The Labor Hall is looking for volunteers and maybe I'll contact them to see what opportunities exist, it might be interesting to spend time poking through the archives... anarchism, socialism, etc., themes that appeal to me, and it would put my fancy (and kind of useless) BA to some use.
Things are slowly greening up here but it is a very slow process, I have some bulbs that have come up, but still no flowers yet.
Monday: BARRE-Se la Pietra Sapesse Parlare (If Stone Could Speak) World premiere of film about Italian immigration to Barre. Sponsosored by Barre Hist. Soc. Labor Hall, FREE, 7pm.
Tuesday: BARRE-Primo Maggio. Italian dinner, cash bar, speaker Rudolph Vecoli on "Origins & History of the Workers' Holiday." Spons. by Barre Hist. Soc. Labor Hall, $18, 6pm.
The dinner on Tuesday might be fun as well, but I will probably go to this event instead:
MONTPELIER: Author Crystal Zevon. Reading/signing "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon." Bear Pond Books, free, 7pm. Info. 229-0774.
(Suddenly, Vermont, specifically Barre, is Zevon country, Jackson Browne is playing 2 sold out shows as a benefit for Ariel Zevon's organization, and ex-wife Crystal has a memoir out, which is reviewed here (also covered in the Free Press) and is also local. Tenderness on the block...)
This photo was taken on a very bright day and when my camera was quite new... a rather awkward combination. The electronic displays are very hard to read in very bright light, so it was a matter of pointing at an object and hitting the shutter button and hoping that the image would come out OK. I still have the same problem but I am more familiar with the device so I get slightly better & more consistent results.
I climbed Algonquin in the Adirondacks yesterday with Ongyel. It started out as a hike, became a fun adventure, then evolved into a misadventure, which in turn became a serious situation in a very remote spot, but from which we finally extricated ourselves. It was a very long day for me as I left the house at 5:45 am and returned at 11:30 pm, tired, sore and chastened.
If nothing else it's worth hearing the 'soundtrack' which was recorded separately.
I will be hiking in the Adirondacks tomorrow with Ongyel, who is leading the trek to Nepal in the fall, we should bring back some pictures, it is supposed to be a spectacular day. I have visions of Algonquin and Colden, I have climbed both mountains before, but not on the same day, and not when there is snow.
Then in August 2006 some guy got pissed off at his ex-girlfriend in Essex, Vermont and went on rampage at an elementary school, killing two teachers. Again, the perpetrator was male.
And, last autumn, Michelle Gardner-Quinn, a student at UVM, walked back to campus (a matter of a few blocks) from downtown with a guy... and was raped and murdered. The perpetrator was a man who preyed upon women. There are other local examples I could cite (Patricia Scoville, raped and murdered while bike riding in Stowe... etc.).
There isn't a direct connection between these brutal acts and the recent random violence at Virginia Tech, except when news of a shooting on campus started to show up online... I knew it was a male carrying this out. Women don't seem to act this way.
And, looking at Iraq, the people both inciting the violence, and carrying it out... are male as well.
All this makes me kind of numb. I feel a kind of collective guilt, shame and I doubt myself in my interactions with others -- particularly women. What is it about the male experience that makes random violence part of the equation? Is the sex that good? Or is the lack of sex so bad and frustrating? How did Cho Seung-Hui scramble the synapses in his brain... did he choose to submerge himself in flickering unreal images of violence? Who knows.
All I know is that it's just another day of tragedy and that it does change both how I view myself as well the larger world -- I find that I expect bad things to happen, if something larger than September 11 were to happen, I think I would respond with 'well, it's not like we didn't see this coming'. On both a micro and a macro scale there seems to be a whole a lot negative energy and ill will in the world today.
Feed the birds: Some salted, roasted sunflower seeds drew a satisfied customer in the rain.
I really got remarkably little done yesterday. I had some work (as in my Monday-Friday 40+ hours/week job) to do at home which I started but didn't finish and I still have to do my pain in the @ss Vermont taxes and file the whole package. Instead of doing anything productive (and necessary) I spent the day watching old Sopranos episodes (the Stowe library has seasons 1 - 4), aimlessly being online, and playing with my camera. Above is a shot of the windowsill in my kitchen, a Ganesh, two Buddhas, a rock from the Adirondacks and a porcelain figurine that was included with a box of tea, quite an oddly sentimental collection.
Today I must do what I didn't complete yesterday but still the motivation is lacking, perhaps the atrocious weather -- more mixed snow and rain -- is affecting me. And instead of attending to the tasks on hand I am busy blogging and following Paris-Roubaix on cyclingnews.com.
Finally getting around to finishing my taxes did make me think of Henry David Thoreau and how paying taxes can be seen as acquiescing to the way things are here now. On a Federal level I'm sure my tax payment wouldn't cover even a fraction of some guided munition being expended daily in Iraq or for 15 minutes of treatment for some badly wounded soldier being put back together at Walter Reed hospital. I'm really disgusted by the lack of debate about the cost of the current war -- in both lives and money: Fat and happy in the USA at war. On a local level, Vermont will not implement a SMALL tax on 'gas guzzlers' (re: SUVs) because heaven forbid that there be some disincentive to own a large, heavy, dangerous to others, environment degrading vehicle. And attempts to raise the gas tax (which would be used to pay for transportation infrastructure, not to mention disincenting people from driving, and encouraging shorter commutes, less sprawl, etc.) are verboten as well.... I really think that it will take a catastrophe for people to change, subtly doesn't cut it.
Close readers of this blog (I doubt any such personages exist) will note that the art on the wall has been previously featured here and here. The post I wrote about having a Bumbeck painting is probably the most popular single page on the site, for some reason, there are fairly frequent Google searches for "Stefan Bumbeck".
But no, it's not a tawdry skin flick, it's yet more snow. The snow is unusual and the sustained cold at this time of year is even more so; winter doesn't seem to be in any hurry to go away. So here are just some prosaic images out my front door this morning.
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
-- The Waste Land
There hasn't been much in the way of 'spring rain' lately, spring snow is more like it. Today another sloppy winter storm is moving in with mostly snow, and there have not been many soft warm sunny spring days so far... a string of cold gray days that has felt more like mid March than April. Fortunately I have been busy and hence have not noticed the weather much.
These photos were taken on March 31st, which was a kind of a tease, it was cool but absolutely clear, I spent some time wandering around town with my camera. Even though I have lived here for more than six months I am still getting to know the area. I know that these images have no particular merit as I am still learning how to get the best images out of the camera. I have found that it seems to perform best in these conditions -- strong daylight.
I figured that Chinatown would be going full blast in spite of the holiday and this was very much the case, it was strange to be walking through shops selling the best of bric-a-brac from the East (where does this stuff come from?). We had dinner at a little hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant and then went to a play at the Centaur Theatre.
All in all it was a pretty fun trip but walking around on pavement for the better part of two days did make me appreciate the muddy hiking paths near my home in Waterbury. I also noticed that I looked at the surrounding small Vermont mountains with a new perspective on my drive to work yesterday after wandering through the city with its highrises and cold dirty winds whistling through the public spaces.
I lugged my camera around for the whole trip but didn't really use it very much due to the unpleasant weather. Maybe next time...
This bird looks quite intent on the task at hand. I know this blog is fast becoming just a random collection of not very interesting snapshots (not that anyone cares) but I have been too busy to sit down and write much lately.
I did succeed in doing my federal taxes last night and I discovered that all of my carefully hoarded receipts from moving were of no use to me at all, according to the IRS, a move has to be more than 50 miles to be deductible.... hmmph, that is frustrating. Also I was having visions of redoing my kitchen -- which is old, and not that attractive -- with my refund... maybe I'll just buy a new coffeemaker instead. That would be more in the budget with the amount I'm getting back.
I will be spending Easter in Montreal and am hosting a small dinner gathering tomorrow evening, and I MUST do my taxes, which will probably put a crimp in blogging for a while.
Other photos in this sequence: Blue (& also here) and yellow.
I wasn't working so I took two classes on campus in the daytime; I figured that there would be at least some adult students in the classes. This, however, proved not be the case at all, I was vastly older than my classmates, which made it a very peculiar -- but not negative, just strange -- experience. One of my classmates at Champlain was a guy named Ongyel Sherpa who was originally from Nepal but who had come to Burlington though the efforts of a local optometrist who was involved in voluntary eye care efforts in the Himalayan region.
Anyway Ongyel -- his family has a long history of involvement with trekking and mountaineering in Nepal -- asked me if I wanted to do some hiking so we snowshoed up Mt. Mansfield one February day. Then in 2006 we drove over to Conway NH and climbed Mt. Washington together on a great March day, it was warm and there was no wind, very unusual conditions for that mountain.
Earlier this year Ongyel emailed that he was organizing a three week trekking trip to Nepal in October 2007 and "did I have an interest in going?". After giving it a little thought I said "sure". I am usually pretty frugal and for a long time my idea of a vacation was a weekend jammed into a room at a Motel 6 at a bike race somewhere with other racers. But I turned 40 a couple of years ago and I figure that you can't take it with you: It's hardly now or never but I would like to do this sort of thing now while I am still willing to put up with a certain level of privation and discomfort.
I'm not sure if trekking -- it's not really mountaineering, and anyway I think that a lot of climbing these days is a sport for bored rich people (got a spare $100K? Go climb Everest...) -- is my ultimate vacation but I am looking forward to the trip. I hope I don't end up marching around Nepal with hordes of Eurotrash tourists for 2+ weeks but it will be a chance to live in a really dramatic landscape without all the trappings (hopefully) of American suburban living. It will be a chance for me to experience another culture (and the 'Third World'), see some really high mountains and take lots of pictures.