Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cyber Punks, Street Punks and Ring Doves

I decided to go to the corner store, at about 10:30 Friday night, to pick up a couple of items. It's right around the corner, no big thing; I'd hop on the bike and be there and back in no time. As I crossed the field between my rooms and the street I noticed four young guys emerge from the cross street. They had to be thirteen or fourteen years old and seemed to have done their best to dress in similar black and orange clothing.

While I had to wonder, there seemed little reason for concern. As the boys walked the sidewalk in front of the property, the largest of the four saw me and lowered his head and walked toward me. The next largest boy followed at his shoulder. The two others hovered timidly behind. I continued to walk toward the sidewalk. The two continued to walk toward me clearly looking more menacing as they did so. As they nearly reached me, seeing that I was looking directly at them without blanching, they suddenly veered off and walked into the shadows beside a row of trees, just off the road, from where they stood taunting me with calls of "f--king white boy". I turned toward the store and rode on in silence.

They were Latinos. For all the years I've been part of the largely Latino community, here, I've probably sat down more than once for barbaqua with their parents or other relatives. Good solid peasant stock, likely enough. Salt of the earth.


* * *

It has been only a couple of weeks now since two guys in their mid-twenties -- one white, one Latino -- approached as I stood outside smoking a cigarette at about 3:00 AM. They nonchalantly turned off the side road and began to cross the field toward me. As they approached, the Latino guy pulled a razor-knife partially out of his pocket, opened it, and slid it back into his pocket again his hand casually over the top of it. With that I stepped back inside the door. They just as nonchalantly kept walking past. When I stepped out again behind them the white guy called over his shoulder: "Just passing through!"


* * *

Between these two joyous incidents, I spent several hours acting as go-between/counselor for a late-twenties couple with anger management problems, infidelity issues, and heroin/methadone (and prescription drug) issues. The intervention seemed to go gratifyingly well but it's not exactly the average idea of recreation or of getting some writing done. A few days later, another patron of the outreach programs for which I volunteer spent hours pounding with the butt of her fist on all of the doors and windows demanding mail-upon-demand, refusing to wait for Friday mail-call. When the sheriffs arrived she got her mail, notice of her being removed from the mail program forthwith, and notice that she would be would be arrested should she return. Again, no writing.


* * *

Last but not least, a couple of individual Wikipedia "Users" took umbrage over my posting material to the site's new Claudia Emerson page. (A Claudia Emerson poem, provided to VGS per agreement with the American Life in Poetry series, and the Palm Beaches Review's own Claudia Emerson Page.) "Hot" pages bring out the worst in Wikiterritorialism. One of the Users has made himself personal dictator over a number of pages and has removed my (targetted, high content) links before. Having been absorbed into Wikiculture, he blithely blew off all of the supposed Wikiethics of public editing and left an order not to post links at Wikipedia any more in the future. It's absolutely light-years beyond any authority provided to any User (or Administrator, for that matter) and I mentioned that he lived sufficiently nearby that legal papers could be served. He and some half-dozen other Wikipedians immediately and publically began "tracking" me, wolf-pack fashion, via Wikipedia's record of my IP adresses, looking for avenues of personal attack.

I've told the outlines of the story at the article Is Wikipedia Handing Out Your Browsing Information to Thousands? You can find it, and much more on the subject, at VGS's new Wiki Watchdog blog. I'd been planning to start a new blog on computer security issues and this incident fleshed out my plans quite well.


* * *


With all of this for atmosphere, I have sat watching a ring dove (almost certainly a variation of Zenaidura macroura we have here which displays the neck ring) build its nest nearby. It has chosen a drooping branch that must be approached through a kind of passageway of intertwined pine needles and spends its days swooping down to the ground for a beak full of nest-weaving materials. Then back up to the passageway for a short walk to the accumulating nest.



One day there was a loud report from the property next door. The dove was at the door of its bower and was shaken enough out of its thoughts of nest building to stop and take a long look around. While the shock of the sound would have passed soon enough, he (she?) spied another ring dove on the horizontal arm of a lamp post some twenty yeards away. He flew to the top of the lamp post, above the interloper, and began repeatedly to stamp his feet. Once didn't do it and fully three sessions of furious foot stamping and feinting in the direction of the unwelcome guest were required before it flew off to a more acceptable distance. After taking a moment to calm down it returned to its nest building.
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