Friday, August 31, 2012

I Knew A Woman

(By Theodore Roethke)
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).
How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).
Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).
Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways).

Forty-six years ago you parted company with your mother for the first time; today you are with her and parted from me, yet you will not be parted from me. You are my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest, my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.

I know our love will not last forever.

But I can hope that it will last as long as we live.

Happy Birthday, love.

March of Folly

As it is now, so it ever was:

This is what I was talking about in the previous post.

It's blatantly clear that the GOP has decided to double down on the Gilded Age this year.

There is no other "plan" there.

The Romney/Ryan agenda is the same goddamn thing we've been seeing from the U.S. Right since Goldwater; crony capitalism, corporate welfare (largely in the form of massive "investment" in weapons systems and military hardware), deregulation, tax cuts, deconstruction of the New Deal social safety net, and generally comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

That's not surprising, and that's not unexpected.

What IS surprising to me is the number of Americans who seem to approve of all this.

Because the proposed GOP end-state is not a good thing for the non-two-yacht family.

Because outside the very wealthy - what used to be referred to in Kenya by the delightful term "wa-Benzi" ("the tribe of the Mercedes Benz") - the rest of us depend on a beneficent government for a decent shot at economic and social success, a level runup to the Pursuit of Happiness.

We depend on regulations to ensure us wholesome foods, and safe work and living places. (Those "onerous regulations"? They didn't happen because the Regulation Fairy decided to fuck over the Wealth Producers. They happened because the Producers gave us this
...and this...
(That's Love Canal, BTW and you can pretty much replace it with every other toxic shitdump near your home where some business decided that it was too expensive to deal with their waste and simply tossed it for you to inhale and ingest). Onerous, my ass).

We depend on government to repair our roads and bridges. To pay judges and policemen and home inspectors and engineers enough that they will be relatively honest and impartial.

We depend on government to do all the things we can't do by ourselves - try being your own freeway or armored division or weather service and see how well that works.

And the GOP has no intention of doing any of this. Okay, well, they seem to like the armored division thing. But otherwise, no, and not well.

But they can't SAY that. Because generally Americans like their water drinkable, their air clean, their jobs safe, and their plumbers well-trained.

Like Lee Atwater said all those years ago; you have to say "forced busing" or "excessive regulation" instead of what you mean, which is that Evil Gummint is taking your money and giving it to lazy black people and pettifogging bureaucrats.

Mind you, the modern Left has lost it's nerve, it's integrity, and it's vision. I cannot see anyone on what passes for the liberal side of the U.S. aisle who possesses any shred of interest in fighting, genuinely fighting, for the interests of those not wealthy enough to buy a Congressman or two. Sure, they'll talk a good talk, but the Democratic Party - all that passes for "liberal" in this country - is more than willing to sit on their hands and watch the return of neofeudalism and a second Gilded Age. I have nothing but contempt for them, whining naethings that they are.

But the GOP and its intellectual siderunners the libertarians have utterly lost their collective minds, and that is what is largely driving this hellbound bus.

My friend seydlitz likes to propose elegant, academic rationales for what he sees as this unprecedented recent collapse of the U.S. middle and working class and the return of the elites. He's a hell of a smart guy and it shows; he writes and (I suspect) thinks like an officer, and a damn good one.

But I'm an old sergeant, and I think like a sergeant.

And sergeants know; most people are and always have been fucking fuckwits who would gleefully slam their own dicks in a door if they thought there was a nickel or a bag of candy for them in it.
Going back to the very top of the post you can see that We the People have ALWAYS been willing to believe a comfortable lie rather than the unpleasant truth, always been willing to go along with the con man who tells us what we want to hear rather than do the hard, difficult, unrewarding work of finding out the facts and figuring out what they mean.

So here I am again standing on the curb, watching the Great Parade of American Stupid pass by, waving flags, cheering and chanting for their own future destitution and desuetude, and I cannot seem to make them see or understand the inevitable horrific end of their March of Folly.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


The Fire Direction crew had a pleasant weekend vacationing along the Coast, staying at the Steward's House on the grounds of Fort Columbia, one of the rivermouth defenses I talked about during our discussion of the "Battle of Clatsop Plains" back in June.
The weather - always a consideration when traveling with children, let alone vacations in general - was perfect; bright and breezy. The kiddos loved the beach, Mojo loved the quiet charm of the former Coast Artillery post, and I enjoyed the chance to just drift. No work, no news, nothing to pull me this way or that.

Well, except the children.
Those of you who are parents will know that there is no such thing as "placid" where kiddos get involved. My daughter in particular is a viciously early riser - "We're the light sleepers, Daddy...mommy and the Boy are heavy sleepers!" the Girl crowed as we shared a bath together at 6 a.m.

No, I'm not kidding. Such is modern childrearing, at least around here and now.
I'm sure if I had turned up alongside my father's bed in the pre-dawn hours and reminded him that he'd promised to tub with me he would have told me in no uncertain terms to piss off back to bed.

I got up and ran the tub. Some things change in forty years.

Still, we all loved playing on the strand, and the huge kites at Long Beach, Washington, where we stumbled into something called the "kite festival". I had made sure to bring some beach agates, acquired at the local rock shop, to salt the beach near Cape Disappointment so that the Girl could find her treasured agates. The Boy did surprisingly well for a couple of days without videogames. Mojo slept late, read, walked, and relaxed.
It was altogether fine.

Oh - and before I get off the subject, let me recommend the little "Columbian Cafe" to you. If you're ever in Astoria around suppertime, I thoroughly recommend you try this place; the freshest of local seafoods and pastas, all prepared in the master's unique style.
My Dungeness-crab-in-lemon-caper-linguine was to die for, is all I'm sayin'. Go and try it.
But no sooner had we returned to Portland than Mojo and the kiddos packed and flew off to New England to visit the Gellar grandparents, leaving me to batch it alone in the Fire Direction Center.
And my work took the opportunity to load me down with a pantsload of things to do. I've been getting home at seven or eight each night, and, foolishly, I assumed that I'd have acres of time with the family away to finally refinish the bedroom floor.
Anyway, that's going apace, but it's been a damn busy week so far and I've had little opportunity for posting, even though I've been eaten up with frustration watching and reading the accounts of the carnival of mendacity that had been this season's GOP convention.
But that's another post entirely.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

For This Relief

I would like to claim that I have not been posting much because it's been too fucking hot to sit over a whirring hard-disk fan.

Or because I've been up before dawn and often home after dark.

I've had a month of those, yes.

But that isn't why I haven't been posting.

It's because every so often I look outside my little world; my home, my work, my immediate friends and family, and see what my country has become and I'm just dog-sick and tired.

I just don't have anything decent to say, I don't have anything at all to say other than a long string of expletives, and even though I'm proud of my gift for bad language I'm not sure you really come here for that.

For example, just this week I happened across a couple of news items - one local, the other national - that made me want to throw something heavy and breakable, like a coffee cup, against the wall.

One was the ridiculous tizzy over the whole "legitimate rape" statement of the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.
And my furor was probably not about what you'd think.

Of COURSE Todd Akin doesn't really think that there's a magical "off" switch in your uterus that locks out rapist sperm but lets in sweet-lovin'-baby-makin'-daddy sperm.

Todd Akin thinks that every damn sperm is sacred.

Which makes him no different that forty zillion other Republican douchenozzles that have nothing better to do than blabber on to everyone within earshot about what happens north of women's labia minora as if it's their own personal safety deposit box and Christmas present.

Todd Akin is a Christopathic bag of wind.

That's NOT the problem.

No. The problem is - what the FUCK are we doing talking about rape and pregnancy in the first place?

Or abortion?

Or anything ELSE having to do with "who puts what where" during an election for the U.S. Senate?

Is rape, pregnancy, or abortion now a Federal crime?

Did someone make Senators obstetrician/gynecologists by fiat when I wasn't looking?

Is the World's Supposedly Greatest Deliberative Body now also running a 24-hour-rape-crisis-hotline-and-VD-clinic?

I don't think so.

So...what in the thrice-damned name of Sumner Brooks are we talking about this crap for?

Why would any sane American, let alone a sane American who aspired to membership in the nation's senior legislative body, want to have anyfuckingthing to do with legislating what happens inside a woman's womb?

Are we fucking mad?

Until fetal viability what happens there, frankly, in my opinion, is between the woman and her conscience. Or the woman and her partner. Or her family. Or whoever else she chooses to involve.

The rest of us - as people, as her neighbors, as her fellow citizens, can drink a nice hot cup of shut the fuck up and let her get on with what she needs to do. If she's a competent adult, that's both her privilege and her right.

But...this isn't about private citizenry.

This is about a goddamn election for the U.S. Senate, at a time when that body is confronted with a five-year Depression, a runaway financial industry, rising long-term joblessness, a declining manufacturing base, multiple undeclared foreign wars, secret prisons, who-the-hell-knows-what-covert-nonsense-all-over-the-globe, along with a grab-bag of other assorted idiocies like corkscrewing over "Second Amendment Rights", immigration nuts, Kenyan socialism, death panels, Medicare-vouchers, deficit tomfoolery, and the popularity of pseudo-science or flat-out weapons-grade moron-"science" like anti-vaccination hysteria and young-Earth creationism.

Jesus fucking wept, people! And you have time to natter on about "legitimate rape" and this idiot's ideas of magical contraception?

And - worse - you STILL want to vote for this fucking idiot?

So that was the national story.

And then there was the local story: "...the 34th local family to have a son die in Afghanistan since the war began."

I could barely hold onto the World's Worst Newspaper as I read this, a public keening for the young trooper from Tigard, Oregon, killed on some sort of what-the-fuck mission ("a 48-hour mission to secure an observation post") in Charkh, a part of Logar Province that is described in its Wiki entry as the "Bab al-Jihad" or "Gates of Holy War" dfor the ferocity of the region's religious nuts during the Soviet years.
And let me note that - as a purely personal military observation - what the fuck does "securing an observation post" mean?

An OP is an outpost for a larger defensive position; it helps provide security for that position and, as such, is not generally intended to be secure, defensible or defended, much less fought to establish. If you're fighting to set out a fucking OP, what the hell does that tell you about the security of your main perimeter?

It surprises me not a bit that later in the article the author admits that "...Andrew's unit was pulled off that hill in Charkh after his death because it was deemed too risky for anyone to be there."

But what really got to me was the writer's conclusion:

"I stood in his family's home watching as they wrestled with their son's brave desire to serve his country and their gut-twisting grief. I kept coming back to that flight before boot camp. I hope the passenger sitting beside Andrew in Row 17 turned and thanked him.

I hope someone thanked him for us all."

And it made me want to vomit bile and flame.

It made me want to find my oldest pair of field boots (the ones with all the black worn off to the point where they look almost like the ones the young men like this young man wear walking the barbarous land down to their graves) and find this writer who thinks that the casually meaningless thanks of strangers will return the heart ripped out by grief to the chests of the fathers and mothers, the sisters, and the lovers, and stomp the living shit out of him so he can feel a tiny particle of the pain of those thus bereft by another mite added to the heap of death that is central Asia.

I don't hope someone had thanked this poor bastard.

I wish the hell that someone had grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off of that damn 80-pax on the way down to the departure airfield.

I wish like a sunofabitch that all the precious political savants and military geniuses that thought that it was a good idea to send young men from the suburbs of Portland to fight a goddamn war of imperial pacification in one of the most turbulent and unruly parts of the world were airdropped naked into the hills of Logar Province with a charred Koran shackled around their necks and the words "Fuck You Allah!" pained in Pashto on their asses.

I wish that there was some way to take the round that tore apart the universe that lived inside this young guy's skull and hammer it point-first, misshapen and clotted with the blood and brains of his last moments of life, into the goddamn forehead of every parlor patriot and bumper-sticker Rambo and gung-ho Congresscritter that every talked about "sacrifice" and "heroism".

I wish young Andy was home right now in Tigard, fooling his young life away texting bullshit to his bros, fishing all day, and screwing his pretty fiancee' giddy all night.
I wish a lot of things. I wish my country was smarter, braver, more decent, less greedy and stupid. I wish that I didn't look ten and twenty years into the future and see a harder, meaner, bleaker, stupider United States and feel comforted by the fact that I will likely be too dead to loathe it.

But right now I really wish that I didn't have to think about those things.

So for the next three days I am going away with my family. To a little cottage in an old coastal fort, whose warring days are long past. We will listen to the wind in the shore pines, and the sound of the seabirds crying, and the boom and rush of the surf at night. We will play silly games, and comb the beach for shells.

My daughter is obsessed with going to "Agate Beach", and so - since there are no agates on the beaches of southwestern Washington - I have slunk away to the rock shop and purchased a small bag of "genuine Oregon beach agates" to salt the sands for her to find some treasures.

I will read, and sleep, and laze about. I will make love to my bride, and cook and eat whatever I please and not worry about my diet. I will, I hope, find a still, silent place within to armor myself against my next rude encounter with the rough beastliness of my nation and the large number of its people who seem to want to make it a place I would not choose to inhabit were it my choice to make.
And for this relief, much thanks, for it is bitter cold, and I am sick at heart.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Jukebox: Heat Torture Session Edition

It is fucking hot outside.
I'm going to lie down with a cold beer and I suggest that you do the same.

(FWIW, I picked this song because 1. Mark Knopfler fucking rules, and, 2. I love the lyrics for his song. I can hear the old mercenary dying in the courtyard of the crapped-out roadside inn, sneering at the civilians and begging the priest for the absolution he suddenly understands that he so desperately craves.)

I am just an aging drummer boy
And in the wars I used to play
And I've called the tune to many a torture session.
Now they say I am a war criminal
And I'm fading away;
Father, please hear my confession.

I have legalized robbery
And called it relief.
I have run with the money
I have hid like a thief.
Rewritten histories with armies, and my crooks;
Invented memories,
And burned all the books.

And I can still hear his laughter
And I can still hear his song
The man's too big
The man's too strong.

Well, I've tried to be meek,
I have tried to be mild,
But I spat like a woman,
And I sulked like a child.
I have lived behind walls that have made me alone;
Striven for peace
Which I never have known.
And I can still hear his laughter
And I can still hear his song
The man's too big
The man's too strong.

Well, the sun rose on the courtyard
And we all did hear him say
"You always was a Judas,
But I got you anyway.
You may have got your silver
But I swear upon my life
Your sister gave me diamonds
And I gave 'em to your wife.
Oh father, please help me
For I have done wrong
The man's too big
The man's too strong."

Find some shade. It's FUCKING hot outside.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;
Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces' pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by.

~ Dorothy Parker

La Lanterne Rouge

One thing that Portland does rather well is bicycling.

Don't mistake me; we're smack down in the middle of Northwest Redneck Gooberland, where trucknuts and mudflap girls roll throughout the outer Southeast and beyond Beaverton to the west, but in our downtown we have worked diligently to make riding the velocipede safer and more beguiling than most other parts of the U.S.
Back in the day I used to commute to my old job over the West Hills on my lead-pipe-construction Kona hybrid, grunting and sweating up one side and freewheeling down the other morning and night. Sharing Barnes Road with the cars sucked, but the ride through the Washington Park forest on the east side of the hills was a hell of a great way to imagine yourself breaking away from the peleton through the hills of the Vosges or up the wooded slopes of the Pyrenees.
My present office lies too far over the hills and far away from North Portland even assuming I wanted to risk the ride up and down Germantown Road. And my uneven legs have made cycling - exercising in general - a less regular event for me. So it was with a little trepidation that I entered the 17th edition of the Bridge Pedal, Portland's annual mass celebration of cycling, and headed downtown before dawn to try and ride over nine of our ten Willamette River bridges.
Well, I didn't make nine; between the St. John's Bridge and the long ride back downtown to cross the Fremont my right knee just crapped out. The fact that I had just ridden past the Fire Direction Center probably had something to do with my unwillingness to ride through the sore knee and achy hip. As did the realization that my fitness is completely gone.

In the day I was a beast of a climber. Not much on descents for fear of falling, but going uphill I was relentless. Sunday, however, the second small incline set my legs to burning with lactose buildup, and by the ride up the road to the big green suspension bridge to North Portland I was gassed. The feeling that your body has betrayed you is an ugly one, and bone loss or no, I have got to figure out how to get back in the saddle. I despise my weakness; I'd rather hurt than simply give up my strength.
So Team Me recorded a DNF on Sunday, I'm afraid, and is now looking for a new directeur sportif to get the boys back into the peleton, if nothing else, as the red light at the tail end of the train.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Friday Jukebox...ummm...comes...early edition.

Did you know that tomorrow is Singapore's "National Day"? And that after National Day comes "National Night"?Where, after the independence parades, rallies, and fireworks, all good Singaporeans do their duty.

To make more.


Oh, fuck it. Just watch the damn video and tell me that this isn't one strange goddamn world.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

X and Y. And Z.

As Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh famously said; "Sometime you win.
Sometimes you lose.
Sometimes... rains."
It has been a very strange and busy sort of week; to give you an example, the last of the four pictures above is where I spent my suppertime yesterday - standing over a fifty-year-old tank full of well-fermented used food in Corvallis.

And they say that modern times lack romance and adventure. Piffle!

Anyway, I've been too busy to post; it's almost nine p.m. and I'm still at work, so I'll just throw out a couple of random musings.

Hopefully I'll post something more coherent this weekend.
One great thing about my job is that it takes me to some of the most beautiful parts of Oregon, not just the ones with filthy foetid septic tanks. This is Sunset Beach, on the Coos County Coast.
The high seacliff is formed from the Eocene Coaledo Formation, and this 35 to 40 million-year old marine sedimentary rock is well known for it's fossil shells;
As I was fossil-hunting these three girls wandered up and caught the fever; here's the middle daughter carefully pounding an anadara sp. out of the siltstone:
...she did it nicely, too, and went home with a good fossil.

Just to the south is the spare, rock-bound, haunting loveliness of Cape Arago...
...with the bizarre manicured beauty of Shore Acres, the remnant of a Jazz Age Mitt Romney's pleasure dome, perched uneasily nearby.
Merely steps away from the formal rosebeds and the koi pond are the fierce upthrust rocks of Simpson Reef and the violent collision of land and sea; the contrast is at once soothing and disturbing.
My work there was all too brief, but I have been away from my family for long days, so as spectacular as the scenery was I was glad to return home.

The poor little cat is still slowly dying. Steroids have fought to reduce the ruthless growth that is destroying her from the inside, and she has improved a bit in the past weeks. But she is still visibly thinner, and weaker, and, less adorably, tends to lose bowel control at random moments. The worst part of such a death is the theft of dignity, and she seems to be ashamed, and slightly aggrieved at every episode.
I am already grieving for her. For all that she is no more than a small domestic predator, we have shared quite a long while together - more than fifteen years - and I will miss her small silent presence and soft fur when she is gone.

As you may have noted, my beloved Timbers are having a terrible season, and today I received word that our goalkeeper, Troy Perkins, was dealt away in a straight keeper-for-keeper swap.

I am not one of those who swooned for the man as a player.

For one thing, I kept the goal myself back in the day, so his shortcomings were painful for me to watch, and he did have them; his positioning was not always good, his distribution out of the back frankly terrible, and he was not a particularly effective leader of his defense.

But he was an upright man, never willing to speak a comfortable lie when the truth would better serve.

As a player he was strong, and brave, and a good shot-stopper. He loved the team, and he loved our city, and he spoke to those fans who loved him in return.

He never quit - well, once, but only for a moment - and I will miss him, our first #1. I wish him well wherever he goes.
And the truth is that his loss is not our gain; his replacement is not a solution, and the woes of this season appear certain to go on - we will be unbelievably lucky to avoid the wooden spoon.

But onward, Rose City!

Last Saturday I volunteered at our local Rose City Rollers flat-track derby club - again - but this time had the strange experience of men's roller derby.
Merby, as it's called sometimes, is not the same game. The men are huge, and their mass more than makes up for their lack of skill and tactical experience.
The "Bro City Brollers" played a pick-up team from our derby gals and won handily. It was hard to watch the very talented gals block a guy fifty pounds heavier and get nothing - it must have been like wrestling with a Hereford.
And the guys didn't really have to block; they were so huge they just stood there and took up practically the whole track. You could see how frustrating it was for the women, used to using their speed and strength against opponents with similar size and weight.
When I hear people going on about how unfair life is I think about things like this; the fact that men are usually larger, and stronger, than women is unfair. That a mere Y instead of a XX should make someone so much less vulnerable is not kind and is not fair.

But it is also a sort of unkind and unfair that is the product of nothing more than Nature's cruel caprice, and not anyone or anything's "fault".

Nature and genetics will no more listen to your complaints than the ocean will respond to the pleading of a drowning man.

All you can do, and, perhaps, the best thing you can do, is what the women did that night; pick yourself up and throw yourself at that object again and again.

You will lose. That's the unfair part. You will not, cannot, win.

But you will not be beaten.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Silver and gold

Since this year's Tour ended my bride and I have taken to making the Summer Olympics our occasional morning or evening tube break. They're sort of perfect for that purpose; you don't have to remember what happened last week, you can tell who's-who because the actors usually have their names somewhere either on their shirts or on the screen, and the entire little episode usually wraps up in less than an hour.
And sometimes you get to enjoy some truly delicious weirdness.

Don't get me wrong; I appreciate many of the sports for the skill and dedication they require. But, honestly? I could probably go to my grave without really caring who wins all those shooting medals (what's the point unless the target gets to shoot back, really?), I can't help but thinking that beach volleyball is sort of ridiculous (what other "sport" has to be played in a bikini, and, if it does, why don't the men have to wear Speedos?), and, really, fucking water polo?

It may be a hell of a sport to play, but it's the most boring sport to watch outside competitive chess if you're willing to count that as a sport and I don't.
But the thing that got me thinking about all this was catching a brief moment of some Yank getting a gold for shooting something - skeet, I believe.

And it was all very nice, but...the relentless homerism of the NBC broadcasting network really grates on me. It's nice that some American boy will take home a medal for shooting clays, about hearing and seeing some of those gajillions of other people who have come all this way to compete?
And the flag-waving and medal counting...

Ugh. I could go on and on, but, why?

The bottom line is, has always been, and always will be that nationalism and patriotic lust for gold and silver drives the Olympic bus. Take away the flags and anthems and uniforms and turn it into a bunch of random people just trying to be the best kayaker or fencer or judo player in the world?

Good luck getting forty or fifty people in a high-school gym for that one, bub.
Aside from all the ridiculous puffery on the one hand and the genuine hard graft and effort on the other the one thing about these Games that sort of fascinates me are the stories of the folks down there at the bottom of the "medal count", the single champions or runners-up from (mostly) the little countries at the south end of the world. The weightlifter from Taiwan, the track cycling gal from Hong Kong, the epee fencer from Venezuela.
What is it like to be these people?

To beat the odds, to beat the weightlifters and cyclists and fencers from the big nations with the big money and the big organizations, to stand there with the broad satin ribbon and the big metal disk on your chest while you listen to the music playing that's telling the world that for the next four years you are the best in the world at your sport (or second best, or all the world!) and that you have done something that no one else - no one - in all your country has done?
How does that feel? How would I feel, if it was me, standing there, knowing that I would probably be the lone Uzbek or Taiwanese to fly home with one of those beribboned trophies?

It must be a very odd feeling, and a very fierce feeling, and a very wonderous feeling, all at the same time.