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Do you ever wonder whats going on with bloggers in Iran? Would you like to read Amnesty International’s 2003 annual report? Are you curious as to how America came across in it? How about new tactics in the fight for animal rights, do you want to know about those?

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debris sandwich

layer one: Paul Krugman on the disturbing similarities between the film farce, Wag the Dog, and Bush administration politics. Its an equally good and terrible piece that, among other things, reaffirms my pessimism about the state of the world today.

layer two: First Jessica Lynch claims amnesia, saying that she cant remember anything of her time in Iraqi custody. Now her parents say that theyre forbidden by the government to speak. If I were the paranoid sort, Id think that maybe theres something that the administration doesnt want people to know like how maybe the Iraqis tried to return private Lynch to US authorities, only to be told that we didnt want her back, at least not easily. (We wanted a videotaped assault and extraction by helicopter. We wanted to exhibit heroism. We wanted a marketing piece.)

layer three: A Treasury study shows that a financial train wreck is coming with the retirement of the baby boomers. The question is, did the Bush administration suppress the findings of the study in order to ease the passage of their new tax-cut for the wealthy?

layer four: According to the Wall Street Journal, the McDonalds corporation is asking a lot more from their spokesperson, Ronald McDonald, these days.

Fortunately, theyre doing their best to keep him happy.

(Thanks to Shannon for the photo.)

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yeah its pee

I just ate a lot of asparagus, and Im sitting here in my office, excitedly drinking water. I probably shouldnt admit it, but I love the way asparagus makes my pee smell. Its one of the few joys I allow myself.

On the subject of pee, heres a new note from Dan, the cook on the industrial fishing vessel:

I woke up this morning to a stench not much unlike piss. In my I-just-woke-up-to-something-that-I-shouldnt-be-experiencing stupor, I had thought that Id wet the bed. It was the only logical conclusion with such an intense smell lingering around my head like falling bricks, but I was dry and I couldnt figure it out. Then, in my before mentioned stupor, I thought, Why the fuck would Frank piss in the room? I thought about this until I woke up just enough to realize that Frank would never do something like that. Why would he? Hes one of the coolest people Ive ever worked with. Hes a father of two. He loves his wife, and his kids of course, he speaks French and Italian, and hes from the Ivory Coast. This man is way too worldly to do something so strange. Then I thought, Okay, who hates me this much? My ex-wife doesnt work on the boat. It couldnt be her. What the? Then I heard this hissing which turned into a whoosh coming from through the glass of my porthole that showed a beautiful scene of the horizon made of the deep indigo ocean meeting a sky dusted with beautiful wisps of clouds. The horizon raised and lowered itself gently as the boat bounded on the swells on our steam back to Seattle (yippee, hake season is over). Still, the stench confused me as I gagged. It permeated everything. Then I thought Great, the toilets backed up. I was starting to gain full consciousness and realized that if the toilet backed up, I would hear engineers dropping tools in the bathroom. There was just silence and that whooshing sound coming from outside. I tried to remember that sound because Id heard it before, and then it hit me; it was a pressure washer hosing the deck outside. Oh, theyre cleaning outsidewe must be done fishingoh yeah, the nets. Id concluded that it was the nets ripening on the deck.

Theyd just spent two weeks hauling back tons of hake, a shit fish. Its not a bad fish, its just that its cheap, and they have to let them get out of rigor mortis before they can process them in the factory. This means that they sit for about four hours on deck, in the sun, in the nets sometimes before they get dumped into the hoppers that feed them into the factory. Thats the smell. Mind you, the factory doesnt smell like that. Its just that thats what they make the nets smell like. The nets stay outside, in the sun, either stretched out on the fishing deck, or in a pile somewhere (Im not exactly sure because theres no way in hell you can get me out there with all that loud, scary machinery groaning and heaving and 80 lb hooks swinging around erratically as they haul back tons of dead fish).

That was another new experience for me. I dont recall experiencing it this season last year. My experience last year was the shit shute. I had taken to leaving the porthole open as I slept because the sound of the waves gently lapping at the hull of the boat was the perfect white noise to lull me to sleep. Well, one morning I decided to poke my head out to take in the view. I looked aft and saw this pinkish white spew of chum (fish chunks and guts and skin, and unusable fish parts) spouting into the ocean like profuse vomit from a drunkard after too much sushi. It came in surges. This spew came from a hole in the hull that was about eight inches in diameter from what I could assess. The sound it made was this beautiful white noise I found so soothing. Unfortunately though, its not the same when you know whats making the sound.

I cant wait to get back to Seattle. Although Ill only have one day off before I have to get my ass back on board, I am going to use my time to its fullest. Sure Ill look like a drunk doing it, and Im quite sure that I may be one that night, but I plan on doing some pretty mundane activities. Im going to pay some bills, maybe Ill go to church with a hang-over to see what thats like, I want to see a movie, and I need to order a new pair of flexible soled clogs along with 20 bucks worth of this nasty assed licorice from a Norwegian store in Oakland. Im trying to quit smoking, and Ive found that Norways double-salt licorice is a great placebo for a cigarette. Oh god, this stuff is not for the faint of palette. First off, the licorice is salty. Its not very chewy either. Second; if you bite down with your teeth or press it real hard with your tongue against the roof of your mouth it gives off an ammonia after-taste. At first I was real grossed out, but Id bought a bag of them and I wasnt going to waste my money by throwing the whole bag away. I eventually found a use for them. When I told Tor (my Norwegian boss) that Id bought them and wasnt quite sure about the taste, I totally expected him to say What? You ate it? Oh no! No! Those are for cleaning! See? You throw them in the urinal, and they make it smell better. But he didnt. He just rolled his eyes and said, I dont know how you can eat that shit. Well damn!

So, we started with the smell of piss and we ended with the cleaning of urinals. Its like poetry.

I love Dans letters. My favorite part in this one was the section where he says that a certain kind of fish needs to lay on the deck for a few hours before it can be processed. Its so gross to me to think that something would have to get out of rigor mortis before it could be worked with. First, I didnt know that rigor mortis was temporary. Second, I would have thought that youd want to work with the fish, or any animal, before rigor mortis set in, not after it had come and gone No more fish sticks for this former vegan.

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I still haven’t heard back from Shannon as to whether or not she’ll be able to provide a photo of Paco, the lower-jaw-less Chihuahua with the enlarged nipple that she claims to have found wearing a little argyle vest and freezing to death in a cemetery. In the meantime, I was hoping that some of you would take a shot at drawing what you think Paco might look like. My old friend Kez said that he was going to email me a drawing of Paco, but instead he sent this:

I guess Kez is too busy with his Ebay backstabbing project to do much in the way of art these days. (On the subject of the auction, it looks as though the market for Mark Maynard memorabilia has topped out at $23.50. I guess thats what my friendship is worth on the open market.)

As for this dog image that Kez has sent in, it brings back lots of memories from my childhood. Its a Fisher Price thing, right? I remember that I had this dog in a red plastic barn, along with lots of cows and sheep. Somewhere in my house, I have pictures of my uncle Thom and I playing with those animals as kids.

Speaking of Thom, I was looking through some pictures this afternoon while cleaning house. I got to an envelope full of photos that he had taken at my wedding. He was in some of them… My mom, after he had committed suicide, went with one of her sisters to clean out his house and take care of his estate. Shed brought these pictures back for me, along with some other things that she thought that he would have wanted me to have, like his Velvet Underground records and books on Buddhism. Anyway, I was just sitting here, looking at these photos of him and feeling incredibly sad. Its been over a year now and I just cant seem to get over how much I miss him.

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are you deaf

Did no one hear me yesterday when I said that someone out there in the world had sent Linette and me a money order for $100? I thought that this was huge news, but no one so much as mentioned it to me after I posted it. Does this kind of thing happen all the time? Do people anonymously just send hundred-dollar money orders to their favorite magazine editors? Should I have been sending checks to the editor of Church Executive magazine all this time?

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