Friday, December 29, 2006

The Marine

Odie stopped by the shop the other day. 12 years ago he was a skinny little punk. When he mouthed off too much, we used to stuff him into an empty bike box and stash him up on the 3rd tier of the bike shelves out back. He was the stereotypical wise ass kid. We loved him.

The other day when he walked into my shop, he walked in a man. 9 years as a Marine had transformed him. No longer skinny but hard and taller. The smirk always in place years ago, replaced by serious demeanor and bearing. There was no doubt his childhood stayed in Sanford when he left to see the World.

Odie is in Marine communications now. He had started out an embassy guard in India. That did not pan out. He was jumped while off duty and beaten so badly, he almost died. A random act of American hatred they said. Months of recovery used up his first enlistment. Fed up with the Marines he did not re-up. A month later, 9/11 transformed the World, Odie's included.

Like so many of us, Odie was horrified and angry beyond belief over this cowardly act of violence against his country. So he re-enlisted. He has been to Iraq. He is scheduled to go back again in August. He is enthusiastic about his 6 month roation schedule in and out of Iraq. His specialty is battle communications and Iraq is where he feels he makes a difference. In the States, he just cools his heels and practices.

It was great to see him again. It was great to see him healthy, happy, and getting on with his life. His chosen path seems to fit him.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My New Watch

I sit here this AM admiring my new watch. It marks a return of sorts to my watch owning roots. It also indicates a spark of optimism with regards to my ability to safely own a watch again. But most of all, every time I pull it out, it reminds me of the good fight I wage against the onslaught of the neo tech gee whiz gadgetry age we all seem trapped in.

I have owned maybe 20 watches in my lifetime. None have lasted more than a couple of years under my care. I lose them. I break them. I douse them. I once dropped one in a campfire by accident. One pissed me off so much, I threw it far into the pucker out back of the house. I was sure I would never see it again. That damn watch popped up a year later when I was looking for something else. It was still ticking. A rebellious tick that said time wins out everytime.

My worst luck seems to be with wrist watches. Too much going on in too small a package. They hang out all vulnerable ready to whack themselves on any hard thing I get near to. The straps would fail. The expanding wrist bands would pinch. The crystals would quickly scuff to translucent making the hands vague reminders that time may be but a figment of my imagination.

I had my best luck with pocket watches. I have not owned as many of them as I have wrist watches. But they are the ones I remember with anything close to fondness. I loved the retro-ness, the big faces, and the satisfying tic tock almost like a small mechanical clock. They were easier to find when mislaid. Their size indicated riugged and made me feel secure they could handle my rough treatment. But like the wrist watches, they always died. Crowns broke. Crystals broke. And most of them could not handle water or fire.

I gave up having a watch a couple of years ago. The last one had all sorts of bells and whistles. Typical of today's fondness of technology for technology sake. While it did everything but drive the car for me, it was definitely not very rugged. Shit the bed about 3 months into owning it.

So I swore off carrying time with me as I careened through my day to day existence. If I did not carry a watch, I would not have to worry about breaking it. And I would feel less of an obligation to pay attention to the specific moments of every day.

This rebellious mentality always comes after a watch fails me. I swear them off forever. Never say forever. It would seem I cannot last for more than a couple of years before the itch to try it again crosses my mind. Everytime I say this will be the one. The one I don't break. The one I don't lose. Everytime. At some point the odds should start tilting in my favor. At least that is the hope everytime I decide to own another watch.

So I sit here contemplating my new watch. A spiffy Swiss Army pocket watch that set me back more than I have ever been set back before for a watch. The crystal looks like it may be inches thick and bullet proof. The back says I can drop it in the lake as long as it is only 50 meters deep. And the analog hands and numbers I can read without bifocals.

A beefy stainless steel encased chronometer that seems up to the Crum test. It does nothing but tick off the seconds of the day. No alarms. No meterological readouts. No GPS factors or paging capabilities. No lap times. No memory of time eleswhere. Just straightforward time keeping. Clean and incluttered. Kept on the mark through meticulous Swiss manufacture and help from some quartz.

And it fits sweet in that useless little watch pocket they still insist on including in jeans.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Kindergarten Divas

An interesting news item caught me eye the other night on TV. The channel was set to one of those tabloid news shows like First Edition or People. You know, the Hollywood gossip shows. My wife likes to get her check out line line fix of all the gossip a couple of times a week via the TV. Saves us the hassle of recycling the crap from the store.

I do not usually pay much attention. Or if I do, I spend way too much time rolling my eyes and wondering why we are so fascinated with these losers. The only thing about any of them that interests me is when they are performing. What they do in their private lives is of no interest to me. Who's sleeping with who, who's pregnant, and who was caught OUI leave me less than impressed with American culture. As a nation, we spend entirely too much time living our lives vicariously through the lives of our chosen heroes. If we would pick better heroes, I might be kinder in my evaluation.

Anyway one segment was about the age at which a young girl should be exposed to all those female renovations that many women take for granted as adults. The story centered on one 4 year old girl who was experiencing her first makeover. Hair dyed, make up, the works. Even with my jaded attitude about America's fixation on appearance, I was taken aback by this.

I guess it was a natural progression for some mom somewhere to turn their daughter into a minature runway model. They have run out of options for themselves, and needing the fix, they look around the house for something to improve. If there are no pets to work on, they settle on what comes down for breakfast in the morning. Hubby is a lost cause. But little Nancy with her boney scratched knees, hair every which way, and wearing an old T shirt of Dad's she loves to sleep in is another matter. Glamour Mom sees this pitiful young waif and decides her little darling could stand some tuning up. Like her own live action Barbie, she schemes and makes appointments to turn her little darling into Paris Hilton.

These moms are sick puppies. Ingraining a stupid fascination with appearance into their kids' minds so early is just wrong. Kids need a grace period before they are expected to act adult like. They need a time period to find themselves. Not be forced to an idea we as parents have of them. Lord knows, we warp them in many other ways. But turning them into fashion plates at age 4 is over the top. JoBenet Ramsey comes to mind whenever I see something like this. If ever the foreign detractors of our country had good reason to hate the USA, this particular perversion lends them credibility and feeds their fire.

I grew up looking scruffy 6 days a week. Sundays, I was forced to put on the church going duds and requested to stay clean at least until we got home. I had a problem meeting that challenge. Seems dirt and grunge sought me out and still do. Most of my friends were the same. Superficial stuff like clothes or hairdos mattered not. Who could climb the highest in a tree, who was fastest, or who had the best arm in a dirt clod battle mattered more. Real tangible, get your teeth into them qualities that every kid could appreciate. Status did not depend on how deep our parents' pockets were and what store we bought our clothes in. All that began later in junior high. Sure there was class structure even us kids recognized. But we would recognize it, not focus on it.

In my opinion, when a society starts turning their children into mirror images of themselves, it is one sure sign that society has way too much time and money on it's hands. When time spent with their kids is done at the beauty parlour, or Old Navy and not the local park or playground, it indicates a breakdown in the emotional connection to our kids. The connection becomes economic and a facade. Nothing of real import passes back and forth between parent and child. One of the indicators of decadence and future decline. I hope we can snap out of it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Been Two Years

Two years ago today I blogged for the very first time. I have not posted everyday. Yet, when I look back through the previous 2 years of thoughts, I would have filled more than a few spiral notebooks. There's a lot of words saved in my blog. Words of worth I cannot say. That would be up to the eye of the beholder.

Some posts when I wrote them seemed so right. So on target. Now I wonder where the Hell they came from. The posts are what I was feeling that day. What I felt important enough to make a comment on. Some of them have lasting appeal to me. Some don't. A few put some very personal issues out there in the public domain. But the very act of posting publicly has helped me deal with them. I could care less if anyone cares less. The soul cleansing I received when I wrote them was what mattered.

For the most part, my first 2 years here in Blog Country has been fun. I may not have made many friends, but why should that aspect of my life change at this point? I was raised to be a loner. I have the temperment of a loner, and I relish being a loner. Keeping folks I love at arm's length is what I do. Right or wrong is of no matter. It is part of me.

Anyway, I just felt obligated to stop in to recognize this anniversary. And while I am at it, to all you phantom and closet fans out there----------Have a great Christmas and a better New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

War Games

Toy soldiers stand at attention. They are alert and ready in a foreign land among unfriendly foreigners. Their commander behind his desk staring down the map he wants to control. He has used so many up and tossed them aside. He has wasted their lives for the good of the country. At least that is what he thinks. At least that is what he tells us.

War games have played out too often these last 54 years. War games have deprived our women of the men they love. War Games are an essential ingredient I guess. An integral part of what makes us the USA. Without a war, we are incomplete. Without boys and now girls coming home in boxes, we are not happy.

Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. 54 years of fighting, just got done fighting, or getting ready for that next fight. My life has had to accomodate the idea of War from the beginning. My guess is when I get planted, the toy soldiers will still be at attention and alert somewhere we should not be.

GI Joe and GI Jane willingly go into any battle. Their President's wish is their command. Laying their lives on the line without question. And that is a shame one man can use them like this. Abuse them like this. Our best and brightest get chewed up and used up. Their enthusiastic smiles becoming that "thousand yard stare"by the time they come home. Many never lose it.

I sit here at 54 and wonder the same thing I wondered when I was 4. Why do we need to blow each other up?

Pain

Everyone's pain is different. Everyone's pain is not the same. But we all experience pain. It gets in our face and makes us pay attention. It can seep into our soul and make us weep. At times it is fleeting. Sometimes it never leaves. And sometimes it is what we need.

Pain can make you feel alive when it just nicks you and makes you wince. Pain can make you feel dead inside as it digs into your memories. It wears many faces and speaks many tongues. But it always says the same thing.

I have eaten my share of pain. When I was younger and fresh meat, I took it hard. I had not learned to gird myself against it's impact. It always suprised me. Growing up means a constant onslaught of new ways to feel pain.

I am older and wiser now. I have been through the gambit of pain and it's myriad manifestations. Some of it I now endure daily as I wind down and look forward to my Sunset. And some of it now settled in, rears up and still makes me weep.

I have learned to live with pain. I have learned it will always be with me. I accept it now. I know it will always be entwined in my being. Still suprising at times, but now I can let it in and work it's magic. Cleanse me of the wounds and hopefully leave but the trace of a scar.

Spring Clean Up

I have spent many hours grooming various yards over the course of my lifetime. At an early age my father considered me slave labor to use and abuse in his quest to maintain a decent looking yard. I have mowed acres and acres of grass. I have trimmed forests of hedges. I have pulled bales of weeds. And do not even mention the evil rake. I have worn out more than my fair share of those devilish tools.

Many a Saturday was ruined by my father's stupid insistence that we keep our yard as nice as the neighbors. As a strapping lazy youngster, I always looked with envy at yards the owners allowed to flow freely. Every neighborhood had at least one yard like that. A yard that was in a constant state of scruffiness. It was a rule I think. The one nasty house lot gave everyone else a standard to beat. The flip side was the one yard with nothing out of place or weed visible. The yard that always had that "Better Homes & Garden" look. The "anal retentive" lives here house.

With the high and low standards set, my father thankfully only insisted we fall comfortably on the high side of the middle. Control was his first priority. He never engaged in over the top efforts to one up anyone else. Still, the time needed to just maintain order was in my young mind energy wasted when a pick up game of football awaited and would need all the energy and focus I had just used up raking up every leaf into tidy mounds to be bagged and gotten rid of.

I am my father now. Unfortunately, I have no bitch to use and abuse out in the yard. I am still the bitch. My wife refuses to do any yard work. And that is okay. I tend to refuse to do any house work. I guess we have an arrangement. Unplanned and not discussed, we just sort of settled on what our individual responsibilities were.

When I took over this house back in 1980, I was an eager new home owner. I paid attention to details and kept the yard on a short leash. I remember spending up to 20 hours a week just keeping the jungle from creeping inside the borders my dad had set when he moved here in 1967.

At some point around 17 years ago, my enthusiasm nose dived. About the time I became a small business owner I guess. Most of my time was spent keeping the business going. By the time I got home, any energy left to mow or trim was MIA. I had shot my daily wad at the shop. So I let things go. I began mowing more infrequently. I stopped cutting back the encroaching forest. My home became that low standard for the neighborhood. And that is saying a lot here in this part of Acton, Maine. Neighbors here have very low standards. No post card yards on my road. And mine became the worst of the bunch.

Last year sometime I found I could not look out the office window and see who was driving up the drive. Noticing this caused me to notice other things. The piles of junk scattered about had begun to disappear behind screens of thorny vines. Anything covered up by a blue tarp had long ago lost the blue part. I began to mow more saplings than grass. My yard had gone native.

It has been over a year now since I began the impossible task of land reclamation. I have created huge brush piles. I have burned huge brush piles. And while I can see some progress, at this point all I have done is block the advance. The woods up here are insistent. They fill in as fast as I remove. The woods up here are attacking on every front.

So I keep at it every chance I get. For the forseeable future you will find me with yard tool in hand fighting the good fight. I have resigned myself that I will be forever in a state of perpetual Spring Clean up.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mediocrity

"The Observer" is a free local weekly paper distributed to 14,000 homes in the area. It is actually a decent little rag. Keeps me up to date on the what have yous and what nots of the neighbors. The police log is especially interesting when I find someone I know listed there. Seems every week I spot someone I have known in the past or present. Many years ago I spotted my own name there. The crimes are never serious. Criminal mischief, pot possesion, OUI, OAS, domestic disputes; the regular minor hassles of a fairly peaceful community. Just enough activity to justify a police force.

What I like about this small paper is it does not shy away from the ugly controversies that every community always has brewing. In my town, they brought to light the current IRS troubles of a local man known more for his con man ways and his big mouth than any real action that has resulted from his chest thumping. He owes the IRS $6million and change. They have seized his various properties and will auction them off in the upcoming weeks. Or they already have. I am not sure.

This guy was not a happy camper that this small paper stirred up his private business. I find it amusing. Here this guy has been scamming the towns in the area for years and now he gets all indignant when he is bagged by the IRS. Like he is some sort of pillar of the community or something. A legend in his own mind I guess. I am relishing his current troubles. He is finally reaping what he has sown.

One of the local milk companies sponsors a weekly Spotlight on a local high school athelete. They provide a picture and then a type of quetionaire the "athelete" answers. Saying that I am underwhelmed with the caliber of the answers would be an understatement. It seems they take pride in finding the numbest and dumbest of the students who play sports in the area. When asked what is their favorite subject, answers such as "studyhall" and "lunch" seem the most popular. When asked what other activities they enjoy besides football or soccer, they come up with "tanning" or "sleeping".

I know for a fact there are smarter and more clever student/atheletes in the area. Through my bike shop, I pretty much meet all of them at one point or another. Yet, this milk company seems determined to highlight the idiots, the mediocre. So far, in the past few weeks, all who have been picked are in my opinion future slugs. And they by no means are worthy of the accolades bestowed on them.

I wonder just why we seem to accept this mediocrity in our younger folks. Where is the pressure to make the grade? Why are they allowed to slide and "just get by"? And why do we feed their egos by giving them notice? Pretty sad in my opinion.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wasting Energy

I will often begin a morning of blogging by reviewing some of my previous stuff. I will be looking for inspiration for the words I want to put down this day. I do not know why I do this. It never works. I either use up my allotted blog time lost in admiration of my own mind or I sit there and wonder where the Hell that came from. Regardless, precious time is wasted and taken away from the all important chore of pouring my soul onto the Internet community.

I often review some daily news clips for inspiration. This rarely works either. Most days, the news just gets me fired up and all I want to do is rant. I determined a long time ago, rants have their place, but not everyday.

Like today, I will often just start typing exactly what is in my head at the moment. Funny how there seems to be mostly inanity and not much of substance up there betwix the ears. The moments of truely inspired ideas or thoughts are a minute percentage of the total synaptic energy wasted every day. Most of us just waste it without notice. A few sick puppies like me waste more of it logging it into our blogs, journals and diaries.

After a few paragraphs, I will sit back and review. I used to be a very harsh critic. Passing my own muster was tough. I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was worthy of someone else's time. That was back when I thought folks actually might stop by.

Now, I could care less. I pretty much let any stupid thing into my blog. This blog is but one tree among a forest of blog trees out there. Without something like good writing to differentiate it from the pack, it sits here in ignored grandeur for an audience of one. And that is okay. As always, I write for me first and foremost.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Without Remorse I am Incomplete

Not sure why I am re-visiting the blog today. But I am. The itch seems to need more attention than my usual 5 paragraph fix. Or I might just be avoiding the best laid plans I made yesterday regarding the flow of my day today. Whatever the reason is, I am back.

So I sit here in the office avoiding that which needs doing. I would rather contemplate my navel than face the chores out in the early morning chill. And the whole while feel intensely guilty about it. It is as if I need the guilt to put my life in perspective. Without remorse I am incomplete. If there is not at least one undone thing in my life, I am not happily unhappy.

Living 54 years by the credo, "Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow", I find my recent "Git er Done" attitude a bit unsettling. I have bulled ahead and tackled chores successfully avoided for years. What's up with that? Maybe my small rebellion this morning is an attempt to balance my scale. Besides, I would not want to create too much precedence. This recent nose to the grindstone attitude might just become expected rather than the delightful change it is now.

Okay I am done screwing the pooch now. I will close and face the day's labors with enthusiasm and vigor. At least I will know I fought it for a little while anyway. See ya.

Tolerance

Today is my wedding anniversary. To be exact, my 26th wedding anniversary. Generally not as important as say, the 25th one. This one is more noteworthy for 2 reasons. One is I forgot the big one last year and I did not forget this year. Two is my wife forgot this one and I did not. A reversal of roles, the shoe on the other foot, in her face for a change.

Now I am not one to lord over someone else about something like this. And I am not looking for confrontation. It's just nice to know that if I ever again get raked over the coals for my poor memory of things she deems important, I will have something in the arsenal other than "Yes Dear".

I did not come here today to brag about one upping my wife. Well, maybe a little. I should be careful of getting on my high horse. One success in a lifetime of failures to remember does not put me ahead or even close to equal by any stretch of the imagination. I really thought I should be writing about what 26 years married to the same woman feels like. Just what was it that made us make this far. Try to put some perspective on something that really was not thought about, just experienced as it came.

I have chewed on this question for close to an hour now. I have looked deep for the one thing that, in a nutshell, speaks to our success at making it 26 years. It would be nice to say it was Love. But that is not it. Love by itself rarely sustains a marriage. Love needs to accompanied by something else. Tolerance is needed by both to make it happen.

But I tell you what. I will now go ask my wife and she will tell me what I think the reason is. That is how we lasted 26 years.

Monday, December 11, 2006

No Comment

This is turning into a "no comment" Monday. I have begun several entries and after a few words and phrases, deleted them. It is not as if I have nothing to say. It is not as if I have no opinions. Lord knows that is surely the truth. I just cannot seem to find something in the jumbled up mess in my head that strikes a chord this AM.

Recently I placed more pressure on myself. I determined that if I was going to have a blog, I better damn well post to it on a regular basis. So what if no one stops by. Long ago I gave up caring about that. I just want to write and become a better writer. When I glance back through the almost two years of inanity on this blog, I do notice subtle changes in my writing.

My posts have become more structured and less spontaneous. My previous tendency to stream of conciousness writing is evolving into pieces that look like they may have had some thought behind them. Grammatically, they seem better. But I have never been too concerned with that. In my opinion, the rules of English are like the lines on the road. Suggestions that one would be wise to pay attention too, but if needed can be crossed without penalty as long as another car or grammar Nazi is not headed right at me.

So this day's entry is going down hard. Like pulling teeth, I am wrestling with each sentence and thought like I have never written before. What a struggle. Damn. I hope this is not an indication of how my day will go.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Damn Trees

I pulled out the chain saw yesterday morning. My intended victim an overgrown shrub between the dug well and the corner of the kitchen. My father and I had allowed this bush to exceed it's accepted height by many many feet. Growing unchecked for over 30 years, it grew to a point where windows were blocked. Snow was blocked from sliding off the roof. The top had grown high enough to be snapped off by a westerly wind coming over the house. It was huge. I was determined to remove it from my landscape.

When it was planted, it obviously had started with three main trunks from which the rest of the bush developed. Years of twisting in the wind had created a three trunk braid. The 6 inch trunks wrapped and intertwined with each other as each sought the Sun in their own way. I only realized the signifigance of this after I had limbed enough to actually get a good look at it. The total girth of the three trunks was over 15 inches. But it was the twisted nature that made me pause. How to approach it?

Cutting all three at once seemed foolish. My memory of a good friend killed by a tree he cut down loomed large in my mind. It seems that some trees decide to go down fighting. This shrub turned tree had that punk look that told me this was such a tree. Once the trunks were laid bare, I could tell it would make it a real scrap to get it down clean without damage to the house or myself. I had to think it through.

So I limbed some more. Taking more branches first made sense. The problem was getting at the ones over the roof. Snow and the roof's steep pitch made them hard to get at. Once I had removed enough limbs to feel secure in taking on the main trunks, I anquished for a few minutes and then just picked one.

I should have anquished longer I guess. As soon as the first trunk let go, it twisted before it started to fall, then jumped down, hit the side of the other two trunks, kicked out and the butt caught me square under the chin. As I toppled over backward with a chain saw still whining in one hand, I backstepped to try to regain my balance. Like stepping on a banana peel, I performed what could only be described as the perfect prat fall. The engaged and running saw chain in my hand landed not 6 inches from my right leg. Whew!

I laid in the snow and sawdust. I looked up at the sky and then over to the idling saw. Then a sort of movement caught my eye. Turning my head, I was sure I saw the neighboring Red Maple chuckling. Damn trees!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

No Coffee

With no coffee to put into the coffee maker this morning, my wife and I were immediately thrown off our routine. A sense of panic and fear seemed to drop out of that empty coffee can. Not a good omen for the rest of the day. The only logical thing to do to get us back on track was an early run to the Acton Trading Post for some java to brew. I gathered up Stubby, found the truck keys and headed out.

Maybe I should have thrown the truck in 4WD. Or maybe thrown some water in my face to wake up a tad before I headed out. And maybe I should have just been going slower. I drove as if there was not a sheet of ice covering the road. Heading down my road to 109 I turned to look at Stub next to me. She always sat at attention, closely watching the road and all that was whizzing by. I smiled. It was at that moment the truck made the decision to change directions. All of a sudden we were sideways, then backwards heading forward and I was viewing where we had just been. As we slid backwards, I remember thinking all of the above when abruptly the ditch stopped us. Both Stub and I slammed into our respective seat backs.

After I checked my britches and made sure Stub was okay, I got out to see if we were stuck or just off the road in a minor way. It really did not matter. I was not going to let this little mishap keep me from my goal. Coffee. We needed, no, we must have, absolutely without a doubt, it was obvious now that only coffee would bring this day back into line.

I looked the truck over and the incline at which it sat and figured no big deal. Got back in, slammed the 4WD lever and nursed the truck back onto the road. Five minutes later I was gladly over paying for a can of mediocre coffee. And even though I was jonesing hard for some caffeine and wanted to punch it, I kept my speed down in respect to my recent mishap.

I sit here now with my second cup next to me. The security it offers just by it's presence has turned my encounter a half hour ago into nothing but a bad memory that will fade to nothingness when I pour the third cup. My day is back on track now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

26 Years

We have been lucky this winter. Until waking up to 5 inches of snow this AM, we had so far enjoyed an unseasonably mild Fall and early Winter. Jeez, yesterday I wore shorts and a T to work. It seemed even us hard core Mainers can be fooled into hoping that maybe this year Ole Man WInter was going to give us a bye. Maybe forget us in his eagerness to spread nastiness elsewhere.

This morning reality came home to roost. 5 or so inches of fluffy white stuff and gusting wind quickly reminded me of what a Maine winter is all about. And being ever so inconsiderate, this small storm showed up in our dooryard on a morning that my wife had some distance to drive.

I knew my morning was toast when she came in from the early morning dog walk. Never one to be overly pleasant and friendly in the morning, she came in covered in snow with a deeper early morning scowl than usual. I caught the body language immediately and was soon outside removing snow from her car and shoveling a pathway to it from the front door. Without a word of thanks for this unasked for token jesture, she got in her car at 6:05 AM, said "See Ya" and headed over to Manchester.

Twenty years ago I would have been pissed at her for this brusk and generally unfriendly exit. Earlier in our marriage we were both thinner skinned and more senstive to our perceptions of each other. After 26 years of marriage, her gruff exit was not taken personally. I have grown accustomed to many of her minor negativities. I have learned to blow off the stupid little irritations she exhibits as part of her character. And I assume she has done the same for me. I only say this because I am still alive. Lord knows I have given her many a reason to kill me in my sleep.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Connections

I am currently cleaning out a small section of my property. An area that has never been modified by me or my father before me. We allowed Nature to take it's course. It became a puckered up mess of wild rose bushes, sumac, wild cherry and twisted half grown maple saplings. None of these plants are appealing in the least. But the gnarled up and closed area was a haven for the many wild critters that habitate in that kind of enviroment.

As I work and clean my way into it, I am finding out just how connected this area is to the rest of my property for the local wild animal population. I found a dead tree still standing that has been an obvious point of interest for at least one local bear. The trunk has been dug out to a height of around 6 feet with bear scat liberally sprinkled in the area. I did not inform my wife of this as the tree sits but a scant 80 feet from the back of the house. I also have found a territorial marker of scat from at least one bobcat. In the winter, many local deer yard up there.

In the front side yard, a hickory sits. Each year it draws squirrels from all around to the many nuts it produces. It is possible for squirrels to get at it via the tree to tree highway that exists along the edge of my property. I am now faced with a dilemma. The next tree I want to take out is a sad excuse of a wild cherry. All bent and broken from the ice storm in 98, it is not just an eyesore but square in the way of my future plans for this section. But should I remove it, this important conduit to the hickory will be severed. The squirrels will have to touch ground for a short space before reaching the relative safety of the treeline again.

I am not particularily concerned about the squirrels. They are just big rats with bushy tails in my opinion. I guess I am just making note of how connected everything in Nature is. I am also admitting to my part in changing the status of that connection. That the very act of cleaning up a small 100 foot square area in Maine will affect the local wildlife in a negative way.

When I see the results of my small efforts and then look at the thousands of acres clear cut behind my property, I have a better understanding of the impact Man has on his world. I am less isolated now. I am more intimately involved. I am the ultimate predator. Nothing living is safe in my presence. And I consider myself one of the good guys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Typical 21st Century Morning

Just had a morning that really drove home how much "the good ole days" always look better with each passing year.

My wife has her accounting office set up in our house. Being the hip accountant she is, she has every electronic gizmo and gadget out there to process the information of her profession. Well yesterday a big storm went through and flicked lightening everywhere. And once again one of her wonderful 21st century gadgets would not work this morning.

This did not kick the day off on a very good footing for her. As shit rolls downhill, it was not a good start for me also. Apparently the printing center failed to power up when she pushed the button. No satisfying whir of mechanical gears warming up or that pleasing digital banner welcoming one to the joyous experience of printing documents. This machine has so much going on that when it fails, she can't fax, scan, print, or urinate.

We both know I am only barely smart enough to turn these new machines on, but I get the call anyway. Seems I am the avenue of last resort. She knows that when I tackle one of these electronic wonders, it is a 50/50 proposition it will survive the ordeal.

So I get my favorite flathead screwdriver and head up to her office. After a few moments of debriefing on what she had done so far to make it work again I proceeded to open the damn thing up. Apparently, the folks at HP have heard of me. They successfully designed this wonder machine to ward off my hamfisted efforts at exposing the inner workings. With my previously hardwon experience on the breaking point of plastic clips, I stopped before I broke one.

The machine was just too new for me to justify laying into it. So instead I blew out the parts I could expose, put everything back and went to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. As I was stirring in the cream and sugar, I hear my wife, "It's on." Apparently she had been messing with the wrong power supply. Easy to do as there is a tangled nest of wires, power supplys, and other wiring hardware buried under that table.

Which brings me to my point. I am old enough to remember when people used pens and pencils, not palm pilots and mini computer printer machines they pull out of their bag at lunch so they can finish that novel. I remember when folks often had only one phone in the house and had to share their line with 10 other folks. And I am not old. Not real old anyway.

This age of electronic wonders has turned all of us into junkies. We have come to rely on the instant access to information, people, and things that when it is interrupted or not available, we start jonesing hard like a heroin addict looking for their daily fix but there is none on the street. Today proved that all progress has it's Yang to go along with it's Ying. The view through my rose colored glasses is not muddied but crystal clear.

And in an effort to regain some perspective, when I turn this damn thing off, I am headed to the back forty to test my powers at terraforming. With rake, hand saw, and cutters, I will prove that I don't rely on electricity or petroleum for all my fun.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Down-right Ugly

This recent Richards ( Kramer) dust up over his racist outburst at some comedy club has certainly been blown out of proportion. He got out of control and used some racist language aimed at some folks of another race. Ok fine. He later attempted a piss poor apology on the David Letterman show. Not good enough. So the Rev Jesse Jackson, who is never one to turn away from any spotlight, corrals him for some sit time so Kramer can apologize to every Black in America, the World, and probably the Universe.

Okay, again fine. His comedy career is most likely toast now, but he still groveled and felt bad. Whatever. He deserved it. What a bonehead. The world of comedy will not miss him. He was not and I assume is still not very funny.

What gets me is all the behind the scenes activity to turn this racist outing into a money maker for folks. One interview with a teary-eyed black lady was quite the heart wrenching segment. Apparently this woman was so distressed about hearing the word "nigger", she does not know if she can go on. What really tops it off is she actively sought the uncut video replay on the internet. She has contacted lawyers. Seems she wants to be rewarded for having thin skin. As far as I am concerned she deserved to hear what she was obviously looking for.

Why is it Americans are so quick to seek monetary answers to every little slight or perceived wrong in their lives? Or even ever so ready to take advantage of a situation they were not even involved in? I love this country, but I have to say this particular wart on the character of America is down-right ugly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday morning. Grey and raw outside. Bob, our big tom, is winding his way in and out of my legs and whining about being stuck inside. Nothing unusual going on. Seems to be panning out like most Tuesdays do.

Something is different though. Some unknown has invaded my space this AM. I cannot pin it down exactly, but I know today is not right. I do not have a feeling of foreboding or optimistic fervor. Just that something is out of sync, out of order, or not going as planned.

I have gone through my mental check list such as it is. For once, I seem to be on top of things. Nothing on the horizon looms as that next fire to put out. Hmm. Maybe that's where my feeling of unease comes from. I actually have most things under control for a change and am very uncomfortable with that idea. Not having a number of things left undone is undoing my Tuesday.

There has to be something that needs my immediate attention that can be fretted over while I pass it by to pursue whatever else it is that I pursue when I duck the jobs at hand. Let me think. Repairs at the shop? No, nothing serious, everyone is caught up. Home projects? Nothing pending I can do anything about now......Wait! Yeah that's it! The storm glass in the doors. I have not replaced the screens with glass yet. Whew! I feel better now. Finally one of the many little chores I traditionally duck until my arm is twisted. Tuesday is back on track now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wish Me Luck

I have often wondered why good habits are so hard to establish, and so difficult to maintain once up and running. Bad habits seem to find me ever willing to pick them up and not often willing to throw them out. It isn't as if it's tough to tell the difference between a good habit and a bad one. There are glaring differences. Guilty negative waves from one and often non-manic self-satisfaction with the other.

I grew up in an alcoholic family. I saw the damage alcohol could create and I still let it get it's hooks into me. Wasted time, money, and many good graces to the evil drink. Now that I don't drink, I am not sure why I became dependent so many years ago. The buzz? The chemically induced invincibility? Or the numbed and blunted emotions? It certainly was not the many hangovers that kept me coming back to that bottle of Jack. It certainly was not those blackouts that ended up alienating friends and relatives. Damn! It's been at least 10 years since I last got drunk and now I cannot for the life of me think of a reason why I drank in the first place. Not even a bad reason.

The odd thing though is I quit drinking for the health of my liver. I also figured a side benny would be a happier me. I am neither happier nor am I healthier. Everything's about the same I guess. But I have saved a boatload of money.

I absolutely do not miss the demon rum. Occaisionally I will lust for a beer. A tall frosty cold one after a hot summer day of yardwork. I have cracked one open, but always leave it before I have consumed half. I just do not like alcohol anymore. Well, maybe a good whiskey, scotch or sourmash might turn my head. But not so much that I have had to throw out the bottle in the cupboard. It has been there for over 10 years.

But this is not about bad habits. I am concerned more now with turning over some good ones. This winter I want fight the cabin fever blues, keep my weight down, and come out on the other side in March like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Every Fall I tell myself this. Every Fall I insist I will not fail this time. And every March, I realize I did indeed fall short again.

I have had the same problem for so long that I no longer need to look for the solution. The solution is right there and so very simple any bonehead ought to be able to follow through. I guess I am not just any bonehead. But even special cases such as myself can catch on eventually.

All I have to do is stay engaged. That is, don't worry about being pinned up inside, or the fact that the shop is dead. There is always something else to do. Chores and projects that need attention. Good books that need reading. And good habits to seek out and make my own. Staying busy is the key.

Okay. I have now identified the solution and for the first time put it in writing. I will revisit this post in March to fill everyone in, including myself, on how it went. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

As if the World even Cares

I seem to be in a sort of post election funk. In the month run up to the election, I was quite into the grassroot politicking that has become a tradtion on internet forums around the World. With both feet firmly planted on each side of the middle, I lamblasted the worst of either side and loudly declared my independence from both. No issue was spared my opinion. No idiotic response excused without comment. All in an effort to see my wishes come true on election night.

Hmm. Election night seems to have been a tad anti-climatic. The build up has been let down by the reality. The Democrats won. A message was sent to the Republicans. And Bush was spanked good. I ought to be ecstatic. But instead, 3 weeks later, all I am is drained. A new party is in charge, but Life still moves on as predictable and consistent as ever. Nothing changes, just the actors in the scene. New faces spouting the same old rhetoric. Promising change they will most likely not deliver.

So I have taken my leave of the political forums for a moment. Giving the juices a chance to re-hydrate. Hoping a vacation will allow my righteous indignation a chance to build up some steam again. And besides I should really be here emptying my soul in front of the World. A blog being so cathartic and offering another soul out there the chance to identify.

Riiiight. As if the World even cares.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Big Thank You Goes .......

I just read a short piece by a fellow named Burroughs. I am unfamilar with this guy, but apparently the hipper more up to date aficionado of things cool and with it think he is the cat's meow. His bit was a thank you to John Dillinger ( or more accurately America) that gave thanks for all the nastier things we did on the way to becoming what we became. A sort of thanks for being such self serving jerks routine. Clever, but predictable of those who have nothing but disdain for the America we live in today.

Now I am no one to throw stones. I have certainly vented my fair share of criticism about the culture and rampant apathy I find throughout this great land. But I figure if there is one day I ought to give it a rest, today, Thanksgiving, might just be a good choice. Take a breather from casting that jaundiced eye and maybe consider some positives about America. There has to be some.

In no particular order-

I would like to thank most of America for settling in the South and the West. By doing this, you have relieved my fear of urban sprawl here in Maine.

I would like to thank our founders for their efforts to give us a guidebook to follow these last 225 years or so. While what we have now may not be what they envisioned, at least I live in confidence that I may speak my mind without reprisal.

I would like to thank GW Bush the second for proving that Ronald Reagan was not the worst president in my lifetime.

I would thank the inventors of the internet thing and the PC thing, but sometimes I wonder if we should thank them or curse them. Call it a wash.

I would like to thank my parents for the early lessons regarding responsibility. Knowing I am responsible for my actions makes it easy to demand that others do the same.

I would love to thank God for all that we have. But seeing as how what we have at the moment is massive world wide hate and discontent, I'll hold my thanks for the moment. In other words, thanks, but no thanks. Of course that is assuming there is a God. If there is not, then the stupidity unfolding makes more sense.

I would like to thank my daughter Lis for being, well, just being. You are the one thing in my life I feel I did not screw up. And if I did, you are way too nice to tell me so. Thank you.

That Kind of Day I Guess

I have been trying all day to come up with an appropriate Thanksgiving entry into this blog. I began musing over the possibilities almost at first light this morning. Everything that came to mind was either not worthy or the thought just a fleeting scrap that blew away quickly as my shortened attention span exercised it's right to exist. Half formed considerations and poorly conceived subjects never got off the ground.

So about 9:30 AM I decided to head to the shop, grab my bike and go for a short off road ride. I figured if I couldn't come up with wit or insight, I might as well try to clear the cobwebs and break a sweat. So I did. Spent 20 minutes getting on my bike duds, checkin out the bike, and then I headed out. With Hunting season still in full swing, I knew I had to keep the loop relatively close to the houses near the in town woods. Even in full blaze orange, a moving target can be a hard target for any hunter to resist. So I headed over to the woods by the Y.

I rode well. No dabs, crashes or unforseen dismounts. Cleaned everything. My fear of quickly becoming winded and ready to puke did not happen. I guess the last 2 weeks of dormancy did not affect me as I had figured. Felt good and still do.

I finished my ride and actually made an effort to improve a couple of minor details at the shop. Took care of a few things I usually ignore until they become unbearable. Then I headed home about noon and feasted on BLT's.

With a full belly and mildy drained body I relaxed in front of the Miami/Detroit game. Settled in for that once a year treat of Pro Football on a week day, Thanksgiving. I promptly passed out and woke up with a jolt in the 3rd quarter to my wife telling me my brother was on the phone.

Seems he and his wife Eileen were out for a walk while Erica, my neice toiled away at home rustling up grub for the Turkey Day repast. I was still groggy when I got on the phone and just coming out of my mid day siesta haze when he said good bye. I assume everything is going well but cannot attest to that fact now. His conversation sits as a lump in my memory banks.

I now sit here attempting to bring some clarity to my day. I wrote down the events and have sat back to consider them. And it seems I never really woke up today. Everything just clumps together. Nothing stands out. It's that kind of day I guess. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nevermind

Enjoying my daily visit to a forum somewhere out there in the ozone, I happened upon a discussion regarding the Netherlands and their recent banishment of the muslim burqa as acceptable public attire. Apparently the Dutch like to know who they are speaking to and need that face to face encouragement to make it happen. The typical flurry of strong opinion quickly filled two pages. Some folks were sensitive to the women and this hateful disregard for Allah and his harem of Earth women. And quite a few sided with the fascist dope smokin Dutch. An occaisional voice like mine would pipe in with off topic silliness. That was how I felt. Wear a shroud. Don't wear a shroud. Much ado about not much in this infidel's mind.

Anyway, Treespeed shared this:

If they ban Burqas then I want to also see them banning white guys dressing as rappers, overweight East Germans in Speedos, socks and birkenstocks, and make the neo nazis grow out their hair and turn in their Docs.

And I replied

While they are at it, a ban on fat chicks in tube tops with those silly barbells implanted in their navals would be appreciated here. Oh yeah, with regards to the rapper thing. Make wearing a hat sideways a crime. I always want to ask them if they just ran into a pole or something.

And then of course we would need to abolish the practice of old folks exposing any part of their bodies at the beach. Nothing scarier than an old white guy in bermuda shorts with his belt cinched up just under his tits, wearing sandals and support socks up to his blue veined pasty white knees.

As he squints at the sun through huge Foster Grants and dips that pork pie hat or a golf hat to block the beach glare, his blue haired other half purses her lips, creating the perfect imitation of a white prune with red lips. She adjusts her winged shades and tugs at the side of her bra with white claws that began Life as hands. Both of them seem lost as they awkwardly stumble in the sand looking for a place that rents chairs and one of those big Umbrellas that say "Miami Beach" in big block letters.

Against the backdrop of younger folks, more pleasing to the eye folks, the old fogies are an eyesore and should be blacklisted and scorned when spotted about to invade this bastion of healthy youthdom. Wait a minute. I just described my not quite immediate future. Nevermind.

Charity

First of all I hate the word charity. To me a smidgen of pity always seems to be attached to that word charity. I have worked hard all my life to not pity anyone. I often fail, but still the act of engaging in it always makes me feel like I am doing a disservice to the one I aimed my pity at. It's as if pity denotes some kind of judgement or something. And I definitely work hard to rein in that wild beast. Another battle I lose with alarming regularity.

The second thing about charity is the fallacy that good intentions only are the driving force. Remove the tax deductions and I would guess that a serious percentage of all charitable donations would dry up. The cynic in me questions the kindness of strangers when it comes to prying money out of their pocket for "good causes".

My wife and I give money to causes we believe in. I do not have a clue how much and actually to who. She donates to some I don't know about. She knows who both of us donate to. She is the tax accountant after all. Giving money is a cop out if that is all someone feels they need to do to make a difference. I have a higher regard for the folks who give of their time and physical labor than the ones who just write a check.

To that end, I do not do as much as I should, but I do try. I have an old lady who obviously lives on the edge. She is a bottle collecter. Martha rides by on her beater 60's Huffy with huge plastic bags tied to it filled with the harvest she finds on the roads, behind walls and various businesses like mine. She is a proud woman. At least 60 years old and not a tooth in her head. Her bike is always in need. I supply her the work at below cost, but always charge something. She is too proud to take it for free.

Jason, my special needs friend who lives on assistance is always in need of bike work. He cannot drive so he rides. Again, he is too proud to take free, but I find ways to help and not denigrate his pride. He always asks me how much he owes. I come up with a figure that he can live with, but in no way is close to actual retail.

I often get trapped fixing some poor kid's beater for an hour and then charging them what they have in their pocket. Or if they are broke, tell em to buy me a coffee sometime.

I always insist that what I am doing is not free. In my mind, giving should be a two way street. That way both folks can feel ok with the transaction. Coming out on top is beside the point. It's about making them feel okay about receiving the help.

Bottom Line- All the hoopla over who is more giving by the amount of money they drop in the box at church or wherever is Bullsh!t. Giving money is easy. Giving of yourself is what really counts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Blank Page

There is nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper when I can't come up with something clever to fill it with. The blank page creates the blank stare. Or is it the blank stare creates the blank page? A mental breakdown of the machinery that turns a good phrase.

When all else fails, just start typing. Pump those words out. No rhyme. No Reason. Just keep moving. At some point exhaustion or some sense will usually result. Regardless, the need, the Jones will be satisfied. That unresistable urge to verbalize satiated and I will step away feeling full but maybe not fulfilled.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - v

Someone on a forum I visit posed a question. "Would you run for Congress?" A simple question. Sincere consideration would point to weighing many complexities and variables in order to make a reasoned answer.

So of course I first came up with what came to mind in that moment. No real thought. Just what popped up first in that void I jokingly refer to as my mind. I figured my checkered past and ill-spent youth would work against me when full disclosure came up. I assumed the chip on my shoulder would at some point create physical demands of me to punch someone out. I concluded I did not have the temperment.

Never once did I even consider whether I even had the talent necessary to lead. Nevermind being elected in the first place. Being the arm chair poli/sci expert that I am, I took it granted I had what it takes. Any moron could do it. And for sure and no doubt, I was no moron. No thoughts passed through about having the necessary personality traits that would even make me a decent politician.

Now that several hours have passed and I have had time to reflect on the idea more, I have determined that my first knee-jerk from the gut response was probably right on. I nailed it with my first salvo of negativity. I'm too scatter brained, too much of a loose dog. But honest to a fault my mom used to say. And in your face maybe a tad too much to win a majority. I would definitely end up punching some bonehead out. Or end up getting punched out.

And then this came to mind

Ayup, I pulled the ole John Deere out of the barn yesterday and what do you think I noticed hangin there collectin dust up in the rafters? That John Deere bike they threw in with that new manuah spreadah I bought 20 years ago. I guess it was to soften the blow when I saw how much the spreadah was gonna cost. Dazzle me with some fancy useless gee gaw while they picked my pockets clean. But I needed the spreadah so I took the bike to keep em happy.

So's anyway, I decided to pull that bike down and give her a look. A little dusty and the tires was flat, but all in all looked like new. Dusted her off and threw some air in the tires and wheeled her out into the dooryard.

Now I had noticed these last few years while spreadin manuah with that new spreadah, funny lookin folks ridin bikes back and forth on the hard top road to town. This always puzzled me cuz there weren't nothing but the Jenkins place the one way and town the other. Why anyone would want to visit that contrary ole fart Jenkins was beyond me. And town was just a place to pick up essentials and then skedaddle. But they still rode by all the time. Waved at me too. Must be nice to have time to ride bikes and wave at folks.

Anyways, I hollered at Martha to come and see the bike. She looks at the bike and then looks at me. "Gonna sell it?"

"Why no deah, I thought I'd take it out for a spin and see what all the fuss is about. I told you about all those smilin bike folks I see when I's out on the Deere spreadin manuah with the new spreadah. Figured I'd try it myself. Smilin seems like it might be fun. But one thing, do you think I oughta get one of those helmets they all seem to wear first?"

Martha looks at the bike, then looks at me. "Well deah, I'd say just wear a hat, your head's hard enough". And she went back into the house.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Legally Stupid

The White Death. Cancer Sticks. Coffin Nails. Yeah nicotine is some powerful. And what's truly odd is most regular smokers don't even get a real buzz for all the trouble and cost. Tobacco is responsible for killing more people than anything else I can think of. No illegal drug can even come close. It certainly had a hand in the death of both of my parents. Although with the ole man, I guess it's a toss up between nicotine and alcohol. He was a dedicated abuser of both and so mean and cantankerous, it took the combined efforts of both 75 years before they finally brought him down. Damn, he was a tough ole bird.

The legal status of this evil substance has always perplexed me. The obvious cost to society versus the much lesser cost of illegal drugs is the perfect example of the hypocritical and arbitrary nature of our legal system.

But there you have it. There you go. That's the way it is. There are certain state sanctioned avenues to stupidity and there are those that are not. Get caught doing some and you could go to jail. Get caught smoking cigarettes and all you do is get caught being stupid. What a great country.

One of My Last Transfers

I was wondering. Contemplating things in general. Reviewing the overall status quo. It dawned on me that yes, it is same shit different day. But somewhere for someone else it isn't. Somebody is catching shit, losing out, or winning the lottery. Life today is an about turn from yesterday. Their comfort zone invaded by events beyond their control or consideration.

Just who decides, hands out these detours anyway? We all take turns I guess. Go to the front of the line. And it doesn't really matter if it's God, your neighbor or by lucky chance. At some point something will drag us out of our SSDD day into nightmares or fantasies. The trick is to remain sane in between.

I have taken different approaches over the years to remaining sane. I cannot count my time as a child. As a child I spent all my time finding out what sane meant. As a teen and young adult I determined nothing was sane. No sense to any of it. Self medicating myself to an uneasy equilibrium, I spent too many years in disconnect. I snapped out of it in time to settle down and perform my survival of the species schtick. Marriage, mortgage, and a kid forcing sanity down my throat.

Now the home and hearth stand quiet. The rush to make it this far is over. I am noticing fewer loose ends. Challenges have been met or denied. I realize that what I might have wanted to become is not even close to what I became. Intentions have turned into consequences. I am facing a tighter range of choices now. My timeframe is shrinking. A deadline is on a horizon that creeps closer every day. I now realize my sunset is not just possible but certified for sure gonning to happen. The irrational overwhelming fear of it I felt as a child learning what that meant has been replaced with grudging acceptance.

But you know what? I have no regrets. Even though I could have done some things differently, smarter, kinder or not been so very serious. It is a waste of my time dwelling on the woulda coulda shoulda. Anquishing over spilt milk, not hearing opportunity knock. Especially now that I know for certain where there was once a beginning, there must also be an end. All that seems less important now. All that seems so over with, fruitess to cry about.

My nest is empty and my mate grows old next to me. I will embark on the time that is left with all the gumption I have. This bus trip is not over , but I have cashed in one of my last transfers.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dark Thirty A.M. - redux

I must have passed out during the first 1/2 hour of the "Cast Away". I have no memory of falling asleep. I slept the sleep of the dead. Yet 4 hours later, without the fanfare of a cold sweat or disturbing dream, my semi comatose existence became semi awake alertness.

In between yawns and goose bumps from the chilly air outside the blanket, I sit here typing. I am puzzled why I decided to wake up. The usual suspects are MIA. I was not particularily anxcious or stressed out today. No feelings of guilt spiking out of the normal zone. But I woke up anyway. Damn, doesn't that piss me off. A perfectly good run at a decent night's sleep ruined and I cannot figure out why.

But since I am here and awake, I may as well impart my general feelings about the Menopause musical.

Three women run into each other at a large upscale department store. Each one from a different background but exhibiting and dealing with the similar physical and emotional difficulties associated with menopause. The actresses hired for this litle production had wonderful voices. They kept me interested and entertained. And even though the audience was mostly female, I never felt like I was unwelcomed. No dark glances were cast my direction. I felt safe. An enjoyable time all in all.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I Can't Wait

This is a pre-event bitch, whine, belly achin , drag me kickin and screamin type comment. A pre-emptive complaint about how I know I will not in any sense of the word, enjoy it. My wife turned to me and said, "Excuse me, you are going. I do not even want to hear your mouth. Be ready to leave at 3 o'clock". The way her eyes slit and her mouth hardened into a rigid line told me to not even go there. So I came here instead.

It appears I am destined to enjoy a production down to the Ogunquit Playhouse this Sunday coming up. "Menopause, the Musical" has been delighting local women for a few weeks now. Every local fem between the age of 30 and 75 have crammed themselves into the small theater to be entertained with songs of hot flashing, hormonally screwed up females. Tickets are hard to come by. I can't wait.

I made the mistake of telling my riding buddies about being hijacked this Sunday. I had to give them a reason I was not available for the whole day to ride in the woods. Instead of lying and saving face, I stupidly offered the truth. I won't do that again. Carl looked at me in astonishment and then disgust. His wife has seen the production not once but twice. And so far, he has successfully resisted all of her attempts to drag him along. Now it appears my bad example and inability to weasel out of it will cut back his chances to resist the next time it is brought up in his house. Sorry dude.

I am trying to look at this from a mature and sensitive viewpoint. Keep a stiff upper llip. Suck it up and deal with it. And I will. But until then, I can piss and moan.

There are two things that women deal with that men don't. The ability to spit out new humans and the joys and fun of menopause strike a definitive and deep line between the sexes. Many hardass women contend men would not be able to deal with either. Since I do not have to personally deal with either of those pleasant experiences, I can only but wisely choose to agree with them. There is no understanding from a shared experience mentality.

I have learned to tread softly when confronted by a woman in the throes of either childbirth or coming down from Hot Flashes. I have learned to blow off the moments of unreasonable and random fits of emotional distress. And do not underestimate the power of a 5'2" puny woman's grip when labor is going full tilt boogie.

I will look forward to the experience with the knowledge that even if I do not like it, I will act the part. Stay tuned. A sequel awaits.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Maps

Maps. I really like maps. Any map. Trail Maps, street maps, state maps, hand drawn maps, old maps. Shoot, I never read a map I didn't like. Even when I was a little tacker, maps fascinated me. Imagination and an eight year old brain could only dream of what went on in Minot, State College, or Timbuktu. Exotic places conjured up images of Carribean pirates and Henry Morgan pillaging up and down the Spanish Main. Tracing Magellan's route around the globe to find the island he died on. Maps brought the world into perspective.

Yeah, maps took me on many a journey when I was young. It was a natural progression to rely on them for my living when I matured. I can't remember how many Rand McNally interstate atlases I shredded during my million plus miles pedaling a tractor trailer through Canada and the lower 48. By the time I was done with them, pages were missing, torn, and made illegible by thousands of dirty finger prints.

Maps still play an important role. Now it is trail maps. Ever seaching for that one trail that has it all. Drops, twisty single track, in my face upstrokes and white knuckle downstrokes. I will pore over a US Geological map for hours checking out altitude changes and checking for low wetlands. Looking for old county roads, logging right of ways, and those pesky little minute dotted lines that may indicate a technical rider's delight.

I have considered many things regarding maps. For instance, maps must of been the first form of writing our low browed knuckle dragging ancestors used. Maybe even before meaning was assigned to the grunts and chortles of the newly evolved Sapiens. Think about it. Spoken communication was not invented, yet somehow the next waterhole or stand of berries had to be found. A stick dragged through the sand marking the spot where the fresh killed mammoth lay waiting to be consumed. Had to beat jumping up and down grunting and waving their arms.

But as handy and informative as maps are, why are so many people unable to read them? What is it that confuses otherwise intelligent folks when they open up that atlas to find the best way through Lincoln, Nebraska. Their eyes will glaze over. Turning the map this way, then that way and finally upside down in a futile attempt to locate their position on a 2 dimensional plane. They might know where they are going. They might know where they have been. But often they cannot figure what town they are in.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

According to this guy anyway

On a forum in a galaxy far away a troll posted an over the top Op/ed piece written by a rabid left leaning, Bush hatin, doom and gloomy dude. The point was predictable, the premise bizarre and the conclusions reached were out there for sure. Seems this fellow is positive Bush will nuke Iran. Not maybe, or he might. It is gonna happen. According to this guy anyway.

After the typical "You Libs suck and you Neo cons eat babies rhetoric, Serendipper posted this opinion:

"Why doesn't Bush send terrorists to intimidate our enemy? He vowed to use their own tactics against them. It doesn't make sense to fight an asymetrical war with old school military theater tactics. I thought that our enemy was Al-Caida, not a rogue nation-state. Now I'm not sure who we are fighting. "

Never one to let an opinion get away without my twist, I replied:

^^Serendipper - I have felt right along that our reaction after 9/11 was exactly or close to what Al Quada(sic) and associates wanted. This over the top op/ed piece is just icing on the cake. Not only has this small group managed to throw the fear of God into the West, they now have the satisfaction of watching us fear ourselves. Hollywood could not come up with a better and more bizarre story line.

This stateless movement has no other agenda than destroying the infidels of the West and those inside thier own religion. To do that, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. They conduct their war from the shadows with well timed acts of terror. And yet, we still attempt to fight them with conventional means that only drains us of men, money, and our will to continue. This piece is just another indicator of just how much will has been sapped.

Americans are an impatient lot. We have become used to instant gratification. We have learned to expect success. It does not take us long to lose interest if things do not go our way. This peculiar trait of ours is well known and has been for years. It is the one thing the Terror network can count on.

And rather than beat that dead horse that we should never have entered Iraq in the first place, I contend this is a time we have to suck it up and see it through. Admitting our mistakes, we still need to continue, but with a new focus and plan. We need to begin executing this conflict on our terms, not theirs.

The growing infighting here has to cease. We need to come together with a plan that has the support of all. To do this, our administration first needs to stop being so damn bull headed. Without admitting they screwed up (although everyone knows they did), Bush and his crew need to recognize that Iran is the pivot upon which this war on Terror revolves. Bombing them will not work. Invading them will not work. But a combination of grudging diplomatic respect and clandestine efforts to undermine thier power structure, we might begin to chip away at their image inside and outside their borders. Because at this point, the terrorists are winning and so is Iran. A nuke on Tehran will not change that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Good Bike Karma. Bad Mike Karma

As soon as I manualed up onto the rock and it tipped, I knew I was going to put that first dinger in my new bike. Having no place to put my foot down, I tumbled 8 feet onto exposed rocks. My helmet went "Thwack" and a searing pain shot up my left leg as the sharp granite tore my knee open.

All I could do was lay there in agony and scream, "Fuck" as loud as I could. Apparently loud enough that the hikers up on "Indian's Last Leap" came scurrying down to check out the ruckus. As I struggled to my feet, two concerned citizens closed in. I turned and both of them looked at me and then at my knee. Their eyes grew big and one good samaritan offered immediate help via his damn cell phone and 911.

I hadn't looked at my knee yet. I was still trying to shake the cobwebs back into place and get through that first intense flash of pain. I hobbled away from my bike and the two good citizens. Trying to somehow walk it off and hide the tear-wrenching pain I was experiencing. Oddly the time I caught a soccer ball in the nads and both of the boys were driven up into my throat came into my mind then. This was that kind of pain. And I remembered the soccer coach saying, "Walk it off Crum." It took almost a week for the boys to find their way home again. It was a week of testicular torture. "Walk it off?" Yeah right. That never works. To all the coaches in all the world, why do you say that? Useless as medical advice and it certainly does not convince the pain to go away.

The pain subsided from intense to almost tolerable and I turned back towards my bike expecting the worst. I was sure my brand new, only been ridden twice, "Slayer 50" was as crumpled as I felt. But no. It lay there almost serenely, patiently reposed. Like I had set it down carefully in the pine needles just shy of the rocks. Ah Hah. Those rocks were meant for me, not my bike. Good bike karma, bad Mike karma.

I still had not looked at my knee. I would like to say it was a macho thing. Tough guy and all that. But the reality is I was afraid of what it was going to look like. As bad as it hurt, I was sure I had an emergency room visit in my immediate future. The less than impressed reaction from my wife and the loss of the rest of the day while I was prodded, poked, and stitched up became a distinct possiblity.

Instead of looking at the carnage I picked up my bike and leaned on it. Jeez, seemed okay. Spun the wheels and grabbed the brake levers. Everything was a go. And I could not find one dinger anywhere. Good bike karma, bad Mike karma.

I looked up at the two samaritans and smiled. Well a sort of smiling grimace I guess. I told them I would be just fine. I just needed a moment or two to collect my wits. They both looked dubious as I remounted my bike and attacked the same little stone stepper that had caused me so much pain a few moments ago. This time I cleaned it and proceeded to punish the wounded leg as I gimped up the trail from the river.

Once I tough guyed it out of the sight of the two citizens, I pulled up. Straddling the bike, I looked down at my knee. A wave of nausea washed over me. My knee looked as if it had been through a cheese grater with very long and very sharp teeth. Blood covered my leg from the knee to the ankle. Blood dripping skin hung off the wound in shreds. Stopping at the next creek crossing, I washed it up and decided I would live. Only one cut looked deep. Everytime I pulled it open, I could see that mysterious white layer that exists just beneath the skin. What was odd and a bit discomforting was it did not hurt, but the rest of the rock rash hurt like Hell.

It's been two weeks now since I dove off that ledge. I chose to not see a doc. I hate doctors. Well, I don't hate them per se. I hate what they do to me when I come in mangled, sick, or just out of sorts. Seems like I always have to bend over, cough, or stand around in a pajama top with no butt in it while they decide what part of my body to shoot deadly x-rays at. So I decided to self medicate. I kept the cut clean. I soaked it everyday. It bled for a couple of days. Then it oozed for a couple of days. Then it scabbed over and began to itch. It looks like I will have a spiffy dent in my skin just below the knee. And if I am lucky, a good scar to lie about.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Phobis Equines de la pistolero, or Buck up mate, cuz it's too Late.

I can pick up a spider. I can fondle a snake as I escort it outside. Dead mice don't bother me. For the most part I evolved quite predictably from my puppy dog tails boyhood beginnings into the fearless when confronted with Nature guy that I am. But there is a flaw in my mud born personality. A minor eccentricity, fear, no, make that a full blown phobia.

Pistol was his name. Looking cute and innocent just this pony's game. Inside he was a demon. An evil animal bent on throwing the fear of God into any unsuspecting child dumb enough to let Dad or Uncle Bob plop them on his back. I remember thinking Pistol did not look all that friendly and inviting. But with much goading they called encouragement, I allowed my butt to straddle his back. The adult let go of the halter. I sat there rigid, frozen and could not feel the reins in my tight hands. Pistol shook his mighty mane. Shifted to the right and threw his head in my direction like he was sizing me up. And then I squeezed my legs.

Pistol lived up to his name that day. He bolted out of the barn door. Once in the open corral, he began to buck. He threw his front end up and his mane brushed my face as I just missed his taut neck. Then down and oh shit, his rear came up and off I went. The last thing I remember was watching one rear hoof as it kicked again and came straight at my head.

I was eight years old at the time. I learned two things that day. Never trust a horse. And never let an adult convince you to take chances without serious dig your heels in resistance. For I woke to the results of trusting both. A good size divet in my head and the relieved face of a traitorous parent.

For the last 46 years or so I have nursed this fear of anything equine. Worked hard to create decent distance between me and all the Pistols in this world. People have told me I am silly. Horses are easy. You just have to show em who's boss. Be forceful, aggressive but kind.

Riiight. Look, I have very few if any fears of anything else out there. Please leave me alone to enjoy and savor this one little phobia. I know it is silly. I know I could overcome. But why bother? Unlike bungee jumpin, I do have a clue of what I have missed. And I am glad I did.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Fat Flatlander Blues

Feeling cocky and full of ourselves, Keith and I decided to take on "The Red Tail Trail' in Conway, New Hampster on our mountain bikes. Hell, we knew what hill climbing was all about. Nothing they had could be that much more extreme than our rides in the hills of southern Maine.

I was full of piss and vinegar and over confident. We parked and rode. 5 1/2 miles of climbing later we secured the top of Black Cap Mountain. The piss and vinegar was gone and I was certainly not over confident anymore. My cockiness replaced with a bit of a gut knot at the thought of getting down from here.

Our friend who had ridden here before had turned around and returned from whence he came. A wimpy 2 hour outing. A brief discussion with some gnarly dude riding an Ellsworth turned us onto a trail back that would give us a true loop. We probably should have turned around and limped back. But Keith and I pressed on. Dumb and dumber.

Instead of down, or at least a trail approaching level, we climbed some more. Wondering if I would ever get out of Granny gear, the trail finally decided to head down. It did not screw around. It went from up to down like a see saw. Hold on to your jock and keep your big butt back bud, we were in for some serious downhill action. My legs and arms were frozen hard to the bike and a big grin plastered on my face. Or was it a silent scream not able to make it out of my mouth. Serious pucker factor anyway.

A couple of miles or so into this intense downstroke I decided to stop and take stock. My body was one big knotted muscle. Riding a hardtail on this stuff made me vow to build up that new Slayer dual suspension ASAP. Shut up Keith. Yeah, yeah. I ain't the tough guy I pretend to be.

Proving that I was more than one card shy of being coherent or having a clue, I decided to check out the heat index of my disc rotors. Because I had full finger DR gloves on, I touched the edge of the rear rotor to my wrist. A word of advice. Don't do this. I now sport a 3 inch blister on my arm. Like I said earlier. Dumb and dumber. If there was any question as which one of us was dumber, it was cleared up for sure now. I will say it looks kinda cool. My wife was not impressed though. And I thought chicks dug scars. Go figure.

I need to come up with some riding lie to cover up this one.

"Dude, I was slammin her hard for a couple of miles and catching air every 20 feet. All of sudden I stacked it. The bike and I swapped ends a few times. Ended up in the pucker after mowing down a pine or two. And all I got was this burn from the rear rotor when the bike ran over me."

That one might work. Yeah right.

So I sit here after a 4 1/2 hour body bashing mind blowing ride in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This Fat Flatlander from Maine has been put in his place. I can't wait to go back.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Phases of My Moon

Recently I have had the opportunity to watch the moon as it passed through several of it's phases. We have been blessed with some regularly spaced clear nights. I first noticed it as it presented itself as "the fingernail moon". A name I gave the crescent phase when I was a small fry. Then some days later I looked up one evening while walking with Stub on her late night constitutional and noticed it in 1/2 phase. Tonight it hung up there close but not quite in full phase. 3/4 I guess.

And tonight I also replayed the last 3 weeks and damn if I did not come up with a kind of correlation to my mood swings or bio-rhythms of the last few weeks. I tend to fall into funks. Some would call them depressions, but I have not been able to completely accept or admit to being saddled with that particular problem. I guess if some shrink were to assess my outlook and approach to Life, they would check off the box next to depressive tendencies. But I don't think so. I just get down more than some folks. Denial is such a wonderful tool to use to disown the obvious. I love it.

Anyway, I also considered the popular belief that people tend to get manic when the Moon is full. There are all sorts of references that pop up throughout our culture. I weighed the phases against my most recent energy flows and noticed that during the early birth of the new Moon I was somewhat ambivalent, go with the flow, put one foot in front of the other and not think too deeply about anything. And then just as the moon presented half a face, I fell into a funk and stayed there until yesterday. I did what I had to. I worked at my bike shop, I rode my bike. Null and Void, I went through the motions. My riding was below average. My attention span at the shop was detached at best and I felt like being a nasty tempered jerk. I resisted that urge and I think I came through without putting too many people off.

Today I hit the bike shop ready for another day of low expectations fueled by a lack of enthusiasm. But the day would not allow me this pleasure. I had not the time to work on that low self-esteem thing I get into on a regular basis. From the time I set foot into the shop until 9:30 PM, I was balls to the wall. I multitasked, holding hands, twisting wrenches, selling product and talking on the phone. There were not too many minutes when I was not attempting to cater to 3 or 4 consumers at one time. The day became a juggling act. Many balls in the air at one time. I became Manic Man. Pumped, stoked and energized.

When I got home and stepped out of the truck at 11:30, I looked up and there was the old man in the Moon hanging out and dialing in his full frontal exposure. I wonder if that myth or old wives tale about the full moon and people getting wacky might not have some merit. I should be wasted and ready to fall comatose in bed. Yet, I am here punching these keys wide eyed and bushy tailed. I am a tad concerned about how I will feel and act when the Moon goes full tilt boogie. It will be interesting to pay attention as we move towards the Full Moon. If the mania increases, I will have more respect for some of the old truisms passed down through the ages.

But then I could just be a manic depressive and the whole moon thing is coincidental. Naw. It has to be the Moon. Remember, denial needs supporting information and facts in order to work it's magic. And I need to find them wherever I can.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

176

Because I had nothing better to do, or because I was avoiding anything that would have been better to do, I just counted up the posts in my blog. This post is number 176. Not necessarily an important marker, nor does it indicate a remarkable dedication to blogging for 1 1/2 years. But in the scheme of my helter skelter jump from one thing to the next type personality, it does show that I am capable of sticking with something for the long term. I have posted in every month since December 2004. For this I feel a small sense of pride.

I know in the world of blogging, I am a lightweight. Certainly in quantity and most likely in quality also. But as the gnarly dude next to me at the starting line of a mountain bike race back in the 80's said to me when I confided my feelings of inferiority at racing, "Dude, there will always be someone faster and there will always be someone slower. Just enjoy the ride."

Women

For some reason I have been thinking of women lately. The classic women as objects of desire type thoughts is not what I am talking about. I have been considering women, men, and the world they have created for each other. Why two sexes? Wouldn't it have been a saner approach to have made us hermaphrodites. A lot of conflict and discontent could have been avoided if we just split in two once in awhile. No muss, no fuss. One sex, one direction. No erections or dysfunctions. Life would sure be damn sight easier to figure out without another sex to screw up the program.

Of course we are what we are. Two alien species forced to cohabitate, fornicate, struggling to relate. Sexual tension, Sugar and spice, vive la difference. Without the women, men would be SOL. But something tells me, without men, women would be able to function just fine. They only keep us around to do the heavy lifting.

I like women. I find their presence to be generally a positive thing. That is as long as I am not in their cross hairs. I would rather face a mob intent on lynching me than face the evil eye of my wife after being caught stupid. And even though after 25 plus years of marriage I should know better, I continue to compromise my safety on a regular basis. There is always some new stupid trick I have to pull. Ever watchful and on guard, my darling snookums is waiting with bated breath to pounce and lay me open.

I could rightfully protest that I am not always the bonehead. That oftentimes she is too quick to pull the trigger over events and circumstances that are not my doing. Shit happens. But unfortunately, my track record is so dismal, she refuses to give me the benefit of the doubt anymore. That honeymoon was over 20 years ago.

So I am resigned now to the fact that everything is my fault. Even the stupidity of my brethren. The War in Iraq, the recent mine explosions, and all the toilet seats left up in all the homes in all of the World. I have decided that there are two sexes for a very good reason. One sex gets the blame and one sex fixes blame. A match made in heaven. Without men, women would have no one to blame. Without women, men would have no one to piss off.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Random Scraps

Lunatics rule, the rest of us drool
Lunatics run amok. Scattering the quiet and calm in every direction. They stand up and scream for the sake of the noise made. They attack our senses and rattle our souls. Hammering nonsense into directives and rules. They focus on the ridiculous and bend our wills to stupid endeavors. And all the while we are distracted by their manic gyrations, the real threats loom. Growing silently patiently waiting for their turn at the front.

Okie Overdrive
Dropping down out of the mountains, I shift into okie overdrive. 70,000 pounds of 18 wheeled momentum gathers steam and I grin as the speedometer creeps up to 90. I hold the wheel loosely, letting the truck find it's own way down the three lane wide super slab. The scenery picks up the pace as it zips by my window. But wait. Oh shit! Some curves ahead. Hugging the inside of the first turn, my hands tighten on the wheel as the truck begins an 18 wheel drift to the outside. A foot of space and a puny guardraill is all that pretends to protect me from a 200 hundred foot bummer of a plunge. Just as I begin to think it is about time to revisit my past and make peace with my maker, the road curves back and I jam hard into it and ride it out. Easing on the brakes, I pass the bail outs at 80 still out of control. One more curve and another drift toward the abyss. Cannot brake now. Cannot engage the tranny, I hang on and hope those new radials live up to their rep. I try the trailer brake. All I see in my mirror is smoke and I have to let up. The road straightens up and I try to find high gear. Grind the gears, double clutch, touch the brake, grind the ...finally the shifter hooks up. Whew!, I ease her down, shift down, and as the engine screams in pain I slow down. The road flattens into the valley floor. Shaking, I pull over to the shoulder and stop. I check my britches. I also check off that stupid trick from my list of fun things to try.

No rose colored glasses here. I almost paid the highest price for being stupid on that night run from Vegas to LA back in 1977.

The Blue Jay
I wanted to kill that fucking Blue Jay. It pounced on that poor sparrow and began pecking it to death. I rushed to the rescue but pulled up short. My emotional knee jerk reaction turned to resignation at the brutality of the natural world. I chased the Jay away and peered down at that poor young sparrow. One wing obviously mangled and useless, it gazed at me from a bloodied eye socket. The eye now in the Jays stomach I guessed. Nothing I could do. Let nature run its course. I turned and walked away. Looking back, I watched a crow that must have been hanging around swoop in and take it. With a small taste of satisfaction I grinned crookedly and thought, "Well, at least that damn Blue Jay didn't get it."

The rest of the day, the violent end of the sparrow popped into my thoughts. I was not sure why it affected me so. But the lesson of that food chain moment had made a point. A rerun of sorts on how the World really works. Life is never secure or truly safe. Hazards exist and predators lurk.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Future is a Chain reaction

Our response to the recent spike in energy prices has me chuckling at the irony of it all. What a bunch of morons our population is when it comes to facing the reality they should have known was coming 40 years ago. Everyone is in a panic to find a way out of a future that seems inevitable. As is our tendency, once again we seem to only look to short term solutions rather than taking the time to think long term. I don't deny that quick fix alternatives and answers are needed, but more planning and thought needs to be done for the long haul. It always is needed but rarely do we show that kind of wisdom.

Regardless, recent events and future ones will force Americans to change their lifestyles. Our conspicuous consumption will be replaced by a more conservation minded mentality. As the price of energy skyrockets, so will the price of even the cheap crap we love to buy. I have seen it in the bike business already. Anyone who buys metal of any kind knows what I am talking about. These higher prices affect everyone, even the manufacturers of cheap junk in Asia.

I predict Americans will begin to spend less on impulse items and be more discerning about what they do buy. Pricing will still remain competitive, but quality will begin to make a comeback. The days of the throwaway lawn mower are numbered. Once we have dropped our consuming for consuming sake lifestyle, the effect on the World economy will be dramatic. The economic spike in China will cool somewhat and everyone will back it off a notch. The World cannot continue to consume on such huge scales. Or we can, and our descendants will be cursing us 100 years from now.

I will admit that it is hard to get fired up about what might be 100 years from now. My future plans get real fuzzy beyond the immediate future of my daughter and what she might have to deal with. But the future is a chain reaction. What we do today has a direct relation to what happens every day beyond this one. Instead of playing lip service to the future we hope for our children, we should put words to action now to ensure it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finding New Music, a follow up

That recent trip to my local music store netted me some top shelf tunes. I went in without a clue about what to buy other than wanting something old, something new, something Jazz, something Rock, and of course something Blues. Pearl Jam and The Chili Peppers took care of something new. Pink Floyd and Neil Young nailed the something old category. And Just because I had heard one good tune on a Jazz hour one Sunday, I picked up Wes Montgomery's "Smokin at the Half Note". Whoah Dude! The man rocks. A live recording at some smoky honky tonk in NYC back in 1965. The first tune set those fine hairs on end. Wes can really strum. And the boys backing him up are no slouches. Wes on guitar. Wynton on piano. Paul on Standup Bass. And Jimmy Cobb - drums. Quality stuff.

As a young lad pumping gas at Clark's "Tank n Tummy" on 109 in Sanbornville, NH in the 60's, I discovered the joy of musical discovery. That is, I learned to take chances on music just because the title sounded good, the band sounded cool, or even the album cover looked spiffy. We sold 8 tracks in a rack in the office along side the Tom's snack display. The music van would stop by every week to re-stock the rack. Besides 8 tracks, the music guy also had thousands of albums overflowing inside that magical van. He would sell me any album I wanted for $1.50. Besides the predictable We Five, The Hollies, Beatles, Stones,Paul Revere and the Raiders, I also discovered The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa, Genesis, John Mayall, The Yardbirds, and many other bands that didn't make it into the top 40. Probably my three most eye opening albums found were the first Led Zepplin album, Tull's "This Was" and Cream's "Disraeli Gears". And I got them all for a buck fifty a pop. I was in pig heaven. Didn't save much money those two summers.

Anyway, I learned to take chances on music. My rule was if I liked one song on the album, it was worth a buck fifty. And If I didn't, oh well. I was only out a buck fifty. And though it sometimes drives my wife crazy, I carry this rule of picking music with me to this day. Even with prices for CD's in the $15 dollar range, I don't care. You can't find new music if you don't look.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fresh Music

I had two $25 gift certificates to a local chain of music stores. I had been saving them maybe a year or so. I had to develope an itch that only new music could scratch. The last time I sought something different from the CD collection, I came away unfulfilled. Same old choices, same old sounds. Nothing new and fresh had been acquired in a couple of years. The fiftieth time Tom Petty or Zepplin blasted through the head phones should have been the clue. But it was the second run through of Clannad that told me I was getting desperate for new tunes.

So I grabbed my kid, scooped up Stub the 3 legged wonder dog, and drove the pick up to South Sanford for some serious CD shopping. I shot that 2 gift wad in about 5 minutes. $50 worth was not satisfying my itch. So I laid into the Jazz and Blues section. Didn't think too hard on what to try, I just sorta pointed and grabbed. And on the way out, I snatched an EP by Neil Young. I love picking out music I have no clue about. I have discovered some excellent and memorable music that way. On a whim once when vinyl ruled, I bought Delibes, "Maria", an Italian ballet. The overture was and still is just about the most beautiful piece of music I have ever had the joy to listen to.

Tasting my new tunes had to wait for the routine of my day to transpire. It left me exhausted but with all obligations and duties fulfilled or put off for another day. I sat down at the computer, punched in Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the Moon", and began to groove. In five minutes, my head bounced off the keyboard as I passed out from my full day's labors.

Damn! All this brand new music and I had to wait until I was more alert and awake. Like tonight for instance. Yeah right. Pearl Jam's new album is barely keeping my eyes open. Popping words out on this computer is all that is keeping my eyes open. Well, open most of the time anyway. Burning the candle at both ends is definitely beginning to make an impression.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The World Revolves Around Me

I am a terrible blogger. I am sporadic rather than predictable and regular. I have no focus. My posts are often nothing but ego centric ramblings. And that is fine with me. I am what I am.

It is not as if anyone notices anyway. I am fairly sure that my blog sits in some internet closet in the basement of the electronic ether. Locked and the key is missing. My wit and insightful musings out of the mainstream view. And that is fine with me. I write for me first. Anyone who might happen by is okay, but not important. Afterall, this is all about me. Right? I am my number one fan.

It was odd to write that. It felt odd to publicly admit my fascination with myself. I often wonder if my self centered ways are over the top or about normal. I know I am nowhere as keen on myself as some other folks are. I have a friend who calls me regularly from Idaho. He is the stereotype "the world revolves around me" kinda guy. Last week he called and spent 20 minutes filling me in on his latest love problems. He wants to date a new woman but has to break up with the one he has been knocking heels with first. Blah, blah, blah. Anyway fast forward to yesterday. I answer the phone and instead of "Hey, it's Rob. How's it going?"; he starts in with, "I figured out how to deal with it." Since I had my hands full with a bike repair and several customers on the floor, I failed to recognize his voice and asked, "Deal with what and who is this?"

"It's Rob. You know, my lady troubles." Well, the world was revolving around me right then so I cut him off and said, " Great", and hung up.