June 2004

This’ll be book 6. It’s called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and CNN has the details. I guess I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, although Rowling has some difficulty with plotting and pacing. I’m more glad that the books are getting kids to read, although I did like the last Potter book the second time I read it (the first time was a year ago–I read all 900 pages on one day on my trip out to Seattle, so I did rush through it a bit).

We’ve mentioned government and politics here before, and I had an idea this weekend. Conservative, moderate, and liberal readers visit this site, all differing in position yet all very well reasoned, intelligent individuals.

So I was thinking: what if we redesigned a goverment from scratch? Just in theory? Built the thing up from plank one to the entire thing? Could we find something that we all could agree on?

I think it would be very interesting, to say the least. I’d like to start with some basic philosophical tenets and then build the government branches and services. I wonder how far we’d get.

If it gathers enough steam, I’ll buy a domain name and host it as a subdomain to keep things separate. I’ll also turn on the forums on this site so things can flow more freely.

Maybe in a year we’ll have an interesting government scheme.

I’d like to start off with the beginnings of a philosophical base, as simple as we can make (and keep) it. Somewhat lifted from one of my favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, it goes like this:

1) All citizens have the right of any free act, unless that act hinders the freedom of another person. Government must support this without growing beyond what is absolutely necessary to enforce this tenet of freedom.

2) Government support for children should be paramount; that is to say, assistance should be ready for those who are not old enough to support themselves. Welfare, for instance, would be substantially provided as child care while able adults seek and gain employment.

The first is more of a constitutional argument, while the second is more of a services viewpoint, but it’s a start. Over the next week I’d like to frame out the services goverment should provide (roads, police, armies, public aid, foreign aid, etc.), from a federal standpoint.


I spent over $1,400 on my three vehicles in the past three weeks ($800 on the Forester, $160 on the Legacy, and $440 on the van), but they were all for things that needed to be done.

Except the emissions. What a racket. I had to have both the Legacy and the van inspected and this year is the first in my area for emissions inspection.

But get this–since both cars are older than 1996, they only get the gas cap check and “visual inspection” (my Legacy is 1990 and the Ford van is 1993). The gas cap check is at least more than a visual glance–they’re supposed to put it in a machine that sucks on it and makes sure it doesn’t leak. But the rest is just a looksee.

So I got a bill for $35 for each of these inspections. $35 for a “hey, looks good to me, here’s the bill.”

The real kicker is that the Legacy was exempt because it was driven less than 5,000 miles last year. So I think I paid $35 for the sticker on the windshield and nothing else. Literally.

Hey, I don’t blame the auto places. They get their profit where they can, and they’re just complying with state regulations. But given the above, something just seems wrong.

The directors cut trailer can be seen here.

More news can be read here.

The official site is here.

It opened in Seattle in the beginning of June and will hit other theaters later this summer.

I can’t wait.

[This one’s one of my favorites so far–the axle element just makes me laugh.–Dave]

[My brother Joe lives in Guam and travels all over that part of the world whenever he gets vacation. Right now he’s off to China, and he’s letting me post some of the travelogue notes he’s sending out. Pretty interesting stuff.]

Post 6, Tibet:
Seven Years in Tibet…At least it feels like it…

Got in last night from Everest. What a trip. The ride was a test of endurance as much as the trekking. The Southern roads are dirt trails for mules with not much thought to cars. Every major town on the way required a permit. We got into Everest Base Camp for three days and Trekked up Everest almost 6000M before we were blocked by a new white water river that formed in a few days by summer heat. We were able to cross two of them by stripping and wading through it, but the biggest was impassable. We were pretty well prepared, decked out in North Face gear and polarized sunglasses…I got altitude sickess first, but recovered first, the rest of us were sick until this morning. The views were beautiful, Everest looks as huge and high as any of us could have imagined. The ride there and back were snow capped mountains and gorges with little villages of very kind people. Lhasa is a pretty big town, so it was nice to see the real Tibet.

No showers, one heated room in the mess area via burning yak dung… No English, little Mandarin, only Tibetan. Of the few amatuers we saw, few made it as far as us. Many were so sick on arrival to camp they left without a climb. It was far worse than Peru last year. We slept in a monastery… imagine that.

Our Landcruiser broke down 7 times until we lost the axle yesterday morning. The driver wired it together with cable and wanted us to finish the drive with him through some of the the worst passages in the the Himalaya (sheer cliffs and hairpin pins). When we refused and hitched a ride with a Tibetan family, he tracked us down and went crazy yelling that we would not make it back alive and he was rallying friends to follow him in support. The drama lasted all day… the guy was a jerk from day one. We had to go straight to the goverment travel office when we got into town and had him “restrained.” They gave us a generous refund and we had a nice hot dinner in Lhasa with the money. He pulled up as we left and when they looked at the wired axle they lost it on him. The two groups waiting to contract a ride were visibly upset. Poor guy, he won’t be allowed to drive again. The drama only made the trip more intesting (in retrospect of course…).

Our crew was two college students from the US, a Canadian climber from China, our Tibetan guide, myself and the Tibetan driver. Marc and Chris left this morning for Lijang and Jeff and Carol are staying for a week more (she works here and is local). I am on the way to the Potala Palace and then I’m catching a plane back to Changdu to hit Chogqing in the morning for the Yangztee River cruise to Yichang. We are planning to meet in Ko Pi Pi, Thailand a a few weeks.

[My brother Joe lives in Guam and travels all over that part of the world whenever he gets vacation. Right now he’s off to China, and he’s letting me post some of the travelogue notes he’s sending out. Pretty interesting stuff.]

Post 5, Chengdu:

Chengdu part one, mission complete.

Went to a Sichuian Opera (fire breathing, circus type stuff intertwined with singing and music), Giant Panda Research and Breeding Center (held a baby Panda for a small donation), and the worlds largest Buddha (carved out of a mountainside 71M high). Pretty incredible stuff.

Half of the fun is making it around in public transport and trying to speak Mandarin with people. The sum total of my interpersonal interactions with the people so far add up to a strong personal impression that China is a country boiling over with possibilities. It seems the people can sense they on the verge of an economic explosion. It has one of my true marks of a great people, they don’t talk about their culture and how progress is destroying it. They adapt. Like the Balinese, Thai, and others their culture is evident and it doesn’t require lip service. Coming from Guam this is so refreshing.

I am in Lllasa, Tibet now and waiting approval for Everest Base Camp.  The scenery is very similar to Bolivia and the Peru Altiplano, not much of a surprise as the Chinese established the Quechu/Inca Empire as a tribute colony.

More facts:

The Chinese discovered the moons of Jupiter 1,000 years before Galilleo. They used them to determine Longitude for navigation and mapmaking. They also established colonies around the world by 1430 including North Carolina, New York, California, and comprised the bulk of the Inca Ruling party. They transplanted many crops into the Americas which made large scale habitation possible. They had a liberty port and trading post set up in Saipan, pre-1400’s. And the punchline: Montezuma, the great Aztec Emperor was a Chinese Admiral. (All claims here recently proven via DNA studies and extensive factual evidence).

On to the “Rooftop of the World.” We leave via 4wd tomorrow moring early. From base camp we will hike to advanced Base Camp and make the call then. That is 15 -17 hours already so we will probably turn back then.

I seem to have found some pictures of the Surfing Buddhas on this site from the UK. Cool.

They’re gone now, but we got ot see some of the painted cows around Hershey, Harrisburg, and Carlisle two weeks ago. We really only had time to see the Hershey cows, but of course it always involves a trip to Chocolate World. Here’s what Chocolate World had to offer:

Hershey Chocolate World Cow Head On

Here’s a better view of the Hershey customization:

Hershey Chocolate World Cow From Side

Some cows were decorated less commercially:

Hershey Cow In town park

Yes, that’s Alyssa trying to milk it. The cows did indeed have udders.

[My brother Joe lives in Guam and travels all over that part of the world whenever he gets vacation. Right now he’s off to China, and he’s letting me post some of the travelogue notes he’s sending out. Pretty interesting stuff.]

Post 4, China:
“A few hundred years ago a master sculptor was commissioned to take a small army of monks and carve out a couple hundred statues of his contemporaries in a single relief along a large wall. The statues are life-sized and so real in their depiction of emotions they spooked authorities and were mothballed and forgotten.

They are now at the Bamboo temple outside Kunming, so there I went for a Wave Zone photo opportunity yesterday. The entire background was blue waves with whitecaps and in midground and front were 70 some life size Buddas surfing on top of giant crabs, clams, and other animals. Their faces were vivid with fear, excitement, caution, exhiliration, meditiation….etc…

I did however, see no evidence of compression molding technology on any of the devices used to skim and surf. I did clearly see though that surfing and skimming were considered of the highest spiritual importance.

There were no pictures allowed so I tried my best to get in that WZ photo on the low. My vision was to launch a masterful ad campaign and ride it all the way to Hainan Dao. The monks were onto me though, as if they could read my mind. They anticipated every step and there was no escape. So, with visons of Richard Geres “Red Corner” in my head, I slid out the front and headed to Dian Chi.

On the Chengdu… Laters

From Ebert and Roeper last night:

Roeper: Big Thumbs up from me.

Ebert: Big thumbs up from me too. I was amazed by how good Spider-Man 2 was. It tells a real story, and it’s not just a special effects extravaganza…Spider-Man 2 is so good that it ranks with the original Superman from 1978, and it’s better than any of the Batmans, way better…this may be the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen.

Roeper: High praise, but I’m with you on it.

Spider-Man’s June 30 opening night looks like a real winner, folks (although I frankly thought that the first two Batman movies were much better than Ebert apparently does)

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