They say there’s no English word that rhymes with “month”. Well, I’m using this fake word.
Oodles of stuff have happened in the grunth since my last blog. For starters, I went on two more trips. The first one was great, because pretty much everything that could possibly go right did. We even had tailwinds for most of the time. I was with a counselor named George and five motivated, reasonable campers with good physical strength. With all the free time we had, we even played torpedo. In torpedo, you take all the stuff out of your canoes, and then split up into teams. Each team has two boat paddlers and the torpedo, which is a third person whose goal is to jump out of the boat, swim to the other boat, and tip it over. So it ends up with the torpedoes pulling at the sides of the boat with the paddlers desperately trying to steer clear of the other boat while also keep the torpedo from capsizing their own. It was loads of fun, even though we did all get wet and cold.
The second trip wasn’t as fun. One big reason was that I was just counting down the days until I could get in the car, buy some pasties, and drive to Duluth. I was ready to be in Crowduck. The other big reason was that the counselor, though a nice guy, was really officious. He followed all the rules in the book and then made up some of his own. And it would be bad form for me, the TA, to lead a mutiny against these rules, so I just followed them along with the campers. It was the only trip I’ve been on where we were expected to scatter the firewood before we left camp each morning, or where we had to bury the leaves we used to wash out our dishes, or where we had to clean our dishes thoroughly enough to pass the smell test. All the rules made the trip way less fun. Another, smaller, reason that I didn’t have so much fun was a camper whose last name is, honest-to-God, Stank. He had the severest ADHD I think I’ve ever seen. While he was paddling, every ten seconds he would stop—lay his paddle down across his lap—and say something like, “Oh my God, look at that crayfish!!” or, “How much longer is it until we have lunch?” or, “Have you ever heard of [rapper]?” Then I would have to tell him something like, “Interesting. Keep paddling.” The kid would even stop paddling when he was thinking. And of course he would then complain that we weren’t going fast enough. Nevertheless, though, the worst day on trail is better than the best day at work, and we had some fun. That was the trip where I gave everyone classical names. They were IANVS MAGNVS, REGIS MAXIMVS, Joseph the Younger, Joseph the Elder, Sankt Nikolai, and Timothy the Oratorious (that was the counselor—he used to be a DJ). The last night of that trip, as we were coming to our campsite, we heard faraway thunder. By the time we got there, we barely had enough time to set up the tents before it started raining. The kids hung out in the tents while Tim and I made dinner and such. When it was ready, the rain was just pouring. I just thought to myself: “Ten more hours, and then I’m gone, with delicious pasties and a calm drive to Duluth.
And so it was. I drove to Duluth, free of camp responsibilities for the first time in a month and a half, deposited my paycheck, and sat in a bookstore. Grandma & Grandpa arrived later on and took me out to eat. I even got a slice of lingonberry pie from the Norske Nook. And Crowduck had, for my purposes at least, begun.
I think I’ll cover Crowduck in a separate entry (or several). For now, I’ll sum up: What a great year at Crowduck. We talked around a campfire every night, everyone caught lots of pretty decent-sized fish, I climbed a cliff, and we saw a fox and a flying squirrel. That’ll have to do for a while.
So, what have I been doing since I got home? My big project has been finishing the snake cage, which I finally did two nights ago. It’s been under construction since July 9, 2003. I searched through my old Garfield journal that I wrote in from 1995 to 2003, and found this entry: “I got wood for building a snake cage today. It’ll be a really big cage. When I was at the Home Depot buying wood, they played that ‘Silly Love Songs’ song by Paul McCartney on the radio. Now I can’t get it out of my head.” As early as the next month, I was claiming to have it almost done. All I needed to make was the door! Well, now the thing is fully collapsible, it has two levels (one small one at the bottom for hiding, and a main one above it), and it’s fully furnished with bedding and sticks and heaters. Tenzing has been enjoying it plenty. Right now he’s asleep on a place where three branches join. When he’s awake, he climbs all around the cage, just exploring. Finally he has room to stretch out.
The rest of this is about a cop, until the pictures.
One of the odd things that I do is that sometimes, if it’s late at night and there’s not much else to do, I get on my bike and ride around a little, usually to the nearby train tracks. This seems to make people suspicious, which doesn’t seem to make much sense to me: people see cars go by all the time in the middle of the night, and I’m sure some of them go by repeatedly. But when a bike (a much less menacing vehicle with far less room for secrets in it) goes by a couple times late at night, they get antsy. Twice I’ve had a police officer pull me over and tell me that someone called in about a suspicious person on bike. Another time someone called in because I had biked to a park near their house, but that call I guess I can understand more, since I was “loitering” and the park is technically closed after dusk. This last time, though, was the time I became acquainted with Sergeant Barrigan.
He pulled me over as I was about to go back home, having seen no trains. “How are you tonight?” he asked. “Well, better before I got pulled over.” He showed no reaction to this little bit of humor, and asked me for identification. Then he had me turn out my pockets. “This gets more thorough every time I get pulled over for no reason,” is what he claims I said, and it’s possible, although I don’t remember the “for no reason” part. But Barrigan, after I said that, told me he was now going to write me a ticket explaining the reason, and it would cost me $90.
Well, die in a hole, Sergeant Barrigan, was the gist of my thoughts. But I stayed as polite as I could manage. He said that whenever someone says “for no reason”, it’s the magic phrase that means he should give them a ticket. The ticket was going to be for riding with no lights on the bike. I put on my best contrite face and pledged to get lights for the bike, and even to come by to show them to him sometime. Meanwhile, he construed pretty much everything I said as rudeness. Even though I was more polite to him than I’ve been to anyone for years, he said I was rude. Eventually he went to write the ticket.
He came back and told me he had decided to give me a 60-second talk instead. The talk was about how I do have rights, but sometimes if I choose to exercise those rights, there are consequences. That was his exact phrasing. I still don’t know what consequences he was talking about besides the consequence of getting pulled over and harassed by him, and then given a ticket. He told me I was arrogant and basically overall no good, and then let me bike home. (As I left, I heard him laughing with another officer who’d shown up halfway through.) It didn’t take me too long to realize that he was never really going to give me that ticket: all he wanted was to make me grovel. It sounds harsh, probably, but if you had been there, you would know that this guy was definitely on a career-long power trip. He wasn’t using his police power to enforce laws in a sensible way, but rather to make himself feel superior to other people.
A couple days later, Dad called the cops because Micah was with a bunch of teenagers and Dad thought he was breaking a law about how many teens can be in a car. Sergeant Barrigan (who’s been there at each of Micah’s arrests and knows him well) came over, and he was ruder than I’d seen him before. He periodically told Mom, “You’re not helping this discussion. Why don’t you be quiet.” When I came out and tried to say something on Micah’s behalf, he said, “Micah doesn’t need your help to get in trouble. Why don’t you go inside.” I only did because Dad suggested I should. He treated us like crap on our own property—except for Dad, because they’re similarly authoritarian—and was generally an ass. He played right into the theory I’ve built: that he’s using his badge to make himself feel mighty, and he doesn’t care about laws or other people. A few more days later, Micah and I went to LaRosa’s and talked with the waitress there about him. He’s given a guy a DUI for biking after a wine tasting, ticketed a 17-year-old girl for walking her dog past curfew, and other stuff like that. The waitress agrees with Micah and me, that Barrigan harasses suspects ruthlessly.
He can’t be allowed to take out his feelings of inferiority on citizens. So I’m going to write a letter to the Chief about him. I just thought I’d write this down to let you all know about this guy. He’s simply a bad cop.
Now here are some pictures. I took way too few pictures while I was in Wisconsin and Crowduck. At camp I took a grand total of three pictures. But, that means a manageable number to put here.
(Tracy, if you read this, could you send me the picture with the mouse?)