Sunday, October 30, 2005

NCAA Rules Change

Indianapolis, Indiana

The NCAA reported today that upcoming rules changes will prohibit white athletes from playing defensive back or running back. The NCAA spokesperson said it “has come to a point that we simply had to face the fact that white athletes do not have the speed to play these positions. It is a cruel position to place these white kids in, expecting them to run as fast as the black kids. We feel that the white kids need to concentrate on what they can actually accomplish on the field. We believe that they can continue to make valuable contributions on the offensive line or as medical trainers.”

The spokesperson said no determination has been made for bi-racial kids, though the rules committee was leaning in the direction of allowing them to play these positions in a back-up role only. “If a black running back or defensive back is hurt while competing, bi-racial kids will likely be allowed to replace them on an emergency basis,” the spokesperson said. “However, we have not completed the full discussion on that issue”, she added.

College football experts agree that the recent comments of Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry were the tipping point for the rules change. Former coach Darrell Roman deadpanned, “well those big fat white kids cain’t do nothing but play line anyway, everbody knows that, that is if you know even one dang thang about football. That military fella just finally said it where we could all hear it.”

Rudy Lane, former NFL offensive linemen addressed the issue on behalf of the ‘National Institute of White Linemen.’ Lane said, “this doesn’t represent a big setback for our organization. Our focus has always been to try and block the black athlete from making progress on the playing field. We will continue to work on our skills in that area.” Lane chortled at his own comment causing the huge belly that covered his belt buckle to jiggle around under his stretched polo shirt.

Contacted at his home in California, the Reverend Jesse Jackson said that the rules changes resulted from President Bush’s failed administration and the bigoted attitude of Republicans. Asked by the reporter to clarify his remarks, Jackson responded “don’t be a white ignoramus, go on now, go on back and do some reporting.”

When informed of Jackson’s remarks, Bush said the speed of the black athletes gives him an idea on how to find those weapons in Iraq quicker.

Now I Get It.......maybe

In local football news from yesterday the Cowboys defeated the Cardinals. Radio broadcaster Brad Sham told his audience that the current Cowboys record of 5-3 is better than if they were 4-4. He went on to explain that it means they have won one more game than if they had only won 4 at this point.

Next case; gay v gay

I have promised myself that I will not discuss politics in this blog. Frankly, it’s just too easy, and besides there are far too many people already vehemently regurgitating position A or position B in any and all of these arguments. Worse yet, the art of discussing politics has degenerated , with rare exception, into a non-art, coursing ever more steadily into an opportunity to call one another names of the negative variety.

So, understand please that I am addressing the cultural side of this State of Texas Proposition 2 constitutional amendment. Maybe.

For those of you outside of Texas, the proposal at play here is to amend the state’s constitution, banning state sanctioned marriage between partners of the same sex. This is already prohibited by current Texas law, by the way.

Naturally, the lines of opposition and support are clearly drawn and the arguments have taken the all too common avenue of name calling and demeaning of others values.

Remaining true to my overriding sense of independence and the belief that that we do not need government for much of anything really, (oops some politics slipped in) I would like to have a discussion with the same-sexers, if that is a viable coupling of words.

It goes like this:

Have you any idea how binding the State of Texas law regulating marriage can be?

Every year thousands upon thousands of damaged marriages walk into Texas courthouses looking to become anything but married. The courts slog through it all, acting in rote, ruling without emotion on issues such as child support, visitation and the endless assortment of possessions and controls implicit in marriage.

As in other areas of contested law, it is usually true in divorce that the party best represented wins the day. The courts do not have time to sort through the facts. The facts become secondary to the skill of the attorney. Some are better skilled at name calling and garbage throwing than others. When it is over both parties to the marriage usually despise one another and the opposing attorney.

I have been married for over thirty years, and married only once. Mine has taken on the appeareance of permanence. My experience in these issues comes from observing the law at work on family and friends. You don’t have to have a beating yourself to appreciate the pain involved when you have witnessed the beating inflicted on the people you care for. In fact, it may be worse.

I would urge same-sexers to set their emotion aside and really examine if the recognition of law is worth the pain that the state can inflict. Talk to your friends and coworkers that have been through a divorce. Listen to them carefully. If you are honest with yourself, you will find I believe, that the governments lack of power over you in an honest and well crafted relationship is a superior position to the one not enjoyed by state recognized different-sex marriages. Don’t argue or vote away a very fortuitous exemption on this one.

And if your same-sex union turns out to be not so good after all? Trust me on this one; you will be very happy not to have the State of Texas unmarry the two of you.

As far as the insurance and federal taxes, those areas remain in play under different sets of statutes and court rulings.

And oh, by the way, you might want to check out what a proven divorce gunslinger costs these days. It will sober you.

If the State of Texas and the ilk that wishes to control your feelings and behavior wanted to really hurt you they would pass an amendment forcing gay marriage. Then they would load the marriage legislation with ‘gay bombs’. They just haven’t thought of it yet.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Boxers in the drawer

My wife sidled up to me on the couch this weekend.

She had a big smile on her face.

Wife: How would like to go to the mall and look for some new underwear with me?

Rick: I think I have plenty of boxers in the bottom drawer of the dresser. I don’t think I need any just yet. Thanks anyway.

She left the room in an angry huff.

It seems like I am always misunderstanding her.

So, feeling responsible for having upset her I got up off the couch to try and straighten it out. I looked in the drawer. I was right however; there are plenty of boxers in there.

What’s the deal with her anyway?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Maria and Phoenix

The destination laser signal in the de-robing tube was not functioning properly. It said P oen x rather than Phoenix, and the blinking of the green ‘h’ and the ‘i’ were annoying to Maria.

She reached for the blue plastic clothing container as it rolled down the tube’s conveyer belt. It had her name, ‘Maria Sanchez’, written across the side in temporary electronic laser signing. She had already removed her one piece patterned fleece unisuit that was very popular that season in Seattle and now she needed only to remove her underwear and place it in the container.

Maria didn’t like taking the Air Rotate to Phoenix. Her distaste wasn’t so much for Air Rotate as it was for Phoenix. It had become the largest city in the US and it always made her feel insignificant. It was hard not to feel that way in a city of 27 million people. Still, the climate was warm and very much in demand. She did like the warmth, which was the one good thing she could think of about Phoenix.

The de-robing tunnel that led to her transit way was hot and she was anxious to get completely out of her clothes and put the Air Rotate supplied nylon slippers on so she could get to her seat and relax. The family behind her was disorganized and loud. The kids were excited about the trip to their aunt’s and the mother of this rowdy bunch was having trouble getting all of their unisuits removed and in the proper containers.

The husband now decided to take control and ordered their mother to place all of the clothes in one container declaring “the kids can sort it out in Phoenix.

Maria removed her underwear, placed them in the container, placed it back on the conveyor, slipped on the nylon slippers and padded down the tube toward the Air Rotate.

It was often so cold in Seattle that she had to wear the unisuit all the time when she was outdoors. At least in Phoenix that wouldn’t be true, she could go without it outdoors also, just like now on the Air Rotate. Maria was sure this was the reason for the great increase in the population of Phoenix over the years.

Maria settled into the anti-microbe lined seat of her individual compartment and closed her eyes. It was difficult to imagine a time when people would fly through the air at 30,000 feet above the earth in an airplane. Why did they think they had to fly so high? Her grandmother had told her that these ancient large aircraft sometimes crashed killing everyone aboard. How horrible and primitive was that, thought Maria?

Her grandmother’s soul had been surgically removed from her body and transported to the Konyo in 2127. Maria loved her grandmother and had listened with respectfulness and wonder to the stories of a past America. It seemed an odd and scary world to her. From time to time she wanted more detail so she would still call her on the spine connection and talk with her. However, the spine connection was so expensive that she couldn’t do it too often.

Her grandmother had told her of the time when people all over the world wore clothes all the time. She told her that they had worn them all day and night, constantly. They were nude on very rare and private occasions. Most of them even slept in clothes her grandmother had said.
Some people went without clothes in what were called 'nudie colonies' or something like that, but they were treated badly and made fun of by the other people.

Naturally a curious child like Maria had many questions.

For instance, she had asked “why did they decide to quit wearing them?" Her grandmother said it was at a time when the world still had wars and there wasn’t a safe way to get on the ancient airplanes because very bad people would take explosives on the planes in order to blow the planes up. Maria didn’t understand why they wanted to blow up the airplanes and it seemed like grandma had kind of forgotten too because she only knew about it from history templates herself.

In any case, she learned by asking questions that the owners of the airplanes and the US anti-gravity planners began to make people take off all of their clothes before getting on the airplanes. At first the people wouldn’t fly anymore, but then they realized they had to fly in order to do their jobs. What they learned was that not wearing your clothes all the time was not that important or necessary. Soon it was common to fly on the old planes without clothes.

Other changes started to happen her grandmother told her. After the planners demanded this, the people decided to go without their clothes at other times. Over some years of experimenting they learned that it wasn’t important at all except for protection from the weather.

Then the strangest of things happened. Her grandmother told her that that was when the wars had stopped; after everyone quit wearing clothes. She said the people weren’t afraid of one another anymore. That’s what the history experts had written in the templates.

That was a very strange time, thought Maria. Thank goodness she was born in 2113 and didn’t have to wear clothes all the time and fly on ancient airplanes.

The Air Rotate compartment rotated to a standstill over the gravity reattachment platform. Maria picked up her container off the conveyor as she exited through the transit way. She might need the unisuit outdoors if the Phoenix weather changed. That was unlikely really; it was always very warm and comfortable in Phoenix. She would need her new slippers from Nona's shoe store.

Maria brushed her pubic hair. She had it color treated at Langley’s Studio before she left Seattle. She straightened the blinking multi-color laser bow on her forehead and stepped onto the rotational platform.

The newer structures of Phoenix levitated at 30 degrees from their foundations, facing west, gathering the last of the day's sunshine. Maria's new slippers from Nona's squeeked on the floor as she walked into the gravity managed transport center.

Blog is a Funny Word

Blog is a funny word. A lot of folks I talk to don’t know a blog from a frog.

I learned this weekend that the lists of those that don’t know include my 76 year old mother. She can do email with help.

I was having a conversation with my sister and my mom. It went like this.


Sister: Mom, have you seen Rick’s blog?

Mother: (after a few seconds of silence) Well, that’s a bizarre question. I guess I haven’t actually seen it in many, many years.

Sister: I don’t think he has actually had one that long.

Mother: What? Are you thinking that he just started developing one? This is embarrassing anyway, why would you ask me that?

Sister: Well, I guess I just wanted to know if you had seen it. I was looking at it the other day and I really enjoyed it.

Mother: Oh My God, what are you trying to tell me! And why on earth would Rick show you his blog! He doesn’t have any reason to do something like that!

Rick: No mother, I don’t think you understand. Beth saw my blog on the internet.

Mother: Well, My God in heaven! You put your blog on the internet! Why don’t you just walk around naked all the time so everybody can see your stupid blog! No sireeee, thank you, I don’t have any interest in looking at your blog! You just keep that thing in your pants, you’re not too old to spank you know!

Rick: But mother, I’m 54 years old.

Mother: Honey, NOBODY is interested in your blog anyway.


Well, that’s true I guess. Using either meaning. But, how did she know that?

Now I Get It…….maybe

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Peter was terrified

Fear motivates us to engage in negative behaviors. It can come from many sources. We learn fear from our environment. Other people teach us fear, and sometimes it can come from the well intentioned but thoughtless efforts of parents. In any of the cases it then becomes an agreement that we have with ourselves; the agreement to be afraid of certain things. The following short story is fiction, but I based it on a real conversation that I overheard between a mother and father.
Peter was terrified. He was 9 years old today.

His Mom was driving the car. That seemed to be the safest thing about this, but still it was very scary.

His dad had told him that his mom used to do this when he was very little. But being the smarter of the two, he had told her not to do it.

This created a huge fight between his mom and his dad. At least that is what his dad had told him. His mom had said it wasn’t that dangerous. His dad had told his mom to grow up and live in the real world. Somehow after all the fighting and yelling it was decided that it truly was very dangerous until he was nine. His granny in Chicago had told him the story about the yelling.

It had to be dangerous, because here on his 9th birthday, he was shaking and wondering how it would all turn out. He felt a little sick to his stomach. It felt like the time his dad had told him that the real world was filled with all sorts of bad and stupid people. How would he know the difference between the good and bad people? His mom wasn’t really scared like that; she was friendly to most people. All the people seemed to really like her too, but dad had said she wasn’t always very smart about things.

The day was bright and sunny. Lots of days at home are like this Peter thought. The people on the street seemed nice enough to him. He even waved at a policeman that waved back.

Trying with all his might, he tried to not be afraid. Riding inside a car like this and being in St. Louis at the same time just couldn’t be safe. His brain kept thinking this over and over and he couldn’t make it stop. How could it be safe? If it was too dangerous when he was 4 or 8 wouldn’t it still be dangerous now?

He felt safe with his mom though. She never seemed to be afraid of things. She was pointing out all the things he had never seen before. There was the big stadium where the Cardinals played! There was the zoo over there! It seemed like St. Louis was where the most fun things were. Still, it had to be dangerous because you shouldn’t ride in a car there until you are nine.

Peter wasn’t sure why it was safe at nine. It’s just what his mom and dad had agreed on. It involved a lot of yelling. He knew that, because his Granny had told him that his dad had won out. She said his mom had yelled “well just when is it safe to ride in a car in St.Louis?” His dad yelled back at her, “9 years old is OK, don’t you even live in the real world?”

Peter noticed for the first time there were other kids in cars. This made him feel less sick to his stomach. He noticed too that a lot of them were very small and young looking for 9 years old.

He had never realized he was bigger than other 9 year olds. Maybe it was just because they were inside a car and it just made them look small. They didn’t look afraid either. What was wrong with them?

Didn’t they live in the real world?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thanks anyway Josh

The president appointed Ben Bernanke, shown on the left, as the new Federal Reserve Chairman today.

The media set out to get the opinions of several economics experts.

One of the experts, was quoted:

"He's more focused on structural disinflation forces than he is on the cyclical inflationary forces from excessive accommodation," said Josh Stiles, senior bond strategist at IDEAglobal.

He also said this:

“Wenn Sie uns erstmalig besuchen werden Sie um Angabe Ihres Namen, Emailadresse und Verlag gebeten. Damit erhalten wir eine Erfolgskontrolle und Sie müssen sich nur 1x im 1/4 Jahr registrieren um Zugang zu erhalten. Der gesetzte "cookie" hält lediglich fest, dass Sie schon einmal hier waren.”

And this:

‘ة مشاركة حركة حماس في الانتخابات الفلسطينية التي تجرى اوائل العام القاد’

‘ة مشاركة حركة حم في الانتخابات الفلسطينية التي جرى اوائل العام القاد’

التي جرى اوائل العام القاد’

I didn’t understand any of it.

Thanks anyway Josh.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Across the bridge, where angels fly

I became a grandfather in the summer of 2004.

There is a very special attribute that children bring to our world.

When children laugh, immersed in that remarkable new world that belongs to them alone, the whole world smiles.

It is laughter born of innocence and delight, and it ricochets around the walls, a golden light of happiness bouncing behind it.

It makes me smile to think of it.

Thank God those babies are born. We would miss that sound if it were silenced.

There is a lyric from one of Van Morrison’s songs that goes something like this:

‘Across the bridge where angels fly, children play’

I believe there are places where the angels fly, and the children play.

And they laugh.

And we are granted the privilege to listen.

It is a part of heaven that has somehow crept in and surprised the earth, leaving a beautiful handprint behind.

Embrace the paradox, and hold it tight.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Am I Handsome.......Or What?

I had a handsome day yesterday.

You know, those days when the opposite sex is paying much more attention than usual?

You’ve had those days too. I bet you’re never really sure why though.

You get those extra long looks and smiles, the sort of thing that makes you feel like ‘really cool’ they do still notice me a little.

Then of course you start wondering; what is the deal with this particular day?

Is it these clothes? Or, maybe I got more rest last night and I’m looking a little better than my usual.

This has happened to you. Deny all you want, I know it has.

So my day was going quite well. I talked quite a while with the teller at the bank. Her long gazes and wide smiling made me feel that special confidence.

I took that confidence with me and went strutting about the grocery store. Same thing was going down on the grocery aisles. Women making face to face contact, checking me out, and smiling to top it off!

I flirted at a level worthy of embarrassment with the grocery checker. Same thing. Lots of long looks and smiling. She was almost tittery. I don’t know if that is a word. In my mind it means a little giggly.

My, my, what’s up with me today? Am I handsome…or what?

When I got back home, I decided it would be a good idea to check myself out in the mirror. I thought it wise to try and isolate whatever special quality was raising my stock today.

The man in the mirror staring back at me had one of those toilet paper blots that men use to stop a bleeding spot after they shave. You’ve seen those, right? It usually has a small blood spot at the center.

Well, yes indeed, I had one of those little thangs stuck tight to my chin.


On second thought, maybe I’ll go with it again tomorrow, the attention is nice.

Now I Get It…….maybe

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Where the Road Ends and the Sky Begins

Every picture tells a story. Somebody said that once and now we all repeat it, feeling wise for having said it again.

When you look across the landscape or down the road as you drive to work, you will almost always see the place where one world intersects with another.

To understand this more vividly I want you to imagine one of those long dusty west Texas roads that stretch out in front of you until it disappears into the sky beyond. Or you can simply look at the one I provided on the left.

Do you see the intersection of road and sky?

That place, the convergence of the two, is what I am trying to get you to see. It’s where we are not sure if we are still in the present, or if it might be the edge of the future. It is the place in which our hopes, dreams and goals make their home.

Road or sky? It’s neither, and it’s both. It is a paradox, but it is a good place worth searching for.

This convergence is what sets the ambitious in motion; always looking to see what happens when we come to the place where the road and the sky meet.

Now go with me to a different place:

All of my workouts are designed to make me the best masters track athlete that I can become. I have a friend that pushes me in some of these workouts.

I am a sprinter on the track. My friend is more of an endurance and longer distance track and road racing athlete. Once a week or so we run together. He sharpens his speed, and I try to find more endurance. It’s what our culture is fond of calling ‘synergistic’ energy. Or, in corporate speak, ‘mutual goals obtained from a shared action’.

For me, the fancy talk isn’t necessary. I simply enjoy running with him. My friend is intensely private. Our interaction is not so much talk as it is just plain running. I actually know very little about his personal life or personal views.

I do know this. He is engaged in a consistent and energetic search for the place where the road and the sky converge. I like that about him. He is always looking forward at the prospect of what he might find if his quest is unyielding.

In the road racing community he is a bona-fide legend, putting up outstanding racing marks year after year. That’s not easy, and it is to be admired. He’s sort of the ‘Cal Ripken’ of road racing.

I have trouble keeping up on the grinding workouts that train the endurance systems. In fact, it often appears my friend is getting pleasure from watching me wear down as he shifts into what is merely his next available gear. He will push me to find his level, grinning and pushing, grinning and pushing, knowing that he has me right where he wants me, able to accelerate by me at any moment.

Some might take umbrage at his delight in finding my limits. I don’t. He’s just taking me along on the search. He knows that. I know it too.

I’m confident his happiness comes not from defeating me, but rather from sharing with me the process an athlete should never abandon. The search for the place where the road and the sky collide.

Thanks Bradley.

I pray we never get there. It’s too much fun searching.

Now I Get It.......maybe

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Zip, pull and pee

Did you know that there are transgender folks in the public restroom with you? There are.

Don’t know what that means? It means if you are female, there are men in the restroom with you. The confusion here is that they believe they are really women. They dress like women. They go into the ladies bathroom. If you are wondering, the opposite also occurs.

I know this because I read about it on the internet while researching this article. If it is on the internet, it is certainly true.

Have you ever gone into the wrong bathroom? Nope, me neither. I am so absurdly obsessive compulsive that I read the sign on the door twice. Once I’m inside, I go back out and look at it again. Yes, I know that is a problem. You are also a judgmental smartass. That’s more than you need to know about me anyway.

Let’s start over.

I was having dinner with friends in Dallas some years back. We were at Dick’s Last Resort in the West End. The time arrived for me to pee.

Off I went. I swung the door open (this time I didn’t read the door because alcohol is the prescribed medication for my previously discussed disorder) and the first thing I encountered was a strikingly pretty blonde lady. She was slim, standing around 5’-5”. Her hair was shoulder length and glowed under the fluorescent lights of the vanity. She was brushing her hair. I froze. Recovering, I went out and checked the door. It said ‘restroom’. How in God’s name did that get by me! That is pretty vague so far as restroom signs go. I went back in. She was still there!

I was on my way back to read the door once again when she stopped me. “It’s OK, she said, you are in the right place, both sexes come in here. Really, it’s OK.”

Not in my entire lifetime had I been subjected to this test. Let me get this straight, you want me to come in here and pee while you brush your hair and put on lipstick?

Besides being unisex, what made this restroom different is that it had stalls only. No privacy problems, the stalls went to the floors.

No urinals. Now that would have been the ultimate test.

I don’t think unisex restrooms caught on, and I haven’t been back to Dick’s Last Resort. My ceiling research for this blog led me to a handful of examples of unisex restrooms. No lazy reader, no links, do your own research. By the way, “ceiling research’ means not very much research. I doubt this surprises you.

Let’s go on.

Everyone is familiar with the long lines women suffer waiting to pee at sporting events, shopping malls, theatres, etc.

Everyone knows the reason. First you have to pick the cleanest stall. Then you have to inspect the seat to make sure it is particularly free of, well, anything. Then you have to decide if you are actually going to sit on the seat or if instead you will use the ‘hover’ method. Of course, if you use the hover technique, it immediately renders the first decision for the next person moot. So, if it is late in the day and the stall has been used, then everyone uses the ‘suspended bottom in the air method’ anyway. You need a place to put the purse and a place to put the coat. Now you have to pull down the pants or pantyhose, blah blah. It just takes time, they say. I’m sure it does.

Architects are now designing restrooms for women that have rows and rows and rows and rows of toilets and stalls. This is mandated by new building codes. The ratio of required men’s toilets to women’s toilets has become downright silly. However, we all know about women coming to the men’s toilet at a ball game because they are tired of waiting in line. I guess the problem is real. And besides, the seats in the women’s side have pee all over them. Refer back to the ‘hover’ technique.

This catches my attention because it mirrors another one of my peeves, design for the handicapped and the limitations of the wheelchair.

There are billions of dollars spent every year in the public and private sector on handicapped provisions and toilet construction. Combining the two; that is designing toilets to handicapped codes and gender appliance codes, has created toilet spaces rivaling the Roman Coliseum in size.

What I am inarticulately telling you is that we are addressing the wrong problem in both cases. More on the wheelchair in later articles.

For now, let’s concentrate on peeing. You see, I just don’t think we should be spending all this money so the girls can ‘not sit down’ to pee. All they are really doing is peeing all over the top of the seat because none of them want to sit down on a pissy seat.

Here is an idea: This a ‘stand-up and pee’ playing field leveler for the ladies.

You see, this is not a biological problem. It’s a cultural problem. Women absolutely DO NOT WANT TO BE BOTHERED with learning new public peeing skills. Believe me.

Just ask them. Apparently, they enjoy their long line misery.

Show your wife or girlfriend this ‘standing up’ device and they will resist.

I tried.

The first friend I suggested this to looked at me as if she was thinking “Are you freakin nuts!”

She confirmed this seconds later by exclaiming, “Are you freaking nuts!”

Admit it girls, you have always been jealous of our ability to zip, pull and pee.

I am told by a reliable source that with a little practice, you can easily zip and pee. Fake the pull if it makes you feel happy! The transgender male next to you will have to pull, so keep them guessing.

Maybe zipping and peeing like a man is a cultural sea change worth examination. It would save a lot of money for shopping!

As a side note, I read a story while researching this article that was written by a transgender. This was a woman using the stand up device to pee adjacent to men at the urinals. She was extremely proud of her ability to ‘blend in’ with the men, undetected, ‘just being one of the guys.’

So……men…… time you are at the urinal in a public place, zip, pull and pee as usual….but keep your head down and try not to think about that lady with the glue-on mustache next to you. Yes, the one with the red fingernails.

I’ll get to the wheelchairs later.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Shortcut to Hell

Have you noticed that many of your colleagues, family and friends are moving through life with a weary acceptance? I have been guilty of this myself.

There are questions implied by this observation. The most immediate one is why are we so accepting that life must be dealt with in this way?

I have heard many people in their exasperation say “Oh I wish I was dead”. Or, the current much abused word, ‘suck’, is used in this manner; “My life sucks”. We all have a sense of what that expression means, but it is remarkably unglamorous as far as expressions go.

I recently saw “My Life Sucks” as a blog title! No, not much glamour in that title, not to mention creativity or positive attitude.

If I were to suggest to you that this idea of ‘just making it’ through life is promulgated in part by mainstream religion, I would likely draw a collective gasp from many readers.

Please bear in mind that I said ‘in part’. That is very similar to saying, ‘not in whole’.

Maybe the association is made through the unique prism of my life experience.

The religions that I am familiar with take the position that we live our time here on earth and then ascend to heaven. That’s the grander of the two notions of where we may end up.

Some religions, as in my strict Baptist rearing, teach that there are very grave consequences for choosing poorly here on earth.

I heard both versions of this destiny system while occupying hard wooden Baptist pews in my childhood and adolescence.

Be good and you go to heaven and you are happy for eternity.

Bad? Go to hell and burn for eternity.

The mainstream version goes something like this. If you can choose wisely here on earth, suffering through all the tests that are required, you get to go to heaven. I am told that in heaven there are no more tests to be taken. Streets of Gold. Rainbows at every corner. Mighty rivers of never ending happiness.

Choose poorly here on earth and…..I think you know the rest of the story.

When I was a child the thought of eternity created a mental fainting on my part. In fact it scared me. It still scares me a little.

If we are bound for an eternity of unabated happiness and goodness, or if God chooses for us, one of unspeakable horror, the idea of eternity becomes quite a concept with which to wrestle.

Have you really thought about the idea of eternity? Forever is not really imaginable to me. This concept twists me into mental knots.

So what is my challenge with mainstream religion?

These belief systems teach that we go to heaven. Heaven is our destination, the place we wish to go. This by default means that heaven cannot exist on earth.

Let me put a twist on this for you. What if we believed that the reverse is true?

What if we believed that heaven comes to us?

Accepting the notion that heaven comes to those that seek it allows the construct that heaven can exist now; right here on earth.

This is not a unique idea on my part. The prolific Christian teacher Ernest Holmes, the ancient Toltec beliefs of Mexico and many others are instrumental in bringing this idea to our attention.

This idea gives me something useful to do with the concept of eternity. It is the forever search for perfection; as useful a function of time as I can think of. Forever I can work on a continually evolving state of perfection and peace of mind. Eternity makes intellectual sense to me in this framework.

The same applies for hell. Why wait. We can have hell on earth if we want it. Many of us manage this nicely. We slog through a life of hell hoping for it to be finally over so we can go to heaven.

We involve ourselves in the constant search for diversions; anything to fill the steadily diminishing period between this existence and our cherished eternity.

What if you accepted that heaven and hell are all around you right now? What if you imagined that you get to choose between the two, right now and tomorrow once again?

What if the heaven you are waiting for after earth is just the same as it is right here and you have wasted your time waiting rather than seeking?

You may be thinking; what if you are wrong?

It's OK to be wrong here. I find no down side in being wrong, my objective has remained the seeking of heaven all along.

Is watching the Cardinals and Astros on TV with someone I love, eating ice cream and having my feet on the ottoman a piece of heaven?

I think it is. I did that tonight.

Heaven comes to me when I expect it and seek it. I’m not waiting.

Hell will be dismissed with the same confidence.

Working at getting it…….maybe

Saturday, October 15, 2005

When You Finally Have Nothing

I made the acquaintance of a Fort Worth, Texas oil baron at one point in my life. He rented office space in the building where I practiced architecture. It was basically a retirement office. His wife had told him he couldn’t hang around the house all day.

For the purposes of my story his name will be Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones was one of the people in the world blessed with money. His father and grandfather had been oil men and he had carried their oil and gas knowledge, producing properties and considerably deep pockets into his life as well.

I liked Mr. Jones. He was unfailingly polite to me, the young struggling architect anxious to make his claim on the world. On walks that took me past his office door he would call for me to come inside and visit.

Because I had grown up with more or less nothing, his life and attitudes intrigued me. Two things stand out in my mind from those visits.

I once asked him what he thought of poverty. He smiled and said simply “Well, I try very hard not to think of poverty at all.”

On another occasion I asked Mr. Jones what it was like to have accumulated so much that you really never have to worry about things anymore. I got the same ‘isn’t he cute’ smile from Mr. Jones. His answer surprised me. He said you don’t quit worrying. He added, “Once you have accumulated all, and indeed much more than you will ever need, then you worry if and how you might lose it all.”

The great spiritual teachers hold forth that wealth should not be our quest.

This is a difficult lesson for any of us.

Can we find our happiness in life once we begin to remove ourselves from the need to have all things?

For me, it is peace of mind that brings happiness. I have also discovered that my peace of mind appears to be tightly bound with the idea of having enough money that I do not need to worry about it any longer.

If we are to follow the logic of the spiritual teachers then it seems we must purge ourselves of the need to marry peace with plenty.

How then to be at peace while possessing little? That is the large question most of us face.

As for Mr. Jones, it remains in my memory that he was not free from worry even while being wealthy beyond what 99% of us will ever accumulate. Mr. Jones left earth last year, a victim of lung cancer. And, as the Country Western song goes, 'I’ve never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.'

Which way then are we to travel? Which bus makes its way to peace of mind with nothing hitched to its bumper or stored underneath?

When you finally have nothing, will you share it with me?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Scarecrow and Me

Dialogue from the Wizard of Oz

Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?

Scarecrow I don't know... But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they?

Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.

This happened to me today

I came home from a workout to find my wife making a baby blanket.

She was making it for our 15 month old grandson. He and his mom are flying in from St. Louis tonight to spend the weekend with us.

Rick: Hey, that’s really a cute blanket!

Wife: Isn’t it cool. It’s a kit. I bought it just 2 hours ago and I’m practically finished with it!

Rick: You made it in just 2 hours?

Wife: Yes, it’s a great kit. It’s a no-brainer. I think you might be able to make one.

Thanks for the confidence sweetie.

Gotta go, Scarecrow and I are off to see the Wizard.

Scarecrow: I could while away the hours

Conferrin' with the flowers

Consultin' with the rain

And my head I'd be scratchin'

While my thoughts were busy hatchin

If I only had a brain.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I wish I was Gump

I wish I was Forrest Gump.

Imagine that everything is nearly always good. Imagine that it turns out that way because you go about in the world with total innocent acceptance of all things that happen around you.

Imagine that it is that way because you never question that there is anything negative in anyone or anything around you. Fate simply smiles on your innocence and acceptance of all things.

Yesterday I learned the amount I have to pay the IRS for 2004. I’m frowning and I don't feel any sense of innocence.

I am supporting a mid-level federal government executive all by myself. He or she may as well toss their desk onto my back and just ride around, using me as an office. Oh, I forget, I am already paying their rent too.

I drove into a gas station feeling sorry for myself. Standing around the outside of the station were at least 50 day labor workers. Potential employers drive up and interview these men for one-day labor jobs. If a deal is struck, they get into the truck and go off to do whatever job. I felt better about my own situation.

Then I realized I felt better because of the lesser economic circumstance of a fellow human.

I felt bad again.

I wish I was Forrest Gump.

Sometimes I Don’t Get It.

Talk to Ya Later.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My crotch feels weird

Ever want to know why baseball players spit all the time.

My wife wants to know. Every time we watch a game together.

“EEEWWWW” she will say “Why do they do that all the time?”

“EEEWWWW”, did you see that?

She’s asking me because I spent the first 19 years of my life playing the game. When I turned 36, I took it up again in the Senior Baseball League.

I don’t know why we they spit so much. I really don’t. I’ll do some research and get back to you on that one. I wasn’t a spitter.

Most women that watch baseball want to know something else.

Why are they always adjusting their crotches? They do this regularly on national TV. There is even a Saturday Night Live skit about this cultural oddity.

I know the answer to this. No kidding. I do.

I should say this; I know why I adjusted my crotch on the baseball field.
Look at this, especially you girls. It’s called a cup. Yes, I know it doesn’t have a handle.
This has nothing to do with bondage and discipline. Unless you want it to. Hold on Discipline Girl…don’t even go there. You stuff this cup inside an athletic supporter, aka ‘jock strap’, and you wear it. Down there.

Well it is actually a form of bondage I suppose. I don’t know about the discipline part. The question at play here is do I want to put my gentlemen parts into this container, or do I want my gentlemen parts to be smacked by a very hard baseball. If you are wondering, all three members of the family are incarcerated together. Same cell....err....cup.

My baseball position was catcher. For those of you who are strangers to the game, the catcher is the one dressed funny in all the protective gear. He squats behind the hitter. He catches the ball if the hitter fails to actually hit it. We are a peculiar, but hardy species. We rarely spit, due to the mask on our face.

Catchers wear cups. We’re smarter than we look. Well, not in all cases actually.

There is no way to place your gentlemen parts in one of these plastic hells and keep them happy. Your parts will protest. They will fight with your cup. Never any telling which side is winning; it’s a never ending war. It's Ralph and Alice Cramden.

This is where the adjusting comes in. The player wearing the cup is the referee of this struggle. The combatants need constant attention. Think of him as a counselor to a bad marriage. He's trying to help both parties understand the others needs.

Close your eyes girls. NOT YET. WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED READING THE INSTRUCTIONS. Imagine a rigid unyielding plastic bra. Imagine that it comes in two sizes. Choose one of the sizes. Put your plastic bra around your breasts and strap it on tight enough (yes even if it doesn't fit) that you can sprint around, swing a bat and spit a lot. See what I mean?

Feel free to explain this to your girlfriends. Knowledge is power.

Now Do You Get It…….maybe?

As far as these St Louis Cardinals players (who appear to be very good friends) , well I’m not going there. Ever.

Got Water?

Police officers with whom I worked in the past were summoned to New Orleans after Katrina. Their task was to help secure order, aid in rescues and in general ‘do what could be done.’

Many heartbreaking and hair raising stories hitched a ride home with them. One of these stories is the focus of my thinking this morning.

I was told that bodies of the deceased were being pulled into the current of the Mississippi River and carried into the Gulf of Mexico.

I doubted this when I heard it. I later discussed this idea with a Louisiana native familiar with the Mississippi River and its power. His response was that it was not only possible, but very probable that the current of this mighty river was strong enough to bury the dead at sea.

Was this a kind and forceful act of nature? I don’t know. The Taoist would argue that it is merely a fact to be accepted.

The ancient Taoist belief is that we should pattern ourselves around the nature of water. In essence we should be ‘like water’.

Water is the most powerful force in nature. It can drown you. It also saves you on a daily basis. Unleashed by nature, it can kill thousands in a tsunami or hurricane.

What was one of the first things needed in a drowning New Orleans? It was water. Water to drink. Water to flush away waste.

Water floods our homes and does enormous damage. Water, on the other hand, saves our lives every day.

When water is at rest, it inevitably seeks the lowest spot it can find. It rest humbly in the lowest spot of the pavement and in the earth’s lowest basins.

Water has no mind of its own. At least I will argue that point; some might choose another side in that argument.

So what is Taoism suggesting?

It goes something like this. When it is time for us to be powerful, we should exercise our power with the strength and determination of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Dominate all situations that require domination with ultimate power and force. This power and domination naturally enough is assigned to seeking the good in all things.

When humility and grace are required we should also be like water, seeking the lowest and most humble spots to rest, supplying life to all things around us.

I suggest there is something in this ancient wisdom for all of us to think about. For instance, if you decide to go for a swim in the Mississippi, take along water wings and an emergency flare.
You will also need some bottled water and lots of respect.

Now I Get It…….maybe

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ama Greeun

I learned about Ama Greeun last night.

First though, a test for you. Just to see what you know:

  1. Is Ama Greeun a small town in Syria?
  2. Is Ama Greeun my friend’s aunt in Austin?
  3. Is Ama Greeun an Irish ballad written during World War II?
  4. Is Ama Greeun the NY Times reporter that is always going on about the environment and SUV’s?
  5. None of the above.

The answer is #5, none of the above.

Here is how I learned about Ama Greeun last night.

I was watching the Yankees play the Angels on television. My wife was snuggled up in her customary little ball beside me. Her head was propped against my shoulder.

Did you ever notice the way the female gender can place their entire body on the couch in these tiny little packages, feet tucked underneath them, arms folded up and all that? How do they do that?

Rick: “I don’t know why, but I just don’t like the Angels. It’s something I can’t explain. I’m cheering for the Yanks tonight”.

Wife: “Yes, there is something about the Angels, I don’t like them. I don’t know what it is”.

Rick: “Sweetie, I just said that! You said the same thing I did.”

Wife: “I know. Ama Greeun with ya”.

She is from Texas.

Now I Get It…….maybe

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sharing the light

The Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves played 18 innings in a playoff game yesterday. For those who are not baseball fans, that’s twice as long as a normal game.

I know, I know, twice the boredom for the same price.

The Astros pitching staff was completely spent, causing them to use the 43 year old legend Roger Clemens for the last 3 innings of the game. He had been the Astros starting pitcher just 48 hours earlier, so he was likely pitching with a sore and tired arm and definitely way beyond his call of duty.

He had not pitched in relief since 1984.

The Astros won this game on a dramatic 18th inning home run by a Louisville, Kentucky native named Chris Burke. Chris is 25 years old and relatively new to major league baseball. I suggest few of us even knew he played for the Astros before yesterday.

I was watching all of this on television, broadcast live from a fully alive Minute Maid Park in Houston. Yes, they were awake even after 18 innings.

My motivation for this entry in my blog occurred after the game was over.

Despite Burke’s home run, the veteran Clemens was the real story of this game.

Fox TV had a reporter on the field ready for face to face interviews as soon as the game ended. However, the game having been won on a dramatic home run, a great deal of on-field celebration and confusion impeded her efforts for the interview.

I watched the reporter chase Clemens around the field as the team celebrated. She was focused and determined to corner Roger and have him as her ‘star’ interview.

As it turned out the reporter reached Clemens at the same time Clemens snatched up the young Chris Burke in a giant bear hug.

Clemens noticed the reporter, then quickly reached out and pulled Burke back to his side. He answered two questions, and then he nudged the interview over to Burke by saying loudly “how about this kid”?

The reporter did in fact turn to Burke and begin to ask him the usual post game questions. On the screen I could see Clemens break the grasp of the reporter and retreat off camera. He disappeared, jogging into the dugout. He was no longer the interview, by his own actions.

He wanted this moment to belong to the “kid”.

He was sharing the light.

He gave his moment to a younger player. It was a moment Burke may never know again.

It was a mature and purely good thing to do.

Today, I am a Roger Clemens fan.

Share the light.

Now I Get It…….maybe.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cryonics. Wanna see Ted's frozen head?

It is said, and apparently documentation exists, that baseball-great Ted William’s head and body were frozen by Alcor Life Extension Foundation and now are waiting ‘what’s next’ in Arizona. His head and his body were separated prior to storage. You have heard this story, right?

The science behind the idea does exist. It's called cryogenics. It’s the study of what happens to materials at extremely cold temperatures. Cryonics is used to store human bodies (frozen) with the hope of one day reviving them. It’s being performed today, but the technology is still in its infancy.

An internet poll taken shortly after Williams death in 2002 asked if folks like you and I would do the same thing. The poll (unscientific) came in like this:

72% No

19% Yes

8% Not Sure

Out there in internet land 19% of your brothers and sisters want to come back after being frozen…….or….…err.......cryogenocided.

I’m not saying they are wrong; no one put me in charge of these things.

It does create a lot of questions though.

For example:

Do you come back in your 80’s? That was Ted’s age when he was polarized.

Do you have to keep a heart with coronary clogging that created your death in the first case? Your return might be short. Do we have to keep the cancer that killed us once? Want to give it a second chance? Some argue medicine will have advanced to cure both problems.

Shift gears here.

When I look in the mirror, I see someone playing in the late third quarter of the game. That’s only part of the story however.

My soul isn't ageing. This is important in the discussion of cryonics.

The mirror tells only part of the story.

My soul is ageless. It’s youthful and ready for what is next. More importantly, it’s ready for what is right now.

I can be any age I want to be. One day I can choose 18, the next I can chose to be 38.

Is this a form of delusion or insanity? Not for me. It makes me happy to know I can still race on the track with the spirit, soul and enthusiasm of an 18 year old.

Yes, I am arguing for the idea of an actual split between soul and body. Separate and distinct entities. I believe this.

That’s why I would vote no with 72% of my fellows.

If Ted is brought back………..whose soul is in there?

Maybe Ted is at the plate in the World Series somewhere else, only to be jerked back to his 80’s and a wheelchair here on planet earth.

I bet that would ruin his day.

Pretty sure I Get It.......maybe.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Is this the right bus?

For those who have and those who will ask, the photo on the opening page is in fact a picture of the blog author.
I am boarding a rail transit bus in Edmonton, Alberta. I was there for a masters track meet in July. It was confusing with many maps that I had never seen before in a city I had never visited. Unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar maps.
The photo is symbolic of the nature of my blog.
At that moment in time, I wasn't at all sure I was boarding the correct bus. If you look closely I am literally calling to my wife, "come on I THINK this is the right one"!
Life has many choices. There are many buses to choose from. Ever choose the wrong one? End up where you weren't supposed to be?
Sometimes we choose the right way to get somewhere. Sometimes we choose poorly.
What I learned from this particular bus trip in Edmonton is this; you might choose wrong and end up where you didn't want to go, but you also meet some very interesting people and see some new things along the way.
Now I Get It.......maybe

Now I Get It.........maybe

Have you ever felt like you had learned a great truth about life and then discovered over time that you were in fact, just plain wrong or at best misguided. Maybe the truth you discovered was effective at that time but not effective later in your life.
This is the process of understanding that what we learn in the acts of living and accept as an indisputable truth is sometimes only effective for that present moment in our lives.

I often hear people talk about the 'great truths of life'. Do these really exist. I think it is likely, but it troubles me that so many people are intent on convincing us what those truths are.

If something was a great truth to Benjamin Franklin does it hold that it is by default a great truth for you? I bring this up because his autobiography is one of my favorite books. Still, I would not know if his observations and wisdoms work for me until I put them into practice.

The thoughts above are what this blog is about. I have often thought "Oh, now I get it" only to discover sometime later that I should have added the modifier "maybe".

Share your ideas here along with mine. Please don't preach. Just share.