Monthly Archive for April, 2012

Levon Helm, RIP

He died yesterday.

I know I’ll be watching The Last Waltz again this weekend.

Previous posts on The Band and Levon Helm

I’ve posted about The Band a few times in the past. I’ve listed them below. I’m surprised at how hard I’m taking the news of Levon Helms impending death.

One from Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm

Rick Danko and The Unfaithful Servant

A post on how much I enjoy The Last Waltz

There is plenty of goodness over at youtube if you search around.

Bad News on Levon Helm

From Maggie’s Farm:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy and wife Sandy

Gerard has more.

For those of you keeping score at home

I’ve been paid!

I’ve also bought a plane ticket home. I leave here on May 23rd. It is a round trip ticket. Round trip tickets are cheaper than one way tickets in almost all instances.

The odds of my using the second half of that ticket are pretty small at this point.

I don’t even know where to begin

Each of the last two Saturdays I spent some time with two women, partners, and their five year old son. One of the women is an American that is a friend of a friend from back in Dallas. The other woman is Swiss. They live in Switzerland. They came to the island for a vacation. These women and their son were delightful. I really appreciated the opportunity to visit with them and to get to know them.

Yes these women are part of a demographic that I don’t have a lot of contact with in my normal routine. It is certainly a demographic that is not encountered often here on the island where the population is 50% Hindu and 20% Muslim. It’s a pretty conservative group of people here on the island.

While with the women we did have some pretty frank and straightforward conversation about the two of them raising a son. I started laughing at one point. They asked me what was so funny? I told them I was picturing two things: the first time they walk in on their son when he’s viewing pornography on the internet; and, also, when he begins to masturbate. I asked them, “Do you think you’ll be ready for that?”

So imagine my surprise this evening when Tyler Cowen links to this article: Papa Ed: The busy life of a prolific sperm donor.

I was thinking of sending them the link because I told them about Tyler’s new book An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies last Saturday over lunch. I recommended the book, even though I’ve yet to read it myself. It was an appropriate recommendation because the conversation over lunch had turned in a locavore direction and I attempted, pitifully, to describe how some of the locavore movement is seriously misguided.

So if the one or two readers of this blog know the women I’m talking about, let me make this perfectly clear: I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet them. I enjoyed the time I spent with them the last two Saturdays. I don’t have much of a social life here on the island and these past two Saturdays were easily among the most enjoyable of my time here.

I have not sent them the link to the article as I don’t want them to think I’m obsessing over their relationship and their son. But, please, go read that article, it is well worth the time it’ll take. It is just fascinating. Who would have thought there are people like Papa Ed in this world?

Oh, and Jerry? You need to buy Mary that book. It will challenge her thinking on food and will give her plenty of ideas. All of which will be good.

War on Drugs Insanity

Via Coyote: Here is another example of the insanity of the war on drugs. When I read stories like this, I am tremendously saddened by what passes for justice in our country.

It really is a low cost place to live

I do like the island. The people are wonderful and it really is a low cost place to live. Especially given the climate and since the island is so small, you are close to the beach you have no matter where you live.

I haven’t been a spendthrift. I in fact built up a little cushion in my first couple of months here, but then I spent that money on my business trip to India.

Of the money I’m owed more than $5,400 is due me from that one trip. If I’d been reimbursed for those expenses, I might not even be pissed at my boss about this situation. But that is his management style. Never plan ahead. We are in this mess for multiple reasons. Yes the principal reason is that we were grossly under capitalized, but this problem was dramatically compounded by his bad decisions.

The Worst Part of My Predicament

The worst part of not being paid is that the reason I came here was to send more money home than I was providing for the family in the job I had in Dallas prior to coming here. Since I’ve not been paid, I haven’t sent money home for over two months.

I’m not real popular with the wife right now.

I haven’t been paid for over two months

I currently have half a tank of gas and the equivalent of about $115.00. I’m past due on the rent for my apartment. The rental car payment is due on Thursday.

That was what the clip from Apocalypse Now was about. I’m never getting out of the boat that is the United States ever again.

For some crazy reason I’ve been still protecting the reputation of the school I work for. I still am, by not naming it here and making this problem google visible. I’ve still not named the island, for the same reason. Foolish? Probably, but I’m not yet interested in ruining the school as there will hopefully be others that will still work there after I’m gone.

My boss has lied to me innumerable times about when I’ll get paid. I am owed just shy of $28,000.00. I am also owed a plane ticket back to Dallas.

The original plan was that I would not be using that plane ticket for a few years. It now looks like that plane ticket won’t come fast enough.

I’ve been in contact with attorneys. The reality though is that no one here much cares about a dispute between an American and an Indian.

I’ve been reading…

Climbing stories. Well mostly I’ve been reading Jon Krakauer. I just finished Eiger Dreams which is a collection of stories that were, largely, originally published as articles in Outside magazine.

I did some lightweight climbing when young. I enjoyed all aspects of climbing. There was the preparation for the day, there was the actual climbing and then of course the beer afterwards. While actually out on the rock I was often terrified. Not all the time, but enough that it made me wonder what I was doing several hundred feet up on the face of a rock, with nothing but a thin rope and the questionable protection of cams, nuts and hexes set by the guy that was a drunken fool the night before and is now at the pointy end of said rope.

I have often told the story that I ended up in the Marine Corps because of rock climbing. I was climbing in the Lake District of England one beautiful day. My little group’s climb began with a rather vigorous hike up to a saddle between two peaks. Standing in that saddle it was possible to look down into the two valleys on either side of the ridge. Both valleys had the typical lakes for which the district was named. It was a tremendous view. From that point it was only a couple of hundred feet to the summit on either side of the saddle. It would not have been a challenge to just continue to scramble up from the saddle to the summit. That, however, was not our route for the day. We roped up and began to traverse out across one of the faces. This climb was both technically easy and, for me, scary as hell. With each step across the face, the exposure increased dramatically. By the time we had travelled a rope length out across the face, the drop to the valley floor had increased exponentially. It was exhilarating.

I was working sideways across the face, trying to keep my composure and hoping my climbing mates wouldn’t notice I was getting sewing machine legs from both the exertion and my reaction to the exposure. It was then that I heard a roar. I turned to see a Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jet come out of the saddle we had just left in a banked turn. The plane, still banked over as it came down the face was so close to me that I could look into the cockpit and see the pilot watching me climb. I had the thought that while what I was doing was exciting, flying a jet like that had to be better. Shortly after my return to the U.S., I signed up for OCS with the Marines. I never went to flight school (eyesight). But I did continue to climb from time to time while in the Marines.

From Chapter 1 of Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams:

One of the differences between us was that Marc wanted very badly to climb the Eiger, while I wanted very badly only to have climbed the Eiger.

Like Krakauer, at least when faced with something like the Eiger Nordwand, I very much like having accomplished certain tasks, as opposed to actually doing the task. I don’t often enjoy the process, but I really enjoy the result. In a later chapter of the book Krakauer tells the story of his solo trip to the Devil’s Thumb in Alaska. It is a very well written account of the sorts of doubt that set in when working toward a difficult goal as setbacks are encountered. I highly recommend the book. Krakauer is an excellent writer.

It is compelling to read about the storms and bitter cold the alpinist experiences as they attempt to climb mountains such as the Eiger or K2. The effort to overcome the obstacles seems at some times to be almost super human. Climbers endure long periods of solitude, they have a lot of time to think about why they are out there on that mountain. They have all kinds of time to think about the long train of decisions that led them to their current situation of danger or discomfort.

Which brings me to today… Continue reading ‘I’ve been reading…’