Posted in Travel on April 6th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Southwest Airlines. Where everyone is treated as an equal amount of dirt. One of the few airlines where the law of the jungle trumps the laws of customer service. I can never decide whether I like that or not…


Preparing to board my 6th plane of the year… 11th plane of the past 12 months…Good gawd.


I land in Portland around 10 tonight. Then I drive to Seattle and visit with Andrea for a late breakfast and a pilgrimage to my favorite diner in my favorite neighborhood in all the Northwest.


Back to Portland tomorrow night and spend the weekend catching up with a couple old friends from the SF-Fresno diaspora and a couple new friends as well. Then back to SF Sunday night for my last week of purgatory.


Do you feel tired yet?


Posted in Travel on April 6th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Thanks to the folks here at Southwest Airlines, I’ll be arriving in Portland a couple hours late. Which means I’ll be arriving in Seattle a couple hours late (meaning more like 3am or 4am).


This will be my excuse to drag David to Seattle for a real visit (meaning for more than 16 hours) sometime in the coming year…


Posted in Travel on April 7th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Seattle. Geez, it’s pretty here.


My downtown Ramada was sort of a schitzo hotel. It’s got things like nice towels and real glasses and room service, but it also has things like no free parking, a lumpy bed and no wireless. Then there’s the fact that the in-room coffee kit included things like a coffee maker and real ceramic mugs, but no coffee. And the phone doesn’t work.


Luckily most of my time spent there was whilst I was unconscious, so it don’t really matter. But they really should decide whether they want to be Ramada or Motel 6.


Posted in Travel on April 9th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Portland. Lesbians in the morning, fags in the evening…


Arrived at a slightly more reasonable hour in Portland on Friday night. Checked into the hotel and took a quick drive up and down NE 82nd and noticed, once again, that Portland seems to have an unusuallly large concentration of large suburban adult bookstores. Luckily it also has Taco Bells.


Saturday was a tour of gluttony. Starting with McBreakfast, then to the Tin Shed to lunch on cheezy grits and biscuts and gravy with Kelly and Riz. They have a nice big cheap house, and I look forward to being able to say the same soon…


Spent a big ol faggy evening with Jack and Paul, first at Dot’s, which was wonderfully dark and gloomy with black and silver flocked wallpaper and tasty burgers. Then we retired to Jack’s place where we admired the fruits of his new career.


A few more hours of rainy evergreen gloom before returning to the city of doom.

Where do You Want to Go?

Posted in Travel on April 9th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Portland. Facial Hair capital of the world. A city composed entirely of the same cute 20s-40s neighborhood that I covet so. A cheap city whose housing prices do not reflect their Left Coast geography as they should. A city full of fuzzy granola fags with tattoos. Portland.


I met up with Amy for Bread and Ink, then we drove up to Multnomah Falls to take in some scenery - something which doesn’t usually do much for me, but which was necessary if only for the vast quantity possessed by Portland.


I spent a lot more time driving around Portland’s neighborhoods and exploring the places people actually lived than last time, when most of my time was spent downtown and in the far south of the area. I was very happy with what I saw, and my mind even ventured to feel a bit more attached to Portland than to Seattle.


Like most trips I take, I tend to evaluate a place I visit with the mentality of whether I would like to live there or not. I think I really need to get over this. The grass is always greener and I always find myself sad that I “can’t” live there.


There is no perfect place. Some places might have a higher concentration of things one likes, but no place is ideal and I’ll probably never find a city that meets my every aesthetic, economic and practical desire. I really need to remind myself of this more often, but especially when I visit the Northwest.


David and I have coveted a relocation to the Northwest for years, but the practical applications of such a desire just don’t work at this point in our lives. As Sister Betty once said, no place is sparkly-shiny. Every place is just someplace else. I think few of us actually spend years travelling, find our favorite city, and settle there because it’s our favorite city. Most of us settle somewhere that is a practical compromise between various other desires in our lives. I really need to travel and visit places and enjoy my time as a traveler and visitor, and stop being such a “surveyor”.


And if I’m incapable of achieving this sort of detachment, might the only answer to be for me to stop travelling entirely? Alas, I never travelled as a child, and only started seeing bits of the world outside Central California when I was in my mid-20s. This may have exacerbated the problem, since it meant I was an adult and had to make informed and responsible choices without having any experience about what was ‘out there’.


In the end, this whole post is mostly rationalizations and excuses for this particular breed of psychologically self-destructive behaviour in which I all-too-often engage. It’s an easy way to shrug it off for now as a developmental problem, and not have to analyze it further at this time.


Posted in About Me on April 10th, 2006 by Дмитрий

I started to take that ‘how selfish are you‘ quiz, but was so unimpressed that I skipped most of it.


First of all, the majority of the questions were about one’s behavior in relation to friends, family or dates. This doesn’t really jive, since most people are in a very strong reciprocal value relationship with these three types of people.


One is usually very generous and giving to ones friends and family because one expects those people to be there for oneself when needed. That’s why one calls them friends and family. Dates are treated well because they are usually expected to put out. Yet if you acknowledge this symbiosis by answering the quiz’ questions in the positive, you are considered ‘unselfish’ by the quiz, where in fact I feel that these types of relationships are the MOST selfish in which most humans engage. Love is a selfish emotion.


The quiz would have been better asking how one relates to strangers, the government, and society as a whole. Do you give money to indigents on the street who are holding a half-empty liquor bottle in their hand? Do you participate in charities which contribute to causes neither you nor your loved ones benefit from? Do you vote for candidates you strongly disagree with? If you answered yes to any of these, THAT would be genuine selflessness - doing things which give you no physical, psychological or emotional benefit.


Lending money to a friend is selfish. Lending money to someone you have never met and who you will probably never see again is selfless. Being an environmentalist is selfish. Being an environmentalist and setting up a machine that pumps gallons of nuclear sludge into your neighborhood is selfless. Eating a balanced diet is selfish. Gorging yourself on food you hate is selfless.


So few people understand the philosophical roots of the selfish/selfless dichotomy, it just tends to piss me off when I see people trying to evaluate others based on faulty premises…

The Spice of Life

Posted in Economics on April 12th, 2006 by Дмитрий

One of the more understandable arguments being made in the emotionally-soiled immigration debate is that the proximity of Mexico causes a more ambiguous sense of national identification and loyalty among Mexican immigrants than did such as Scotch-Irish or Sicilian immigrants in the early 20th century.


One good analogy to the Mexican immigrants in America is the Russian population of Ukraine. Ukraine recently had a big political upheaval, spurred primarily by the Ukrainian-speaking majority in the West of the country. It was largely not supported by the large Russian minority in the East. Now this division is making politics very hostile in this emerging country.


I would argue that America’s politics are stable enough to weather a significantly larger ethnic shock than Ukraine, but that doesn’t change the validity of the geographic argument.


However, I would also argue that the inability for Latin Americans (especially Mexicans) to easily, swiftly and cheaply immigrate is what’s keeping that population so closely hugged to the southern border, as opposed to any unusually strong native-land allegiance. Not only is it easier to illegally migrate into the Southwest, but the states of the Southwest often consciously fail to enforce their immigration laws to a greater extent than their northern counterparts due to their awareness of immigrants’ positive effect on the local economy and labor market.


If immigration laws were reformed to make it easier to import and retain foreign labor, companies throughout the US would be more likely to do so, and those corporations taking most advantage of immigrant labor would be less likely to be restricted to the Southwest. If the legal and economic disincentives were removed, I’m sure mining companies in Minnesota, logging companies in Montana and Dairy farms in Wisconsin would be just as likely to go after this lucrative source of labor.


Placing firmer legal and economic restrictions on immigration will merely increase the costs of using black market labor, and I doubt it would do anything to better integrate existing Latino residents or reduce foreign allegiances. Unnecessary and counterproductive (and explicitly hostile) action against a specific nationality may in fact have the opposite result, making these communities hug more closely to their ghettos for fear of external discrimination.


The fact that new Latino immigrants tend to settle in suburbia, drive SUVs and form safe, family-centered communities is a very American habit which Americans should take advantage of. Anglo-European Americans will change just as much as Latino Americans if the labor market is free enough and barriers to integration low enough, and these changes will make things refreshingly spicier.

House Hunt

Posted in Home on April 24th, 2006 by Дмитрий

We made an offer on a place in Winston-Salem yesterday evening. We’ll know by tomorrow morning whether we got it.


It’s on the higher end of what we wanted, but it’s friggin’ huge: 2100 immaculate sqft on the main level and an unfinished full basement that would make the coolest dungeon on earth one day. Not to mention that it’s in a nice neighborhood that we really like and has a 2-car garage, a nice small, low-maintenance yard on a corner lot, and would require absolutely no work before we could move in.


…Fingers crossed…

Jane Jacobs 1916-2006

Posted in Urbanism on April 25th, 2006 by Дмитрий

She was the lady that taught me to love cities. She taught me to temper my value system with real life. She was real. She understood applied philosophy. I’ll miss her.


David has also written a (more thoughtful) epitaph.

Mi Casa

Posted in Home on April 27th, 2006 by Дмитрий

As you may already know, we’ve entered into contract on our dream house. This is gonna be fun.

The view From Persia

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27th, 2006 by Дмитрий

I often feel that in the 40s, Soviet Russia was a greater threat to American security than Hitler’s Germany. In the end, the US had a lot more in common ideologically with Nazism and a Euro-hegemonic German state could have been pretty easily integrated into a world order with America still in a fairly dominant polar position.


The same could be said in 2000/2001 concerning Iran and Iraq. The US has some pretty strong alliances with much of the Middle East states, which might not bring peace, stability and democracy, but at the minimum gives the US bases, intelligence and influence in those unstable states - Syria and Iran are the only remaining big exceptions. In 2002, Iraq was the biggest exception - it was posing a more imminent and palpable threat than Iran, Syria or Lybia.


Now Iran is the big threat, but the US is at an advantage because in Iraq it has a strong regional base for launching destructive operations against Iran if it so chose (and totally could, despite the ‘overstretched’ pundits), whilst at the same time there exists the need to assert better authority in Iraq against the Sunni terrorists, which Iran’s Shia leaders would probably be amiable to assist with.


Mutual need makes good politics. Interdependence. I would also argue that the whole ’spreading democracy’ is 100% Public Relations, and that neither the US administration nor most Americans care whether Iraq becomes free and democratic - as long as it does not become as large a threat as it was 3 years ago ever again. Tying Iran into a military-political alliance with our puppet government in Iraq might be the quickest way to subdue the threats from both countries.


Posted in Home, San Francisco on April 30th, 2006 by Дмитрий

Lacking any formal plans for Walpurgisnacht, I decided to take a walk. A long walk. After finishing a quick bit of month-end prep at work, I walked through the RWP* District - encompassing Presidio Heights, Pacific Heights, the Marina, North Beach and the various northeastern ‘hills’ - not always an intelligent decision due to my familiarity with the little green monster (envy).


Strangely, this time I found myself obtaining an objective survey of these places, taking in the cuteness and the gaudiness for what it was, getting a few design and gardening ideas here and there, but altogether not feeling so generally deprived and sorry for myself. I think that the syrpuy-thick envy which dribbled from every orifice every time I would see a cute neighborhood or neatly cultivated garden was more than anything envy for the ability to do something which was mine rather than an envy over wealth or privelage. The psychological hole seems to have been filled quite immediately with the thought that once we close on this home we’re buying I’ll have something of my own which will be my responsability and my plaything - that responsability and that plaything is what I wanted more than anything, and now it’s what I have.


Damn. I’m gonna have a house…