Aug 31, 2008

Rio Rico

Friday night we had a party for Joyce, Saori's old roommate, who is going back to Taiwan. The next morning, we all went to Waffle House and there we decided to go with Sal and Joyce to visit Rio Rico again.

So, we packed up and headed down south. It was a really nice drive, chasing the rain and following the rainbow. South of Tucson, the area has seen so much rain that it turned all the mountains unusually green. In Rio Rico, we were greeted by Sal's family, and we had great Tinga and hot tortillas for dinner.

After dinner, we played SuperScrabble, which is identical to regular scrabble except that it is almost 50% larger with quadruple score squares, and a lot more tiles. While the quadruple score tiles and increased number of triple score spaces are fun, it makes a somewhat tedious game SuperTedious, and we called it a game after a few hours.

Chilequiles for breakfast, and we spent the morning relaxing and reading and playing more games. We left around 2 for the titan missle museum. The museum was a nice place to revisit- Saori and Joyce both liked it, I got some good photos, and the tour guide had Saori sit in the command seat and turn the key which launched the nuclear missle. In the gift shop, she picked up a mug, and I picked up an old 1955 "emergency drinking water" can, with water still in it. They were stockpiled in fallout shelters, and I thought it was an interesting symbol of the times.

The drive back to Phoenix was uneventful, although there were a lot of police on the road.

Monsoon

Thursday night, we were hit by an amazing monsoon which knocked out our power until 5 am, splintered trees and uprooted an ancient pine tree which sent it blocking three lanes of traffic.

Arizona is lucky to have its monsoons. Tornadoes are insane vandals, burning a circuitous path of chaos, death, and destruction. Earthquakes are irritated shakes which unblinkingly flatten communities as a soccer ball will roll over a blade of grass. Tidal waves bring a slow horror and destruction, and linger over the land like a plague. Hurricanes last for days and wipe out cities like an alien warship. An Arizona monsoon is almost like a poem. Yes, they cause millions of dollars of destruction, but not on the same kind of scale of hurricane or other natural disasters.

You can watch it creep towards the city, massive, crackling with incessant lighting, even as the sun shines where you stand. The wind cools, becomes moist and you can smell the rain in the distance. Clouds build. The pyrotechnics start, lighting snaking across the sky and lighting up the blue gray clouds. There is no miserable pissant drizzling, or mists, or sprinkles here. The first drops that hit are massive, smacking into windshields and sidewalks. Then the downpour begins as though someone had upended a bucket of water. The wind picks up further, turning the torrential deluge sideways, thrashing the trees and slashing at the ground. Anyone outside becomes drenched within seconds. The wind and rain and lighting increases steadily, and holds. Rain beats on the windows, the wind pounds on the door, and your garbage cans go for a run. You find them later a few streets down. The trees and bushes thrash and writhe and finally the rain lets up. Ten minutes later. There is only a bit of lightning in the distance.

photos from Rio Rico

Aug 26, 2008

4 years of work

Here is the first draft of my architecture portfolio. Comments are very welcome. The images will flick through fairly quickly, but then its probably going to be read the same way by the first admissions officer who picks it up. Enjoy!

Aug 25, 2008

Vista del Luxury

Had a really busy weekend, beginning saturday with moving Tay into the Vista del Luxury apartments at ASU. He didn't bring that much stuff, but the real pains, the ones requiring Sally and Jonathan's van, was his huge TV and leather executive chair. Everything else could easily have fit in my Prius.

Anyway, I owed him the favor for helping me move before, and he's family so I was happy to do it. It was still miserably hot, and had to lug all his stuff in the heat past the huge swimming pool filled with young college students who were all splashing around in the shade of palm trees.

After returning the van to Mesa, I stopped by a GameStop and picked up a nintendo Wii and an extra game. These are really fun. We pretty much played all the rest of Saturday, and most of Sunday afternoon too with Sal. So today I have a few minor 'wiinjuries' but nothing too bad.

Photos from Tay's ASU student apartments and a different dorm downtown:

Aug 20, 2008

Poe vs Lovecraft

Watching the very eerie trailer for "Cthulu" the other day made me want to read Lovecraft. I've never read his work before, although I had a feeling I would really enjoy it. So I picked up "The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories," and I've been going through those. Lovecraft came after Poe and Beirce, so his works are influenced by both authors.

The main thing I feel from Lovecraft's work is his technical expertise with the short story. Like an expert saucier, he knows exactly what words and more importantly, thier flavors, to use to achieve a definate mood. The way his stories jump around from more macabre to demonic to abstract, it seems as though he enjoys wearing different hats while he writes. Lovecraft imagines himself to be a madman when writing about deranged scientists, while Poe was a madman. That's the wonderful thing about Poe, when you read his work, you see the world through his eyes as bleak and nihilistic, and the truly dark things in life are what is found within. Lovecraft portrays a world which hides true evil at its core, where unmentionable darkness lurks within the walls.

Its that kind of suspense which makes Lovecraft really fun for me- its like he's peeling back the corners of the world and hinting at a parallel reality of dark mechanisms and powerful alien forces at play. Lovecraft writes about the monster under the bed, Poe writes about the monster under the covers. Lovecraft also loves his craft, he's a book man's book man. His characters come across and puzzle over other stories; his books are filled with other books, some real and others figments of his imagination. Poe's stories gain authenticity and depth from his own tragically warped mind, while Lovecraft goes in the opposite direction, inventing books and legends to support his stories.

Aug 10, 2008

Favorite Moments from Peru

As my mom is doing a wonderful job of narrating our trip to Peru so far, I will take the easy route and relate my most memorable moments, good and bad.

Feelings of dread in Atlanta, reading about all the cancelled and severely delayed flights, wondering if we were going to make it to Lima on time, and if Saori (on a separate flight) was going to make it too.

Overwhelming relief in Lima to find Saori at baggage claim just as planned.

The long nervous wait to talk to the baggage rep about Tay's lost bag.

Saori's and my first view of Lima, which is like many other Latin American capitals; crowded, dense, grimy, with bad traffic and gray skies, ringed for miles by impoverished slums.

Drinking coffee at the bus terminal, watching Lima go by outside, our first real rest since leaving home.

Frenzied excitement of boarding the bus for Cuzco, with people checking bags, security forces videotaping us as we got on, and of course, trying to verify in Spanish that we were, in fact, on the bus to Cuzco and not, say Bogota.

I'm glad we took the bus from Lima to Cuzco. We both were looking for a little adventure beyond the pale of what mom and tay would accept as reasonable (although they were surprisingly game for other local bus adventures later), and becasuse we wanted to see more of Peru with our time there. We effectively lost a day, but as I heard later, mom and Tay spent thier time sleeping and acclimating to the altitude while they waited for us. The ride of 20 hours went surprisingly quickly. They served two hot meals, our seats reclined with leg supports, and they showed a constant stream of bad American movies from drop down screens.

As we left Lima behind, pushing through thinning favelas, we entered the arid wastelands south of the city and extending for hundreds of miles south into Chile. This area is the driest place on earth, despite being by the ocean. I've seen the Empty Quarter of the Arabian desert, which, at least had an occational stunted weed, or camel herd in the valleys between the dunes. The landscape we drove through was as barren as the moon. Rocky dunes which flattened and ran into the pounding sea. We passed occational shacks and small seemingly abandoned seafront villages, and also a heavily defended LNG operation. After a few hours of following that martian coast, we headed inland, towards the mountains, but we still had another desert to cross.

As the sun began to set, we crossed the Atacama desert, more picturesque, but equally devoid of life, I think I saw part of a Nasca line out there. After dark, we both fell asleep. When we awoke, we were in the mountains. Outside the windows was pitch black. The only way we could tell was the feeling of going steadily upwards, coupled with the regular tight turns that signify switchbacks. Reading the guidebook in the bus, they strongly recommended against night busses in the mountains because sometimes drunk bus drivers are a problem, the roads are not lighted, there are lots and lots of hairpin turns, and in the Andes, its a long way to the bottom. The only indication of how high we were was the headlights, far below of other trucks and busses taking the same switchbacks. I was not too concerned as the bus we were taking was one of the biggest bus line companies in Peru with a modern fleet tracked by GPS, and it was too dark outside to see the danger.

We crossed the ridge of the Andes at dawn, the morning rays making the clouds glow bright orange around us. My hands were tingling like they'd fallen asleep.

In Cuzco, relief at seeing Tay's head popped out of the window and our first taste of coca tea as we visited with the Ochoa family, the owners of the hostel.

Our first visit to the Plaza de Armas, the main square, and sitting down at one of the balconies overlooking the square for more coca tea.

Aug 1, 2008

home. Safe. with my luggage. still falta una chica... but she should be landing shortly. And I have 600+ photos. Lots to sort through. Plus I look like I HIKED the inka trail.

Medium is the message

I moved the blog again. I deleted the Tumblr account and moved everything to Medium.com, a more writing-centric website. medium.com/@wende...