Take the quiz: “Which American City Are You?”

Your dark exterior masks a caffeine driven activism. You’ll take up a cause and you’ll get ugly to advance it.

Since when am I a caffeine-driven activist? Maybe to urge poets to drop the “I”-“me”-“mine” from poetry, and work more from the eye, ear, touch, and sound… but an activist? Maybe not.

sorry for the short journal entry this morning. I’m having difficulty accessing my e-mail from here via webmail, but having a fairly easy time accessing livejournal from my mom’s computer. This morning I had time to log into LiveJournal, do a meme, and then it was breakfast with the folks. Following breakfast, my mom and I went for a two-hour kayak trip on the river. We paddled up the river past the ruins of the old railroad powerplant that my great-grandfather helped build, and then up one of the side streams to the historical society building on Mill Pond, and then back out into the main river, and up to the dam that provides power and fresh water to the city. I saw four egrets, two herons, a whole flock of sea-swallows, a red headed black bird I’ve yet to identify, a swan, an osprey, and a flock of seagulls (no ’80s band jokes, please).

I showered when we came home, and then I took Mom and Dad to lunch on a belated mother’s day/father’s day junket. We had a good time. Dad announced that he had no intention to see Fahrenheit 9/11. Mom got offended, and Dad explained: “I wouldn’t have gone to see an anti-Roosevelt movie during WW II, or an anti-Truman movie during the Korean War, or an anti-Kennedy or anti-Johnson or anti-Nixon film during the Vietnam War… and I won’t go see this film either.” Mom pressed him, and he got irritated. It’s becoming clear that dad isn’t happy with the way the Republicans in Washington are running things, and that he’s probably going to vote for the Democrats — but he doesn’t want Mom to push him into a corner on that subject, either.

Dad made another interesting point over lunch, by way of bringing up the subject of me getting a new car. (Dad wants me to replace the car I have now, with its 111,850 miles, because of all the highway driving I do). I mentioned that I wanted to get a fuel-efficient vehicle and an SUV of any sort was out of the question, because I thought gas was going to rise to about $2.75 by the end of the year, maybe over $3.00.

He agreed with me, and explained that part of the problem was the refineries issue. “Thanks to the environmental movement,” he said, “it’s now impossible to build any new refineries in this country. We haven’t built any refineries in this country in fifteen years, but the demand for refinery products keeps rising. People want to drive SUVs, or to live in suburbs or rural areas where they have to drive fifteen or twenty miles to get to a grocery store — but they don’t want to have any refineries that transform raw petroleum into the gas that makes their cars go.” He’s also worried about the rising demand for oil and gas in China and India, as those nations industrialize and begin to put cars on the road, as their middle classes expand.

My dad is a capitalist at heart. He likes trees and flowers and waterfalls and Nature and all that — but he recognizes that money isn’t just for buying stuff in stores — it’s also used to make the factories that make the goods, and the refineries that process the gas that run the trucks that bring goods from factories to stores, and the plants that build the trucks that transport the goods. I don’t always think like that, but it’s a useful reminder to me that we live in a society joined by a largely-invisible web of money, transportation, education, and industry. It’s easy to forget this network exists, because the stores are always full of goods, you can get good coffee at Java Hut or sushi at Sakura or Thai food at Thai Cha-Da, or a new book off of or from your local independent bookseller.

But all of those things are possible because there are factories that make and sell printing presses, and companies that print books; and there’s a company in Japan that makes wasabi for export to the US; and another company that makes pad thai noodles; and there are farmers in Colombia who can be persuaded/forced to grow coffee instead of coca; and there are truckers and cargo ships and airplanes to move all that stuff.

That whole web employs millions (probably tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions) of people. And one chance comment by my father reminds me of this, that the egret and the heron and the unnamed red-headed black bird and the osprey have their places, and they lift my soul and enrich my life, and that once gone, they cannot be replaced at all; but that the truck on the highway that roars by at 75 MPH, and the plane overhead, and the corner coffee shop, and the book store down the street — these are not easily replaced, either, without causing tremendous suffering to fellow human beings.

Oh, for one length of Ariadne’s thread!

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