Giro means 'ride', not 'tasty meat sandwich.'


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Tuesday, November 8, 2005
10:46 a.m.


New stuff is now here.

Monday, July 12, 2004
07:03 p.m.


Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, my ass.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
09:47 p.m.


Our office is in a giant suite on the 12th floor. There are lawyers, artchitects, accountants, insurance people, all other kinds of businesses up here, each in their own little room. There are four of us in here, a twenty-by-twenty room with surge suppressors snaking from the walls and more computers than there are occupants. While the sign on the door doesn't make it clear, word has gotten around: this is the room where the geeks live.

Someone just knocked on our door, and we all looked up from our laptops: the guy in the doorway was trim, his hair was groomed, and his shirt was pressed. "Can I ask you guys a question?" he asked.

We all nodded.

"If I reinstall WordPerfect, will it wipe out any of the files I have?"

"You mean any of the documents?" I asked.

"Yeah."

"No."

"Back 'em up, just in case," said Mark.

"Thanks," he said, and off he went.

Mark looked at me and mouthed, We're nerds.

Monday, June 7, 2004
11:22 a.m.


Hi, this is Aaron Brown for CNN, and I'm here, live, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, where crowds have gathered in a vigil for former President Ronald Reagan, who died early this afternoon. With me is Ed Gillespe, chairman of the RNC. Sad day, isn't it, Ed?

Yes, it certainly is, Aaron. But there's a silver lining to this heavy cloud.

What's that?

Well, for the next month we're going to hear nothing but Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. Now that he's dead, there'll be nothing but encomiums and praise for the President.

Well, yes, surely no one will speak ill of the dead...

...nor the living! For the next month, people will think of Ronald Reagan, or St. Ron as we like to call him-we're working on getting him beatified in the next few days-and they'll think back with fond memories of his strong leadership, his clear communication, his vision, and then they'll transfer all of their affection to George W. Bush. The President can only benefit from St. Ron's passing.

Ed, you're not talking about the Republicans politicizing Ronald Reagan's passing, are you?

You bet your sweet boots we are, Aaron. Oh, we'll be subtle about it: we'll have a tribute at the convention, we'll have lots of speeches while he lies in state in the Capitol, we'll work on getting him either on the dime or the ten-dollar bill. I mean, who was a greater leader? St. Ron or FDR? And, Alexander Hamilton? Since when do we put Treasury Secretaries on money? Can you even remember who our current Secretary of the Treasury is?

Well, I...

Of course you can't. But you remember Ronald Reagan, right? Right? So, sad day, but it's nothing but good news for us. Especially since our current strategy of highlighting George W. Bush's leadership qualities haven't been doing that well for us. We plan on riding his funeral bier all the back to the White House. Hell, why not create the Reagan Monument and have his preserved body lie there for future generations to enjoy?

You don't think that Reagan, a staunch anti-Communist, would disagree with that?

No, why would he?

Because that's what the Communists did with their dead leaders?

*Pfft* People today don't remember any of that! All they know is the Communists were bad, and St. Ron rode his war charger El Alamein across Western Europe, spreading the word of democracy and freedom, and how they leapt over the Iron Curtain to crush Communists and destroy their Evil Empire with his heat vision.

Um...thank you, Ed.

-Bush in '04, Reagan in '08, baby!

From Santa Monica, this is Aaron Brown for CNN.

Saturday, June 5, 2004
06:32 p.m.


Lord, grant me time. Not a lot, not eternity, but a spare thirty-six minutes a day would be great. If you add thirty-six minutes to the day in a manner that doesn't screw up the time-space continuum or the Earth's gravity or the way monarch butterflies migrate, I'd appreciate it. I would spend that extra thirty-six minutes in a way that would make you proud. Thirty-six minutes a day would let me water and weed the entire garden. Thirty-six minutes of running would keep me healthy and sexy (and if my body is a temple meant to worship You, then how can we go wrong with adding a little more to the temple's maintenance schedule?), and thirty-six minutes of biking would allow me to ride my bike without freaking out about being late to work. If I had an extra thirty-six minutes a day, I could give my girl backrubs when she wakes up and when she goes to sleep, which would make her happy, and her happiness would make other people happy, and so on and so on. Thirty-six minutes would allow all of us to do more cool stuff. Heck, we could even sleep for an extra thirty-six minutes, and we'd all be in a better mood. I think we could take care of the problems of International Terrorism, World Hunger and General Misery if we were more well-rested and could think clearer.

So, how 'bout it? Thirty-six minutes. That's all. And, in return, I will erase thirty-six minutes of programming from my TiVo's Season Pass list. You know what? I'll double, no, triple that. I won't blow through one hundred eight minutes of tv. Whaddaya say?

Friday, June 4, 2004
02:49 p.m.


An Actual Submission to Apple's Feedback Page by Yours Truly

For the love of God and all that is holy, please let me turn off Address Book's autocomplete!

I'd think that title would say it all, but just in case, here it is again: please, please, PLEASE let me turn off the autocomplete function in Address Book. I know it's just trying to be helpful, but it's a royal pain in the ass. An amazing hemorrhoid of a pain, the kind that would allow a proctologist to write the kind of paper that would earn him accolades amongst his colleagues. I am sick and tired of trying to type "CA" for the state and having Address Book give me "Ca" instead. I have to type it and click on another field immediately, or else I go about doing the Dance Of The Address Fields all day. I expect this kind of unhelpful "helpfulness" from Microsoft and their thrice-damned Office Assistants; I shouldn't be getting it from Apple. Tell Steve Jobs that until this is fixed I will publicly denounce him as a fraud and a wanker; "Insanely Great" software does not make me tear out my hair in unsightly patches.

Love and kisses, -A.

Monday, May 10, 2004
04:37 p.m.


Would someone tell me why Ronald Reagan is considered a great President?

Seriously. I'm not being facetious. What did Ronald Reagan do that gets him up in the pantheon of greats?

I think great Presidents, I think of the Roosevelts and Lincoln. I think of guiding us through wars where our nation was at stake, I think of enacting programs that helped bring about that whole "promote the general welfare" thing that no one seems to remember. I think about Reagan, and all that comes to mind is Iran-Contra and being scared out of my mind that the world was going to be burnt to a nuclear crisp.

So, what is it? What did he do? Why do people insist on naming airports and courthouses and state highways after him? Write me at REAGAN at GIRO dot ORG. I'll put your answers up here if I get any. Spelling and grammar count.

Monday, April 26, 2004
09:11 p.m.


I really dig the Pogues, and I really dig Shane McGowan. Or, rather, I dig recordings of them all back in the early 80s before heroin and booze did all kinds of bad things to the band and Shane in particular. I hate it when my favorite artists turn into poster children for Public Service Announcements, but, after looking at this recent picture of Shane, I want to do nothing but floss and brush my teeth for the rest of the day. Kids, if you're going to do drugs, at least make sure you keep up with the oral hygene.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
02:55 p.m.


What's more shocking than having Doonesbury's B.D. lose a leg in Iraq?

Seeing him without his helmet.

(No, that's all there is. No joke. Really.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
10:25 p.m.


All Out of Outrage

You know, I read stuff like this (scroll down to the part about Prince Bandar), and I get mad. That anger deflates after a few seconds because I can't work up the energy to be indignant any more. Rummy and Cheney showed a foreigner, one whose government supports terrorists, one who's a bigger problem to us than Saddam Hussein, showed him the plans for the Iraq War, and for what? We get rid of someone who was a pain in Saudi Arabia's ass, and they House of Saud will make sure gas prices are lowered in order to get the economy humming along in order to ensure that Bush gets re-elected.

I read that, and I get angry, and then the anger leaves, all because I've gotten so angry over one thing over another (Mission Accomplished! Sharon's plan is the right one! Global gag rule! Clear Skies! Healthy Forests! Good news from the Malabar Front!) that I'm all out of anger. I have anger bonking. I have hit the anger wall.

Monday, April 19, 2004
10:41 a.m.


"Which would you prefer: free speech or free beer?"

"Well...I don't think you can have one without the other."

From Our Founding Fathers Were Drunkards

Thursday, April 15, 2004
04:37 p.m.


Inertia is the life-taker. It saps the soul, drains energy, dulls the sharp. Inertia is the pathetic excuse for the death of every dream. It destroys by erosion. Inertia is a killer, and it can only be stopped when I get up and move.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
05:39 p.m.


Sweet Zombie Jesus...how did I collect so much stuff?

No, collect is the wrong word. Collect implies that the stuff you've got has some kind of value. Gather sounds like I'm getting ready for a snowy winter by stockpiling nuts and grains. And stockpile is better suited for weapons and ammo than nuts, tchochkes or computer parts.

I think amass is the proper word. It sounds weighty and bulky. Listen: I have amassed a ton of crap. That's the one. So, taken from the top: Sweet Zombie Jesus...how did I amass so much crap?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
11:02 a.m.


I'm not asking for much, really. I'm happy with the talent I've got, with the inspiration, with the instruction. It's just the schedule that's a killer. I just want my two hours a morning. That's all. Just two hours.

So, I have to make the time? I have to give something up? Fine. I give up the TiVo. I give up reruns of The West Wing and Futurama. I get my lunch hour and my dose of The Daily Show, right? Okay, just checking.

Two hours until I'm done, then I print it out and hide it in a drawer to let it mellow for six weeks. In the meantime, I start the next thing. I finish a couple shorts. While those are aging, I edit the first thing, I beat it into shape, I shop it around. I edit the shorts. I shop those around. I will do it. I will make a sale by the end of 2004. I will. I will. I will.

Two hours a day. I will not make the time. I will take the time.

Friday, April 2, 2004
04:45 p.m.


I feel bad that I'm not giving this little page the love it needs, but I know it understand. I've been busy. I've been writing elsewhere. This space was supposed to be my little spot for warming up before doing the heavy lifting. And working on a novel is some heavy goddamn lifting. How Stephen King does it, I'll never know.

But I know this spot is also good for laying Googlebombs, as pointless as they are. And, after last night's Daily Show, I have a new one for you. Robert Novak: Douchebag for Liberty.

Spread it with love, like marmalade on toast.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
08:38 a.m.


"Momentum."

"Electibility." If I hear any of these two words again, I'm gonna switch over to the Food Network and leave the tv there until December. I'd rather hear Emeril go "BAM!" a million times than hear the m-word and the e-word again.

Oh, and add "inevitable" to that list, too.

Sunday, February 8, 2004
08:44 a.m.


Let the trolls win. Let the snarky columnist who doesn't like it when you point out he's a hack win. Let them all think they've had the last word because, at the end of the day, they're left with their tiny kingdoms, their senses of smug self-satisfaction, and the knowledge that they can wank themselves into a daze over their cleverness and superiority.

And me? I'm just a guy who goes home and gets all the sweet lovin' he wants. I'd call that winning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
01:18 p.m.


1.18.04
Perfect Storm HQ
Locust Street, Des Moines, IA
17.41

Canvassing

I am exhausted, and all I did today was drive around Ankeny, Iowa.

Well, I did a little more than that. I drove with four other people, three from SoCal, one from North Carolina, all over a chunk of Ankeny. We were assigned two parts of a precinct; we barely finished half of one. It's not a matter of inexperience or lack of skills. It's just too damn cold to think.

Our high today was about 8, but the wind chill took that down to thirty below really, fucking cold. It was the coldest I've ever been in my life. So cold it hurt. The inside of my head froze every time I breathed through my scarf. It cut through my layers, making impossible to think. I was really in mood to knock on doors and ask people if they were going to caucus. Hell, *I* wouldn't go unless there was some way I could get from house to car to caucus site without ever having to expose myself to the wind.

The problem is that Iowa has no windbreaks. It's just flat from one end to the other. Yes, there may be some gentle, rolling hills, but all that does is give the wind something to play with as it blasts down from the Arctic. I think the wind goes just a bit faster because it knows it's not going to run into any trees, and the ones it does find are barren of leaves and pose no threat.

Nonetheless, we got out of the car and went to it.

There was that attitude of "get to it" the minute I got off the plane. I walked off the plane, onto the tarmac, into the terminal and right up to the guy holding the Dean For America sign. Michael, who looked like he was 21 and probably was, led me to the shuttle. We roared off to downtown Des Moines, where Dean staffers had taken over two adjacent buildings on Locust Street. Kerry's HQ was two blocks west; Edwards' was two north. Gephardt's was in West Des Moines. No idea about Kucinich, though he enters the picture later.

HQ called this weekend the Perfect Storm, as all of us out-of-staters descended on Iowa like the winds out of Nunavut. 3,500 of us were supposed to show up to do the most unglamorous part of elections: canvassing.

A canvas works like this: you're given a list of registered Democrats in an area, and you go to as many of them as possible, asking if they're planning on to going to caucus and who they're planning on supporting. The idea is to identify those people who are Dean supporters and to make it as easy as possible for them to get to caucus. You offer them rides, tell them about child care, pass on literature about how the caucus works, everything short of bribing them to trudge out into the cold. These people are sheer gold to a campaign, and you court them until caucus is done.

You also find out who's going for someone else and how firm they lean. Say you talk to someone who says he likes Dean and Kerry and isn't quite sure which one he'll support. If you think this guy will be receptive to a pitch, you give it. You find out what he likes about Kerry, what concerns him, and then you point out that, no, Dean feels the same way about national defense, Dean's got a stronger position on healthcare, Dean much prefers milk chocolate over dark (though that last one may be a stretch). If you can sell, you do.

If, however, you talk with someone who doesn't seem like they're gonna tilt back, you thank them for your time and move on. It's more productive to find ten supporters than to convert one voter, or so we've been told again and again. Canvassers need to move, need to mark off their data, need to get it back to HQ. Bam. Knock on the door, talk with the people, drop some lit, leave a door hanger saying where their caucus will be held, move on. Repeat until out of addresses or energy or both.

So, let's set the scene: I leap out of the shuttle, tired but charged up, and into the volunteer HQ. We called ourselves the Iowa Perfect Storm, the idea being that Dean's message plus all of us converging on Iowa would create a perfect storm of support. We volunteers were called Storm Chasers, and after checking in were given a wrist band that gave us clearence to wander HQ, a credential that gave us permission to look at each other's chests when we'd forgotten everyone's names, and bright orange watch caps that made us look like traffic cones. It was a hell of a sight to see a room full of orange caps, all warming up over coffee and donuts.

There were also people running around in yellow and red caps. Yellow was for staffers and interns, the people who ran the show but were still unpaid volunteers. The red caps were the paid staffers, the press secretaries, the communications people. We immediately forgot names and focused on the colors: if you had a problem, you found a yellow cap or were told to talk to a yellow. If you saw a red, which was rare, you usually asked how things were going. All of us oranges milled around until the yellows herded newcomers into training. If you'd come on your own, like I had, you just asked people to join their canvass group. A team would form around whomever had a car or who had checked out a van for the day. Someone would navigate and divvy up the walk sheets, the lists of voters whom we'd be canvassing.

By pure luck, I hooked up with a group from California. By even weirder luck, I'd met two of them before. Mark was at an organizing meeting I'd gone to at UCLA, and Carol was someone I'd called back in December about precinct work in Santa Monica. With them was Rosie, whose husband was head of the California Trial Lawyers Association, and therefore an Edwards fundraiser. Rosie couldn't give money, but she figured she could come to Iowa. Last in our group was Phoebe, who was actually from North Carolina but had glommed on with us after training. Mark had the car, so we got our walk sheets, a mountain of lit, and we headed out into the biting wind.

Ankeny is a middle-class bedroom community north of Des Moines. It's the kind of place where retired machinists and young insurance people live. I had a feeling these weren't our people, and that suspicion was confirmed as we drove the neighborhood and saw a smattering of Edwards signs. Nothing for Gephardt, a handful of Kerry signs, and one or two Dean signs. This was not going to be a good day, and it didn't help that the wind had picked up and threatened to tear our faces off.

We sorted through the sheets and split them up among the two parts of the precinct we'd be walking. We tried our best to organize them, but were stymied by imperfect maps. The southern and central parts of our map were the older parts of the precinct, and all the streets were lined up in a grid. The northern part was much newer, probably built in the 90s. The lots were big, which meant a lot of space between houses, and the streets meandered, which meant we didn't know where the hell a lot of places were. Streets would be cut off by people's yards, making it difficult to canvass an entire street. And the wind had not abated.

We started hitting the houses, and we found our gut feelings were right: people were now going to be supporting Edwards and Kerry over Dean. The previous few weeks had seen a lot of attack ads between Dean and Gephardt, and they'd turned voters off from both camps. Edwards had taken the high route, publicly pledging to stay positive and only focus on his message, not cut down the other guys. Kerry had been able to take the high road, too, as some of Dean's ads were not only cutting into Gephartd, but into Kerry and Edwards as well.

We left a lot of door hangers. We marked down a lot of sheets as not going or not leaning. We talked with some very kind people who weren't going to come to our side, but were impressed that we were out in the cold. One guy was downright pleasant as he said, no, he's going for Edwards, but he likes Dean all right, even though his union had told him to go with Gephardt, but it'd still be Edwards. We thanked him for his time and hit the next house.

After three hours of this, we were tired and hungry and cold, Even Phoebe, who lived near the Great Smoky Mountains and was actually born and raised in Iowa and was used to this kind of weather, admitted it was bad outside. We went to a nearby Village Inn, a local version of Denny's, and ordered up chile and pie. We stood out in our orange hats and Deanaphrenalia, and got some mild hostility from the other customers. No one spit on us, but I could hear conversation die down at the tables near ours as we sat and shed our coats. We were strangers from some freaky place that wasn't Iowa, and we weren't welcome.

We looked over our map, and saw we'd only covered a quarter of the precinct. The sun was going to go down in a few hours, and, even though HQ said to stay out until 8pm or we were out of houses, we knew that we'd be done by sunset. It's one thing to knock on doors from late morning til late afternoon; it's another to interrupt someone's dinner.

We figured the better thing to do would be to find houses where there were a bunch of Democrats, rather than hit the ones that were singles or mixed with independents. Most of those houses were in the southern part of the district, so we paid our tab and headed off, but not without making a stop at the Hy-Vee first. Rosie had been very clear that she would not be able to last without brandy in her system, and asked the waiter where we could procure some booze. The Hy-Vee, a local grocery chain, would do the trick. We sped over, Rosie lept out, and came back with her treasure a few minutes later. I prayed we wouldn't get pulled over and get nailed for an open container, and Mark's tendency to park underneath NO PARKING signs and swerve to the other side of the street wouldn't help.

Our luck didn't pick up on the south side. We found more people who weren't home, more who weren't going, more who weren't going to support Dean. Morale was sinking, too, until we drove past one house that had a Dean sign on the lawn. As we parked to go over our next street, the owner of the house came outside and waved and cheered. We leapt out of the car to say hi, and we pulled out cameras to get shots of us with our new friend around his lawn sign. He said he was glad to see us, that he was going to caucus and bringing family and friends. We thanked him for freezing with us and hustled back to the car, marking down houses that had Gephardt and Edwards signs in front.

By now the sun was down, so we decided to call it a day. We looked at our work; we'd hit a quarter of the two hundred pages HQ had given us. The picture those pages painted was not a good one: Dean was not going to do well in Ankeny. We sped back to HQ and dumped off our walk sheets and leftover lit. The yellow hat behind the counter said that there was phone banking going on next door and that they needed bodies. I, however, was too damn tired to interrupt someone's dinner. I needed some of my own. I also had to get my housing sorted out; I was supposed to be staying at a winterized scout camp outside of Ames, but the first yellow hat I talked with that morning said, "We'll have a shuttle for you at the end of the day. Get out and canvass." Now the yellows were saying, "No, we should have shipped you to Ames first and had you canvass out there." I was ready to say that unless they had a time machine, that wouldn't do me much good, but the yellow hat vanished to answer someone else's question. I was starting to find one of the problems with our organization: too many privates, too green sergeants, and not enough captains and majors. It was like going into battle with a command staff who'd just gone through basic with the regular grunts, had a few extra classes, and were told to lead the troops. I finally found a yellow hat who told me what I needed to hear: "Go and get dinner, then come back and we'll switch your housing to someplace near here."

"Where should I go?" I asked.

"Do ya like Vietnamese?"

I was shocked and surprised to hear that. I'd expect nothing but chop houses. "Hell, yes," I answered. "I could use some pho right now."

"Then just go two blocks east and three north. You'll find the Vietnamese place right across the street from the Kum And Go."

I was too hungry to make the obvious joke, and too tired to think of what the obvious joke was. I bundled up, kicked open the door, and headed outside to dinner.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
05:32 p.m.


1.17.04
21.47
LAX Terminal Three

So, here I am in LAX. I've hijacked the last two plugs in the terminal, and I'm being cornered by a small, Aussie child who's fascinated by my laptop. "Lachlan!" his dad keeps calling, and Lachlan sprawls on the floor, contrite as all get out. They have a 12 and a half hour flight, but they get to end up in Brisbane. They say it's going to be nice and warm. I believe them. Des Moines is thirty below cold right now, and I don't think all the long underwear in the world is gonna help.

My route goes from home to Detroit, where I'll have a three hour layover before hopping on a puddle jumper to Des Moines. i won't lie to you that I'm having all kinds of Buddy Holly images right now. It's bad travel mojo to think about that stuff, but all I know about flying in small planes in the Midwest in winter is a bad, bad idea. Of course, people do it all the time, which makes me feel that much worse. The Law of Conservation of Ream says that if things go right most of the time, you'll have some bad shit rain down on you soon enough.

The picture from the newspapers is one of a three-way tie between Dean, Kerry and Gephardt with Edwards expected to do really well. He's kept out of the dogfight that's been going on between the first three, hasn't gone negative, hasn't done anything different than his hard-working, youthful Senator with great hair and a charming accent bit. I was shocked to read a report that said Edwards was 50. He still looks too goddamn young to shave, let alone run for President.

Dean won't be in Iowa tomorrow. He'll be down in Georgia, hitting the pews with Jimmy Carter. I first thought this was a brilliant move, a way to recharge while having a photo op with a beloved Democrat. Now I'm starting to think the smart thing would've been to talk with Carter after Iowa and New Hampshire, to stay out and keep pounding the pavement and getting the voice and the message out there. Of course, it could be that the brains in HQ know something I don't know. There's talk of the polls being inaccurate because there's no way for pollsters to contact potential caucus goers on their cell phones. Dean's counting on getting a lot of new people to caucus, and I'll probably be one of the poor shlubs whose job it is to go to the pizza parlors, grab all the eighteen-year-olds by the collar and haul them off to caucus.

I keep thinking the best line to take with kids is one of rebellion. "Piss off your parents: vote for Dean!" I expect to see it all over MTV and Teen People, but we all know that teenage rebellion means rejecting not only your parents' values, but everyone's values. Not voting is weak, as far as rebelling goes. Everybody already doesn't vote, if you look at the turnout numbers. No, the best thing to do is vote for someone who is a complete and utter loon. All of the Washington kids should have banded together to vote for Vermin Supreme in the DC primary. *That* would've sent a message. "We're taking our right to vote and *really* abusing it. Haha!"

Maybe there's an army of college and high school Deaniacs who are going to flood the caucus, thereby crushing Gephardt's union machine, Kerry's veterans, and Edwards' flocks of little old ladies who think he's just the *cutest* thing ever. Who knows? Not me. I'm not one of the Bright Minds of Journalism. I'm just a guy who'll be going door-to-door to identify voters and convince 'em to go out on a freezing cold night to argue candidates with their neighbors.

Here's how the caucus works. All the Democrats within a precinct go to their caucus site, which could be anywhere from someone's living room to a gym to a bar. When everyone shows up, the convener does a headcount and some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations. He needs to figure out what part of the room makes up fifteen percent. That's the magic number.

The convener then asks everyone to show who they're supporting. This could be done by having everyone gather in a different part of the room, depending on the candidate. Dean guys in this corner, Kerry guys over here, Gephardt supporters by the credenza. The convener then checks each group. If any of them do not have at least fifteen percent of the total bodies present, their candidate is no longer viable, and he's out.

This is when it gets interesting. Now everyone who has a viable candidate can go and beg the various nonviable people to join their side. The newly uncommitted people go to various camps, and they do the headcount thing again. This goes on for about two to three hours, when I think everyone finally calls it quits out of sheer desperation. I don't know if anyone can use out-and-out bribery, or they're just limited to good ol' cajoling. I'm also not sure how it all ends, if the point is to get the majority of voters in a precinct or just a good sized chunk of them. I'll have to ask one of the other volunteers, preferably someone who hasn't answered questions about procedure for the past month. I'm sure everyone who was excited about coming to Iowa is simply praying for the goddamn thing to end. I know that's how I usually feel at the end of the primaries. It's also the same feeling I have after a triathlon: I'm exhausted, sore, ready to throw up and want nothing more than to eat six burritos and go to sleep for a week. Then I wake up and want to go out and do it all over again.

Everyone is raising the rah-rah level to new heights. Edwards was on NPR today talking about how his supporters have knocked on 100,000 doors, and how tomorrow they're going to knock on another 50,000. The Dean blog said something about hitting 35,000 doors today. I don't know if Edwards was using some kind of politician math or telling the truth. I didn't think he had enough people to go that kind of legwork. I'm pretty sure we do. While our machine may not be as finely-tuned as Gephardt's (he's using UAW and Teamsters to canvass and do Get Out The Vote work, and if there's anyone who knows organization and persuasion, it'd be those two unions), we may just swamp everyone with sheer numbers. I keep reading Dean has between 3,500 and 5,000 people coming to Iowa this weekend alone. I know we had to send for more rental cars in Nebraska 'cause all of the ones in Iowa are taken.

Really. Earlier this week, a trainload of Deaniacs left Emeryville, CA for Des Moines. As the train approached Omaha, Nebraska, one of them got a phone call from HQ: "Could you guys get off the train and drive the rest of the way? We're out of cars, and the closest ones we could find were in Omaha. Would you mind caravanning them out here?" If there is anything Dean supporters dig, it's an insane idea like that. Off the train they went, into the freezing Nebraska morning, to meet with a few Deaniacs who'd driven out from Iowa earlier that morning. Insane. And one of the many reasons why I dig this campaign. You think I'd come to Iowa if I didn't think the people sitting around me would be half-mad?

Earlier this evening, as Anne and I were washing dishes, I said I hope this would be worth it. The primaries, as I'm learning, aren't just about winning votes; it's about how many you *think* you'll win. Dean can go on to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, but unless he wins by a healthy margin, he's going to get killed. Yes, there is a practical number of how many delegates he'll win to the convention, but it's also a matter of setting the tone for the rest of the primaries. If we completely crush everyone in Iowa, and then do the same in New Hampshire, it lends credence to the perception that Dean is the anointed front-runner, sent by the gods to go forth and kick the bejeezus out of George Bush. If he wins by a hair, it's going to be an ugly fight because everyone else will think they've got a shot at the title. While I may have a grasp on the rules of the game, I still have no idea what kind of a spread will mean victory or defeat. Ten points? Twenty? Thirty? Everyone says politics is a game, but I think it's more go than Starcraft.

****

I'm now in Detroit, and I have this to say: is Wayne County that cheap that it has to charge seven bucks for a day's worth of WiFi?

I mean, it's a step up from LAX, where there's no WiFi at all. But, oy! I'm only going to be here for two hours, guys! I just wanna file this puppy and take a nap!

CNN's on overhead. Edwards and Kerry have their sound bites, while the story's on Gephardt and Dean pulling their attack ads. Just thinking about something I read the other day: the press has ripped into Dean, not because they don't like him (though plenty of columnists have said the press *does* hate his guts. Truth, or self-fullfilling prophecy?), but because they want a better story to file. I can dig that. How thrilling is it to write the same headline ("Front Runner Stomps The Hell Out of Everyone Else") over and over again? They want Kerry to be the Comeback Kid. They want Edwards to be the Young Man Who Could. Or, rather, I think they want them to be the Second Comings of JFK and Bill Clinton. The Senator from Massachusetts and the Young Man from the South.

One other detail about this airport: the tunnel between concourse A and concourses B and C makes me wish I did drugs. Rather than have the usual boring corridor of tile mosaic that was out of fashion when Nixon was in the White House (for the first time, as Veep), the walls are decorated with acid-etched glass panels that are back lit with multi-colored lights. The lights flash in and out in time with music. It feels like a Disney ride that's been transplanted out of 1963.

It's also a hell of a thing to experience after spending five hours of fitful sleep in a 737. The music, which I think is meant to be chipper and exciting, portending the adventure and travel that awaits the weary traveller in the next concourses, it sounds ominous. No, make that Ominous. It is Ominous music, the kind that says your captain will be Terry Gilliam, and he's going to take you on a trip through the sets of Brazil and Time Bandits that even *he* thought were too weird for the screen. It's just not the kind of thing one needs at 6 in the morning when there's still a long way to go.

I'm going to take a nap, get a muffin, and catch the plane to Des Moines.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
08:40 a.m.


So, while I dig organic produce and locally grown stuff (just 'cause it looks and tastes better than the stuff in Vons...though that might be because my Vons hates me and wants me to go to Pavillions instead), and while I think Monsanto does some really despicable things (like the terminator seeds and suing farmers who want to re-use their seeds. Call me crazy, but if my seed packet has a EULA, I'll pass), I think Warren Ellis, in his evil, brilliant way, has a point.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
01:05 p.m.


From the Dean Blog:

This is a really great campaign, but a sorry excuse for a freak show. Denny in GA

I suppose the closest I get to freak status these days is by wearing a kilt or a sarong, but I can think of a few Scotsmen and Balinese who'd take offense to that. Besides, kilts and sarongs are so comfy. What can be more American than wanting to wear comfortable clothing?

Thursday, January 8, 2004
01:52 p.m.


Sweet Baby Jebus.

That was disgusting.

One of the guys in the office brought in a few boxes of U-Turn energy bars. At first, I thought he was trying to give us a healthy alternative to wasabi peas. Now I think he's trying to kill us.

The first hint should have been the label that said "Designer Protein Whey." Right off the bat, I know that's code for "This will taste like crap, but you're trying to be a health freak, so you won't care. This bar could be made of recycled French politicians, but you'd eat it anyway if the label said it was healthy. Fool."

It's not the initial bite that blows, but the aftertaste. It is awful. It is sicky sweet vile, and now it's stuck to my teeth like some kind of napalm for my taste buds: sticky flavor action that never goes away! Gad.

This is, of course, no one's fault but my own. I could've made an AB&J, I could've brought fruit, hell, I could've run to Taco Hell for a packet of hot sauce, but no. I had to be cheap and eat the free samples. Let's hope the flavor will be gone by dinner time.

Monday, January 5, 2004
05:13 p.m.


Yes, I take it personally. How in hell can I not? How can I think about a group of people who have lied to me, said they don't care if people poison my water and air for profit, said they don't care about making the world better, said that I'm a traitor and un-American for opposing them...how can I not take it personally?

Thursday, December 25, 2003
08:57 p.m.


I really thought there'd be this Big Brass Band moment when I asked Anne to marry me. I thought there'd be explosions of light and choirs of angels belting out Handel's Greatest Hits. I thought there'd be this great moment when my entire point of view shifted in some way.

There was none of that. There was just Anne, and that's all I need.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
05:55 p.m.


If there was anything that made me weep for American manhood, it was those goddamn Spawn action figures that cropped up in every game geek's cubicle over the past five or six years. Yes, they were pretty, and they were cool, but action figures are meant to be hauled outside, thrown around the sand box and melted with magnifying glasses. They are meant to be played with, not to be desk sculpture. When you are in your twenties, you should be out drinking beer, reciting poetry, and chasing girls. You should not be spending your hard-earned money on toys that do nothing but sit there. (I got no problem with adults buying toys. In fact, I'm all for it. Being an adult means you have more money and can blow it on toys that do possibly dangerous things. Plus, you can pay for health insurance.) I had plenty of junk on my desks, but I think having Legos sitting around is quite different from having Medieval Spawn Variant Number Six perched on top of your monitor.

My opinion of these chunks of plastic and their creator, Todd McFarlane, hasn't gotten much better. If anything, MacFarlane Toys' product line has gone from Slightly Weird to Sweet Baby Jebus Call The Men With The Straightjackets Now. Take a look at their website (no, I'm not going to give 'em a link; they have enough traffic already) and hunt around for the Twisted World of OZ line of action figures, and tell me the designers aren't in need of some serious counseling. Put the sculpting tools down, Todd, and step back.

I imagine it's only a matter of time before Todd & Co get it into their heads that history needs a dose of its "twisted" point of view. I shudder to think what the McFarlane "Twisted Canadian History" line will look like after they get their mitts on poor John A. Macdonald.

Monday, December 22, 2003
02:41 p.m.


I need to remember this: stomping trolls on webboards does not count as meaningful campaign work. It is merely a distraction.

I started my own work as precinct leader by making 60 cold calls on Sunday to Dean people who said they'd like to be volunteers. Most weren't home, some said they couldn't commit to anything until after the New Year, and the rest were stoked about hitting the streets. That made it worthwhile. The more I read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, the more I'm convinced that this precinct work is gonna pay off. McGovern (ooo, there I go, bringing up that forbidden name from the past, ooo) won key states with an army of volunteers making phone calls and knocking on doors and leaving literature behind. This shit makes a difference, as cornball as it seems. The difference between '72 and '03 is that we have better tools for organizing data. In '72, they had to use hand-written index cards to record supporting votes; today, we got the magic of MySQL (and, yes, Sam, I'm pronouncing it the right way now). Project for Whistler down-time: building a web interface and MySQL backbone for precinct work or just looking to see if there's already something out there. This will be better than sending Excel spreadsheets back and forth. Jebus.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
12:01 p.m.


The tough part is keeping heart and mind in balance. Pure intellect can hash through any problem, but it needs the warmth of heart to make that solution humane. The fire of passion can get people off their cans, but it takes the cool light of mind to give that passion focus.

Neither, of course, should have a problem with a bit of Googlehacking mischief.

Unelectable

Miserable failure

"Every little bit helps," said the old lady as she pissed into the sea.

Friday, December 12, 2003
09:50 a.m.


I've made progress, and I've fallen behind. I've learned some things and forgotten others. I've been in despair and see signs of hope. I'm at the bottom of the gutter and I'm looking up at the stars. Tonight I am done with contemplating the awful could-be and begin planning the wondrous will-be. Anger is hope turned on its ear. The possibilities are limitless as long as I remember where to start. One foot in front of the next, one pedal stroke after another, one carve after another gets me down the mountain so I can do it all over again. There's no second turn on this ride, baby; I need to do it all on this run, and this run only. Look out tomorrow; I'm going to meet you with a full stomach and an open heart.

Friday, December 12, 2003
02:53 a.m.


Went to see Warren Miller's Journey last night. Woof. It's snowporn, plain and simple, and I walked away feeling amped about this season. I know I'll never be a boarder of the same caliber as the people in that movie, but you know what? That's okay. I get as much juice out of a perfect S-turn as these guys do riding down sheer mountain faces in the Alps. Snow is snow, and I'm stoked.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
01:37 p.m.


I think it's about time I came out and said something important, something that will delight some, anger others, and inspire marked indifference in the rest: I've become a volunteer for Howard Dean. I've organized a house party, I'm working on a big ass fundraising bike ride, I'm gonna apply to be a delegate for the convention (Hey, Sean! You got couch space in July?), and, God help me, I'm going to Iowa to work the caucus.

Why Dean? Three things:
1) I dug his anti-war stance. I've been pissed about the war in Iraq from the get-go, and I've gotten more angry the more I've read about PNAC and the way Defense shafted State's plans to rebuild the country. No, President Dean isn't going to yank our armed forces home. We can't do that now, as it would create a real terrorist threat (as opposed to the bullshit Al-Qaida/Saddam Hussein link that the Bush Administration touted, then backpedalled from). We're now in there for the long haul. However, President Dean wouldn't go and do something as stupid as invade Iraq when we're busy doing something real to end terrorism.
2) His campaign isn't just about winning the nomination or the White House; it's about winning back the House and the Senate and all others kinds of offices around the country. Not only does the campaign have vision, it's got legs: over 500,000 people have signed up, and it's gonna hit 2,000,000. The campaign just feels like it's run right.
3) The man's got the onions to take on George Bush and send his wannabe-cowboy ass back to Texas. Yes, he's the angry little man from Vermont, but you know what? It's about goddamn time someone got angry and decided it's time to fight rather than be an equivocating wank.

(Yes, I know Clark and Kerry could be good guys, but Clark's shot himself in the foot by taking public financing, and Kerry...I hate to sound shallow, but he just ain't doing it for me. What's his message? What's he got to say? Yes, he's a smart, caring guy, but if there's anything I've learned from the party in power it's that there's a time for principle and a time for pragmatism. Dean is the pragmatic solution, and he's one that I feel good about voting for.)

No, it's not sewn up, despite what the punditocracy says. It's gonna be a long year, and I'm gonna do all I can to make sure Dean takes Iowa, then California, then the nomination, then the White House, then the country. Anger is just hope that's waiting for focus. I'm angry, and I'm hopeful, and, baby, I'm going to Iowa.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003
04:09 p.m.


I have a new phone. It takes pictures. Pictures like the ones on the top of this page. I think I may have to up my data limits pretty soon; this phone is fun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
05:04 p.m.


Jewelry merchants and car salesmen share the same circle of Hell. There, they wear pinkie rings that blind them and smoke endless Camel Lites that burn their lungs while swilling down coffee that's made from the tears of customers they've ripped off. They are tormented by the wails of frustrated people who just want a simple answer on how much their wares costs. They are beaten with their pocket calculators and those pieces of paper that show the various options for payment. And then, when they go to the cafeteria there in their circle of Hell, they are forced to negociate for their sustenance and are stymied at every turn, until their patience wears thin and they leave to go back to their cells where the whole process begins again.

I pray for the day when I can walk into a car dealer and see some clerk putting the Real Absolute Price for the cars. I pray for the day when jewelry dealers tell you straight up that the materials cost X, the manufacture costs Y, and the amount he needs to make a profit is Z, and the whole things adds up to a price that doesn't include a twenty-minute discussion on the philosophy and meaning of diamonds that comes straight from the bowels of the marketing department of DeBeers.

That day, unfortunately, will never come, so I will have to make do as best I can, which isn't all that well, actually. I can ride my bike and take the bus, but damned if I can figure out a substitute for the jewelry. I'm afraid I will have to give in. The galling thing is that while I know I'm getting ripped off, I have no idea how much I'm getting ripped off.

Sunday, November 30, 2003
09:23 p.m.


More days than not, I feel hopeful. It's a light, airy feeling, one that carries me through the day. It's like spring sunlight, or bread that's just come out of the oven. It's energizing, a feeling that I can go on forever.

Sometimes, though, I come back to earth, and then I get pulled down below the surface. I am trapped in muck, down in the hole, wondering how my shoes got full of water.

(I do wonder if this means I'm ready to talk to my doctor about whatever the latest mood-enhancing meds that are being advertised in those dippy commercials. I hope not. I don't even like taking NyQuil.)

I've noticed the way these moods are reflected in the quality and quantity of my writing. I know that if I get angry about something (and we're talking just simmering anger, not you-killed-my-family-and-dishonored-a-Shaolin-temple blinding fury), I tend to be prolific. Same goes when I'm happy (though not oh-sweet-mystery-of-life-at-last-I-found-you happy). It's not all good, but I hit my targets more times than not.

The key is figuring how to get my brain and heart to operate at the same time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
07:04 p.m.


My housemate has a substance abuse problem: every month or so, he goes to Best Buy and comes home with around 0 worth of DVDs. Normally, I wouldn't mind, since he's very non-discriminating in his tastes (which is why all five seasons of Friends, plus the "Best Of" sets, are sitting on the rack next to my Rollins and anime. Jebus), but sometimes he gets stuff that's really, really good. He's brought home Buffy, The Simpsons, Band of Brothers, and best of all, The Sopranos. Or, rather, worst of all.

See, the problem is that Michel brings home this good stuff, and I'm compelled to watch it, all of it, all at one throw. I come home from work, make dinner, and proceed to watch four or five hours of television. Granted, it's really, really good television, but there's no denying that my ass is on the couch rather than in my desk chair or my reading chair or just plain off the couch and off at the track. It's excellent stuff, and I'm drawn to it, like a Seattlite to a triple latte with soy milk. I know I have a problem, and, dammit, I don't want to fix it.

The good news is that I'm about three episodes away from finishing season four of The Sopranos. The bad news is that Super Extended Grow-Taproots-Out-Of-My-Ass Edition of The Two Towers should arrive some time tomorrow.

My name is Adam, and I am a video addict.

Friday, November 21, 2003
12:52 p.m.


Dear Mom-

I have no problem with you reading this page. Hell, I'm glad you do, if only so you know I'm alive and typing and not buried under a pile of PowerBar wrappers in the middle of my living room while The Sopranos plays on infinite repeat. It saves on stress.

But I have one request: please, for the love of all that's holy, do not click on the links at the bottom of this entry.

See, there's this uptight Senator from Pennsylvania who's, how you say, tolerance challenged. He wants to keep gay people from having equal rights under the law. He wants to keep women from getting access to safe, legal abortions. He doesn't like contraception. He's one of those scarily religious people who also happens to be a federal lawmaker for the party in power.

So, while I can go and fight him by donating to NARAL and Planned Parenthood and by making sure he and his party are thrown to the curb like the un-American swine they are, I also need to blow off a little steam. I need to create some mischief. I need, to paraphrase Eric Stratton, rush chairman of Lamba Tau Chi, to go out and commit a stupid and futile gesture.

So, I'm doing that by putting up the links at the bottom of the page. By doing so, I hope to make it so that every time someone types in the name of this frightening creep, the page to which these links go will pop up at the top of the list, rather than his web page in the Senate. I hope to link his name with something that is gross, disgusting, and absolutely purile. While it's not something obscene, like, say, pictures of Madam Esmerelda & Her Multi-Talented Armadillos, it's still pretty nasty. I know you're a tough woman, but, really, you don't need to click on the links. Tomorrow I'll go back to misusing punctuation and misspelling words, as per usual.

Thank you. I love you.

Yours,
-A.

Santorum

Rick Santorum

Senator Rick Santorum

Senator Santorum

Man on Dog

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
09:39 p.m.


Note to the good people who wrote the DMCA and the CSS: fuck you and the horses you rode in on.

Yes, I know you guys need to protect your investments. I know you're scared out of your minds about losing money with DVD piracy. I can appreciate that. But do you have to punish me? Why aren't you going after the big pirates instead of making life hell for little guys like me?

Lemme explain: Jamie wanted to use clips from "The Matrix" for the Tri Club year-end video. You know, make a little movie with Tri Clubbers talking with Morpheus and Neo, that kind of thing. With iMovie, it would've been a snap. Only problem was getting raw footage.

We tried hooking up Jamie's DV camera to the DVD player, but we kept getting a signal that said "COPY INHIBIT." Whether the devices were able to talk to each other, or if the DVD was sending out a signal in its decoded info, I don't know. All I know is that it was frustrating as hell.

So, okay. We don't need really sharp footage; we just need footage. How about making a videotape of the DVD, and then a DV tape of the VHS tape? Well, that doesn't work either. The signal was scrambled. It wouldn't decode.

So, you know what that left us with? Piracy. We had to scour Limewire to find a ripped version of "The Matrix." We had to break the law to get at something we'd paid for, something that was certainly within the bounds of fair use, something that would've been shown to our club and never resold. I don't give a stony rat's ass what you say; I paid for that DVD legally, and that means I should be able to use what's on it. Instead, you've gone and broken my devices. You've pissed off a customer.

And now you're going to get away with the Broadcast Flag. You're going to cripple my hard drives and computers to make sure I can't go and copy something I've bought. You know what? Fuck you. Your right to protect your investments does not trump my right to geek. Keep your hands off my boxen!

P.S. And, oi, Apple! Fix your damned Quicktime player, wouldja? I should be able to play anything on my machine, right out of the box. I'm not paying for QT Pro until you make sure it can play AVIs, MPGs, DVXs, everything. So, same for your horse, too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
11:24 a.m.


This day used to be called Armistice Day.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, everyone who'd been busy shooting and bombing and generally trying to make each other's lives miserable would put down their guns, step away from the cannons, and just stop. The War To End All Wars would be over. Armistice.

I like that idea, that this was the day to remember when our species made a conscious effort to knock off the business of killing each other. It didn't last, of course. The world wound up marching back to war in the 30s, into the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and into the 21st Century. (I'm pretty sure there was some shooting going on in the 20s, too, but I'm not sure the War On Alcohol counts.) My country has been killing people for a good long time, and I doubt it'll stop anytime soon. I don't like war, but I know that there are times when it's justified. I would've signed up in WWII. I'm pretty sure most of my friends would've.

Part of me wishes we could be more ridiculous in the ways nations settle their differences. I wish we could just play paintball. Or Twister. Or have a bake-off. Or, better yet, just send our governments to fight in our place. We'll stay at home while Bush and Saddam go chase each other around a desert island. Maybe things would be better for everyone; the winner could call back and say, "Hey, I won," and the rest of us could say, "That's nice. We've been getting along fine without the both of you. Hope you enjoy coconuts."

But I know that ain't gonna happen. I'm not going to play Twister when someone shows up to the party with a baseball bat. There's nothing like being faced with the possibility of getting you, your family, your neighbors, your country, everything you've known and worked for and loved getting pulverized to get you to change your mind about territory, resources or policy. War works because it levels the playing field. Literally.

But we forget the cost of it all. We make speeches and raise monuments, but how about putting our money where our mouths are? Every time I see someone with a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker, I want to ask, "What did you do today? Did you give to the USO? Did you write your Congressmen to make sure that VA benefits don't get cut? Did you bake a cake? Write a letter? Anything?"

Earlier this year, someone forwarded an email that had pictures of GIs huddled in Iraqi sandstorms, sleeping in ditches, wearing the NBC suits. The email asked, "How did you sleep last night? Just remember that you slept safely because these people didn't." I was so furious that I fired off a response to everyone who got the original letter, and asked how how they support this war? How could they think there's a link between 9/11 and Iraq? How could they think that bombing the bejeezus out of Iraq was going to make our lives safer? What did you *really* do today to "support the troops"? I got back three responses, one positive along the lines of "Right the hell on for saying that," and two saying, "How dare you say these things?"

How dare I not?

It's my job as an American to stand up, to question, to demand answers. It's my job to protest, to write letters, to send checks, to buy phone cards for overseas GIs. It's my job to make sure that kids aren't sent overseas to fight and die for nothing less than protecting America. And this war has done nothing like that. This administration has done nothing like that. Do I feel any safer today than I did three years ago? Two years ago? One?

No. And I'm going to keep on saying so.

And I'm going to keep on writing letters. I'm going to send money to the VFW. I'm going to keep on buying phone cards, raising money, raising hell. I'm going to make sure that we don't have to send people in uniforms unless we have to. I'm going to keep up my part of the bargain, just like the people coming back from the front have kept up theirs.

You can give real support by donating here: https://www.operationuplink.org/donate.cfm http://uso.org/pubs/8_18_23.cfm http://www.sftt.org/dwa/2002/12/24/4.htm

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
02:32 p.m.


It's like the world has started over down here. It rained this morning, and all the soot and ash is flushed away. The sky is bright blue and clean. The smell and taste of the week's fires is out of the air. Randy Newman is on KCRW singing "I Love LA," and I love it right now, too.

And I keep thinking about talking with Sam last night, and I laugh at the joy of him and Danielle becoming parents. Welcome into the world, Kaija. Be careful your dad doesn't pull a Calvin on you when it comes to explaining how the world works.

Thursday, October 30, 2003
11:58 a.m.


Previous Rides
March and April
April and May
May and June
June and July
July and August
August and September
September and October
October and November
November and December
Winter into Spring
Spring into Summer
Summer into Winter
Winter into More Winter

Filthy Lucre

pitas.com

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