Friday, August 29, 2008

Stuff the Bible forgot to mention...

I don't often dwell on issues of theology, because I think religion is a personal thing. Your views are, for the most part, your business, and I don't want to hear about them. Then again, as with most things, issues of theology worth discussing will occasionally come up, especially in current issues, or as I pointed out in a previous post, when I hear something I want to share.

The Spam folder of my email, however, is not a place one typically finds theological items of interest.

The Spam folder of my email is a dark place, filled with offers for pharmaceutical items and cash from deposed African politicians. Today, however, a glance in that dank place yielded this little tidbit - the subject line from an email from a bold theologian who obviously is looking out for my spiritual and physical well-being:

Men with big penises go to heaven!

Who knew that was how it worked? This was something they definitely left out of my catechism classes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An exit to eternal summer slacking...

Today's musical interlude: "The Way" By Fastball

They made up their minds
And they started packing
They left before the sun came up that day
An exit to eternal summer slacking
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

It really is one of the ultimate road trip songs.

This song came out when we were in college, and quickly became a road trip anthem. We were fortunate enough to see Fastball play it live last March when we were at SXSW, and the song, especially live, still evokes an emotional response from me.

This whole idea of vagabonding has been weighing heavily on me lately. Ever since I put words to a desire to pack up and disappear for a while, it’s something I really would like to do. Who knows where this inherent restlessness came from? Perhaps it’s just a general dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the Motor City, and an idea that maybe the grass in greener on the other side of… somewhere.

Maybe it’s just a love for being on the road, and for seeing something new. Maybe it’s the knowledge that winter is coming again (granted, it’s only the end of August, but I think about this stuff) and it will be time to hibernate again, with no more walks through the neighborhood. Regardless, I have been very restless lately. My voyage to an undisclosed location a few weeks ago sated the desire a bit, but it’s quickly resurging.

Actually, I do know where this sense of restlessness really stems from. I haven’t been on my bike in a month. Next week, I will be declaring myself healed enough and ready to ride. Then, I think, I will have reacquired the mobility I’m looking for. It will mark a return to health, and a return to a sense of freedom that I haven’t felt lately.

Getting on a bike trail and ending up miles into the woods is an escape that means more to me than I can say. Like taking a road trip, though, it has nothing to do with ending up in the woods. It’s about the journey, the feeling of my legs working in sync with my bike, and my mind free of stupid banal worries, focused instead on not falling, not breaking more ribs, not taking my head off with low branches.

It’s not necessarily about thrills, adrenaline or endorphins, although that’s part of it. It’s more about having control of a situation. While there are a million billion things that worry me and I have no control over, riding my bike through the woods is a situation I control, a situation where I rely on myself to get where I need to go.

That all comes back to me next week.

For now, this weekend marks another bit of vagabondage. We are loading the car and heading to Chicago with only vague destinations in mind. There are places to go and old friends to hug, but no specified destinations and no defined place to sleep. It will be a weekend of couch surfing on whomever’s couch happens to be closest at end the night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Of Human Vagabondage

I was just reading a little bit about the concept of a Victory Garden. I had heard the term before, but never really thought about it or its meaning.

During WWI and WWII (also known as the 'War to end all wars' and the 'War to end all wars part 2 - Electric Boogaloo'), families on the home front planted vegetables, fruit and herbs on their own property to reduce the stress the average family placed on the public food supply.

These gardens also were a way to bolster public patriotism, allowing the average family to feel they were doing their part to help support the war effort.

After the war was over, the average family was apparently allowed to get selfish again, and stress public food reserves. I think that's how it worked, the books weren't specific.

Today, maybe it's time for Victory Gardens again. But this time, they won't be an attempt to support the war effort. Instead, they'd be a response to the high cost of fuel and food. Really, who's to say that didn't have part to do with the original victory gardens? I'm sure that, since the wars were stressing food supplies, prices were rising fast then, too. Planting a Victory Garden allowed a family to not only be patriotic, but to also be able to afford to feed their family.

I've grown up in a generation where, for most everyone I know, gardening, if done at all, is done as a hobby. "Oh great tomatoes! You grew these yourself? Effing suhweet!" Gardening was never really a means to get by.

I've tried a garden with minimal results. The birds ate all my strawberries, and all I ever got was zucchini - but I did get a lot of it.

I do have a membership in a CSA farm, so in a sense that's paying a membership fee for a local farmer to grow my Victory Garden for me, but isn't that partly only going through the motions, a slightly capitalist way of pretending to be a socialist (not that I prescribe heavily to either doctrine)?

So I really should focus next year on starting my own... I will call it a Protest Garden for the rest of this, as it's a protest against the cost of food and oil, and a mild protest against the reason those costs are so high. Rather than dealing with the problem, it's removing myself from the problem, and essentially eliminating part of it.

How self-sufficient can one get in the city? Not heavily, I'd imagine, without breaking zoning laws. You can't raise chickens in the city, although it would be ideal. Nor can you raise cattle.

Interestingly, should that be allowed, there's the Dexter. The Dexter is a breed of cattle that's only the size of a large dog and produces 16 pints of milk a day. You could keep one in your yard as a pet, getting milk from her for years, then when the time comes, steak her up.

But zoning wouldn't let you anyway.

Personally, I don't know why I'm even postulating the idea of farming in my yard. I wouldn't. I don't even like to mow, and honestly, if it were up to me, I wouldn't mind getting rid of my house for a few years, and vagabonding for a while.

If I could afford to, I'd like to spend a year or two driving around the country, stopping and staying the places that look interesting, with no real destination in mind at all, and just writing about it. Then, when the time was right, I'd stop somewhere and stay. That would be it.

I got a little taste of that last weekend. We were driving back from an undisclosed location, and got sidetracked. Repeatedly. That's the way I like things, and I think I could get used to doing it for a while.

Anybody want to foot the bill for me to vagabond for a year?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Residents are coming

The Residents are coming, and I just bought tickets!

It's a weird clip, but that's how the band is. They've been around since the '60s and put out over 60 albums without ever showing their faces.

They are also the band that arguably invented the music video format, and their earliest works are in the Museum of Modern Art.

I saw them several years ago, on their 35th anniversary tour (this is their first North American tour since that one) and it was, hands down, one of the best shows I've ever seen.

A night with the Residents is an experience that transcends a concert. It's performance art without the pretension, and great music as well.

I once read in an interview that the band said that, since their identities were never to be revealed and their faces were never to be shown, the Residents would last forever. As needed, people would leave the band and be replaced, ensuring immortality for the Residents.

I haven't been this giddy in a long time.

Part of the reason for the giddiness is that they never tour, and when they do, it's for a very short duration. This tour is only 11 dates. And Detroit just happens to be one of them.

More giddiness just hit me... overwhelming... must go...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The only time I will ever quote the Bible on this site...

ryan on the attack
Originally uploaded by jvree
Probably, anyway...

Actually, it's really my business and I'll quote whomever or whatever I damn well please, which isn't really a Christian thing to say, but regardless, I am allowed to quote a Bible verse should I so choose now, aren't I?

Regardless, through Singletrack Mind I was just made aware of this particular verse from Ezekiel:

When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels... When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. (1:19-20, 24,)

I know, right?

Who knew God was a mountain biker?

A Legend Has Passed

Ronnie Drew passed away on Saturday. He will be missed.

I wrote more here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sticking the Landing

I have to admit, we’re hooked on the Olympics. They are on whenever we’re home, and every time we go out, we go to a place where we can watch them. That’s why I was particularly upset by this news story.

Whether it’s Phelps, or the gymnasts, or beach volleyball, or whatever, there’s something way cool and exciting about watching the best of the best come together to compete for recognition for themselves and their country.

And it’s the only time you get to yell “Stick the landing!” at the television.

It’s Dream Cruise time in Detroit; that means hundreds of classic cars and up to a million spectators will descend upon Detroit to drive up and down Woodward. This all takes place a few blocks from my house. Ordinarily, we resign ourselves to the fact that we will not be driving. This year, we’re getting out of town for a few days, heading to a remote outpost somewhere not too far from Zillaville, where there will be porchsitting and cocktail drinking.

At least that’s all I’ll get to do. TFN and Coder will be riding.

I unfortunately am in charge of managing a nice set of busted ribs that I was given as a gift at the Tree Farm Relay a few weeks ago. I endoed and Supermanned (went over the handlebars and shot forward for those unfamiliar with the vernacular), smacking my ribs on the bars hard enough to break off a gear display and then smacking them again on the ground.

I did not stick the landing.

Riding is a pain, laughing is a pain, lying down is even a pain.

Sitting and sipping cocktails is, however, not a pain.

The unfortunate (or fortunate? Who knows?) aspect is that Ophelia will be in attendance as well. Ophelia has the uncanny ability to ensure that a strong drink is in your hand at all times. It’s like a super power, and she only uses it for evil. I’m glad we’re on the same side. My liver is not.

Oh, and Ophelia does not bike, so she will be my porch companion while the others are riding.

Hijinks will occur.

Oh yeah, in regards to that link, I Rickrolled ya. It wasn’t apropos of nothing, though, it was because I wanted to mention that last night I figured out a way to Rickroll somebody in real time. It involves going to Karaoke bar, and signing them up to sing “Never Gonna Give You Up” without their knowledge. It’s fun for everyone.

See you all in a few. Until I get back, remember to keep on sticking that landing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Environmental in Spirit

I am always on the lookout for ways to be more environmentally aware and just a bit greener. It’s no secret; it’s become a recurring theme on this little b-log of mine (but again, call me the "h" word and I'll slap your filthy little mouth). I like doing things to help ensure a decent space for the next round of peoples to be filling this space.

Even so, I am all too aware that there are some serious whack jobs of all kinds out there, including the environmental types. These are the people that refuse to have babies simply because they’re not environmentally friendly (they do exist), or the folks that go so far as to exhibit terrorist behavior that causes harm to other people – in the name of saving the environment.

Most of the time, I just shake my head when I read stories about these people, but every so often, I encounter an environmental story that frightens and sickens me, like the story I saw today:

Nine Household Tips for Vodka

In this “news item,” the writer breaks down ways that vodka can be used in an environmental fashion.

Guess what’s not on the list?

Drinking it.

Honestly, is this simply irresponsible journalism intended to pander to the popularity of the environmental movement, or an insidious puritanical attempt to deplete our national reserve of spirits? The next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that gin can be used to grow baby pandas from the ground.

If you want to read this travesty under the guise of journalism, it’s here.

Just wait, these guys will probably invent an engine that runs on whiskey next. Well you know what guys? I have one already. It’s called me on my bike. So you can just stay out of this with your clever little tips for using the one resource that we already know how to use in the most efficient way possible.

Friday, August 08, 2008

That's our mayor...

Hey Kwame, how many times were you in jail today?

Wait... it just gets better...

They just issued an arrest warrant.

I am giddy.

Mayor on a leash...

So they're sending Kwame home, on a tether this time. I think this is the beginning of the end for Detroit's self-proclaimed Hip-hop Mayor.

As soon as his hearing was over, Michigan attorney general announced that he is filing felony assault charges on Kwame, too. They are going to make arrangements for him to be arraigned, and Cox said the trial will take place in 90 days.

If Kwame gets nailed for shoving a police officer, then that's it. He faces up to 2 years or $2,000 for each of the two charges (and he'll probably just pay fines), but in my opinion that's the inconsequential part of it.

The fact is, if convicted of a felony, Detroit's charter says he's out. He can no longer be mayor.

And that's what the city needs right now.

For him to be out.

It was funny, when Cox was asked how he felt about the fact that, if convicted, the mayor must step down, he made an almost imperceptible smirk, before going on to state that he was simply preventing the facts of the case, and that he had no control over the wording of the city's charter.

But if you were watching, I think his expression told a lot more than his words.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Take that Kwame!

This just in. They just sent Kwame to jail! It's about freaking time.

Apparently, even though he was under bond, and ordered to not leave the state, he decided that those conditions could not apply to him, so he went to Canada.

His sense of entitlement might be what finally takes down the thug mayor of Detroit.

I hope he stays there until his trial, and then continues to stay there.

Let him rot the way he's letting the city rot.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I voted...

I voted...
Originally uploaded by alpharat
Because sometimes there's little difference between a right and a responsibility.

This time around, there was actually a pretty big item on the ballot. There was a millage increase that effectively was in place to save the zoo - because the city of Detroit once again managed to mess up its finances.

The millage passed easily, but a lot of people were afraid it wouldn't; not because people are against the zoo, but because the city has been so morally and financially bankrupt lately that the tri-county area is reluctant to trust the with any money. Hopefully Detroit doesn't find a way to eff this up.

The kids at the zoo
Originally uploaded by alpharat
Just by happenstance, and not because of the vote, we had the opportunity to herd a pile of kids around the zoo on Sunday. Even though it was exhausting and I've never had a day at the zoo last that long, it was a lot of fun. I'm really glad it passed.