Sunday, June 25, 2006

Interesting and cool...

I was just perusing SmartMobs and I happened upon 2 interesting tidbits. Here is an interesting article on creativity ,the author is asserting that the structure of creativity in modern man is actually evolving. It is an enlightening read. Also spotted was this cool video of captive beluga whales who have learned to blow bubble rings. I watched this and all the other cool tricks that they have taught them to do. This gives me even more respect for their intelligence level, but it also made me think about their emotional/mental state. They seem engaged and happy, but are they truly fulfilled living in the confines of this environment and serving mankind in this capacity? I wonder if they are at ease on an instinctual level... do they feel like they are missing something, are all their mental needs being met?
On other homefronts, I just started reading The Hours, by Michael Cunningham. I'm only five chapters in, nothing about the book has taken my mind by storm yet, but so far I am at least still interested in reading it.

Last night I went to a summer party hosted by some of my coworkers... It was enjoyable, but I ended up drinking a bit too much and one of the coworkers was nice enough to drive me home in my own car and help me into my house. Oy, now I remember why I cut back on the partying a few years ago. I have always had a restrained, healthy relationship with booze, but when I am in a social setting with lots of people, I tend to go overboard. I really need to develop more self-control. Oh well, at least I didn't have a bad hangover :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


OK, so I was suicidal enough to volunteer for a double-shift at the other store today. I went to bed at eleven o'clock last night. I even took some valerian root and chamomile tea, which helps most of the time. But I woke up at 3:30 and can't get back to sleep. I only have this issue once in a while.... one of those times when inane thoughts are racing through my head and bombarding my mind just enough to keep it from powering down. I wish there was a switch to turn them off.

A while back I listened to a book on cd called The Accidental Buddhist. It was a good book and one of the highlights that comes to mind right now is a condition that the author referred to as "Monkey-Mind", a common modern-day affliction that manifests itself as thoughts racing through your head too fast and bombarding you with sensory overload. This does not bode well for the rest of my day, but as usual I will have to make due. This also means that I'll be bringing a ridiculous amount of green tea & yerba maté with me to work. If there's one thing I've learned, when all else fails caffeine will compensate.

On the positive side, at least today's agenda has me doing one of the things I love most... building planted tank displays. For those of you who don't quite understand.... there are some people in life who find gardening to be a form of relaxation. I am one of those people. Think of THIS as a form of gardening, but underwater and on a smaller scale. I'll be working with the current fish-room staff up there, teaching them my methods for setting up and maintaining a planted display. I think I will bring the camera along to take before & after pictures.

Update: I just got back from the loooooong work day. My entire body aches; I am soaked to the bone with a mixture of sweat and fish-tank water; I have cuts all over my hands from ripping out corroded wiring and electrical apparatuses; my injured knee is throbbing; my back itches due to small bits of fiberglass falling from ceiling tiles as I moved them, and I have all manner of unmentionable ick under my fingernails... AND I HAD AN AWESOME DAY!!!! Seriously, I got a lot accomplished and I made quite a few improvements to the fish room up there. I'll be working another double at the same place, doing the same thing next week and I am actually looking forward to it. I count this as another (strange) blessing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Word About The Bird

At my workplace: baby african grey parrot (same breed as mine) munching away. He's now almost completely weaned onto solid food; cute as a button and very friendly.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Grafton Pond Pictures

My buddy Dimitri and I went kayaking on Grafton Pond for a couple of hours yesterday. The scenery was breathtaking and Grafton Pond was incredibly naturalized for being a man-made body of water; all sorts of islands covered with sphagnum moss and old trees in the middle of the lake. Dimitri showed me the boggy end of the lake that was (in some areas) only accessible by kayak. It was a very beautiful and relaxing way to end the day.

Common Loon, Gavia immer

An unusual mammalian loon, Dimitricus aquatica, note the "short-sleeved" plumage that is particular to this time of year.

Irises on a small sphagnum-covered stump island in the boggy end of the lake

Sunset over Grafton Pond

On a completely unrelated topic... via BoingBoing I've discovered a talented Finnish bluegrass band named Rautakoura. I don't speak or understand Finnish, but their instrumentation is first-class. If you're into bluegrass, I'd heavily recommend that you visit their site and download their demo tracks. Here is a link to the original BoingBoing post.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More Pics, AWESOME HIKE!!!

I did end up going on that second hike up Green Mountain with my buddy Dimitri and we had a heck of a long, scenic adventure. Figuring aimless wandering, the whole hike probably spanned 14 miles. We got so distracted with conversation and what-not that we completely lost the trail and ended up hiking around the top of the mountain for a couple hours looking for a path. Some of the terrain was very rugged, especially when we decided to take a shortcut down a steeply pitched section with lots of dense brush and loose rocks. I ended up tweaking my old knee injury a little when I fell and landed just the wrong way, but it isn't horrid and should be back to normal within a few days. We saw a lot of beautiful swamps & boggy areas as well as a fleeting glimpse of a bear. We also ran across a ruggedly-constructed camp in the middle of nowhere. It was made out of scrap rubber, cut logs, and tarps, and it had a nasty, threatening sign just inside the doorway that cautioned trespassers that they would be killed or something like that. Dimitri thinks it might be the abode of a homeless person, possibly mentally ill (this would explain the super-paranoid-sounding message on the sign).

A beautiful panoramic pic of a boggy area on the southern top part of the mountain. Click to see it in more detail.

Cool growth of odd orange fungus on a stick.

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium acaule.

Some sort of cool Lichen with red tops (spore capsules?).

Sunday, June 11, 2006


....And Speaking Of Oddness

The sun was out this morning. I almost forgot what it looked like. It has been dreary and rainy for most of the last couple weeks. Yesterday, after lunch and a bit of shopping with a friend, I decided to go on another hike.

It has rained so much (again) that the cornfield behind my house is now a lake (again). I might be kayaking on it with one of my buddies today if it stays sunny. The water is raging over the dam below my house. When you're standing on the bridge right over it, it sounds like a hundred freight trains.

Another very wet, rainy hike up to cat-hole (proper name: Green Mountain). What does a normal, sane person do on a day like this?

The trail looks nicer during the daylight. There were a lot of pictures I wish I could have gotten, but the rain was sporadic and there were times that I didn't dare to take my camera out from the safety of the plastic bag it was in. Many parts of the trail had become a shallow river. I slipped and fell butt-first into the mud within the first hundred yards of trail and I gave up on keeping my feet dry about 10 minutes into the woods; calf-deep water in some places. There were signs on the upper part of the trail that indicated a "warming hut" up the trail. I'm thinking GREAT, I can rest and snack for a few minutes before continuing.

Ummm... this would be the warming hut. Anyone on the market for a fixer-upper?

Any port in a storm. While sitting just inside the remaining un-rotted corner of the building, there were a couple of Eastern Phoebes who kept fluttering around me and keeping a strangely close proximity, chirping loudly (but never holding still long enough for me to take a picture). I looked at arm's length just to my left and found out why they were acting so strangely around me...

Well, I had to break off the hike about 1/4 mile from the summit because it was getting windy, I was soaked to the bone, and there were low-hanging clouds which afforded a maximum of 30 feet visibility. The views will have to wait until the next hike (possibly today).
Wish me luck :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mystery Solved, Small Town Familiarity, Bi-Guys...

I related the story of the slightly unsettling encounter with "Do I know you?" guy to a friend of mine who knows a lot of people in town and is familiar with the scene. Much to my relief, he knew who the young man was.... a married, bi-guy who frequently cruises other men using his "do I know you?" act. Well I'm not into the whole cruising thingy, but at least I know who he is now and I am reassured that he didn't really know me... he's just a harmless, horny young man who was looking for some action.

I live in one of those typical, rednecked, small-town environments where everyone knows everyone. According to some of my friends, I am well-recognized throughout much of this area because I work in a job that deals heavily with the public and I am one of just a handful of uncloseted gay men in this town. It is paradoxically comforting and perturbing at the same time. I rarely get harassed for my orientation, but I can't even count the amount of "straight" men who have walked up to me and flirted in an odd, hushed fashion because I guess that they assume that I will automatically take the bait or give them a piece just because I happen to be gay. I understand their position and I completely identify with where they are coming from, but I am not a pleasure-appliance and I prefer to save myself for something meaningful.

I just hope that society will one day evolve into a healthier state where guys like these won't be forced into marriage and afterwards feel the need to seek out secret, same-sex liaisons as a temporary escape. At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, cheating is cheating, regardless of the reasons
. Many families are ripped apart because of infidelity. I know first-hand how much it hurts to have a partner be unfaithful and I refuse to contribute to someone else's misery.

Oddness & A New Trail

I went on another hike last night. On the way to where the trail starts, there was a young man who kept driving by me in an old brown 80s-model dodge. He pulled into a parking lot ahead of me and called me over to him as I passed by. He asked if he knew me from somewhere. I assured him that I didn't recognize him at all, wished him a nice evening, and kept on walking. About a quarter mile up the road from where we were, he pulled up again and asked me the same question... yet again I told him that I was completely certain that I did not know who he was and I kept on walking. This isn't the first time I've encountered him in this fashion. He did this earlier in the year too, when I was out on one of my foot excursions. I find it just a little unnerving that he seems to know me, but I have absolutely no clue who he is. I wonder if he's maybe viewed one of my online profiles and this is his way of trying to break the ice. Time will tell.

The hike was lovely... I started up the trail at about 8pm, just as it was starting to get dark. Fortunately, it was only raining in occasional, light snippets. The woods are beautiful at this time of night. As it gets darker, everything fades from various greens & earth tones to successively darker shades of blue. There were all sorts of noises as well... bats flying overhead, trying to snack on the bugs that were swarming around me; the occasional rustle of leaves as some unseen animal decides that I am too close for comfort and retreats further into the undergrowth; the occasional chorus of raindrops, dislodged by a gust of wind, falling on the leaves below them. Just off a side trail, I happened upon a large gorge with steep sides. It was too dark to judge the depth... Soon, I intend to go back there during the daylight to get a better view & maybe some pictures.

I finally decided to stop following the trail when it was pitch black and I couldn't read the trail signs anymore. I bushwhacked to the nearest road and started hiking back down the mountain. The view was impressive. I've never seen the town all lit up at night. The sky had hints of pink & purple in the distance. I wish I brought the camera.

I sat by the road in a little alcove carved out of the woods , on the edge of a field. I witnessed a strange scene at a nearby intersection. A large truck came to a screeching halt while some guy got out for a moment, screaming at someone over his cell-phone, then he peeled out down a side road. Not more than 20 seconds later, 2 more large pickup trucks came barreling toward the intersection with all their lights out (it was after dark), and ignored the stop sign, taking the corner at a dangerous speed... then proceeded to speed down the road that the cell-phone guy just took. I would love to know what that was all about.

I finally arrived home around eleven o'clock. Another day well-spent, another trail explored. I look forward to seeing it during the day.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grrrrr... Crappy Morning >:-(

So I wake up three hours earlier than normal this morning because we lost power and my roommate's computer UPS was screaming a series of beeps. Of course he sleeps too heavy for it to wake him up, but it's sure as hell loud enough to wake me up in the next room. I can't get back to sleep, so I at least decide that I'm going to do something that doesn't involve power consumption to pass the time. The cat got sick all over the living room floor because of the deworming medicine I gave her last night. After cleaning that up, I go to take pictures of the goldfish on my back porch... and my camera says that the memory card is full 2 pictures into it. This is impossible because it's a 1 gigabyte memory card... I figured maybe it's an issue with the card itself... so I remove it only to find out that someone replaced it with an 8 megabyte card... I thought that my high-capacity card had been stolen and replaced while my camera was at work or while it was sitting in front of the window (this neighborhood is pretty safe so I'm not terribly vigilant about unlocked windows)... After scouring the entire living room in desperation looking for it, I finally go wake up my roommate to ask if he knows anything about it and as it turns out, he borrowed it without asking me and forgot to put it back. AAAAUUUUGH!!!

Anywho, I picked some flowers, made some tea ghetto-yankee style, and got my feathers unruffled. Maybe today will turn out alright.

Testing the old adage, "a watched pot never boils." As it turns out, they eventually do. Pithy folk wisdom be damned! Heh :).

My goldfishies.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Suscitatio, Carpe Vita, Sileo Securus

My "niece" Meesha and I, on vacation in Elmore, VT (2001???)

Beware, this is another long, self-indulgent post about my life.....

Seizing the day and seizing life isn't always a simple matter. Until recently, I've been standing on the sidelines of life and just observing. There is something comforting and secure about watching what is going on around you while simply staying invisible and not participating. But after a while, this gets tiresome and lonely. It is not natural for me to be so uninvolved. Some forms of depression can become self-perpetuating: I was deeply hurt by love, I feared it and isolated myself. The more I isolated myself, the more fear I felt. The more fearful I was, the further I isolated myself. A while back, I was floored when someone told me that I was a stoic, cold-hearted, icy bitch. What happened to the old me?

You could say that I finally woke up a few months ago when I took stock of what I had done in the past year... What had I accomplished since the rug was pulled out from under me? Had I progressed in life at all? No, I pretty much landed on my head and stayed there... because I was terrified of standing on the rug again, sort of like how a possum feigns death to avoid the teeth of a potential predator. This just isn't me, I used to be a person who seized the bull by the horns and wrestled it down. While hiding out in my self-constructed fortress, I had managed to almost strangle every semblance of the compassionate humanity I used to posess. Ever since the day I came to this realization, I've been steadily reclaiming my former nature and inching back toward happiness.

"One day at a time" may sound trite, but it's the best way I can describe my life right now. I can honestly say that I'm starting to feel again. My world has turned from a scary place filled with malevolent entities back into a warmer, more inviting climate where I can open up and rest in the knowledge that there really are good people in the world, it's just a matter of finding them. I can't give up on living because of the potential for more pain.

I have learned a lot through all of this. My hardest lesson has been in learning that there are some problems in life which can't be fixed; pick up the pieces, forgive the one(s) who may have contributed to the problem, and move on to other things. This isn't easy for a guy like me who has been raised on the idea that effort and pure will-power can accomplish anything. I have also learned that sitting on the sidelines is therapeutic for a while, but it can take away your drive to live if you keep yourself out of the picture for too long. Human beings are made in the image of God, including the divine aspect of creativity. My understanding of creativity is that it encompasses more than just a work of art, a writing, or a project; it is an extension of your soul; it defines how you relate to the people around you; and how your personality meshes with theirs. Sitting on the sidelines, not engaged and not engaging for too long is contrary to one's divine creative nature and can kill the spirit. Lastly, I have learned that there really is justice in the world. It may not be immediate and it may not seem equitable at the time, but everything eventually attains balance again after an existential extreme occurs. Disillusionment with the balance of life accomplishes nothing. One can still work for a greater good and stand for what they believe in while going with the flow.

I can safely say that I have left the sidelines and am back on the road. Crawling, running, or walking, at least I am now progressing and watching the horizon.