Saturday, December 31, 2005

Maria - 2005

A friend asked me to place all 5 of the Maria segments end to end as a New Years Day post.
Ever compliant, that's what I have done below. It's long. Get a cup of coffee. Maybe just move on if you're not into futuristic tales about nude women making love inside a machine or receiving spiritual guidance from a window.

So here are the 5 Maria segments written in 2005.


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.
_________________________________

Friday, November 04, 2005
Maria and the Nexus

Maria made her way across the Phoenix Transport Center carrying her unisuit in her carry bag. The bag was a smaller travel version of the mylar long term bag her mother had bought for her.

The transport center guidance system confused her since the frequency of the individual messages preprogrammed for her arrival seemed to skip around, fading in and out on her ear transplant. She dismissed it as sloth on the part of the Transport Center messaging workers.

She did understand that she was to take the Nordus Line and exit the carrier at her hotel on the 7th exit platform. From there she was to take the vertical transport to the lobby of the Nordus Center and she would be shown her room by the autovalet.

Her shoes were still squeaking on the floor and this added to the confusion in her ear.

“Excuse me Maria”, the voice interrupted Maria’s thoughts and as she turned she saw that the man calling after her appeared to be around her age of 30 years.

“Maria, as you can see my name is Marcus and I was observing you from quite a distance, but I have been walking very quickly to catch up.”

Maria recognized him from the Seattle transit way. She had seen him enter individual compartment 377 but she had not seen him exit the rotational platform.

“Very nice to meet you Marcus, are you wanting to trade union codes or something?”

“Well, yes”, said Marcus suddenly feeling a little embarrassed that he had chased Maria across the Center. He was also a little startled by Maria’s straightforwardness. “I just think you are very lovely and we are well sized for one another, but if you don’t want to trade then I understand.”

Maria had been looking forward to reaching her room, entering the union nexus and using her presets to make love with Franklin. His code was good for another eight months, but on the other hand, Marcus offered an interesting and new option.

While she was thinking these things Maria was also scanning Marcus thoroughly. Light brown hair with blue highlights, intelligent green eyes, solid muscle tone, chest hair that ran into a straight line of finer hair that merged with his pubic area in a pleasing way; adorable polyfin ‘Lincoln’ slippers on his feet. He had the self confidence and bearing of a fellow professional.

Maria thought for the quickest of seconds and said “Well Marcus, I have at least three more code swaps available this year, so why not?”

Maria fished in her bag for her union dock. By the time she had found it, Marcus was proudly holding his out for her. Marcus and Maria plugged the socketed ends together, and pressed their individual buttons.

As Maria entered the hotel room at the Nordus Center she was immediately pleased with the arrangements. The layout was comfortable and very acceptable to her. The anti-gravity resting center had several levels of adjustment and the union nexus was practically new.

Maria went into the bath area and freshened herself. She was grateful that she had taken a full day of nutrition in Seattle and wouldn't need more until tomorrow. She wanted to go straight to the union nexus and enjoy herself, but she also wanted to be fresh for Marcus; it was the simple respect she felt everyone should practice.

Laying inside the nexus Maria placed her union dock into the control socket, rotated the dial to Marcus's code and lowered the activation toggle.

When her time in the nexus had ended, Maria was pleased and even satisfied, but somehow Franklin just couldn’t be replaced. Marcus had an odd quirk or two, but maybe she could adjust to them. She prayed Franklin would be available to trade codes with her the next time she was in Savannah.
_________________________________

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Maria and the Third Appearance

Maria had come to Phoenix to look at the world history templates once more. They were contained in the huge data bank maintained by the International History Foundation. They had moved to Phoenix from their original home in Vienna in November 2120.

This had been a godsend for Maria. The trips to Vienna for her research were expensive and she had trouble with the interpretative guidance system. The guidance system government workers had said there was nothing wrong with her ear transplant, but she knew better than to believe them with all of the scandals they had been involved in last year.

Maria had been writing her own history template for the past three years and she had reached the turn of the century when the world moved from the late 1900’s into the year 2000.

The work was laborious. The facts were always there if she took time to assemble them, but so much of that time period was difficult to understand and now she labored under a great dread that she would be considered an expert on a piece of world history that she might not fully understand herself.

The blue and green glow of the history templates left her with a slight headache after a few hours and she would have to stop reading and close her eyes. When she did this she would try to think of appropriate and creative ways to describe what she had learned while at the same time remaining true to the facts.

The problem she faced was that the world she was describing was dark and held unimaginable horrors for the people of 1999. Trying to be creative with these facts was demanding even for her considerable writing skills and she would feel overwhelmed. She thought about the need to try and bring some hope and light to the lives of these people that inhabited the templates. The fact that they lived so long ago and had now been gone so long made reaching any of them on the spine connection impossible, so she had no direct access to their individual perspective apart from speeches she would read in the templates. Maybe she could talk about their lives in a way that made their harsh reality seem to have a point to today’s history students.

There was the confusion over Jesus and Mohammed. Nations fought wars over three separate religious ideologies. Not until many years later would carbon science technologies discover that the men were one in the same, the very same son of god writing an identical message in four different languages. The texts had fallen into the hands of interpreters that craved power for material gain, and a different text had emerged from each language. This had lead to generations of destructive wars where they routinely took one another’s lives.

The people of that time had also missed the second coming in the person of Mother Teresa. They thought she was important, but somehow missed the idea altogether on what she actually represented. Her teachings after the third appearance were first fully realized by the people of China, and were now the recognized belief system in the world, but completely unknown to these people.

They were satanized by a disease known as ‘cancer’. It never occurred to them that by eliminating printer’s ink that the problem would go away. Millions of these people had died from this horrible disease with no idea how to stop it.

There were the giant prehistoric airplanes that flew 30,000 feet above the earth in a very strange attempt to escape gravity rather than merely taming it.

They had a curious way with animals. They kept the animals locked in cages, unable to communicate with them using the animal’s language. It was written that they had not a clue what the animals were saying. Research with dolphins and monkeys and the development of the tone integration systems had finally changed the way animals were treated. Only then would they leave their cages.

Maria was tired. She was overly fatigued from the work of her troublesome history template and she was hungry too.

She felt sad now at this moment, alone in Phoenix without her family. She wanted to talk with her grandmother but she knew that the only spine connection would be dominated by others at this hour of the evening.

Maria put her head down on the edge of the glowing reading tray. The beam of its colors reflected off her forehead and highlighted the edges of her hair. Her watch spoke the hour to her inner ear and she realized how late it had become.

She was too tired to go on researching these long ago sad people. She had tried not to cry all day. It was no use now as she could feel the tears wash up behind her eyes in a pressure that demanded release. The first drop from her left eye moved in a steady current across her cheek and dropped with a gentle sound onto the tray below. It glistened back at her eyes seeming to ask permission to return home.

Her ear transplant vibrated the calling signal of her genetic twin Raina. She had picked up Maria’s stress rhythm on her internal sensors and knew Maria was crying. She didn’t know why, but then Maria wasn’t really sure either. “Hello Raina,” she said, “yes, I know but I’m OK really, I just got really sad for a minute, but I’m going to go get some nutrition now and maybe try to call grandmother later. Do you want to call her with me?”
_________________________________

Saturday, November 12, 2005
Maria and Konyo

Maria stared at the ceiling of the Nordus Center lobby. It was constructed in a series of circle forms with intermediate rafters forming spokes within the circles. Beyond the framing she could see the blue sky above Phoenix and small wisps of white clouds that dodged in and out of the rafters as they floated along, creating a constantly changing pattern of shade and shadow on the floor at her feet.

She held the spine connection searching unit in her left hand. It was a new unit which she was glad about, but she had only paid for one hour of time. The initial searches using her grandmothers code had not linked to her and the hour would soon be over.

Maria’s head was filled with a constant clatter of thoughts that collided with one another until she wasn’t really sure what subject her brain actually intended to think about and what it thought better to discard. Maria found herself watching the constant turning of the roof system in its tracking of the sun as it gathered energy for the electrical load on the Center.

She shuffled her feet, her slippers blinked back at her in a programmed musical rhythm. Her grandmother had always teased her about going nude. She told her it was extremely fortunate that she was born when she was because in the older days of earth the people were required to wear their clothes all the time, everywhere they went. Maria had always giggled at her grandmother over this. She thought maybe she was a little senile or something, repeating it over and over, but she did know that it was actually true about the old days. One evening she had tried to get Maria and her girlfriends to dress in unisuits for a party, but they were afraid the boys would make too much fun of them. She had said “Why don’t you try something different to get their attention?”

The countdown timer indicated 17 minutes left when the unit finally vibrated, signaling a connection.

Maria activated the unit to her inner ear frequency and spoke to her grandmother for the first time in over two months.

The sound of her voice always made Maria smile and it did this time as well. The frequency from Konyo, the resting place for her grandmother’s soul after it was surgically removed in 2106 was a little ragged but her grandmother was understandable.

Maria always tried to remember her grandmother’s mannerisms when she talked. That way she could imagine her stories in a more vivid way than was really possible by simply listening to her voice. She called her grandmother ‘Kiki’. It was the grandmother name given her because the adults referred to her often as being ‘coo-coo,’ but the kids had first pronounced it as ‘ki-ki’. The name had stuck.

When Kiki heard Maria’s voice she was as delighted as ever and the pitch of her voice went up as if it were her way of sending a huge hug and kiss down the frequency to Maria.

And just like it always was, Maria asked Kiki what she had been doing. Maria did this because she knew that what she was doing on earth, at least the explanation of it to her grandmother, was counter productive to Maria’s own need to explore other times and places. The historian in Maria always demanded center space and she not only wanted to know about the past on earth, she treasured the information of what life was like in Konyo. It was her window to the world of her future. Kiki knew this about Maria too.

Kiki had decided on the surgery to remove her soul when she felt that her body could no longer achieve the life her soul demanded. The decision had hurt Maria and her sister Raina, they did not want Kiki to go, but in the end their peace was made and she left earth with the unrestrained enthusiasm that never wandered far from her side.

Maria knew she would face the same decision. The time to decide when the body did not synch with her soul would come. Then Konyo would be her home too.

Kiki had begun the explanation of what she had done on this day in Konyo. She told Maria that she had chosen the year 1897 for the day. She had also chosen romance as the theme. She told Maria she wanted to know about romance in 1897 and what it felt like to be wanted by a man in a time she had not known on earth.

According to Kiki her day had begun by having to get the milk out of some cows. Maria wasn’t at all clear on this, but she didn’t interrupt. Then she said a man had come to the house assigned to her and sat on a couch beside her in the house.

After talking with the man, he invited her to go into a boat and ride across the water. Kiki’s voice increased in animation and Maria imagined all of her body language and tried to coordinate her mental images with Kiki’s voice as she told her tale about riding in the water.

She described a very still water with ripples that were created by the boat oars that the man used to propel them through the water. She described the man as having the very same face as her husband on earth, but he wore clothes, a heavy brown textured suit with a white shirt and one of the old time ties around his neck. It was a red and gold tie she said.

Kiki laughed and told Maria that she was just as naked as she ever was, but that the man didn’t seem to notice that he had all of those clothes on and that she didn’t have any at all. She also said she had to sit very still in the boat and that the man kept telling her so.

She said the man had sung a song to her and that it was a happy song about a bluebird on his shoulder. During the song he sang “It’s the truth, it’s actual.” That made her laugh because she knew she had just ordered him up for that day.

When the sun was setting behind the trees on the river, the man had kissed her. She told Maria it was not at all like union nexus kissing, and that it was the best thing that happened all day. She said it made her feel like the man loved her.

Then Kiki began to sing the song the man sang.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah Zip-a-dee-ay
What a wonderful feeling
Feeling this way!

Oh, Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder
It’s the truth, it’s actual
Everything is satisfactual.

Maria smiled. She knew that song. She was a music history student and she knew it had been written in 1962. How could the man in 1897 know this song?

She decided not to ask Kiki that question. She knew she would find out later when she went to Konyo herself. She just smiled inside and told her grandmother that she loved her.
_________________________________

Monday, December 05, 2005
Maria and the Window

Maria was kneeling on her living room floor and watching the clock’s second hand sweep around the dial. She had returned to Seattle from Phoenix on the Air Rotate the evening before.

She was waiting for the start of the year 2122. It was, for the moment, still December 31, 2121 and it was Maria’s tradition to commune with her spiritual window at the change of the year, a habit she had inherited from her father.

Her spiritual window was programmed to be superimposed over a mountain and lake scene and a historical photograph of her triple great grandfather being baptized in 1972.
She moved her gaze from the clock to the window, a pale yellow image of stained glass with insets of gold and green glass pieces. Through the window she could see the lake and the image of her ancestor in a time long past. She glanced down and realized she had not placed the window’s processing unit onto her head. She giggled at her absentmindedness, picked up the unit and attached it around her forehead, then began to align the codes for her programmed spiritual guide. Maria had constructed her guidance around historical religious wisdom that blended the teachings of many great religions and teachers. There were wisdoms of Jesus, Teresa and Magnus among others that she had blended to attune to her personal spiritual goals.
At the moment the clock chimed the New Year, Maria rotated the toggle to isolate the spiritual sector of her brain. All other areas of her brain except for the emergency alertness centers were being shut down through the processing unit’s electronic waves.

When Maria felt comfortable, she began her tradition of asking her questions. The answers to her questions were always available through the window, but she loved tradition and this was the session that would help carry her all year long. After stabilizing the frequency of the programmed counselor, Maria began her questions.

“Why are there still people that do the wrong thing and yet never suffer a punishment? Why should I not get the things I want by manipulation and deceit, like others often do?”

The familiar and comforting voice of her counselor answered. “Maria, the universe works through a system of natural law that justly rewards and justly punishes even though you may not be immediately aware of the effect of the law. Time can distort the working of the law in a way that causes a person to suffer joy or consequence, but not necessarily immediately in time or in our personal awareness. You need only understand that good is rewarded with good, trust in the principle of this natural law of the universe.”

Are evil acts rewarded with evil as well”, asked Maria?

“No, evil is not rewarded with evil from the central good, as this would be contradictory to the nature of the central good itself. Acts of evil are punishment enough for the individual that chooses the action. Their spiritual development is impeded and their experience of the ultimate good is delayed.”

“How will I know what evil act or thought in my past has set me back?”

“The past is gone forever and cannot be changed by present actions. The possibilities of your history lie only in your awareness of them and the intellectual marriage of detected consequence with your present behavior.”

“I don’t understand that”, thought Maria.

“Your past is behind you. The future and its possibilities lie in front of you. Travel backward only when the present requires knowledge from the past. To remain in the past is not productive to your future. Use your awareness of your past only in correction of a behavior. Use this awareness for growth only, never for punishment.”

“How do I know that what I believe is what I should believe?”

“All truth is inside you. All good is inside you. They have both occupied your soul from its beginning. Your spirit is already united with the central good. Everyone's belief is good insofar as it is in line with natural law and the central good. The presence of misdeed or evil action or thought lies outside the natural law. Understand the natural law that fulfils your soul and you will not know evil.”

Maria rotated the dial to the off position, stood and moved away from the spiritual window. She removed the processing unit and glanced at the clock. It was 15 minutes after midnight, January 1, 2122.
It was also Maria’s tradition to call her dad at 12:15 each New Year. Maria spoke her father’s code into the call unit. She heard his welcoming voice come on frequency in her inner ear.
Her future was in front of her, her past placed behind her and she smiled at the sound of her dad’s voice, knowing he had also visited his spiritual window.
“Welcome to 2122”, her dad said, half laughing and half serious, but delighted as always to know she had remembered to call him.

Copyright 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005

Sunshine and bare feet

The sunshine was streaming through the blinds of my bedroom window. It was making that distinctive striped pattern of sunlight and shadow that blinds make. It splashed across the quilt that still covered me. I wasn’t working today so it was possible to actually be in bed as the sun made it’s appearance in my room. The window was slightly open for fresh air overnight and I could hear birds happily singing outside.
The air in the room was fresh, the sunlight warming and persistent.

If Walt Disney were alive to design a day, one full of zippity-doo-dahs and bluebirds on your shoulder, he would have given me this morning.

It reminded me of those flowers that you see on the Discovery Channel. The ones where using time lapse filming they show the flower closed for the night, but then opening slowly to its full bloom as the daylight signals that it is time.

That in turn caused me to think about the creative potential in each of us. Some of us write blogs, others like my wife capture the world through photography. Some paint, some run and lift weights sculpting the physique, mother’s read creatively to their children, some make music, but everywhere you look, if you look carefully and with a discerning eye, you will see creativity at work in virtually all individuals around you.
All of us carry the potential to create. Many of your friends or family might claim otherwise, declaring “I can’t paint, draw or do anything creative”, but its not true.
God blessed us all with the power to create. The power to create love, art, food, friends, music, words, happiness and even sadness if its what we want.
All of us are like the flower you have seen on the Discovery Channel. We get a chance to show the world what beauty we can lend when each new day begins.

That is an important point in my mind, the idea that we lend our creativity to the world. In doing so we create beauty within the world. Many people in the arts want to be recognized for their contribution. That is only human and not in itself a negative thing, but it misses a larger point.
If we view our creativity in a different way, by understanding that what we have to give is being shared, even if we are not hoisted on to another’s shoulders to be celebrated, then we gain insight into the creative process life intends for us.
When I watch Olympic athletes perform I am inspired, yet I have not told them personally how inspiring they are. When I read fiction by David James Duncan I am inspired by and in awe of his talent, yet I have never met him.

I had a recent email conversation with Ken Stone. Ken is a devoted and hardworking athlete, blogger, historian, and journalist to the masters track world. His work and creative energy helps hold the masters track community together.
Ken is creating a history and time stamped documentation of our sport that will be absolutely priceless for generations to come and yet he is not celebrated often enough for his talent and contribution. Ken humbly told me he gets the satisfaction he needs from his interaction with masters athletes.
We all need Ken’s wisdom on this. He has the understanding that what we do creatively lives and breathes of its own strength and merit and not by the praise of others. He understands that his talent is to be shared.

I am not the type to give you bible quotes. So, I am not going to quote, but merely paraphrase from that source because I find it fitting to the topic.
It was recorded by his disciples that Jesus said (carefully paraphrased): “Do not conceal your light within. Let your light shine so that the whole world can see it.”
I believe this is illumination on what he wished for us to understand about creativity; the idea that each of us can contribute and each of us gain in some way by the collective contribution of letting our creative light shine.

It is the wisest of persons that understands his or her contribution is being absorbed and appreciated by others even when the appreciation is not immediately known. I re-introduce you to the idea of a musician inspiring millions while unable to meet them all and learn that he or she has inspired them.
How many of us have discovered an incredible photograph, piece of art, music or literature and had it inspire our lives without a clue as to whom the creator might have been? Still, the creator exists, though they will never experience your praise or satisfaction.

Learn this. It is enough to create. Create and move forward, never looking around for applause. Often the applause will circle around and surprise you from the front. Sometimes it will be applause so distant that you never hear it all; and that is alright because the measure of your gift has been fully received.

I got out of bed and stood in the sunshine, observing it splatter across my chest in its distinctive pattern, enjoying its warmth. My wife walked through the room on the way to another room. She smiled at me. She was barefoot and nude. She was as pretty as the day I first saw her. Her ‘birthday clothes’ image bounced around in my head happily and energetically even though she never said a word to me as she walked away into another part of the house. It remained long after she left.

She was creating art, she just didn’t know it.

Now that image is in your head. See what I mean?

Now I Get It.......maybe
Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Oh My God" you're naked

I got tagged by her royal blogness the Peanut Queen to report on 5 weird habits of mine.
Oh yes, my yes, I have been called weird before.

This is no problem. Well, on second thought it did occur to me that the vast range of humans out there might have varying opinions about what is actually weird. My weirdness may well pale in comparison to your own, or I may freak you out. So now I enter the chore with some anxiety and dubiousity. Yes, I know dubiousity is not really a word, but I like it and so I’m using it.

This is like being atttacked by an evil tattle-tale twin brother.

Out of reverential respect to her highness, 5 weird habits of mine:

1. I still listen to Van Morrison. He is in his sixties I think and I in my fifties. I don’t think anyone really listens to him anymore, except me. However, he is still recording CD’s and I think he only prints one copy; which I buy.

2. I go naked in my backyard. All the time. It’s hot in Texas 9 months of the year. There is a swimming pool back there and an 8 foot privacy fence. Fortunately for the neighbors you can’t see in unless you really, really try. You are all invited to join me....errr....the chicks I mean.
There used to be a teenage girl in the family that lived behind us. They had a volleyball net in the backyard and one day convergent with my swimming nakedness a whole gaggle of her teenage friends were playing volleyball. Naturally the ball got knocked over the fence into my yard. A 16 year old pretty faced female head popped up over the top of the fence, looked at me and screeched “Oh My God, you’re naked!” She disappeared and I heard the high pitched frequency of females exchanging important information, followed by hysterical giggling like you might hear had one of them farted loudly during a slumber party pillow fight.

3. I participate in masters track and field. I am a member of the Houston Elite Track Club. That’s right, 30, 40, 50, 60 years and older men and women racing one another on the track. Before you laugh, I am faster than you really imagine......but yep, it’s certainly weird.

4. I don’t say goodbye when I end a conversation on the phone. Several times people have called me back to see if the conversation was actually over. Don’t they go to the movies? No one in the movies says goodbye on the telephone. Usually a federal agent in the movies is given a very long address where the bad guy is located. He just mutters OK and then hangs up the phone. I do that too, but it doesn’t work out so well in real life. I learned it from my mom. My mom freaks my wife out doing this. Mom and I should be in the movies.

5. Remember during the Iraqi war (when it was full blown) and they asked people to donate baby wipes or wet wipes? If it’s good enough for the military it’s good enough for me. I decided to buy some and not send them to Iraq. I used them on my own back-end instead. Liked it. Use them all the time now. Don’t know now why people use toilet paper, I mean, how uncivilized is that?
I did rename them. I call them “butt-wipes.” My wife and I both got into the habit of calling them butt wipes. We went to the store one day for supplies. A saleslady asked if we were finding everything. Without a moment’s thought I asked her “Where are the butt-wipes?” She pointed toward her boss so I don’t think she understood.
I use butt-wipes exclusively now. I have to figure out how to carry and conceal them everywhere I go, just like a gun but more useful. My wife sez that’s really, really weird.

I’m just getting warmed up, but PQ said 5 things. I wonder why 5? That's a weird number.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Where the Road Meets the Sky

Thanks to Ken Stone for bringing some old tracksters to my little page. If you got here via that route you all know and appreciate how important Ken is to our sport.

(The following post is re-posted for visiting masters track athletes)

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, December 27, 2005

My weiner scratching friend

I woke up this morning and dragged myself into the kitchen with my mini-dachshund ‘dogging’..haha...my footsteps.
He does that. It’s because dachshunds....at least I’m told this.....pick out someone in the family to be their best good friend, as Forrest Gump would say, and well I guess I am his best good friend....I appear to be the chosen one.........he follows me everywhere. He follows me to pee, he follows me outside, to the mailbox, to the refrigerator....its enough to make you scream...........QUIT FREAKIN FOLLOWING ME AROUND YOU LITTLE TURDBALL......

My family loves Harrison. That’s the turdball’s name. I don’t really know why. I mean I don’t know why they love him....I know why his name is Harrison

His functional specialty is to lay around and sleep, unless of course his best good friend, me, is going somewhere.......like to pee or shave, he will wake up for that....no sirreeeee not gonna miss anywhere that I’m going although it’s exactly the same routine every time....I figure he’s watched me pee about 9,124 times in the past 10 years........never seems to get bored...........he stinks too.......I mean really stinks.......we bathe him but he still stinks like a dog three days later.

He eats people food cuz my wife read on the internet that it’s better than processed dog food. She said it wouldn’t be any trouble.......she said this knowing of course that I am the one he follows around everywhere, being his best good friend and all...........

He was a little late this morning meeting up with me in the kitchen ....that’s because each morning he has an annoying habit of stretching his back legs out on the carpet and dragging his weiner dog weiner across the carpet. Turdball uses his front legs to drag the extended hind legs and his weiner across the top of the carpet for about 30 feet at a time...........one tough weiner.......I mean weiner dog.......he can’t drag his mini-nuts cuz they are gone...hehehe, got him on that one............ all in all the whole episode of the morning stretch and weiner scratching is about as annoying as Jim Carrey on amphetamines.

I mean Harrison really has nothing going for him....he’s not too bright really....he was the runt of the litter and the very last pick, just like the poor kid that gets picked last when kids are choosing sides for a game.......ever notice how people talk about how smart their dog is?...not mine....dumb as a Stallone movie. When he is upset with me he pees on the carpet.....and my wife runs to clean it up telling him in ‘babykins’ language how it is all ok really.......he’s fat too.....

But...everyone in my family loves Harrison. Every one of my friends that comes to the house loves Harrison....I mean if I peed on the floor or dragged my weiner across the carpet every morning or stank as bad as turdball stinks....I mean nobody...NOBODY would love me!

Now he’s just laying there giving me the evil eye....like he knows I’m ranting on him.......

I need a big ol Pit Bull or Snottweiler or something besides this little, gay, smelly, weiner dragging best good friend of mine............Gotta go his highness wants people food in his bowl.........right now.

Celebrating our privates

FALWELL CONFUSED
DALLAS, TEXAS (Riddle)
An argument broke out recently between the Reverend Jerry Falwell and a college campus recruiter for the US Army.

Falwell was on campus at a local college to preach a message on sexual abstinence to the campus Gay Alliance annual meeting. The Alliance had not actually invited Falwell, but Falwell said it was important that America understand that even if you might be gay, abstinence is what God would want you to practice, at least until you are married. He hoped they would allow him to speak.

When one of the Gay Alliance members asked Falwell, “Does that mean you are in favor of gay marriage,” Falwell was forced to confess he was not, and that the student had figured out his clever ‘no sex for gays ever’ trick.

The trouble between Falwell and the campus Army recruiter began when Falwell, leaving the campus, objected to the slogan on the banner at the recruiting table.

The slogan, recently approved by Army recruiters, read “We are proud of our privates”

The argument overhead by several students reportedly went like this.

Falwell: This is the most outrageous example of godlessness I can imagine. The very idea that the Army would announce it is proud of its privates is everything that is wrong with America today.

Recruiter: Oh no sir! We are in fact extremely proud of our privates. The army could not function without the work our privates do for us every day.

Falwell: Your organization can certainly function without your privates doing any work. That’s just ridiculous. You should spend more time praying and less time thinking about your privates.

Recruiter: Sir, I can assure that without our privates doing the remarkable job that they do the Army would not function well at all. And besides we do pray that our privates will perform in the finest ways imaginable under the hardest of conditions.

Falwell: My Lord, well, I encourage you to at least try it my way. Forget about your privates.










Recruiter: But sir, our privates are all over the place on American bases. We also expose our privates to practically every nation on earth in one way or another.

Falwell: Well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Having your privates engaged in activity all over the world is just disgusting and vile.

Recruiter: Sir, I don’t think I understand your point. Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush both cherish their privates. The army depends on them.

Falwell: You depend on Rumsfeld’s and Bush’s privates? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

Recruiter: Also sir, our program has just invested in new technologies, nutrition and exercise programs to help increase the overall physical size and stamina of our privates.

Falwell: What??? The government is spending money on increasing the size of your privates?

Recruiter: Oh yes sir, size and endurance! We have found that larger and stronger privates are to our advantage.

Falwell: I’m going to need that training program right away. Errr….it’s for my nephew.

Recruiter: No problem sir, but he will have to join the army.

Falwell: I’m too old for that…..Errr…..I mean my nephew is too old…..wait a minute……I mean he is too young.

Recruiter: I have to go now sir.
Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pssst........What I want for Christmas!

Christmas Eve has come and I’m now sitting her fully confident about what I want for Christmas.

Have you noticed there are basically two types of people when it comes to making out a Christmas gift list? We have two children. Our daughter was and is always able to happily supply us with a list of things that she wants for Christmas. She is never extravagant in her list and seems to have a sixth sense of what is just the right amount or expense of things to place on the list. That of course makes her the easy one for Christmas gifting.

Our son is much too much like me. His standard response is “I don’t know, I’ll think about it”. This is exactly the same thing I say to my wife and daughter which naturally drives them absolutely nuts. Neither my son nor I actually really think about it. We just leave everybody wondering. I do know why. I just can’t think of anything really useful that I have not already identified and bought myself.

Of course all of us can think of something that we want that we can’t actually afford. That’s easy and it is obviously unproductive to persons in your family to have a list that they can’t afford either. This is especially true when the kids are small and it is your money they are using anyway. So for a moment I am going to imagine that my relatives have won the lottery, hopefully my own children are the fantasy winners. I want them to win the lottery because I have figured out something very useful to my life. The problem is I can’t afford it.

Now I have noticed that moneyed people purchase a lot of things that many of us would love to have. Cars, boats, large fancy houses, vacation homes, expensive watches, worldwide vacations. I suppose I could use any of that and not have big complaints. However, if my children win the lottery and have a few million available for old dad, well here it is:

I want a full time chef and nutritionist. I want food specifically designed for my athletic endeavors and training. I want it to taste like 5-star restaurant quality vittles, and I absolutely don’t want to tell this person what I want. I need them to just know these things and have it ready when it is time. Real good eating 24-7 for the rest of my life with my brain in park.

No more last minute grocery store shopping. No more figuring out what I really want to fix and or eat.

I want a happy, good natured chef with a nutritious tasty plan. Day after day after day.

Yep. That’s what I want for Christmas.

It’s 5pm on Christmas Eve here in Texas, and I don’t have any indication that the kids have become wealthy this year.

Well, maybe next year.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Thursday, December 22, 2005

Simplify

Whatever country and culture has never heard of Christmas; I want to be there right now. And not a minute tooooo soon!

I’m not a scrooge I swear it. The foundation of my spiritual belief is Christian. I don’t have a problem with celebrating the birth of Jesus.

But Good Gosh!.....since it is nearly Christmas I didn’t say Good GOD......ooops........Everywhere I turn these days there is enormous stress in people. And for those of you wondering, I didn’t start out stressed this Christmas and even now I’m calm, but all around me I keep bumping into folks with the Christmas pooops and they are trying to share it with me. I don’t need the pooops, thank you very much.

It looks like to me it has to do with a vast over extension of the meaning of the holiday (yeah, no kidding Rick?) And the need for families to be in the same house together when they are completely unwilling to do so normally.......except at Christmas. Of course you also have to check all of the presents off the list and ..........Oh shit I can’t remember if cousin Martha bought a gift for me last year, oh no, what should I do?........crap, back into the Mall traffic with irate jerks honking and believing the parking lot belongs to them, and just when you get the chance to move down the parking aisle there is some woman sitting stock dead in the way waiting for the ‘close’ parking spot to be emptied....of course she has crept up soooo close that the current occupant can’t actually back out!......and on and on..........meanwhile the lady two cars from the spot is exiting her car screaming at her 4 and 6 year old to get out of the car and quit fooling around dammit, do it now before I beat you or lock you in the car!...............welcome to Christmas.

Now if any of us dare violate the holiness of the pre-arranged traditional get togethers then there is a heavy price to pay to moms, in-laws, and you can fill in your own family blanks here.

Who wants to be the ONLY person at the office that forgot to buy gifts for everyone? Who wants to be the ONLY person at the office that bought gifts for everyone!

I got a Christmas card from an insurance agent and a real estate agent that I have never met. Gee do you think the birth of Jesus was designed as marketing ploy by God? I don’t think so Mr. Insurance man and Mrs. Real Estate lady. You will now be the last ones I call for those services.

It’s all too much don’t you see. That is why everyone is ready to fistfight you to the death at the mall closeout table. Unfortunately the only way to simplify this out of control poop gathering poop ball is to not let the poop ball start rolling downhill in the first place.

How to do this? Actually it beats me. I’m looking for that culture where when you say the word Christmas everyone looks at you and then asks you what it means. I will start completely over with these unknowing folk. From square one; and we will start by simplifying.

I did talk with a sweet friend named Linda just a couple of days ago. She wasn’t stressed at all. She always has a most remarkable calm surrounding her. I asked her ........How is it that you are always cool and collected?.............Placid is a good word to describe her.

She sez she just simplifies things on a continuing daily basis. She asks herself what is really important and what is not so important. If it is not important, she just tosses it into her mental trash can. It is not always necessary to deal with every little piece of crap (crap is my word, not hers) that people try to hand you she told me, especially during holidays. Linda is wiser than most.

Maybe I don’t have to find another culture. Maybe I should try it Linda’s way.

Simplify.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Yes, we are openly hostile

In Texas we have a state law regarding handicapped parking spaces. I suspect all other states have them as well.

This means an inordinate amount of HC parking spaces near the front door of every public facility including grocery stores, pharmacies, well just about every damn place you can think of.

Being an architect I am familiar with all of these laws, if buildings get designed without the required spaces, your license gets yanked!

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for facilitating access for the actual handicapped individual. However, as human nature will have things, the law here is widely abused.
For example, you take your wheelchair bound Grandma to the licensing office and get a handicapped mirror card and then, since Grandma doesn’t go anywhere anyway, you stick the card on your mirror and park in the spaces by the door and walk able bodied right into the store.

In addition to being an architect I am also retired from law enforcement and can assure you that the police do not have time to mess with this.

As always, this blog has answers to cultural and social problems.

I propose we hire the elderly, the class of folks most often abused by this fraudulence to patrol the spaces.

I also think they should be armed. I asked my mom about this idea and she volunteered for the assignment cuz these things really piss her off. I gave her a quick tutorial on firearms.

She suggested a sign on the patrol cars that sez: ‘Yes, we are openly hostile’.

That's mom in the photo.
















What do you think about our idea?
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Corrected Phrases

I am feeling a little lazy today so here is some stolen political correctness material. Come to think of it you may like the stolen material better than my original stuff. Try not to get used to it.


For the Men

1. She is not a BABE or CHICK - She is a a BREASTED CITIZEN.

2. She is not EASY - She is HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE.

3. She is not BLONDE - She is a DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY.

4. She has not BEEN AROUND - She is a PREVIOUSLY ENJOYED COMPANION.

5. She is not an AIRHEAD - She is REALITY IMPAIRED.

For the Women
1. He does not have a BEER GUT - He has developed a LIQUID STORAGE FACILITY.

2. He is not a BAD DANCER - He is OVERLY CAUCASIAN.

3. He does not GET LOST - He INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS.

4. He is not BALDING - He is in FOLLICLE REGRESSION.

5. He is not a CRADLE SNATCHER - He is GENERATIONALLY INCLUSIVE.
Monday, December 19, 2005

Do you get it dude?

Christmas brings stress for a lot of us. It is a painful admission for many people. When I ask my friends about this I have found the typical response to be “Yes the holidays are stressful, but I really love them.” There may be 20 blog posts within that statement alone.

The news reported yesterday that suicides increase dramatically during the Christmas holidays. It is an easy enough statistic to record. There is nothing confusing or cloudy about the evidence and so I reason that this is a tragic fact.

It is tragic on any day.

When I studied sociology in college I wrote a paper on suicide. The subject was chosen based on the fact that a person close to and loved by me had experienced a suicide within their family. This decision by an adult member of the family had lasting consequences on everything that happened within that family for years afterward.

That paper I wrote in my early 20’s came to no conclusions, but rather wandered around in circles of statistics and experts quotations. Today I do have a solid opinion about the act of suicide.

Now that you know the premise of this post I offer the following short story.


The headlights raced past me, briefly lighting up my silhouette, then leaving me in darkness again as they sped past. I was slumped against a metal pole, sitting on the native Texas grass that grew along the side of the interstate. At the top of the metal pole, the speed limit sign was being pushed slightly away from me, the victim of a steady cold wind on this December evening. The Texas sky was deep black, an occasional star filtering through the urban night lights.
I considered running into the traffic. The driver of the car would have no chance to stop. Seeing me sitting against the pole was not of any concern to them. No brake lights went on in their minds. I was just another man without a story, sitting alongside a highway. I was a man to be ignored or even feared as they moved along in their cars. It was easy to hate them for that. It would serve them right if I ruined their Christmas by running into their path.

A 38 revolver was tucked into an ankle holster under my jeans above my right shoe. Its presence in the holster was uncomfortable, pushing the hard metal of the gun against my ankle bone. I had strapped it on way too tight in anger. I had drunk too much which was becoming more and more common. Thirty years of turmoil within a marriage can open the door for alcohol. Once again she had driven me from the house, threatening to call the police. After strapping on the holster, I had left feeling enormous sorrow for myself. I had kept her clothed, fed and housed for all of the thirty years. She had never worked. Our daughters had both been sent to the best schools, graduates now with husbands and successful careers. Still, I could never please her.

This seemed the simplest of ways to end the pain. The family was raised. She could go on living in the manner she was accustomed with the insurance money if I simply shot myself through the head, though I couldn’t be sure the policy would pay her. If I ran onto the highway it would seem bizarre for a man with a respectable professional career and no history of mental illness.

In a final moment of confusion and despair I decided it simply didn’t matter about insurance or anything else. I had taken care of her and everyone else in my life for as long as I was capable. I was tired now, just too tired to go on. I stood up and walked toward the edge of the highway. The whoosh of the cars momentum blew the collar of my jacket up against my cheek. I stared down the highway to my left studying each set of headlights as they approached. Which car would I choose? Did I really need to choose? Maybe I would just run out there and let fate choose the car.

I was startled by the voice behind me, but I didn’t turn around. Then he placed a hand on my shoulder. Unbelievably this intruder was asking me for help. I turned to find a very young man. He appeared to be around 17 or 18 years old. His hands were dirty, his clothes showing the wear of many miles on the road. A tattered brown leather jacket flapped against his chest as the cars streaked past. A well worn and dirty red toboggan was pulled down to the top of his eyebrows, dirty blond hair uncut for many months spilled out below.

His eyes looked into mine with a mixture of sadness and fear. He asked me if I had any spare change.

What a question. What did I need change for when I left my house in my anger and sadness? I thought “Well yes of course young man, I keep the change I actually need in my left pocket. The change that is just spare is in my right pocket.” The strangeness of the question pushed me into a behavior completely unexpected at that moment. I began to laugh.

His eyes never changed expression. Even as I laughed he looked into mine with a tragic sadness. They were eyes that wanted to cry, but had long ago shed their last tear, as if he had learned to conserve the biology of the tears for a better purpose.

“Were you going to run into the traffic,” he asked?

Startled at his insight, I fell back into my sarcastic self, “No, I was counting how many yellow Volkswagens pass each half hour. I am a Volkswagen executive.”

“Come with me”, he said. “I want to ask you a question.” Then he turned away from the highway and began walking toward the sidewalk that flanked the access road. I stood motionless watching him. He turned and looked at me again, his eyes as sad as ever. “After you help me, you can run onto the highway”, he said.

Well, that’s typical I thought to myself. Another person wanting help from me, no one ever wanting to reverse this damned equation.

I turned back to the highway. I heard his voice at my back, insistent in its tone “If you will answer a question for me, I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t run onto the highway.”

I turned around again. Was this little shit reading my mind? He will help me?
“Alright, you’re on young fella,” I said. “It’s a deal.”

“What exactly is it that you need to know?”
He motioned for me to join him on the sidewalk, the red toboggan bobbing up and down in the ‘yes’ movement. He reached out his right arm, the unwashed dirty right hand motioning the ‘come here’ signal. I walked over.

“Where do I get one of those coats that have the fluffy stuff inside. The stuff that comes from ducks and keeps you really warm. You know what I mean? The kind that are really thick and people go hiking and skiing and stuff like that in them?”

“You mean a ‘down filled jacket? The kind like North Face makes?”

“Yeah dude, I saved some money and I need a warmer coat, but I don’t live here and I don’t know where to buy one.”

“You can get those at Lindale’s. Its downtown. If you take the next street to the right and walk a little way you’ll see downtown. Just walk there and ask someone where the Lindale’s store is. By the way it’s on the north end, so walk to the north end of downtown before you ask.”

He smiled for the first time showing white teeth that had obviously seen dental care at some point in his life. “Thanks dude, I hope they have my size in something. I’ll go there right now.”

“Wait a minute. What about me?”
He smiled again, but this time a wiser smile, less happy than the previous one.
“You don’t ever get to kill yourself dude. God doesn’t allow it.”
“What do you mean? If I get totally wasted by a car I can assure you I will be quite dead and gone.”

“Not really. God gave you a soul for eternity. You would only be killing the body. God expects you to continually evolve and refine your soul. If you kill the body, you just have to start over from somewhere that is less than where your soul stands right now, and that’s even harder. God will let men be foolish by choice, but you can’t rob him of what he really loves most.”

“Are you telling me that I don’t get to go to heaven, that I’m going somewhere that I have to break rocks or some such shit like that? Like hell or something?”

“No dude, neither of those things. Heaven is all around you. So is hell. It’s all right here right now. Wherever God decides to send us we have to keep evolving. Don’t you see dude, you’re just changing jobs is all. But you will have to start over with a lesser job than you have right here. A job that’s even harder. Don’t be a fool, you can’t kill your soul, just keep working on it right here. God decides when its time. You don’t really get a choice about killing your soul.”

I looked at him with wonder. Who was this young dirty kid, wiser than me?

“Don’t you see dude, its easy when you get it. Like math problems. When you get it then it seems easy, just real hard if you don’t get it. Do you understand?”

“Yes, now I get it maybe. Thank you young man.”

“No problem dude.”

He turned and slouched off. He turned right on the street I had shown him, walking up the sidewalk toward Lindale’s. I wished him warmth.
Saturday, December 17, 2005

Grouchiness explained

Have you heard the stories of people dying in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning? It can and does happen. But, just like there are smoke alarms, there are also now carbon monoxide detectors for your home. They have a built-in sensor and the better ones will give you a digital readout of the level of the gas in your house.

I decided to get one yesterday. When I googled carbon monoxide poisoning I knew I had inadvertently stumbled upon something very important.

I learned what the symptoms are for carbon monoxide poisoning. You may be a victim of poisoning if you experience any or all of the following:
Unexplained lethargy
Anxiety
Fatigue
Inability to think quickly
Confusion
Sleepiness
Inability to speak clearly

I said, well I’ll be damned! I have all of those things! I better get a monitor.
I went immediately to Home Depot and got one of the very best monitors. I read all the instructions. I plugged it into the wall.

It went through all of its test procedures just fine and then began blinking out a big ‘zero'. This meant my house had no carbon monoxide gas present.
Now I’m a little pissed. I will have to endure unexplained lethargy, anxiety, fatigue, inability to think quickly, confusion, sleepiness and an inability to speak clearly for a while longer it appears.

Crap, I’m mad I’m not being poisoned!
Oh yeah, it also said grouchiness is a symptom. I have that too.
But not until I paid $50 for a sensor.
Friday, December 16, 2005

Anti-Torture Bill

WHITE HOUSE REACHES DEAL ON ANTI-TORTURE MEASURE.
That was the headline from Reuters and other news agencies yesterday.
May I take you on a farcical account of my own?

WHITE HOUSE REACHES DEAL ON ANTI-TORTURE MEASURE.
WASHINGTON (Riddle) - Under bipartisan pressure after congressional abuse scandals, President Bush reached agreement on Thursday with Sen. John McCain on legislation banning inhumane treatment of American citizens by members of Congress.
With McCain and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner at his side, Bush said the agreement would help "make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of torture. We will no longer allow members of Congress to torture American citizens."
The Congress has been hammered by scandal over pork riddled bills, reports of serial lying about their legislation intentions and reports of turning into someone “the voters just don’t know anymore’. In addition, citizens report having post torture nightmares of Congress members parading to microphones to call one another or the president and vice-president dumb-asses on a daily basis.
McCain's proposal would ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of American citizens and set standards for congressional conduct.
But in a rare break with the White House, California Republican Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, will oppose the measure, Hunter's spokesman said. The spokesman said Hunter believes the people elected him knowing full well that they should expect to be tortured by an elected Representative.
The White House finally accepted language, which was similar to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to allow Congressmen (and women) accused of violating the provision to defend themselves based on whether a reasonable person could have found they were following a lawful order about the treatment of citizens.
Warner, a Virginia Republican who was to meet again with Hunter, said he was "absolutely confident that this McCain legislation which is landmark legislation, very much needed for our nation, will become finalized with the president's signature in one form or another in one bill."
Warner went on to predict that this will end the governments riding piggyback on its citizens earnings, torturing every dollar out of their potential savings, just to build an Alaskan bridge to nowhere.
According to a special provision of the bill, Senators Charles Schumer and Trent Lott will no longer be allowed to speak in public as this was judged an indisputable form of torture to American citizens, not requiring additional debate on the Senate floor. President Bush agreed to this provision without hesitation.
In the photograph accompanying this article President Bush is pointing out to Senator McCain that he can see Condi Rice’s underwear.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Execution Chamber


I’ve spent a little time this evening reading the accounts of Stanley Williams death in California this morning. I guess there is a reason to tell the story of how executions are carried out. The descriptions sound clinical. That is not to say devoid of emotion; just clinical in the manner death was administered.

Here is one account.

I will tell you right away that I have no solid opinion on the death penalty so this won’t be a rant of any kind down either road.

I have more experience with sudden violent death than many people, having witnessed in police work what brutal murder looks and feels like. As horrible as these scenes can be, and were, it has not colored a solid opinion for me.

I once responded to a shooting scene where a victim lay in the street with the blood still running from the 30 caliber rifle wound in his head. I was on scene within 38 seconds of receiving the 911 dispatch. I eventually put the handcuffs on his executioner, some 9 hours later, following a protracted standoff at his residence. When I testified at his trial the accused looked at me from the defense table in a manner that made me know he would just as nonchalantly kill me if given the chance. He was sentenced to life in prison, so maybe all of us are safer. Except perhaps the prison guards or other inmates.

I worked a double homicide of an elderly couple. The three murderers admitted later that they chose the house by random and they didn’t seem to really know why they killed the innocent and defenseless couple. The power of Keystone beer mixed with LSD can create such a situation.

I had the privilege of being involved in the arrest of two of the men. The third was also apprehended. I can tell you from the time spent in the presence of any of the three you would not be able to identify them as someone likely to kill another person. They could just as easily be your neighbor, not unlike the BTK serial killer.

I tell you this brief history to set up the point that even those that work in and around this violence can have ambiguity about the question of capital punishment.

So, on this evening I sit here thinking about Stanley Williams and also about Saddam Hussein.
Killers both; there is really little doubt an experienced investigator will assure you.

Do we kill them to punish them? Do we kill them to make it even for the victim? Both?

Or do we kill them because we just don’t know what to do with them? Many of these convicted killers do in fact kill in prison. You can trust me or do the research yourself. If they have no remorse, why not kill again. What are we going to do? Maybe sentence them to a double or triple life sentence. Such sentences do occur, appeasing the loopholes in legislation. The effect is lost on the person with a penchant for killing.

Before I adjourn my thoughts I will give you an idea with a slant you won’t often hear (at least I haven’t heard it) from the hardcore crime and execution side. Nor have I heard it from the no-execution candle burning, song singing brigades at the prison doors.

Is it possible that execution is the easiest out for these folks? I suspect God is more compassionate than we are. My purest intellectual thought on this is that God just starts them over from some point in the long game of soul development. Prison may be a far harsher sentence. Many years to pass before they get that opportunity to really start over and make the amends required by the ultimate judge.

I once was involved in a car and foot chase through the Como neighborhood of Fort Worth. It was 2 am and we were on a stakeout for an armed robbery suspect that had escaped our jail. The car chase turned into a foot chase. Being a fit runner at the time, it turned out to be me on a solo chase. Just me and the suspect. We went over fences, down alleys, running at full tilt for at least three blocks in the dead and eerie quiet of early morning. I was screaming at the top of my capacity that if he didn’t stop I was going to kill him. My gun was in fact drawn and trained on him more than once during the chase. A lasting memory from that early morning sprint is that at one point after I yelled I was going to kill him, he turned and yelled back at me “Go ahead.”

I did catch him and cuff him as we like to say. Later he told me he was serious about not minding if I killed him. He preferred and wished I had. He also had a long history from California in addition to what we had on him. He didn’t want to go back to prison; he knew he was going to stay there a long time. I checked the Texas prison system tonight. He is eligible for a parole hearing in 2018. He will be 59 years old. That is a long time. He chose death as an alternative and I’m convinced he meant it. I find meaning in that.

But I still just don’t know for sure.
Tonight I’m glad I’m not Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Odd Children

I thought I had seen every episode of Seinfeld. But last night I saw one I had never seen before.
The thinking behind this post comes from the fact that in this episode George Costanza wanted to name his first child Seven. That’s right, the number 7. He thought of it as a tribute to Mickey Mantle who wore the number 7 on his Yankees jersey.
I am fond of the number seven. In fact I am even a little superstitious about the numbers 7 and 3.
The idea in the Seinfeld episode is that George is being as strange as usual and having the number 7 as your name is completely ridiculous.
As Kramer might say, “Hey just hold on there a minute, I think you’re on to something big.”

I like the name. I want Seven to be my new name. Seven Riddle. Or even better, 7 Riddle
As it turns out this fits in perfectly with the history of my mother’s side of the family. My uncle Johnny, my favorite relative of all time had three children, my first cousins. My folks had three children including this blog’s writer, the middle child.
My mother and my uncle had a running discussion about which of them had the oddest children. I didn’t get a vote of course as a result of being one of the ballot nominees, however I was known to try and influence the vote with perfectly odd behavior.

Now where am I going you are wondering? Simple. The number 7 is an odd number. If I can get my older brother to change his name to ‘9', and my younger sister to take on the name ‘5', that makes me the middle child ‘7' don’t you see. It also immediately qualifies my mother’s children as the odd children. Victory is ours. Much to my mother’s chagrin and my Uncle Johnny’s delight.

My cousins, if they are satisfied in having lost, and yet seeming to have won by not being the odd children, can adopt the even numbers as their new names. This could give new meaning to the phrase ‘High Five’. Also asking “Where is One?”, could elicit the response “One what?” but those are just details to be worked out.

It also offers intriguing opportunities for tracking the genealogy of a family. If a 7 mates with a 2 then the first child is ‘9.1' or ‘nine one’ if text is preferred. The second child is 9.2 and so on down the line. This quickly reveals birth order and narrows the possibilities of the names of the parents. Obviously this is much easier in the days of Adam and Eve, but computers should be able to sort out the bigger numbers as we go along.

Many of you mathematicians will try to shoot holes in this design. That’s OK if it doesn’t work out. My chances of getting everyone to call me Seven the rest of the way are pretty remote.
My chances of mating with someone named '2' might be even more remote.

Anybody want 69?

Just wondering.
Saturday, December 10, 2005

Big Foot

You may recall that some time ago I wrote a story about a boy named Luke that died in a tornado. I followed that with an explanation of why I wrote the story and why I dealt with Luke’s fate the way that I did.
The central premise of both posts was a discussion of faith. The idea of fate being a cruel master is one of my faith weaknesses. It is the reason I presented Luke with a fate of non-awareness of his death. It absolves my pain.

Today I woke up to the story of a six year old boy that died in the crash of a Southwest Airlines plane. He wasn’t in the plane. He was riding in a car that fate put in the path of the airplane.
As I sat reading the newspaper and then hearing the account of the incident on television, sadness came over me. It is, for me, unavoidable in these cases. Faith or no faith these things are inexplicable and sad, and it can crawl up inside you and occupy your soul, virtually filling it corner to corner with sadness.
The faith required by the parents of this ill fated child will exceed the test load of many of us. It may exceed theirs. I pray for them, and I pray they will someday find peace through faith.

This opens up a thought process for me that is an old friend. I have spent more time thinking about this concept than is probably rational. That is why I call it an old friend.
We know this concept by an old adage. ‘Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes’.
It is an old phrase. Some might find it so old and worn that it seems silly and out of date.
I think it is sterling silver advice.

We all think we know best for our friends and family. We think we know best for practically anybody in any situation. We criticize and we say it would be different for them if they would only listen to me.
So how do we separate helpful advice from the not so helpful? It’s a good question and I’m hoping you can help me with the question.
The media talking heads pontificate about the mistakes of our government leaders. They are journalists, yet somehow know exactly how to be the best president or defense secretary the country has ever had.
All around us are negative assessments of other people’s performance; sometimes we hear these assessments about our own performance from the loved ones around us.
We all know how to fix everyone else, yet struggle with our own problems, turning outside of ourselves for the answers, despite the fact that we are the ones walking our own personal mile in our own shoes.

I’m working my way toward a central point that if we have not had the experience they are going through, it might be better to just give them a hug and hold their hand while they work to find their truth in the matter.

An old friend came by to visit me yesterday. We share a baseball past. He pitched for Texas Tech and is a par golfer; a fine athlete. He brought me a Christmas present. It was an incredible present, a photo book that contained photos of the pre-game and every inning of last years World Series Game 4. He took all of the photos himself from his amazing front row seat. He then hand labeled each photo for me.

My friend is important in this post because he is in remission from cancer. His was a form of bone cancer that claims almost 100% of its hosts. He waged the fiercest and bravest struggle you can imagine. On second thought, I rescind that statement, because I think none of us can really imagine the degree of his struggle and his triumph.
His eyes sparkle and he lives with intensity. When he left yesterday after bringing me such a wonderful gift, he hugged me and told me that I was special. I had to very quickly compose myself, awkwardly I might add. I am not so special, but I believe he is.

My friend Jon spends his free time visiting the Arlington Cancer Center waiting room making new friends. New friends diagnosed with cancer. He’s holding their hands and propping them up and leading cheers in the biggest battle of their lives. He is their newest and best friend.

He has walked many miles in their shoes. Interestingly, his nickname has always been ‘Big Foot’. He leaves a big print for all of us to emulate.

I pray today that someone will help the parents of the ill fated child in Chicago; that they will be folks that have walked in the same shoes and really do know how to help.

The way my friend Jon knows how to help.

I feel better now.
Thanks Jon, for spreading life all around.
Thursday, December 08, 2005

Youth in Asia

This is a story about getting your news on television. It is a reality of 2005 that we read less and watch TV more. Funny things can happen. If you just listen, but don’t know the meaning of the words, for example if you are a TV show producer, then words like ‘euthanasia’ can be words you don’t understand. It can sound like ‘Youth in Asia’.




Talk show host:
One of the most intense topics we deal with these days is euthanasia. More and more people think euthanasia is a reasonable option including the makers of the recent film ‘Million Dollar Baby’. Please welcome today’s guest Dr. Nosa Lotabouteast, a professor at the Youth in Asia Institute.
Talk show host: Dr. Lotabouteast why do more and more people think euthanasia should be considered?
Dr. Lotabouteast: The youth in asia are very important to the future of the world.
Talk show host: Yes, obviously euthanasia is an important topic. What are your personal feelings about euthanasia?
Dr. Lotabouteast: I love youth in Asia. We must honor youth in Asia all chance we have.
Talk show host: How many euthanasia’s are there in the world each year?
Dr. Lotabouteast: Every year are more and more. Next year even more than ever. If current trend continue there will be over 37 million youth in Asia next year. The year after will be 38 million youth in Asia.
Talk show host: 38 million euthanasia’s !
Dr. Lotabouteast: Yes and it will exert tremendous influence on world. The influence important. When there are many youth in Asia it has to be considered how it impact world.
Talk Show Host: I have often thought that if I felt I really needed it that I would like to have a euthanasia.
Dr. Lotabouteast: What you mean you like to have one?
Talk Show Host: I think it would be an overwhelming thing to know you could have a euthanasia experience if you wanted one.
Dr. Lotabouteast: What you mean you want have ‘youth in Asia’ experience?
Talk Show Host: Well, surely you would know better than anyone, based on your experience how euthanasia could bring relief to your physical suffering.
Dr. Lotabouteast: Oh no, no. We no talk about this thing. I go now. I no do this. Bye, bye. I go now. I no get in trouble.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Praying for Uncle Jack


My wife is unsure if I should make up so many stories. She says she understands I am doing cultural satire, but that it is because she knows me so well. She is afraid I might confuse you.

She apparently has a greater fear than that.

Her uncle is very sick right now.

This conversation happened yesterday.

Wife: Mary called today and Uncle Jack is not doing well at all.
Rick: Is there anything we can do?
Wife: Mary said to be sure and say a special prayer for him today.
Rick: OK. I’ll do that.
Wife: That’s alright, you probably shouldn’t do that.
Rick: I don’t mind. It seems like I should.
Wife: Don’t worry about it honey.
Rick: You don’t want me to?
Wife: Well, maybe not.
Rick: Really?
Wife: Yea, really.
Rick: Why not?
Wife: I’m afraid God would think you are fooling around.
Rick: God knows when I’m fooling around or not.
Wife: Let’s not take the chance. It worries me.
Monday, December 05, 2005

Maria and the Window

Maria was kneeling on her living room floor and watching the clock’s second hand sweep around the dial. She had returned to Seattle from Phoenix on the Air Rotate the evening before.

She was waiting for the start of the year 2122. It was, for the moment, still December 31, 2121 and it was Maria’s tradition to commune with her spiritual window at the change of the year, a habit she had inherited from her father.

Her spiritual window was programmed to be superimposed over a mountain and lake scene and a historical photograph of her triple great grandfather being baptized in 1972.
She moved her gaze from the clock to the window, a pale yellow image of stained glass with insets of gold and green glass pieces. Through the window she could see the lake and the image of her ancestor in a time long past. She glanced down and realized she had not placed the window’s processing unit onto her head. She giggled at her absentmindedness, picked up the unit and attached it around her forehead, then began to align the codes for her programmed spiritual guide. Maria had constructed her guidance around historical religious wisdom that blended the teachings of many great religions and teachers. There were wisdoms of Jesus, Teresa and Magnus among others that she had blended to attune to her personal spiritual goals.
At the moment the clock chimed the New Year, Maria rotated the toggle to isolate the spiritual sector of her brain. All other areas of her brain except for the emergency alertness centers were being shut down through the processing unit’s electronic waves.

When Maria felt comfortable, she began her tradition of asking her questions. The answers to her questions were always available through the window, but she loved tradition and this was the session that would help carry her all year long. After stabilizing the frequency of the programmed counselor, Maria began her questions.

“Why are there still people that do the wrong thing and yet never suffer a punishment? Why should I not get the things I want by manipulation and deceit, like others often do?”

The familiar and comforting voice of her counselor answered. “Maria, the universe works through a system of natural law that justly rewards and justly punishes even though you may not be immediately aware of the effect of the law. Time can distort the working of the law in a way that causes a person to suffer joy or consequence, but not necessarily immediately in time or in our personal awareness. You need only understand that good is rewarded with good, trust in the principle of this natural law of the universe.”

Are evil acts rewarded with evil as well”, asked Maria?

“No, evil is not rewarded with evil from the central good, as this would be contradictory to the nature of the central good itself. Acts of evil are punishment enough for the individual that chooses the action. Their spiritual development is impeded and their experience of the ultimate good is delayed.”

“How will I know what evil act or thought in my past has set me back?”

“The past is gone forever and cannot be changed by present actions. The possibilities of your history lie only in your awareness of them and the intellectual marriage of detected consequence with your present behavior.”

“I don’t understand that”, thought Maria.

“Your past is behind you. The future and its possibilities lie in front of you. Travel backward only when the present requires knowledge from the past. To remain in the past is not productive to your future. Use your awareness of your past only in correction of a behavior. Use this awareness for growth only, never for punishment.”

“How do I know that what I believe is what I should believe?”

“All truth is inside you. All good is inside you. They have both occupied your soul from its beginning. Your spirit is already united with the central good. Everyone's belief is good insofar as it is in line with natural law and the central good. The presence of misdeed or evil action or thought lies outside the natural law. Understand the natural law that fulfils your soul and you will not know evil.”

Maria rotated the dial to the off position, stood and moved away from the spiritual window. She removed the processing unit and glanced at the clock. It was 15 minutes after midnight, January 1, 2122.
It was also Maria’s tradition to call her dad at 12:15 each New Year. Maria spoke her father’s code into the call unit. She heard his welcoming voice come on frequency in her inner ear.
Her future was in front of her, her past placed behind her and she smiled at the sound of her dad’s voice, knowing he had also visited his spiritual window.
“Welcome to 2122”, her dad said, half laughing and half serious, but delighted as always to know she had remembered to call him.
Copyright 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005

Miss Nude Universe

Miss Nude Universe Pageant officials are facing a serious dilemma and their situation has now been exposed by the media.
An anonymous source familiar with the Pageant Committee’s activities reports that disagreement and bickering among committee members is rampant.
The pageant was rocked by turmoil last year when pageant winner Shirley Afetchin was stripped of her title. According to charges made by the committee, Afetchin was discovered to have posed for photos in a popular clothing magazine while fully clothed. Under pageant rules the winner of the Miss Nude Universe title is allowed to be photographed only when fully nude.
The loss of the title has been difficult for Afetchin. Her claims that she did not know about the clothing photo rule was laid bare by the committee as a ridiculous and revealing lie. According to committee chairman Norm Naturman the removal of the title was never in doubt. “Anyone knows that it is a complete disgrace to the naturist community for a Miss Nude Universe to be appearing in print while clothed,” said Naturman at the time of the crisis.
According to the anonymous source, this year’s difficulties began during a committee discussion of last year’s crisis. It was pointed out by a committee member that in the photographs taken at the end of the pageant Miss Afetchin was wearing a traditional winner’s sash, inscribed ‘Miss Nude Universe 2004’.
The committee member expressed the opinion that this was a violation of the photography rules since the sash was placed on Afetchin after she had won the title, thereby putting her into a partially clothed state.
Our source said all hell broke loose then and Chairman Naturman even skinned a patch of skin adjacent to his navel when he jumped up from the table and hit the table’s sharp edge. A band aid was applied to the scrape; however the band aid was very prominent in the group photo taken of the committee after the meeting.
Apparently the heated discussion centered on how to actually signify the winner of the pageant if no clothing or sashes could actually be worn.
It was suggested that a tiara be used as in the Miss America contest, but this was quickly dismissed as being not in keeping with naturist principles of living close to nature and not requiring gaudy baubles to express one’s true self.
In a comical moment a committee member suggested using a traditional sandwich board sign with the title printed on it. However, as soon as the suggestion was out of his mouth he realized his silly error and tried to pretend as though he were actually kidding around.
According to my sources the meeting was adjourned with no decision yet reached.

When contacted at his home the Reverend Jerry Falwell said he had watched the video from last years pageant and found it loathsome and disgusting. He added, he still felt that way after watching it 12 times in a row, but will watch it again just to make sure about his opinion.

Chairman Naturman said it is unfortunate that the committee’s activities are being exposed in this manner and it would be helpful if everyone would afford them a bit more privacy.