Sunday, June 26, 2005

Once again, the week got away from me

It's been a busy week yet again, so here's a huge, gi-normous post about all the news that's fit to blog.

The new house is moving forward, though it's being a bit of a pill here and there. The framing has started going up (which is good) but there are errors in the framing (which is way bad). There was a sliding glass door framed into the bedroom (which doesn't have a sliding glass door) and a full window on a wall with only a transom and a few other problems. I recognize that this is a typical problem, but it's annoying and it doesn't make me feel as comfortable as I'd like with the building process. Regular, even daily checks of the building site are probably going to be necessary to avoid serious screw-ups. Yes, that is a good idea in any case, but it's just One More Thing.

This past week saw us at the first of several swing dancing classes. The instructor is a great guy with a wonderful teaching style. We're learning East Coast swing. The joke is that we'd actually intended to sign up for social ballroom dancing, but we got the wrong course listing and kept thinking "Swing dance, swing dance." Well, it's not like it's a hardship, and ballroom dancing can happen this fall.

On the way back to the car, we looked around the neighborhood. I had occasion to pick up several alternative papers and a guide to the Oregon Country Fair (which happens in a couple weeks) at a local bookstore. We then walked back to the car. There were three people in their early 20s on bicycles near the car chatting with a fourth, slightly older, person of Indian extraction (he turned out to be from Bombay) who was parked roughly next to us. We excused ourselves through the bicyclers, who were very polite, and were getting into the car. One of the bicyclers was a woman we've seen around town--she's very visible, having a fair number of facial piercings and some humungous blonde dreadlocks--but the one guy in the group had a face full of piercings and of tribal tattoos. The Indian gentleman was talking to the lot of them about tattoos and piercings and so on. We started the car but stayed for a couple minutes listening to the conversation, which was very interesting.

The bicyclers left. We had the windows rolled down and we asked the Indian gentlemen--whose name was Ahmed--"Did you sign up for that conversation or did it just happen to you?" Ahmed smiled and said that he'd love to know where you go to sign up for conversations. We started talking about the young man's facial tattoos, which were really, uh, vigorous, and Ahmed observed that it was interesting that he'd made such a commitment. Yes, that it was. We talked about tattoos and piercings and so on. Ahmed was a bit surprised to find someone looking as straight and middle-aged as I knowledgeable about tattoos and piercings, let alone the possessor of same. Ahmed turned out to be a photography student from NYC who was travelling around the country doing a documentary on an unspecified subject.

We talked for a long time in the parking lot. Ahmed said he's currently living in a trailer in the woods near Roseburg. He asked about things to see in Oregon. Well, he sure came to the right place for that! We told him about the Eugene Saturday Market and what a wonderful place to experience Eugene, old hippies, and really neat crafts all at once. We also told him about the joys and wonders of the Oregon Country Fair and some of its history (Ahmed was very interested in that). Other places we pointed Ahmed were:

  • The Oregon Dunes on the coast near Coos Bay

  • Sisters, Oregon, and the incredible drive through the lava fields and the look of the Three Sisters themselves.

  • The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (and while he was in the neighborhood, we said, be sure to stop in at Stovepipe Antiques in Grant's Pass)

  • Ahmed said he was heading up to Portland that evening, so we also recommended that he stop at the Portland Rose Garden. He'd be amazed, we told him, at how many different smells a rose can have.

    Ahmed also told us that right after the 2000 election, he'd driven around on what he called his "Red Tour," visiting a number of red states. He says that when he was in New Harmony, IN, he stopped in a local café for breakfast and ended up getting run out of town at gunpoint. While this doesn't sound all that unusual to have happen to a non-white person driving through a small Midwestern town, it's particularly ironic because New Harmony is the former home of not one but two different utopian spiritual communities aimed at creating a more perfect society through free education, abolition of social classes and personal wealth, and general equality. I guess the spiritualists must've moved on quite some time ago.

    As the conversation progressed, I ended up giving Ahmed all the newspapers and guides I'd collected earlier so he'd have a better idea of the things he might see and do in the neighborhood. He also asked for a phone number in case he got lost, so I gave him a card. With luck, we'll hear from him again--he was a nice guy.

    Something else that was really nice this week was that I finally got my copy of BBS: A Documentary, a documentary on the history of bulletin board systems put together by Jason Scott. Jason stopped in Fort Wayne when we were still stuck there and interviewed me on film for a few hours. Some quantity of my footage appears on the DVDs of the documentary (which is 5-1/2 hours plus 80 minutes of bonus footage on the DVDs). I haven't seen any of it yet, so I have thought that I could be saying to everyone "Go see it!" and then discover that I'm a complete goof in the selected footage. Oh, well, in for a lamb, in for a sheep, as they say. Go look at it and I'll risk it. :)

    The new computer is working out nicely. I'm loading everything on it and getting it ready to rock and roll. It's really pleasant to consider that I'm going to be able to get my older computers reformatted and reloaded soon as well as clearing up some duplicated files on disks. With 600+ gigabytes of hard disk on the new computer, I'll be able to slurp up all the files on the other computers and sift them while I'm flushing and reformatting everything else. Mind ewe, there will be other things I need to do as well during this time, but it's a great procrastinating sorta thing to do in the background.

    Finally, speaking of the joys and wonders of Midwest recidivism, I wanted to proffer the following two pieces of Midwest... stupidity seems to be the best word for it. First, the folks on the Kansas school board are still getting sidetracked by creationist jackasses who are pushing for the co-equal teaching of "intelligent design" (the very concept of which already excludes most of the people propounding it). This so begged for broadside that it was only a matter of time before something showed up in my email. The following is a response that seems to bear up under scrutiny. After all, if you're going to teach one lunatic fringe's ideas alongside actual theory--ever notice that these twerps don't understand what a theory really is in scientific terms? they keep thinking it means "hypothesis"--there's no justification to not teach every other lunatic fringe creation concept. Like this one:

    I've been following the debacle in Kansas over the teaching of "Intelligent Design" and the resultant vilification of "EVILoution" (sic). I just received this in my mail and I am finally getting a laugh over the Kansas situation. For anybody else tired of the New 'Merkun Taliban, it's worth a peek just for the, umm... scientific graphs and the responses to the letter from members of the Kansas School Board.

    And yeah, I believe that my Most Blessed Invisible Pink Unicorn could kick the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly ass.

    Yeah, smite me, pasta-boy. I dare you.

    Secondly, a judge in Indianapolis has taken it upon himself to decree that two parents who are divorcing aren't allowed to teach their child Wicca. While it's not uncommon for differences in religion and religious upbringing to be used as a football in divorce cases, this case is somewhat different: both parents are Wiccan, both are continuing to practice Wicca, and both want their son to be brought up with Wiccan beliefs. The judge, without so much as a by-your-leave, decided that the child should not be exposed to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." That was mighty big of Hizzoner, I must say. The opinions quoted in the newspaper report suggest that getting this one overturned shouldn't be too hard--it's not Hizzoner's right to determine what a religion is. But geeeeeeze this guy is clearly a world-class horse's petoot!!

    That's all for now. I'm running off to the store to get fud for dinner.



    Anonymous said...

    You are in BAUD, SYSOPS AND USERS, MAKE IT PAY, and NO CARRIER. Only one other person is in more episodes than you are. You are also in an easter egg.

    I think you don't come off as a doofus at all.

    Anonymous said...

    It occurs to me I should mention it's Jason Scott posting here. :)

    John Hedtke said...

    "BBS: the Documentary" is simply amazing, Jason. Well done!