No Sea Monkeys But Saw Callisto

I’ve been in a strange torpor for a couple of months — even more notable than my usual inertia. I woke up around nine this morning and decided to roll back over. Around eleven-thirty my neighbor called to ask if I would look after his dog for a couple of days. I’m always a bit put off by his fortnightly requests. But today I was mostly taken aback by the fact that I’d slept almost until noon. I put on a pot of coffee straightaway with the best of intentions, you know, productivity-wise.

I managed to talk myself out of a bike ride. My rationale was that my front disk brake has a bent rotor — this makes the rotor rub against the pad making an irritating squeaking noise, and I guess it also slows me down a bit. The bike still works, so it’s a lame excuse. I thought, instead, I’d clean up one room of my house. After scanning the mess, I groaned and turned on my laptop instead. After a couple hours catching up on the blogs and such I subscribe to, I realized the general mess had not resolved itself. Of course I had to finish “Light” by M. John Harrison as I had noticed an email alert from the library that it is due back tomorrow (oh, by the way, I didn’t care for it — if this is the height of “new weird,” I’m not impressed). And then, you see, I had to update the appearance of my blog … and while I’m at it my website (though god forbid I generate new content). Eventually I ran out of diversions. I finally managed to tidy up a good deal in the living room. I’ve returned these two bookshelves placed back to back as a stand-up desk. This old Gateway monitor is coupled to my laptop to extend my virtual desktop. And I’ve loaded my five disk CD player with Farflung, DJ Spooky, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Legendary Pink Dots, and Pierre Henry. Maybe I can get some writing done.

But first, let me pull from scraps of aborted blogs:

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On the night of July 4th I had thought I’d go to the office, get some writing done, and then ride my bike the few blocks to watch fireworks downtown. But after looking at some of the local news sites, it seemed that the fireworks displays were over on the west side at Woodlawn Lake. Too bad. I rode around some anyway, hoping to catch some kids shooting off bottle rockets, but no luck.

The Fourth of July is far from my favorite holiday. True, it’s during the high heat of summer-time. I can get behind that. And who doesn’t like multi-colored starbursts in the nighttime sky? But I have to say that blind nationalism is surely the most unsavory dish one can bring to a family picnic, pushing even Jello salad to a distant second.

Earlier in the afternoon I braved the 104 degree weather. I decided to take a somewhat shorter version of my Mission Trail bike ride. I parked over near Rancho Charro in a park refreshingly devoid of people. I was pulling my bike from the bed of my truck and about to switch on my iPod, when a huge red pickup rolled to a stop, effectively blocking me in. It was a new gleaming four-door extended cab Ford F-250 with tinted windows and what looked like a CB antenna. The front passenger darkened window rolled down with a soft and efficient hum.

“Hey, man, how’s it going?” a voice called out.

I peered into the cab, trying to make out the figure in the driver’s seat.

“Remember me?” the voice asked.

I walked up closer.

“Yeah,” I said. “The name’s Anthony, right?”

He nodded.

I used to see Anthony on the bike trail with some frequency. He had a rusty beater touring bike with an old Realistic transistor radio wired to the handlebars and a handmade contraption welded to the frame which always held a 16 ounce beer.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” I said, peeking into his truck. It was loaded and seemingly fresh off the assembly line. He had a Johnny Cash compilation CD on the passenger seat, and, between his legs, a Bud Lite tallboy in a little paper bag.

“I was hit by a car,” he said, and I knew he meant while he was riding his bike. “How I got this truck,” he added, referring to what I assumed to be an insurance settlement. “I was over on Zarzamora, near that Sonic, you know, by the railroad tracks.”

“Wow! So, how are you doing?”

“Broke three ribs,” he said, tenderly lifting his hand to touch his left side. “But I’m on the mend.”

He said he’d be back to riding soon, and would keep an eye open for me.

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Back on Friday [July 17] NALIP sponsored a screening at the Radius Center for San Antonio’s Contemporary Arts Month. (This is the last year CAM will be in July. Next year it’s moving to March. What’s up with that?) The Radius has this old empty billboard on their roof. Manuel set up a projector, and we screened four short pieces up there. “Recollection,” by Gisha Zabala; “Luminaria del Rio,” by Barbara Jackson; “Asylum,” by Rebecca Dietz; and my piece from this year’s Luminaria, “Awaiting the Equinox.”

Here’s a nice photo by Barbara Jackson:

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My Galileoscope finally arrived the other week … on a cloudy day with a cloudy night. I’d been waiting on that damn thing for months like when I was a kid checking the mailbox every day for those Sea Monkeys. But this time around, whenever I’d hear the rumble of a truck slowing in front of my house I’d rush to the window, asking myself, “is it my 15 dollar telescope?” Fucking finally!

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You do have to assemble it. I already knew this. Keeps the cost down, don’t you know. I mean, it’s only 15 bucks! The website explains that the assembly part is to make it an even better educational tool. Makes you feel just like Galileo … who has to make sense of putting together an IKEA armoire. Thankfully there are quite a few internet resources, including instruction videos on YouTube.

The box has images of what you can expect from the device. A clear view of the moon. Saturn’s rings visible. And Jupiter and its moons.

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I’ve looked at the moon through it on a few nights. Beautiful. Tonight it’s almost full, so I mounted my 15 dollar telescope on a 350 dollar tripod and stepped outside. I took some pretty clear pictures through the telescope with my little trusty CoolPix camera. And then I turned the telescope to the only bright star in the sky (damn that light pollution), and what do you know? Jupiter. I was only able to see four moons (the four Galilean moons Galileo first saw in 1610). Very cool.

Here’s our moon through the Galileoscope.

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