They get letters, too, apparently

Though it is not nice to make fun of people with serious reality-interface problems, that is more or less our founding principle here at Famous and Nonfamous Strangers. Over the years people have shared with me lots of crazy letters, but here’s something I’ve never seen before (detailed at Ars Technica)… a hand-written petition of Federal Court seeking $5 Billion-with-a-B from Google!

handwritten petition

To wit, Mr. Jayne has filed suit against Google and its founders for supposed “crimes against humanity,” aiding terrorism, and putting his personal safety at risk. The Pennsylvania man filed the suit on Tuesday with a federal court, and asks for $5 billion in damages. That’s right: five billion dollars.

What’s the problem? The handwritten statement of the claim, seen by Ars Technica (online here), sums up the main charge: “I, Dylan Stephen Jayne, plaintiff, has [sic] a social security number that when the social security number is turned upside down in its entirety it is a scrambled code that does spell the name Google®.”

Apparently he’s upset (something of an understatement) that details of an arrest on public drunkenness and resisting arrest are searchable on the site. And that has led him to a number of other rather more nefarious conclusions. Of course now if you search for “Dylan Jayne,” you get piles of posts poking fun at him. That’s just the way the world works now–the village idiot now has a global (“blogal?”) village to call home. And from the image above, we all have his home address! That’s something these crazy rants, letters and legal filings have in common — the paranoid individual always manages to disclose much more personal information than they should, to the effect that lots of strangers really DO know where they live. Perhaps it’s a kind of wish fulfillment. (Consider it entirely fulfilled here!)

What worries me is not his particularly conspiracy theory, but the danger that this particular brand of mental illness might spread — if we all went nuts over the embarrassing tidbits that search engines index, we’d all be well and truly around the bend. You might hold out hope that God will forgive you, but you must always remember that Google never forgets.

We’re back!

More photos and narratives to come, but we had a great time. This is the closest we came to the US the whole time:

Byron Bay

My body still seems to think we’re over there, judging by sleep patterns. And we’re both really ready to be back at work. Really.

Like I said, more to come.

Arrival at Sydney

The title here is a bit of a reference to Elizabeth Bishop’s “Arrival at Santos.” Bishop is usually appropriate to my state of mind
in travel, but even more so for this trip:

...Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you
and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately...

Sydney is lovely from the air, and as punishing as I always fear the 13+ hours in the air will be, this trip was easy. We had a long layover in San Francisco (which is incalculably nicer a transfer than LAX) and a great flight across. The plane was only about half full, and the Qantas cabin crew could not have been nicer. (It never seems to hurt that the stereotypes about cabin stewards hold fairly true — as a gay couple asleep on one another’s shoulders, we always seem to get extra-friendly treatment.)

Qantas never disappoints — after dinner we were served hot chocolate and marshmallows, after which we both passed out. (In my case the Ambien might have helped as well.) We both slept something close to eight hours and woke refreshed to a nice breakfast and friendly chats with our new friends on the crew. The plane had a new state-of-the art video on demand system but with such a nice rest, three iPods between us (don’t ask!) and a bag full of magazines David only managed to get through one of the dozens of options.

The most touching kindness, though, was found in the customs hall on arrival. Countless times arriving back in the States — including after our wedding in Vancouver — we have had to, in one way or another, split apart or bureaucratically disavow each other. “Single,” not married. Made to queue in one line for citizens, one line for foreigners, with no exceptions for a unit that the US refuses to recognize as family. Seeing the signs in Sydney, we decided to press our luck in the line for “Australia and New Zealand Passport Holders and Families.” After a short wait, we walked up to a podium manned by a quintessentially Aussie-looking twentysomething bloke. He asked no questions of us and, not batting an eye, said “Welcome to Australia.”

And welcome we feel. Apparently this is how this country is going to answer us, our demands for a different world, and a better life, which I refuse to call immodest.

We’re here in Sydney awaiting our flight on to Adelaide, very much looking forward to three weeks away from work with David’s folks. We’ll try to post along the way, but if I post too much people at work might wonder about our “no internet in the outback” party line. In the mean time, we hope all of you in the northern hemisphere enjoy the last of summer 2007.

“Pictures and Poems” returns by popular demand

David and I took the boys and our camera to the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park. We loved it.
The Richard Serra installation is so gorgeous we could have stayed all day. So much art hard against the rocky shore, open to the warm air in spring’s cathedral… it was unforgettable, and we will be back often.

The whole experience reminded me of this Kenneth Slessor poem:

Fixed Ideas

Ranks of electroplated cubes, dwindling to glitters,
Like the other pasture, the trigonometry of marble,
Death’s candy-bed. Stone caked on stone,
Dry pyramids and racks of iron balls.
Life is observed, a precipitate of pellets,
Or grammarians freeze it into spar,
Their rhomboids, as for instance, the finest crystal
Fixing a snowfall under glass. Gods are laid out
In alabaster, with horny cartilage
And zinc ribs; or systems of ecstasy
Baked into bricks. There is a gallery of sculpture,
Bleached bones of heroes, Gorgon masks of bushrangers;
But the quarries are of more use than this,
Filled with the rolling of huge granite dice,
Ideas and judgments: vivisection, the Baptist Church,
Good men and bad men, polygamy, birth-control . . .

Frail tinkling rush
Water-hair streaming
Prickles and glitters
Cloudy with bristles
River of thought
Swimming the pebbles—
Undo, loosen your bubbles!

The rest of the photos are here.