05 July 2007

Post #501 (Or Moving To A New Home)

I think it's appropriate, having just passed the 500th post, for me to announce that Zippy will now be living elsewhere, with a slightly changed appearance, but still overflowing with all the enriching, stimulating, and always changing content you've come to expect from the Fish. So don't wait. Run to join in the excitement going on over at http://blog.peterschrock.com.

04 July 2007


Nevertheless, I would advise you against defensiveness on principle. It precludes the best eventualities along with the worst. At the most basic level, it expresses a lack of faith. As I have said, the worst eventualities can have great value as experience. And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer.

- Reverend John Ames in Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

16 June 2007

Video Journal: Keeping Track

Visual notes from this afternoon's walk. Music by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, "O Magnum Mysterium" (Lauridsen). Shot on a Canon PowerShot SD600.

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15 June 2007

Anne Lamott on Hope

"Help is always on the way, a hundred percent of the time...I know that when I call out, God will be near, and hear, and help, eventually. Of course, it is the eventually that throws one into despair."

- Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually)

13 June 2007

What The World Eats

$1.23 per week? Check it out here.

10 June 2007

Roosters, Dogs, and Cows: What to do when it's dark out

"Speak to me," he said bluntly and loudly in the night. "Have you nothing to say to me? Who are you? Why are you here? Where do you come from?" And then, a question which Chauntecleer never formed on his own, nor ever would have asked, had he thought about it first: "--Why do I love you?"

His own question so shocked him that he shrugged his shoulders as if there were light in the ditch and he could be seen, as if to say, Forget it: I didn't mean it. And consciously shut his mouth and said no more.

So the last hour of the night passed by. Once or twice he felt--just barely--the prick of her horns upon his back. They kept him wide awake. And in that time it seemed to Chauntecleer that the Dun Dow did speak to him, though he could never remember the language she used, nor the timbre of her voice; and she did not offer any answer to any one of his questions.

But what he learned from her made his spirit bold and his body ready. Three things she gave him: weapons against the enemy. And two he understood immediately. But the third remained a mystery.

Rue, she said, protection
Rooster's crow, confusion.
One thing else to end the deed--
A Dog with no illusion.

Shortly the Dun Cow was gone again, and the Rooster alone in his ditch. And then, with a faint light to make shadows of every solid thing, the night was done and the dire day had begun.

- The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin


30 May 2007

San Miguel Island

Spent a few more days on San Miguel Island this weekend. Saw elephant seals and whales but no island foxes, walked for miles, got chased by pirates; pretty much what you'd expect from a weekend in the Channel Islands. Some pictures over here.

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20 May 2007

South Africa Gallery: Soshanguve

The first gallery from the Africa trip. These are from Soshanguve, a township where I spent some time. It's an interesting place, nearly 100% black South African, growing like crazy, and since my visit a couple years ago, has begun to resolve into its own upper and lower class areas. Good to see growth. Sad to see the layers beginning to appear.

Soshanguve is a township situated about 45 km north of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. It was established in 1974 on land scheduled to be incorporated into a bantustan (tribal reserve for black inhabitants as part of the racial segregation policies of apartheid) for Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda people (thus the name) who were resettled from Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. It later became part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municpality, and was the scene of riots related to poor service delivery in January 2006.

- from Wikipedia

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06 May 2007

At Home, Confused

I should say here that I've made it back home, just in case anybody's concerned. Nairobi was a unique (to me) mixture of exhaust fumes, rich tropical green on red soil, and people everywhere -- black Kenyans busy and always on their way somewhere, white earnest-looking foreigners in the coffeeshop talking about refugees and funding.

I left Kenya after midnight early on a Tuesday morning, landed in London, did my laundry, flew off again, was eating tapas at a street corner cafe in Seville by the time it got dark. That may be my most disorienting travel day ever. And, added to that, all of my environmentalist, small footprint credibility is gone out the window. I promise to drink fair trade coffee and ride my bike for the next eight years to make up for the last three weeks of jet travel. Or at least reuse my plastic grocery bags whenever I think of it. Life would be easier without a conscience. There are so many contradictions and complications.

A side note about the jet travel: I'm going to predict that the Ryanair phenomenon of flying all over the place for almost no money is not going to work out long term. I'd expect that within a few years, maybe 10 or 15, the cost of fuel and the environmental impact of all those planes in the air will have relegated this period to something like the 90's internet boom. It can't be sustainable, which is fine by me. It feels like a kind of gluttony to move yourself around like that. You can only take in so much. But we had good time in Seville and also in Portugal later in the week before flying back to London again. I feel fortunate. See how everything contradicts?

Now I'm back. I woke in the middle of the first night disoriented and crawled around my bed on my hands and knees trying to figure out where I was. The room looked strange, like something I'd dreamed about once. Finally the dog, asleep on the floor in the 3am darkness, brought me back to reality. I'm still sorting out what happened on the trip. Africa moved me, challenged me, and scared me. I suppose it's not an unusual reaction. It happens to everyone, right? So what am I going to do about it, that's what I'd like to know.

22 April 2007

Being Without An Internet Connection...

...is not so bad when you're in Kenya. Hi from Nairobi. Here's a look at my neighborhood.

18 April 2007


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17 April 2007

26°16'41.02"S 27°53'11.72"E

Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa

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14 April 2007

25°22'22.13"S 28°18'38.38"E

On the edges of Hammanskraal, there is no electricity or running water. Among the tin houses, not much grows except an occasional small tree or a patch of brown grass. The soccer field is dust. The kids play in bare feet and the neighbors come out to cheer and shout advice from the sidelines. I'm visiting for just a few hours. Trying to understand what it is I'm seeing. But there is no way for me to understand. I can eat the food, walk to the tuck shop to buy a soda, sit in the tiny square of shade, take a few pictures, ask some questions, but I'll never know.

She is 23, mother of one, owner of this tiny tin shack. Her smile is wider than the sky. She has full-blown AIDS, a CD4 count of 16 at last count. She speaks in a soft voice and laughs from time to time. She is just another poor African mother with AIDS who will die before long and I don't know what to do with that.

12 April 2007


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25°28'37.73"S 28° 7'5.92"E

The sun is setting. It blazes through a single hole in the clouds to the west. I'm sitting in the doorway watching the kids playing a game that involves a tower of buckets, one ball thrown in all directions, and a great deal of shouting. At some point, the tower collapses into the red dust of the street. The inevitable argument ensues. Two houses down, music is shaking the ground, loud enough seemingly to knock down the thin corrugated walls. We are at Granny's house. In the room: Granny, four daughters, a host of children, one husband away at work. Other than him, all the men have melted away. Better things to do than take part in the dusty complexity which is life in the Soshanguve township.

Here are some sounds from the game.

SPECIAL HINT:I'm sure most of my distinguished visitors are webgeeks enough to know that you can copy and paste the coordinates I've listed in the title of this and other posts into the search window at maps.google.com, click "satellite" when the map comes up, and view a fine photograph of the EXACT SPOT ON EARTH I was writing about. But if you aren't that much of a webgeek, you can just click here. And make sure to zoom in...

11 April 2007

25°41'11.76"S 28°10'18.96"E

Different sounds at night, the same trees but different birds in them, a different feel on the street, different light in the evening and in the morning. I'm sitting beneath a canopy of trees, the sound of light traffic in the distance. The jetlag is still pulling at my eyes, making everything feel a little over-bright and over-real. I'm in Africa and I guess it's time to write a little once again.

02 April 2007

Giant Mushrooms or Space Visitors Come To Los Angeles

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21 March 2007

Photo Gallery: St. Petersburg

Some photos from St. Petersburg, Russia.

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08 March 2007

Sunset on Dog Beach

Huntington Beach, CA

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06 March 2007

Defenders of the American Way

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06 February 2007

Photo Gallery: North From Adelanto

Here are some pictures from my drive last month.

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27 January 2007

Guillermo del Toro on a Different Kind of Salvation

"I think there's a point in our life, when we're kids, when literature and magic and fantasy has as strong a presence in our soul as religion would have in later days. I think that it's a spiritual reality as strong as when people say 'I accept Jesus in my heart' -- well, at a certain age, I accepted monsters in my heart."

"I received Jesus into my heart and it was Godzilla."

"We live our lives sometimes believing we're immortal. And we're not. Our lives actually gain more sense when we believe in pain and when we believe in mortality."

- Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth on NPR's Fresh Air


17 January 2007

China Gallery

In the spring of 2006 I spent a week in China. I'm not sure what I was expecting beyond some crazy traffic and a bunch of neon. In any case, what I found was a surprise in some ways. I thought that on the street I might be treated either with suspicion or completely ignored, but instead I found people friendly and curious. Oh, and they can make a mean bowl of noodles. Here are a few of the pictures.

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15 January 2007

Avenue of the Giants 2

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12 January 2007

Avenue of the Giants

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