Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Big Life

I was so full of big talk, all I'm coming out now that paddling is (kind of) over and I can stay up late again. It was going to be non-stop parties all winter long.

The Big Life lasted a week. I was over it by this past Friday. And though friends like to say "it's age," it's not that. I didn't get tired, the town did.

I did a lot of dating in my one social week of the season. There are two guys I'd like to stay in touch with. Other than that, nada. Sex and the City could fill half a new season with the tragedies I met. Closet cases, guys who come on hard then turn tail and run, one guy turned out to be married, and one guy who was so nervous he never stopped talking. I had a beer, he had a diet pepsi, and he told me about the fall of the Roman Empire. And that might have been interesting except that he didn't really know shit about it beyond what he might have learned watching I Claudius reruns.

He had offered a massage earlier, and I was too tired to handle. I finished my beer, interrupted his monologue, and just laid it out. This massage thing? It's not going to happen. And I know that was the total asshole way out of it but I just didn't have the energy to come up with something more civil. He decided it was time to get on the bus.

So, that was the end of that social experiment. I stayed home the rest of the weekend. I need to start cross-training for Rio Va`a anyway, so I decided to finally go back to capoeira. Tonight was my first class in maybe four or five years. It's been a long time. I remembered the individual attacks and escapes, but the combinations were hard, and it was all combinations. Peter led it, and there were only tow oter students tonight. Which was good, I needed the attention. I should be feeling pretty damn good by tomorrow morning (i.e. the pain will be systemic and total).

Fare Wars!

$243 Los Angeles to Honolulu, $437 NYC to Honolulu ... so far it's only for November, and only if you leave on Wednesday and return on Monday. I'm hoping this spreads. If fares drop for March and April I'm buying the tickets now and asking the boss for permission later. And boys: now would be the time to come out!

International News

Just some random interesting things that should have been noticed, but haven't been ...

From allAfrica.com:

Rwanda's newly elected Members of Parliament voted in the first ever woman Speaker today (October 7, 2008), setting a record as the first female-majority parliament in the whole world.

Ms Mukantabama Rose, representative of Kigali city beat Mr Mukama Abbas the only male contesting for the same post with 70 votes to become the leader of Rwanda's Chamber of Deputies.


Norway, Brazil, the Netherlands, Paris, and NATO now mandate that all government documents be produced on open-source software. It's something we should consider - right now almost every document our office, and maybe the state, is produced in a format owned by Microsoft (.xml). I don't know what we pay in license fees; I am sure that it runs into the millions. And we are stuck with them; there is very little room for negotiation since they, in effect, own us.

Here's Eric Kirss, Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance: It is an overriding imperative of the American democratic system that we cannot have our public documents locked up in some kind of proprietary format, perhaps unreadable in the future, or subject to a proprietary system license that restricts access.


And finally, Canada, with it's well-regulated financial system, seems to be escaping the world economic meltdown. American liberals should be using them as Exhibit A on why right-wing economic theory fails, and why traditional New Deal style government really does work.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Flora-Dec Ninja

Every All Souls' Day I feel all inspired, and promise that I am going to come up with one drop dead fucking awesome Halloween costume the next year.

Since the age of consent I have given: two half-assed attempts, one vaguely decent attempt, and borrowed a costume. Twice I ended up naked in public anyway, so those times it really wouldn't have mattered.

It's not a good track record. This year I caved, and bought one pre-made. I wish I had that creative gay gene that the television insists that I have. I don't; and though everyone tells me that a home-made costume has more meaning, no one is willing to make me one (I ask, and all I get in response is a blank stare and a forbidding sense that I better not push it).

I didn't even know what Flora-Dec was until Monday. I pass it all the time, but I just assumed it was something to do with floors, and so ignored it. Or rather: completely deleted it from my mental map of the universe. Turns out it's really a crafts emporium. It's also where straight guys go to by complete costumes, ready made. And here's another fabulous gene I missed: I always buy off the rack.

The boss's new girlfriend is having a party tomorrow, they're decorating some abandonned house in the woods, I can't get a single fucking queer in this town to go with me, and though my body will be there, hell if I'm showing face ...

so I'll be a "Made in Vietnam" Ninja:That's the Flora-Dec Deluxe Ninja. I actually bought the Imperial Ninja, and there's lots of gold sashes and slashes and things to sex it up. XL, mind you, because my legs were too big to fit into the L. I am so losing at least 20 Gay Points for this. This totally wipes out any Fabulousness I won by winning the Gayest Shirt of the Night prize at Johnny's last Saturday (an unbuttoned barong Tagalog from Chinatown; and I didn't win an actual concrete prize, but if there were one I would have).

It's so nice to be going out again. Though we need to start training for Rio - Eli has already done three OC-1 Diamond Head runs since Moloka`i - so these will be my last decadent days for awhile (37 days). And even this weekend, I'll be in lock-down mode except for the one party. I need need need to turn off the phone, unplug the computer, and give this place and my yard a long weekend of hard labor.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Madonna at CBGB

Synchronicity is fun. Last night Tomahawk was talking about the early hip Madonna. Tonight Tina Brown posted this clip of pretty awesome clip on the Daily Beast (which is becoming a must-read for me these days) ...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Strange Fruit

I've been out of media contact for about a week, and now that I'm tuned back in it's like I've landed in some strange world where the Freedom Rides never happened, where the Supreme Court rejected Brown v Kansas, and where the bombs are still going off in Selma.

I've seen racism in my life, but nothing like what we're seeing now on the news and all over the internet. Or rather, I've only seen it in old news reels. I thought that this was a time that had passed.

It's hard not to feel a cold chill of fear when you see the anger in these people's faces, or when you see the clips of nooses and lynchings alongside pictures of Obama.

But maybe we need to see this. Maybe this will finally expose the "Republican base" for what it is. Too many people have made accommodations with these folks' twisted theology of hate, from the spineless political independents to our own lesbian Jewish governor. Now it's out there. Now the face of bigotry is exposed. Now, if you vote for the modern Republican party, you know exactly what you're getting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Crossing, 2008

And it's over. The Tahitians took four out of the top five spots, and Shell Va`a set a course record for the third year in a row. We saw some of the guys, and they looked like hard-core awesome athletes. The initial results have Kamehameha at 81st (our team) and 85th (yellow) out of 106 teams. I'm happy with that.

It was a good crossing - especially compared to last year, where I puked the whole way across.

The early crew flew over at 8am Friday. There were 21 of us in a 3 bedroom plantation house in what used to be Moloka`i Ranch. I guess it still is, but it's turning into a ghost town now that the Ranch was decided to starve the people out. We overwhelmed the septic system before the first day was out. Luckily there were lots of fields nearby for business, and a construction site with a porta-pottie a short walk away. It's a good thing we all get along.

First Hour
I start off on the escort boat with Rod and Eli. Conditions look ok; not rough at all like last year. Even though I have the patch on I'm still a bit stressed about the channel & am worried about getting sea sick again. The first run along the Moloka`i coast is smooth. We pass La`au Point, we do the first change, and suddenly, after so many months of prep, the race is on & I'm in some other world.

Alex is steering. Eli strokes the first piece, then Dave. I'm in seat four. This section is a bit of a washing machine, with the wake of 100 escort boats combining with the currents running through the channel. We take a more northern route, but it looks like the bulk of the pack is taking a southern route.

Second Hour
Dave, then Eli are in one. I'm in three. We turn south, and hit some amazing and fast runs. It's fun. Later, when we have to turn west, we slow down and struggle a bit.

Third Hour
Dave pulls a double in seat one. I'm back in four. We can see Diamond Head! I didn't think we would be able to see it so early. Seas are about six feet. The currents aren't super smooth. We can catch some big waves, but get tossed around a bit in between. Again, we run fast when heading south but bog down a bit when running west.

Fourth Hour
Rod moves back to steer, Eli pulls a triple, and things start to get rough. Rudy jumps into seat two, but the previous two didn't set the paddle right & it floats down the gunnel. Lance needs to bail, but the previous guy didn't attach the bailers when he was done. We stall. Water comes in, and it seems to take forever for to bail. We aren't balanced at all, and so I stay on the left for a long time 'cause the ama pops or we take on water every time I switch. We're all tired. It looks like Portlock is only an hour away, and I'm sure that we'll be there by the end of this hour. And though I had the same illusion last year, I fall for it again.

Fifth Hour
We still haven't passed Portlock. We won't even pass it by the end of this set. Mentally I'm ready for calmer waters, but the seas instead start to get tricky. We're all tired, I think, and this part is just hard.

Sixth Hour
Lucas gets in to stear a set, which is good experience for him. We finally pass frakkin' Portlock, and I was hoping for clean waves but it's still choppy. Not as rough as the previous hour, but not the smooth fast ride we were hoping for for the Hawai`i Kai run. The boats start to converge here. `Anuenue comes in fast on the inside. I don't see where Keahiakahoe was, they seem to appear out of nowhere; we walk on them for a bit, then they pull ahead. I'm in seat 3, it's a shorter blade, and my flexibility is shot. I hurt.

Final Run
We pass Diamond Head, and we're in home waters. Roz puts the first time crossers in the canoe - Lucas, Eli, Lance, and Anthony. Alex and I round it out. This run feels good. We can't catch up with Anuenue or Keahiakahoe, but we stay well ahead of the crews behind us.

Final time: 6 hours 24 minutes 50 seconds. That's about 22 minutes faster than last year, and a big jump in the rankings. Again, I feel good about it.

I was thinking this might be my last year for distance. I stress too much about being on the escort boat. The ocean is unpredictable, and some years the crossing is brutal. But this year felt awesome, I like our team, I would cross again with these same guys without hesitation ... so damnit, I guess I'll be back.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Les Misbarack

This is pretty awesome.

Yeah, they get slaughtered at the barricades at the end - but history never repeats itself, right?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Moloka`i Boogie

I'm all packed - I've squeezed three days worth of supplies into a ten-gallon wetbag. I've started my carbo-loading, kicking it off with casarecce pasta in a smoked salmon & tomato-cream sauce. I believe in fattening up right.

And every second thought is "Moloka`i," and it has been for awhile now. Two weeks ago my mood was: why the hell am I doing this, I am so not built for this lifestyle. I am not a jock and I get seasick and I'm just going to heave the whole way, that is if I don't hit the wall again and bonk and let my team down. I think (I hope) I mostly covered it up.

I've been mostly cool this week. Physically I'm as ready as I can be. As last year, I am in peak shape right now. And I'll have the scopalamine patch on, and I haven't been smoking, so I should do better than last year. And I feel good, and I feel good, and I'll see photos of our competitors fresh from the Olympics and I'll think wow and I'll feel really good, 'cause we're just guys from the neighborhood and we're going up against them!, and then I'll stress a bit again, and it'll pass.

Tomorrow we do sprints, than a pasta dinner at Buco. Friday we fly to Moloka`i. Saturday we rig and do last minute prep. Sunday, at 7:30 am, we hit the seas. I start off on the escort boat with Rod and Eli, which means I'll be in the first change around La`au Point, and in the canoe for the roughest seas. For me, that's better than being in the escort boat.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Post Debate

McCain and wife have disappeared.

Barack and his wife are busy shaking hands, smiling for the photos, and signing autographs. I think he's shaking everyone's hands in the audience, and the camera is just following him around. He definitely won the post-debate.

Bad Communication

The neighbor knocked on my door yesterday, and said he had a huge favor to ask me. His friend is homeless, and he asked if the friend could pitch his tent in my yard for a couple weeks.

I didn't even have to start cussing for the neighbor to know what I thought about that idea. I think I rolled my eyes so far back in my head that they spun right back around to where they started from, and that was all it took for the neighbor to start apologizing and telling me it was ok and to not worry about it.

I'm still flabbergasted. I think neighbor might be drinking too much again. I want some guy shitting and pissing in my garden? And doesn't neighbor have a yard of his own? I just don't get it.

Dinner was with Manny & friends. He's in town for a conference, and this is a surprise visit. It's good to see him again, though mentally I'm a bit preoccupied with Moloka`i. There was one strange moment at dinner where everyone had their i-phones out and were communicating with those instead of actually talking. Luckily another round of cocktails came and they had to put their toys away. Drinking still trumps texting, at last for now.

Though I'm not sure what the point of talking is at the moment. I have the presidential debate on in the background. Obama is doing somewhat ok, and once in awhile he actually answers a question. McCain is just making noise.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Moloka`i Crews

Roz named the crews for Moloka`i Hoe this morning. I'm happy with our crew. My goal for the next week is: sleep right, eat right, don't panic.

(Red) Manu Kai
Alejandro, Eli, Dave, MC, Lance, Lucas, Rudy, Anthony, Rod
Coach: Roz
Driver: Holo

(Yellow) Kahoepawalu
Reid, Chauncey, Rob P, Kulani, Hoku, Scott, John, Rob B, Jayson
Coach: Ulu Assistant: Eric
Driver: Theron

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ants in my pants

and I don't know how they got there but they started biting me on the drive to Kapoho. They were nasty little red things hardly larger than a period, and I had to pull over and strip down and hunt and kill them. Luckily I was in Puna, and given all the local color I probably wouldn't have stood out much if anyone had seen me.

I was in Puna to lead a public meeting on a development proposal we had received that local cultural practitioners were lining up against. I was hoping to head off a conflict, and the boss gaveme permission to go down and let me hold a meeting, my style. We met in a tent on the grounds of Kalani Honua, and had a couple hours of finger pointing and dramatic speeches and a fair amount of tears. It went well. I have real hope now that the final proposed plan will be something the whole community can back. We'll see.

Otherwise, my life is now about the Moloka`i crossing. I'm nervous as all get out. At home, at work, I think: I don't want to do this. This is too much. Sure I did it last year. And I suffered. But during practice, once we're on the water with the guys, I think: I want this. I'm ready.

There are 20, maybe 22, of us for 18 seats. Roz will name the crews on Monday. We have one more hard practice on Saturday - four hours! We'll paddle for an hour along the coast, then take the canoes out to sea for an hour, then turn around and head back. Next week is all about sleep diet. Three days of protein loading, and three of carb loading. And Friday we fly out to Moloka`i, and Sunday we race back home.