Are we so different from everything else?
Is there anything inside us that makes us truly unique?
Is it the ability to feel love?
Is it the ability to feel pain?
Is it the ability to feel hope?
Is it the ability to make our own choices, accepting our own mistakes?
Am I who I am because I choose to be, or am I just a simple combination of random events?
Would you still be the same person if you had not lived your life exactly as you did?
Has every minor element of your life helped to shape who you are today?
Do we have enough control to design the person we want to be?
What is it that makes us choose?
What makes you change?
What makes you human?
At some point today I couldn't really see myself sitting in my house anymore. So, I got in my car and headed over to the BP in Millvale, and the the Sunoco in Millvale, and finally the Rite Aid in Lawrenceville, where I finally found a road map of Pennsylvania.
Above is the route I took, starting in Lawrenceville. The shorter route would have, obviously, been to go up 28, but I have seen it so many times, and I wanted something fresh, something out of my ordinary routine. Indeed, the route I took made the trip, each way, about an hour and 45 minutes (60mi/96km).
My destination? It was originally Frogtown, PA, which turned out to be a not-so-indistinguishable-from-the-other-surrounding-small-towns town.
So, instead, I kept going. I ended up at a dead end where Armstrong Power Station is located. After a few moments observing the towering monolith and its surrounding sea of coal, I reversed my trip and started on my way back.
I began to feel a bit hungry, so, and noticing it was the only place that had anything resembling food in the area(s), I stopped at the Adrian Store. There, I got a nice, handmade Italian hoagie with bologna, cheese, ham, lettuce, tomato, onions, and Italian dressing on some awesome bread.
Really, it is a lot of fun just traveling to smaller towns around Pennsylvania, the places nobody even drives through. Seriously, there was a notable sparseness of drivers on the roads I was taking, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I liked being able to cruise down the roads without having some jag off two feet behind me. Granted, I wasn't alone, but I let a lot of people pass me today.
These trips are, generally, rewarding for me. Maybe it doesn't seem like much, but I love "discovering" the everyday monuments our forefathers have left for us. Some examples:
I tossed around the idea of going through Kittanning to go back home, but then I would've missed out on some of the pictures I took. Of note is that I went through my Pap's hometown: Chicora, PA, specifically at Lick Hill. It's a nice area...I would suggest it to anyone that, like me, enjoys being out of the city.
I woke up today after about eleven hours of sleep. Yesterday, Saber was put to sleep. The difference is that I can wake up, and this emotion is difficult to describe. It seems like I have been conditioned over the years to do certain things, and no matter what I am doing, no matter what thought is in my head, they will be done. Now, the following can be done:
- I can leave the back and front doors wide open
- I can leave the house without closing the upstairs door
- I don't have to check to see if he is too close to listen to my loud music
- I don't have to check to see if he is outside in the rain
- I can open the meat drawer in the refrigerator as loud as I want
- I can ring the doorbell
- I can go in the bathroom without spending ten minutes making him move from the cool, tile flooring and air conditioner vent
I can do these things and a whole lot more now...
I wish I couldn't do any of them...I never really minded their absence. They were just as much a part of my life as he is...was...whatever the correct word is.
In my life, I've gone through many changes. I was eleven years old when I first saw Saber. At my bus stop, my mother had come to pick me up. Inside the car, the one I now drive, was a dog...as the newspaper would later say when we, at one point, were considering sending him to a new home, there was a "white ball of fun." While Saber was never one to play much, he has bounded about a few times when he found a love in ripping apart a stuffed toucan bird, and even a large, pink bouncy ball a few times.
When I became a teenager, my priorities changed. I found girls, music, and computers. Sitting here in nostalgia, I know that I could have spent more time with Saber...I don't regret much in my life, but this is one of those things. Never did I abandon him, he was always with someone, including me, who loved him...I just wish I would have made more of that time. Eventually, I went to college, I would come home during the breaks and summers and have my dog, who I have forged a stronger bond with after having completed high school. Over the past five years, I have missed Saber a lot while being away; when I came home, he would be there, for me to pet, love, and be around. For all the play he never acted upon, he made up for with his companionship.
This year, I had become increasingly aware of Saber's failing health. His breathing got heavy, his eyes have not had that spark in them as they used to, and his skin was displaying signs of what we eventually found was cancer.
Yesterday, I took my best friend to the veterinarian for the last time. Now, I carry his heart tag around with me, which is in some way his own. It comes from his collar, his necklace that had become an inseparable part of him. Would you be so bold as to take it away from him, he would walk around with you and whine until you relinquished your position and gave it back. It is not with him now, but when I get him back, when he comes back to me, I will make sure he is never separated from it again.
I teased the Old Man a lot, but I know he knew I loved him. I still love him. No matter what body he encompasses, he is still my best friend, and always will be.
- Street Sweeper Social Club was awesome
- Tom Morello is still sweet as all hell
- Trent Reznor's hair is looking better
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" sounds good whether NIN or Bowie does it
- Dave Navarro is able to morph his vest into a hat
- Perry Farrell is pretty lively for, get this, 50
OK, now, onto the actual meat of the concert. The NIN|JA tour, which actually should've been NIN|JA|SS, consists of (or, for this show, consisted of) Street Sweeper Social Club, Nine Inch Nails, and Jane's Addiction. The first two were phenomenal and Jane's Addiction, to me, was a little lacking...but not in showmanship.
First, I'll deal with Street Sweeper Social Club. OK? They are not a band, they are a social club. What exactly that means I seem to have missed, but apparently they are friendlier or something more than just a band. Or, possibly, it is just for their benefit, that they are just friends and not really a "band," per se.
They rocked, simply put. As I walked into Post-Gazette Pavilion, they were breaking into a cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes"...I didn't get to record it well, as I watched half of the song from on a hill and then walked down whilst jammin' out, so I wasn't quite postured or prepared to video the song in any amount of quality. Here is a pretty decent video of the song from the show in Alburquerque:
Awesome, right? Their own songs are equally as rad, especially live featuring Morello's signature guitar scratching, pick-up switching, and all out sick and twisted hammering the hell out of his fretboard.
I had listened to a few of their songs online like "The Oath" and "100 Little Curses," but the album versions lack some of the energy that they definitely exhibited during their live performance. Actually, I was pretty sad when, halfway through their set, I remembered that their stage time was only half an hour...
So, they ended and then came:
As always, Trent Reznor and the live incarnation of Nine Inch Nails put on a performance. Slim pickins are the words available to accurately describe the set, but I guess I could use prodigious. Indeed, they were massive, noisy, obnoxious, melodic, cacophony of electronic bleeps, skreeches, and wails. The soundscapes produced by NIN always leaves you beggining for more, and, sadly, this time, we won't get more as this was their, *sniff*, final stop in Burgettstown for the foreseeable future.
Thanks be to Heaven that I pulled out my camera when I did, because the above cover of "I'm Afraid of Americans," a collaboration betwixt Reznor and legend David Bowie, isn't a common sight. That isn't to say that his set last night was common, because the rest of the crowd was as surprised as me when Reznor not only whipped out "I'm Afraid of Americans," but "The Fragile," "The Becoming," freakin' "Metal," and some other favorites like "Mark of the Pigs" and "Wish."
(Personally, my night would have been complete if he would've done a "La Mer" interlude...love that song.)
But, made my night was, regardless, by performances like this one:
Unt this one:
"The Fragile" is one of my favorite songs, so as much as I wanted to go f!*@ing nuts, I relinquished to my nostalgic side and recorded it. Go, read the lyrics if you don't understand...beautiful song.
NIN closed with "Hurt," the epitome of, well, hurt, and anguish. His portrait was framed by a still blackness, his only other accompaniment being the broken highlights of his other band mates. A final, timid, "Thank you," permeated through the masses and then they were gone. The final applause was a roar, but also a subtle farewell to our musical hero.
The setlist went like this:
March Of The Pigs
I'm Afraid Of Americans
I Do Not Want This
The Downward Spiral
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole
I believe Kari and I stayed for about seven songs, and then decided the lack of...whatever...wasn't worth hearing out. I'm sure some people loved it, but it just wasn't our pag, so to speak.
Jane's Addiction was the closer of the evening. Now, while I won't say what I saw was terrible, I will point out that I was disappointed. The Jane's Addiction I know from the radio has a certain sound, and I expected some energetic, high-pitched moans to emanate from Perry Farrell's vocal box. That happened, but with a bit of scratchiness on his part. To his credit, he is in his fifties and pretty springy and wild, but I just wasn't feeling it like the two bands that preceded JA.
Then, why did I stay? Well, I wasn't, first of all, being paid to write anything for after the show, so I wasn't required to pay close attention to their set or anything. Second of all, I had never really seen Dave Navarro play. And, I might add, that he did.
After a trip to Eat n' Park for some consumables, we headed up the hill and to our respective abodes. It was a great night...and now, here I am, a bit sorer, but elated that I was able to attend one of NIN's last shows.
There are many countries I like this week more than before, Palau, Bermuda (which also took 4 of the Uyghurs from Guantanamo), and, now, as if it were even possible, France (esp. Paris). I did not know Paris was as bad ass as it has proven itself...well, now I know.
"On Monday, China assailed the decision by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, to grant honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama as a 'grave interference' in China's domestic affairs.
Tension has been high between France and China, following chaotic scenes during last year's Olympic torch relay through Paris, and a December meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.
Last month China warned France not to make more 'errors' on Tibet.
'The behaviour of the Paris government... has created grave interference in relations between China and France,' China's foreign ministry said in its statement to the AFP on Monday" (BBC News).
The thing is, China's approach to its foreign policy is so intensely childish that I cannot believe French President Sarkozy would care enough about Paris' act. Honestly, whether it is a "state" or "municipal" matter isn't going to matter to the CCP. Instead:
Parisians = evil Dalai Lama lovers
Paris = part of France
France must be an evil, Dalai Lama loving country, thus deserving of (minimal) boycott.
I'm sure the world's 4th largest car company will be devistated by this latest act of vengance from the PRC. Or, maybe not...but, the funny thing is, as Bloomberg's Laurence Frost and Steve Rothwell point out:
Indeed, cars that were built in 2007 and stored until 2009...must be the fault of the manufacturer. Quite.
"The Laguna, Scenic and Megane models are affected by the ban, which came into the effect on June 4, the statement said. Renault spokeswoman Gita Roux said China’s concerns arose from problems with the transport and storage of a limited number of cars and that there are no issues connected to manufacturing.
'This could be something idiotic like storing the cars with fuel in the tank,' said Peter Schmidt, managing director at Warwick, England-based consulting firm Automotive Industry Data. 'Any European car must meet existing Chinese safety legislation. If they didn’t then the vast majority of Chinese domestically made cars would also fail the test.'
The faults concern 160 older-generation vehicles that were built in 2007 and presumably stored since then, Roux said."
Anyway, from what I understand, the cars that are in question make up a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of what is sold in China, which means this little spat most likely won't hurt Renault at all and, as a result, France, and, even further as a result, Paris. I mean, wouldn't want to hurt that Renault-Nissan electric car deal for Wuhan, Hubei Province, would you, PRC?
Nope, umm, I think we'll go ahead and do what we want. Don't worry, Qin Gang and the rest of the CCP, I'm sure they'll face some amount of discrimination wherever they go...sorry it can't be more drastic than name calling and shunning.
"China has demanded the return of 17 Chinese Muslim Uighur detainees held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay.
America should 'stop handing over terrorist suspects to any third country,' foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said"
BBC NEWS | China demands US return Uighurs
You turn to a country that doesn't care all that much about China. In this case, the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau. But, you say, every nation has some intrigue or business invested in China...how can a nation go against the Chinese supreme will? Well, reader, Palau is one of those island nations that diplomatically recognizes Taiwan, and not China. Yes, that is right, Taiwan is the country and China is lame. Actually, it just means that since Taiwan has diplomatic relations with Palau, that China has decided they will, as usual, whine and cry about it and ignore Palau like the toddler it is.
So, what is really going on? Well, twenty-two Uyghurs were taken into custody and kept at Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, where most of them remain to this day. I say most of them because Alabania agreed to take five, and it has. However, even though the remaining seventeen are "non-enemy combatants," the U.S. still keeps them at the detainment camp. Why? The American people, as stated before, don't want them wandering around the nation, whilst the Chinese would most certaining capture them, try them as East Turkistan Islamic Movement members (because every Uyghur ever is a member of this movement), find them guilty, and, more than likely, execute them.
On a side note, I don't care if they are part of the ETIM, because China has no right to continue strangling these non-ethnically-at-all-people...by claiming, *shock!*, that Uyghurstan (in the dialect of Chinese called "Oppressive" Uyghurstan is known as "Xinjiang") is an integral, sacred part of China and has always been. *sigh*
Anyway, back to the point...I love any nation that loves Taiwan. Even more so, I am extatic that one of those nations, Palau, has decided that enough is enough and agreed to take in the Uyghurs. Honestly, what will China do now? The CCP officials will now complain about how offended and angered they are, and then....nothing. End. Can't do anything. Shut up, China.
Oh, also, I guess the fact that Palau is a former US territory and still relies heavily on US aid and defence may also have a play in this...just puttin' that out there.
For more on the story, and how awesome Palau is, check out Palau to take Guantanamo Uighurs at BBC News.
Not much more can be said about the atrocities that occurred on June 4, 1989, at Tiananmen Square in China. To this day, the CCP continues to oppress the masses within China, holding an authoritative fist over those who, now, have limited freedoms and can express only as the government permits. With the minorities struggling daily to get by under the rule of the ethical fallacy that is the "Han," it is a wonder that more Tiananmens have yet to occur, but I cannot imagine a boiling point not being reached, eventually.
With that said, there are many wonderful (to use the term for this event lightly) articles highlighting the events that took place. Rather than continue on with my own commentary, I would like to point you in some direction:
A Time Asia article, The Exile and The Entrepreneur, on Wang Dan, a leader of the Tianenman student protests, and Wang Lichao, his cousin.
BBC's article: Witnessing Tiananmen: Clearing the Square, which includes eyewitness accounts.
Patrick Witty's article Behind the Scenes: A New Angle on History, a new look at the famous "Tank Man" who tried to hold off four advancing tanks on June 5.
Graphic photos of those who fell victim to the June 4th Massacre.
Last night I had a dream about you
In this dream I'm dancing right beside you
And it looked like everyone was having fun
the kind of feeling I've waited so long
Don't stop come a little closer
As we jam the rythm gets stronger
There's nothing wrong with just a little little fun
We were dancing all night long
The time is right to put my arms around you
You're feeling right
You wrap your arms around too
But suddenly I feel the shining sun
Before I knew it this dream was all gone
Ooh I don't know what to do
About this dream and you
I wish this dream comes true
Ooh I don't know what to do
About this dream and you
We'll make this dream come true
Why don't you play the game ?
Why don't you play the game ?