jumpingfish
 Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Quarter's End

End of the quarter. A cause for celebration, economy or no. Lunch outside, beyond the parking lot. Burgers. Beans. Veggie burgers. Catfish fried on the spot. Tea. Lemonade. Shiner. Ice. A good lunch for $5.00. A purple stamp on your hand and you're in.

There's a woman with her daughter along and a guy with his dog on a leash. The people who have been around a while are lounging in their camp chairs in the shade of the oak trees next to the BBQ grill and picnic table, around the corner from the volleyball pit.

Pinch me!


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 Monday, June 23, 2003

A Good Day

It was a hot day -- 80 degrees just as the sun began to climb into the sky, upper 90s by early afternoon. At the end of it, I drove home with my windows down.

I drove home with the windows down so that I could feel the wind.

I drove home with the windows down so that I could feel the sun.

I drove home with the windows down, because I couldn't stay cooped up on the long drive home, because I just didn't want those windows rolled up.

And as I drove home with the wind blowing thru my hair and the sun beating down on my cheek and the heat wrapping around me, tears filled my eyes.

It was a good day.


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 Saturday, June 21, 2003

Such Good Friends

Thanks so much for putting me up last week. And thanks also for the many times before.

I enjoyed the time we spent together in the mornings and in the evenings: jogging at sunrise, talking around the table after the girls had gone to bed. I loved the tea party in the living room with Audrey and also Ashton's tap dance preview in the kitchen.

It was good to see your smiles. I will miss them.

So thanks again. Thanks for the bed to sleep in. Thanks for the cool window AC unit. Thanks for the grapefruit juice in the morning. Thanks for everything you've always done for me.

For being such good friends, thank you very much.


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 Sunday, June 15, 2003

Hi And Bye

Hi.

This is Cincinnati mom at the cottage calling to wish you a Happy Father's Day.

It is perfect here. The sky is blue. The air is warm. The sun is on the water.

I'm sitting on the deck reading a book about Iran and an English teacher with a book club hiding from the police. It is very good. I will leave it here.

I practiced harp in the front room today with the breeze coming off the lake thru the windows and the sunlight dancing on the lawn outside and classical music playing in the room in back.

It is a perfect Father's Day. My father is everywhere. He is here. I am enjoying his company.

Bye.

---
Father's Day greetings from my mom.


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 Saturday, June 14, 2003

Sheer Brilliance

Bates Recital Hall had a golden glow. The chairs invited you to sit back and relax. The sound from the stage was perfect.

Down in front, Concert Band #3 was warming up: practicing snippets of their pieces, tuning up section by section, practice-hissing the music as the conductor directed.

When the lights were dimmed and the doors shut in the back and the performance began, they played three pieces: one based on the tomb of Tutankhamen, with hints of a caravan serai lumbering across the dunes and scarabs scuttling across the cold stone floor; another incorporating the audience with a loud shout of Ohio! at the end; and the final number a medly of Sousa marches.

You know Sousa. It is in our bones. We know it when we hear it. As my mother taught when I was young, If it makes you want to march, it's Sousa.

There they were playing Sousa on the stage with the lights shining brightly down on them, with parents watching their every move, with the director swinging her baton, with the silent pipe organ looming over them from its perch on the back wall.

The bass drum boomed. The tympani rolled. The flutes fluttered. The brass section stood up. Their sound filled the room. The trumpets blared the melody. The low brass washed against it.

They made us want to march. They made us proud.

...

Now have you ever listened to the low brass in a Sousa march? Have you ever put those trumpets and drums and fluttering flutes out of your mind and listened to the trombones and baritones and French horns and ... Sousaphones carry the counter melody?

Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.

Do it sometime. Listen to Sousa's background brass. I'm sure you'll agree. And I assure you that this has nothing to do with the fact that down there on stage, Ben was standing straight and tall, the bell of his horn held high, his slide snapping smartly in and out bringing tears to his father's eyes. No. It has nothing to do with that.

Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.

---
UT Longhorn Music Camp, Austin TX


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 Friday, June 13, 2003

New World Order

Kashmir
Congo
Zimbabwe
Liberia
Chechnya
North Korea
Aceh
Iran
Myanmar
Indonesia
Iraq
Israel
Palestine
India
Pakistan
Afghanistan

Welcome to the New World Order.


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Thoughts of Home

On the Silk Road, Sean-Paul, walks the streets, sees the sights, talks to people, and ponders the meaning of home:

[silkroad/yesim]: That's the funny thing about traveling. Thoughts of home always seem to crystallize when I am away and I understand who I am even more.


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On Power

DruBlood talks about power and powerlessness in language that both sides can learn from:

[Privilege and Victimhood]: people who have power [...] have the responsibility of being careful about how they weild that power, and of examining closely how the power they hold in their relationships affect others. This could be a doctor, a boss, a partner in a marriage, a parent...a teacher...any relationship where there is an imbalance of power. It's imperative that the one who holds the power is in tune with the person over whom they hold it...and it's wrong-headed to place that responsibility on the shoulders of the person who does not have the power.
(emphasis added)


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 Wednesday, June 11, 2003

At Plaza Saltillo

She stood at the back of the plaza listening to the words being thrown out to the audience. She liked what they said -- or so she thought at the time. She liked the speaker's energy -- or so she thought at the time. She thought he sounded sincere -- at the time, that is.

She stood at the back, because she had arrived late, and the plaza was already full. So she had to strain a bit to see. And she had to jostle a bit to keep the stage in view as more people arrived.

It was a big crowd, more than the organizers had hoped for. There were people standing at the side of the stage, people climbing on the railings, people trying to push their way to the front.

It was a big crowd, and a loud one. When he spoke his impassioned words, they cheered. When his face turned red and he pointed to the crowd, they cheered. And she smiled as the cheering filled the night air. She could vote for him, she thought.

But for all the cheering and passion, for all the energy and sincerity, as she reflected later on that night, she wasn't so sure after all.

Too much money grubbing, she thought.

Why is it that it always boils down to money? she complained.

This guy's no different from the others. So intentional. Ultimately so predictable.

Whatever, she thought as she rolled her eyes and wrote the rally off in her mind and drove to the mall to buy a CD.

---
Fiction vaguely based on an online musing about the Howard Dean rally in East Austin on 09 June 2003.


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 Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Moyers

Bill Moyers on the American progressive movement and how it relates to politics today (linked by atrios):

[Moyers/ProgressiveStory]: you have to respect the conservatives for their successful strategy in gaining control of the national agenda. Their stated and open aim is to change how America is governed -- to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors.

[...]

I'll be frank with you: I simply don't understand it -- or the malice in which it is steeped. [...] What I can't explain is the rage of the counter-revolutionaries to dismantle every last brick of the social contract.

[...]

What will it take to get back in the fight? Understanding the real interests and deep opinions of the American people is the first thing. And what are those? [...] That self-interest is a great motivator for production and progress, but is amoral unless contained within the framework of community. That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else.


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Holding the Door

There was a dad and three boys walking across the sunny parking lot. They were coming to pickup breakfast tacos at Maudie's[*].

Actually, three of them walked. One of them, the youngest, ran to the door and darted inside. Moments later, he poked his head back out. And then he stood there holding the door wide opened as the cool, conditioned air rushed out.

Close the door, the father urgently mouthed to the boy.

What? the boy yelled back, chomping on a big red piece of bubble gum he had just got from the machine inside.

Close the door, the father said out loud.

What? the boy asked again.

By that time, the father and the two other sons were out of the sun and standing by the door. The father held the door while the three boys went in.

What did you say? the little boy asked, looking back at his dad.

Thanks for holding the door for us.

---
[*] Maudie's to the Third Power on Brodie Lane, Austin TX: http://www.maudies.com/maudiesthird.html
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Franken and O'Reilly

In an entry entitled Sense of Decency, Dave Johnson of seetheforest talks about lies from the right and the recent Al Franken vs. Bill O'Reilly spat (emphasis and links from the original):

I think we might be having a "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" moment. If so, I want Al Franken to get the historical credit, for going after O'Reilly the other day. I heard about it from several blogs, and saw it on C-Span. You gotta see it, it's historic. You can watch by clicking here (scroll to where it says Franken, and click "Watch") or, if you have DSL or cable, here. (Use RealPlayer's slide bar if you want to skip to where Franken starts - about 27 or 28 minutes into it.)

Franken went after Bush and Limbaugh and O'Reilly (in person - he was sitting right next to him) for lying. I mean he really went after them.

Franken spent some time detailing three specific quotes in which O'Reilly had claimed in no uncertain terms to have won two Peabody Awards, O'Reilly himself emphasizing on several occasions that this award is the most prestigious journalism award. In fact he had won some other award that also starts with a 'P'.

Franken cited Nexis data and provided dates for these statements, and he then quoted O'Reilly as later saying (when he had been challenged on the subject) that he never said any such thing and that no one could provide any transcript to that effect.]

Here's a mini-transcript of some key parts of the tiff that I wrote down while listening to the C-Span video as I sat watching it expecting a fight to break out at any moment.

Franken: And it's important. And it's really important. And it's important because we've been just taking it. We have been taking it and taking it on the left. [...] We're not going to sit for it any more. We just aren't. [...] Ok. I'll finish for now. I could go on all day...

O'Reilly: I know you could...

Franken: And I know you could!

O'Reilly: ... you just about have! You just about have.

Franken: Yeah! You tell 'em, Bill!

O'Reilly: We're supposed to be on here for 15 minutes. This idiot goes 35. Ok? All he's got in six and a half years is that I misspoke, that I labelled a Polk award a Peabody. He writes it in his book. He tries to make me out to be a liar...

Franken: No, no, no, no, no...

O'Reilly: Hey! Shut up! You had your 35 minutes. SHUT! UP!

You really do have to see the C-Span video.


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Ed's Dad

Ed Cone writes about his dad:

[EdCone]: That was an eye-opener. Not that I hadn't known that my father was a reader and a thinker, but somehow hearing him riff from a book that I loved and took to be my own, and realizing that he had read the same book and internalized it way back before J.D. Salinger withdrew from the world, somehow that hit me in a nice way and made me feel a little closer to him


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 Monday, June 9, 2003

Room 2.118

You never would have suspected it to look at the building from the outside. Although, there were periodically people coming and going thru the doors, and the building was, after all, quite large with plenty of room inside. Still from the outside, you never would have guessed the size of the throng teeming behind the doors.

On the inside, the halls were packed with kids and parents and musical instruments. There were distraught parents lined up to register their children late. There were relaxed parents waiting for their kids in the Hospitality Suite, drinking lemonade and eating cake and holding free hand-out CDs of the Longhorn marching band. There were grim-faced kids waiting in line to audition.

And then, there was Room 2.118.

Room 2.118 was across the hall from the cake and lemonade. While the parents sat and ate and milled around, in Room 2.118 the kids were warming up.

There were saxophones and flutes and trumpets and cornets and trombones and bass clarinets. There were chromatic scales and audition pieces being rehearsed and toots and squawks filling the room and spilling out into the hall.

And the faces of the adults. You should have seen the faces of the adults as they walked thru the doors. Surprised by the joyful noise being made by the kids, they burst into smile from ear to ear to see the chaos, to hear the cacophony.

---
Longhorn Music Camp, UT School of Music, Austin TX


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 Friday, June 6, 2003

King of the Couch Potatoes

[David Weinberger]: TiVo makes every person a monarch in the Kingdom of Couch Potatoes.

Cool! Can I use one if I don't have a TV?


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Liza's Repeats

The adults ran repeats on the track: 3 x two miles. Grueling. This running on the track stuff is pretty hard core. The runners are pretty hard core. You look at their faces and you see their concentration, determination and guts and wonder where it comes from on a weekday after they've all come home from work.

So there they were, on a summer Wednesday afternoon, running around in circles four times to the mile, eight to the two, times three. There they were with their shirts and their shorts and their shoes. Legs striding. Arms swinging. Faces covered in sweat.

Meanwhile a seven year old girl ran the track on her own. She goes there with her dad sometimes, feels comfortable deciding for herself what to do, doesn't mind the longer distances the adults run, doesn't mind when they pass her by.

So there she was, two mile repeats were going on around her, running a little workout of her own: one lap, hang out for a while, two laps to finish. There she was, a seven year old running repeats on the track while her father watched in awe, recalling how at eleven years old 330 yards wore him out and made his mouth drier than the Sahara.

---
Based on the true story told by her father.


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 Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Lessig talks a bit about the Public Domain Enhancement Act and about the Reclaim the Public Domain petition and about whether or not the act is too much of a compromise.

[Lessig/promoting progress]: ... for most of our history, the public domain was no more than 30 years old. If ordinary people could see the creativity that would be inspired if the 1960s were in the public domain, they would understand again the importance of limiting the regulation that copyright law has become.

They will only understand it if we build it. They will only get it when they see the creativity it would inspire, and the knowledge it will spread. We need to show them why the public domain is important, by building it again.

The Public Domain Enhancement Act would do this.


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Great Album!

There's cheap gas to be had on South Lamar. Right now it's in the $1.30s for midgrade. Friday evening I drove home that way. I pulled into Racetrack with my windows down and sunroof open, light pouring in, music playing loudly.

I stopped at the pump but left the key turned to let the song play out to the end. It was a comic book moment:

  • a Jetta pulls up to the pump,
  • the driver nods his head, jamming to the tunes,
  • little black notes stream from the windows and escape out the top of the car.

When the song ended, I turned the key, got out and walked around to the pump.

Was that your music? a man asked me, peering around from the other side where he was filling up his silver Jaguar.

Excuse me?

Was that your car that was playing the blues? he asked.

I smiled and laughed and nodded. Yes.

Stevie Ray! Great album!

I smiled and laughed and nodded. Yes!

---
South Lamar Blvd., Austin TX


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 Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Reclaim the Public Domain

Larry Lessig has announced an online petition to encourage Congress to give meaning back to the public domain.

He needs our participation. Go there. Read it. Sign it if you can!


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Running with Cliff

There is a place along the trail where the gravel path appears to end. It runs smack-dab into a wooden fence with the lake to the left and an asphalt parking lot to the right. Here an unsuspecting runner might not realize that the trail turns suddenly and skirts the edge of the parking lot between faint painted lines by the curb.

I saw a man dash out from behind that fence. What a convenient place to live, I thought, in those apartments over there. You would never have to drive to the lake.

I wondered about the man as I automatically turned at the fence and followed the painted lines. Does he have room mates? Does he work downtown? Or is he a student? I wondered these things about the man, but when we got to the edge of the parking lot where the painted lines meet the sidewalk of Riverside Drive, he stopped.

He looked left and looked right, and then he turned around as I passed him. He watched as I jogged by and then started running again, following me. After several steps I realized that he must have been a stranger in town, that he must have lost the trail back there at the fence. I turned around and waited.

Are you looking for the trail? I asked as he caught up. He was.

His name was Cliff. He was in town on business from Seattle, where 80-degree days are too hot to run. And although it was still early, the heat of the Texas sun beating down on us was evidently making him regret his decision to get some morning exercise.

As we ran the rest of the seven mile loop, I showed him where every water stop was.

---
Town Lake Hike and Bike Trails, Austin TX


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 Monday, June 2, 2003

The Mesquite Man

He stood on a concrete retaining wall running along the trail just beyond the kayak and canoe launch by the lake. His arms were extended over his head holding onto the handles of a pair of garden loppers. He was trimming the branches of a Mesquite tree that had hung down too low.

I had seen evidence of the Mesquite Man before, lopped-off branches stacked in neat piles sitting at intervals by the side of the path. I knew he existed. I knew of his work, but I had never seen him in action before.

So there he was, next to his bike, standing on the wall, a strained look on his face as he held the wooden handles waiting for us to pass. I looked up at him.

Thanks, I said.

He looked down at me and smiled and grunted in acknowledgement and chopped off the branch as we ran by.


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