Monthly Archives: January 2009

Obama Saves The Internet

For some reason I’ve felt an aversion to reading news about our new President.  But today I read a few articles that made me too happy to ignore:

Ever since the act first came into societal consciousness, I have been following the vicious battle over net neutrality.  For those of you who don’t know much about it, net neutrality is an act that effectively blocks big companies like AT&T from placing a hierarchy on the Internet.  Some sites (read “those with money”) would be easily accessible by anyone with the Internet, while small little websites (such as this blog if it ever gets its own domain name) would be extremely slow.  So slow, I imagine, that it would not be worth waiting around for.  Here’s a fun run down of it.

So why would any company want to slow down the Internet?  Money, money, money.  The more they control the Internet, the more money they make.  And don’t you let any Anne Coulter tell you otherwise.

Obviously, since I’m not ever going to be a CEO of anything and I love the Internet, therefore I am an advocate for net neutrality.  The web, for me, is a place to go when you want to find varying, unedited opinions of everyone from nutjobs to doctors to children to criminals, and sometimes all those things at once.  The web is not like the television or other more regulated mediums; it is open too all who can access it, and it broadens communities while simultaneously facilitating independence and education.

For the past 8 years it has been shaky going, and it seemed that while the Bush Administration was at large, destruction of net neutrality was always lurking just below the surface.  But since Obama named his two FCC Review chair members, the Internet community has been aflutter with joyous buzzing.  Both chair members are strong advocates for net neutrality.

Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy, and they’ve both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration’s telecom policies in the past year.

Their jobs will be to review the agency and arm the president, vice president and prospective agency leader with all the information needed to make key decisions as they prepare to take over.

The choice of the duo strongly signals an entirely different approach to the incumbent-friendly telecom policymaking that’s characterized most of the past eight-years at the FCC.

More of that here.

It is so nice to see that Obama is interested in surrounding his science and technology advisers with people who are actually in touch with those communities at large.  Internet lovers, breathe a sigh of relief.  Obama is, hopefully hear to help.

And let’s hope he doesn’t just stop at the Internet.  There’s a whole lineup of Reagan and Bush doctrines that need clearing up in order to facilitate a less biased media.  With more moves like this, Obama will be taking an important step towards sealing up the deadly leaks left behind by the Bushies.

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22 1/2

I’m 22 1/2 today.  I don’t see why adults gave up on counting half birthdays.  It’s momentous when so much happens in one year, to mark the halfway point.  Here’s to hoping that half the bad stuff of being 22 is over, and half the good stuff is still to come.

I’m feeling anxious and excited today.  Thanks Leah.

Hey Santa Fe

Santa Fe Food

Santa Fe Food

That’s what’s currently wending its way through my digestive track as I write this.  It was delicious.  Scrambled eggs with green chili, organic thick cut bacon and cheese on a garlic bagel.  I ate it all very quickly.

Green chilies, as it turns out, is a major part of the Santa Fe flare, and I’m loving it.  Everywhere I go, even when Rita’s fantastic roommate is cooking for me at her home, green chills are in my food.  Green chili burritos, eggs, quinoa, calzones.  For the rest of my life, whenever I get that cold heat in my nose from slicing open a green chili, I will think of this city.

Santa Fe feels like practice for Peru.  It’s high up in the mountains, and I can feel the altitude when I’m walking around.  Due to some strict building codes and a reputation, all buildings in Santa Fe are built adobe style.  Everything, from liquor stores to consignment shops are red clay and stucco.  Every morning, as I walk to the cafe where I’m writing this, one or two hawks fly right over my head.  Little black ones, dad, but definitely hawks.  It makes it feel like someone reshuffled the American/Mexican border.  Lovely.

Of course, the most lovely part of this whole place is the person that lives here, the one and only Rita “Yee-Haw” O’Connell.

Here’s where she lives, and where I am staying:

The Rita Casita

The Rita Casita

It’s a little bungalow, old and low to the ground, with excellent shag carpets and strange but beautiful paintings by one of her roommates’ grandmother.

Rita works every day from 8:30 to 2pm, so most of my days are spent relaxing in her house.  She taught me to play chess the other day in a laundry mat, and since then I have spent my mornings practicing the game with her roommate, Jack, the one that cooks.  In fact, we usually are eating eggs, green chili and crispy hash browns while we play.  I can say usually, because it’s happened twice and I’ve only been here for 3 mornings.

After a nice quiet, relaxing morning in her house (I deserve it; a bed and a shower were very missed and will be missed again), I usually set out to walking around Santa Fe.  It has been in the 40s and windy, so today I have succumbed to just hanging out in this awesome coffee shop only a few blocks from Rita’s house and drinking too much coffee.  But here are some things I saw while walking around:

Two Cathedrals

Two Cathedrals

Los Montanas

Los Montanas

The Mighty Santa Fe River, Once The Most Endagered River in the US

The Mighty Santa Fe River, Once The Most Endagered River in the US

Sorry…still don’t know how to flip…

A Woman Restores Some Flowers At St. Guadlupe's Feet

A Woman Restores Some Flowers At St. Guadlupe's Feet

Rita Came to Pick Me Up at the Train Station

Rita Came to Pick Me Up at the Train Station

Soon Rita will be out of work and we’ll head a few towns over to Taos, where Rita used to live.  Can’t wait!  Then…LA here I come.  Rumors of Disneyland as my final act in America.

*Note:  Last night I saw the movie Dr. Strangelove.  I strangeloved it.

A List of People I Met and Things I Saw/Did While Taking a Train From Chicago to Lamy, NM

Most of this happened in the observation car of the Southwest Chief, or in the car directly behind it.

  • A gold miner from Colorado.  He was on the way back from his grandmother’s funeral.  He runs heavy machinery and works only 14 days a year.  He said I was wise to do what I was doing, and not get married and have a daughter and divorce, like he did when he was my age.  So, I guess points for me.  Apparently, there actually is gold in them thar hills.
  • Lost my iPod.
  • Searched for my iPod with the help of a surly Amtrak steward.
  • Never found my iPod.
  • The sunrise over Colorado planes.  It went from pink to tangerine to blue seamlessly.
  • A female correction’s officer from a maximum security prison in Kansas.  She worked there because she lost her job at General Motors.
  • Her autistic 10 year old son who taught himself how to play the piano and has perfect pitch.
  • Little red towns with names like Las Vegas and Raton.
  • Mountains!  Mountains!
  • Icy edged rivers, no more than a trickle.
  • Tumbleweed, twice.
  • Kaleb, a hillbilly from West Virginia.  He sold everything he owned except for a sweatshirt, hat, gloves, brown overalls and a jacket.  He is trying to go all the way around the world.  He has never been out of the US except for one trip to Niagara Falls.  He has no money left, and just that morning had eaten his first meal out of a dumpster (the left behind half of a Hardee’s potato hash and egg scramble).  His favorite bible story is the one where King David pretends to lose his mind.  He believes that the flood of Noah formed the Grand Canyon.
  • A little old woman on a platform selling playing cards, mittens, earrings, toothbrushes and the like in the vicious cold of the Colorado morning.  She made no sales on our train.
  • Many Amish people, two of whom I talked with for a few hours.  They were on their way to a picture framing convention in Las Vegas.  Still, days later, I’m pondering what that would be like.
  • A bagel that, when I asked for its variety, was described as “a brown one” and when I asked for it toasted it was microwaved.  It cost $3.50.
  • Rita, sweet sweet Rita.

On Losing My Ipod

I don’t know whether my iPod was left behind or stolen.   I prefer to think it was stolen.

That way, someone out there who is in a position where they are desperate enough to steal an iPod from a stranger now has an iPod, or else a little more cash.

Also, there was a lot of good music on that iPod, and I hope that whoever stole/found it listens to it, and spreads the word.

Lastly, I’m taking it as a cosmic cue that I need to be more tuned in to the actual sounds around me as I trek across the world.

Losing my iPod?  Not a big deal.

UPDATE:  My iPod was most definitely stolen by the guy mentioned in this post.

Throw Momma From The Train

For an alternate version of what I’m doing, check out my mother’s awesome blog.  Also featured here on the Blogroll to the right.

Nina and The Homeless of Chicago

The train I took from Chicago to Santa Fe

The train I took from Chicago to Santa Fe

Well, I completed the first part of my intensely long train trip with success.

I boarded the Amtrak train in Boston at noon on Thursday, and rode that girl all the way to Chicago.  The car I was in was rather small, but I had a seat to myself for the majority of the trip.  I read mostly, this book by Margaret Atwood which is a page-turner, eye-opener masterpiece.

I was drawing a picture of myself on the train in my journal, and underneath it I wrote “I want to make a friend.”  As I was doing this, the girl sitting behind me started talking on her cell phone to someone, and said, “There aren’t that many cool people on this train, but the ride is pretty.”  As soon as she hung up, I turned around to chat with her, and actually ended up talking with her all the way to Chicago.

Her name was Nina, and she had just graduated from high school.  She was on her way back to her home on Chicago, where she was going to pack up her things to leave for India.  She habitually used the phrase, “Wandering Youth” to describe our bond.  We had some nice discussion, and she was more than happy to help me put away the flask of vodka I had packed myself.

Unfortunately, Amtrak neglected to tell me that we were making a 2 hour pit stop in Albany, NY.  I don’t know if you have been to Albany, but I would go ahead and say it is the opposite of glamorous.  They also neglected to tell me that if I got off the train in Albany, I could not get back on until 5 minutes before departure.  So I got to spend a lovely two hours reading and eating surprisingly good chowder in the Albany train station.  Then I was back on my way.

Around 10:30 we were both tired, and the scenery outside had faded from the snow-covered oak trees of Massachusetts and Upstate New York to pitch black flatness of the Midwest, so we went to sleep.  This was a trial.  First it was frigidly cold on the train, and I didn’t have much to cover up with.  I slept for a good period of time on my seat, but then Mr. Conductor woke me up and told me someone had to sit with me.  So I got up and moved over with Nina, since everyone had to double up anyway.  Nina slept on my lap for a while like a kitty kat, but eventually even that was too cold so I moved to the back of the train where it was warmer.  I slept on the floor amongst luggage until they yelled at me and told me to move.  By that time the sun was coming up, and I got to watch the beautiful flatlands of places like South Bend, Indiana.  It was so very flat, and it looked to me like a setting where quiet serial killers would flourish.  I wouldn’t want to live there, but I was still intrigued by how different it looked from the east coast I was used to.

Finally we pulled into Chicago, the train moving at half the speed of smell, about 45 minutes behind schedule.  I was sad to learn that it was a brisk 10 degrees there, but I slipped my PJs on under my jeans and took to the city.

First I saw this.

The Bean

This is the Bean, a really weird piece of art in Chicago that reflects a the whole city.

It's in front of a skating rink.

It's in front of a skating rink.

I had to keep moving because it was so cold, but I went in a search for some deep dish pizza and found it.  I have to say, I like the original NY pizza better.  This stuff has so much cheese I think one of my arteries is still clogged.

As I was walking from destination to destination, I had about 4 or 5 conversations with the homeless of Chicago.  Though I didn’t give any of them money, because I myself am broke and somewhat homeless, they were all so friendly.  One man even hugged me. stole my iPOD!  I can´t believe how long it took me to put two and two together.

After pizza I had to head back to the train station to board the next train, the Southwest Chief to Santa Fe, which I will write about later.  For now, Rita is coming to meet me on her lunch break for a bit.  Miss everyone back east, and keep an eye out for more update soon.