Archive #4 (Travel Logue from 2006)

Being so logical can definitely drive you crazy

September 26, 2006 from the east coast

The other night I got philosophical, so watch out; he’s worse than usual.
It started with my asking myself, “What the hell am I doing?” Worse, yet: “Why the hell am I doing it?” I’m on some kind of Mission to “save the world.” I mean really “save the world,” not pick up litter or something on perhaps a slightly greater scale, like we usually mean when we say “save the planet.” (For those who don’t already know, I think, that for me those two things are different: saving the world vs. saving the planet.)
But, talk about crazy, how crazy is that? And especially when you recognize that what drives me is a Vision. A “Vision,” for god’s sake. Every time I think about how silly it is to rely on “the Vision” as a motivator–something I could convince myself of in a minute–I look at the facts again, and I think the Vision revealed the truth. It is too late!
Barb recently e-mailed with some interesting thoughts. My voice echoing in a room doesn’t help any of us. And, no matter who you think has the wisdom on these questions, they are the most important ones we face as a people. We need to talk to each other on these things.
Anyway, her e-mail pointed out one of the ways I look at things differently than most people. For me, there is no value, whatsoever, commenting that, if people would just start behaving differently, it all could be saved. That is, I think, what most people are actually saying when they say “there’s still time left.”
I just don’t see people changing their behaviors. Certainly not very many people.
Whoops, sorry, I was careless just then. What I don’t see is people changing their behaviors in ways that will help. I think when things start really running out, unless we’ve done substantial preparation for exactly that situation, people are going to start squabbling over the remains. Wars and genocides and conquering of territory and driving people off arable land is what I expect, not cooperation and recycling and cleaning up polluted water for the poor. It’s just going to get incredibly worse.
Another way I differ is that I see this as the impending death of everything on the planet, not just us. From there, the only option left is getting some remnant of life off this planet.
In some ways I’ve reached these conclusions in spite of how I first saw it–through years of research into what we do and don’t know about the global ecosystem. That we’ll not stop humans from being humans was a no brainer. But that we may and, in fact, quite likely will, make the planet totally uninhabitable is not, to this day, logically clear to me. But that it is possible most certainly is. From there, the logical conclusion is that, again, the Vision was right on–we’ve got to get some form of life off this planet to a safe spot.

Then the “responsible to the root of his soul” gene kicks in and I can’t stop doing everything I can think of to prevent it. It’s just too great a combination to resist: the Vision and the facts on the ground. I’ve got to try, to the best of my ability.
That’s the part most people will find hardest to believe, or at least, relate to: my utter sense of being compelled to do it. Maybe it’s the Vision that makes this such a gut level issue for me, but it’s the “responsibility gene” I got from an upbringing in a devote Southern Baptist home that drives me to do something about it. I can’t stop without renouncing everything I learned was important as a child.
When that train missed me in Beziers, I realized just how untrue to myself I had been to let 16 years pass with nothing to show for it. Whether what I’m doing is effective or not, how to improve on it, whether I should be settling for a more palatable message to give those new to my ideas, what projects we should do to heighten people’s awareness; these and a thousand other questions are what I most need help with (that and actually implementing the projects).
When I ask you to join with me, what I’m really asking is for your help in guiding me through this morass of “How do I tell the world my message in such a way they can hear it,” and “How do we get people started?”
Upstate New York is gorgeous, by the way. Next time I’ll try to lighten up.
***
Racquet Lake
By George | September 28, 2006 | from the road trip
The Adirondack mountains are very cool. I kind of doubt that it’s an old growth forest, but it is definitely natural, not domesticated. It was still off season when I arrived, so everything was at go slow. Very much like Tahoe was in the shoulder periods when first I moved there, back in 1978. I slept on the side of the main road in the region I found myself in when it got dark, and there weren’t two cars that passed that night. First time I’ve seen the milky way since leaving Nebraska, I think.
Not that there haven’t been plenty of places that you could have seen it, just that I don’t recall my having seen it. Probably that’s because the silence of the woods makes it so much more impressive. It was certainly the first time since leaving Nebraska that I was in a place where the noises man makes weren’t a constant and intrusive feature of my surroundings. Christ, we are a noisy lot!
I’m convinced that one of the most important features of the Movement will have to be the frequent and prolonged exposure of our children to raw nature. One of the most important things that we should teach during those opportunities is that it is bad manners to talk while in the woods, or the desert, or on an icy clear night. And I don’t mean just that it’s rude to the others around you that would like to relish the silence–which it is–I mean it’s disrespectful of Nature. She’s talking, then, and people really need to start listening to Her. What better way to drive that point home than to teach the children some manners when in her house?
Which, of course, is everywhere. But there’s something very special about places that we haven’t hardened with our noise and concrete yet. It wouldn’t hurt us to pay a little more attention.
When I awoke I went seeking breakfast and a restroom (self-contained is very cool, but it ain’t as good as using someone else’s bathroom). I spied a little restaurant, Harry’s, I think it was, in a place called Racquet Lake. I noticed it more by the collection of old cars parked around it than by the sign. Not antiques, just old. Clearly a locals hang out. So I zipped right in.
Part of why I almost missed it was that it looked more like a bar than a breakfast place. As true on the inside as the out, and it surely served that purpose as well, but it was clearly where people went for breakfast on a Sunday morning. There were two men that, from the conversation, were electricians apparently on their way to a contracting job without much pressure to show up on time. They were in active conversation with another guy at the bar and the waitress, very much like a family over a meal. Occasionally they’d bring in the cook, who was somewhere out of sight around the side, by means of a shouted query or comment. If you’d been kidnaped and brought in hooded, you’d have instantly known you were in a really small town.
It felt very good.
The waitress came over to get my order, and I gave it without looking at a menu. I always have two eggs poached lightly with home fries if they have them and no butter on the whole wheat toast.
“Sorry, we don’t do poached.”
“Oh, how about soft boiled?”
“Nope. Sorry. We only have a frying pan.”
“Well, can you baste them?” As soon as I said it, I knew I should have tried using “blindfolded.”
No, we can’t do anything fancy.”
I decided to look at the menu for awhile. When she came back I admitted defeat and ordered sunny side up. She was happy with that.
This was the first time, in forty-four years of eating fairly frequently at breakfast places, that I understood why virtually every restaurant I’ve ever gone into, had “eggs, any style” on their menus. It’s actually quite a contrast to “one style.”
They had home fries, by the way, which only seems civilized to me. Apparently it’s one of the ways most of the Northeast is ahead of us, where I’ve noticed an alarming trend toward hash browns lately.
Shortly, more locals came in and one pair of obvious outlanders like myself. There was only one conversation but it permeated the room, including everyone except the three of us. It felt like viewing a play from excellent seats right on the stage.
The main theme gravitated to a dog that had been abandoned early in the summer, and still wouldn’t let anyone touch him. Apparently a lot of people were feeding him, but he was too skittish to be caught. Everyone agreed he was a very nice dog, probably badly abused by some A-wordhole who then abandoned him without a qualm. They apparently were concerned he wouldn’t make it through many more weeks as the winter approached if someone didn’t get his confidence.
I hope he learns to trust someone again, before it’s too late.
Well, that’s the news from Racquet Lake, where all the people are friendly and good hearted, and all the eggs are fried.
***
American Pie
By George | September 30, 2006 | from the road trip
Okay, time to confess. These postings are a few days behind time. It’s gotten a little worse than it was at first because I’m not spending as much time in the libraries of America now as I did at first. Not doing more tootling, either, though. I’ve been making my way back west and spending a lot more of my day on the road than before.
Being on the road, though, has some interesting insights all its own. I went by to visit my nephew and his family in Warsaw, Indiana, for instance. That was a very nice visit, but the insight it prompted that I wish to share was based on contemplating the name of the town, which I’ve always thought kind of odd. On the way there from the Adirondacks, I came on a town called Cuba, in New York State.
Couldn’t resist, so I stopped there. I bought some sharp cheddar and an oddball one that sampled good in a local cheese factory. Then I went from Cuba to Warsaw in a few hours and never got in a boat or an airplane. At first I thought that was unusually cool, but then, after leaving Warsaw, I encountered Peru, Brazil, and Nebraska (as in the State), all also in Indiana (the State). There’s Mexico, Lebanon, Columbia, Carthage, and Nevada, in Missouri. My favorite, though, came from looking at the map and discovering that Houston is the county seat of Texas (Missouri).
Is this really fair to the U.S. Postal service? Were early Midwesterners completely nostalgic for the more civilized lands they’d left and would never see again? That surely doesn’t explain Nevada, Missouri (That’s even hard to write, it grates so on the eye and ear!). I’m pretty sure I saw a Nostalgiaville somewhere, but I might be imagining it.
I wonder how many Wellsvilles there are in this country. I’ve noticed two, so far.
Has anyone been so bold as to name their hometown Heaven, I wonder. If there’s only one Hell, I’d bet it’s in Texas. But, having family from Texas, I’m sure it’d be called Hades. (Damn the internet all the way to Texas. Just did a google search and, if you can trust Google, Hell is in Michigan, ZIP = 48169 (Aah ha! A mapquest search of the ZIP yields Pinckney, MI, doubtlessly being maligned by some disgruntled teenage resident, or perhaps a rival sports fan. Moral: always check the internet, unless it explicitly verifies your own personal biases.))
All this makes me wish I’d chosen English over Math back in 1963, when I found the double major just too hard to keep up. Being a writer would have been so much fun. Even being a writer now would be great. But, despite having written a book, and having published it and sold numerous copies; despite being devoted to seeing it widely distributed via traditional publishing routes, despite planning to write numerous other pieces, including at least one more book; despite it all, I am not and never will be a writer. That option was closed to me in 1986.
I’m on a Mission, and I haven’t the time to just explore the world of imagination and the wonder of ideas. That’s why I’m heading home, now. I’m not efficient here on the road. Oh, on the way, I’ll keep this journal going. May even take the opportunity to relax a bit and let the mind wander. Being on the road is so stimulating that way.
For example, look at State boundaries: The straight ones clearly were set down in agreements between differing States before the regions in dispute had been populated by white men (there was nowhere unpopulated when the Europeans began their genocidal occupation of the Americas). Otherwise the population patterns, determined more by geography than geometry, would have made for very different decisions.
When a State has a jagged boundary on one side and straight lines emanating away from them, such as Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, etc., you can look at it and imagine where the European population had taken hold when the divvying up took place. You can guess how the arguments went when the otherwise landlocked Pennsylvania got a corridor to the great lakes between New York and Ohio when the Indians actually still controlled that territory.
But here’s something I’ve never been able to make sense of: What’s that little patch of land in northern Minnesota about? You know, the little blip up into what one would think was going to be Canada? I mean, it’s not even connected via a land bridge to the rest of the U.S. I can sort of understand the analogue in Puget Sound, where we have a disconnected outpost at Point Roberts, WA, which lies below the parallel that marks most of the Canadian/U.S. boarder. But what’s the story on that little piece, jutting into Canadian territory above the parallel and not connected? Such are the things I’d love to explore.
Another day, perhaps. Today, I’m heading home. Not exactly a bee-line, though, be there around the eleventh, I think.

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