Saturday, June 28, 2003


OK, pop quiz, LIANT readers. Which of the following do Tad the Grocer and the Lord Macklebrains have in common?

A. They both drive fancy vintage cars
B. They are both my coffee buddies
C. They both have Y chromosomes
D. They are both losers as of today
E. All of the above

Today whilst I was busy peddling dustcatchers and brushing up on my tourist baiting skills, our local electric power cooperative held its annual meeting and barbecue. Among the agenda items was the election of a few board members, three to be exact – our cooperative serves a large geographical area, and so there are three service regions, each of which is entitled to so much representation on the governing board. Two areas were uncontested, but our valley's had three candidates, my two aforementioned coffee pals and Greenhouse Guy.

Greenhouse Guy won.

I don't know the margins – My Own Dear Personal Dad says they weren't announced. What he did say was that Tad the Grocer had an amusingly shocked look on his face when the results were announced – Tad was appointed late last spring to fill out the unexpired term of the late Pat Shields, and so was up on the dais with the big dogs when the news came down. I sympathize; there's nothing quite like a big surprise when one is sitting up on a platform with a few hundred people sitting down below looking up at one. Yikes.

But so, anyway, I'm really wondering if I want to go to coffee on Monday. On the one hand, it's always sort of wickedly fun to watch sore losers grouse (ahh, schadenfreude), but on the other hand, it's sort of not.

But I'll probably go. Hey, I'm a hobo. What else am I going to do?

Oh, and so, um, duh, the answer is "E"

Friday, June 27, 2003


A half hour ago, I made a pre-emptive strike against the legion of telemarketers who are doubtless just waiting to pounce on me (I say waiting because it's only as of Tuesday that I've had an honest-to-dog land line to the Unabomber Cabin. Ted K. got along a lot better without regular 'net access than I did).

I surfed on over to The Federal Government's Do Not Call List and said, well Shazaam! Sign me up!

Actually, there was no space on the registration page for text comments, so they didn't get the Shazaam! part.

And I was all set, here and on Blogcritics, to praise the hell out of this effort for being so easy and breezy and beautiful and an actually legitimate use of the fedgov's interstate commerce regulatory powers.

But then...

The web site requires that one enter "a valid e-mail address" along with his or her telephone number(s) (nice that it's plural - you can zap your home, business and cell all with one entry!) (interestingly enough, it nowhere says the e-mail address has to be one's own, just that it be "valid"). Your entry will not be processed without this information.

So I guess it's sort of like registering to get the New York Times' headlines by e-mail (best in a fortnight - today's! #1 "Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100" #2 "Gays Celebrate, And Plan Campaign for Broader Rights" Yes, I know the gays were celebrating the Supreme Court's sodomy decision yesterday. It's the juxtaposition that's funny, guys!); it doesn't really happen until one receives a "confirming" e-mail, the equivalent of "Is that your final answer?" and responds to it as directed.

The Do Not Callee is then informed that if the site doesn't receive a reply to the confirmation mail within 72 hours, he or she will not be added to the list.

Furthermore, it will take "about seven minutes" for that confirmation mail to reach one's e-mail box.

Well, it's been considerably more than seven minutes since I finished following the instructions, and the e-mail has yet to reach me.

So now I wonder if it will.

Or if I've been tricked somehow into giving away my e-mail address to the new FDS (Federal Department of Spam).

Kate Sherrod, enlarge your penis and get a tax credit!. Unbelievable mortgage rates and complimentary phone tap! Smallest digital camera ever free with every completed IRS audit!

Oh, the possibilities! I think I have to lie down now...

Glad I used one of my junk addresses.

I got a new reminder yesterday of what we're up against when we want to take on institutions like the Forest Service, which, remember, is an arm of the federal government, which is beholden to all of the people of America but mostly to the majority – which ain't us.

A friend from high school is getting married Saturday, and has imported all of her midwestern pals for the occasion. The Lazy River Cantina last night, already teeming with cyclists here for Pedal the Peaks, also had an unusually high number of 30something suburbanites, who, while they had indeed enjoyed, e.g., the beauty of the Snowy Range as they drove here from Iowa or Minnesota or Indiana (one guy apparently stopped every mile or so to take pictures, as he'd never been "in the mountains" before), really actually only wanted to know one thing:

Q: How in the world do you guys get along being so far away from a Wal-Mart?

or another popular variation:

Q: What do you do out here when you want a Domino's Pizza at 2 a.m.?

While I did sort of get them to understand that for most of us Wal-Mart, etc. become special occasions, planned pilgrimages, and thus hold a greater and more numinous significance in our lives than in theirs, I didn't make much headway on the Domino's thing.

I see it as a sort of reverse cargo cultism. No matter how hard we tried to explain to the natives in the South Seas that their bamboo radio antennas and phantom airstrips were never going to spontaneously create the western consumer goods they craved, they clung to these creations and their beliefs. No matter how hard I try to make "the outside world" understand that we do just fine without midnight pizza delivery and a Blockbuster's on every street corner, they just don't get it, and so don't really see us as fully human.

So of course they don't trust us when they say cutting down trees is a good thing.

Thursday, June 26, 2003


I was never a morning person, and still would not describe myself as one if asked, but, well, facts is facts.

Everything changed when I moved back to Wyoming lo these... five years ago? Six. Six years ago. Everything, including the hour at which I wake.

It's the birds, you see.

Right now as I commence writing this, it is a quarter to 5 a.m. on what looks in the dim offing to be a very pleasant Thursday. The street lights are still much brighter than the sun, and the sky is a deep periwinkle color that would be much prettier were I not looking at it through sleep-gritty eyes (but except for the true freaks among us, whose eyes that ever see this color aren't gritty with sleep? Damn few, even among the freaks. Very well, I hereby christen this shade "Sleep Schmutz Blue." Truth be told, I think we have Sleep Schmutz Blue tee shirts for sale at Dustcatcher Central. They sell well. Must be some kind of unconscious/archetypal thing).

And there are exactly two birds, very loud, very insistent, who seem to share a friend of mine's predilection for "shoving the sun up." But unlike him, they don't seem willing to wait to do it. They sort of hector it, every morning. Come on, sun. Don't you make us wait. You won't like us if we have to wait. We'll come and peck your eyes out if you don't hurry up. Or something.

OK, I know that's not the real reason. I read the Casper Star Trombone like everyone else. I know the real reason birds sing in the morning. It's male birds warning off potential rivals who might come and get busy with their mates or make themselves at home in their territory.

Maybe they regard the sun as some kind of uberbird whose after all their ladyfriends. In which case I guess I must revise my dawn translation of this one very loud, very insistent guy's calls: Hey you – don't think I don't see you trying to sneak over that hill. I'm onto you. You want a piece of me? Do you? Well I'm here and I ain't moving and you and me are going round and round if you don't back off.

I wish he would listen to reason, this guy. Because the sad fact is, despite these morning greetings (and by the way, I estimate about 15 minutes before the mallard drake who lives under my picnic table enters the dawn dialogue. We'll see if I'm right), I'm still not a morning person. I'm a stay up until the wee hours bashing away at this here laptop on the great American somethingorother no matter what person. The kind of person who is supposed to sleep later in the day and rise refreshed and revived and ready to write more deathless prose... at about 4 p.m.

But no.

Actually, though, truth be told – for the last month or so, I've been beating the birds to the punch. I've lain awake in my bed, refusing to look at the clock and thus confirm my sinking feeling that I'm already done sleeping for the day, waiting for Mr. Butch Birdy Boy to try scaring off the sun yet again.

Oops – I was off by two minutes on Mr. Mallard's joining in the fray.

Good morning, everybody.

Guess I'll make some coffee and read the paper(s).

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


The single greatest threat to my writing career is, of course, other people's writing. Try as I might, I cannot read and write simulataneously, at least not in any extended, meaningful way. And so, if I'm reading someone else's book, I am not writing my own. If I'm reading other people's blogs, I'm not adding to this one. Etc.

Well, it's about to happen again.

But only for a little while.

And then I'll tell you all about what I read.

If this makes you angry, blame Sam Western. He was the keynote speaker at the WAM convention earlier this month, and had something new to share with us all in place of his earlier "ag isn't everything" rhetoric that lots of people took as attacks on ag.

He's been searching around for a community that accomplished what he thinks Wyoming needs to attempt: to truly diversify its economy away from dependence on agriculture (note: once again, he did not at any point advocate putting an end to agriculture. Not. NOT!).

And he found one in Tupelo, Mississippi.

And he found a book detailing how they did it and the model for community development a sociologist generated out of Tupelo's success story.

And he recommended it to all of us.

I'm sure there was a profound rush to neighborhood bookstores all over the state on Monday morning, with my colleagues ordering copies of this out-of-print tome. We town council/mayor types take advice where we can find it, even from obscure PhDs from Mississippi.

Or from pot stirring semi-journalists who slyly turn a break-out sesion to "discuss" what makes a sustainable community into a first class brain-picking session to gather our opinions as community leaders about whether Wyoming is an inclusive or an exclusive state (overwhelming conclusion at the workshop: exclusive but deluding itself that it's inclusive). Sam asked the questions and took notes on our answers that I suspect may find their way into his next book, to be titled "The Big Empty." And got a lot of people thinking about what he's been saying all along.

So now, off with the internet and on with the reading lamp and on to Tupelo: the Evolution of a Community by Vaughan Grisham.

Give me a day or two to digest. And meet a private deadline. And then I'll be back!