Friday, November 05, 2010

Down From The Hills

Got back late last night from three days of exploratory drilling in the high valleys in the north side of the Olympic National Park. The Elwha Valley, to be exact.So for the three days of the 2010 election my day consisted of rising before the sun, eating a rather disappointing breakfast at the Super 8 Motel, driving up into the tributary valleys of the Elwha River, working until sunset, driving down into Port Angeles, finding food and eating it, bathing, and a moment or two of reading before sleep knocked me down like a runaway trolley car.

I was asleep by nine every night.The work was satisfying, though, and the setting was spectacular. In case you've never seen them, the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula have been crafted by artists or photographers to be perfectly spectacular, mountainous-looking mountains. They are like the Platonic ideal of mountains, the sort of improbably sheer, improbably cragged, improbably massive-looking peaks you see in paintings in every cheap motel room.Well, except for the Super 8 Motel; there are no paintings in a Super 8 Motel. The coffee kinda sucks, too.

One intriguing thing about our work area was how deep it was in the canyon. We had glorious sunny weather the last two days, and both days we watched the terminator glide down the mountainside behind us as the corona brightened atop the ridge across the river. The light crept down, the glow over the treetops increased, until at about 12:15 the sun lifted over the crest.

And set at 12:35.I'm serious - I think we had about fifteen to twenty minutes of direct sunlight both days. It's a wonder that anything grows in that dark canyon but moss and fungi.

But it did, and the canyon was lush with the wet fecundity of the Northwest. This included the passersby, who were, mostly, locals heading up to the hot spring. Although the Park Service did their best to make this caldera sound unappetizing (mentioning especially the bacteria, which made me think of yeasty sorts of things infesting the unlucky bather's organs of generation...) the traffic was light but steady.The contractor we were working with mentioned that apparently clothing was typically not an option there at the spring, delivering this detail in salacious tones, but the prospective nude frolickers I met all seemed to be resoundingly unerotic. Nothing frightening, just the antithesis of the sort of rapacious voluptuousness Twenty-first Century America considers "sexy", figures that promised a sort of outdoor sturdiness combined with the small things that separate a woman who uses her body for work and play rather than gets work from the look of her body; roughened skin in the used places like the palms of hands and soles of feet. Thickened wrists, small scars or similar pain-marks left by a mishandled tool or an unseen file drawer. Hair untended other than by washing and drying.

Perfectly attractive women, just not the sort of improbably pneumatic naiad to drive men mad with lust at the sight of them crouching naked in a hot pool talking about the copier problems at work.I did my work, packed up and drove the four hours back to Portland to find that the country has, apparently, had a temper tantrum and decided that since it can't have everything it wants for nothing it will try putting the biggest idiots it can find in positions of power and see how well that works out.

I can just imagine, but not surprisingly Ed at "ginandtacos" already imagined it and better than I ever could (tho the italics are mine):
"As our entire political culture is built on the foundational idea that no one has to live with the consequences of their own actions, that means that Option #1 (the new teatards actually do "cut government spending", i.e. rip the pork teat out of the mouths of the local districts) is about as likely as a Pittsburgh Pirates World Series appearance in 2011. Option #2 (the Tea Crackers discover that, while "government spending is Very, Very BAD, "government spending" for THEM is...ummm...not so bad), of course, means that absolutely nothing will change. The giant freshman class of Republicans – an unsightly parade of the lame, the halt, and the ugly – will very quickly fall in line with the norms of the institution, trying their damnedest to secure their own re-election by redirecting as much of everyone else's tax dollars to his or her district as possible."
This situation seems to have been somewhat moderated here in Oregon, where most of our Dems held their seats and, best of all, the ridiculous gubernatorial bid of former Blazers basketball guard Chris Dudley (was he a guard? Guards seems to have a reputation for thinking of stuff, plays, maybe. Whatever.) was barely foiled in order to return to the Mahonia Mansion former Governor Kitzhaber, who basically staged a sit-down strike the LAST time we ran out of money, back in the Nineties, refusing to sign the idiotic bills the Republican legislature sent him.

He's not exactly electrifying and he has no idea what to do, either, with a state that can't run a deficit, doesn't (yet) want to become Zaire complete with poisonous food, toxic air and water, and yet refuses to tax itself. Or even eighty-six the fucking moronic "kicker" law. He's been elected to be the monkey wrangler on a Monkey Island where every goddam monkey thinks nobody else should get to fling poop but him or her but that he or she should be able to fling their poop without regards for safety, common sense, public weal, scenic value, or anything at all other than their own fucking amusement.

It's an impossible job and I wouldn't take it you paid me in gold and virgins.Mind you, the state I had just left had given itself a knee square in its own balls; refusing to tax even its wealthiest plutocrats AND instated the idiotic 2/3rds "supermajority" rule to prevent their legislature from raising taxes on their own, either. The goal there seems to be to prove that Californians are not the only people who can fuck up an entire state within a generation. We had one of those supermajority rules, too, chumps - it worked about as well as you'd expect. Good luck with that, but I'll bet you'll end up being sorry.

So in the main we're still fucked, and we've now chosen to select some of the most gonzo fuckers from amongst us to lead us. This is the sort of logic that leads men to try and use electric meat grinders for self-pleasure. It cannot and will not end well, whilst the blood and screaming produced by the process will be extremely distressing.Damn. I guess it really is impossible to lose money betting on the stupidity of the American public.


Lisa said...

The stupidity of our electorate seems to know no bounds. It always comes down to greed and money.

However ... the mountains of the Olympic Penninsula were gorgeous. Is it possible to explain the type of work you were doing up there? Do they plan to build something there?

(More Joni Mitchell -- to put up a parking lot?)

Ael said...

I'm confused. There was like a 60 seat swing. That is 30 seats changing hands. Given that there is what, 500 odd seats in the house

So... 30 out of 500 seats, or something like seven percent?

That is a tsunami?

FDChief said...

Lisa: Fear, greed, and stupidity - it's what we do.

The work we're doing in the park was actually both fairly benign but silly. The site is along a trail to the Olympic Hot Springs, a very popular day hike. The huge winter rains in 2007 blew out the embankment when the culvert blocked (a common occurrence in the Northwest mountains, where the old logging roads were built across streams without protections for the culvert inlets) and now the trail is no longer accessible to people in wheelchairs.

I'm serious.

So the plan is to spend several millions to build a suspension bridge so you can roll all the way to the spring.

Seems incredible, but I guess if I had been unlucky enough to have lost a leg to a booby-trap I'd still want to soak in a hot spring with naked hippie chicks like everyone else, so...

Ael: The total number of seats was fairly small, but even the races the D's won were pretty contentious. And the news people, needing a "story", made it out of the teabaggers, effectively enhancing their political power.

Out West we also saw a lot of fairly stupid but rhetorically persuasive ballot initiatives pass; electing people isn't the only outlet for Teh Stupid.

Overall I think the actual number of the gomers is less than their influence through the press. But that influence IS there, and seems to be helping drive the country towards the Idiot Lane.

Lisa said...


Wow, amazing project -- thanks for sharing. Only on the West Coast, methinks.

I'm glad it's not to be a Super Walmart.