May 31, 2004

A Heightened Perspective.

3:00 in the morning is usually about the time I scamper off to bed (or the floor, depending on the moon) these days. Today, however, something compelled me to step outside into another calm, clear night. I exited through the back door and crept, as is my natural tendency, along the wooden deck that wraps around my house. As I reached the west end, I noticed the waxing moon, appearing frail and yellow, just dipping below the trees in the distance. After that row of trees which stood roughly a mile away, the hill plummets over the course of two miles and eventually meets the sea, and I could imagine for myself the splendor of a moonset over the true horizon on a morning as pleasant as this. Due to the tall trees in the neighboring yard, my view of Luna's majesty was partially obscured from my vantage point, so I rounded the deck and ambled down the south side, pausing at the palm tree which leans rudely over our roof. If we didn't maintain it now and then, it would surely poke out our window screens with its gargantuan fronds. I stood and gazed up the tree for a few seconds longer, and in an act of complete spontaneity, jumped up on the narrow wooden deck railing and latched on to the roof gutter with my hands. Extending from the tree like hard, smooth stepstool rungs were closely cropped frond stems, wide as my leg and seemingly very sturdy. I decided to rely on them, placing both my bare feet and eventually all my weight on one, which raised me to chest level with the roof. From there, I used some crafty foot/handwork to ease myself onto the roof, which I immediately noticed was damp with morning dew, and quite slick. Of course, it slopes upward at a thirty degree angle before reaching the apex, then slopes down the other side in the same fashion. I essentially crawled away from the tree and up to the apex, reluctant to stand up straight anywhere near the edge. The grooves of the aluminum panels were coated with a thin, slippery film of some type of growth, which surely makes walking around on it barefoot dangerous. Then again, danger is perhaps the reason I actually decided to climb up on the roof. No, that cannot be all. I've always had the tendency to want to be higher. As high as I could be. When hiking trails, even as a younger pup, I'd always take the high road. When wandering amongst a series of tall hills or mountains, I'd always long to scale the highest one and reach the top. I simply want to be higher than everything, and reaching the summit of whatever I happen to notice surrounding me is truly a spiritual experience. What else could explain my affinity for scaling radio towers or ascending trees or climbing up on roofs?

Well, I also get a better view. A different view from the one I see everyday. In the daytime, I wouldn't feel secure being up there. Too many neighbors would look up and see me sitting or lying back and wonder how much lead I consume in my paint chip diet. Not to mention, the sun would too likely be in my eyes, then. Perhaps I climbed the roof to be that much closer to the stars. And the stars, how they glimmered so brightly, so arrogantly, as if they were all conspiring to band together and swoop down and tell me I'm insignificant as a speck of space dust. To simply be up there was truly beautiful. The cool, mountain breeze rustled the treetops and ruffled my hair, as I sat staring out to the north, my eyes following the ocean eternally spreading. The only noises to be heard were compliments of the insects and the horses stirring, leading one another to investigate the strange spectacle of a tall figure on the roof at such an odd hour. I hadn't been up on the roof in years. It's such a secure place to be. No one could ever find me up there for as long as Dawn keeps her torch low. I can hardly justifiably describe what a Raptorial experience it was to be up there. It instilled in me that precious, passionate sensation of liberation; of wanting to fly. It simply reminded me that I needn't become enraptured in some epic adventure to experience that prodigious emotion.

I would like to embark on another epic adventure soon, though. I may very shortly go camping down on the south end of the island, where no one lives for dozens of miles around, and the sprawling landscape is wide open from the mountain to the sea. The last time I was there, I rode my mountain bike all night long beneath the full moon along the shore, and experienced quite possibly one of the most legendary adventures of my life. I'd love to revisit that place again and have a similar adventure, and what better time than this time of the month? At any rate, this leads me into posting the highlights of my previous adventure there:


Around 12:30 or so in the morning, my father ambled off to bed, and I ventured over to my bike. Well-rested from my nap earlier in the day, the prospect of lying down and sleeping away such a perfect evening simply did not appeal to me. Luna had once again tapped wanderlust's dagger into the most sensual depths of my spirit. My domesticated canine friend's ears popped up as he gazed up at me. Yes, we were embarking on an expedition. The moon in all her glory cast her innocent light down from directly overhead, and the cloud cover had rapidly dissipated. I shut off the lantern and left the fire to die a slow death as I took off down the beaten path, my pointer in tow. Now, using a bike to negotiate a road predominantly comprised of loose boulders and small pebbles is difficult enough in broad daylight, but in the moonlight, it becomes an even more formidable challenge. Without the moon's light, it would have been impossible for lamentable human vision. Still, I opted to escape from the grove of mesquite trees, where the road is smooth and sandy, and ride out onto the barren, open lava field, where the road is comprised of small boulders and rugged natural lava formations. Definitely, a technical challenge. The road curves around the back of the inlet, continuing down to the shoreline opposite the side of the inlet where we were camped. ...Shoreline I had only once before explored, and not in exquisite detail. I followed the road, managing to stay on my bike most of the time. If the black beauty wasn't equipped with dual suspension, I wouldn't have made it.

I stopped when I reached a small, protected pebble beach accented by a small stand of palm trees. From here, I caught my first glimpse up the mountain, and immediately noticed the exiguous array of dull amber lights marking the tiny village of Waiohinu. It looked about a hundred miles away from where I now stood. Though one might think the presence of the lights would detract from the natural beauty of the scene, I felt they simply contributed to it, through sheer contrast. The only other lights I could see were the intermittently flashing red lights atop two distant radio towers to the west. Without those few lights far up the mountain, I would have had no immediate proof, other than the primitive road upon which I treaded, that I hadn't magically stumbled into some undiscovered realm. Truly, the feeling of isolation that I was experiencing was intense ... and beautiful. We were the only ones around for miles and miles--I could feel it in my soul.

I scoped the area around a little more, and discovered a broken old pier leading out to sea. Unsurprisingly, little else remained of the old structure but its concrete foundations, continuously weathered by the ocean waves. I reckoned it to be a by-product of the days when highways were minimal, and steamboats, rather than tractor trailers, shipped commerce to towns around the islands. Yet another relic of a bygone era added to the area's overall mystique. Of course, everything appears a little more mysterious under the moonlight. I re-mounted my bike and rode up a small bluff, noticing a small shelter facing the sea. It was comprised of rock walls on three sides, several poles of bamboo thatched together, and a plastic tarp, and was obviously designed for rain and sun protection. I continued to follow the road along the shore until it reached a small pebbly beach accented with patches of white sand, then looped around a tree right back on to itself. I immediately realized that I must have missed the real road somewhere.

This little dead end, however, proved a pleasant, and at the same time, relatively unpleasant, discovery. The spot seemed an excellent place to camp. Not only was it entirely out of the way, at the end of the road, but a small cluster of dense foliage also stood over soft white sand, providing luxuriant shade in a region where protection from solar radiation is scarce. The calm ocean waves gently lapped onto the sand. The site simply instilled in me a marvelous feeling of tranquility, especially as I paced about it in the moonlight. Of course, every rose has its thorns. The sheer amount of trash at the site was appalling. Perhaps even more appalling was the fact that it had all washed up from the ocean. The beach was littered with old detergent bottles, several worn down tires, broken shards of plastic floats, and piles upon piles of driftwood, amongst innumerable other unidentifiable plastics. In short, the beach basically constituted a colorful array of manmade rubbish that had been floating about the Pacific ocean currents for months or even years before washing up ... here. Admittedly, I've always found combing through flotsam and jetsam an entertaining activity, but when I see it in such massive quantities, I become disgusted. It simply serves as a reminder as to how impure and polluted our oceans really are.

After laying on an unlittered portion of the beach for awhile, staring at the moon and absorbing the vibes, I took off in search for the road that continued on down the line. I did find a poorly marked fork halfway between the beach and the shelter I had seen earlier, and the route was barely navigable by bike. In fact, I had to walk it. Eventually, however, it improved, but not by much. I was curious as to how long my tires would hold up as they traversed the small shaky boulders and tough patches of lava rock. The road graced almost intimidatingly close to the sea at times; so close, in fact, that when a considerable-sized wave hit the shore, the spray would soak part of it. After grinding over a few dips and rises of lava rock, I rode into slightly different terrain. The road became a mixture of small pebbles and coarse, hard-packed sand, and I was surrounded by tall beach shrubs. Definitely more rider-friendly. Every once in awhile, side-routes would lead off to the sea, and I'd follow them, arriving at magnificent campsites standing on narrow, curving sandy beaches fronting a protected reef. I vividly recalled my hermitical aspirations of living out there for months and writing a book. One could certainly get away with it.

Still, I pressed on, as if I had somehow not seen enough. I had never found stopping before the road reached its end to be easy. When hiking as a child, I cried whenever we had to turn around before the trail ended. I always wanted to reach the end. I always desired that sort of closure. Of course, some roads never seem to end. I continued on until the road began to run parallel to a beach that contained the most ocean trash I had ever seen in one place. Yes, this one not only took the cake, it sold the whole damn bakery. I could have gone wading through the sheer amount of trash washed up on the beach, but I didn't. My dog sure enjoyed himself doing so, though. If I were a hobo, I probably could have used that beach as an inexhaustible resource for containers, furniture parcels, large strands of rope, fishing nets, firewood, and collectible treasures. Even the surface of the road itself at this point was paved with colorful shards and strands of flattened flotsam and jetsam. I was rather astonished, and at the same time, fascinated. Just how much garbage is there in the Pacific Ocean after all?

I moved on, thoroughly impressed with what I had seen thus far. The road dipped down onto a tree-lined sandy stretch--a stretch with such deep sand, in fact, that I had to walk it instead. The road eventually curved back inland and became rideable again, as I left all semblances of plantlife behind for the first time in awhile. As I once again hit deep sand, I decided on a change of pace--I temporarily abandoned my bike and began walking. I felt as if I was truly getting a long way from "home," now, as I watched the violent surf crash against the rugged shoreline, sending salt spray into the air. Before long, I happened upon a gargantuan tree stump, its diameter about as large as I am tall, just sitting upright on the side of the road, bleached white and attached to nothing, as if it had actually washed up from the sea. It seemed to cast an eerie glow of its own in the moonlight. It looked positively surreal against a backdrop of desolate uniformity--something from a Salvador Dali painting, or a Pink Floyd album cover. Suddenly, I remembered seeing the very same stump a few years ago. Last time, I had gone no further.

The coastline seemed to sprawl out in front of me for an eternity as I wandered on. After yet another mile, the road curved inland and forked, one road leading along the coast and the other up the hillside. I followed the coastal fork for a little ways and stopped. As I gazed up the hillside, I literally began to feel as if I were wandering the landscape of some other planet. The terrain seemed otherworldly. From this point, I could see no lights up the mountain; absolutely no signs of human civilization. Everything was bathed in moonlight, including the patches of glowing sand rippled by the wind amongst the sparse, rough patches of lava rock. I looked up at the sky and half-expected to see the earth as a distant planet. I do believe I was rather spellbound.

I turned back and began following the road that led up the hill, planning on turning back and heading home soon, before the rising sun caught me off guard. Of course, I still had a good 2½-3 hours of darkness to play with. I noticed a small group of peculiar-looking structures not far up the hill, and decided that would be my turn-around point. The narrow, rocky road led gently up the hill, and my destination grew closer--though slower than I had expected. Misjudgment of distance is drastically facilitated by moonlight, for it casts myriad deceptive shadows. The road continued past the structures, but I stepped off of it and headed up to them, quickly realizing they were made of stone and produced through natural volcanic processes. The sheer appearance of these impressive rock columns reminded me of Stonehenge, only this was nature's invention. As I walked around to the other side of one, admiring it, I nearly fell down a 100-foot drop.

One of the last things I was expecting out here, besides a human being, was a large hole in the ground. Indeed, the rock structures were surrounding a crater, as if actually guarding over it. I peered down into it, noticing that one half was basking in shadow and the other half was illuminated by the moon. Several shrubby mesquite trees grew amongst the rock on its steep southern slopes, which seemed to slide on down into eternal darkness. Half the crater projected the optical illusion of being entirely bottomless. I went around to the south side, sniffing around and allowing the sheer surrealism of it all to sink in. On one of the stone columns, I discovered an old radio/CD player someone had left. It had no batteries and the screws were rusty, but its presence merely contributed to the sum total of surrealism. I scoured my mind's vast musical database and eventually found the perfect song to complement this scene. Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" fit the bill. Music. It's always with you. It's one thing they can never take away from you, because it stays inside of you. I climbed atop one of the columns and stood tall. My view across the ocean was unimpeded all the way to Antarctica. The mountains to the north appeared loftier than ever in the celestial moonlight. Everything seemed wide open, including my spirit, and this was enough for me to break free. I finally let myself go.

I don't remember much of the trip back. I only know I returned on my bike to my tent shortly after sunrise, and quickly fell into a deep sleep.


When I was done reflecting over that entire experience, I scrambled back down the roof, noting that descending along the tree was a bit more difficult, and perambulated in to write this. It appears I've finally found a way to barricade my writer's block.

Domestication vexation.

After watching the FOX coverage of the Angels/White Sox game the other day, and seeing how many sadists dressed up their canines on "bring your dog to the ballpark" day, I felt the need to comment on this despicable practice. Yes, seeing owners dress up their pets is one of my biggest pet peeves. It definitely seems to occur most frequently with dogs, as most cats simply wouldn't stand for it. Perhaps seeing a cat dressed up in a miniature baseball jersey would be an even more lamentable sight. Regardless of the victim's species, dressing up an animal because one thinks it's "funny" or "cute" is disgusting, if not sadistic. I sincerely believe that making your dog wear a sweater so he'll look "spiffy" when you take him as a walk should count as animal abuse. Most dogs do, believe it or not, have a sense of pride and dignity, and dressing them up for kicks only strips that sense of dignity away and leaves them bare with humiliation. If you want something to dress up and show off to people, buy a doll or a mannequin and drag it around with you. I'm surprised I don't see more dogs walking around with a large Pepsi logo branded into their side. No matter what most people believe, your dog isn't loyal to you just so it can earn the right to wear your stupid clothes. Oh, and dogs don't need shoes, either. Thumb through one of those expensive yuppie catalogs, and you might find a set of four little boots to slip over your dog's paws. For its own comfort! Quit deluding yourselves, you pathetic yuppies. Dogs don't need shoes and have never needed shoes. Quit trying to anthropomorphize your dog more than it already is. Just because they enjoy your company (maybe) doesn't mean they don't want to be like you. Let it retain a little canine dignity and walk on its hard pads, on which it can get along fine. A collar is more than enough. Let your pet retain a thread of decency by keeping your threads to yourself. Not to sound arrogant, but if dogs could read and clap, they'd be clapping for me right now.

Perhaps what really disturbs me about this issue is that it's a blatant demonstration of human abuse of power over animals. ...A grim reminder of how so many people disrespect the dignity of an individual they have nearly complete control over, and can't talk back or be willing to fight back to defend itself. In that light, I simply cannot respect a domesticated canine to the same degree that I can a wild canine, if only because they allow themselves to be human-dominated. Of course, that isn't their fault. I realized this as I spent a little time with my parents' dog, who is tied to a tree most of the time, and was gelded when he was a puppy. Yet, he seems perfectly content most of the time, though it would be pretentious of me to assume that's how he always truly feels. I only have to wonder if he ever dreams of living as a wild dog, free from human influence. Something, however, tells me otherwise. He's very family-oriented. No matter, I can't help but feel at least a tinge of sorrow when I consider how many domesticated canines are at the complete mercy of their owners, when there are so many abusive, maniacal, careless, and neglecting owners out there. ...That forcibly removing/disabling a dog's reproductive organs is such a common, accepted practice. It leaves me wondering if I should ever get a dog. I probably will only if I live in an area where it may roam wherever it pleases. Should I ever get married, I'll make sure we adopt a puppy as soon as its been weened, then call it our baby. Puppies are much more handsome than infants, you don't have to change their diapers or spoon-feed it, or spend tens of thousands of dollars on its education. And we'd never own it. We'd respect it too much to own it. A child's parent isn't known as its owner, and neither shall that particular puppy's guardian.

May 28, 2004

Too much eye candy is rotting my brain.

When I first saw the preview for The Day After Tomorrow, my immediate thought was, "not another disaster movie."

After reading a few summaries on the movie describing its plot and several other details, I thought, "not another disaster movie."

Every disaster movie I've ever seen has been a complete joke, barely worth shaking a tail at. I've seen Dante's Peak, Volcano, Twister, and a few others that don't even deserve mention, and I must say, they were all terrible. Then again, maybe I focus too much on the contrived character relations and miserable excuses for a plot. Well, is this one going to be any different? Obviously, people don't watch these kinds of movies for intellectual stimulation, though I imagine there are quite a few poor souls out there who actually believe California could slide off into the ocean and sink. No, it's just mindless entertainment for the short attention-spanned who don't see movies to think, but to simply be mesmorized by exaggerated special effects. Far too many people I know are going ape over wanting to see this movie. It just seems to me that many older films are so great because they didn't have the technological capability to take an hour and 30 minutes and fill it up with pretty CGI-rendered effects and try to pass it off as a legitimate movie. The same goes for many independent filmmakers who can't afford to make easy profits by simulating the destruction of the Statue of Liberty semi-convincingly. And thus, innovative, thought-provoking films that relied on finely crafted classical story-telling elements instead of 'omg that 500 foot wave looks so cool' were born.

However, I am eagerly awaiting Michael Moore's new movie. He can be such a fat clown, but I find his films distinctly entertaining. Some say he's overrated, but you have to admit, he has some kind of talent for 'touching' his interviewees.

May 27, 2004

On Suicide

Suicide is a very good thing. It serves as a method for voluntarily detaching oneself from their own suffering, and in some situations, it could be quite a useful tool as well as a warranted option. Say you're lost in the desert, and you have a broken leg. The bone protruding from the fracture actually punctured through your skin, and you've already lost a fair amount of blood. It already looked infected, you're in excruciating pain, and you sincerely feel you have no chance of ever being found before it's too late. However, you have a pistol on your belt, with only a single bullet left. What would you rather do? Shoot it into the sky and hope someone is around to hear it and investigate, or relieve your misery on the spot by shooting yourself? In this type of situation, and in many others, I would opt to do away with myself. Otherwise, chances are great I'd end up slowly wasting away until I finally die ... and who desires to endure that kind of displeasure? ...A situation doesn't even have to be this hypothetical, either. If someone has to struggle with genuine pain day after day, with no foreseen respite, and little to no pleasure or meaning in their lifestyle as a result of this perpetual pain, I might recommend suicide. ..Or maybe get their loved one to put them to sleep. Everyone has the capability to commit suicide. It's a gift we should all not entirely deny perhaps having to make use of someday. It's a basic right we should all defend. Just like life. Of course, those of certain religions are against suicide, and I understand that, but that's their issue to untangle, not mine. There are those who believe that taking your own life before God is positively sinful. As far as I'm concerned, though, nature is indifferent to my suffering, and there isn't a higher power up there on the celestial stage that could give a damn and a half about whether I make an early exit. Far too often does religion's influence eclipse prudence.

I can respect those who successfully commit suicide, as long as they do it with some class. Id est, they used their courage and determination to go through with it, rather than relying on mind-altering substances to facilitate the process, and left well-written notes to their loved ones explicating precisely why they had to leave them. Conversely, I'd have little to no respect for someone who decided to shoot psychoactive chemicals into his veins and drink up the bar then deliberately OD himself so he can make his parents grieve for his loss and make his loved ones "pay." I have positively no respect, not to mention absolute abhorration, for those who perpetually whine about killing or hurting themselves just to seek a little attention, when they themselves know they'll probably never actually go through with it. That reflects the entirely negative nuance about suicide that so many people pick up these days. The entire concept is just too trendy among young teenagers, now. Showing interest in suicide, of some form, is practically a fashion statement.

I shall never even consider suicide for myself, though, unless I am placed in a truly dire situation such as the one I mentioned. The life I lead now is going so comparatively grand, I couldn't even imagine doing away with myself. I honestly believe that a million people (well, way more than that) out there would kill to live the sort of lifestyle I do, so killing myself would be quite a waste and a disappointment to myself. However, keep in mind that there are those who have it far worse than any of us do, so you should be more cautious than to act self-righteous and tell them suicide is cowardly and wrong. Think a little more abroad. Just how far on the "terrible" side of the spectrum have any of us gotten relative to others on this planet?

For reasons already discussed, suicide is not always a "cowardly" way to die. How is making use of a convenient method to relieve yourself of pain and agony an act of cowardice? In that case, wouldn't taking some tylenol to relieve a headache also be a "cowardly" thing to do? I could formulate a long list of situations where suicide would be an applicable, practical, and wise option, but I have better things to do with my day.

But before I go, I noticed someone mention on a forum discussion the other day that "suicide isn't natural." Who's to say suicide isn't natural? What is it, then, artificial? Do they have to implant little chips in our bodies in order for it to be a possibility? And who's to say it doesn't occur in nature every damn day? How can one claim that an animal has never committed suicide because it thought doing away with itself was in its best interests? No matter what science implies to you, I feel you'd do best not to believe in it to that extent. The margin for error is simply too wide. Erroneous assumptions are continuously made. Like religion, science is interesting to study, but I can't necessarily say I personally believe much of the theories it has to offer.

May 24, 2004

First post.

I really wish I had erectile deficiency. That way, I could take some miracle medication that will enhance my maleness, then smile vacuously like a doofus as I hit a hole in one! After all, since sexual satisfaction appears to be the ultimate key to happiness, if you score with your old lady for the first time in years, nothing can keep you from smiling ear to ear the next day. Speaking of "male enhancement," why isn't it "penis enhancement"? There are plenty of things about the average male that would probably be best left unenhanced. What is it about the word "penis" that makes it so unmentionable? The mere mention of the word penis seems to make some people do a double take. Penis. Perhaps "penile enhancement" would be a more effective term, as "penile" doesn't sound quite as 'caustic' as "penis." And instead of showing a guy grinning from ear to ear as they putt a little dimpled ball into a hole with a crooked stick, why not show something a little less subtly sexually suggestive?

Excuse me, I have just become entirely fed up with these types on ads on television. I only watch television for an occasional baseball game or nature program, yet never a time goes by that I don't see one of these commercials. I personally prefer not to watch the homely middle-aged men in these "male enhancement" ads and be led to think about the very reason why they look so happy. Still, it's not the commercials themselves that provoke such an irate reaction from me; it's something deeper. Admittedly, I'm becoming rather terrified of this nation's developing philosophy that just about every personal issue can and should be resolved by swallowing a pill. What ever happened to researching methods for zesting up your foreplay, or fighting depression with rationale and support from friends? So many people are medicated these days for such a variety of reasons, it disturbs me. Now, I realize many have conditions that require them to take some form of medication to help them function on an acceptable level, but it seems far too many are too quickly turning to drugs for the solution to their problems. No, I'm *not* speaking of heroin, cocaine, PCP, or anything so "awful" it's banned by the government. I'm referring to the drugs that the government actually approves of; drugs that could be potentially more dangerous in different ways than the illegal drugs previously mentioned: Happy pills. Weight loss pills. Sex drive pills. Etc. Just take a gander at some of the possible side effects of some of these drugs. They always list them so quickly in the TV ads, while showing beautiful scenes of handsome people getting the most out of life, as if they had not a care in the world. Amidst the dazzling visuals; the allure of how happy you apparently could be if you took their drug, the side effects must seem trivial to many people. Yes, I might have constant diarrhea and have to sit on the toilet for hours a day, but as long as I can maintain an erection all the while, I'm all right! The current generation of children is being fed pills by the handful by delusional liberal parents who overreact to the slightest little mental or social deficiency they might exhibit. Since many parents these days seem too afraid to actually *gasp* discipline their kids properly, once they start causing trouble in school, being too hyperactive or uncooperative, they'll go ahead and assume what's best for them is some sort of prescription medicine that will set them straight and make them behave. Yes, let's leave it to drugs to make things work. McDonald's sales pitches take advantage of the vulnerability of youth by trying to pull children in at any early age so they'll be hooked on their disgusting greaseburgers for the rest of their lives. It's these same parents that feed their children this nutrionally deficient garbage three times a week that hook their children on happy pills instead of offering them a warm home and solid emotional support like any decent parents should. So much for a drug-free America.

Medication may often be the easiest solution, but is it always the best? I personally believe before using a pill to obtain what they need, people should first search for it in their minds. Logic and perseverance are powerful medicine. Of course, I have never required any long-term medication program or treatment plan for anything. I suppose I am quite fortunate in that regard.