It is 12:35 PM on Tuesday November 19th, 2019. The weather is overcast with gray clouds, the temperature a cool 62 degrees and a strong wind blows through the trees. It is this type of weather that lets me know we are in autumn.
There are a number of thoughts running through my head so this post will be jumping all over the place.
Early morning when the rest of the household is still asleep is my favorite time. The stars still shine up above and at this type of year Orion is reliably overhead letting me know yet another year has passed. I enjoy the stillness of the early morning; it is when I can hear my inner voice with clarity and it brings me my best ideas and the confidence to make changes in my life.
In the early morning the day is brimming with opportunity. It is after all the first day of the rest of my life. Then as sure as the sun rises my mind goes on autopilot as it becomes bogged down with the various tasks and work I need to do. I feel as though I could almost checkout mentally and my fingers would still type, my feet still move, meetings could still be run and reports still processed. My tasks would still be accomplished whether or not I’m present mentally.
My mindset about the USA.
The age of Trump has completely changed my outlook and feeling of what it means to be an American. I’m 42 now and a viewpoint doesn’t change easily but the disaster that is Trump has also been a disaster for my feelings about the USA. For my entire life I had thought we were all on the same team. Sure we had our differences but at the end of the day we all wanted what was best for each other. Now, I unequivocally understand that I was completely wrong. The true purpose and DNA of America is for individual profit at all costs. This has been clearly shown by Republicans blockage of universal healthcare, their disdain for the environment, and the anger and hatred they spew daily on the Fox News channel.
I’m sorely disappointed in all of this. I was under the illusion that at the highest levels, all Americans were a team. How stupid I was. I thank the Republicans for clearly showing me that we are not on the same team. I’ll never make that mistake again for as long as I live. And with that, I’ll release all patriotism, the part of myself that was proud to identify as American, and (try) to release the crushing disappointment in my countrymen who support Trump. They are more enemies now than a countryman.
I still think that at the local level we can work together and do what is best for the community. But for those that support Trump, again, they are more akin to an enemy than a countryman given what Trump has tried to do. Perhaps the environment will change in the 2020 election but as for my own thoughts, I now completely understand that the underlying structure of America is personal profit with the ultra rich pulling the strings. Everyone below is simply a pawn in this global game.
Random thought about BMW and Lexus owners
BMW and Lexus owners are for the most part assholes. I’ve said this before and it hasn’t changed. I’d say that 80% of the time they drive aggressively and as though they are entitled. Any why shouldn’t they? We are in America aren’t we? Money rules and all the peasants who do not drive a BMW or Lexus should get off the road. I swear that those driving Lamborghinis, Jaguars and McLarens are more courteous! It is as though the BMW and Lexus owners have a need to show they are better than others by being rude to them on the road, whereas those that drive the Uber expensive cars are secure in their wealth. For those that drive a BMW or Lexus, you’ve already started off on the wrong foot with me and I expect you will be an asshole until you prove otherwise.
The Nintendo Switch
I got my own Switch a while back and love it. It allows me to play Fortnite with my son and is a great way to bond with him. The Switch has also given me a large dose of nostalgia with classic Genesis games. When I play them I can catch a flicker of my teenage mindset, my thoughts and feelings, when I played Genesis games as a kid. It is only a flicker but I really enjoy those very brief flashes of long ago.
My mom got me an air quality detector I had long wanted. It all started with the fires that are occurring with greater frequency here in California. I found an app called IQAir Visual that was really fantastic in letting me know how the air quality was outside. They also make detectors but at $260 I couldn’t just buy one. My mom got me one as an early Christmas present and I’m glad she did! The surprise was not in the air quality as the readings were as expected but instead the CO2 levels which I had never thought of.
I work in my shed which in industrial lingo is a “confined space.” From my days at Grainger I know confined spaces are dangerous but never thought of my own shed as being confined or dangerous. With my new sensor however I quickly learned that the CO2 levels were terrible!! The reason is because I usually kept the windows and door closed but of course I still had to breathe. Therefore, the amount of oxygen in my shed quickly lowered while CO2 from my breathe quickly elevated. I’ve been working in this shed for two years and all the while been breathing awful air!
This was absolutely astounding to me. Here I am, thinking I’m relatively smart and have my life under control only to learn that I’ve been really hurting my health by breathing poor air and was completely oblivious about it for such a long time. It made me think about all the other things we do not know yet affect us greatly. We have chemicals that surround us with my favorite example being that of lead in gasoline. It was everywhere, permeating everyone and not until the 60s that a scientist called it out (and was attacked by other scientists!). What else surrounds us, permeates us that we do not realize and may never realize? The greatest example I can think of at the moment is dark matter. We have no idea what it is yet it is all around. Going further we could even get philosophical and perhaps all of life is just an illusion, yet just like CO2, without a sensor we are blissfully unaware.
Well, it is now 1:42 and I have some more tasks to accomplish today.
NASA is doing the public outreach again where you can add your name to a tiny silicon chip that will be aboard the 2020 Mars Rover. I got my boarding pass and more frequent flyer miles!
A few weeks ago my wife showed me a few free children’s tickets to the Garden Bros Circus she had gotten somewhere during her usual routines. My kids had never been to the circus and I think I’ve been only once in my life although the only memories I have are just flickers and could possibly be false. I try to pull any memories from the deep recesses of my brain and a distant echo tells me I did go but it is all just very faint shadow. Now I have been to Cirque du Soleil pre-kids back in 2008 or so but that doesn’t count.
Anyway, I was on-board as I thought it might be a fun experience and then we could say we’ve all been to the circus. So I hopped on Ticketmaster looking for those extra cheap tickets of $12.95 “to the first 100 buyers” that the children’s tickets had promised. Of course none were available (if it they ever were) and so with taxes and fees a single ticket jumped up to $33 and then I ended up getting scammed by purchasing “insurance” on the ticket which I had thought was free which bumps up the ticket to about $40. I wrote about this in a previous post entitled “American Scam.”
Well, last Sunday it was finally time to go and I was a bit curious to see what a circus would look like in the year 2019 and in the Cow Palace, not in some dusty field, under tents in the middle of nowhere. My image of a true circus is a bit like in the Disney movie Dumbo. It is a ragtag group of transients, misfits, acrobats, hobo clowns, elephants and other large animals, traversing the country by train entertaining the simple folk near countryside towns in some farming community nobody has ever heard of.
To start the experience I was proud of myself realizing that you can just park on the street and walk to the Cow Palace instead of paying the $15 or $20 they charge to park in the Cow Palace parking lots. I’ll never pay that fee again, it is a complete rip off making the $12.95 (times two adults for $15.90) bait into an over $100 switch-a-roo.
We were there a bit early and so waited about 20 minutes until they opened the doors. There were very sparse concessions consisting of $15 cotton candy and popcorn, along with $5 light up toys which I didn’t bother to check the prices on as those would also be around $20.
On the main floor the circus ring only took up less than half of the floor so the other half was filled with a large inflatable castle/slide and a pony carousel. It was sad to see the pony carousel as this is the 21st century where we as human beings are bit more advanced, a bit more ‘woke’ as they say. Looking at the ponies it is easy to see they are sad so why do we still do this? Well, the answer is easy and is the answer for most of the terrible things human beings do and that is money. But we’ll come back to this later.
So my first impressions were that this was a very pared down circus. In the age of iPhones, iPads and unlimited entertainment the circus full of animals and acrobats just doesn’t have the same draw it would have when it might have pulled in just about all of a Midwestern farming community , especially in a pre-television age. The circus as it used to be is a relic and must evolve into something else like Cirque du Soleil or perhaps a dinner show like Teatro Zinzani.
But Garden Bros., as they advertise, is a family tradition for over 100 years, so they stick to the old ways. But since the old ways don’t have as much of a draw anymore they really need to cut costs. There were no high-wire acts, flying acrobats and the clowns could have been better. There were also not many animals which I was glad to see. Animals belong out in nature or to be really cared for in a way they deserve, not mistreated in a circus (more on that later). Now, having said that, they did do a decent job for an old-time circus surviving in the modern age.
There were ladies who climbed up rope/fabric and did their poses. There was the “sphere of fear” where two guys who rode dirt bikes in that sphere and managed to not crash into each other. There were a contortionist, juggling, dogs doing tricks and so on. But the main event, at least for me, were the Kambarov Riders from Kyrgzystan.
Now this was quality circus entertainment and they were fantastic. Yes, they use horses of course but I could see the horses were well cared for. One of the tricks was a rider crawling underneath and coming up the other side of a galloping horse. This is something you wouldn’t want to attempt with a mistreated horse. And being from Kyrgyzstan these people have genes from the Mongol horde, people who know horses so for these people, the use of horses for entertainment is OK in my book.
They were great but what really got my attention was their facial characteristics. I had never seen people with such a mix of Asian and Western characteristics. Black hair and Asian eyes coupled with Roman noses and a facial structure more like the Russians. I thought the mix was absolutely beautiful and the one female rider, Aiperi Kozugulova was downright gorgeous. I wondered about all of their lives and how they ended up joining a circus? Now I don’t know much about Kyrgyzstan but imagine they have a horse riding culture like Mongolia since they have a shared history and then being on the silk road would have also contributed to a culture that made use of horses.
Joining the circus would allow them to use their skills and see the world so seems like a logical thing to do? That part of the world isn’t very rich and so I imagine their citizens, nor any from the ‘stan’ countries travel overseas much. Personally, I’ve met people from all over the world, even from places like Madagascar and war torn Yemen but I cannot recall anyone I’ve ever met from a country ending in ‘stan.’
Watching these riders I had felt as though I had just discovered a new type of human being! In my mind central Asia was in the West to South, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, then Asia as most Americans would consider it. To the North was White Russia and if you went farther West then you hit the Middle East. I had never known or given consideration to that patch of the world with the ‘stan’ countries and I was fascinated!
I was fascinated not only because their beauty struck me but because they are a crossroads of civilizations. Their countries were traversed by peoples of many great civilizations through trade on the ancient Silk Road and also by marauding armies such as the Mongol Horde. In watching these Kambarov Riders I wasn’t paying so much attention to their skills on a horse as I was thinking about history and who their ancestors might have been. Black hair and Asian eyes, coupled with a Western visage.
Now I find myself excited as though I have discovered a new land to explore, one that I did not really know existed. I’m reading Wikipedia, visiting their countries through the magic of virtual reality and daydreaming about what it might have been like to live there as an expatriate. In Kyrgyzstan they speak both Kyrgyz and Russian. That would have been a bit difficult trying to learn both languages so you could fully function and understand their society.
I see there is also some crime and reading the expatriate websites that you should invest in some good locks for your doors. Reading this causes concern until you think about the TONS of crime in America. Hell, I think almost anywhere else in the world, that is not war torn, is probably safer on average than America. Just take a look at the Citizen App to see all the nonsense that goes on in San Francisco/Oakland on a daily basis.
So yes, I’m fascinated and am putting Kyrgyzstan on my bucket list. Interestingly, this country also seems to be more open than its neighbors. A visa seems easy to get and they are actively inviting tourism/investment and so on whilst its neighbors don’t seem to be able to shake off the Soviet shadow with visas being had to obtain and a relative reluctance to join the world.
But back to the circus. Most of the performers were Mexicans which was easily ascertained by their accents. They did a fine job with juggling and other tricks. The final guy was balancing on a big ball, with a plate balanced on a stick on his forehead all while juggling a couple of rings. He fell completely off that thing but I couldn’t tell if it were part of the act or not. From his apology I’m guessing not, but he got back up and succeeded the second time.
Then it was time to go and being San Francisco I wondered if there would be protesters and I was not disappointed. An organization called Humanity Through Education was there handing out fliers that the use of animals for entertainment was cruel and Garden Bros. should stop using them. I agree with them here. The circus is no life for animals and just like Sea World has faced the music in recent decades so should the circus. I guess that without animals a circus such as Garden Bros. would finally succumb to its slow death that not even $25 popcorn could save. I took one of their fliers and the lady said “Thanks for caring.” Yes, I do care about the animals and was uneasy from the start with Garden Bros using them.
It is hard to keep a relic from the past going. I looked at the ratings/reviews for Garden Bros. before the show started and the reviews are terrible. They only got 1 1/2 stars on Yelp in Washington and that is incredibly low! It seems sometimes the show was abruptly cancelled, there are a string of unpaid bills across the country, and it is just a shady outfit in general. But it is the circus, isn’t being shady an inherent characteristic ?
All in all, Garden Bros did a good job and we enjoyed ourselves. It also got me interested in a brand new (for me) part of the world and I’m excited to learn about it.
Update: 12:58 – 4/18/19
I mentioned Teatro Zinzanni above. Teatro Zinzanni is an incredible dinner show where the performers do their thing above, around and right in front of your table. It really is high quality and was one of the ‘gems’ I’d found in San Francisco. It was so good we took my parents, my sister and even the in-laws when they came to town. Unfortunately, it had to close due to the stupid America’s Cup in 2011. Apparently it will re-open in a different location but it sure is taking many years to do so.
Anyway, I started thinking about the experience and just like the Kambarov Riders, there was an act that really stood out to me. Well, I just spent the last 40 minutes racking my brain and searching for the name of that act. I didn’t take a lot of pictures nor keep them well organized until 2010 and we were at Teatro Zinzanni around 2008 or 2009. So I couldn’t find any pictures but I knew I had something and that something is a hyperlink in my bookmarks!
The performers are The Randols , a beautiful couple who had a roller skating and hula hoop act. The most impressive for me is when Massimo Randol would throw hula hoops over everyone’s heads while they were seated for dinner and Denise Randol would catch them with her body and right into hula hooping them. The other reasons I remember them is that Denise was smoking hot and Massimo looked like Brandon Lee from the movie The Crow.
I’m so glad I still had that bookmark, otherwise their names would have been lost to me forever. Taking a look at their website it seems it hasn’t been updated since I last saw them in 2009! Their latest act is still listed as San Francisco in 2009. I wonder where they are now and I’d be surprised if they were still together. I don’t think the circus is a very good environment for stable relationships, or stable anything for that matter.
On November 8th I forgot to close the door to my shed. On Friday November 9th I walked out, opened the door and found it was partially blocked and the entirety of my shed had been ransacked!! I thought I had been robbed!
In my confusion I quickly turned to the most valuable items which are my computers and I saw that the Mac was on the ground, my work computer closed and in place and the monitor on its face over my work computer. I then became quickly aware of the overpowering stench of a furry animal and had thought a coyote might still be inside!
I could only push the door open a little bit as it was blocked by all my belongings now on the floor but was cautious as I thought a coyote might be inside. I poked my head inside, had a look around but thought the animal might have escaped? But how could it the door was closed? I then looked up and saw this.
I couldn’t believe it! Three raccoons had gotten themselves trapped in my shed and destroyed the place!
Suddenly a deep fear ran through my chest in that my work computer could be destroyed? Thank the Gods it was not. But, the monitor was broken and the Mac missing the q key but still worked..
The other think to note is that these raccoons treated my shed as their toilet and it smelled terrible. There was poop everywhere!! So I had to disinfect the entire place with bleach and now it seems cleaner than before to be honest.
All in all the shed is back to normal but without a few details:
- Japanese ‘oni’ mask is missing a horn
- Don Quixote wine bottle was smashed
- Sand Dollar vase was smashed
- Geraniums were uprooted and so have to start again.
- Dirt and poop all over the place.
- Star Wars clock smashed
- Items that were up top many broken.
As I mentioned the smell was terrible and the bleach didn’t help too much. So I sprayed ‘Eternity’ cologne which is one I never use into the shed and shut the door for the night. It ended up making the shed smell like a ‘Dapper Raccoon.’ It wasn’t unbearable like before but not a smell I’m particularly fond of. To make matters worse the air was noxious outside due to the Camp Fire so I couldn’t air it out much the following week. I had to sit in there with the door and windows closed!
And that was the calamity of the raccoons. I think I’ll have a photo printed out and framed to put in the corner where I found them. May they never return.