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Going home.

I'm pretty worn out after wrangling with financial aid for 3 hours today, but wanted to drop a marker at the end of a pivotal week.

Last Friday, I got a tearful phone call from my mom. Her husband, John, had died in his sleep early that morning. My brothers and I had called him Big John for 16 years - he was a barrel-chested, sensitive man with a crass sense of humor, a shock of flax-colored hair, and a nose like W.C. Fields. He loved my mom with all his heart, and it was his heart that finally gave out on him. An aortic aneurism brought him down at the age of 60.

I flew home as soon as I could. John and my mom live in a corner of the western Colorado Rockies tucked between the Roan Plateau and the Grand Mesa. Six acres isn't much, but it's a lot for a single person to manage, especially since winter comes early in the high country. I grew up rural, but not on a farm - my family is mining stock. Still, I can chop wood and cut grass and feed animals, so that's what I did. In the process of work for work's sake, I found some peace in the middle of heartache. I still hurt like hell, but I didn't run from it. It just ran over me and through me, until it was me, like the axe, the swing, and the split. I stood in the last moments of monsoon rain on the plateau and the edges between ego and felt experience turned to mud.

The next day, I read the following during the service:

Winter Song

In Memory of Dorothy Milliman

The acceptance of death
Clear down in our hearts
Is the faith we bring to life
That love may go on:

The lustrous umber
Of decaying ferns;
Belled vermillion
Of the gooseberry bloom;

Rain on the river.

- Jim Dodge

The DJ Booth in 10-Forward

I'm not generally in the business of embedding videos here (tumblr will be a different matter), but this thing is amazing. Yes, please.

Multi-touch midi controller software + mysterious (MS Surface-like) glass pad +Traktor =

töken experience from yöyen munchausen on Vimeo.

Taoist Dirt Pagan

I took a nature writing class w/ Jim Dodge a couple of years ago. He's the one that inspired the shelter camping adventure that I wrote about a page or two back - the one involving bears with suspected amanita-induced madness, lightning-struck old growth doug-firs, and albino sasquatches. Jim is a self-described "Taoist Dirt Pagan;" I imagine when he said it all the words would've come out as capitals.

He wrote a book about a little mallard named Fup Duck. I hear it's good, but I haven't read it (or Stone Junction or the others, for that matter).

This poem is from Jim's book Rain on the River. I like reading his poems out loud in the forest, and I'm not generally that sort.

Squall & Commotion

You've reached bottom
when you understand
there is no bottom
to reach.
And just rock there drenched
on the ship's bow,
watching the rain
fall on the ocean.

6/02 edit: added url for book; added last name for botz. hai botz.


The Dune Forest / The Moth

I spent last Saturday with my kid brother, Johnny, at the dunes out on the peninsula. He's a camper, and has been living out there since getting in from Tucson a few weeks ago. He also happens to be schizophrenic, according to the State of Arizona. All I know is that he's not very good at camping yet, but he likes it well enough (despite our unseasonal late rains - I think we're going to go from rain season to fog season with no real Spring at all). He also likes burritos, so I brought some out there with me. The dust, sea salt, and sun are turning him leathery; it makes his blue eyes that much brighter on his face. His posture is improving, and I see him getting stronger.

I was thinking about his days out there in the dunes. The roar of the ocean is constant; the cosmic engine in perpetual gear, churning out phenomena.

When I was washing dishes earlier I could hear the sound of the ocean in the running water, and the crash of waves in the underwater grind of the ceramic plates. I caught movement out beyond the window, and looked up. My eyes focused on a moth, struggling against an old spider web from the Fall. A tiny spider was picking its way down the wild sine wave of an anchor strand. The oscillation was too much for the creature; the moth kept shaking the spider loose, only to begin again. The fluttering shape tore loose and vanished into the night, and the spider stopped on the web, absorbing the final vibrations.
Tired, but can't seem to sleep. I'm about 4 days off tobacco, and the insomnia is starting to hit pretty hard. I decided to do something with it.

I didn't walk far... especially compared to the long 3am meanders down by the rail yard back when I lived in Junction. The fog is in tonight, but looming overhead: some scattered fingers drag along the asphalt and attendant plants. The moon is nearly new, and the dark is heavy and wet on the road. I caught a chill and sat with it for a while on the steps between Western and Alliance, then wandered back home. I had more thinking to do, but slowly this time. I'm working on slowing things down, turning them over, setting them down, then coming back to them. No reason to rush. Better to sit with things a while - process and reflect with mindfulness and purpose.

I'm done with my degree.
I'm working on love and discipline (counterbalanced with a healthy dose of hedonism).
I'm optimistic on all fronts.
I'm skeptical of all the egocentrism I've been storing up, but not dismissive of it.
I've made some intense connections recently; I'm feeling like more are on the way.
I'm grateful for getting this far.


I just wanted to stop in and date-stamp the following: rapid, deep change is happening. It's personal, it's systemic, and it's vital. The sense of it is overwhelming, and I can't see around the next corner; the tremors are in the tracks.

I have obligations in the morning and I'm cultivating discipline - particularly in regard to taking care of my brain/body - so sleep is in order. I'll make space to write about it later.

busy. realignment.

About a week ago, I put myself on the couch and made it a point to lay there, empty-minded, for about 30 minutes. It was really nice. The novelty of the experience, however, has me a bit worried. I may need to make a it a point to put my ass on the couch more often. October's calendar is looking pretty ugly, but then there's Halloween and a much calmer November.

An ugly economy and a real need to start working on extending community is prompting us to move into a smaller, cheaper place in November. I'll miss the forest (even the spiders and slugs) right outside my window, and the quiet, but not the overcrowded parking lot and higher rent. It'll be good to have two sets of friends within stumbling distance of home, too. To top it off, I see a real garden (to supplement the farm share) in the future.

so, to recap what's in flux:
housing, relationship(s), work, money, other work, and school.

I'm not bitching - I'm down with change, at least in theory. I am definitely feeling that there's been some kind of deep, axial shift in my guts. If nothing else, life is more interesting than it was a month ago.

Yours truly on Google Streetview

Random Googleplex capture! Somebody at the Energy Authority was messing around with Google StreetView and caught me loitering around at Humboldt State's library circle bus stop. I'm standing in front of the pillar kiosk, gabbing on my phone.

(Edit: apparently streetview doesn't want to embed, so you'll have to click on the Map link below.)

View Larger Map

Fat Bush Pics?

LJ pointed out on my dashboard that I haven't updated in like 18 weeks. Ok, I'm shamed. I'll post something.

Ever since gwynny and I ran across a motherlode of red huckleberries up on richy California street I've been obsessed with finding more free berries. Today I hit paydirt (paysoil?) - I found a nice thimbleberry bush on campus today. I ate a handful of sweet red fruit with a tangy finish. There's a couple of thimbleberry and huckleberry bushes producing outside our apt, but the bushes are growing out of a treacherous hillside and I can't get them. Gomez Cat and I watch each morning as birds pick out the ripest berries - just beyond our reach. Luckily our farm share is providing a half-pint of loganberries and raspberries every week.

I was talking to Dr. Pinch about this free berry thing and a plan is hatching for geolocating the fattest Arcata berry bushes in a KML file or on Google maps. Hasn't happened yet, but it might. Maybe we'll be low tech and just post coordinates on a text file. I'm leaning towards the middle road (like usual) and posting fat bush pics on flickr with a georeference.

I finished the socio-spatial poster on sea level rise for Arcata. I've submitted it to a conference and feel pretty good about it, but haven't heard back yet. HSU GIS submitted the work-up we did for the proposed Palomar Pipeline that's slated to cross the Mt. Hood wilderness. 160+ acres of old growth Doug-fir (and some prime Spotted Owl habitat) for a liquid natural gas pipeline is a lousy deal. I hope BARK can block it. LNG - especially Russian LNG - is a dumb idea anyway. Let's increase our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, shall we? Eventually I'll get the Arcata poster up on Snakecharmer.

In other news: I think I fucked up my back doing deadlifts today. Stupid mistake. Fortunately my RC injury in my right shoulder is improving. I like to only have 1 lifting injury at any given time.

glaciers + canoes

This is a climate change and GIS nerd post. You've been warned.

An interesting development for our local student ASPRS chapter - we're looking at adopting a glacier (actually, a remnant snowfield) in the Trinity Alps. There's a glacier monitoring project based out of Portland State - we're hoping to meet with the program managers at a conference in April. As I understand it, they're using thermoimaging and GIS to monitor and model glacial response to climate change. I'm sure there's more to it, but that's the part that got me interested. Apparently, we'd get access to ASTER imaging to do it.

The glacier project complements my 480 project rather well. I'm about 10 hours into an analysis of the social impact of projected sea level rise scenarios on the peninsula communities of Humboldt County. Most of the literature indicates a 1m rise by 2100 under best case scenarios (CO2, CH4, N2O, O3 and black carbon aerosol emissions decrease) and 3m+ by 2100 if we keep our shit up (IPCC scenarios A1B or B2 - insufficient reduction in GHG emissions).* I'm planning on taking a digital elevation map, plotting sea level rise scenarios on it, and overlaying census block data for analysis. It's a lot harder for poor folks to move households (consider the Katrina event), so my hypothesis is that the poor will be hardest hit in the peninsula communities. Yeah, I know, it's obvious heuristically, but telling policymakers something is "obvious" doesn't work as well as pushing a scientific study under their noses. Of course, a lot of times that doesn't work either. It might be moot, though. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do a good analysis at this point - all the elevation models I've found so far don't have the precision I need to make the project work. I'm wondering if I'm going to have to do measurements myself with a GPS unit; I ain't paying for a LIDAR flyover, that's for sure.

Of course, all bets are off if 1500 sq mile ice sheets keep dropping into the sea. Those models predict as much as a 150+ feet rise in sea level. For reference, that's about the height of the Statue of Liberty.**

Buy a bike...and consider saving up for a good canoe.

* = Hansen, James, et al. 2006. “Global Temperature Change.” Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences 103: 14288-14293.

Incidentally, Hansen (a NASA Climate Scientist) is the same guy that said we have about 10 years to reverse course before we are basically committing to dangerous climate change (catastrophic sea level rise and 60%+ species extinction, etc).

** = Bell, Robin E. 2008. “The Unquiet Ice.” Scientific American 298: 60-67.

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