July 31, 2013
Migrating iPhoto Events from MacBook Air to Windows
So, I finally managed to completely choke down my MacBook Air with photos. Sure...it took me 8 months, but I did it.
Along the way, I created a 2nd iPhoto Library, so I now have 2 iPhoto Libraries.
Here's how you show your disk's free space on OSX 10.8, step-by-step:
There's a few tricky ways to take a screen-shot of the MacbookAir with Mountain Lion OSX, like I did to get the image above:
Now, I'm a little bit surprised to see that I have 99 gigs of disk space left, as I've been getting the most insane errors from the Apple MacBook Air whining about disk space. So, I dunno. Somehow I've still got 99 gigs to play with, which makes me want to pull my hair out, but let's leave that issue for now. For now, I want to start moving everything off of the MacBook Air so that I can take it on the road again, and start filling it up with pictures all over again.
So, here we go:
The biggest problem I had is that there are two trash cans on the Apple desktop, which is confusing, and they're not the same.
This was very confusing to me, and when I deleted the images from the Event category/tab, the event would always reappear when you least expected it, which is maddening.
Eventually, I figured out that the trash can in the lower right corner pretty much doesn't work with iPhoto. In iPhoto, there's a trashcan on the left side of the screen. This is the one you want to use to delete photos from iPhoto. Also, the shortcut for deleting photos is the Apple-Key with the Delete key. This will delete the images from iPhoto from the Event tab/category.
Free Blank World Maps
This is a pretty cool site. Has blank maps of different continents, so you can teach your kids the countries (like in Europe, South America, etc.) Each blank map also has a corresponding map with country and capital names. Pretty slick.
The 'Second Massacre of San Fernando' (2011)
I tell people that I drove alone through Central America on a motorcycle this summer, and most people are pretty shocked, as you can imagine.
The state department advisories on Tamaulipas are not encouraging. This is one of the reasons, apparently. I knew there was a lot of drug-related crime down there, but I'd never heard the story of the Second Massacre of San Fernando until today:
"Reports mentioned that female kidnapping victims were raped and able-bodied male kidnapping victims were forced to fight to the death with other hostages, similar to a "gladiator fight from ancient Rome," where they were given knives, hammers, machetes, and clubs to find recruits who were willing to kill for their lives. In the blood sport, the survivor was recruited as a new hitman for Los Zetas; those who did not survive were buried in a clandestine gravesite. After the massacre, thousands of citizens from San Fernando fled to other parts of Mexico and to the United States."
Then, of course, I had to go back and check my maps to see if I'd gone through San Fernando or not. Sure enough...I went through there. But, keep in mind that I didn't stop. Once I got out of Matamoros (where I was hopelessly lost multiple times and driving along open sewage canals), I pretty much drove wide open, stopping only for military checkpoints until I got to Tampico, Mexico.
Here's the map of my ride through San Fernando and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas:
July 30, 2013
"If you can't use a comb, don't bring it home"
"If you can't use a come, don't bring it home"
"Quit breathing on me banjo! Do I get in your face when you trying to get the spare rib out?"
"Banjo, pull into Mickey Dee's... I wanna grub up 'fore I see my lady"
July 26, 2013
Heads roll at KTVU over fake Asiana pilot names
Following Asiana fake name debacle, KTVU fires long-time employees Wi Fuk Tup, Sum Dum Beech, Took Mai Chob, and Wai Mi Too. These names were confirmed by the NTSB.
July 25, 2013
The Trains in Spain Cause Many to Suffer Pain
"... the train entered the bend at 190 kilometres per hour (120 mph). An official source said the speed limit on that stretch of twin track, laid in 2011, was 80 kph (50 mph).
Investigators were trying to find out why the train was going so fast and why security devices to keep speed within permitted limits had not slowed the train.
Just so I'm clear...the speed limit for this curve was 50 mph. And he tried to take it at 120 mph? Is there NO training for this job? Do you just take some guy off the street, stick him in the conductor's seat, and say "See how fast you can make it go?" WTF
Update: OK. Here's the deal. He's an idiot and thinks it's a joke to make the trains run faster than the posted speed limit. Brilliant. They should fry his ass. He killed like...80 people?
Max Ehrmann - Desiderata
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.
July 22, 2013
The Neutral Milk Hotel
I'm calling the Colorado DMV to try to find out if/why my license is suspended.
The recording says to go to
and select the Driver's License Reinstatement tab. But this doesn't say if/why my license was suspended, of course.
Rocky Mountain Sunrise in July
When you pull back, it's hard to know when to get back in.
Hard to know what matters. What's real.
I'm watching American Dad in bed, eating dried ramen noodles and they start playing this soundtrack on American Dad that makes me want to slit my wrists. It's called "I'm Walking This Road Because You Stole My Car (Don't Go)" by Alanna Lin (Fascinoma).
It's this amazing song...very sad, of course, but she has a beautiful voice. And it inspires me to work on my pictures. The song makes me want to rip all of my images from my cameras onto my PC and finally look at my shots that I took since I escaped from Central America. (I'm over Carrie. I don't think about her any more. She cheated on me. She stole my running shoes, so I deleted all of her pics. Done.)
Light is just coming into the room.
I am not a morning person. This is not my world.
Only it's hard to know what to do when you disengage.
It's easy to take things for granted. To wish for things we don't have. To ignore the things we're blessed with.
Inspired, I wander outside, to catch a glimpse of a rocky mountain summer sunrise.
Collapse into a faded chair on the redwood deck waiting for the sun to come up.
The mountains are my asylum. If there are no psychotic women screaming at you, it's amazing what you can hear.
In the darkness, I hear the wings of a male broadtailed hummingbird
Roosters crowing in the distance
Dog barks echo off nearby mountain tops.
A Cordilleran Flycatcher chirps his cryptic song and a crow caws and flies through my valley, low, between the trees
Light comes slowly into my valley now.
Pink clouds low in the east over the nightmare that is Denver.
Where all of the people live, without vision or ambition.
Mule deer bucks in velvet move silently through the scrub oaks.
Cotton candy skies. Ponderosa pines.
Silent crows fly overhead, betrayed only by the sound of their wings beating hard against faint mountain air.
A Northern Flicker stammers in the background.
Pink fade to purple, then somehow orange.
Today is a work day, I guess. But not for me. I'm not ready to play that game just yet. Something inside me says "No...Now is not the time. Not yet. Not before the summer ends. This is a time to play."
Life is short. Now is not the time to start marching collectively towards our graves. Now is the time to relax. Hard work pays off later, but procrastination pays off now.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbirds dogfight over the feeder out back. I'm not sure sure the Rufous Hummingbird is just now. Maybe he sleeps in like me? I can't be sure. Robert and I saw him on Saturday. He scared the pants off of Robert.
The Rufous is a mean one. Loud and brash. Beligerent. A boorish drunk at a quaint social gathering. But he must be out front. Or possibly still sleeping in his nest.
The light betrays my neglected land. Downed trees. Unmowed grass several feet deep.
All of this makes sense to me. I'm leaving it au natural. A polite rationalization for being too lazy to address it.
Now, racket from the neighbors. The kids go to camp. The parents go to work. And I climb back into bed and start copying my photos over onto one of the computers in the master bedroom. Alone in bed. With no psychotic hormonal women screaming at me.
25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Detroit
I used to work in the cess-pool that is Detroit. I left there in 1995 and swore I'd never return, not even to fly through that dismal city. And it's a promise I've kept. Here's 25 things you probably didn't know about Detroit:
1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.
2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities. That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.
3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.
4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. Today, there are less than 27,000.
5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.
6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.
7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
8) About one-third of Detroit's 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.
9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.
11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.
13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city. Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.
14) There are 70 "Superfund" hazardous waste sites in Detroit.
15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.
16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.
17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.
18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.
19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.
20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.
21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.
22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.
23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.
24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.
25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".
July 21, 2013
The War of the Squirrels
Yesterday, Robert R. and I witnessed something I'd never seen before. We watched a protracted, all-out battle between two klans of squirrels in the back yard.
I believe that all of the squirrels were Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger). But what was odd is that, the squirrels all worked together, in a well choreographed battle. I had never thought them capable of this organization.
I'd say there were between 6 - 8 squirrels fighting. Generally, two were fighting, biting each other viciously, trying to force the other squirrel to fall to its death, and the rest of the squirrels assumed defensive positions. They would lay flat on the lowest branch of a tree, facing into the tree trunk. They'd lie down flat against the limb, to hide, but then signal each other with their tails.
As the squirrels above leaped from tree to tree, the squirrels down below would adjust their positions to different trees, or different branches, accordingly. Robert and I watched this for some time. They fought for about a half an hour, or so.
Possibly they were fighting over the food I put in the squirrel feeder, but I hate to think that I created this type of discord in the back yard. Can't we all just get along?
July 19, 2013
Nowhere Left to Run: Cactus Jacks - Day 6
Friday, July 19
Goodland, Kansas - Morrison, Colorado
Odometer at the start of the day: 8,044 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 8,044 miles
Miles driven today: 0 miles
Today, I wake up in the Days Inn in Goodland, Kansas. I'm laying in bed, praying that I don't have to wake up and face reality. But, I do, of course. Like everyone else. I check my cell phone. It's 6:49 a.m. So, no need to get up too soon. I fall back asleep. When I wake up again, it's 10:00 a.m. I call S&M towing, the maggots that have illegally confiscated my motorcycle.
"What do I have to give y'all to release my bike to me?" I ask. Drew is the boss, apparently. He tells me I'll need current registration, proof of insurance, and a clear title in my name. Obviously, this isn't possible. It can't be done.
And, this is why I break the law. Because the law makes no sense. Let's talk about the title, for instance. The bike needs to be titled in Colorado, obviously, as that is where I live. But, it's currently titled in Illinois, where I purchased the vehicle. Now, to transfer the title to Colorado, I have to bring the vehicle to Colorado and have it physically inspected by a police officer to verify that the VIN is correct. They won't let you transfer a vehicle into the state of Colorado without a verification of the VIN number.
So, obviously, I can't get the bike registered in Colorado without having the bike physically in Colorado. And he won't release the bike to me without valid registration. So now, he starts talking about me getting the bike registered in Kansas, as if that makes any sense.
I just ignore him. I call Robert R. and ask him to please drive to Kansas and pick me and my bike up in his truck. Robert R. solves a lot of problems. I can't drive. I can't drive away on the bike. Robert R. has a truck and a driver's license. So, I ask him to drive out. It's a 4 hour drive one way for him, but he agrees to come pick me up, for which I am eternally grateful.
I hang up the phone and fall back asleep.
I'm watching "I Almost Got Away With It" and all of these other shows that make me think that, if we could just erase the pigs from the face of the earth and start over, we'd all be OK. I fall asleep, and then I wake up.
Still I have no insurance on the bike. I decide that I've got to take the reigns and get some insurance for my bike. I call Progressive and they admit that they have a current policy for me on a 2004 XR 640L. Just as I suspected. I tell them to add on the 2010 KTM 990 Adventure. It costs me a total of $84.50. They fax me proof of insurance to the hotel. I collect it downstairs, climb back in bed, and fall fast asleep.
It's not so much that I'm lazy. It's just that I don't like doing anything.
Next thing I know, Robert calls me and says he's outside, so I go downstairs and meet him. I have all of my paperwork.
Granted, the registration is expired, but I have a clear Title and proof of Insurance. I figure we'll try to go and pick up the bike and make them tell me that we can't because the registration is expired.
I hand him a hundred dollars to cover the cost of his gas before it dawns on me that it's not nearly enough.
Instead, the woman is bamboozled, and she just copies all of my paperwork and allows me to leave on the bike.
I ask if there's a loading dock, and one of the employees points to a loading dock across the field.
Robert and I drive there, and I use a hand-crank to lower the loading dock to the level of his truck bed. We load up the bike, put on 4 tie-downs, grab lunch at Taco John's and head out.
Now, we're riding west on I-70 and it's a 4 hour ride home, or so. But I just talk the whole time telling everything I can remember about the trip through Central America, how I'd like to peel the skin off of Dimocrats and soak them in turpentine, etc. Just the normal stuff.
Finally, we make it home to Colorado. We fill up his truck and I pay for it. We stop by the Little Bear and Cactus Jacks for dinner/drinks, and then drive to my house and I hand him another hundred dollar bill.
He explains that I've already paid him, but I'm aware of how much I've given him. I insist that he takes it and then put him in the guest bedroom and we crash for the night, as neither of us needs to be driving at this point.
I owe him my sanity, of course. Who do you know that would come and pick you up in a different state? He's easily one of the coolest guys I've ever met. :)
July 18, 2013
Nowhere Left to Run: Sherman County Jail - Days 4 & 5
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly at the Days Inn hotel in Goodland, Kansas.
Wednesday & Thursday, July 17-18
Pratt, Kansas - Goodland, Kansas
Odometer at the start of the day: 7,763 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 8,019 miles
Miles driven today: 256 miles
Yesterday, I woke up in Bill's trailer.
Bill used to work with Carmen, and she introduced us because we were both big into catching live bands that rolled through town. So Bill was my concert buddy. He left Dallas and moved back to Pratt around 1996 I think. He's sitting on something crazy like a section of land or so.
I spent the morning with Bill's family loading pigs into a trailer to take to the Pratt Town Fair. Dunno if you've ever tried to load mature 225 pound pigs into a trailer, but as it turns out, it's not easy.
First, Shannon cut a limb off of a tree over the pig pen, and laid it in the back of the trailer. Pigs get excited when they see anything green, and we were able to get about half of the pigs into the trailer using this ruse. But then, the other pigs sort of figured out that something was up.
The pigs are fairly smart and they decided that they didn't want to get into the trailer no matter what happened. So, Bill, Shanon, and all three kids had to get in on the action. Lots of ear pulling and squealing, but finally they got them all loaded up. I just stood back and took photos, of course.
Shannon hauled off the kids and the pigs to slaughter, leaving me and Bill to catch up over pizza tacos.
"Where do you see yourself in six months?" Bill asks. It's a debilitating question, of course. I don't know where I'll be in six hours, much less six months. I dunno what to say. I don't have an answer to the question.
"I dunno," I laugh. But the question haunts me. It shouldn't be that hard to answer. I'm sure most people have an answer to a question as simple as that. I, on the other hand, do not.
After lunch, I roll out of town heading for Denver. I'm not clear what I'll do in Denver, but at least I can copy all of my photos off onto my home network and switch off some of my camera gear before heading on to Glacier National Park.
I figure I've got about 360 miles to go, roughly, so I open the throttle and just run about 90 for hours, stopping only for gas.
This works fine until I get to within about 200 miles of Denver. Somewhere near Goodland, Kansas, I Kansas HIghway Patrol pulls me over. OK. So, you clocked me going 90 in a 75. No big deal right? Wrong. It gets better. Apparently my driver's license is suspended (not something I was aware of), no proof of insurance, and the plates on the bike seem to belong to a 2004 Honda XR650L, not a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure.
So, next thing I know, I'm wearing matching bracelets in the front seat of a cop car. But I'm still thinking...no big deal...I've got a few thousand dollars in my wallet. I can cover this action.
"How much will it cost for me to bond out?" I ask the cop.
"Well, since this is your 5th offense of driving on a suspended license, you don't get to bail out. The fifth offense is a felony, so you're going to be in jail until you get to see the judge."
Which is really not what you want to hear, of course.
Next thing I know, they're taking my jacket from me and I'm thinking "Hey...wait a minute..what if I get cold? I need that..." Like, it's hard to process what's going on. It's not a fun time.
So now I'm changing into a prison orange jumpsuit that says Sherman County Jail on the back. Putting on prison orange crocs. They take everything from me and hand me a pillow, a thin mattress, sheets, pillow case, towel, toothbrush, and a cup.
I'm so clueless I'm thinking I'm going to be getting my own cell. Instead, they slide open some steel doors and I realize I'm going to be in a cell with 6 beds. There's already 4 people in the cell they put me in. It occurs to me that I may need to be ready to fight.
I pick a top bed bunk against the wall and put my mattress into the sheet, pillow into the case, and climb into bed.
They tell me I can make a phone call, but I'm not really in the mood to call anyone. I lay down and try to fall asleep. I see some books on the empty bunk beside me and ask if I can read them. The one guy says "sure - It's all AA stuff...I'm getting tired of it."
So, I start reading the AA literature. It's an AA book of people telling how they turned their lives around. I start reading some of the stories. I'm not clear that I qualify as an alcoholic or not. More likely I'm just an idiot. I certainly wasn't drinking today. That's not what got me here, so far as I can tell.
They announce it's time to eat dinner, but I'm pretty clueless about what to do. Everyone leaves though, so I follow them. We walk down to a small room with a television and two small tables. They serve dinner through a slot in the wall to us. Dinner is macaroni and cheese, two slices of bread. Then pass your cup through the same hole and they fill it with tea.
Go back to my cell and climb into my top bunk. The guy beneath me complains about me stepping on his bed to climb up to my bunk. They tell me to climb up on the stainless steel toilet instead, which I do.
Sit in bed and choke down the macaroni and cheese and bread. There's not enough calories in it to keep a human alive, I'm pretty sure. And I don't normally eat much anyway.
There's no privacy at all. There's a stainless steel toilet at the foot of my bed, and people use it while I'm trying to go to sleep. They flush the toilet and it wakes me up if I happen to be asleep. Sounds roughly like a freight train driving through a room with concrete floors and cinderblock walls.
At some point, they turn off the television, which seems to play the movie Grease nonstop, as best as I can tell. They turn off the lights.
I start to think about what Bill asked....where will I be in six months? Survey says it's not looking good.
I fall asleep somehow. In they morning, they tell me they're serving breakfast, but I skip it and sleep in.
ICE takes away one of our cellmates, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, to be deported. Now, there are a total of four of us in the cell.
At lunch time, I follow them to get my lunch tray, praying it's not macaroni and cheese. This time, we get something like a TV dinner with salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and corn. Also, a little container of applesauce and a granola bar.
After you eat, you push your tray through the same hole you're served through and it falls into a trashcan.
Now, the bartering begins. They're swapping applesauce containers for granola bars. You begin to realize how valuable everything is in this surreal environment. Having a pencil is a huge deal. Books are prized and coveted. A packet of salt is valuable here. Everything has a value unimagined by the outside world.
The people all seem friendly enough to me, but when I sit on Avery's bed (another inmate), they tell me "I wouldn't sit on his bed," and I quickly move. "You can sit here though."
They ask me what I'm in for. I tell them I'm in for "felony driving without a license" as if that even makes any sense.
One guy is facing 243 months (20 years and 3 months) for spitting on a cop. Apparently he has a pretty serious alcohol problem. Was already enrolled in college. Supposed to be starting in college next month or so. Now he's facing 20 years in the pen and has a $100,000.00 bond. They found him walking down the middle of the street so drunk it wouldn't register in the field. At the hospital, they said he was 0.32. Apparently, he has Hepatitis C, which can't be spread through saliva. But then they tested him for HIV and another type of Hepatitis, which can be spread through saliva, but he tested negative for those.
When he spit in the cop's face, apparently, he was strapped in a chair in the hole and the cop was filming him with a cam corder and he spit in the cop's face. This all happened on Friday, last week, which screwed up the normal dinner schedule for the rest of the inmates, plus it was quite a commotion, I understand.
They tell me that I should have outrun the highway patrol, as they're not allowed to go on high-speed pursuits any more. Like, this is what I need, right? Advice from incarcerated criminals on how to get away from the police. Great. I don't run from the police any more. I gave that up years ago.
As it turns out, the guy telling me to run from the police tried it himself. He was going triple digits when he totaled his truck. They caught him, of course. Believe it or not, he didn't lose his license over the incident. Nor did he get a DUI even though he was drunk.
I try to go back to sleep, still listening to Grease play on the endless loop in the next room. Finally, they call "Kiser....Robert Kiser" and I can't believe it. It's like a dream.
"Have you filled out a financial affidavit yet?" she asks. I just stare ahead like a zombie. The other inmates answer for me.
"No. He hasn't."
She gives me a piece of paper and a pencil to fill it out with.
"Hurry up and fill this out. The judge is waiting on you. You've got like 3 minutes."
I don't have to fill anything out, of course. I have the right to an attorney. I know all of that. But it asks if I'm employed. If I have any money. What I do for a living. I put that I'm broke and unemployed in hopes they'll assign me an attorney for free.
She has walked away, so I turn to my cellmates and ask "who's pencil is this?"
"It's hers. She gave it to you. But you should keep it," they offer. How quickly I learn to think like them. I hide the pencil in the cell and walk out the cell door after her.
"Where's my pencil?" she demands.
"My pencil. I gave it to you. Where is it?"
"I dunno. I must have lost it."
"When we come back, you have to give it to me," she explains as she puts handcuffs on me.
She leads me down the hallway to a door. An officer comes and she hands me off to him. He walks me outside.
It's good to see the sky again. In jail, there's no way to know what time of day it is. Just artificial light and clocks, but no connection to the world outside.
It's warm and the sky is clear and blue. A light wind. I stand for a second in the middle of the street, taking in the warmth.
"It's good to see the sky again," I offer.
"It's hot," he complains.
Now, we walk into the Sherman County Court House. The cop leads me into a dark court room. Very Kafkaesque. He tells me to take a seat and I do. They take my financial affidavit. The judge comes in and starts talking. I have no idea what he's saying. I'm not a lawyer. I never even bothered to call my lawyer, because I'm not sure what the play is here.
The judge reads to me slowly each crime that I'm charged with. You'd think I was an axe murderer instead of an idiot on a motorcycle. Surprisingly, they're all misdemeanors. None of them are felonies. So, when the pigs told me I'd committed a felony, they were wrong, it seems.
The judge looks at my financial affidavit and tells me that I won't get a court appointed attorney. Then, they make up a piece of paper and hand it to me. It has everything I'm charged with. It's basically as thick as War and Peace. I'm charged with everything from gluttony to avarice, and the bond is $3,000.00.
I'm ecstatic to see that the bond is only $3,000.00. After all, my cellmate's bond was $100,000.00. I've got nearly $2,000.00 on me. All I need is another grand and I can walk.
Then the judge offers me an option. If I front them $800.00, then I won't have to come up with the full $3,000.00. I'm like..."Deal."
"Do you have any questions?" the judge asks.
"Am I free to go?"
"Well, first, you have to pay the $800, then they have to get the paperwork over to the jail, but then you can go. However, I warn you that you'd better be sure to come back here on your court date with an attorney. Since this is your 5th offense for driving on a suspended license, you can plan on doing some time in jail.
They bring in an envelope with all the money I had on me when I came in. They take out eight one hundred dollar bills, and lament that they wish they could check them to see if they're counterfeit. But they can't, so they shut up and accept them.
Back to the jail. My cell mates ask me if I'm getting out, and I tell them yes, and they're all happy for me, of course.
She forgets to ask about the pencil, so I give away my pencil and my applesauce.
About an hour later, they call for me again, and this time, she tells me to gather up all my belongings, so I grab my mattress, pillow, and the rest and leave the jail.
"Good look," I tell my cellmates as I leave.
Change back into my street clothes in a little room and now she gives me the rest of my stuff and the rest of my money. Walk out the back and a door opens up and they release me like a trapped rodent from a trap.
I see a gas station and walk towards it. Buy some food and an iced tea since I'm starving half to death. I give the guy at the counter my laptop and cell phone and he starts everything charging.
Sitting in the gas station, so happy to be outside. Free. Hard to describe this emotion.
When my cell phone is charged up enough I start making some calls.
I call the towing company, and they say they won't release my motorcycle without proof of insurance and registration on the bike. So, I'm not clear how to get the motorcycle free. Plus my license is still suspended. So, I'm not really sure what to do next.
I have my heavy C.C. Filson handbag. And there is no car rental here in town.
I decide to check into a hotel room so I can rest and regroup. But the hotel is about a 20 block walk, and I don't want to do it in the hot sun with my heavy handbag if I don't have to. What I really need is for a total stranger to give me a ride across town.
I see a guy leaving the gas station...he's delivering pizzas if you can believe it...so I call after him..."Hey...pizza delivery guy...can you take me to the Days Inn hotel down near I-70?"
"Sure. It's on my way. Hop in," he replies.
On the way to the hotel, I make a reservation on the iphone on Hotels.com. Check into the hotel and crash for the night.
July 16, 2013
Nowhere Left to Run: Toad Suck Arkansas - Day 3
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly at the Hotel Bill in Pratt, Kansas.
Tuesday July 16th
Fayetteville, Arkansas - Pratt, Kansas
Odometer at the start of the day: 7,303 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 7,763 miles
Miles driven today: 460 miles
The Paradox of Choice
I sleep in until something like 10:00 a.m. When I get up, Dena is on a conference call, so I go sit out behind her trailer and watch the armadillos burrow into the riverbank.
It's crazy nice outside, which has to be unusual for July in Arkansas, right?
I try to think about my ride through the Mississippi Delta and through Arkansas.
It's so hard to focus and put it in perspective. These old rusting cars, fading Depression-era two-story wooden houses. Barns with rusted tin roofs. Peeling paint. Sometimes I shoot them. Sometimes I don't. I don't want to deliberately paint Mississippi and Arkansas as being backwards. But these old buildings sort of whisper to me when I roll past. Vestigial remnants of a past we can never return to. Of aging, faded ghosts that once lived in these towns. All of these people lived and then faded away, planted in roadside family cemeteries and forgotten.
This is what I see as I roll past. I try to envision the land as it once was. Before the Dollar General stores came destroyed the mainstreet shops of downtown the way Sherman destroyed the South in his insane march to the sea.
Not that I have anything against the Dollar General stores, per se. I mean, they're just the penultimate victory of function over form. The final route of cost over aesthetics.
And this is something that I must say I miss about Central America. It certainly wasn't like this down there. In Central America, the next little town is only a few kilometers down the road and you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be scads of little family-owned-and-operated businesses there. True, Pemex runs all of the gas stations in Mexico. And there are certainly lots of chains all through Central America, but neither is there a lack of independently owned and operated businesses.
I drove yesterday through the Ozark mountains on a two-lane black-topped road searching in vain for a small, local establishment....something on the side of a creek or a lake or anything....instead, all I see are gas stations selling fried catfish and fried chicken. So, I guess that this is what we've come to, but it's sad. I think that we all are torn between logic and emotion, and this one rips me right down the zipper.
I spent most of yesterday dodging doves and butterflies. Now I see these guys riding around without helmets, and I guess there's no helmet law in Arkansas, but these things smash into my helmet's visor like meteors from outter-space. I have no idea what they are. Maybe beetles the size of pecans? I can't know. But these things with my visor that make you wonder how the visor can possibly absorb the impact. Like, beetles that sound like a rock hit your visor. And you think about that hitting your face. I'm just like....no thanks.
Toad Suck, Arkansas
Yesterday, I almost ran over some beaver-looking critter near Toad Suck, Arkansas. Like, you would think I'm making that up, but I'm not. Toad Suck really exists. Just one of those many things that blows past your eyes during the day and you hope to God that you'll remember it later when you're drunk-typing away on the keyboard in the small hours of the morning.
The animal I nearly ran over was not something I've ever seen before. It looked like a beaver, but had a bushy tail. I've googled it, and I'm still not sure what it was. It wasn't a nutria, a muskrat, a beaver, or an otter. Maybe it was a chupacabra? I'm not clear.
It was crazy fun catching up with Dena because her memory is just insane. Eventually, I call her out on it. "OK. Hang on. How can you possibly remember all of this stuff?" Like, everything she says sort of fits into my vague recollections of my life in Dallas, but she has all of these details I don't recall. She explains where everyone came from. How they all met. Where everyone lived. How everyone left Dallas around the same time back in 1995.
"Remember? We had a deal where you used to wash my car and I did your laundry. But I wouldn't wash your sheets."
"Why wouldn't you wash my sheets?"
"See...that was the same thing you said back then...but you had so many women coming through your place that I wouldn't touch your sheets."
"I did not."
"You so did."
"Carmen, Tracy, that one older woman...I forget her name...your boss' daughter...Leather-face....Karen...."
"Whoa...whoa...whoa...Who was Karen?"
Now, the photo albums come out. Wow. And there's pictures of me from 23 years ago. Wow. She's laying out how we all went to Fayetteville and I hooked up with Karen in her boyfriend's condo.
"I feel kinda funny about hooking up with her in her boyfriend's place," I apologized to Dena.
Now, I have zero recollection of this. And I'd say for sure that she has me mixed up with someone else, but the problem is that everything else she is saying is spot on. So, if she's right, then it means that I've been to Fayetteville before, which is hard to imagine. But when there's photos and all, it's sort of hard to argue, I guess.
We stay out too late and drink too much at some local watering hole. It's very odd to catch up with someone you haven't seen in 20 years, and I've been doing this a lot lately, for whatever reason.
But when we get home, I can't turn the brain off.
I'm not really sure where to run to next. Perpetually hobbled by the Paradox of Choice - a crippling, debilitating disease. I'm pretty sure the world is a prison we construct in our minds and project onto an neutral, ambivalent canvas.
And I think about the birds and the butterflies that I spent all day dodging. I wonder if they wonder like I wonder. It seems unlikely. And for this, I'm jealous. I spend my hours on the road, trying to deconstruct the prison I've diligently constructed in my mind.
Like, how could I possibly have gotten all caught up over one girl, when there's 3 billion women walking across the face of the planet?
The 18th Candy Bar
Each day is a struggle, of course. Trying to figure out where to go next. And part of me wants to stay here with Dena. She has this crazy nice house and she's such a gracious host. I've never been a good house guest, of course. I've got the hygiene of a possum and the social skills of a porcupine. So, I'm usually not someone you'd want to see inside of your house on a clean white carpet or anything.
But there is some part of me that wants to stay here, of course. But the problem with this is that each day, my situation becomes a little less tenable. Each day, my life becomes a little less palatable. This is what I like to call the syndrome of the "18th Candy Bar".
It's the counter-intuitive phenomena whereby each candy bar tastes progressively worse than the one before it. One candy bar is fine. The second one is too much. The third one would be a nightmare, and the 18th candy bar would be sheer torture.
So, this is the trick is trying to forecast how you'll feel in place at anywhere How will the 2nd candy bar taste? How would I feel at home in Colorado tomorrow? Would it be better if I was in Canada?
These are the things that I struggle with at night.
Right now, I'm leaning towards a balls-out dash for Colorado.
Michelle texts me and says to call her about Jennifer, but it's nothing. She just wants me to be back in town by August. So I've got some time to run still, I think. I've got to be back in Colorado in August for my court dates anyway, I think.
Dena has a conference call, so I hug her goodbye and bug out. She'll be in Denver next month, so I make her promise to let me take her out to dinner when she's in town.
Now, I'm heading to Pratt, Kansas. Bill lives there. He worked with Carmen when we all lived in Dallas. Carmen knew how much I loved to go to concerts, so she set me up with Bill, and we became concert buddies. We went to more concerts than I can even remember.
I drive all day at something crazy like 90 mph. Mostly on backroads, because I just hate being on the interstate. I have no idea where I'm going. Just north. Then west. Then north again. Somehow, I end up in Missouri, then Oklahoma, then Kansas.
I drive all day dodging rainclouds. It rains on me intermittently all day, on and off. But I've learned that, if the rain clouds are localized, then driving faster gets you out of the rain quicker. So, I'll run 100 mph or so and try to stay ahead of the rain clouds, or get through them more quickly anyway.
At 103, the wind plays games with my fingers. I'm leaning over the bike, more dead than alive. Running at 103, eyes barely open, resting on the bike the way you might rest on your desk at the office. Just leaning on the bike for support. My left hand out in front of the bark busters. The wind pulls at my fingers in jerky staccato bursts.
At 110, it pulls down the front of my shoes.
At 115, the wind inside my helmet is just indescribable. The whole helmet wants to lift up and fly away. Only the chinstrap holds it on.
At 120, the highway becomes a tedious maze of cars coming at you. The oncoming cars come at you insanely fast. But even the cars in your lane are coming at you at 60 mph or so. It's a lot more challenging. Especially in the rain.
When I'm 160 miles east of Pratt, I text Bill and tell him I'm two hours out. I'm racing these massive storm clouds. For some reason, they're heading west? So that I have to outrun them?
I'm not really bothered by the rain any more. I put my cameras in a certain position so that they won't get wet. And I just drive. I'm not stopping for rain any more. That's just not my deal. I'm all in.
Bill texts back that they're at the fair grounds, they're not at his compound. I pull up to his compound. He owns a trillion acres of land and the trailer is set so far back from the road that I get lost trying to find it. Finally, find the old farm house, drop off my gear, and take off to meet them at the fair. But I get lost, of course. So Bill comes back into Pratt and we go to dinner at some little local dive. Very cool spot with something like a hamburger taco? Really good.
And we catch up. I haven't seen him in 20 years, of course.
We get home, and he fetches a pig from one of the bedrooms upstairs.
"No. You don't have a pet pig!" I shout.
It's so cute. It's squealing and screaming. He makes it a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave. The pig (Prada), scarfs it down. Hilarious. He says they make good pets. It's a teacup pig, I think. I think I need to get one now.
July 15, 2013
Nowhere Left To Run: Hotel Dena - Day 2
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the Hotel Dena in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Monday July 15th
Clinton, Arkansas - Fayetteville, Arkansas
Odometer at the start of the day: 7,144 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 7,303 miles
Miles driven today: 159 miles
In the morning, I wake up, but I keep drifting back to sleep until it's 12:30 p.m. and the phone is ringing. Check out time was 11:00 a.m. I throw all of my gear onto the bike and head out.
Presently, I'm driving through the Ozark Mountains, which aren't bad, really. I mean, I've seen the Andes and the Canadian Rockies, so they're not like that, but they're nice. Rolling hills, basically.
I almost run over some sort of animal...I'm not clear what it was...it looked like a beaver with a bushy tail? It ran across the road in front of me. I missed him somehow.
The road is finally a two-lane black-topped road through the Ozark Mountains. Eventually, I come to the Buffalo River. At some point, Michelle and I came up here and went canoeing on the Buffalo River.
Now, I find myself again at the Buffalo River. I'm not sure what to do, but I decide to go down and check it out. I decide to go for a swim, but when I go through my C.C. Filson bag, I realize that I don't have my swimsuit, for whatever reason. I guess I left it at Molly's? I dunno. So I head out.
And I roll north towards Harrison. Always planning on eating, but never really eating. In each little town I come to, I imagine that I'll find a little quaint local restaurant that specializes in catfish, bbq, or fried chicken. But instead, each little town has a Sonic, a Dollar General, and a gas station.
Eventually, I surrender to the fact that the gas stations are the only place I'll be able to eat. Finally, when I'm about to starve to death, I pull into a gas station to eat.
I choke down some catfish, coleslaw, and something pickled...green tomatoes? I'm not sure.
Head out and now I'm rolling west towards Fayetteville. Roll into town and text Dena to ask where she lives. Roll up to her trailer, and start to catch up. I haven't seen her in 20 years. We go to dinner and then for drinks afterwards. She's telling me stories about what happened 20 years ago. Most I don't remember. Some I do. She tells me that we came to Fayetteville and I banged one of her friends. I totally don't remember this story. Maybe it happened. Maybe it didn't.
She's telling me all the girls I slept with and I'm like...yeah...yeah...yeah...yeah....I do remember them. This other one, I don't remember though.
She's telling me that we came to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and I slept with her friend in her boyfriend's apartment. I dunno. It seems kinda far fetched. I think she's got me mixed up with someone else?
July 14, 2013
Nowhere Left To Run: Shackles of the Mind - Day 1
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in Clinton, Arkansas.
Sunday July 14th
Madison, Mississippi - Clinton, Arkansas
Odometer at the start of the day: 6,763 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 7,144 miles
Miles driven today: 381 miles
We get up this morning and take Jennifer to the airport. I photoshopped her boarding passes so she can board first and she's connecting through Chicago Midway, but we just drop her off at the curb. She's 15 and she has no problem flying around the country by herself.
So she flies out and when she's not around, I never know what to do with myself, so I just tend to sort of lose focus and wander.
I go back to Molly's trailer and start working on the KTM. Last night, I got it all torn apart, but couldn't finish the project as it got dark on me. So today, I have to finish the job. Get the oil filter changed and tighten the chain also. Even managed to set the clock to be the right time.
The thing about the KTM that I don't like is that it's a royal pain in the ass just to do something simple like change the oil filter. On my Hondas, all you do is pull three metric bolts...this pops out the oil filter. And you unscrew the oil drain plug on the bottom of the engine. Replace filter. Replace drain plug. Pour in oil. Done.
On the KTM, you have to pull the left fuel tank, and about a trillion other things. A total nightmare. Took me about three hours. But I finally got it finished and I only dropped the bike once and only have two parts left over. (Hopefully they're not important).
I get it all put back together and pour the oil into the woods behind the trailer. Pour kitty litter on the oil spots in the driveway.
And now, it's time for me to go, but I really and truly have no place to go at this point.
This is the hard part, of course. I just sort of tell my sister goodbye and hug her and go get on the bike and ride away.
Carrie is emailing me again. She's going out with another guy. What we were doing was unholy and sinful, apparently. But since they go to church together, that makes it all right, apparently.
She unfriended me on facebook. She deleted all of the photos of the two of us from her facebook account like I never even existed. She posts new pics with this ugly goon she's dating now. She blocked my cell phone number so I can't call/text her. This after I removed 2,500+ viruses from her computer. After I paid her mortgage so she wouldn't lose her house. After I paid all of her outstanding tickets and got her driver's license reinstated.
And then has the gall to email me and ask me to send her the photos I took of her family at Christmas.
I'm like "but...there isn't room on your computer to store them, remember?"
Then it dawns on me. She's got scads of room on her computer because she deleted all of the photos of the two of us. And she's using the camera I gave her for Christmas to take photos of her and this ugly snaggle-toothed back-water knuckle-dragging idiot to put on her facebook account.
"I deleted them," I tell her. I didn't delete them. I never delete any photos. But God as my witness she'll never see them.
"Really?" She seems disappointed. As if somehow she'd not thought about that scenario.
As dumb as a bag of hammers.
So this is what's going on as I try to put my life back together. She sends me crazy messages about how much she loved me and how she'll never love the new guy the way she loved me. But, somehow, she'll try. Just insane psycho-babble that makes me want to drive into an overpass.
So, this is what's going through my head as I leave Madison. I say goodbye, and I'm sort of driving away, but without a clear destination. I loosely plan to go through the Delta and then into Arkansas. Not clear where I'll go after that.
July 13, 2013
I changed the oil on the KTM today. What a royal pain in the ass. Have to pull the left fuel tank to change the oil. What a nightmare.
Got chewed up by mosquitos and ran out of daylight.
Jen flies back to Colorado in the morning. I'll take off on the bike tomorrow for somewhere. I'm honestly not sure where I'm going.
I'm sort of leaning towards a route through the Mississippi Delta, Arkansas, Chicago, ending up in Glacier National Park in Canada. But I'm not sure at this point.
July 12, 2013
Sum Ting Wong
July 10, 2013
F-5 Tornado Destroys Smithville,MS
When I drove up the Natchez Trace last week, I noticed an area of significant tornado damage that was marked with a roadsign as tornado damage from 2011.
Basically, this tornado destroyed a swath of land several miles wide for some distance. Basically erased Smithville, MS from the map. I've never seen anything like it with my own eyes, and I've seen tornado damage before.
July 9, 2013
Groupthink and Asiana Flight 214 (OZ214)
I'll go out on a limb here and be the first person to point out that Group Think was a contributing factor to the plane crash at SFO.
True, the ILS was non-functioning, but this was NOTAMed last year. The PAPI system was working, so they had glide-slope guidance even if they were confused by the featureless mirrored surface of the calm SF bay.
They flew the plane too slow, too low, and crashed, killing 2 people, and injuring 183.
Now, you can argue that they thought the auto-thrusters were on, or that the ILS should have provided glide-slope guidance, or any number of things. But the reality is that you had 4 skilled pilots in the cockpit on a clear day in idea weather conditions that flew a perfect airplane full of fuel into the ground.
When you have 4 skilled pilots fly a perfectly good plane into the ground and no one says a word, part of the problem is groupthink.
The problem is that the flight crew in the cockpit is both homogeneous and insulated, two of the factors in groupthink. Additionally, the culture of South Korea discourages the subordinates from challenging their superiors. So, the CRM being practiced in the cockpit is obviously sub-optimal, at best.
What's worse still, is that the cultural issue will be ignored/downplayed by the media and the NTSB, as they're afraid of being called "racist", "culturally ethnocentric", or worse.
July 4, 2013
Next Stop: Somewhere Else
Drove up the Natchez Trace to Tupelo, then across Alabama into Middle Tennessee. Two nights in TN, then back to MS in the driving rain. 1,000 miles in three days.