Sunday, July 31, 2005

So I ran out of gas while crossing over Rt. 1 today...

I don't recommend this activity to anyone. The 'low fuel' light had been on since I left Morristown last night and wound up in Trenton. I got on the road as I have so many times before knowing that I needed to get gas ASAP. I've played this game a lot with myself, looking over the gas gauge, then looking up and pondering where the next station would be... Can I do better than $2.25? F_ck, does it really cost that much... when I type it out it seems like it costs even more. This time I didn't have any time to make it to the next station. As I felt my car begin to pull and shake I saw the Mobil station in the distance on the opposite side of Rt. 1. I hate Mobil stations. Exxon-Mobil is one of the world's worst companies, and I almost never purchase fuel from their company. I now have my hazard lights on as I push the pedal all the way to the floor to pull out the last of the fumes in my tank. The thought flashes in my head that I should just pull over and stop now, while I still have control of the car, but the station is only one jughandle away... No, I have to go for it. Stopped at a red light looking across Rt 1, drives behind me are probably confused as to why I have my hazard lights on. The light turns green, the engine can do about 8 mph, I start to cross Rt. 1. Slowly I pass the center lane divider, cars behind me blow their horns and swerve around -- the engine cuts out. Now only rolling, the light changes and angry hurried Rt. 1 traffic pushes its way around me as my van rolls to a gentle stop just beyond the highway crossing.

I was able to get some gas from the Mobil station, enough to drive it over to fill up the tank. I got lucky today -- the moral is 'whatever you do, take care of your shoes.' (no, wait, that's a different moral).


Friday, April 01, 2005

Quotes to Ponder from Those Gone Yonder

Arthur Miller (1915 - 2005)

I find myself interested in what I'm looking at.

The only thing that I am reasonably sure of is that anybody who's got an ideology has stopped thinking.

You have to learn how to duck, because they're gonna throw it at you.

I could write about failure only because I could deal with it. Most of my work before Death of a Salesman, 98 percent of it was a failure. By the time Willy Loman came along, I knew how he felt.

Some failures are right. And some people fail because society isn't ready for them. That's what makes it so difficult.

You should read because it's a pleasure. Or go to the theater because it's a pleasure. That's what it's about, basically—even the pleasure of misery, if that happens to be the nature of the beast.

Whenever I hear somebody's in touch with God, I look for the exit.

Politicians are us, which is very dangerous. If they weren't us, it would be a lot better.

We have never, in my opinion, met up with this kind of an administration, which is extremely intelligent and has terrific control over the political life of the country. They are representing the rich people in a way that I didn't think was so blatantly possible. It's almost sociopathic. As though, Okay, if you can make it, you're one of us; if you can't make it, too bad, Jack. Some of the monkeys fall off the tree.

Hunter S. Thompsn (1939 - 2005)

So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here—not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

When I went into the clinic last April 30, George Bush was about 50 points ahead of his closest Democratic opponent in next year's Presidential Election. When I finally escaped from the horrible place, less than three weeks late, Bush's job-approval ratings had been cut in half -- and even down into single digits, in some states -- and the Republican Party was panicked and on the run. It was a staggering reversal in a very short time, even shorter than it took for his equally crooked father to drop from 93 percent approval, down to as low as 43 percent and even 41 percent in the last doomed days of the first doomed Bush Administration. After that, he was Bill Clinton's punching bag.

The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. . . We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows?(9/12/01)

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now— with somebody— and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.(9/12/01)

"I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed. "

Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Its muddy feet, laptops and pot
everythings wet, lost shit at the motel, and the governor's gay.
A Flaming ball of opium in my throat and choking back the vomit
its still raining
but I can still post my blog, about just how raining it really is.
The people in the cult make egg and cheese sandwiches
somebody brought pot in a filing cabinet
The radio Bunny makes me want to cut off my muddy feet and beat the DJ with them
Thinking about you in sunny Vermont.

-- Harry Vertucci
(from inside Coventry)

Friday, February 06, 2004

And Henry David said
you should have used your head
head out in to the world
but don't do what you're told
to your-own-self be true, be bold

What shall it profit? time is money
leave out the flattery, cut to the chase
Wait, let us consider the way in which we spend our lives

Choose life or choose business, its your money or your life
choose poetry, philosophy, or the never ending strife
Wait, let us consider the way in which we spend our lives
-- The real profit isn't in money, its in you.
you're the real prophet


: Don't forget, Erasmus took on the pope,
What would Jesus do?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

CUSCO, PERU – I’ll never walk again. Four days out on the Inca Trail, and now I’m back in Cusco…. Legs very sore.

Going back in time to last Saturday…. We packed up the night before in Cusco; we were each given a duffle bag in which we had a strict 10 pound limit which included our sleeping bags. Porters were hired to carry everything that we needed… except a small day pack which each of us carried with some extra warm clothes, water, and extra film… things like that. These porters were amazing… running up the mountains with 40 pounds or more on their backs… carrying everything from a stove, to food… to tents for everyone… dishes, pots, cups, chairs… a large dining tent… and these were little Peruvian people… with a whole lot of strength. We spent some time making the limit, and going over the orientation of what the 4 day trek would entail. So on Saturday morning we went out with everyone (even the Tucan Tourists who were not doing the Inca Trail) to the Sacred Valley and to Ollantaytambo . We stayed overnight in Ollantaytambo at a hostel… I had Lasagna for dinner that night…. Bad idea… I was sick all night… but by the morning I felt so much better and was ready to go.

Day One would have us start in Ollantaytambo and take a bus up to kilometer 88 where our passports would be checked and stamped and then it was off for 9 hours. This was the worst day of my life… So difficult… the worst part is that our group leader makes his hikers go further than usual on the first day… so instead of stopping at the campsite where everyone else doing the trail stops at, we go an extra 3 hours uphill… well more accurately up steps… hundreds and hundreds of rock steps. Jami and I were at the back of the line and alone for about 2 hours until our 2 ¨end of the line¨ tour guides (Juan & Iban) finally caught up to us and took our daypacks from us so we could walk up the last steps unencumbered…. It still was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The campsite that we did camp at the first night was above the snowline… so it was very cold. My sleeping bag is rated for as low as 25 degrees… so once I got settled it was not that bad… but I was sore.

Day Two…..6am…. Another 9 hour day… Porters came and shook our tents to wake us up… they brought us tea in bed and a small tray of hot water with a facecloth to wash our faces. After breakfast it was up the mountain to the first of three passes, this one called Dead Woman Pass… It’s difficult to explain what it is like to hike up 2 hours at 6am…. After the worst day of your life… but I guess I made it through… cause here I am, typing about it… So what comes after a 2 hour ascend…. Why a 2 hour descend of course… oh the knees…. Everything hurt by lunchtime. At least I wasn’t the back of the line…. Jami was… that is of course until she got a porter to carry her up the mountain… She was the youngest of our group… and thus the offering to the gods once we reached Macchu Picchu… so she had to make it there alive. There were a few other smaller Inca settlements that we passed along the way this day, but most of them were just one or two buildings most likely used as lookout points or stop-off points along the way to Macchu Picchu. Our campsite on day two might be the most beautiful place that I’ve ever seen. Nestled between 6 or 7 mountains with a full sky of the brightest stars I’ve ever seen…. And a few degrees warmer to boot.

Day Three was much easier that the 2 days before it… only 5 hours… but still a pain in the ass… and the knees, legs, thighs…. The nice thing about this day was that we were done by lunchtime, and there were hot showers available at the nearby hostel for 5 soles. The interesting thing about these showers was that there were called ¨Suicide Showers¨ because there was only one tap which sent cold water to a shower head which had electrical wires running off of it into the wall… and the water was warmed as it reached the shower head… we were told ¨DON´T TOUCH THE WIRES¨ …. It sounds a lot scarier than it actually was… and it was nice to get somewhat clean after days of hiking.

Day Four – It was an early morning yesterday, we were up before the dawn. 3:50am was our wake up tent shake… and we navigated in the dark in order to reach Macchu Picchu at the sunrise. Lori and I must have taken 200 pictures on this day alone… but I doubt that the pictures will do the actual place any justice. At one point I was just sitting on a farming terrace across from the main city…. I think I took the same picture 20 times… each one slightly different as the sun began to touch the old stone city. We had the absolute best tour guide, Julio Caesar… who played his flute of traditional Peruvian music as we marched our tired army of hikers into Macchu Picchu. You’ll have to wait to see the pictures…. They are amazing.

Today… I took the day off. Lori and Jami went out at 9am this morning for an optional side trip of white-water rafting… I’m meeting them in about an hour and then we are going for one hour full body massages… and believe me I need it.

-- Mitch

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Cusco, Peru – So where was I? Oh yes on the Island on Amantani... First let me explain the term Pacha. Pacha is a spirtual term used to describe the universe, or at least that is how it was explained to me. The Incan culture, and more generally the Andean culture has three animal familiars to represent the past, present, and future life. The Snake, represented in the human form as the spine is the past, the Puma, represented as the human heart is the present, and the Condor which is the mind represents the future.
So atop Pacha Papa there was a temple-like structure that we all sat around and watched the sunset. After the hike down, going down is always easier... we went back to our family’s house for dinner... more soup... more rice... more potatoes... All I could think about was how much I wanted a hamburger when I got off this island. After dinner we we invited to a fiesta, and we were dressed in typical Amantani culture clothes... you’ll have to wait til I get home for all the pictures... I was given a very nice poncho to wear. The was music (lots of pan flutes, ala Zamfir), and a bonfire... with lots of dancing... again you’ll have to wait til I get home for all the pictures.
Sleeping on Amantani was not very comfortable... the bed was a half inch thick mattress atop a cris-cross of reeds. I woke up just about every hour either from a pressure headache or from a shooting pain in my side telling me it was time to roll over. For the first time that I can remember, I couldn’t wait to wake up at 6am. Roosters called at just before 6, we had a pancake for breakfast and then went back down to the shore to meet all the other Tucan tourists to get back on our boat. We took another little trip over to another island that was a little more modern and had regular restaurants... although the hour hike up the island to the settlement was more than I was really up for at 8 o’clock in the morning... but it had to be done... although Lori and Jami hiked ahead of me... and took all the water that we had... so I was a little angry with them when we all finally met up at the summit. We went to get lunch which was an omlette over rice that was not very good... then we walked down the other side of the island which was 500 steps made out of stone (some people counted 530)... in either case it was a little rough on the knees... but was followed by the 3 hour boat ride back to Puno.
I read a whole lot of the book that I’ve been reading, Red Dirt Marijuana by Terry Southern (the author of such screenplays as Easy Rider and Dr. Strangelove)... very good collection of short stories (Josh... I’ll let you borrow it when I get home). We had engine problems with about 30 meters to go to port, and had to wait for another boat to come by and help us get going again. Then it was back to the hotel in Puno.
Today we woke up early and got on the Tucan tour bus to come here to Cusco. Cusco is by far the nicest city that we’ve been to so far... and I need to run, we are meeting for dinner at an Irish Pub around the corner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

PUNO, PERU --Yesterday after a night of agony from altitude sickness, we woke at about 6am to head downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was 6 soles for tea, jam, and bread… which was really all I could stomach. I didn’t expect the altitude to effect my so harshly… I have been to Denver and Boulder Colorado and even hiked up the Donner Pass in the Rocky Mountains which was about 2000 feet higher than the altitude here in Puno… In Colorado I was fine… here I am… well it feels like my brain is trying to push out through my skull. After breakfast we locked up our packs in storage, packed an overnight bag and took two seat bike carts down to the lakeshore. This 10 min ride cost us only 2 soles (that’s less than one dollar). We boarded our boat on Lake Titicaca which would take us first to the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians. Quite an amazing tax evading culture. They live on islands made of reeds that float on the lake. I found it all a bit silly… I mean they had solar panels and color tv in their little reed houses. They make all their money to live off selling trinkets to tourists like myself. We stopped our motor boat at one island… and then took a reed boat over to another island where our motor boat then met us to pick us up. After that we were off from the 3 hour ride to the island of Amantani. We would spend the night with our adoptive native family on Amantani. I still was feeling the effects of my altitude sickness, so even the short hike from the shoreline of Amantani to my adoptive mama’s house… er… bungalow… was a difficult trek. A short nap and two advil later I was ready for my lunch… prepared for us by our adoptive mama. A simple potato soup as an appetizer and fried potatoes with white rice as our main course, followed by coca tea. The coca tea was actually quite soothing to the nausea and other symptoms that I was experiencing.
After lunch, we hiked up to the center of the island to the soccer court to relax, watch or participate in the soccer games. Our tour group consists of about 30 people, but Jami, Lori and I are the only Americans in the bunch. Everyone else is either some permutation of British or Australian. After the soccer game we took the 1:30 hike up to the top of the second highest mountain on Amantani, Pacha Papa (With Pacha Mama being the highest). A incredible view of the sunset after quite a challenging hike was well worth the soreness that lasted throughout the night.
Well the internet Café is about to close, so I must leave it here for now… tomorrow I head off to Cuzco… more updates from there

-- Mitch


So its been a few days since I’ve been able to get to a computer. I am at an internet café right around the corner from the hotel that I am staying at in Puno. In an attempt to keep chronology, lets take it back a few days. The last thing that I blogged about was going to the airport to catch my plane to Puno. So at the airport I was able to retrieve my bag before boarding our plane to Juliaca. We had a quick lunch at the airport at a Dunkin Donuts. Jami and I both had the “Pollo Sandwich,” which was chicken salad on a croissant. Lori had the Omelet, which was ham + egg on a croissant. This was also my first exposure to Inca Kola. Inca Kola looks a lot like Mountain Dew, but had more of a pineapple flavor, its really quite refreshing.
When we landed in Juliaca we were met by a Tucan Tour driver who took us the one-hour drive to Puno. It is about 5:30pm and already the sun is almost completely down, just a hint of pale yellow peeks out from the horizon. Juliaca was basically only an airport and several locals trying to sell various trinkets as we exited the airport. The soft drink competition is fierce here in Peru. It seems that the only buildings with any paint on them are cola advertisements. Inca Kola, Coca Cola, Reyna Cola, Pepsi-Cola, RC Cola, Kola Real…. He who controls the cola, controls the country... I also wonder how many are owned by either Coke or Pepsi. I get the feeling that bringing potable water to everyone in Peru is not a priority due to the huge bottled drink market here… if people could drink the water, many soft drink makers would duffer heavy losses.
Our hotel in Puno is nice… but still there is no heat, and it gets very cold here at night. This first night in Puno, I began to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Nausea, dizziness, and about the worst headache that I’ve ever felt in my life. Throughout the night I tossed and turned, and moaned in agony. Lucky for me, Lori had some Advil in her pack which provided enough relief to make it through the night.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?