This Week’s Theme: Altered States

This Week’s Theme: Altered States of Consciousness

I’m in DC again. Things that happened since last I posted:


  • I met an evangelical preacher in West Chester, and remembered his “thousand yard stare” from my own time working with missions organizations.
  • I saw a number of five-to-eight-year olds hacking at a pinata at a picnic. The kids had their game face on, and after their three swipes they would turn around and you could see the red mist of battle gradually clear from their eyes.
  • I almost met international motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, when I went to drop off The Ultimate Water Gun at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Instead, I met some of the four hundred and seventy-five crew members that will staff his “Unleash your Personal Power” weekend. Some were at least half volunteer, I think, and others had standard Broadway-show-issue wool jackets with “TONY ROBBINS M.E.A.T. TEAM” embroidered on the back. It wasn’t “m.e.a.t”, actually, but it was something like that.
  • So, as a joke, Kate brought home the 12-CD Tony Robbins “Personal Power II” set that her mom had bought on QVC five years ago and never opened. (Everyone buys a Tony Robbins set at one point in their lives, I’m sure. I know my dad did; I’m glad I didn’t have to pay three hundred bucks for mine.) And I listened to the first disc on the way down.

Altered consciousness? You betcha! More to come, all about MASSIVE CHANGE and PERSONAL DYNAMIC FORCE and having a really, really, really big head.

This Week’s Theme: Altered States

All my electronic gadgets give

All my electronic gadgets give me a veneer of competency: the GPS, for example, can get me to a location faster, sometimes, than someone who — unlike me — can actually find their way out of a paper bag by themselves. And, if my GPS runs out of batteries (like it did yesterday morning), I can always call my destination on my battery-mounted speakerphone, and have the concierge talk me in. And, if that doesn’t work, I can open up my laptop, get online with the wireless connection, and use Yahoo Driving Directions.


Like a new English speaker who has to translate everything heard into their own language in their head before understanding, though, the “digital bubble” I’m in leads to a whole lot of befuddlement. Yesterday, I left Duane Reade after purchasing new batteries for my GPS, got back into my nondescript rental car, and turned the key, only to find it didn’t work. Suddenly, I realized: I was in the wrong car! I grabbed my stuff, scrambled out, and walked away, only to realize that I now had one extra bag!


I slung the extra bag back into the strange car (I hope it was the right one!) and scurried away, trying to look harmlessly absent-minded. Though the number of reactionary, shoot-first-ask-questions-later bravos driving gray Hyundais is probably pretty small, so I don’t imagine I was in much danger.


I plugged the fresh batteries into my GPS, got my bearings from a computer, and drove away.

All my electronic gadgets give

Commando Consulting I’m sitting at

Commando Consulting

I’m sitting at a steel picnic table under some pine trees in Herndon, Virginia, about 30 miles west of Washington, DC. I’m on an assignment to a client down here, and DC is easy to reach from Wilmington, which is in turn about a 30-minute drive from my house. Surrounded, as always, by a small cloud of battery-operated electronics, I downloaded the client’s coordinates to my GPS unit last night, then rode my motorcycle to the Wilmington train station early this morning.


Things got a little hairer when I got to DC: the Metro is beautiful, but having to use your ticket to get out of the station seems scary, and always causes a moist, pocket-grabbing panic when I arrive at my destination. In this case, I took the Red line to Shady Grove, then the Orange Line to West Falls Church, because I’d read on Deja that that’s what the other Herndon commuters do. From there, I stumbled (somewhat blindly) onto bus 950 to Herndon town center and stared at the GPS unit, getting off when I was half a mile away.


I walked through a nicely-landscaped corporate park (.42 miles to go), then a less-landscaped strip mall (.3 miles to go), then ended up having to bushwhack between back yards filled with rusty mattresses and snarling dogs (.21 miles to go), before emerging (whew!) in a nice, pine-lined street. Of course, there’s no signs at all, and the gatehouses to the office buildings all have uniformed guards and bright red car-blocking deadfall traps. Land of military contractors, and I’m skulking through the bushes carrying a motorcycle helmet staring at an electronic device. If only I could somehow be wearing a wetsuit over a tuxedo, my happiness would be complete.

Commando Consulting I’m sitting at

Excellent Blog Postings to Check

Excellent Blog Postings to Check Out.


  • Genevieve’s Blog, with tips on holding a tag sale in Brooklyn.
  • Will Ronco’s Blog, with a blow-by-blow account of his latest triathalon. Kate particularly enjoyed it, as it took her back to her hard-core student athlete days rowing crew for the University of Washington. I particularly enjoyed the hard-core shorts-peeing episode. No wonder he’s chafed!
  • Alejandro’s Blog, which just gets more interesting all the time. Follow Alejandro into the not-that-seedy-as-it-turns-out world of Australian bathhouses!


Alejandro’s blog links to a horrifying Jack Chick tract, which nonetheless has one panel that I quite liked of the heavenly messengers talking to Lot at the city gates of Sodom. Lot is displaying a hell of a knuckle-gnawing Catskill Mountain double-take. This is a point that’s been made many times before (particularly at Union Theological Seminary) but what the hell was Lot doing hanging out by the city gates, randomly inviting tall, hooded strangers with Rock Hudson jaws over to “tarry at his house all night?”


This tract makes me really angry in a way that Chick tracts rarely do. Usually, it’s the pipe-smoking plutocrat that gets his in the end: finding himself in hell gettting poked in the ass with a pointy trident. I can’t laugh this Chick publication off, though, even though it’s a ham-handed, Mad Magazine effort. It’s too vitriolic, too target, and too just plain hatefully wrong. And I don’t like that “liberal” Christians can comfortably place themselves only three notches to the left of this kind of thinking and consider themselves comfortably open-minded: “Well, homosexuality is a sin, but there are more important sins out there, and we should focus on loving people, not persecuting them.”


It wasn’t until I got to Union that I saw Christians saying unqualifiedly, “Being gay is NOT a sin.” Even more, the UTS student body took the attack; some classmates formed a group called “Church Ladies for Choice”, in which they would dress up in drag and spend afternoons heckling abortion protesters. “Sister Mary Cunnilingus” would seize the bullhorn, her nun’s habit flapping around her hairy knees, and lead the crowd in a round of “Psychopathic Christians Spouting Crypto-Fascist Bullshit”, sung to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. Which is sometimes better than everyone just standing around waving signs like a ninny. There’s a time to respect other people’s views, and there’s a time to ridicule them, and this Chick publication deserves dismissal and ridicule. I wish Seanbaby would take it on; he’s good at making fun of awful things.

Excellent Blog Postings to Check

I went jogging on


I went jogging on Sunday afternoon, and discovered a high school marching band competition taking place just around the corner. But I discovered more than that: I discovered a world in microcosm, a world made up of formations in lockstep, feathery shakoes, and polyester uniforms/superhero outfits. I discovered the story of an ancient and mighty empire: born in shackles, swelled in conquest, bloated in corruption. And, even more than that, I discovered a window into our next-door neighbor’s mind.


And what I found there kicked ass.


Forget spirit fingers,
we’ve got singing, dancing Spartacus! >&gt

I went jogging on