Archive for July, 2009

Progress Report #17

July 31, 2009

I made it through the first draft and the first half of the second draft feeling like a craftsman working at a task. There had been no particular difficulties of any sort. Now I’ve had my first encounter with angst. I continued to work through it, but it upended my “steady” frame of mind. I think I’m past the worst of it, but it still reverberates in the background. Caught me by surprise. It should not have. I’m about halfway through Chapter Ten, “Warm Love.”

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Really Real

July 27, 2009

I’ve been having a difficult time posting. I see plenty that isn’t right, but I’ve been wanting to avoid posting complaints. In the last two or three weeks, though, I’ve been feeling more hopeless about the direction this country is taking. Sometimes I think we’re heading for civil war. The problem is that nobody is interested in what’s true. People are either completely apathetic—diverted by their play things—or devoted to some idea or position that is bigoted, poorly thought out, exclusive, and from which they refuse to budge. Compromise won’t solve a thing—although some tolerance would be helpful. What we need is to drop all our a priori assumptions, start questioning our own beliefs, and make an honest effort at finding out what it is really real. People can unite around what is clearly true. If we don’t do it, we’re going to degenerate ever more deeply into a nation of warring camps. Sometimes I think that would be a good thing. It would cripple our power—and we have become too powerful, too dangerous. But I believe that chaos and violence cause more problems than they prevent. So I cannot hope for it. But wouldn’t it be weirdly ironic if the right wing, which clearly wants to destroy a large faction within this country, were to bring about that state?

We often think that greatness means “rich and powerful.” But that’s not true. Greatness is the ability to look beyond one’s own self-interest. 

Shop Talk

July 22, 2009

A friend of mine, who is not particularly into bicycles, has been wanting to buy a bike in order to “get around”—of all things. I’ve been keeping my eye out for a good used one for him, but he finally found the bike himself. When I asked him what kind it was, he told me, “A green one.” Yes!

Ego, I think; not testosterone

July 20, 2009

Yesterday I went for a bike ride up Mount Tamalpais. It was hot, 87 degrees. About 3/4 of the way up, I was suffering, so I stopped to take a break at a place where many riders stop to rest—Pan Toll Station. There are toilets, water, and shade. While I was recovering, a group of five mountain bikers came in and sat down next to me. I used to go for mountain bike rides, but I won’t do it anymore. I don’t think bikes belong out in the wilderness—not even on fire roads. It should be a place where you can get away from machines. I knew the fire roads they were discussing. They’d ridden a long way on some difficult routes, so I knew they were accomplished riders. As I was sitting there listening to them talk—I had no choice, they were annoyingly loud—they started remembering how they’d “scared the shit” out of some hikers by riding too close to them as they passed from behind. They all thought that was pretty funny. They talked like teenage boys. The strange thing is that they were all at least in their fifties—possibly their late fifties. They had expensive superbikes and elaborate gear, so they probably had good jobs, responsible positions, and all that. But they had never grown up.

Today’s Religious Thought

July 14, 2009

There’s no difference between Buddha and Christ. Same mind, different bones. But there is a difference between Buddhism and Christianity.

Electric Dirt

July 13, 2009

Levon Helm's New CD

Levon Helm's New CD

From the ages 12 to 21, I was constantly buying new records. I couldn’t keep up with the explosion of new and good music. Nowadays, years can go by without my buying a single CD. This year I’ve bought three and I’ve loved two. They are: Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl, which I didn’t like, Lane Tietgen’s Wheel of Fortune, which I loved and wrote about here (click on the “Lane Tietgen” tag below to read my review), and now there’s Levon Helm’s fantastic new CD Electric Dirt.

I loved his previous CD, Dirt Farmer, but figured it was too much to hope for two great CDs in a row. I was wrong. If anything, I like the new one even more. Some of it sounds absolutely joyous. There’s not a bad track on the record. Every song has something special in the arrangement or in the playing or singing. At the moment, my favorites are “Tennessee Jed,” “Golden Bird,” “When I Go Away,” and “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” There’s a lot of real soul here and a lot of variety.

You can buy it here:

Highly recommended, 5 stars, A+… and all that jazz.

Sydney, The Wild Parrot

July 6, 2009
Sydney, the wild parrot

Sydney, the wild parrot

I’ve given the sick parrot from the wild flock a name: Sydney. He’s improved quite a bit. He holds his head up easily now and he’s not nearly as unstable as before. But his flight is still erratic. I’ll release him if he improves enough.

I’m no longer certain that that he has the round worm. Rest seems to be doing him a lot of good. I’d still like it if someone were interested in taking him. Our other patients from the flock are treating him like shit. But he’s got a lot of spunk. He’s relentless. Their assaults never seem to discourage him. He’s bitten me only once, and it was a light one. He’s afraid of me, though. He calls out to the flock whenever they’re in the area.

Rush Limbaugh Agrees

July 1, 2009

I read the following statement by Rush Limbaugh today. It reinforces one of the central ideas of my June 17 post, Conservative and Liberal.

Michael Jackson’s biggest successes, and as it turns out his final successes, real successes took place in the eighties. That was Billie Jean, Thriller and all this. I mean he was as weird as he could be but he was profoundly, because of his weirdness, an individual. He wasn’t a group member. He reached a level of success that may never be equaled. He flourished under Reagan; he languished under Clinton-Bush; and died under Obama. Let’s hope the parallel does not continue.

It’s a stupid comment, of course. But I’ll write something serious on the danger of this belief in the-individual-over-all-else in a future post.

Progress Report #16

July 1, 2009

Here’s the latest on my work-in-progress, Street Song:

I’ve finished the second draft of Chapter Nine, called “Blue.” In a few of days I’ll begin Chapter Ten, which has the working title “Warm Love.” First, I need to make a research trip to Berkeley. This draft is about development, and things are developing well.