Thursday, June 23, 2005


number forty-three

It’s my first foreign power out, and not it occurs to me that it is pretty important to have power in the desert in the summer. 1,172 words.

[NL]—Tonight we went to see Batman Inicia in the VIP screening room at the mall down the road. It has been a fairly movie-related week, actually. Coming home in the early am, after being up all night on the bus, has undone much of my progress re-orienting my sleeping patterns after a decade of second and third shift employment. So, in a week filled with mind-numbing domestic chores I also found myself staying up very late at night again, just like the old days.

Tony and Christene, the couple who took care of our house during the two weeks we were out of town, did a mighty job of it. The cat is alive, and the houseplants are thriving and blooming. Hector, the man who works on the grass, has the yard kempt and growing in the front, but either he couldn’t get the back gate open or the lack of rain this month has been particularly brutal, because there is a narrow swath of dead earth running the length of the back yard. So, along with the sleeping late and knocking two-weeks worth of dust and eddies of swirling cat hair off the house, I have spent a large amount of my time since my homecoming outside; watering brown nubs of brittle, dead grass in the back yard. Not as much fun to do as it is to read, really, but if I can’t bring the stuff back to life in the next eighteen months, or so, we will have to replace it.

All this excitement was made palatable by the arrival of my headphones early in the week, making it possible for me to quietly watch DVDs all night without disturbing Sunshine, who has to be asleep by ten pm if she wants to get up for work on time. Before the headphones, this meant that I could only watch movies on the weekends when she could stay up late, because it is too bright in the house to even start the projector, really, before eight pm. On the weeknights, I have about six hours of applicable darkness between the our respective bedtimes, and now I would be able to use this time to watch movies instead of skulking creepily around the house hour after aimless hour. I was very excited about these headphones, and was eager to start using them right away.

We had been planning to see the Batman movie that night, actually, but Sunshine got stuck at work a little late, and we had to put it off until today. Instead we went to an Italian restaurant near here for dinner, and then went to the grocery store. There was next to nothing in the refrigerator due to our carefully consuming everything possible before we left for México City, and then throwing all of the bad stuff out when we returned. This invasion of domesticity makes a poor substitute for going out to the movies, but at least I would have something to drink in the house tomorrow. We got home with dozens of yellow plastic grocery bags full of perishables.

Shortly before Sunshine was to turn in, the power went dead. This was our first power out in México, and it was sort-of neat. The power went out with a little tink right after I had turned on the kitchen light, so we immediately understood what was happening. The house was eerily silent. Out in the front yard we could see that the whole area was out, several neighborhoods, so there was no need to go checking breakers or anything. We made some rum and Cokes, and sat on the little patio over our front door, watching as the neighborhood was quickly candlelit. The security guards were struggling to dismantle the electric gate at the entrance to our community. I assume the natural reaction of many of our neighbors was to go someplace with electricity, and their SUVs and minivans were lining up impatiently along the street. Every kid in the neighborhood immediately congregated in an impromptu sleepover at one house right across from us, judging by the excited shouts and waving flashlight beams coming from all their upstairs windows. There was a general excitement in the air outside that contrasted with the unnatural quiet of the powerless house.

Worry set in soon, though. Domestic worry first: would Sunshine get up at six with no alarm clock? Would the thousand pesos of groceries we had just gotten make it through the night? The house was already getting warmer, and we were shutting doors and things to keep cool air locked into its different spaces. In the desert, in a rich person’s house, there is little need for a lot of insulation. Our house is made of cinder blocks, and the temperature was thirty-nine degrees (C) outside. Inside the thermometers were climbing pretty quickly. I keep the temperature in most rooms set at twenty-three or -four, and a half our after the lights went off, it was already climbing past twenty-eight in every room. The worry started in earnest, now: there was no reason to assume, even in this very rich neighborhood, that the power would come back any time soon. We’ve heard stories of power outs that last for weeks. I was a little worried about the food and the cat and the two of us all curling up and burning the same brittle brown the yard does. I was also doing a lot of whining about my new headphones. Sunshine went to bed, and I busied myself protecting the liquor and the ice from the coming inferno. The power came back on about an hour later while I was addressing a few remaining postcards from vacation by candlelight. The thermometers were reading thirty-four already. It took a lot longer to cool the house back down than it had to warm it up. Looking around San Pedro, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the realities of the unforgiving landscape on which it has been erected. Things like this remind me that this is an environment that must be fought off constantly for survival.

So, if we had gone to see Batman Inicia yesterday we would probably have totally missed the power out, and I would have not gained all my newfound respect for the desert. Conversely, we might not have gotten seats in front of a two puzzled eight-year-olds who loudly quizzed their parents as to what was happening on the screen throughout much of the movie, as we did today. We still could never have made it to these seats in time to get the cream cheese and Manchego cheddar crepes that I have been craving, though, and that is a shame. Still, I am on top of the world. Barring any new loss of power, knock on tile, I will get to watch movies, silently to all outer perception, for as long as I can stay awake tonight. Everything is a-okay.

Click here if you are interested in my thoughts on Batman Begins.

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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