Thursday, July 31, 2008
So, the Dodgers picked up Manny today. I don't really like Manny very much, but he is a great player and we got him for cheaper than the Lakers got Pau Gasol.
I am not going to allow myself to get too excited though. Lets take look at the last couple guys the Dodgers have picked up that I got excited about: Andrew Jones (I have never liked him, but I let myself get excited) who is hitting a whopping 167 with 2 homeruns and 13 RBI, Jason Schmidt (I think the Giants planted him as sabotage), who has started maybe 2 games in his 2 years he's been with us. Nomar Garcia Para who has played very well but been hurt 80% of the time, and the list goes on. Manny is a great player and should give the power that the Dodgers really need. But I don't like him and I have become accustomed to disapointment.
Location: Gene Wheeler Onion Farms, Lancaster, California
As usual me and Trudenwilk were tying bags, monotonously going about our business. The onion belt had broken down a few times, and it had taken about an hour to get it completely up and running again. This meant an hour break for me and Trudenwilk. It also meant we would be working an hour longer (which was nice because that hour extra is overtime). At about 2 in the afternoon, Ryan (one of my bosses), points at me and gestures for me to come with him. I get in his car, having no idea what the job he wants me to do is. We chew the fat a bit talking about what I'm doing at school, and I ask some questions about the onion business. Him and Scott are partners running the farm, Scott running the shed, Ryan running the fields. He asks me if I have my drivers license, I say yes, still unsure what my job is going to end up being. We arrive at the field, and it turns out that I simply need to follow him while he drives a tractor to a different field, easy enough. We successfully transport the tractor, and he drives the truck back to the first field. When we get back to the field he drives the truck into the middle of the field and starts watching one of the tractors fill up a truck with onions. I was glad to see this, I desired to be something of an onion farm intern, learning as much about the trade as possible.
(Photo credit: BlueEyes5, http://www.flickr.com/photos/49182852@N00/436765075/)
This is what I learned: The people who pick the onions place them in burlap sacks and place the sacks in strait rows along the field. A tractor built specifically for this job drives up and down the field picking up the sacks on a conveyor belt which moves the onions upwards, towards the back of the tractor. At the top of this conveyor belt is a man who empties the sacks of onions onto another conveyor belt which moves the onions across the tractor dumping them into a truck. Once the truck is full of onions it transports them to the packing shed (where I normally worked).
Ryan and I watched this process take place, after about 2 minutes of watching the truck is full and ready to head to the packing shed. Ryan looks at me and says:
"Take the truck back to the shed."
I got scared. The whole time I had been on this excursion the fear that he would want me to do some job that I had no idea how to do was residing in the back of my mind, and now the moment had come; he wanted me to drive a truck, which was slightly smaller than a Mack Truck, full of onions back to the packing shed. I looked at him with horror in my eyes and mumbled out:
"I don't think I can do that, I mean, I've never even driven a stick before."
Before I even finished this sentence, I knew that it was one of my dumber moments. There was no way that he could possibly want me to drive the truck back. I was completely unqualified and the truck had a perfectly good driver whom they had hired to do specifically this job. He simply wanted me to hitch a ride back to the shed with the truck.
Ryan looked at me with the are you an idiot stare, and I said,
"Never mind, I get it you just want me to ride back, you scared me for a second there."
I didn't need the stare to feel like a complete idiot.
So I got into the truck, it was green with the words, "Fred Williams Trucking" painted on the door. It had the number 27 on it in a couple places. I sat in my seat and waited for the driver to get in. He was an older, very friendly looking Mexican man with a kind disposition. We didn't have very much of a conversation because my Spanish skills are so minute that I could think of nothing that would stimulate any sort of fruitful conversation.
When I first got into the truck I instinctively tried to put my seatbelt on. I failed to do so. There was no sign of seatbelt's receiving end (the female end as an electrician might say); it had decided it was tired of being used, tired of the uncertainty of its existence. It couldn't handle constantly being a precaution, a just in case; it decided it would rather be a nobody than a just in case (Sorry for that lame attempt to be litarary, I think it will be embarrassing to look at in the future). When the driver got into the truck he tried to signal to me to put on my seatbelt. Through gestures I showed him that it was impossible. Through gestures he told me to hold it in place as if I had it on until we drove past Ryan and he was no longer in danger of getting in trouble for not making me wear my seatbelt. I thought this was kinda funny, but I obeyed his wishes and pretended to have my seatbelt on until we had driven past Ryan's truck into safety.
We drove back to the shed in almost complete silence, neither of us knowing how to communicate with the other, I, as I often did that week, quietly observed my surroundings trying to get an understanding of this new world. When we arrived at the shed, I turned to my driver and said, "Gracias, adios senor (Insert Accents), and he replyed, "Adios Amigo," (Note: when a person who is native to the spanish tongue says, "Adios Amigo," it doesn't quite have the same cheesyness that it does when a white person says it), I was happy that he used the congenial amigo instead of senor. I walked back into the shed, said high to Trudenwild and resumed tying bags. My adventure was over.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Baseball forms the backdrop of many of my first memories. I remember, when I was three years old, Tim signing up to play pinto baseball. His team was the Perris Pony Baseball, Pinto Kansas Royals. I remember wanting to play terribly bad, but I had wait a whole year, (one must realize that a year at this point was 1/3 of the time I had lived previously and it seemed like an eternity) till I would be on the Perris Pony Baseball, Tee Ball (Shetland), California Angels, (It was before they where the Anaheim Angels and long before they were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) with Jonathan Peaslee and Danny Buchanan. We had the hats with the C and the A on them. At this point, however, I had a year of waiting to do. I was sitting on the white couch with the greenish pinstripes, in the living room of our house(we hadn't been in the parsonage a year at this point), I begged my Dad to let me play, I pleaded, I knew I was good enough, it was stupid that I had to wait a year when i was perfectly able now. He said something about life not being fair and that I would have to wait my turn. Like all of my early memories I am not sure if this really happened or if I only want it to have happened. (The picture above is of Caleb not me.)
I also remember from the time I was 3 til I was 8 or 10 begging my Dad to play catch with me. I think I would go to his office in the church with two gloves, his and mine, waiting impatiently for him to get off the phone, probably playing with the small red bycicle model he had or making my voice sound like a chipmunk with his tape recorder, to see if he would play. The older I got the less interested in catch I became.
This past semester I started playing a lot of catch again. Just about every sunny afternoon either Curtis, Miller, or Jumpshot would walk into my room with their gloves on wanting to play. We would go out to the Kerwood lawn and throw the ball around maybe get some root beer in the DC afterwards. In my opinion there is no better way to avoid homework.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I worked in the onion packing factory. The majority of time was spent at one of these machines.
The machines you see in this picture are onion baggers. The machine consists of four tubes that the onion bags connect to. At the back of these machines is a conveyor belt which feeds the onions into the tubes filling up the onion bags. Once the bag hits 50 pounds it shifts over a spot and the next bag starts filling up. When the bag shifts it was my job to take off the bag, tie it and drop it onto the conveyor belt. If the machine was moving slow it was also my job to put a new bag onto that tube. If the machine was moving fast someone would put the bag on at the next station. A lot of the time me and Trudenwilk would be working the same machine taking turns tying for a while then putting bags on for a while. That's it. We did it 10 hours a day. My hands got torn up. Sometimes the bags would fill up fast and my job would get hectic, sometimes they would fill up really slowly and my job would get unbearably boring. It blows me away to think that this is what these people do for a living, day in and day out, mindlessly tying onion bags 6 days a week 10 hours a day.
Friday, July 25, 2008
These are my journal entries from when I was at the onion farm. I didn't journal too much, but I indexed memories for blog posts, so there will be more to come.
Monday, July 21 2008
Today I was talking a guy at work, his name was either Iram or Iran; I am not quite sure he said it in a heavy spanish accent and I didn't catch it exactly. I am led to believe that it was Iran because after he told me his name he made machine gun motions and the only logical explanation I can come up with for this is that he was referring to Iran and their current arms policy. He didn't speak English but he was nice and I decided to practice my Spanish with him. We had a shallow conversation about our names, ages, work history, etc. At one point he asked me if I liked Mexican women, gesturing to the women around. I said, "Si, pero tengo novia," (It took me a little while to remember "novia"). He then pointed to a women and told me that she was his wife. After telling me this, he said, "pero" and made a hip gyration in the direction of the surrounding women, thus communicating that he was not a strong symbol of fidelity.
Wednesday, July 23 2008
Today I realized that I don't eagerly await my breaks because I get to stop working, I wait for them because they prove time is actually passing.
Thursday, July 24 2008
Today I saw Trudenwilk grab an onion bag to stick on the machine. For some reason it looked as though someone handed it to him. But no one had handed him the bag he had simply picked it up. After realizing this, I thought, "Jesus handed Trudenwilk that bag."
Sunday, July 20, 2008
On a long drive when I stop to fill up the car and unload myself at a remote gas station, I feel as though the people who live and work at these places aren't real people who live real lives. It seems as though they only exist within the confines of that road trip and that gas station. They don't have a family. They don't have a bowling league. They don't like a football team. They don't go on trips. They don't go to church. they don't read books. they don't write a blog. They only exist within that gas station. Their single activity is selling Arizona green tea, Doritos and stale coffee to stiff backed, blurry eyed travelers.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Yesterday, me and jake drove to Colorado. It was a good drive and we arrived around 2am. We bought a book on tape at a gas station right before Vegas called, "The Ethical Assassin." It was really bad in the best possible way. There was everything: sex, violence, drugs, evil red necks, vegan Vigilantes, Encyclopedia selling drug dealers, crooked cops, people drowning in a pool of pig crap... everything. It took me away to another world and made the drive go a lot faster.
Friday, July 11, 2008
This is a work in progress and is still in the editing process.
A Boy with a Dictionary
When a young boy gets his hands on a dictionary,
Instantly he flips the brittle pages to each and every forbidden word.
Shining a spotlight over the dark terrain of disobedient diction,
Trying to become the rabbi of non-kosher language.
With school yard disciples, all eager to bow down,
to the idol of cool, smooth rebellion. Making a covenant;
the law of the school yard, which states: "A boy of the 5th grade
should not speak more than 15 words without one of those words
being a vulgar profanity that would make even a cowboy quiver."
This is why our mouths continually taste like soap.
The soap is our parents brilliant, literary, philosophical, theological symbol
The coal rubbing our unclean lips: washing, sanctifying.
For some reason I have been thinking about Walt Whitman this morning and thought it would be appropriate to put some photos of him up.
This poem is one of my favorites.
Song to Myself
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see
and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Whenever I am alone lounging by my pool, I like to pretend that I am Ben Braddock from the movie the graduate. I wear my short swimming trunks, turn on the radio, dive in the pool, then relax lazily: perhaps reading a book, perhaps just receiving the harsh rays of the sun on my cool, wet body. Today, I performed this routine, and to my absolute delight, Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkle came of the radio. I smiled to myself, and returned to my book.