Monday, July 18, 2005

Like Dry Leaves

number forty-seven

When I look into the sky over the parking lots and landscaping of San Pedro, I can just make out the storm clouds gathering. Hurricane Emily has already hit Mexico once, and now she is coming for us. 1,160 words.

[NL]—Today was a gorgeous day: cool, mostly cloudy with shockingly blue sky between ominously speedy gray clouds, a little blustery. I was somewhat surprised by this, owing to the Hurricane.

I was first alerted to Hurricane Emily two days ago when she was about sixty miles east of Jamaica, forecasted to travel a gentle, elliptical west-northwesterly curve, her eye churning over Kingston and heading ashore the following week in southern Texas. My own prediction, based, as always, on what it is I have seen in the past, had the hurricane making a sharper turn north during her Jamaican landfall; then savaging Cuba, losing a lot of strength over the Keys, and hitting the US mainland as a tropical storm on Florida’s left coast.

I was very wrong, of course. Emily was a wee lass of a category two hurricane back on Friday, advancing on Jamaica at a little over three miles an hour. The thing is, she never took that small turn the weather people predicted, nor the larger one I spent the majority of the weekend talking about. As she kept to the open water, passing beneath Jamaica, she strengthened into a category four storm of 155mph winds. She sucked up a considerable amount of water and picked up her momentum, speeding up to eighteen miles an hour. Late tonight or early tomorrow morning she will beach herself on the Yucatán Peninsula, just north of Tulum. But she won’t be stopping there. By Monday night she should be heading on through the gulf. Straight at Monterrey.

By last night it was raining wildly outside, though if I was reading the satellite right it is merely due to some westerly systems that are affiliated with Emily only because her high-pressure front wall is forcing them onto our mountain ranges. We went out on Friday night, but it just seemed too tedious to try to navigate around yesterday, especially with no end to the weather in sight. But once today dawned relatively clear and very nice, we decided to chance a trip to the mountain overlook of Obispado, located just west of central Monterrey. It might be the last time we get to leave the house for a while.

In the majority of Monterrey pictures I can find online there are one of two different landmarks. The vast majority of these photos, of course, include the Cerro de la Silla, our iconic Saddle Mountain. The other landmark is the little hillock of Obispado, rising shortly from the city center, dwarfed by the surrounding spectacle of the Sierra Madre Oriental, and flying one of the largest flags imaginable in atmospheric conditions. Pictures that do not include Obispado are often taken from the top of it. Obispado mountain, as short as it looks with its high-contrast background, is still tall enough to serve as an excellent lookout point for Monterrey, which turns out to be another strikingly large-looking city from this vantage. We parked about two thirds of the way up the hill, and walked to the top. Running along the switchback road a the base of the hill is a little civic museum and the eighteenth century Bishop’s Church that lends its name to the mountain. There is also, apparently, a convention center, fine dining restaurant, and gift shop. We walked right past all of this to get to the top of the mountain. And the top of this mountain, smallish in the pictures but large enough to see from the top of, is an enormous thing when hiking to the summit. We were both thanking our lucky stars that the temperature was no longer in the forties for this trip. I was also pretty happy about the constant driving wind which seemed to strengthen a little with every new foot we trudged up from street level.

The view was worth it. I was able to see almost all the way to the airport. It was easy to tell how different parts of the city are not as far away from each other as getting driven around has made them appear. Things that took twenty-five minutes to reach by cab were, in reality, just over there. Monterrey stretches, puddled in the flatness of this river valley, to the horizon in the places that the horizon is not populated by enormous mountains. We watched a train come in from the direction of Saltillo and the caves that riddle las Mitras. It was so windy up there that the birds were having trouble making it over the top, sliding sideways or backwards into a more navigable altitude. The thunderous den of the flapping Mexican flag, a football field over our heads, made it hard to even hear this wind. Sunshine wondered whether the flag would cause casualties if it ever flew from its pole out over the city. Yes, she concluded, that flag would kill some people. From the top of Obispado, I was able to finally locate the whereabouts of Monterrey’s huge central double cemeteries of Dolores and Carmen. There they widely sat, northeast of the mountain and west of the Alameda’s puff of green treetops. Maybe no one would have to die if the runaway flag landed there.

Heading back down the mountain to these cemeteries, we paused to take a look at the Templo Obispado. The church is very nice, a noted architectural example, and I thought that all of the cool cacti growing on the grounds were particularly interesting. It was a little tricky to get the car out of its parallel space and down the side of the mountain, but Sunshine managed it, and we found the cemeteries without much difficulty. The place was utterly beautiful, a vast metropolis of stone and concrete, crypts and above-ground plots, peopled by hundreds of angels and Christs and Virgins. We were only able to stay there for about twenty minutes before they closed, according to the posted hours, but we did get to wonder around for a while, looking at row upon row of quiet, scenic, and shady final resting places. The place was overgrown by giant shady trees, many of which were palm, and it just seemed like a nice place to be. From the cemetery it was possible to see Obispado’s three hundred and thirty foot flagpole rising from its silly stump of a hillock.

By the time we were heading back to the car there was a man with a bicycle who was fastening one of the two doorways into the front gate shut with a giant chain. He didn’t speak to us, but I am pretty sure that if we had not left when we did, we would have been locked inside the cemetery’s ten foot privacy wall overnight. While that would certainly have had its attractive aspects, I certainly think that there would be a much more appropriate time to try it than ground zero before the pending hurricane.

Flag versus coming storm. Photo © the Author

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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