Month: April 2007

Work Weekend III

A few weeks ago, the guy in charge of theme-camp siting, Michael 7.0, contacted me, and with a subtle mixture of flattery and menace, asked me to come to the next work weekend at Flat Creek—although he never said it in so many words, the underlying message was something like “It would be really helpful to have you out there to make sure your camp gets a good spot, and you’d better come if you know what’s good for you.” So how could I refuse?

I got back from the work weekend a couple hours ago, and I am wiped out. Unlike Flipside itself, which is a “leave no trace” event, this was a “leave no tree” event. Tree less than 10′ tall (and some larger that were in the way) were cut down with chainsaws or uprooted by a bobcat. We had two woodchippers going, and when they both broke down, we started loading the cut brush onto trailers and dumping it off cliffs. I dug a couple of holes trying to find a water line that wasn’t there. I tried to groom what will be the fire circle, with modest success. I dug up cactus, broke rocks, etc. So it was sort of like being on a chain gang, but without the chains and with beer. I also hashed out Circle of Fire’s exact location with M7 (as he is called). He refers to the problem of camp placement as “Tetris,” but while Tetris is a problem in two dimensions, he’s dealing with eight or more variables.

Saturday night there was a big fire fueled by some of the trees we cut down, barbecue courtesy of Rob and Niki, and a curious mix of Beatles and Nine Inch Nails blasting from somebody’s van. Sitting by the fire, we discussed how many people were at WWIII, and came up with 50 as a likely sounding number. In one sense, this is discouraging—it’s 2.5% of total Flipside participation. In another sense, it’s impressive—the first Flipside had about 25 people, so we’ve got double that now just to get ready for the event.

Despite the fact that it was a metric assload of work, I’m glad I went. Aside from the fact that I’m doing my bit to make the event overall better, I had a chance to improve the land at CoF’s site, making sure that trees that should come down did, and those that should stay up did, getting rid of cactus, smoothing out the fire circle, etc. More than that, though, it’s important for the community aspect on several levels. While I know kinda-sorta know some people in the burner community, I don’t know a lot, and this was an opportunity to meet some and get some face time—and while politics aren’t a big problem at Flipside, I did get some info on the political problems that might come up. Some of the people I met are people who I’d want to call on (or who would want to call on me) at the event, and knowing who’s doing what ahead of time is especially helpful. It also scored some cred for me, and some brownie points for CoF. I’m sorry I didn’t encourage more people to go more forcefully.

I was taken aback at the amount of work being done to the site—for example, they’re putting in a fire hydrant up on the plateau. This is a pretty big undertaking, involving a lot of machinery, labor, and materials. Stuff like that and the land clearing suggest to me long-term plans for the site and for Flipside that make me imagine the event getting much, much bigger.

Football or hot potato?

I’ve been thinking lately about the 2008 presidential campaign. Not so much about the Democrats as the Republicans. All the Dems in the race seem like decent and competent people, so I’m just not that worked up about it. Admittedly, I don’t want Hillary to get the party nomination, but that is because A) I’m afraid she’ll be a lightning-rod for GOP dirty tricks (yes, more than the other candidates), and B) and someone else put it, future historians should not look at the list of U.S. presidents and see “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.” Politics in this country is already too near to an aristocracy.

But if the Democratic candidates are boring for their lack of problems, the Republican ones are interesting for their problems. Romney has an extensive record as a comparatively progressive Republican from the People’s Republik of Massachusetts, and he’s trying to live that down. Giuliani just last week reiterated his support for state-subsidized abortions. McCain, after cultivating an image as a straight-talking maverick in 2000, has spent the last seven years carrying water for the administration, and has painted himself into a corner with flatly ridiculous statements in support of America’s ongoing debacle in Iraq. There are plenty of other candidates running for the GOP nomination, but not many have really risen above the background noise.

I have been speculating about the role that Karl Rove may play in the 2008 campaign. Rove has been considered a solid-gold political asset for a long time now. And at some point before January ’09, Bush may decide to bequeath Rove to one of the Republican campaigns. And so I wonder: Will this come during the primaries or general election? If it comes during the primaries, who will be the lucky recipient? And will that guy really be so lucky? After all, any campaign with Rove on board is going to be treated as a nuclear-grade threat, so his presence could create more problems than it would solve. Something interesting to keep an eye on during this interminable campaign.

Three years

Gwen skating

Yesterday was Gwen and my three-year anniversary. To celebrate, and try something new, we went to the roller rink. Ran into Heather and Mychal there. A couple of 80s-themed parties were going on while we were there.

My previous skating experience: a pair of clip-on skates with metal wheels when I was 6 years old (total time logged: about 5 minutes), and a pair of rollerblades when I was in my twenties (total time logged: a few hours). My experience last night was somewhere between “as bad as I feared” and “as good as I hoped.” No falls, but a few “whoa” moments. Clearly, I need more practice. I did do some ice skating when I was a kid, which may have helped a little (bend the knees!), and I think growing up in Chicago and knowing how to walk on ice helped a lot in avoiding falls. It was fun, but I was concerned about landing on a hip.