Thursday, March 31, 2011

Notes from the plane

Just after I got to the Southwest boarding gate yesterday I realized that I'd left my phone at home and muttered "god damn it!" under my breath in an emphatic and more or less fairly loud voice causing an old couple seated nearby to recoil and stiffen like irritated cats. I immediately plopped down, pulled out my laptop, skyped M. Lee and left a very contrite message that went something like "please please mail my phone as soon as possible, like today". Overhearing that, a really nice guy sitting one row over jumped up and offered his phone so I could call mine. That threw the cats off a bit though they managed to continue radiating disapprove. But no phone.

This is getting old. Last weekend I left my phone charger in Tonopah. A replacement is on the way. Now the phone. The worst part is that I tired, I really tried to pack right. I'm experimenting with a smaller bag and everything counts. I checked and rechecked. Two of this, one of that and not much of anything. Then I leave the damn phone.

~Contest with the Gods~

Right after the plane took off and we got the business of oxygen masks and flotations devices out of the way, one of the flight attendants rushed me a cup of coffee before anyone else got served. Perhaps you are thinking, "God! Was she that distraught"? I tell you. No. I trust M. Lee. The phone and charger will come. So why did I get two cups of coffee? Simple. The gods are toying with me. And why? Because I brought the white jacket. 

This jacket has hung in my closet since I got it, two years ago. I've never worn it. I've been afraid. On me, white attracts disaster at every turn. I think about wearing white and tomato sauce foments in the can. My own pen turns on me like an inksaber possessed. Coffee refuses to stay in the cup.

As it did on the plane.

That first cup of coffee, compliments of the gods? It tipped over and spilled toward the pristine white jacket cradled safely, I thought, on my lap. It missed by half a centimeter. And when my daughter picked me up at the airport carrying her barista special? Unlikely globs of coffee sloshed at me through the lid. The score? So far? So good. It's on, bitches.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Writer wanted

Matt Doig wrote this ad for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and, yes, it's a real ad in a real newspaper. It's been making the rounds but I'm reposting just in case you missed it. And no, I don't know if the job's still open. We will be staying in Florida this summer near Sarasota so I especially like the last paragraph and plan to at least do a drive by of the paper. My kind of people.

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

We do a mix of quick hit investigative work when events call for it and mini-projects that might run for a few days. But every year we like to put together a project way too ambitious for a paper our size because we dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: “I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.” As many of you already know, those kinds of projects can be hellish, soul-sucking, doubt-inducing affairs. But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed  office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

Send questions, or a resume/cover letter/links to clips to my email address below. If you already have your dream job, please pass this along to someone whose skills you covet. Thanks.

Matthew Doig

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1741 Main St.
Sarasota FL, 34236
(941) 361-4903

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More from Tonopah

The strange hills of Tonopah

The road goes straight to town

Convention Center (L) Belvedere Hotel (R) home to many pigeons

Ramada casino display.

Old Roma Cafe on the outskirts of town.

Tonopah in the spring

Lovely Tonopah. It's like coming home.
The baby bunny in the road

had no interest in moving for
the jeep even when I honked. 

When we finally

got to the Ramada

I rolled for the free room.

It takes three of a kind to win.

The guy checking in ahead of us won.

I did not.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another cure for writer's block

Deadlines. So says Laura Miller in her recent article posted at Salon. We knew it all along, right? If  you have to, you will. So, I have given myself 10 minutes to write this post. Damn. I just wasted about three of those minutes fiddling around finding albums to copy to my player and several more re-reading Miller's article. I am down to one minute. ONE MINUTE. Deadlines and decoy projects.
That's what every blocked writer really needs: something more significant they should be doing instead, an earth-shaking, life-changing project you're stealing time from to work on this little novel. Or the great novel you ought to be drafting while you knock off your memoir just for fun. Granted, inventing such a decoy project and convincing yourself that you may actually get around to it someday requires a bold and sustained act of imagination. But that's what writers do, isn't it -- make stuff up?

My "decoy project": is blogging. How fucked is that?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Plastic Bag, narrated by Werner Herzog

My new favorite tale about the adventures of a discarded plastic bag struggling with its immortality as it ventures through a post-apocalyptic America.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Mega Moon in Minden

It isn't much but it's the best of the cell phone photos I got last night as the super mega moon was rising over Minden, Nevada. It's not a good photo. It's blurry and taken through the windshield. The streetlights are bigger than the lovely moon and it was lovely. In case you've never heard of Minden Nevada, now you have. This is the one of two blocks that make up what is basically downtown.

I want this to be all there is of Minden Nevada but it's not but the way the downtown is is still kind of the way it was, which I like. By the time I got home and to a good camera and tripod, minutes later, the moon had nearly vanished behind black clouds so this is it.

Oh, and Happy Spring Equinox. I would have preferred cherry blossoms to snow but snow it is. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kitesurfing Waikiki

Kitesurfing scene by the Honolulu Hilton, March 3.

Ricardo, you are probably a purist about all this but what the hell? These are for you.

Cloudy day in Waikiki

More from Hawaii

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earth ship

I wonder what effect pulling all this oil out of earth has on things. Seems to me oil must act as a ballast for the planet and that planetary stability depends on it. We must have already siphoned out gazillions of pounds of ballast from the innards of the planet. Aren't we leaving empty chasms where the oil once was thus changing the way planet is balanced? And won't those chasms collapse and the balance inevitably shift?  What are the chances earth will be spun out of orbit altogether? At least, it seems to me, that these gigantic earthquakes will become more common.


Update: I posted the above at Huffpo this morning and was pretty much drubbed, as expected. What I appreciate is the couple of people who responded in a straight forward scientific manner.  As usual, the boobs used it as an opportunity for ridicule. One commenter even accused  me (WOO!) of believing "everything in Al Gore's movie". WTF! I'm tired of clowns.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hawaii outtakes, part 1

It was great to be warm for a few days. We arrived the day before the conference and, as it wasn't raining, did our favorite thing...took a walk.

Naturally I fed the fish...

and photographed the bride

then a passing stranger offered to photograph us.

Next...kite surfing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Local News at 9:47 AM

I really don't have time to do a blog post right now. The moment I finished writing that sentence Mr. Lee leaned into my room and asked his most annoying tone, Are you doing a blooooog post, Ahhhhhh-shaaaaaaaa? WTF? Is the spiral collapsing in on itself?

No. Not to worry. More coffee will fix everything. This morning it must be sweet and delicious. I am feeling pressed. Too much to do. Too little time. My life is working in reverse from 4 AM this coming Thursday. Our flight to Hawaii departs at 6 AM for which I haven't packed plus I have a doctor's appointment right in the middle of tomorrow so, you see, I am already out of time. It will be nice being warm for a few days but it's a working trip so we will be inside most of the time however I do promise you a photo or two of leathery octogenarian lizards basking on the Waikiki beach, or at least photos of twenty-something who look like octogenarians because of sun damage.

Things are heating up all around. Today I have to go to Reno and in a couple more weeks my yearly spring trip to Tonopah is coming up. There I will do my best to grab a few new photos from my favorite graveyard and check up on how other around-the-ghost-town favs are doing in their long slow dissolve back into the desert hard pack. After that I must visit Thea and Ashley and the rest of the crew in Portlandia, Baby Leo in Great Falls and my Little Brother who dwells in the Land of Science all before leaving on the too fast approaching ERT (Epic Road Trip) across America, with a detour to Costa Rica because it's a hop from Florida, beginning in mid-May. Holy god! Must have more coffee.

My little brother needs rescuing but is damn resistant to distraction. All around him friends are retiring and calling to invite him to do frivolous things like meet for lunch so, one by one, he tells me he is having to let them go. They shouldn't take it personally. He's always been like that. Focused. When we were kids he spent most of his time in his little science lab in the basement working on designs for three-stage rockets and fiddling with the magic of crystal radios. These days seems the life of the Great Columbia River hangs by the thread he carefully calculates for the Bonneville Power Assoc. from his Den of Science overlooking Puget Sound and Pike Place Market but, other than that, nothing has change.

Okay. It's now two cups of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal past the hour. Now I really really really have to stop writing about things and start doing things.