguns. Couple 9mm handguns. A .22. Some rifles. I'm American.

When I was a kid in New Jersey, all my friends had guns. It was tough to get guns. We had to go to the police station, get fingerprinted, and be interviewed by the Chief of Police, who upon his own satisfaction decided whether or not to grant us 18-year olds permission to purchase a weapon. It was worse if you wanted a handgun. There were FBI background checks and a mandatory gun safety course.

Never once did me or any of my gun-owning friends shoot up a high school. We did not rob convenience stores. By the standards of today's yellow journalism we were all "heavily armed youths". We did not threaten to kill playground bullies. We did not threaten law-abiding citizens. We did not foment terror.

WHY? If ever once, I pointed a weapon at another living creature, my father would tear off my arms and beat me to death with them. And if he failed to kill me, he would enlist me in the Army where they would teach me proper gun safety techniques. And the same was true for all my friends and their fathers.

When it came time for me to own a weapon, I went right for the max--handgun permit. It took me months but I got it, and I purchased my first weapon, a Smith and Wesson Model 59. Went to the classes. Went to the range. Fired thousands of rounds.

My NEA-member wife will never admit to the other union members that one of our first dates was to a pistol range. (and she is a dramatically good shot)

When we had our first baby, I locked up the guns and put them away in the attic. Got rid of all the ammo in the house. It stayed that way for 18 years. My kids knew there were firearms somewhere in the house, but they didn't know where, and even if they found them, they'd have to know how to reassemble field-stripped weapons, after they picked the locks on the firearms boxes, and then the trigger locks, etc.

The Logic Party's justification for gun ownership is this: there has only ever been less restrictive gun laws in our country. With the exception of the "assault rifle ban" which just expired in certain states (not mine), gun ownership has only ever gotten more difficult to achieve.

Yet gun crime goes up. Kids walk into schools and kill each other. Gang bangers and psychos rob people with Mac-10s. What's with this shit? Back at the turn of the 20th century, you could buy a Thompson Submachine Gun at the hardware store along with your garden rake. People shot gophers with them.

Gun control absolutely works, to a point. There are hardly any crimes performed by people possessing machine guns. Clearly, the fact it is terribly illegal to own one has kept them out of the hands of criminals and no normal human being has a need for a machine gun any more than he needs a steam-powered marine-pier pile driver. And I think a total gun ban would keep lots more guns out of the hands of criminals, because there'd be less around.

I see that logic.

I also think that banning guns because people are wacko is like reinstituting prohibition to stop drunk driving. Indeed, there would be less DUI-related accidents if alcohol was outlawed. Likewise, if automobile ownership was severely restricted, there'd be less pollution, less traffic-related injury, and less reliance on foreign oil. If we set limits on the amount of groceries an American family could purchase in one week, adolescent obesity would cease to be a concern.

The Logic Party would see the logic in all of that.

Yet, as the founding member of the Logic Party, I agree with none of it. And primary Logic dictates we exercise judgment. Number one rule of the Logic Party: NEVER SEPARATE YOUR BRAIN FROM YOUR BODY.

The problem with gun crime is with criminals. And that sounds stupid, even to me, but it's true. As a kid I knew that if I made even one single mistake with a firearm, it was liable to cause grievous harm, and so I didn't get to make a mistake. And if my father caught me in the process of making a mindless firearm-related safety error, the penalties would be extreme. I chose to enjoy that sport knowing the downside risk.

I think the problem with guns and crime and all of the above is the fact that my father and men like him are almost totally dead. Where is the man to put the fear of God into the adolescent? Where are the men who made these kids? Why are they not threatening them with dismemberment, and coaching them with kindness?

Instead, we make up for the absence of living men by trying to pretend kids are adults. Kids are not adults. Kids are kids. Kids are not to be trusted because they are CHILDREN. They stick their tongues in wall socket outlets. They eat dirt. They pee in their pants because they are kids.

Pretending they are adults by convicting children of crimes is insane--they can't drive, they can't vote, they can't be drafted, they can't even buy a goddamned mug of suds, but they can be guilty of a death-penalty offense at the age of 13? The Logic Party pukes at this. Kids are not adults and should never be tried as such. Would you trust a child with your life savings? Then why can any child be put on trial as an adult? It's illogical. The child does not understand the difference between being tried as a child and tried as an adult. A 13-year old does not understand 13 years in prison. The people who are doing this have abandoned their brains. They ask kids--"Do you understand how serious this is?" and the kid nods "yes" or "no" to every adult according to what gets them the next cookie.

It's abdication of responsibility by US, the humans who are not allowed to remove their brains. (Again, when the Logic Party rules, stupidity becomes a crime.) Every kid is the responsibility of SOMEONE. No child is ever responsible. Period. Only adults can be responsible. Inuit hunters do not leave the fate of the next meal for the tribe to a nine-year old with a rifle. Why do we think we're different? Those people--the ones who fucked and made the child--it's THEIR fault. The Logic Party says -- have a kid who commits a bad crime -- and YOU THE PARENT must answer and correct the situation, or go to jail. And if the child has no parents, then every last member of the Logic Party is responsible for him. Every fucking one of us. Leave No Child Behind is bullshit. That's "our bus is leaving, better get on--whoops, poor little Raoul missed..." ideology.

The Children are OURS -- is the Logic Party dictum. All children are on the Logic Party bus at birth and can only get off when they turn 18.

The best solution to this, if you think it's a problem, is a little something called birth control. A little something called "reproductive responsibility". You do not get to run from it. Under the Logic Party, police will hunt you down and make you pay for the actions of your offspring. How many kids do you want to have if you have responsibility for all of them?

(In my case, the number was two, but then one snuck up on us, so God made it three before we could hit the birth control wagon.)

Adult responsibility fixes everything. Then we could even own machine guns and nuclear weapons, and everything would be cool. But the more we refuse responsibility, we'll keep popping out kids we don't want to raise, don't want to educate, and truly, just want to be rid of. (To me, "No Child Left Behind" starts sounding a lot more like post birth abortion.)

And so it was time for me to be a responsible parent and for my daughters to learn to shoot, so the wife and I brought the family arsenal out of entombment, purchased some ammo, and began the training of the young.

The girls were simultaneously thrilled and terrified by the whole prospect. I wondered if one of them would declare "conscientious objector" status and evade the process, but it didn't happen. Kids tend to trust their parents, if they have that sort of relationship. Strange how that is, but if a child knows it will be vaporized by the parent for doing something tremendously awful, they tend to listen and enjoy the company of the parent. In fact, they feel secure with the adult. It's weird how that works. But it does.

We went over the drill. Never point a weapon at anyone for any reason. How to check to see if a loaded gun is loaded. All guns are always loaded. Etc.

When they passed the initial screening, we took them to the Los Altos Rod and Gun Club up on route 9. (Why they call a shooting range a *rod* and gun club, when there is no known fish that climbs trees or lives underground, is a mystery even the Logic Party faithful cannot untangle.)

My girls handled their weapons skillfully, and respectfully. I was proud of their performance, and the range safety officer came by to give each of them some pointers on how to keep their groupings small, and to compliment them on their range etiquette.

Mrs. Owl, loaded Beretta in hand, demonstrated to her spawn why in her younger days we called her "killer" as she punched a nice quarter-sized grouping of ten rounds through the center of the target. So the girls knew they had a model of skill and grace to aspire to.

And I was a happy man. For once I did something with my family that was fun and demanded something of us that was considerate and conscious of our surroundings and our society.

When the girls went back to school the next day, they told all their friends of their shooting experiences. My wife was questioned about it by her fellow educators who heard through the grapevine that the Owl family was armed and not dangerous, but armed just the same.

Those people presumed we were members of the NRA and that we were prepared to vote for the red candidates. They presumed the American flag sticker on my Jeep meant I was a fan of the Fox News channel.

They were wrong on all counts.

They were not logical.

Apologies for the length of this. Basically, this is what I wrote over 3 days while trekking through Nepal. I forgot to take a book, so writing was about the only entertainment I had. I'll probably crap on a lot. You have been warned.

Day 1

I made an interesting discovery today. I found that there is actually something worse than climbing three or four hundred stairs. That type of climb's pretty bad - but it's worse when you get to the top, and realise that the next set of stairs actually go down.

It's the type of mentality I find myself taking on, when trekking in Nepal. Every metre of altitude's been hard won - I sweated to gain it, my legs are screaming, and I'm wondering just why the hell I'm doing this - indeed, why I paid good money for the priviledge of torturing myself. Stairs going down are not a welcome sight, contrary to everything I would have believed before setting out this morning. Heading down, I'm simply further from my ultimate destination. And that goal's the only thing that stops me turning around, heading back to Pokhara, and enjoying a cold beer.

Poon Hill's where I'm headed. It's strange - if you'd asked me two weeks ago where I would be today, trekking through the mountains of Nepal would not have been a possible answer. But since then, the chaos, pollution and intense nature of India wore me and my travelling companions down, and the more we'd talk about making a dash for Nepal, the better the idea sounded. Somehow, the plan came together flawlessly - departing Varanasi in India a little past midnight, then checking into our hotel in Pokhara - a little city in the shadow of the Annapurna mountain range - that afternoon. Almost unbelievable that it was so easy to change country like that - particularly when one is wracked by so much trouble right now.

There's an eerie feeling around Pokhara right now. Outside of Kathmandu, it's Nepal's second most popular tourist destination. It's a major trekking destination - the Annapurnas offer some of the finest, and most convenient and spectacular trekking in the world. Yet, it's practically deserted. You could count the tourists on your hands. The reason's all the turmoil caused by the Maoist uprising here. Evidence of the problems plauging Nepal exist just outside of our hotel, in the Lake Palace. It's not open right now, as it appears to have been converted into a base for the security forces. Bunkers surround it, manned by soldiers with M-16's and shotguns, machine guns and sub-machineguns that look to have been ripped straight out of a scene from The Dirty Dozen.

So the tourists don't come, and I wonder how Lakeside, Pokhara, manages to survive. Hotels by the dozen, at least as many restaurants, supported by an army of trekking shops, art and craft stores, CD and bookshops, and a horde of Tibetan women wandering along wearing backpacks stuffed with handicrafts, hoping you'll take a look. It's like someone's arranged a huge party, stocked up on masses of food and drink, sent hundreds of invitations, then when the big night's rolled around only a handful of people have showed up.

But here I am, heading for Poon Hill, and hoping like hell that this cloud will clear. I'm constantly told that the monsoon's over, yet it's rained in the afternoon almost every day since we got here, and cloud covers the Annapurnas almost constantly - only small glimpses have been possible. From Poon Hill, the view is uninterrupted, and looks supurb...as long as the could lifts. I think I've got everything crossed...

8.30pm and I'm in bed. Think it's the earliest I've been in bed for years.

Day 2 - Part 1

Warning - Rant ahead.

Let's say you were to walk up to me right now, and say 'Hello. You probably wouldn't recognise my name, but I'm actually the person who invented stairs!' I would likely fucking kill you. Actually, I'm pretty sure I would. Right now, I hate the things with a passion. It's the combined effect of 2 days in which I walked up thousands of stairs. That's no exaggeration either - there have literally been thousands of them. I've climbed a couple of thousands metres from my starting point, and most of the altitude I've gained has been up stairs. The guide, the trekking company, conveniently forget to mention this fact. In the description of this trek, they talk about a fairly easy walk, mainly following ridge lines. I guess it might be bad for business to describe the trek as 'hours of stair climbing, followed by more stairs. By the end of day 2, you'll be ready to scream out loud, as you round another corner, and more stairs face you. The flat sections are simply leadups for more stairs'. By the end of it, I couldn't walk up any more stairs. The only thing that got me up the stairs in the lodge to my room, was the promise of a hot shower, and dry clothes.

Fucking stairs...

Day 2, Part 2

The more rational and balanced description.

One of Nepal's growing industries is hydro-electricity. They're building new plants all the time, some with foreign funds from China and India, keen to draw on the power available (after a few weeks in India, you realise that they need all the power they can get). Today, it feels like there's enough water in Nepal's rivers to power the world - because it's damn wet. I woke at around 4am, and it was pouring outside. So much for hopes of a clear morning, and views to the Annapurnas. For the rest of today, while it hasn't rained too much, we've been walking through cloud. The mountains have a completely different sort of beauty in conditions like this. Everything is damp. More often than not, your path doubles as a creek. Cloud whips past, and one minute you see nothing but white - the next, a hole opens and you get a glimpse of just how high the mountains around you really are.

The sound of rushing, tumbling water is constant, waterfalls abound, and even the smallest of them would contain the energy to power a small village. Which is what they do - most of the villages on the mountain in this area have electricity, provided by small, local hydro-electricity plants. While it does take away some of the mystique, it can only be a good thing - every electric hotplate or water heater is saving mountain forests, in this area where fire is still the main cooking and heating method.

It's quite amazing to see just how developed this area is. In a region where donkeys transport just about everything to the villages, you'll see a satellite dish. Stone is still the traditional building method - and it is abundant - however more and more places are constructed from sheet metal. And for a trekker, all the comforts of home can be had for the right price - from soft drinks, to chocolate, to beer.

And now, I'm the only guest in a mountain top guest house. There have been a few more trekkers on the trail today, but all heading in the opposite direction. Apparantly there are Maoists in the area - 1,000 Rupees is the current ask for a 'donation' (receipt and all). And call me a selfish white boy, too spoiled for his own good - or simply too tired to be all that tolerant right now - but my only wish is that the Nepalise family who runs this place would be quiet. I've had it with screaming kids right now (they're absolutely beautiful kids...just loud).

It'd be nice if the cloud would go away for a bit too. It's a long way to walk for a view of the fog.

Day 2 - Part 3

The cloud cleared. Beyond all expectation, beyond all hope, the mountain range showed itself. You simply can't describe it. Sitting at just under 3,000m, I feel dwarfed. These peaks tower above us, and I can't imagine the effort required to reach the top. Thousands of steps seems like nothing any more - hell, that's childs play. Try playing with the big boys, and then see how you like it.

Night is rapidly falling, cloud has descended again, and dinner has been ordered. Some more trekkers have arrived - it's nice not being here alone. Especially seeing as everyone's saying that tonight, the Maoists are coming. Right now though, there's a fire burning in the centre of the room, some kids playing with a ball (tollerance has returned), some Japanese people playing a game of cards...and everything's pretty ok. Amazing how quickly physical pain can be forgotten, when sights barely imagined make themselves real.

Day 2, Part 4

This has been one long day.

The Maoists just came, and I'm now holding a receipt for my 'Tourist Fee'. All the foreigners in the place how hold one of these. Now, the Maoists have more money to buy guns, bombs, and equipment to terrorise the population they claim to represent. Their form of liberation includes closing schools for months, and sweeping through villages, taking people to train to fight for them. Proudly at the top of their receipt - 'Long live Marxism - Leninism - Maoism and Prachandapath!!' Another guest in the hotel, an English guy over here as a volunteer teacher, argued with them long and hard. In some ways, I admire his convictions - he's seen first hand the effect of Maoist activity on the villagers. On the other, I think he's a fucking idiot - no matter how strong his feelings, or genuine his concern and caring, this isn't his fight. At the end of his time here, he will fly home to England. I'm sure his care is real - but he doesn't live here. If these Maoists take offence, if they have burnt into their minds the difficult man at the Snowland Hotel, it will not be him who will bear the brunt of their anger.

Knowing that you're funding the purchase of guns and explosives is bad enough.

Thinking that your actions could possibly decide the next target...well, that's just fucked.

Day 2, Part 5

Seriously, the last part was supposed to be the final entry for today. There wasn't supposed to be anything after that, save a head on a pillow, and some well deserved sleep. Things don't always turn out how you expect though.

I'd just assumed that with the setting of the sun, the Annapurnas had finished their show for today. What I hadn't counted on, was the rising of the moon.

Right now, there is not a cloud in the sky. It is clearer than it has been for a week - the stars are visible, the valleys and hills clear, naked without the blanket of cloud that has been constant.

Then, the mountain range, white in the moon's reflected light, clear against the silouhette of the hills lacking the snow to catch this light, topped by a blanket of stars, and quite simply one of the most beautiful and unexpected sights I have ever seen.

This, I didn't expect.

Nothing I can say can possibly describe this properly. Words can't do this justice. This is the reward for thousands of stairs, and a world of pain. Midday today, I was asking myself just why the fuck I was doing this.

Now, I know.

Day 3

So, just when I think it can't get any better, it does.

5am, and the mountains are still visible, a pale white glow in the morning. It wasn't that unexpected beauty that excited this morning though - it was the fact that if I could see the mountains, there was no cloud. The walk up Poon Hill would be worth the effort and pain.

After waking my guide, who was still sleeping quite soundly, we started off. At first, by torchlight, before the early morning light made vision possible.

All of a sudden, the path was crowded with trekkers. For the previous two days, it had felt like there couldn't be more than a handfull in the mountains. Now, there were dozens. I suppose it's to be expected - when nature puts on a show at first light, and today's the first day in five that the show's been visible, everyone's going to show up. It was strangely comforting actually - while the tourist industry in the region is certainly struggling, it has life in it yet.

We got to the top, and the view...well, it's something you can't describe properly. Photo's give you an idea, but can't give you the full picture. You simply have to see it for yourself. It's not just seeing the mountains unobstructed, but seeing them change in the shifting sunrise light. It's watchin as clouds form above the highest peaks, and the foothills move from shadow to light. As time passes, different faces start to catch the light, show brightly reflecting, a dazzling white. You can look away for 2 minutes, and when you look back everything's slightly changed. This view never gets boring, is never static. I could have stood there for hours.

Unfortunately, reality told me that I had to walk back today - backtracking and doing the distance we'd covered in two days in one. So we left - meeting the Maoists on the way back down. We learnt later that they closed the gate at the top of the hill, and inspected everyone's receipts before they were allowed to leave. Either that, or pay their 'tourist fee'. They would have collected a good $US750 from everyone in that area today...

The walk back - well, we were in a taxi on our way home by 1pm, including a stop for lunch. Makes a difference when it's almost all downhill - two days walking done in about 4 1/2 hours. By the end of it, I think the guide was more exhausted than me - it was hot and sunny, conditions I think me coming from India was more used to than him!

So was it worth it? Hell yes. I'm actually writing this part a day later, in Kathmandu, and my legs are killing me. My calves feel like they could be stretched and stretched, yet still wouldn't be stretched enough. I've also got a wicked dose of sunburn. But I'd do it all again. If anyone asked me whether they should do it, the answer would always be yes. I met a few people on the trail yesterday, who were just starting their treks - moving up up up. One English lady said she felt shattered. An American man looked ready to die. A day beforehand, I'm pretty sure I looked much the same. So I said the only thing I could - 'keep going - it's worth it'.

Cool beans! I'm sharing a daylog with Iceowl!

I'm a kid-less bachelor for the weekend. My wife is taking the boy and driving with her sister to Spokane (her hometown, in case you're wondering why anyone would willingly go to Spokane), leaving me free and easy for something on the order of 50 hours. Needless to say I've been looking forward to this for weeks; and perhaps equally needless to say, now that the possibility is actual, I'm feeling lonely and pointless and schlumpy. Those two make up more of me than I realize until they're gone.

All right, all right, enough! I have to be productive this weekend. I have to write, I have to meditate, clean up the house and do yard work (while maintaining mediation, a zen practice called 'samu'), hook up our new DVD that's been sitting in a box for a week, go see a movie if there's any worth seeing, have a cocktail Saturday without going on a bender, wake up and treat myself to breakfast at some greasy spoon heaven, read the New York Times Sunday edition (and do the whole crossword in peace!) watch the Seahawks kick the crap out of the Forty-Niners, etc, etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Now I'm starting to panic that 50 hours isn't enough.

I'm in a strange, possibly blessed place with my writing these days. I've finished up all my major projects and I don't have any in the pipeline. I'm kicking around at least ten ideas for plays and not one of them is a money-maker. But most of them would require me to make some innovative leaps in theatricality or dramaturgy (how I still loath that word!), which is cool. Playwriting is architecture, and one of the funner things we get to do as playwrights is create new forms to accommodate the ever-changing ways our audiences (if we have any) process drama. To that end I'm checking out a heretofore blind spot for me, August Strindberg-- his A Dream Play, to be exact. It's much more cogent and engaging and fun than I imagined. It reminds me of Wilder, and I'm wondering now if my dear old Thornton dug Augie, though you'd think I'd be aware of an influence before now, given how much I adore Wilder, and how much I've read about and by him. Just goes to show though, you can never completely know what works on another artist. Hell, you can never completely know what works on you.

It's all a bastardy beautiful blind man's bluff.

I decided to forego the sorority mixer last night in favor of Posh Drinking and Friendly Snobbery with Holly.

I made the right choice, too. That girl is superfab. We drove down Rodeo Drive just to torture ourselves, then paid $15 to park on Sunset Boulevard. We hiked to the Hustler store so I could replace my poor, dead butterfly. We bought expensive fashion magazines (I needed collaging materials!) at a sidewalk news stand and ogled Italian Vogue. We found a swanky bar with a huge chandelier where we drank beer and ate foie gras. We talked about all the things that we aren't supposed to talk about--the things that cement people, unfortunately. She's STUCK with me now, mwa-hahaha! :-)

We found another swanky bar. We drank more. Things got hazy. Boy called twice in 20 minutes, and I gloated. He loves me! Um, no, he loves me not. Walking became hard, and not just because we were wearing sexy shoes.

They called last call, so we closed our tabs, went to the car, and...
started listening to music...
got quiet...
nodded off.

We woke up on Sunset Boulevard at 5 AM. We had not been mugged or towed. We were the only car left in the parking lot. We are decadent and lucky little sloths. I will always cherish this, somehow.

Holly drove me to her place and we slept Trainspotting-style in her twin bed. I woke up with a crick in my neck and a knee in my face. The phone was ringing.

It was Boy.

Life is good.

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