When I started this blog, I had to have a name. I went with one that reflected two qualities about myself that I’d like to emphasize. The first is that I am an American from another era, one in which people ran the government and government did not rule the people. The second is that I like to teach. The first means that I am considered the lunatic fringe in this society, hence a nut on the right wing. The second speaks to my desire to distill things down to the basic truths and explain their functions. Hence, I am a person concerned with the nuts and bolts of the matter. And so, I decided on Right Wing Nuts and Bolts.
As we ramp up to the next election, the cacophony of voices on politics has raised itself to a fever pitch. As lot of high-profile people are speaking verifiable facts and a lot of pundits and bloggers are verifying a lot of the facts to be false. And they do a quite eloquent job of it. Once again, if I weren’t a lunatic fringe, I would be doing what’s best for my blog numbers and piling on the bandwagon. But where are the teachable moments in all this banter? I suppose I could use Bill Clinton’s bald face lies to teach people that liars lie. But, his lies only come from improper use of statistics, which, as we all know, is the worst kind of lie, because it has the backing of facts. (I could say, “I didn’t pray for dry weather today, and now it’s raining. Therefore, studies show that failure to pray causes rain.) But the debunkers are fast and loose with their own statistics. “If you don’t count the last catastrophic year of Bush’s presidency, all economic indicators went up better than under any other modern president!” Yes, and if you don’t count the part where it hit an iceberg and sank, the Titanic’s maiden voyage was a majestic triumph!
The problem I always had with teaching is that I never fit in with the school’s curriculum plans. When they were less than what I expected to teach, I would change them. Sometimes I did so with the blessing of the school. Sometimes I didn’t. All the time, someone made a loud enough stink that I was fired. Being a lunatic fringe really just means that I had trouble perpetuating a system that I perceived to be hypocritical or narrow-minded. But, I suppose people don’t like to be told they are narrow-minded. I know liberal people especially don’t like be told this by one of us narrow-minded, bigoted right wing lunatics. Unfortunately, a lot of professed right wingers also don’t like being called hypocritical. So I discover that it’s hard to fit with the curriculum of my supposed fellow right wingers.
But, more than my desire to teach is my desire to learn. After all, the world is full of book-ejumecated people do can do a perfectly good job regurgitating factoids to a captive audience. I certainly could do this, and I have done this in several business-oriented MLM companies. I can learn a spiel really well! But, in the end, it always boils down to the same thing. Everyone is really looking for those rare people who will be so good at lighting the fire under people that the company will grow like fire, even if the product isn’t really better. We call them “salesmen”, or “politicians”. But I, the lunatic fringe in search of the greater truth, could never believe in my product.
I want to learn about people. “I’m a people person.” Unlike the smiley-face world-beater at McDonalds, what that means to me is that I’d rather spend my time talking to people than anything else. It’s the reason I still can’t deal with phone messages and almost never text. It’s the reason I pay most of my bills at the office instead of mailing them in. It’s the reason I used to go to shopping malls for hours at a time just to watch the people.
Over the last twelve years, I have been in a sort of prison. I made the mistake of getting tied down with work that doesn’t allow much people watching. It also doesn’t allow much teaching. As a consequence, I’ve been pouring my time into learning, so that I’ll be ready to teach when the time comes. But, the time never comes. So, I’m going to have to force the issue.
I hereby announce my plan to be a nut and bolt. The nut part is that I plan to ride my bicycle a long distance for a long time. I have in my hand the envelope announcing the three winners! Yes, I am planning to give up my life as I know it and bolt out of here. The plan is to begin in 2014 with a bike ride across the United States. That will be the warmup, It’s the test I need to pass in order to tell myself that I am not too far out on the fringe of reality.
In 2015-2016 will be the first world tour. It will include riding my bike to Alaska, Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Peru, and the Caribbean islands (obviously using a boat or plane for the water sections). The trip will include about 20,000 miles of riding. I will need to learn 10 languages for the trip, of which I already can at least get by in seven. Portuguese is a lot like Spanish, so I should get that easily. Korean is under way and needs a lot of practice. Polish I don’t have a clue about yet.
I’m a little concerned about wildlife, specifically bears. The first tour still has a lot of travel issues that need to be addressed. I have tentatively planned to fly from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Russian province of Kamchatka (where there are also a lot of bears), then boat to Hokkaido, Japan‘s northern island. But I believe there are only three flights a year from Fairbanks to Kamchatka. And I am not sure any boats run in those waters in late April. So, flying and boating and bears (oh my!) may cut off the Alaskan leg of the tour. In that case, I’d bike to Los Angeles or Seattle and fly to Japan from there. Then I’d have more time to spend in Japan, and I’d have enough time to take a side-trip to China’s Hainan (which means “south sea”) Island.
Assuming I come back standing and all things else being equal, fall of 2016 will bring world tour two. (WTII just sounds better than WWII, doesn’t it?). A 20 hour flight will land me in Nairobi, Kenya. From there I’ll proceed south through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia (Victoria Falls!), Zimbabwe, and South Africa to Cape Town. After a jet ride to Mumbai, and a tour of south India and Sri Lanka, I begin in New Delhi and skirt the back side of the Himalayas, crossing the major headwaters of China to Chengdu, the WWII capitol of Nationalist China. Then it’s a short ride to Chongqing to meet the mighty Yangtze in all its glory. From there I head south, cut through Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore, fly to Perth, tour Australia, then fly to Taiwan for a little vacation before flying home. This trip will include a mere 14,000 miles of bike riding. Since I have no clue about African languages, I hope English will suffice for most of the trip. I can say hello in Thai. I understand it’s fairly easy to learn the basics of Malay.
So…..what if I am really crazy and these pipe dreams never materialize. It’s OK. I plan to have all the travelogues written before I leave. That means I’m going to know the world very, very well. I can already name most of the major rivers in China and give you some idea of where they go. I could not do that a week ago. So I am learning. And what I learn, I want to teach. I want to teach Americans about the world. And I want to teach the world that not all Americans are the vacuous, self-absorbed. imperialist snobs of lore.
The point is that I don’t know what to do about the name of this blog. I think it suits me OK, but I don’t think it’s going to be on point for where my musing will wander. So, maybe I’ll change the name. Would that cause mass confusion for my 12 followers? Probably not. Or, maybe I’ll start a new blog. For now, just be advised that the nut is completely unscrewed for the duration.