Friday, June 21, 2013

a quick thought about bus fares

I think the world is entering a pivotal period. Environmentally, earth is on the cusp of entering an irreversible era of human induced global warming where temperatures will rocket and storms will outbrew starbucks. Technologically, we are pushing back our inevitable mortality while trying to develop cheat codes to feed seven billion people at a sustainable rate (spoiler alert: it's not working). Even social inequality and political corruption are catching up to themselves as there have been major protests on every continent except australia in the last few years. (I'm not including the australia day protests last year because it made headlines for a security scare rather than the political message.) Earth is unhappy with its inhabitants and the inhabitants are unhappy with each other.

I think it all starts with bus fares. In brazil, a nine centavo increase in fares has provided a catalyst in a politically corrupted country and put the two biggest sporting events in the world in doubt. Some of the poorer folk were paying a quarter to a third of their paycheck just to get to work. In a country where taxes mirror european levels, citizens have to wonder where that money is going. It certainly does not appear to be flowing into public services as everything from education to health care suffer (somebody is getting rich though and they use helicopters as their buses). Brazil has attempted to lower the bus fares but the justice dragon has been awakened.

Here's something else: I think that public transport can alleviate environmental and social problems. Consider the case study of tallinn, the capital of free transport. This city of nearly half a million offers free buses and trams to its population. Since its genesis, the program has positively impacted the middle and lower class as they can save a larger portion of their paycheck. The program has also reduced traffic and boosted air quality. I think these pros strongly outweigh the financial burden that critics highlight. I'm not saying that brazil should provide free buses - because real life doesn't always have disney movie endings - but I do hope that a few of the elite flying over rio in helicopters realize that they would probably be happier if the rest of the population was thriving too. Until then, keep the protests going.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

say yes

My last mini vacation before I head back stateside was to gold coast, australia. Anybody familiar with the aussie coastal city who also knows me well would presumably raise their eyebrows on this destination choice. Gold coast is the miami of australia, ripe with thrilling amusement parks and some of the most popular surf breaks in the world. Millions of tourists flock here to give their kids the classic vacation experience or to join the hottest night life in the country. It was a 180 from the solo trip I took to tasmania.

I journeyed north flanked by three american girls, perhaps further authenticating the 'spring break' vacation.  We spent the days screaming like toddlers on roller coasters or lounging on the beach. Once the sun set, drinks would come out and I'd find myself at one of the most popular bars or clubs in the state.

Toddlers that are not screaming yet.

There is plenty of photographic evidence of me having fun dancing, but I couldn't help but be repelled by the atmosphere. Many boys looked like they were either body builders and/or on steroids. Some of the girls looked even less authentic (I'm trying to say they looked fake in a nice way). One girl informed me that the waitresses were given free plastic surgery if they worked at the club long enough. A british chap I befriended told me that he felt like he was in an episode of geordie (british jersey) shore. Yet, I must back up because I'm focusing on all the cons.

I wrote a blog entry on bondi beach a few months ago that touched on my idea of beauty-neglect, where we notice all the negatives without seeing what is beautiful. Despite developing the idea, I found myself forgetting to apply it just like one of the night clubs must have forgotten they had already played lil jon's get low (I don't recommend this link) twice before. In my journal, I built off this idea and formed what I call the 'say yes' philosophy. I think of this as a temporary state where morals and firm beliefs can be pushed aside and allow the body to embrace whatever is in front of it. Thus, when get low was played, I danced without complaining.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

glass (dream series pt II)

i had my first lucid dream at fifteen. my mother was brushing my hair when i realized i couldn't see myself in the mirror. immediately, i jumped from my seat to take a closer look. instead of my pimply and adolescent face appearing, the mirror became a window. this isn't right, i thought desperately as the scene evaporated around me. i jumped once more, but this time through the window. and i flew.

before i could relish flight, i awoke in my bed. my first lucid dream had ended abruptly but i was desperate to return.

a few nights later, i discovered a mirror in the remains of an upscale hair salon. as soon as i jumped in the window, the world glistened. unlike the corridors at school, i felt at ease here. i could make friends and be desired. before long, i started spending the day dreaming and the night living.

while i could defy physics in my dreamstate, i wasn't a god. i was geographically restricted to a small town of green and blue buildings. any attempted escape from an invisible surrounding circle and i would awake, frustrated.

the town still kept me happy. my experiences mirrored my regular life except everything seemed to go right for me. a cute boy who ignored me at school flowered me with attention. i was a special citizen with my ability to fly. this life moved as i always wanted the other to go. years passed with my dream world becoming my real world.

then one night, i couldn't find a mirror. the following night was the same. it was as if someone had entered my mind and smashed all the mirrors. more than once i found broken shards of glass in a pile.

i was in my late twenties when my world became inaccessible. my regular life was stable but bland. the gateway to my happiness had been blocked, and i fell victim to a deep depression. every time i saw my reflection in a mirror, i remembered. i remembered the life that had been taken from me.

noticing my struggles, my boss sent me on vacation. i found myself walking around a glacier filled lake alone. the sun had started its decent but still illuminated the greenish blue water. a gust of wind blew hair in my face as i silently reminded myself to brush it. looking towards the water, i halted. my reflection was gone, and a window replaced it. a familiar window. my body jumped into the water. and i flew.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

smoke (dream series pt I)

i woke up to smoke creeping into my bedroom window. outside, a fire was decimating the beautiful civilization that i called home. buildings, filled with thousands of priceless books, toppled and its possessions burned black. even as i watched, the fire began to spread.

i ran to my phone and started calling every helpline and public service. instantaneously it seemed, firetrucks appeared filled with juice to combat the fire. as mayor of the land, i breathed deeply before inspecting the damage.

about a dozen buildings had been perished explained the fire chief. most of them were ancient libraries that had been sparingly touched, but we lost two important building projects that had been recently initiated by the Voice.

are the fires gone? i asked. often, the fires would attack for days and push our workforce to exhaustion. the chief nodded but noted that there were still small flames outside this area that burned steadily. the crew, tired and blackened, moved to the next region accompanied by their juice.

i trudged home, still breathing the smoke that lingered in the air. the aftereffects of fire affected the land for some time regardless of the insistence by the Voice to perform duties at an optimal rate. on arrival, i stepped into the shower to cleanse my body and mind from the blackness. the warm water dribbled over my longing skin as the smoky odor finally floated away. my exhausted corpse trudged towards bed and i was asleep before i could recap the black day.

then i woke up.

around me were white and blurred images. automatically searching for my glasses i called out for help. a relieved voice rang in my ears: my wife's. doctor, he awake! i heard her sing. my mind started to function and i realized that i must be ill and in the hospital. sensing my confusion, the doctor came into focus to explain. you suffered a severe fever, the chief's voice firmly stated.