What's Wrong with This Picture?

Who needs a 1000 words?

Three will do just fine.

You know what three.

 

 

You know it's a bad neighborhood when the trees are locked up.

   

 

 

Mink coats hung out to dry on the terrace.  The rich have rednecks too.

   

 

 

Trust.  What you feel from a vendor with his merchandise on a leash.

   

 

 

Why isn't this a chain store?

   

 

 

I don't think this is what the city engineer meant by insulating the lamp post.

   

 

 

Back when graffiti artists were really tough.  (Graffiti from the lower walls of the Rome Colosseum.)

   

 

 

When your car is longer than your apartment is wide.  At least there's four floors.

   

 

 

Not much of a sales pitch for having corner office.

 

 

So.  Business really is that.  The next time I tell you to go to Bolzano, Italy, you know what I'm really saying. 

Forgotten Memories

An old high school acquaintance passed away suddenly during the holidays. I’m at the age that this will happen with increasing frequency - until I get to being the next one on the list. I’d only seen him once since high school, after I got out of the military, and I didn’t catch him at a good time in his life. We got back in touch this last year through Facebook and he seemed better, but the etherealness of Facebook will never be the same as meeting face to face.

A year younger than me, he and I had been pretty tight in high school for about two to three years, a lifetime at that age. We had a falling out between my junior and senior year that happened during a keg party in someone’s field one summer evening. Whatever took place seemed hugely important at the time. Not surprising really. Teenage years have colors that are blindingly vibrant, rock music that speaks philosophy, and the emotional gage permanently pegged in the red or just past it. Living the soap opera.

I remember parts of that night but thirty-plus years later the details are hazy. I don’t even think we exchanged words. I simply overheard him talking to another friend and they didn’t speak kindly of me. Thirty years later that happens daily, more or less. I’m a bartender and not a very good one insofar as the thought goes that the client is always right. I can get away with it because I'm also the owner.  I’m not rude but I return the same respect given. I’m also not much to chitchat about weather, sports, or politics so the social butterflies aren’t too impressed with me. Couple of years shy of fifty and I’m okay with not making new friends. Call me cranky.

Back at seventeen though, everything had to be blown up into epic proportions. Listening to the Cure and other angst-ridden bands didn’t help. But it bothers me that I can’t remember what they said that upset me so. I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal - just kids voicing. Evidently it was a big deal to my seventeen year old self. I dropped out of football, started working extra hours at my job in another town, and shied away from many of my hometown friends. And now I can’t remember why.

One positive aspect; it made me comfortable with my own company and being by myself. I distinctly remember many teenage nights just hating being home and not out with my friends. My evening job helped give me an excuse to get out. That desire, that need for social contact was a crazy itch I could not scratch enough. It’s a funny thing really. Anyone who knows me now would say would never believe I was once like that. Work, family obligations, and being male have been shown to impede making friends as one gets older. I could work at it but I simply prefer being by myself. I appreciate my solitude but don't consider myself anti-social. Maybe working with the public seven days a week for the last ten years has something to do with it.

I haven’t thought about that summer for years but now I wonder what it would be like to see and hear it again - a retro-active out of body experience - to see if any of it is remotely close to what I remember. Maybe it’s better not knowing. Memories are reshaped and changed with time as those errors made in sight, sound, and expectations expand out like a wave from their origin. They get so far away from you and the truth as time passes that it’s close to impossible to pull them back to remember them properly. The future can be changed by altering your views of the past but that also has a flip side; changing your future can also alter views of your past.

I’ve noticed we tend to remember details of emotionally charged moments better than the daily rituals and rhythms of life too. I wonder if shown a video tape of them, even years later, whether you’d recollect aspects of even the most mundane of days, scratched somewhere in that disc in your head. Are those memories there? Remembered at all or even correctly? Capricious and self-serving hard drives, infinitely useful but full of faults and bugs. That’s our condition.

Funny how we adapt to technology. I just returned from a trip back home after not seeing my siblings for some time and I couldn’t help but notice (since I am the old crony behind the times without a cell phone *GASP*) how everyone bows their heads down to their miniature TV screens as soon as they stop moving. I wonder if we’ll eventually forget how to have simple conversations.

Think about those grudges you’re holding. Are they worth it? I let my irritation float away a long time ago and I haven’t missed it. I hope my friend has found peace, where ever he is at. He wasn’t a bad person back then. None of us were - our paths divided and that’s the way it was. Still, I would have liked to talked to him before he left this world; reminisce our collective memories, reshape and solidify them so as to set eyes and ears and heart on them one last time. Maybe gain some understanding. We all lose our grip on them eventually and they are forgotten forever. Dust to dust, floating out there somewhere.

And yet, the one thing people won’t ever forget is how to argue.

Regardless of how it’s done.

Ahh, Inspire Off

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you still have to pay on your credit card.

Don’t look back, you’re not going that wa-*TRIP!*

Take every chance in life because some things only happen once, like death.

Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself into the sickest golden-parachute-stealing CEO this side of Bernie MadoffAnd avoiding jail time.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible if you ignore the fact there’s no apostrophe in it and the i is not capitalized.  Otherwise, yeah.

Live the life you love and love the life you live when you steal someone’s identity and open credit cards in their name

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.  Fall.  Into crevices.  In front.  Of you.  Pay.  Better.  Attention.

Difficulties in your life don’t come to destroy you but cause major tissue damage.  This will help you realize your hidden potential for reconstructive surgery.

Live your life and forget your age cause after your forties your knees and back will constantly remind you anyway.

Do not Remind yourself that it’s okay not to be perfect.  You already set your sights so low you’re practically immobile.  Quit wasting valuable energy!

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Unless you’re a dictator.  Then you can say it wasn’t a mistake and everyone will say you’re right cause they don’t want to die of torture.

Silence is better than bullshit unless you are fertilizing the garden.  Plants don’t eat silence.

I’m not giving up, I’m just starting over at something else cause that other thing was WAY too f***ing hard.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and ends 30 seconds later if you’re in a plane that just lost both wings. 

Mistakes are proof that you’re trying - try less so the boss won’t notice you screwing up.

Don’t follow your dreams, chase them.  Unless the dream is you flying out the second story bedroom window.

Don’t give up, the beginning is always the hardest, the middle is harder, and the end will almost certainly be insanely difficult. No one said leveling up was easy, mofo.

A simple hello could lead to a million things. Like an STD.

God won’t help you. He already gave you the power to do that and his warranty expired three seconds after your first breath.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up and dying because we’re not built like superman, numbnuts.

Don’t let anyone ever dull your sparkle, but, if they want to shine something of yours that’s a little dull, well, think twice about that.  You might learn a new trick to show your wife or girlfriend.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, but sheer luck whomps both those pansies hands down.

Dream big and dare to fail because you’re leveraged baby. OPM sucker!

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow. And when Tomorrow gets sent by your bookie to tap your knees with a baseball bat, chances are that extra 20% late fee won’t sound so bad. Shoulda paid Yesterday on time.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when? If words the rearranged are, meaning sentence still have will?

You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind but you can negatively effect your sex life with a positive HIV exam.

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we might hook up with her hot friend Excellence.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light of the oncoming car so you can try to roll out of the way.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, then build a door with no knobs so you can keep that dumb bastard from stealing the beers in your fridge.

Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. Which is a lot to cram in small ax so man up and get a bigger ax dipshit.  Or just buy a chainsaw.  A small ax won’t cut shit.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there. Believe you can four times and it’s like you went and came back without lifting a finger.

You must do the things you think you cannot do and then admit to them in a court of law so you get free lodging and food.

When deeds speak, words are nothing cause Deeds is a huge deaf mute an’ that dum sumbitch ain’t making no sense what-so-eva.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.  The other 14% we don’t know where to put but it’s important. We’re pretty sure anyway. Here, you hold it.

Never complain and never explain that big ‘ole bloodstain when you’re being detained. The Po-Po like poet criminals and will tell you so with a few electrifying seconds of 50,000 volts.

Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going round and round till you’re so dizzy you can’t tell time and it doesn’t matter anyway because you have to vomit.

If you can dream it, you can do it. If you can’t, well, dream something easier dumbass.

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later unless you live in a flood zone or a tornado alley. Maybe you should do less farming and have higher insurance premiums.

Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star - if you don’t mind waiting billions of light years to get there just to burn up at 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit when you finally hit it. On second thought, just hit the moon on your first shot.

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground, and your dental insurance paid up. You’ll need it for that new set of teeth after you trip, space cadet.

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.  Just blow 'em off and pretty soon you'll get a nice appointment with the guidance counselor or someone in juvie.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Unless you’re like, 115. By that time your wrinkly butt won’t give a shit, will it? Damn those FOXO A3 genes.

Poverty was the greatest motivating factor in my life. Well, that and the bar of soap slipping from my hands in the prison shower. Clumsy!

Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God so build him a thermonuclear bomb and destroy all life on this planet.  He’d appreciate you restocking the soul inventory, marine.

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.  Especially if ‘hard’ and ‘right’ are both on the package, so can a court of law legally say that you stole two things?

Sometimes we have to just let things go because you’ll get third degree burns if you don’t.

Remember, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.  Once you die and see that every single day was bad, then no one can argue you had a bad life.  Sucks to have been you, huh?

Don’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons, and yes Your Honor, I would like a court-appointed lawyer.

There are two types of pains, ones that hurt you and ones that change you into dead.

We sometimes think we want to disappear but all we really want is to be found unless we are in the witness protection program because we turned into a backstabbing snitch that screwed our buddies over when our dumb ass got caught then cried like a baby to the police because we didn’t want to be known as Ben Dover in prison.

Be with the guy who ruins your lipstick, not your mascara.  Or, teach that guy how to kiss without slobbering on your eyelids.

No expectations, no disappointments, no verbs, no sense.

Dreams don’t work unless you wake up in the middle of the night to remember them. Even then they’re inanimate and can’t really *do* anything that could be considered work.  Pfft, you silly.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve go to do something you’ve never done but remember to do the internet search on your friend’s laptop while they’re asleep then wipe the keyboard.

My life is my message.  It says something pretty foul.  I shouldn't repeat it.

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out because they might actually feed you if you are in a starving situation.  Of course you probably wouldn’t be talking much then would you?

Don’t promise when you’re happy, don’t reply when you’re angry and don’t decide when you’re sad; just take your pill like the nice doctors said to and those aliens with the red eyes will eventually leave you alone.

No matter how much it hurts now, one day you will look back and realize it changed your life forever because it got you hooked on new best buddy morphine.

Let go of the past and the past will let go of you, then take Past to the vet to get checked for rabies and put down.  You don't mind big needles do you?

We do not remember days we remember moments in no specific order; it’s a side effect of our anti-psychotic medication.

I have found that if you love life, life will love you back and give you herpes.

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.  Oh, and to take drugs that induce happiness because that’ll complete the circle.

Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated by creating the IRS, the government, organized religion, and several other groups of people who transmit microwave mind-thoughts to control our actions and take our money.

I hope you've been inspired.  *Big sigh.*

 

Something to Remind Me

Cameras and memories; tools recording joy, fear, sadness, love, surprise and anger that leave mystery, longing, disappointment, shame, pain, disgust, wonder and excitement to those who witness them.

Me, I’ve always been particular towards letters instead.  Kept every single one I’ve ever gotten after age sixteen.  Don’t know what compelled me to do it, but I’m glad I did.  Letters freeze-frame a sentiment or mood - suspend that moment in time and keep it paused forever - as long as the paper lasts and the ink doesn’t fade.  They are different, requiring an energy that photos lack; it takes time to create a letter.

Took awhile for me to come around with a camera.  Photography became interesting while I was in the military when I didn't always have time to sit and write.  Something pushed me to preserve my moments in action so with a small pocket camera I did just that.  Like many of my hobbies, the basics were easily consumed so imprudently I dived into the deep end and purchased a Canon T90 back in the good ol’ days of 1988.  Only time in my life a saleswoman tried to talk me out of buying merchandise - yet I walked out of that store with the second of one of those cameras sold in the state of Iowa at the time; the first was owned by a professional journalist at the Des Moines Register.  Or so I was told.

Parted of several month’s pay, I was the proud owner of a camera fifteen sizes too big for me and several stratospheres over my head.  I can’t say my money was wisely spent; the camera body and flash alone cost me three month’s pay and I still didn’t have any lenses.  And I had yet to develop one shot.  Two years and 4500developed photos later, well … much beer money was traded for blurry, burned, and flashed memories by this sprayer.  I did get some good photos thought, and the camera never complained.  I treated it like a baby and learned everything I could about it but I still never surpassed ten percent of the camera’s full capabilities.  I still have every single photo I took.  Digital photography saved me, in a sense.  While it allowed me to forgo developing every single photo just to see it, it also allowed me to easily transcend the twenty-four to thirty-six shot photo limits.  The 60,000+ photos on my computer would make for one heavy photo album.

I find old photos fascinating.  Found a box in my dad’s belongings after he passed.  From what I later discovered there had been many more; these had been salvaged from the garbage at my grandfather’s house years ago by my mom.  I recognized half of the people in them and a couple are from the turn of the century.  Of course no names, dates, or any type of information is written on them.  Drives me nuts, really, not knowing who they are but knowing they are family just by the resemblance.  You’d think it would be easy to figure out, but it isn’t.  Just like people.

Dad was a first born.  He had a sister two years younger who died at sixteen and a half months old.  My father was an only child for awhile, becoming a big brother again at 14.  Twins two years later made him a big brother three times over and the last showed up when he was 18 years old.  Makes for different family dynamics having kids with such age differences.  One not so obvious fact is knowledge of the family.  Because Dad was older he remembered many things his brothers and sisters didn’t. I never had the chance to ask him about the photos, finding them after his funeral.  And I know that it’s entirely possible that he wouldn’t have known any more than my aunts or uncles about these memories but still, it irritates me to think I’m looking at family I can’t identify. I ’ve contacted several distant relatives in Belgium where my great grandparents came from and found many who gave me good information.  I was able to identify one or two photos but at this point the ones who could have really helped me are long gone.  So, I look at them with a pang of mystery.

Never could understand why a person wouldn’t be interested in knowing family.  My wife is one of those people.  Doesn’t care to know anything about either parent’s side or their history.  Keeps her mind in the present, itself commendable since I find it difficult to do that sometimes.  I completely understand not being interested in people, especially specific people, but I would expect a little curiosity to know who you’re part of and where you came from.  Some folks just ain’t interested, simple as that.  To me it seems normal to name all my grandparent’s brothers and sisters including their spouses.  Maybe not their kids or their kid’s kids, but I’ve got it written down so I know where to find it if asked.  Got quite a few interesting stories about them too, handed down from person to person.  I guess that’s the only way of keeping them around, isn’t it?  Simply remembering them.

You know though, our memories aren’t that great - most time they come with their own little pang of mystery.  You take any two people who’ve shared an intimate moment or any emotional incident together and ask them to describe it ten, twenty, or even forty years later - well, you’ll create a story alright.  Two in fact, with different words and different covers.  The human mind is funny like that.  Fills in blanks and remembers things that weren’t. Susceptible to suggestions, wants and beliefs amongst a whole lot of other things mixed up in those little universes in our heads.  Maybe that’s our culture.

Speaking of culture, you know that Europe has open air markets?  Even the small towns have weekly markets where you can get just about anything - from shoes to hats to cheeses and wines.  Vendors pull up into town, park their trucks and vans and poof - open and unfold the sides of the vehicle to present their wares to the buying public.  They even have monthly antique markets.  Nothing like what you’d see in the states, I’ll bet.  In fact, you can easily find items older than post-Columbus America itself.  Kind of humbling and amazing at the same time.  I like looking at the different items; miniature time machines all to themselves.  Makes me wonder about their past.  Who used them?  Touched them?  Where did it come from?  What memories do they hold for other people?  The saddest thing, I think, are the old family photos that somehow made their way into a shoe box amongst strangers at a market.  Feel sorry for them.  They make me want to buy them all up and take them home I feel so lonely for them.  People’s memories thrown in the middle of a crowd and up for sale.  Be neat to make a huge book full of these moments in time, these sad and forgotten memories then create a whole back story to them.  Completely fictitious and fantastical.  I wonder if there is anyone yet alive that might have known these people and the places they were at?  Smiling faces, youthfulness, and gaiety in eras we think must have been difficult, but back then they weren't really.  No more difficult than now a hundreds years in the future.  All forgotten and lost, right here in my hand, relics of a time that has passed them by and left them here.

Memories aren’t much different than photos.  A memory is something you can recollect, go over time and time again but is only important to the people involved or who knew those in the photo.  They sit, there and available, ready to be refreshed in memories tangent and principle to the people in them.  They’re tangible and yet they aren’t; you hold an image burned on a piece of paper in your hand but it isn’t yours and not of you.  If anything they’re shared.  Others can remember the same time, the same place, and the same people.  And yet others wonder, who were they and what became of them?  Memories woven together, like a photo floating out there somewhere, kept in an ethereal album.

Out of reach but never lost.

You Layering Lying Liar You

It’s funny. Snipers use ghillie suits to look like a plant - they take out a foe at a long distance. The rest of us try to smell like a plant - so we don’t take out those close to us.

Shampoos, colognes, perfumes, fragrances, soaps, deodorants, creams and lotions.

And the smells among them! Bay Rum, Liliac, Peach & Mint, Lavendar, Irish Spring, Sea Salt, Ginger, Oatmeal, Eucalyptus, Lily of the Valley, Allspice, fruits and spices galore. Oh the scents we’d like to have, stamped on a bottle.

Admit it. You’re stinky. And embarrassed. And desperate to cover it up.

No one bothered to tell me to layer my fragrances. Is this why people avoid me? By calculating the mixing of scents you too can create a particular scenario. This is like mixing chocolate and strawberry to get the feeling you’re immersed in pistachio. Violà!

I read that by mixing Hermès Eau de Gentiane Blanche and Jimmy Choo Man with Fougère that I would effectively create a fall hike, Probably easier to just go on one. Now I’m no odor specialist, but I’ve been on few fall hikes. Not once have I run across these fellows. This concoction provides an earthy/woody, floral scent with hints of citrus, geranium, and pineapple leaf on a base layer of mossy. Geranium and mossy, I get that. But pineapple? And citrus? Where are these people hiking? Is someone littering their lunch ahead of them? Last I checked pineapples grew year round in temperate zones. Zones that generally have only two seasons. Fall isn’t one of them.

I suppose what I need is a Fragrance Calculator. You read that right. A fragrance calculator. These are the lesser known cousins of Scientific Calculators and are more ecologically friendly than Printing Calculators. However, they are not in the same family as Graphing Calculators. I think they fake their way around, with buttons and numbers and various math signs, posing as a Handheld Calculator. Not sure where they stand with Financial Calculators. My guess is it’s a platonic relation.

A calculator wouldn’t help me. Calculators can’t calculate chemistry. How else would you know fragrance oils from essential oils? Or percentages of alcohol to create an eau de toilette? What if your parfum slips dangerously close to a perfume? And how does cologne differ from aftershave? The whole thing is so embarrassing that even a few of those letters (I won't point them out) are keeping quiet, right now, in the middle of their own word. And now - NOW they want to add music; single note perfumes vs. multi-note perfumes. Pretty soon bottles will play a song when you spritz. And do not forget your mood!  Sparkling and uplifting when you’re shooting for sobering and grave could cause a serious . . . well, something bad could happen. We don’t want that.

And there’s steps! 1! 2! 3! Body wash, lotion, spray on body mist, the spritzing of perfume, body butter, and then hand sanitizer! What if you mix up the order? Can you walk into body butter or lather on the spritz? Too many questions with too many answers! And at any point are you a fire hazard? Am I allowed to move before it’s dry? Can I flail my arms at least? What about smoking? Or candles? Is there a radius of combustion? Do others have to maintain their distance?

What if this and what if that. It’s complicated.

I know where I’ve gone wrong. I don’t have a signature. I need a scent signature, you know - a scent that says ‘Ah, Noel was just here’.

Not the one in the bathroom.

I had a signature once. For four years in high school I was the man.  Well, my friends and family liked it anyway. They hung around me, sniffing the air after I got done working my shift as a pizza maker.

There’s a good scent for you; pizza and beer.

Who wouldn’t like that?

You're Stuck in Class 8 Rapids

Eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of fresh air. All that’s left is to think young and maybe you’ll get lucky.

Not that kind of lucky, you carnal deviant. Don’t feel bad, though. You’re thinking in the majority.

The river of life and free will. One minute you’re fat, dumb, and happy in your own little existence and WHAM! Dumped, unceremoniously, in cold and unfriendly water with no explanation and no choice. Welcome to Earth! (This version of being born begs the question - what if we had had a choice? Don’t think too hard about it. Just means that we all agreed to it and that the whole of the human race including you and me are a bunch of masochists. And of course I’m assuming our existence before and after this one is, was, or will be, better. We hope.) Life here is a pretty rough swimming teacher; thrown in with a shout of ‘sink or swim’ echoing in your head as your ears fill with water.

In fact, most of us do pretty well treading that water. Your head pops up and you’re given a good view of the shoreline on both sides. Looks promising at first, that nice dry land full of the fruits of knowledge and knowing whatever truths there are to know.  At least, that appears to be the promise. Unfortunately, it races along so fast that to focus on any one point means you miss the whole scene. So your head whips back and forth, trying to make sense of it all while you barely keep your head above water. And the shore?  Fuhgeddaboudit.  No can do. You’re on a short leash sweet pea. Crowded all together and bobbing along with all these other folks, you aren’t going far enough to constitute going anywhere. So, you give each other funny looks and wonder who is to blame without the slightest clue as to the five Ws and a H you are here.

No wonder we’re so irritable.

Kinda funny the idea of choice. While it certainly can be zero (you have none) it definitely is not infinite (you can do whatever you want). Unless you get lucky.

So how much of life is luck, I wonder? And just what is luck?

A miraculous happening of events, no rhyme nor reason, that lead to something desirable?

This is simple cause and effect. Every effect has a root cause. But is it that simple? Philosophy as far back as Aristotle divided causes into four types; efficient, final, material, and formal. *Blplpllplp! Cartoon face rapidly shakes left & right and says ‘whazzat?’* Modern philosophy, to help out matters, added duplicity even as others on the upper end of the philosophy chain argued that our ability to know a root cause is impossible. And I thought only politicians were professional water muddlers.

It’s the same old thing. No one knows, really. The uncertainty principle never sleeps. Mr. Heisenberg evidently didn't either.

I think luck is a simple state of mind, like happiness or sadness. Barring any physical problems that bring about changes in your body beyond your control (I believe many of our actions under the duress of mental diseases are no different than the action of running a fever when sick; i.e. you can’t control either without help) luck is a state of mind, no different than the concepts of good or bad. Both are relative and neither has the specific quality of good or bad. It is what it is. Your application of good or bad to it depends upon the point from which you view it.

Of course, this doesn’t make a bankruptcy or your house burning down or a meteor strike to the head any easier to accept. But these things have happened. They still will. The only true choice we have is how we deal with them. Mad, glad, or even sad, this is about as much control as we’re going to find in this existence. Maybe next time life, or whatever form it takes, will come with a handy-dandy instruction book. I wouldn’t hold my breath though. Then again, that might get you there sooner.

So if you want to eat healthy, exercise, get fresh air, think young and get lucky in the hopes of living longer, well, the actual physical difference you’ll probably make to the quantity or quality of your life is much less than you’d like. You aren’t equipped with a mask, snorkels, and flippers.

But, if you want to eat healthy, exercise, get fresh air, and think young because it makes you feel better about yourself, and helps you treat others close to you in a like manner, by all means do so. Make your life worthwhile and think positive.  As a side effect you may live longer. Just maybe.

If you don’t? That’s okay too. A short life, lived well, is worth a hundred lives spent otherwise. The fortunate realize it sooner rather than later. You have that choice.

Oh!  And I hope you get lucky along the way.

 

Do You Crochet?

Ever feel like you’re just floating along with the current?

That’s what we’re doing for the most part. Life is this big, wide river and we are along for the ride.

Free will versus fate/determinism. It’s an old argument. Do we have a choice in anything we do, or are our lives solely determined by cause and effect keeping us on a determined path?

I think this argument runs parallel to the one of never finishing a race; before you reach the finish line you have to run half of that distance. Once you’ve done that you still have another halfway point to reach. The halfway points go on and on to infinity.  You can never finish the race since any distance can always be cut in half.

I see it this race differently (really we're talking about human lifespan); like a piece of yarn, frazzled at both ends. Fate on one side and free will on the other. If you take two points in space and draw a line from one to the other, you have just represented time; it is not instantaneous. It took time to go from one to the other. If the yarn is a line, you can use it to represent the passing of time; stopping at any given point gives a reference to a past and a future. The past is where you’ve been and the future is where you are heading. Is fate the past, locked and fixed while free will an ever changing choice of several possible paths?

Free will means that we have choices. If you think of choices as a simple tree diagram branching out then further up the tree the branches become quite numerous.

But there is a reverse to this; the chaos theory. One of the hallmarks of the chaos theory is that it states a butterfly beating its wings on the other side of the world can affect a given event on the other. If you consider this backwards, that mean that any given singular event is a sum of all events that proceeded it. Basically it is retracing the steps from a single point through many different branches to a single seemingly insignificant event that led to the principle event’s ability to happen.

This branching is the reverse of the idea of free will. Free will branches out to many choices. Until you actually make a choice, the possibilities, to reuse a tired pun, are endless. It’s like a tree diagram set on a mirror, visible in both aspects.

But what exactly does that mirror represent?

From that mirror the chaos theory follows a single line in reverse back to the source; i.e. the past.  It finds those butterfly wings that led to the event in question. The future, however, is limitless. Two choices lead to four choices that lead to eight ad infinitum. That constriction though, that singular point in the middle of all of it, is our moment in time.

Our “now” if you want to put it that way. The branching of backwards of our past and the branching forwards of our future, squeezed down into one moment; the present.

Funny, when you think of it that way.  Makes sense in my head but in the light of day, makes me want to unravel at the seams.  Branch out, if you will.

Good thing there’s CSI reruns on TV.

Brings me back to an understandable reality.

The Best and Worst

Can you image running 100 miles in 48 hours? My knees ache to think about it.

Three weeks ago I took part as a volunteer to help with a local ultra marathon (100 miles) known as The Magredi Mountain Trail. Four of us manned a mountain hut located around the 60 mile mark of the course. It’s the fourth year I’ve helped at this spot and the fifth year of the competition.

Ultra marathons are testament to a person’s ability and desire to push themselves to and past their limits. Not so long ago more people had summited Mount Everest than had run an ultra (marathon). That’s changed.  Easier to plot out new 100 mile routes than build another Everest. There’s some tough races out there too, check out this WEBSITE. Many of these races, being non-profit, depend on volunteers to run the various restoration points and life bases. Most of them come from running backgrounds.

It's amazing, really, to watch these folks as they test their bodies and mental fortitude against difficult circumstances.  They are willing to endure pain and suffering in search of a goal that usually does not include winning the race. I would like to be able to do it, just once. To know that feeling. But, it certainly isn't for the weekend warrior. Oddly enough many run several of these ultras a year. More than a handful I spoke with just came off another race two or three weeks earlier. Talk about punishment. My feet got sore just listening to them.

But for all this awesomeness I am just as easily brought down by the pettiness and bickering amongst the volunteers. For crying out loud folks, the runners don’t have time for that; they are concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I find it funny how everyone thinks they have a better way of doing things. I'm not any different, but I certainly wouldn’t voice it (unless asked then I'll deposit my 2 cents). After all, I’m a volunteer. You tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it; I’m there for the runners. I figure it’s their show not mine so tell me what you need me to do; I’ll shut up and do it.

I’m not there so much to work anyway, I’m there for my English skills. A full one third of the runners are foreigners and English is pretty useful. So I stand on my feet for sixteen hours serving hot broth and tea and making sure that people are okay, physically and mentally. Liberally serving words of encouragement and being inspired myself. It's pretty cool.

Even more surprising is the median age of these runners. Thirty to forty years, with quite a few in their fifties. I shouldn’t be surprised. The real difficulty in these races is not the physical aspect but the mental. Our bodies are tougher than we think. Navy seals prove that to their trainees time and time again. It’s difficult not to give up when things get rough and most of it is a mental game. I find it funny that our bodies can deal with the physical aspect easier in youth, but our heads don’t have the experience. Then you get older and they switch places. It’s a fascinating juxtapostion. I’d love to try one an ultra (probably smarter to start with a mini-marathon first and see how that goes) but my ability to keep up with my list is outpaced by the things I keep adding to it. C'est la vie.

What if you could still do those things though? What if you could, at any age, do what your heart desires? Probably the biggest reason we don’t is our desires change with time. What we desire today won’t be the same tomorrow. Maybe its a built-in bypass, a work around so we don’t go blowing our fuses. My knees, hips and shoulders already think I’ve blow a couple. Maybe it’s just my mind but the radiograph from the MRI shows evidence that is hard to contradict. The desire is still there though. That’s not always so bad, having a 20 year-old head on a 40+ year-old body.  It's been said many times that youth is wasted on the young.

This probably applies more to the male population but I wonder what would happen if 40/50/60 years olds were given back their 20-year old bodies for a week or more?

I’d like to think we’d be a little wiser but the truth is there wouldn’t be enough chairs in the emergency room.  What do you think?

Open Letter to Indie Authors and Indie Book Reviewers

Indie Authors


When contacting a reviewer, read the REVIEW POLICY. If you can’t pay attention to their writing, why should they pay attention to yours?

If the reviewer states they only accept genre of the A/B/C variety, don’t try to make your X book sound otherwise. False pretenses. You might get the review you deserve.

When sending your review request, address the reviewer by name. It’s on their website. You know how to research you little Sherlock you.

If you discover the blogger has no name, refer to them by their site name. They’re in the witness protection program don’t you know.

If the reviewer does not take the time to personally respond, that means “no thank you”. No means no. Drop it and move on.

If the reviewer states you can send a courtesy reminder after a certain time frame, by all means do so. Once.

If the reviewer responds with a thanks but no thanks, DO NOT respond. Not even with a thank you even though they were very nice about saying no. They don’t have the time. Thirty seconds after they announced they were a book reviewer several servers crashed in a twenty mile radius from their current location from email overload. I am not kidding. The government would confirm this if it weren’t top secret. *Sssssshhh*

If the reviewer says they’d like to review your book, curb your enthusiasm (little internal YAYS are acceptable) and respond with what they asked for. Refer to my first point. Then, immediately go to the reviewer’s blog and sign up for their newsletter. Immediately. Like them or Google + them. This is a courtesy, NOT a guarantee of a good review. You’re a nice person, remember?

If you get a less than stellar review, man or woman up and learn from it. You are a W.R.I.T.E.R. Toughen that skin. DO NOT RESPOND WITH A WORD EVISCERATION HANNIBAL. The ONLY correct response is “Thank you for your time, I’m sorry you did not like my work.” Imagine your grandmother is standing next to you the whole time. With a bat.

If you get a good review, WRITE a thank you email, THEN; share that reviewer’s blog with your buds. Ones and zeros pal. This doesn’t involve taking one of two colored pills. Do it.

Wake up! These folks have real lives and real jobs, just like you. Have patience.  They do this because they like doing it and like readers. WE LIKE READERS!! They gave up their most precious resource for you. For you! Always. Be. Nice. Karma, dude and dude-ette.

Be aware that out of every 100 blogs perused, you’ll find 50 that might qualify for your book and aren’t closed to submissions. Out of those 50 review requests you’ll get back 7 of which 5 will be positive responses. No one said this was easy.

DON’T. GIVE. UP. That one glowing review makes up for a lot of dead ends.

 

Book Reviewers


Make your website easy to navigate. We don’t publish without an editor (well okay some slip through the cracks) so neither should you publish a website without the same forethought. Don’t facilitate crack slipping. Okay, that didn’t sound right. Forget I said that last part. STILL: Ask no less than two friends to navigate your site and fix what needs fixin’ you hot little blogger you.

State clearly your review policy and instructions. You and writers have words in common. We’s is good at followin’ those there direckshuns. Use them wisely, grasshopper. And watch where you point them.

Don’t put your paid-for-reviews site on lists intended for unpaid review sites. C’mon. Don’t be sleazy, dopey.

By all means be specific with your genre of choice. It’s your blog. Literary/Sci-Fi gender-bending werewolves in Contemporary/Urbanistic/Dystopian suburbias involving sexy a transmugulated vampiress for grades K through 7+the summer between heights of 3 foot 6 inches to 5 feet tall has an actual fan base. Really. And you’re it. Put on a looser shirt maybe. Heaven forbid you just state ‘fiction’. *Gasp!*

I know, I know, we’re a needy bunch. Self worth and confirmation and all that. Don’t feel bad about giving an honest bad review. Someone has to cut the chaff. Besides, any writer of worth will learn from it. And not quit. Just to be safe don’t put your address on your website.

If you’re a cheesy I’ll-look-at-your-book-if-you’ll-look-at-mine type, just say-so from the get-go. Some of us like that. Not me though. *Chestire Cat grin*

QUIT USING DARK LETTERS ON A DARK BACKGROUND MAKING MY EYES SQUINT MORE THAN HUMANLY POSSIBLE CAUSING SPORADIC CLUSTER MIGRAINES OWW MY ACHING HEAD. *Ahem.* Sorry.

Do not, I repeat, do not have your website set up as one long running script that goes on and on and on and on and on and on after you said to click the link at the bottom of the page. Unless you think you’re funny. Please don’t. Leave funny to the writers.

Did I mention make your site easy to navigate? Don’t be an amateur. I know this is only a hobby BUT - you do want to turn this into a multi-million conglomerate so you can buy a yacht with the Princess Cruise Liner for a dinghy, don't you? Bill Gates started small you know. He walked uphill in snow both ways carrying his horse and he was proud! Humble but proud and . . . Yeah okay whatever you know what I mean.

Check your auto-responding email. Twice. Then again from another device, Mr. and Mrs. Belt & Suspenders. That way the weird wacky emails the gremlins in your electronics send out to poor unassuming writers won’t make them think you’ve been taken hostage and are sending them a secret, coded message from the shadow group’s underground lair where they plot to destroy all books. Writers are an imaginative group. Prone to strange ideas. DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE.

So you’re in the witness protection program. I get that. Do us a favor in your review policy and state “send in care of” or even “to the attention of”. If you don’t want your identity known, great! I wouldn’t trust us either, but instead of making us search all over your site for something nonexistent (remember writer/only/funny from above), let us know how you like to be referred to so we can use that in our email. I prefer Master. With a ‘the’ before it, lowercase t. *Chestire Cat grin*  * again*

Check your website settings. If it’s private we can’t get to it. Unless that’s what you want . . . “I understand completely . . .” He said as he backed slowly away, facing you the whole time. *Mad dash for the door*. SLAM! You crazy bloggers, you.

Be nice. Honest, but nice. Writers have egos made of glass and cinnamon puffs suspended on cotton candy scaffolding precariously perched on a hollow crystal ball on a slanted surface. Well, not all of us. Some of us have egos of reinforced concrete threaded with a Kevlar matrix. Wait, maybe that’s our heads.

If you do get a really nasty writer (happens), don’t lower yourself to their level. Karma will get ‘em, sooner or later. Remember; you can send away more bees . . . Umm, with honey . . . Smeared on your vinegar. . . Wait, okay forget that bit. Just bee nice with your stinger.

For all those writers who didn’t say thank you or sign up for your newsletter or share the love I apologize. DON’T STOP READING! You are the reason why we do what we do. Thank you!!

 

Mind & Body, That's the Spirit!

So the other morning I woke up with a deep thought.

I looked at my wife and asked “I think that trefoil diagram creating a Reuleaux triangle of mind, body and spirit is wrong. It should be a vesica piscis.”

She blinked once, arched her eyes and rolled back over to sleep.

I get that a lot.

Why I wake up fully alert with my mind already running is beyond me. My wife can wake up and fall back asleep several times in the morning. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve be able to do that. Might be the fault of the military but I’m not complaining.

The Reuleaux triangle is created by the central overlap of three triangles - the trefoil is the outer circumference of those three circles. This design is frequently used to represent mind, body and spirit;

MindBodySpirit.png

It’s funny how we try to visualize concepts that aren’t visual. I suppose if more of our brain were reserved for our sense of hearing instead of sight, we’d turn everything into music. Imagine explaining a fart to someone with only a sense of touch. You can touch a fart but could you feel it?

The trefoil is a useful design but I don’t think it is representative of these three ideas. What if body and spirit (or conscience if you will) were their own circles that overlap to create the mind? That makes better sense. That design (called Vesica Piscis) looks like this;

I think discrepancies of time between body/mind/spirit are not considered in the first design. The body is fixed in this existence; we aren’t going to be taking them with us. Those additional gray hairs in the mirror remind us all of that. Your spirit however, unless you believe in nothing, is a form of energy. Physics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, so it is plausible that we continue forever as such, without any reference to time.

Stephen King wrote a short story years ago about a boy going on a trip to another planet much like the fabled Star Trek’s transporters. In his story the people transported took pills to be sedated for the journey. The trip took no time at all when they slept through it. Despite the warnings against it and curious to know what would happen (curious is never good for Mr. King's characters) the boy didn’t take his pill. When they arrived this kid had aged and was completely crazy; in his mind the trip had taken over a million years.

Our mind can’t comprehend that. Sure, you can look at a large number or imagine it, but to actually live for a million years or forever just doesn’t compute. Scientists have proof that time can be cheated, believe it or not. Quantum physics has shown that at that level, beyond molecules and atoms, time may not exist. Waves and particles appear to not be bound by time in this reality; they’ve also shown mathematically that other universes may exist. Weird.

The biggest mystery in the scientific world is how to correlate the rules of classical physics with the rules of quantum physics. Surfer dude Antony Garrett Lisi came up with the still unfinished E8 theory to unify or combine these fields into one complete understanding of our universe. It’s pretty interesting. The design is neat, even if the reality of it is impossible to visualize.

As such, the rules of classic physics could represent the body and the rules of quantum physics the spirit. Our minds, in control of our senses in this universe but able to think outside of that box, could be what combines the two. We have a mind while here but whether or not we’ll have it after this life is anyone’s guess. Many of us might not want theirs, actually. But it is pretty good at retaining memories.  Most of the time, that is.

So later in the day I explained this idea to my wife.

She blinked twice, arched her eyes up and went back to work. “I think you need to sleep more,” she said.

I guess it's just me. That’s the stuff I wonder about.

What about you?

A Phantom Tripped Me

Funny how nature is exact and humans are anything but.

Why do you sleep? Why do some people gain muscle easily and others do not? Why can one person smoke all their life and die at 92 with emphysema while another who never smokes dies of lung cancer at 66? Why am I ready to go the second I wake up in the morning and my wife finds it a super-human effort to stir?

Life is a mystery.

What if you were able to understand every concept, every action, every unknown thing to you?

Do you think that it would allow you to live better or be a better person?

Our inexactness must be a part of our DNA. Always trying to qualify or quantify. Good or bad, too little or too much. Nature doesn’t do that. Trees and plants and bugs and water just do what they do. Period. We are not satisfied with that. We want answers. Reasons. I wonder if our innate knowledge of our lack of control drives us to seek the answers to these questions.

I mentioned in an earlier post a medium by the name of George Anderson. You can find him on Amazon. I read a book about him written by Joel Martin back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. After a brief bout of sickness Mr. Anderson found that he was able to converse with departed spirits. Now if you could get past the initial “Am I crazy?” part, I would think that a rational person would have several questions to ask these spirits. The book was created when Mr. Martin tried to dispel Mr. Anderson’s ability and wasn’t able to. He appeared to be the real deal. I don’t know Mr. Anderson and I’ve never met him. All I know is what I’ve read and people can write anything they’d like. I found the book interesting especially his discussions with several spirits and their responses to various questions. Some were more specific than others, but a good majority were general enough to rate right up there with the best of politician. But, to be honest, we humans are pretty good at complicating things so that a simple answer doesn’t exist. Life isn’t as easy as pouring piss out of a boot even if the directions for doing so are written on the heel. Still, many of their answers gave food for thought.

Flash forward a few years. If you look for this book on Amazon you will find that the overwhelming majority favored this book and Mr. Anderson overall. However, I would ask that you take a look at the one-star review by “di tamrakat”. It is a moving reflection of a woman who evidently lost her son and husband in a short time. I assume that what Mrs. Di Tamrakat has written is true, and I can understand why she would have searched out Mr. Anderson. It is also interesting to note that Mr. Anderson evidently is doing so well he is booked solid and the soonest she could meet with him was three months in advance for a phone reading.  Hmmmm.

Now I’m no expert, but something about a phone reading just throws me. If you happened to be a bona fide and real medium with real abilities I can’t begin to imagine that you would consider for a second something so impersonal as a phone reading. I realize that you can’t please everyone but I think that if you were honest up front about your inability to help someone that you at the very least would save face. A full 96% of folks who read her review found it helpful. I bet that one review cost Mr. Anderson ten times the amount he charged her if not more. And that was what it was all about, I’d guess.

I imagine that even with the spirit’s help we can still be a lost cause.

And people wonder why I like my solitude in the mountains.

 

Traveling Bruises

Funny the thoughts that pass through the head the last seconds of your life.

With tires squealing the only thought in my mind was that I had just saved my portable camera.  And over the eighty-foot cliff I flew.

I was leaving Desert Storm.  Military life is difficult to appreciate if you’ve never served; one hundred mile-an-hour excitement or utter boredom.  Not much in between and you wish for one while in the other.

I was given the opportunity to fly back with our two helicopters.  We stopped in Rodhos (Rodos) and then Kérkira (Corfu) in Greece, two fairly large islands at either end of the country’s borders.  We “weathered-in” for one extra day in each location.  Weather is one of the biggest threats to flying helicopters and that one little white cloud in the big blue sky looked pretty threatening.  Military life isn’t always tough.

Our first day on Corfu three of us decided to rent mopeds and tour the island.  Crystal blue water against clean white rock, colorful houses spotting the coast, and lots of greenery.  Intense after six months of brown rock and brown tents.  Corfu depends upon tourism and has plenty of watering holes so we stopped at one to *imbibe the local brew*.  When I say one that means whole as in all of them.  Amazingly, these pubs were full of English women.  I fell in love at least twenty times and in the course of our talks they let us in on a little secret – evidently the English idea for a great vacation is to meet a stranger and have a banger.  I won’t interpret that for you.  It’s quite possible that my own interpretation was way off the mark.  You’re on your own, bud.

Excited, we headed back to freshen up for a night on the town.  I had a portable camera with me that was too big for my pockets so my solution was to tuck the camera in the waistband of my shorts.  Unfortunately the camera had the tendency to slide down a pant leg.  This is not a problem if you have control of your faculties.  Several pubs later . . . well, you do the math.  The camera fell out once during the trip back.  In one swift move the cosmos aligned as I fluidly reached down without looking and caught it mid- air.  I had saved my camera from certain death at 30 miles an hour!  I deftly tucked it back into my pants, triumphant smile on my face!  Imagine my surprise when I noticed the road was no longer in front of me!  I was rapidly approaching the shoulder in the other lane.  Let it not be said that Greece’s Department of Transportation lacks a sense of humor; shoulder to them corresponds to “five inches of dirt”.  The other side of the shoulder, however, was eighty feet of air.  Cushioned by sharp pointy rocks below.  So this is what I flew into, brakes locked up, handle bars twisted.

And I had just saved my $130.00 camera.

Ah, the fickle fates!  Two houses along side that cliff shared an outhouse, built upon stilts and stuck to the rocks in a physics-defying haphazard fashion.  M. C. Escher couldn’t have done better.  I was happy to see it.  I wasn’t thrilled with the six-foot drop to reach it, but who was I to complain?  Head over heels, crashing into planks, and hitting the outhouse in a somersault-type move, I took a blow to my lower stomach from the handlebars.  After coming to a complete stop my first thought was that I had ruptured my bladder.  So, I used the nearest bathroom.  The one that just saved my life (hey it was there).  No blood, but still quite painful.  By then the noise I made brought the neighbors out of their houses and they were giving me strange looks (HEY —you guys are SHARING a toilet keep the strange looks to yourselves and HEY — you guys are SHARING a toilet what difference if a stranger uses it).  My two good buddies, in that most caring fashion of twenty year-olds were taking pictures of my skid marks.  The moped skid marks.  With my camera, no less.

It took a few minutes to catch my breath, get the moped back on the street, and collect several plastic pieces along with my shattered pride.  The rest of the trip back was positively uneventful, probably because I was going three miles an hour.  Enthusiasm curbed, I did not go out that night.  The next day was clear weather so we took off arriving back to Italy that evening.  I had muscle soreness and a small knot where I had hit the handle bars.  I was lucky, all things considered.  Small bonus; damage to the moped totaled twenty bucks.

As Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story.

Three days later in the shower I screamed.  A girly, teenaged-horror-movie-type scream.  I noticed that the parts that define me as a male were now black.  Little Johnny and his two buds.  The whole package.  Larry, Moe, and Curly.  Completely black.  Overnight!  Something gradual might have been easier to accept.  A little color here, some shading there — granting one time to get used to the idea that one will have colored genitals.  What bothered me the most was the color.  You need no medical training to know what happens to things that turn black.

The doctor at sick call explained that abdominal blunt-force injuries can have this effect.  Instead of being localized the blood pools down to the lowest areas of the abdominal cavity.  Whew!!!  It wasn’t going to fall off.  He did say it would go through several color changes.  And he was right, it did.  Very weird.  Lasted several weeks.

I should have taken advantage of it, now that I think about it.  I am sure Hollywood could have used a body double for a zombie movie at that time.  You know, for *that* part.

Our Compass Needle Spins

How much technology have we lost?

Ever look inside a watch or a grandfather clock? Amazing what people can make. Most of these mechanisms are made by lathes and CNC machines. You know though, at some point someone had to make the very first one by hand. We make machines and tools that measure and calculate and can cut and grind material down to millionths of an inch. Did you ever stop to think what tool was used to make these tools? What did the first person who wanted to measure an inch use? Something had to be made first.

Master plates are precise, flat pieces of metal that are accurate to within thousandths or millionths of an inch. Flatter that flat itself. In the old days they made them by hand scraping three flat surfaces after rubbing them up against each other with a colored dye to see the high spots. Long, arduous work, that. But that’s what they needed to do.  Machines can do faster but still can't match the human hand.

Modern lathes have their history starting in the early 1800’s. There were earlier variations and models but the modern lathe generally stems from this time period. Gears and screw cutting lathes were developed after these.

This makes me wonder about the Antikythera mechanism. Check it out on Wikipedia real quick,I’ll wait until you get back . . . amazing, huh? The world’s first computer came around before Bill Gate’s great⁸⁵

(yes, that's a teeny-tiny 85th power - put on your reading specs) grandfather was a twinkle in someone’s eye.

What else might be out there? Of course it was easier to lose back then; no global communication, literacy rates were low and language changed every two blocks down the road. Breaking your back for the king probably didn’t leave a whole lot of time for inventing. I suppose too that hording armies didn’t try to protect their enemy’s art and technology. Easier to pillage and burn first, then ask the questions.

Gears were traced to China back in 27 AD, but that was close to 200 years after the Antikyterea mechinism. Aristotle mentioned gears around 400 B.C. But they didn’t come into wide-spread use until the 17th century. Lost in time it would appear.

What if there are other inventions that came out, even just recently, that have been lost or suppressed? Twenty years ago I remember reading a news blurb about this recently created material that was extremely light and fireproof. A sheet the thickness of paper was enough to protect the skin from the heat of a blowtorch. From what I understand the military bought the technology, probably thinking it would be good material for armored vehicles. Haven’t seen it since, though. That’s unfortunate as one can imagine how useful that would be for instance, as a fire-suit. Lots of inventors remain little known. Tesla had some interesting technologies. Course he was just outright interesting to begin with.

Makes me wonder what we’re missing out on.

C.R.A.P.

Unfortunately writing isn’t paying the bills. (Sigh). So here goes.

Have you noticed today’s kids with computerized and electric toys never seem to have enough? Impossible, yet true! Before “Thank-you” has even left their mouths they’ve already dropped that new toy to the floor to search out the next NEW and INTERESTING thing! Studies have shown that 9 out of 9.3 times these same kids will spend more time with the box it came in. These are kids with imagination! They will bring tears of laughter into your lives as long as they belong to other parents.

Well, look who is chuckling now – all the way to the bank! For a limited time only I am offering to those willing to throw caution to the wind a great opportunity. To also go to the bank! I am extremely serious – wipe that smile off of your face and put on your ears as I have a deal for you!

In viewing the attached photo, you, as an average person will note what appears at first glance to be my son taking part in some mischief. You are forgiven, silly! While most parents would view this situation as an opportunity for corrective action, I decided to open the door of opportunity and let it plop right in. I implore you to join me!

In this photo it would seems as though my son is simply unrolling toilet paper. BUT – to the highly trained eye there is more. Please note my son's concentration as he was performing this task. Extremely serious! He was so engrossed he did not realize I was there taking his picture! It sounds unbelievable but I have the picture to prove it. Right now you are thinking - I should never have been given a camera. But this is not the point. The point is that my son had a goal and he worked his way towards that goal until he finished it. I bet it took him AT LEAST eight minutes to unroll all the paper.

Do you KNOW the attention span limits of your typical hyperkinetic three-year-old?

Need I say more? Think of all the time and money you could quit flushing down the drain! Now that I have your full attention let me give you the especially good news - according to my fast fact checkers, to do this business we are already halfway there! IN FACT- there is toilet paper IN PLACE in every home, office, airport, bar, restaurant, and school. Just about any location that people can be found, public AND private, our supply chain is already in place.

But wait, there's more!

I am letting you all in on my secret - for practically pennies on the dollar you too can invest in my idea of "CRAP" (Caught Rolling All the Paper) a new toy for kids of all ages! The best part is that you can still use the paper once your kids are done playing with it; no waste! Tree-huggers the world over could not be happier. While we have experienced very minor technical problems with the re-rolling of the paper, I am confident with further testing and your generous donations we’ll get our thoughts on paper and have a sit-down. There's no problem we can't fix by throwing money at me!

Act now! I promise the returns on your investment will help me tremendously!

 

Don't Trust Ghostwriters

A friend of mine writes letters to his ghost. She writes back.

Me - I’ve seen real live dead people. Found one in my hotel, once.  Ghosts are more interesting.

A friend stayed in an English hotel reputed to have a haunted room. Always up for something new, he asked to spend a night there. He awoke in the night to see a woman standing at the foot of his bed. Clothed in a white dress from a century or two ago, she motioned to him then vanished. He thought it had been a dream and never mentioned it to anyone.

Months go by and he is once again in England, this time at a bar. A young girl he had never met sidled up to him and asked "You remember me?"

"I don't think we've ever met," he replied.

She said “I came and visited you that night.”

He looked at her skeptically and asked “What night?”

“That night in a hotel room. I was at the foot the bed in a white dress.  I waved.”

They talked.  She said they’d been married in a previous life. It was a ho-hum marriage to hear her tell it.

I believe in reincarnation. It’s a math thing. You are here now.  If it happened once it can happen again. The odds are good.

So if this is your second time around, you are a shifty cheater.

Think about it.

The human population of the earth keeps increasing. That means there’s more souls than what is currently on earth. Out of all those souls, there are some that have never been here. Not even once. Math will prove it.

That means you butted in line to get here twice.

An interesting read is We Don’t Die by Joel Martin. He wrote it after failing to debunk the medium George Anderson. An interesting part of the book is Mr. Anderson’s own talks with spirits. If I could talk to spirits I’d have all sorts of questions. Forget about the big ones — I want to know small stuff. Who stole my Nike shirt in the third grade? What are ghosts? Why can I talk to you? Why can’t everyone talk to you? Where's all those missing people? Why do we sleep? What is time? Do round squares exist? I’d be the sum of all three-year-olds on the planet.

Spirits don’t talk to him in English, in case you were wondering. They use signs, symbols, and images to get their meaning across. Guess their connectivity isn’t any better than ours.

Another friend of mine has schizophrenia. He hears voices that speak to him as clearly as you hear your friends and family speaking to you. The docs say it’s all inside his head.

What if science could show that his tympanic membrane was vibrating as he heard these voices?

They aren’t his own voices. One seems German (he thinks a Nazi by his demeanor), one is a small girl and another an older but kinder gentleman. He’s gotten in trouble in the past because he listened to these voices and acted on their suggestions. His speak to him in Italian.

I’ve always wanted to ask him if he’s considered that these voices are spirits that somehow are able to connect with him.  As spirits, if we're willing to butt the line to get here then we probably have our own agenda. We’ll suggest whatever to anyone who’ll listen.

What would you do if the voice in your head multiplied? All talking at once?

Reminds me of an old camping joke.  Bet you wouldn’t tell anyone, would you?

We should go camping.

Suffering for an Answer

Merdina, our cat, threw up again last night.

Happens on a regular basis. She’s slowly getting worse. Sounds like it, anyway. She’s dying. We all are to varying degrees.

A 97 year-old woman falls next to her bed and surprisingly survives a broken neck. Healthy all her life, now she’s miserable. The neck collar is very uncomfortable and her age makes surgery risky. She decides she doesn’t want to be here anymore. Can’t say I blame her. Macular degeneration had taken her sight years before and even with hearing aids she couldn’t hear well. Social interaction was difficult at best. She tells the doctor she wants to sleep and not wake up. Her wish was granted with a little extra morphine.

The day after a 63 year old man retires they find cancer in his liver. He endures 14 rounds of chemotherapy. 14 rounds of in-hospital treatments. His hands and face swell terribly. His skin changes color. His appetite is gone but he forces himself to eat full meals. Still, after a year and a half, the cancer wins.

“There is no right or wrong, only consequences,” wrote Dr. Robert Anthony is his 1985 book THINK.

Caught my eye, that phrase. Good or bad is a human idea, wrought with emotion and perspective. We want to believe that there are valid reasons - acceptable reasons - beyond what we sense for circumstances that make no sense to us. The answers are always there of course. Accepting them is the problem. I wonder if that’s why many of us turn to religion. Firmly place those responses and any answers found in them on the top shelf; out of our grasp.

But it isn’t an answer you seek. Why is a never ending question. Ask any parent with a three year old.

What if the essence of the thing - the point - is just asking the question?

The answer wouldn’t matter then, would it? Besides, with such questions what possible answers would satisfy?

A man walks into a McDonalds and kills several people before being gunned down by police.

A woman drowns her kids, leaving them strapped in their car seats as she pushes the car into a lake.

A man takes a young boy from a mall, kills him and dismembers the body leaving the head to be found.

A man kidnaps a neighbor’s daughter, rapes her and then buries her alive.

Horrible human behavior. All a did and a done. We ask why but the question lacks definition. We look for that one reason, that elusive balancing point where maybe, just maybe - we’d discover why the scales tipped in that direction. That reason lies as one among thousands; human will. We have choices in this life. Choices result in consequences. Good, bad or any other adjectives are relative and immaterial. The question is a riddle.

What if you could live in perfect harmony, getting along with your neighbor without any of those negative human traits? World peace. Could you be happy? What if it were possible only by taking away your ability to choose? Happiness by force. Would you be happy?

Been going on for awhile.  Soon I will take my cat to a vet so I can end her suffering. She’s had a good 16 years. I think we took pretty good care of her.

I wonder though.

Who is the one suffering?

Brother time, spare me.

The x, y, and z planes of the coordinate system.  Three dimensional space.  You probably met them in high school.  I didn’t until college.  I crammed them and several of their friends into two short semesters so I could get into physics that next year.  Lazy high school student, me.

Given two separate points in space, movement from one to the other takes what?  Time.  Loosely considered the fourth dimension time isn’t the same though.  It has an arrow, an obvious direction or flow.  The coordinates system does not.  For example, if I show you a video of a dot moving from one of those two earlier points to the other, you wouldn’t be able to tell if the video was going forward or in reverse.  The dot could go either way.  But shown a video of a glass dropping and shattering on the floor in reverse, you’d know it was backwards.  That’s the arrow of time.  So while it appears to be the fourth dimension, time really isn’t the same as the previous three. 

So what is time?  Movement.  What’s the difference between a photo and a video?  A video shot of a blank wall is no different than a photo of that blank wall.  A video records movement, the passing of time, while a photo is just a singular moment in time.

Right now we are hurling along in space at thousands of miles per hour.  Not only that, we are expanding.  At relatively similar speeds too, which makes our times seem similar.  Since time is movement we only know of two things that can alter time; speed (velocity) and mass (gravity).  The faster you go or the more massive you are, the slower your time passes relative to others going slower or less massive. Doesn’t take much to make a difference.  GPS satellites have to recalculate their onboard clocks to match ours on earth.  Experiments on the space station have shown that their distance from earth has a noticeable difference.

What happens though, if we are traveling together at light speed and I push you forward?  It is theorized that any extra energy we’d receive at light speed wouldn’t make us faster but more massive.  That energy has to go somewhere according to the laws of energy conservation.  Since you can’t go faster than light you’d get heavier.

But what if it didn’t?

What if, instead, that push took you somewhere else?

Have you seen the 2003 film 21 Grams?  The title comes from a famed (or infamous) study by Dr. Duncan MacDougall.  Early in the 20th century he attempted to weigh people at their moment of death to see if the soul had weight.  A flawed experiment, the published findings stuck in popular culture.  The question is valid.  If you believe your soul has energy, it stands to reason it should have weight.

Similar questions surround black holes.  Of great mass, not even light can escape its gravitational field.  Time is altered near and in black holes, but this is theory.  No one has yet volunteered to see one up close.  Wouldn't do us much good.  Since light can’t escape neither could radio or cell signals, so they couldn’t phone home to clue us in.  Maybe a tin can with a really long stretchy string . . .

You take time for granted.  So do I.  An excellent book for folks with a passing interest in physics is Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.  It is very readable.  You might be surprised.  You may have questions after you’ve read it.

I certainly did.  I discovered that it outsold Madonna’s coffee table book Sex.

There’s hope for humanity yet.

Wait, what was that? Rewind please.

Almost a year since my last blog.  Funny how life gets in the way.  Dang job is getting in the way of what I want to do.

My earlier post discussed time and how I have my countdown watch.  I’m full of crap, ain't I?  Not that I was lying in my intentions.  Just too full of optimism.  Thought I’d have my second book out by now, but my first has yet to be released.  The muses love when you project your intentions just like they send me rain every time I announce a hike.  Almost there.  Waiting for the second proof to arrive and then I’ll be ready.  Really.  Gangbuster time!!

It’s said that perfection is the enemy of good.  Hard to know where to dial in between those two, isn’t it?  I empathize with musicians and artists and actors as they search for excellence in their craft.  They are scrutinized more than I, but we all want our creations to be awesome don't we?  Our best works ever; coalesced from a thought to a reality you can sense and enjoy.  The author of Dune and its sequels, Frank Herbert, wrote that “A man (and woman) is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating.”  Amen.  Take your time and do it right.

So I reworked it, asked a good friend to edit for me, reworked it again, and now, and I really mean NOW, I’m ready.  Pretty proud of it.  Still won’t be perfect, but I think the flow is good without halting thoughts or questions while you are in the ride.

What if it turns out to be a really good story?  I think it is.  I like where it's going.  I think you will, too.

I hope you enjoy it!  Still have plenty of minutes left on that watch.

Good for me.

The Watch

Your watch is broke.

Only tells you the time, doesn't it?

What if your watch told how much time you have left?

Years ago I worked for a well known aviation school and spoke with soldiers on the local base.  I tried to convince them to work towards a college degree from groups of 400 down to single soldiers.  I viewed it as an opportunity to change someone’s life.  Any new information gained has the potential to change future choices.  Knowledge changes your outlook, changes they way you make decisions, can and will alter the path of your life.  Powerful stuff. 

Still, it takes an epiphany.  All procrastinators need that moment of clarity or a frightening vision of their future.  My watch up above reminds me that my time is running out.  Five novels in two and a half years, that's my goal.  I've thought of writing for a long time.  Just thought about it.  My epiphany was the realization that my life wasn't going to get easier.  I wasn't going to get more time or magically find myself inspired to write.  That’s a pipe dream.  If I wanted it, I had to do it. 

So I am going to do.  Ask any of your elders what they did.  I’ll bet my life saving that the things they most regret are the things they didn’t do.  So DO.  You will make mistakes, we are all human and it is part of the process.  A positive aspect of making a mistake (besides learning something) is you can ask forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself is different.  Don’t hand your older self a bunch of regrets.  You'll have enough to worry about then.

Look at your watch.  Realize what it is and what it means.  Don’t be remembered for the television you watched.  Don’t be remembered for staying home every weekend.  Don’t be remembered for not trying something new.  Don't be remembered for letting your dreams remain just dreams.

Spend your time wisely,

You won’t regret it.