Anyway, I was messing around with a bunch of them last night -- partly trying to figure out what all these unnamed little video clips were (I have at least 100 of them piled up), partly starting to put stuff together for a movie for my nieces and nephews on the east coast, and partly just practicing "the craft", as the industry people call it (I assume).
The result isn't much to speak of -- a 4-minute, silent, moving slideshow of sorts. But it's a little more than that too. There's some of the craft in there I think, and at the very least there are lots of shots of the peafowl as they've grown up over the past several months. It's definitely a peek into a small slice of my life, though I'm only in it in shadow form -- and it's totally non-political. In fact it's about as nonpolitical as it could be -- it's primarily footage of nature. (I live way out in the country.) It's also pretty silly, because I was just playing around while making it. It was more of a learning experience than anything. It probably doesn't rightfully belong on this site, but it's here (at least for now).
It's a big file. In fact, if I had my druthers, it'd be bigger, because I'm not happy with the video quality of the 30 meg version, which is what's below. It blurs up pretty bad in the action sequence. But the next step up is 90+ megs, and I don't have space for that at the moment. High-speed surfers should be able to handle this one OK...modem folks would have to leave it loading overnight or something. I'll probably update this anyway, because I didn't give my two dogs equal screen time, and I'm probably going to add some audio. So this version may go out of print -- see it while you can!
I'm not posting the video module on the front page, because it messes up the page load time, so click below to read on and see the video.
By the way, I will have more politically-oriented video to post here before long as well. This is just a random extra. (Unless you are seeing the full page already).
The OC*: Video Footage
Do not adjust your sound. The movie is silent.
Produced and directed by Lance Brown
Can't view the clip? Download the RealPlayer plug-in from RealNetworks
*This is of course not related to
"The OC", the new show on Fox.
The "OC" of this video is related to my address.
First, the backstory.
When I was in high school, there was a Geometry teacher, Mrs. Johnson. She was a teacher that few students liked, and the impression was that it went both ways. I was one of those kids that was "too smart for my own good", as the saying goes. The kind of smart where people eventually tell you to "stop being smart", if you get my drift.
(My answer to that, which I just noticed was more clever than I realized at the time, was generally, "I don't know how.")
Anyway...on certain holidays, Mrs. Johnson would have us kids engage in the strange practice of writing a poem that connected the holiday in question with math. And we could decorate it, in a sort of twisted throwback to grade school, and then if we wanted we could read it in front of the class and hang it up on that corkboard strip above the chalkboard. Well, on Valentine's Day, I had some fun with that project, and I wrote the sappiest love poem ever, to my dear Mrs. Johnson -- a teacher that everyone in the class, herself included, knew I couldn't stand. Though I didn't really understand what "irony" was back then, I knew how to use it, and I got to read my poem before the class, and we students all had a nice chuckle at how I smothered her with false kindness.
On St. Patrick's Day a month later, I wasn't feeling nearly so generous. (The incident with the improper test scoring that's described in the poem had happened just the day before, and was the culmination of a series of conflicts between us two.) I wrote my poem during an earlier class that day, out in the hallway after having been kicked out for backtalking. The poem was called "The St. Patrick's Day Massacre", a loose reference to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, something I had heard of before (though I didn't know what it was). Here it is, pretty much exactly as it was written (including the signature at the end). The rest of the story follows it.
["P.J." (in the poem) was my teacher -- Patricia Johnson. It's kinda obvious, but just in case. And there weren't any spaces between lines in the original -- though there probably should have been -- so I left it with no breaks. And yes, the poetry is really lame -- I was 15, and more focused on message than meter. ;-)]
The St. Patrick's Day Massacre
Another poem, this one for St. P's Day,
All the kids are happy and psyched
Except the ones taught by old P.J.
Cuz she whips us and hurts us and uses her chains
She gets her enjoyment from inflicting pain.
Her only concern is to get her paycheck
Sometimes I really want to wring her neck.
Some kids have said I should
But only as a dare
She's threatened to kick me out
But I JUST DON'T CARE!
Cuz as far as I'm concerned Mrs. Johnson's unfair
And I realize I'm not the only one who doesn't care
She don't either
Well, that's the impression she's made
All she worries about is that the rent is paid.
"You mean you haven't learned a thing?"
She screams and wails
I can just imagine her tears
Coming out in buckets and pails.
"You mean you got that right
And I marked it wrong?
Oh no, what a bummer
I'm such a ding dong!
That's o.k., 10 points here and there
Won't make a dif," Yeah Mrs. J., that's fair.
You know what else is fair?
Giving us a quiz that we have to take 'til each one of us passes
And not counting it for anything
What do you think we are, a bunch of asses?
Don't answer that
We won't hear you anyway
Haven't you noticed
We don't listen to what you say
Say what? Oh yeah.
This is a St. Patty's day poem.
Some advice, Mrs. Johnson
Quit your "job" and go home.
Oh - Happy St. Patrick's Day
I'm glad you wore green
Maybe that'll cover up
The fact that you're mean
I actually got up and read that poem in front of the class and Mrs. Johnson. For most of the time I was reading, the class was in shocked silence, and so was Mrs. Johnson I guess. Once I finished, I went to hang my poem up above the chalkboard, as was the custom. Mrs. J. interrupted me and told me I could just put it on her desk.
To make the rest of a long story short: I was pulled out of lunch by a furious Mr. Farley, the Vice Principal, who told me I was suspended as we were still heading to his office (i.e., before I had a chance to explain or defend myself). I got suspended for 5 days, much like young Mr. Singh, who I'm writing about in my next entry. I also was kicked out of Mrs. Johnson's class for good. My mom, who had spent many long years standing up for me against school administrators, stood up this time too, and supported my effort to involve the state Board of Education (whom I had called on my own as soon as I got home from being suspended).
There are three things that school administrators fear: public embarassment, lawsuits, and their bosses. In this case, playing the "boss card" worked quite well, and with my mother's support (and the support of a Donna Wied from the Massachusetts Board of Education), my suspension was stricken from the record, and generally my punishment was removed. I wasn't allowed back into Mrs. Johnson's class, which was alright by me, except for the fact that she was the only teacher who taught Acclerated (i.e., "college prep") Geometry. And my mom -- perhaps the only person in the world who never wanted to stop or punish me for being "too smart" -- would not stand to have her son put at an academic disadvantage for what essentially amounted to completing his assigned work.
In the end, I got moved to a different Geometry class, with various stipulations designed to preserve some of my dignity (at least in my permanent record). Despite moving to a presumably easier class, my grade in Geometry went into decline, and I got the first C in my academic life. I also got weird half-scared looks from the bulk of teachers at my school for a long while, and the "poem incident" was one of the things that was brought up when I was rejected from the National Honor Society later in my high school career.
And, of course, whatever little respect I had previously had for the authority figures at my school went for a long walk and never came back. I knew they had no respect for me, and that they had little power to control me in terms of my non-physical conduct. Those two guidelines ruled my behavior for most of the rest of my time at that school. I learned my lesson, as the saying goes -- just not the lesson that anyone (except maybe my mom) was trying to teach me.
Too bad this happened in 1988, before 24-hour news and the Internet got so big, or else I could have gotten some national publicity for a day or two. I also ended up in a rift concerning the Pledge of Allegiance (though not over the phrase "under God"), right around the same time. I guess I was ahead of my time. ;-)
I found out a few days ago that a good friend of mine from back East, Bob Garceau, passed away on July 4th. He was 30 years old, and he died after having triple bypass surgery on his heart. It's hard to comprehend, really, and from what his wife told me, it doesn't get any clearer with increased detail. A series of events over the course of a few days led to my young and generally strong friend dying in a hospital bed while recovering from surgery. It's that simple and that shocking, and I think that's part of what makes it hard to comprehend.
Adding many layers to the sadness of the situation is the fact that he had a brand new family blooming, with a wife of a few years, a baby boy, and a baby girl on the way. Bob was a great guy -- he was a hard worker, he was friendly, and smart, and aware. Although my actual time spent with Bob was spotty throughout the years, we have gotten along really well for a long time. The last time I talked to him was a couple of years ago, when he and his wife were in Southern California, trying to settle on where to settle down. He was supposed to swing up here and visit me, maybe even stick around here, but it turns out that an illness in his family drew him back to Massachusetts right around then. I didn't know how or where to reach him, and basically just waited to hear from him, assuming that some turn of events had taken him off course. I had been bugging Bob for years to move out of his hometown/homecounty, almost to the point of argument at times, so after a while I laid off completely. I figured he'd call me when he had it worked out, which he did...and I figured he'd call again when he worked out whatever kept him away when he almost made it here. Neither of us worried about it too hard, because, well, we're 30 -- and when you're 30 you don't generally go around thinking you could just up and die sometime soon. You figure you've got plenty of time to get around to whatever it is you haven't gotten around to.
And maybe you do, and maybe you don't.
This has been a week of deep thought and reflection for me -- frustrating, brow-furrowing reflection, and sadness. I wish I could say that I've come away with some profound revelation on the mysteries of life, but I've really just come away bummed about Bob, and his poor wife and kids.
Confounding reflection about life and mortality and the loss of a friend has been the main thing that's kept me from posting something new here. I didn't think I could just keep posting without saying something about losing my friend, and I have been just waiting to see if anything particularly edifying was taking shape.
Nope. Really, the only thing that has come to mind in the form of enlightenment is this bizarre poem I wrote some number of years ago, called "Down Days". It's the heat that brought it to mind at first -- the heat here has been absolutely stifling -- but in some sense, it really fits with my train of thought these past few days since I found out my old friend is gone...which is to say, confused, wandering, and maudlin.
I wrote the poem during some other brutal heat spell years back, and like many of my poems, it basically wrote itself. It stands just as it was originally written -- I'm generally reluctant to edit the poems that write themselves. It's a pretty silly poem -- particularly with the bizarro end part that I can't move myself to remove -- but I've always had some affection for it for some reason. And it floated into my consciousness as I've been plodding around sweating and pondering mortality and loss this week. I won't post it here -- it's not very presidential -- but you can read it here if you want. It's about how wack life can be, I guess. Plus some weird thing about a guy named Murray.
Anyway, here's to Bob Garceau, who was a good guy, and taken way too soon, and too quickly.
Bob's wife, who I had never met, thought to find me and let me know, because she said Bob referred to me a lot when he got ranting about politics, and stuff he saw on the news. He was big into philosophy and politics, which is a big part of why we got along so well. She also said that he had been very excited when he and I briefly connected when he was in California.
While I took a full break from posting here, I have been posting the occasional news story (or 15) over at The Little Brown Reader, and I've been putting a little extra zing in some of my comments there, in honor of Bob. There were a few items there that I considered posting here, but I held off. Here are some links in case you want to explore:
Conflict of Interest, For Sale or Rent
(A concise summary of the American political and governance system.)
Bush Welfare Marriage Plan Sailing Through Congress
(Wherein I rant sarcastically about social engineering.)
Reading While Bearded: Another FBI Visit
(A first person story (not by me) about a visit from the FBI for reading a suspcious newspaper op-ed.)
There are a lot of other good new stories posted there too, but those are the three that I considered almost substantial enough to post here on their own.
How weird am I? When I came to realize I wasn't going to be home until 10 PM, I was at first bummed because I would miss tonight's episode of South Park on Comedy Central-- but then I was relieved and a little excited when I remembered that there would be campaign 2002 debates airing on C-Span. ;-)
Alas, when I got here, all they had on was Jeb Bush vs. Bill McBride in the Florida gubernatorial debate. Standard bipartisan shenanigans.
I saw a really interesting forum on C-Span the other night. I'll write about it a little tomorrow. I did about 11 hours of driving, and I'm pretty beat.
This is my first blog post in a very long time-- 9 months. It's been a pretty difficult year for me, and the focus of my time has been largely personal and professional, leaving less time for activism and campaign work. I'm trying to shift to a better balance of the three main aspects of my life-- namely, achieving manageable stability in my personal life and with my job, and in doing so, clearing out extra time and energy to re-devote to my activist goals. At the same time, I have to make sure I don't get back into the cycle I was in, when my efforts at activism and non-profit work consumed so much of my time that my personal and professional life suffered.
An interesting development has come about over the past few months. In late June, I was given notice that the place I live is being sold, and my "landlord" (he's not really a landlord-- it's a long story) began to try to drive me out of here. I'm still here, but I do expect to be leaving soon. I've explored lots of options of where to go from here since June, and without belaboring the details of that process, the end result was that I decided to buy a motorhome and live in it.
In many ways, this is not a new idea. Since I started my campaign in 1994, I have planned on spending the years between 2003 (or 2004) and 2008 basically on the road the whole time. When this year rolled around, that part of the plan started feeling a lot more concrete. After 8 years of being a fairly abstract future plan, my fabled "5 years on the campaign trail" was finally next year.
When I first began to get wind of the possibility that my current home in Nevada City could be sold, I began to muse that maybe I should just start that part now, instead of waiting. I had been planning on living at this place for another year or more, and going to on-the-road mode near the end of 2003 or beginning of '04. And it seemed kind of silly to move all my stuff to another house, for what would amount to less than a year. I really grew to dislike moving by the time I got to this place, and I made a decision to stay here if possible until I was ready to hit the road. Anyway, when I first pondered it, back in March or April, I decided I wasn't ready, at least in the short term, and that it would be 6 months to a year before I could realistically pull it off. The prospect of the place actually being sold anytime soon seemed a distant likelihood, primarily because my "landlord" (a majorly sketchy guy) was involved. So I shelved the idea.
Fast forward 6 months, and here we are. I've overcome my objections, my mother generously helped me out with a loan so I could purchase an old RV, and I should be out of here within a month or so. My first major destination is the East Coast, to visit my family, which I haven't seen in over two years. Massachusetts then North Carolina, or vice versa. I haven't decided.
From there-- who knows? I hope to roam the country following hot spots of libertarian activism, and visiting colleges to help out campus groups, and eventually to give speeches and rally millions to the cause of liberty. Still, I'm considering the next few months as a trial run-- a chance to see how the lifestyle fits, and learn the basic ups and downs of full-timing, as it's called in the RV world. My biggest concern is for my pets. They're coming with me-- three cats and a dog-- and they will present my biggest challenge on the road, I think. I strongly hope that I can make it work, and I think there's a good chance of it, but it's a colossal shift in lifestyle-- for me and for my pets. So we'll have to see how it goes. If there's problems I hadn't figured on, there's Plan B and C and D all waiting in the wings, and plenty of time to make adjustments.
It feels good to be back on the blog. I've installed Moveable Type blogging software, so my blog is now fully functional, and much easier to use on my end. I'm really going to work on making it a habit to post something here at least once a day. My problem isn't a lack of things to say, but more an abundance of them. I could probably blog 24-7 if I let myself.