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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Fond Farewell

To top off the Great American Adventure and my exploration of things Americana (thanks for that Victor), I got a personal patdown by TSA on my way out of Chicago. They didn't even take me for dinner first!

I assume there has been a good deal of sensitivity training since the new rules and the subsequent complaints first came into play, or maybe I just got a sensitive new-age TSA-er. She explained what she would do before she did it (I've had worse dates) and offered to take me to a private room if I'd be more comfortable with that (see previous date comment). Because I was wearing a skirt (yes, I do own one or two), the patdown was "friendlier" than it might have been otherwise, she explained.

The perfect send-off!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Planned Reading

One of the many people I was privileged to meet while on my Great American Adventure was Victor M. Rosello, a retired USArmy Colonel who is the author of the above book. I'll be ordering my copy as soon as I have an address in Korea at which to receive it, and look forward to both reading it and reviewing it here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's a Strange, Strange World

The east coast of America, and many other states, have been wilting in a heatwave this past week.

Aotearoa, in contrast, is bracing itself for the coldest weather in 16 years.

I visited my first gun show today, and was strangely attracted to the pretty knives, crossbows and buff salesmen (that bit wasn't strange). At one stage, I was carrying the SEAL's upper (it's a gun term) and people kept wanting to buy it from me. Good thing I'm scared of him!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Arkansas

The Note: I have put off writing this, because the person I measure myself against is a US Navy SEAL, and I know he is going to be pissed at me when he reads this. All I can say in my favor is that I was there to observe, not to change. On with the show . . .

Until this month, I have never been scared by people. I've been in scary situations. At age 17, while hitch-hiking from Taupo to Napier [both Aotearoa, for those wondering], I had a driver pull off the road and pull me into the back of his van. He was Maori, as am I, and I calmly told him that the only way he was going to get what he wanted was to kill me, and then I would haunt him every day of his life. If he had not been Maori, I'd like to think I could have found another way to reason him out of hurting me.

You can't reason with crazy.

While visiting a friend on this Great American Adventure, I got to meet her cousin, whom she had already warned me was crazy. Long story short, he got angry, I probably responded unwisely, she told him to leave her house and he attacked her. At which stage, the Kiwi being the Kiwi, I stepped between them, hands held high, not in attack mode, and said "stop."

You can't reason with crazy.

I have the bruises where he took hold of me before he threw me out of the way. He then went outside and started firing his guns. I went to bed with a screwdriver under my pillow, just in case. (Yes, I do know where the carotid artery resides.)

As this was happening, I was remembering an I.O.U.  my SEAL buddy once gave me, and how he worded it. I could have called him, he would have dealt with it for me, but he would have been disappointed that I couldn't handle it myself.

I'm capable of killing, as in I know how to, but I can't put down a sick kitten. Or a sick dog, as in this case. AND . . . I felt partially responsible because I didn't realize my friend meant crazy-insane and not crazy-fun.

You can't reason with crazy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Kiwi has landed!

Safe home in the Norfolk nest and looking forward to two weeks of sleep, good company and piecing together the 6,000 mile journey and making sense of some of what she experienced along the way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly

The Kiwi has been quiet online lately because she has been anything but elsewhere. Got lost in the Arkansas Ozarks for a week, then spent the last two days riding, to get back East.

On the sad, bad, sad side, a beautiful young family member died, and it's hard to write when you're grieving. R.I.P. Nikki, you taught a lot of your elders how to really live.

On the good, I may have a job to go back to, one that I want.

On the ugly - I had my first experience of human hatred last week and, no, it wasn't the WBC. Another thing to get my head around before I write it up, but I learned that you can't reason with insanity. I have the bruises to prove it, the bike was easier to fix.

Today is a rest day on a three-day ride from Arkansas to Virginia, where I need to courier some documents for the (hoped-for) new job, then sleep all day while the gals are at work and emerge to tell stories at night. Yesterday was 12 hours travel, about 10 in the saddle, and five rainstorms. When I get really tired, like now, I ask whose stupid idea this was anyway, and have to answer that it was mine. And, as much as I hurt right now, I'm glad I'm stupid enough to do it.

Nite y'all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

God is Hate?

The Westboro Baptist Church and its place in the seething melting pot that is America has been of interest to me since I first became aware of its existence. I admit that I never passed that curious-child phase of asking "Why?" to everything I don't understand, and this was one of those things I really didn't understand.

The WBC, for those who don't know, is the small Topeka, Kansas-based "Old School (or Primitive) Baptist Church" probably best known of late for picketing military funerals. I'll explain in more detail in a later post (but need to pack and ride from Parkville, MO, to Salem, AR, today, so this needs to be brief).

The pickets were part of a thread recently on a (loosely) miltary-themed page I follow, and another of the followers, who had already offered me a roof and pillow while in the Kansas City neighborhood, mentioned the church's proximity to where I would be. On checking that services were open to the public, I decided to attend one, wanting to get a feel for the members, and then to try and speak with them.  

On Sunday, my host drove me to Topeka, where we encountered a locked door at the church, and no response to the doorbell or intercom. We returned to Missouri, I e-mailed the WBC contact and had a response later that evening that included the following:
We are so sorry that
you were unable to attend today's meeting. We welcome anyone to come, but
the doors were locked just prior to the service, as we have had some
mischief-makers right outside the church doors as of late, and we will
suffer no disruption to our sincere worship of God. So again, sorry. If you
are still in the area, we would be happy to meet with you or talk to you by
phone. You are welcome to come back from Kansas City and meet with any of us
who are available.
In a decision that has already upset at least one person I know, I took the WBC up on their offer and yesterday, the 4th of July, rode to Topeka and spent an hour-plus with Fred Phelps Jr., the eldest son of Westboro Baptist Church founder and pastor Fred Phelps, and another son, Jon. I recorded our conversation, with their permission, but need some time to listen, transcribe, consider and e-mail further questions (to them and others) before being  ready to write about that. I'll do a backgrounder on both WBC and the PGR before that.

For today, I need to ride.