Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not Even Fly for a White Guy

As if I needed more complications for my already convoluted Life, now it seems I need to add Twitter to the equation. Everyone says it's the rage and if I go online and don't Twitter, I am a loser. Seems a few years ago, every hip person I spoke to told me Texting was the now thing and if I wasn't Texting, I was a loser. Before that it was Blogging. Before that it was Cell phones. Before that it was Newsgroups on modems that loaded up sites at the lightening speed of 56BPS and Internet time was charged by the minute.

On and on back into the past, I seem to always be told I am a loser if I am not doing this or that because it was hip and would somehow make my life more magical and wonderful and fuller than it already was. Women would fall at my feet in adoration for how hip I had become. Platform shoes, polyester shirts unbuttoned past my manly nipples and ass tight bell bottoms would surely make the women faint. Yeah right. Disco lasted about five minutes for me and I was back wearing cutoffs and going barefoot.

In junior high it was the collegiate or Click look of northern Virginia I carried with me as my family moved to Oxen Hill, Maryland. What I ran headlong into in Oxen Hill was not the Click look. Blocks or Greasers as we Clicks called them ruled in Oxen Hill. Some ass kicking ensued but eventually they got tired of it and I saw the wisdom of wearing the occasional Ban Lon shirt to school just as a token nod of respect. I even got past the shock and awe of "Big Hair". But through it all, I always wore cutoffs and bare feet whenever I could.

As far back as I can remember, I was always just out of step with whatever current trend or fad was in play at the time. A day late and a dollar short as they say. Eventually I figured out that hanging with the cool kids was not worth the effort. I was never going to be a trend setter. And if I couldn't set a trend, I would be damned if I was going to follow one.

The nightmare I lived through when I tried out Pegged Pants one time was probably the first hint I would never fit in with the "In Crowd". Nor should I even try. Of all the fashion insanities I attempted as an awkward teen trying to find his path, Pegged Pants had to be the worse. Next to my brief encounter with Disco, it was definitely my most humorous. I was no seamstress or tailor. I was just a kid whose mom had a sewing machine. Got some vague instructions from some chick at school. Headed home and pegged my first and last pair of Levis. Apparently there are some skills needed to peg pants. Skills I had no clue of. Sewing in a straight line is key as I found out later. It is also a good idea to not sew up too much of each leg. Making sure the legs look the same helps also.

All of these things I found out about sitting in the Principal's office the next day waiting to be suspended for not only wearing pegged pants to school, but really badly sewn pegged pants. If it was not for the secretary in the office filling me in on just how bad they really were (after she was all done snickering and grinning), I would have thought I was a real bad ass for going against the rules and being sent home for a couple of days. When in reality, it was more likely a case of being sent home to save me any more embarrassment.

She suggested I look in a mirror when I got home to see what she meant. I did and immediately wanted to crawl into a hole. Besides looking like I had poured myself into these pants, the uneven seams rippled and jumped in ways that made one leg look sort of harem pants like and the other like a Frankenstein stitch job up the inside of my leg. The crotch had blown out before I had even arrived at school and well, I realized as I gazed in that full length mirror in my parents bedroom, this had not been one of my better days at school.

That should have been the sign of things to come for me. But no. Every so often I continued the struggle to try and fit in. Never seemed to work until the Grunge look came in with Nirvana and the rest of that fashion challenged crew. Suddenly for a couple of years I looked cool. Well, maybe not cool, but at least I blended in just fine. Faded jeans with holes in the crotch or butt and threadbare plaid shirts were ready and waiting already in my closet. I did not even have to head to Marshall's or Target to refit my wardrobe. All this time I had been ahead of the curve. It was not me who was out of sync, it was the rest of the World.

Finally happy I had nailed at least one fashion trend before it went mainstream, I rested on my laurels. And here I sit still resting on them. And even though my shorts are not cutoffs, they do have a hole or two in them. I don't sport bare feet as often as I used to, but I wear flip flops enough to have a serious tan line on top. And I just noticed plaid shirts were on sale down to Marden's. Yeah I know what's hip alright.

See Ya...................

(968 / 9655)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mike Rises to Another Challenge

FFF - Friday Flash Fiction - And yet another clever hook some blogger has come up with to suck the words out of me whether I want to write or not. A challenge. A dare. It's Randal's fault. I read his entry. Definitely can't reach his level, but it will be interesting and either fun or frustrating. Each one has it's up side. Either the rush of pleasure or the chance to once again purge some of the pent up mania lurking just behind these brown eyes.

The rules are simple. At least I think they are. I have to be cautious when I say anything is simple. I am able to turn the most simple of tasks into intricate nightmares of repetitive agonies, often ending with me running away screaming into the night. But this blogging challenge does seem straight forward. Someone creates a first line and everyone else finishes it however they want. The finished products are submitted for review by someone or anyone. That part is still hazy.

Let's get it on

There was no respite; the vivid, violent dreams that ruthlessly tormented her slumber had now relentlessly stretched the abyss, to envelop her during her day.The doctors had all said she would eventually recover. They consulted with each other and determined her break from reality had been but the result of being too tightly wound. She would be able to get on with her life once Time had worked it's magical ministrations creating curtains and doors she could keep closed if she so desired.

Yet it had been 6 months now and the dreams had not lessened. If anything they had become more intense, more graphic, insisting that she was still actively participating. Everyday she awakened more exhausted than the day before. Everyday she went on automatic. All the small routines and actions she used to take pleasure or pain in, now just items on a list to be checked off and then move on dispassionately to the next one. All the while inside her mind, horrific images and feelings turning over as images on a child's kaleidoscope.

Her co-workers took notice. While some feigned concern, all of them considered her a wounded animal. Each and every one began to scheme how best to take advantage of her weakened condition. She knew this about them. She would have done the same. This was the world in which she existed. The weak became targets. Used for whatever they had to offer and then discarded without another thought. This scared her the most. That she had become one of the Weak. One of the needy people. Her biggest fear had been realized. She felt so helpless.

On September 7th, it all came to a head for her. The anxiety and fears she dreamt of every night and relived every waking hour became reality. No longer trapped as horrific snippets and images inside her mind, they were now in the real world not as fears, but as realities.

"We'll be taking over day to day operations for the foreseeable future Miss Mae", said a well dressed young man with a visitor pass on his lapel. "Any and all decisions will be made from DC now. Please clean out your desk."

That night the woman slept without a care or a worry. No demons visited her that night. Her dreams had not been hallucinations, unrealistic predictions of a world gone mad. The World had indeed gone mad and her dreams had come true. She smiled as she slept.

I was reaching for a tale of irony. What I finally came up with was well, I just am not sure what the hell that was. Anyway, I do have a question that if answered correctly, will not win you anything, but will impress me because the story was damn vague and the point fuzzy as all get out. I did however leave serious clues in my wake.

Who or what does the woman represent?

See Ya...........................................

(658 / 8687)

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Cannibal Drought Ends

I bought a Fine Young Cannibals CD many years ago. I knew nothing about them in the 1990s when I first sparked up this tune. I still know nothing about them. But I do know I really, really like this tune. I was like a teenager when I first heard it. Sat through it umpteen multitudes of playbacks in a row, tapping my feet as only an aging White Boy can. Happy as if I had a brain.

As I sit here and drag us both down memory lane, I realize I have played this video over and over for 20 minutes or so. I have good reason. You see, for the last 2 or 3 years, I have been suffering a Fine Young Cannibal drought. That CD I played so wantonly without a care in the World shit the bed. And it shit the bed the day I decided to rip it to the safe haven of the record shelves in my hard drive. Died the one day I was going to place it in a secure dust free environment and then wait patiently for me to fire it up whenever the mood struck me. But now it was junk. I waited one playback too many I guess.

Did I just go down to the local record shop about 20 miles away and pick up or order a new copy? That's what most folks would do I imagine. Not me. I had to first attempt to rip it to my library again. And again. And again. Eventually I figured it out. There was no way this CD was ever going to load into my computer. Even worse, it quickly became clear that CD would never spin "Good Thing" again. I had flippin worn out the digital grooves. Or some evil poltergeist from the inner Internet world had decided to take up residence in that copy. On the chance it was indeed an evil presence that had settled in, I carefully discarded the CD with a quick toss into the metal bucket full of metallic trash bound for the recycling monster down to the Acton Dump. I almost said a a few words a day or two later as I dumped that bucket into the 30 cubic yard container that was really nothing but a mass grave for the steel and aluminum we have no use for anymore.

So when I happened upon this video somewhere else while looking for something else, I knew I could get my fix. And fix I did. Fired up the spoon and delivered the rush I used to get from this tune. Funny thing though. The rush is not how I remember it. It seems now years later no rush is as good as when I first tasted them. My neck hairs twitched, but didn't stand on end. It's still a damn fine tune. As is this one.........................

And this one also........................

The drought is over!

(484 / 8029)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank God for Glenn Beck

As I type this, I am listening to for the second time, the sound from a video taken during a recent Tea Bagger protest in Washington DC back on September 12th of this year. A pleasant young man walked among the angry and righteously indignant citizens. With Mic in hand , decked out in a nice shirt and tie, he asked a variety of questions. An interesting and very enlightening look at what some of the hardcore base of the Right fears and how they view their version of the Truth.

Glenn Beck has found his audience. Or his audience has finally found him. It seems his message, such as it is, has been successfully decoded and assimilated into the minds of folks who previously had some serious cubic feet of dead air to fill up. Vacuum like they have attached themselves to the teat of Glenn's awesome wisdom. You should take a few moments and catch this video. It is about nine minutes long and I will vouch there is a laugh every 15 seconds or so.

Some High Points
~Sign - "Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy" - and in the background, shouts of "Repent!" "Boycott!" And that all time favorite on both sides of the fence - "Freedom!".

~Some dude dragging a high tech cross complete with foam shoulder pad and a wheel on the back to cut down the co-efficient of friction. Who says these Tea Baggers are throwbacks? They've re-discovered the Wheel ferchrisakes.

~Older woman - "I'd like to see a Christian in the White House."
Interviewer - "You don't think Obama is a Christian."
Older woman - "No, he's a Muslim."

~One fellow was very specific about his sign claiming that the name "Barack Obama" broken down to it's roots, actually means Satan. A disjointed but made sense to him explanation of the real meaning of our President's name.

~And another sharp fellow compares Obama to Hitler because he's such a slick talker.

~It becomes about all the Czars Obama is going to unleash on us. When it was pointed out that the first Czar was appointed by Ronald Reagan, the dumb struck look on the four people in view was absolutely hilarious.

~And then a few moments of sharing their love for that logical thinker, Glenn Beck - "Thank God for Glenn Beck"!

Now that I have had my fun with the video of a mass protest of the bizarre, I will try to sit quietly and keep from chuckling every so often as I attempt to consider the serious side of what this video really says. Give me a few moments, I am still re-living some of the better moments in the clip............................................

............Okay, I think I am ready to be serious,, not yet.

Whew! Some serious chuckle over load there I'll tell ya.

I know I should be concerned. Concerned on so many levels over this recent series of smear tactics and disinformation showing up on the Right. But it's hard to get too excited. After so many years of being bombarded from both sides by "the sky is falling" rhetoric, I have become somewhat immune to the excesses of either side. I have also stopped listening to either side with any serious attention. Now I tend to sit on the sidelines and laugh at the both of them as they try to scare me into some kind of submissive position.

Which brings me to idiots like Glenn Beck. It is not the fact that I think he is in need of serious therapy or at least an increase in any meds he may be on at the moment. It is not the fact that he pretends to be a journalist. What pisses me off is that a major company and network would allow him to even have a podium or a mic to spread his lies and hate. I have little regard for the other news networks. Fox News however is in a class of it's own. Or maybe better put a no class of it's own. What a terrible example of journalistic integrity. Absolutely the worst one in the mainstream media.

But back to the protest. As I listened to it, my mind wandered. I found myself remembering the days when I mingled with thousands of smelly dope smoking Hippes in front of the Washington Monument back in the anti war days of the 1960s and 1970s. I will agree that there were many bizarre people and many unfounded claims being presented as facts. That kind of thing goes with any mass gathering of political intentions. The thing is, while I recall some over the top rhetoric and speechifying, it seems to me even baked out of their brains, the Hippies had way more of a clue than the people highlighted in the video.

I now pause to ask, "Was this video giving us an accurate protrayal of the general mindset and intelligence of the Tea Bagging crowd?"

Of course it wasn't. It was produced with an obvious Left bias to show the Baggers in as bad a light as possible. And it worked wonderfully. I have not laughed so hard in at least a few days. But on the other hand, I have not as of yet heard much resembling common sense from any Tea Bagger. Slogans based on the drop down lists found at every far Right website or show. Accusations without substance. Unproven predictions as facts. The whole movement is based on fear of what they "know" will happen now that Barack is in charge.

Many on the Left will contend this movement is based on Race. Many will contend this recent hilarity from the Right side is based on partisanship. But in reality it is just the puppet masters wiggling our strings and having us do the same dance with a new tune. Find the Truth for yourself and then make up your own mind. Allowing any one person, Party, or movement to own as much of your opinion as these folks seem to allow Glenn Beck to own of theirs is a sure fire way to not get the government you want. But it will surely get you the government you deserve.

Keep it 'Tween the Ditches ..............................

(1008 / 7545)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

There is No Insignificance

I started a poem this morning. Managed about 8 or 9 lines and then I ran out of steam. Lost where I was headed. Couldn't capture the magic from the moment I became inspired. You could assume the dead tree picture to the left was my inspiration. You would be wrong. Just a cool dead tree I found on my walk in Mary's Woods across the road this morning.

I could have easily, and still might, tie in this ancient carcass to the point of the poem. Read the first 8 or 9 lines and you would not think so. But there is always a tie in. A link exists from everything in this world to everything else. Nothing goes on here that does not connect with everything in some way. Nothing. Every breath we take. Every bug we squash. Every flower that blooms. And yet we often look at the rest of the world around us and feel alone.

There is no insignificance. There is no "it's no big thing". There is only our self made list of selfish viewpoints and actions that somehow create the illusion some things do not matter. We talk of the "Grand Plan". "In the scheme of things" or other rationalizing garbage we use to justify our actions at the expense of some other thing, Human or not.

My mind continues to mull over the concept that this Planet is a living organism and all that exists on it are but the pieces and parts that make it what it is. How the interaction of all these pieces and parts create the living organism that is our planet. What they were before they interacted matters little. What they will become later matters little. It is the ongoing interaction of everything that is important. The Universe is a series of lost moments waiting to happen. The Universe is nothing but a system in decay and everything we do hastens it along.

The concept that nothing actually exists is beyond my comprehension. Out of death and decay something always evolves, erupts, grows. There is always something left. Bones, dead leaves, the refuse of previous civilizations from which new beginnings unfold.

Not sure what to think of what I just wrote. I guess I just wanted to share the thoughts I had while walking in the woods this morning with my dog Stub. If there is some sense to be taken from it, great. If not, oh well.


(412 / 6537)

Friday, September 18, 2009

World Wide Time Out

I made the mistake of visiting other blogs the other night. Shit. I was going to take a break and just chill. But no. I figured I'd drop in on a couple of blogs just to socialize some with my Internet buds. Now I am fired up on so many levels, I just don't know which soap box to climb up on first. I feel like all four Ninja Turtles.

It was Randal's fault I even thought of Ninjas. It was Demeur, Dawn and the pipe smoking Professor who created the personality split. Soon Honest Partisan chimed in and I was blasting off. To cope I came up with the turtle thing. Maybe it was their shells and maybe it's time for me to relocate my mind. Hey, the connections were crystal clear a minute ago. That I cannot relay them clearly is but an indicator of the tumultuous condition my Id is in. Or is it more because of the severe deflation my Ego has suffered? Regardless, at some point there was a common thread here somewhere. I keep hoping Jim Palmer's Hair can be snuck in somewhere, but even to me that would be a stretch. Guess I am going to strike out with the Palmer Doo.

The Issues that caused me to go over the edge this time

Urban Living versus Rural living - which one is greener?
Honest Partisan wants to believe the urban myth that living in the cities is greener than living in southern Maine. Maybe, maybe not. Seems to me instead of playing the who's better game, maybe we ought to be working on making each style if living as green as possible. Both are needed to support the other.

Gay Marriage or no Gay marriage - Maine votes in 50 days or so.
Dawn wants me to care about this as much as she does. There is no way I will ever be able to care about it as much as she does. I am not gay. But I do care. Enough so to begin conversations about it at the Bike Shop. As an ardent believer in freedom of choice, Gay marriage falls well within those boundaries in my opinion.

The right to be stupid as some gift from God - Just because I had already been primed at other blogs, my natural fall back tendency to be contrary kicked in and I decided I disagreed with Demeur on whether God gave us the right to be stupid. He/she certainly gave us the ability to be stupid. The government gave us the right to be stupid when they created the two party system. I just imagine the two sides getting together on a regular basis and having a great belly laugh at our expense. Two different groups. Yeah right.

And finally another fed up blogger and their take on the dismal state of our Health Care system - Frumpy Professor adequately covered his frustration and mine over the stupidity of the debate that is Health care. I could not come up with any more to add, so I just nodded my head and said , "Damn Right."

Any one of them by themselves is enough to set me off and watch out Mr Man. But catching all four in one night and damn if my circuits didn't over load. No fuses were blown, but breakers were stressed. I could feel them failing. The system slowed as the my mind sped up to try and give each one their acrimonious due. I finally found out there is a limit of how fired up I can get in one evening. I only have so much bile to spit up.

Thanks a lot guys.

I hope each one of you noticed my comments were low key and generic. I kept my tendency to dive off the deep end in check when it came time to let you know I dropped by. I reminded myself of the guy who owns the pizza joint next door. he started a diatribe 3 weeks ago about the financial crisis and every day I see him, it is like a new episode with the same plot. He doesn't even bother saying hello anymore, he just starts in where he left off yesterday.

I think we all need a day off from everything. A day of silence. A day to make the Earth stand still. A self imposed World Wide Time Out. The planet cannot not handle too many overly wound up humans at one time.

And on this day of universal calm, we will all stay silent as we sit comfortably under our favorite tree or in our favorite chair. We will contemplate our navels a spell. We will sip cool drinks and try to figure out how we can all just not open our mouths unless we have something positive to add to the over all condition we find ourselves in. We don't need to hold hands and sing. We don't need to kneel in prayer. We just need to take a breath and back it off a notch.

The idea appealed to me so much I calmed down. Caught my breath. Finally I considered the plus side of not letting the bullshit get to me. I also considered that I never "let" the Bullshit get to me. But somehow it always finds me.

Sadly this is the end.................Finis. Kaput. But I'll be back.

You have been warned.

(909 / 6125)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Watching a Cat Die

As I sit here and type, Bob is settled in next to me. Bob is on his last legs. Bob is dying. Bob has been a companion of ours for I guess 14 years. We brought him home from the Kennebunk Shelter as a kitten. Bob lived most of his life outside. He used our house as a place to sleep between adventures and catch a quick meal when his hunting skills let him down. Considering the dangerous environment out there, Bob has done very well.

The first time Bob did not check in for a week, we were sure we had lost another cat. But one morning, there he was, all beat up and looking pitiful on the front porch. He gladly came in, ate until I thought his stomach would burst and then slept for several days. But soon, he was back out again, carousing and raising Hell. Eventually we became used to his prolonged absences. He always came home.

Several months ago, we noticed Bob had lost weight and one eye seemed out of whack. He had no appetite. A vet visit was inconclusive. It could be a bug. It could be his thyroid gland. Kidneys were mentioned. Pills were prescribed.

At first Bob seemed to respond to the medication. He began to eat and gain back some of the weight he had lost. His eye cleared up. That lasted until a couple of weeks ago. Now he is worse than ever and almost blind. His relapse was dramatic and sudden. His health is deteriorating so quickly, every day he is noticeably worse than the day before. Yet, he still cries to go out.

And here is my problem. We want to protect him. By keeping him indoors, I guess we feel we are. Is dying slowly here inside somehow better than the quick death he will have out there in the pucker brush? I cannot help but feel bad over either certainty.

Of course we could take him to the vet and have him put down. Rationaizing that is always easier than dealing with a slow and prolonged process of death right in front of us. He does not seem to be in pain. He does not seem to be suffering. But he is dying. I cannot get past the sadness of losing him to reach the point of making the right decision.

It is almost as if Bob is a kitten again. Seeking comfort in my arms. Purring in my ear and rubbing his head against mine. A circle seems to be closing in on itself. Bob seems okay with it. I sure wish I was.


(441 / 5216)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When the Music is Over

On several recent commutes into the bike shop, the Doors tune "When the Music is Over" popped into my mind. I had recently ripped and then burned it onto a mix CD. I always listen to my new mixes several times in a row. So this tune popped up more than once.

It first came to my attention in 1967 or thereabouts. I had been buying albums from an Econoline van that stopped once a week at Clark's Tank & Tummy in Sanbornville to re-stock the 8-track rack next to the lunch counter. I pumped gas, changed oil and provided Joe, the owner with a convenient ass to chew on daily. Gas was maybe 30 cents a gallon. I paid $1.50 an album for anything the delivery guy had in the truck. I spotted "Strange Days" and liked the cover. I wore it out before Summer was over and bought a brand new copy to take back to school with me.

What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground
We want the world and we want it...

All the lyrics of this tune are excellent, but the ones I always wonder in awe over are these. Jim Morrison may have been an over intoxicated waste of breath many days of the week, but when he put his mind into it, his lyrics could blow me away. The mid 1960s represented the pinnacle of the World's total disregard for the planet. Polluted rivers, air, and lakes were everywhere. We punk boomers noticed the pollution and took environmental concerns with us as we were assimilated into the culture we would one day run for a spell.

This tune, specifically these few lyrics really relay the tone and feeling of the time. Memories of living in DC and days spent fishing the Potomac downriver from the city always come when I hear this tune. Pulling in condoms instead of fish. Watching barrels of who knows what tipped over and draining into the river in sight of the Capitol. Pollution became so bad in this country, we could not ignore it any longer.

Like or not, every generation seems to own something that has major impacts on future generations not on the planet yet. We boomers own, for good or bad, the green movement that came into it's own in the 1960s and 1970s. We embraced the idea of caring for the environment. Blame or credit can rightfully be laid at our door.

Some days I am sure we blew it. Other days, I am more forgiving. What if we had not raised a stink when we did? Where would the Earth be now? Dare say, much worse than it is now. But all in all, I think many of us boomers cast our idealism aside before we should have. Idealistic concern for the planet ended up taking a back seat to the in our face concerns like family , homes and bringing in some money every week. Convenience replaced concern. Being comfortable now and in the future caused many of us to disregard even reasonable measures to help the planet. We fell into the disposable consume for consuming sake mentality and Wal Mart became our factory store. We helped create awareness for the planet, but did little more than that. Following through became more work than we were willing to give.

The movement faltered but never disappeared. New laws were created to curb air pollution, acid rain and clean up toxic locations. Progress was made. However, the enthusiasm we had when we weren't paying for it diminished over time as the reality of the financial and convenience cost dawned on us. Now I talk to contemporaries who were once solid supporters of cleaning up our nest and many have lost their passion for a cleaner and healthier environment. They still complain about it, but when it comes time to put pressure on by vote or buying, many are lost in "what is the cheapest alternative". And they end up backing the status quo of the previously hated "establishment". As it stands now, I am not very proud of my "Boomer" brethren. They talked the talk once. Many even walked the walk once. Now it seems not many Boomers even want to hear about it.

The words of Jim and the Doors are even more relevant today than they ever were. We continue to "stab her with knives, tie her with fences and drag her down". All the while more of us stuff our heads in the sand and think the ride will never end. It will end. Believe it. I guess it depends on how important the future we won't be part of is to us now. Personally, I would like to think I am leaving the planet in better shape than I found it. At this point, it doesn't look good.

(860 / 4775)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Taking Time To Ignore It

I will often slip into a zone. Specifically I will find that the words I write seem to fall onto this screen by themselves. I become nothing but a conduit from some place not known into this place we call the here and now. I may begin with a plan and a point. But somewhere a synapse misfires or maybe enters that place unknown for a moment and a torrent of unannounced words will spring forth leaving me clueless how I came up with what I came up with.

Most of the time as I sit back and sip on whatever relaxing drink I have chosen and peruse the words I just spewed out I will laugh and either delete the random words of the moment or place them in the purgatory that exists just behind the screen you see now. That repository for all words saved whether posted or not.

On occasion though, I will be thrilled and pleased with the effort it didn't take to come up with such brilliant and insightful thought. I become my own best fan and break an arm patting myself on the back. For what it's worth, these moments are few and far between. They do happen however.

When I find myself enjoying the act of writing and then true pleasure with the result, I will post and assume everyone else is being dazzled by my brilliance. Yeah Right.

More often than not, the posts I take the most pleasure in are the ones that are ignored. Not even a token comment on some facet or point, just flat out ignored. The rest of the World has decided that my words that night are worthless.

I am okay with this I guess. I am puzzled more than anything else. When I think I am on, I am usually not. And then I will post what I consider a mediocre effort and the comments flood in.

I could delete the posts that no one paid attention to. I have that power. But I came to my blog that night to write. And write I did. Good, Bad or Indifferent, I figure it stays. I took the time to write it. Folks may as well take the time to ignore it.

Keep it 'tween the ditches....................

(376 / 3915)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shots with Hash

My recent rediscovery of whiskey brought back to mind a fellow who used to come into the bike shop on occasion. Zeke was his name and beating the odds was what he did with his life. He called me kid. And though he looked older than God, I found out he was only a few years older than I was.

The years had not been kind to Zeke. He walked hunched over with a kind of stumbling shuffle. One arm had been rendered useless from a stroke some years back when he still free based cocaine. I wasted a good portion of my life abusing substances of varying types and amounts. Zeke dedicated his whole life to the abuse of whatever he could get his hands on.

Zeke claimed to have ridden a bicycle across the country several times over the years. He still lusted after bikes and biking, but his bad habits had taken over and he was not physically able to even toss a leg over the bars anymore. Vicarious enjoyment by hanging out in my bike shop was about as close as he got now.

His first couple of visits underwhelmed me. Just another pathetic loser looking to waste my time along with his. I tried to blow him off and stay or at least look too busy to pay much attention. Zeke did not care. Only my presence was needed, not my attention. He would just lean on the glass counter and tell stories. Apparently more interested in telling the story than caring if anyone besides himself was paying attention.

He built grand stories of escapades and adventures he had had before Life began to take it's pound of flesh from him. It was not until the third or fourth visit that summer I started to warm up to him. He was damn funny and did not dwell on his own infirmities.

One day he shuffled in. After he had settled in on the counter, he looked around the shop to see we were alone. Satisfied we were, he said, "You look like a dope smoker or maybe an ex-dope smoker. Ever get into any good hash? Know where I can get some now?"

I looked up from the bike I was attempting to cajole back into shape. I was not sure how to respond. But I answered his question. “Uh No, haven’t seen hash of any kind for over 25 years. Those days are behind me now.”

“Damn. I just ran out and we won’t be headin back to Brookline, Mass until day after tomorrow. Plenty of hash in Boston. Guess I will have to finish that bottle of Johnny Walker Black without my favorite side dish. Nothing goes with hard liquor like some tokes of fine black hash. They were made for each other. A shot, then a couple of pulls and Life begins to make sense again." It's gonna be a tough couple of days."

I stopped my wrench twisting. Looking at Zeke with his broken body hunched over the counter, I thought, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Somehow I had managed to turn off my substance abusing switch. Zeke apparently never even looked for it.

"Jeez Zeke, sure you might not want to take it easy? Look at what the drugs and likker have done to you at this point."

"Shit Crum, I am well past any kind of salvation at this point. Liver is toast and I picked up the Cancer. I won't be back next summer. Or so the doctors tell me anyway. What got me into this mess is all I have now to numb what's coming."

I just stared at him. What do you say to someone who tells you they are dying? Apparently silence works. Zeke just kept on talking. Like he understood my discomfort and inability to come up with the right response. Or any response for that matter. He moved onto politics and how he had voted for Bush the first but didn't for Bush the Second.

I stopped him. "Zeke, I may have stopped smoking and carousing, but I know a guy who knows a guy. I'll drop a dime. Give me a call tomorrow."

"Can't. No phone at the camp. I'll swing in." Zeke slowly straightened up. His twisted torso fighting even the slightest demand placed on it. He turned and limped towards the door. Over his shoulder, "Later Man, and oh yeah, thanks."

I made some calls, got a number, and passed it on to Zeke the next day. That was the last time I saw him.

There's always a story to tell...........................

(766 / 3539)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Writing As It Happens

I thought I would try something different tonight. I wanted to catch Obama's speech on Health Care because I have a vested interest, what with being a newbie old fart, on what happens to Health Care over the next decade. In an attempt to understand his stand better I wrote a running commentary as the speech unfolded. Impressions, interpretations, and how I saw it in a nutshell. The result was interesting. To me anyway.

So Obama Man just walked in. I could hear the Sargent at Arms announcing his arrival in the background of the NPR commentary trying to keep us placated because the Prez is running late. Apparently Obama will spell out his views on what we should do with Health Care. He will one more time try to bridge the differences and sift out the rhetoric that means nothing and only causes emotions to get fired up.

Over what is obviously loud and boisterous applause, Obama - several times, "Thank You...clap clap clap......thank you......clap hoot holler...." Pelosi in charge starts pounding the podium with that massive mallet. She introduces the President. More applause. He begins.

He starts in with an overview of what he talked about the last time. How he won't give up until all Americans who have lost their jobs have found new employment. He won't give up until all who lost their homes have moved into new ones. He goes on saying through all our efforts we have indeed pulled our collective asses away from the brink. But there is more work to do. He is setting a grand tone.

I left for a moment. Parched, needed a drink of water.

Seems Obama is now jumping right in on the Health Care issue. Several examples of egregious and poor treatment at the hands of an indifferent Health Care Insurance Industry. Care denied for arbitrary and specious reasons. Costs have more than tripled in some period of recent memory. In other words, he tells us what almost all of us already knew. The system we have now sucks.

He proposes not to build from scratch, but work with the system we have and make it better. Now he begins to stroke Congressional egos by telling them how pleased he is with their efforts. On both sides. But we are only 80% there and that partisanship has been utilized to hamstring the efforts. Scare tactics using blatant untruths. He utters the word "Lies" and "Liars" I think. (That's gonna piss off some folks and ruffle feathers) He calls for action. The games are over. He calls on the Leadership to "deliver on Health Care".

His plan with substantial gaps because I ain't no stenographer.
~Nothing in our plan requires those who have insurance already to change providers. What it will do is clean up some of the rules.
~No pre-existing condition refusals
~No arbitrary caps on amounts of money
~Insurance policies will be required to cover pre-emptive measures - Mammograms, Physicals, blood work, etc.
~Instilling a plan that will include every American not covered to go to a new insurance market place and buy insurance as part of a bigger pool of people. Will make rates more competitive and cheaper.
~Interim Catastrophic Plan - The same plan McCain proposed back during the election
~Require some kind of "basic Insurance" for all Americans who can afford at least the basic coverage. We all need to work together.

Obama says he has no interest in putting the insurance companies out of business. He wants to hold them accountable. He is of the opinion that consumers do best when there is competition. Fair competition. The way it is set up now is not fair and often exploits the insured.

Calls both the Right and the Left out to stop the partisan crap. To the Left - Don't overstate the impact of the plan. To the Right - Stop the fear mongering of government takeover.

Paying the freight - Won't sign any bill that increases the deficit. Must be deficit neutral. Will cost about 900 billion dollars over the next ten years. Cheaper than the War in Iraq. Cheaper than the Tax cuts to the rich.

He feels that much of the cost can be born by making the system we have work more efficiently. Too much waste. Too much inefficiency. Not one dollar of the Medicare plan will be used to pay for this. Then he outlines some the measures his plan will utilize to protect and even enhance the coverage Seniors have and will have in the future.

Another water break.....I'm back ......clapping - guess I did not miss much.

He lays down the gauntlet. Lets everyone know that he is serious and will call out anyone who uses unfounded claims to misrepresent the plan he laid out. Killing the idea of Health care reform is not an option. Settling on the "status quo" again was not an option.

Then it gets mushy as Obama begins a tribute to Ted. Ted was not being ideological or partisan with his focus on Health Care. He just cared. Then a brief history of Social Security. 1935 - fears of Socialism were unfounded as Social Security came into existence. The stupid fear that this country will ever be socialist. That over the years, our leaders have ultimately understood that too much government is no better than too little government. A balance must be found and so far we seem to find it. Eventually.

And finally a rah, rah rah closing moment as he performs a "I still believe" and "We Can" moment - that we can still act when it is hard. We can bury the acrimony. We can do the right thing. See ya and thanks for your time.

Charles Boustany - Republican Hack Response

Republicans are pleased Obama came to Congress. The Republicans are ready to find ways to make Health Care more affordable. Republicans understand Americans want reform. Then it is onto their standard bullshit about it being nothing but Government Health Care. Faults Obama for not taking it off the table. What a maroon. Just because it is on the table does not mean it "has" to be part of the solution. Obama said as much.

Then ole Chuck starts beating the favorite Republican straw dog, er man - Tort Reform and how without it, the cost of Health Care will remain high. Standard crap from the Right. But somewhat muted because Obama was so very clear about the what, where, and how his plan would really work. Why has the party of my youth become such a cast of clowns?

I give Obama a B+ or maybe even an A- for this speech. I would give him an A but well, he was a tad kinder than I would have been to the boneheads in Congress. I'm way more disgusted I guess with the lot of them than he is. But President Obama spoke strongly, clearly and he did strike a line in the sand to a degree. And not just one between himself and the Republicans, but one between himself and Congress. He continues to do the job I envisioned he would. I just hope to see his success rate pick up some in the near future.

I am not sure why I even did this. I have to say though, writing my impressions and my take as I thought them was quite...... well shit, it was cool to do this. I have re-read the previous narration and decided that after some spelling corrections and straightening of a few (okay, more than a few) awkward phrases and such, I will let it go to post.


(1274 / 2773)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We Are Indeed Insane

Maybe I have re-discovered my sanity. And maybe it is just me returning to the insanity again and I haven't found my sea legs yet. I have never seen this country afflicted with as much hate and discontent as I am seeing now. The acrimonious exchanges between Right and Left have gotten worse, not better since Obama Man became President. The one thing I hoped for now seems even farther in the distance than it was when Dubya was the Man.

I search for the why of this wider divide. The economic upheaval of a year ago? The election of a Black President? The clashing of religious ideals with the political ideals of a nation split into two camps? Or might it just be the fear we all have over a future that is now just dawning on us as being something we had not bargained for. And thus had not prepared for?

I see and hear panic in almost everything making the news now. Seems everyone is looking for reasons for things that have no reason. They just happen. It seems that everything is someone’s fault. So we waste the precious time we have on this planet trying to fix the blame instead of fixing the problem.

And neither side is guilt free here. Even though they would have you believe it is the "them" of the other side that is responsible for Johnny not learning, Grandma not able to afford her heart medicine, or the loss of jobs in Dayton.

There is way too much to unite us. Why do we work so hard at dividing ourselves?

Call me disgusted with the lot of us....................

(269 / 1499)

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Marketing Ploy

Dave left my bike shop earlier tonight. In tow he hauled out a brand new custom build ride he assembled himself. Dave probably got home tonight with his new love and propped her up in the corner of his garage. He made sure she had any available light shining on her. He stepped back and I am sure he grinned.

I know this about Dave because he and I share similar cycling spirits. Had I been him tasting for the first time a piece of two wheeled art I had just completed, I would also have surely grinned. I might even have enjoyed that kind of satisfaction that visits us on rare occasions. The euphoria that starts somewhere deep inside overwhelming us and our only answer is to smile.

A bike build successfully carried out brings with it pleasure to all the senses. The meshing of colorful metals with technological purity reward the mechanic in the cyclist while also teasing the cyclist in that mechanic. Thoughts bounce from appreciating the effort to bring it all together to how and over what it will roll. Trails will fly by. Wishing to hear the hub whir as the tires break traction and then hook up. The aroma of new grease and chain lube blend with the smell of new rubber. Moments are spent trying to remember the two wheeled beast as just parts, pieces, nuts and bolts. We wonder at it's simplicity and are awed by it's complexity.

We stare at this yet untried machine. We know it will not let us down. We have planned. We have installed with care and concern. Positioned each part with precision. Agonizing every little detail, tipping a lever down just so and tweaking the chain line until it is perfect. Plucking nicely tensioned spokes promise us mechanical loyalty from this man made, man powered conveyance. Life makes sense for a moment.

Yeah, a new bike beats pretty much most anything I can think of.

Back in a Flash.............................

Thanks to Dash Jim for this fine photo of Dave and his new ride.

OH Yeah!

I started this post with ulterior motives. Once again I came with a plan to influence choices and sway focus. What resulted hardly worked out that way.

I have started yet another Blog. That makes three blogs in the official kinda way. My new blog is dedicated pretty much to cycling and my bike shop. It is intended to enhance my overall strategy to create a larger Web presence. In a business kinda way. So if you are feeling like visiting yet another new blog by some fool in Maine, stop by CRUM Cycles . It isn't or rather won't be just about bikes, shop rats and how anal retentive roadies just make my day sometimes. I figure to chronicle my re-birth as a business. Or keep track of it's demise. Either way, Life just got a tad more interesting.

(489 / 1230)

Giving Someone Else Some Due

I spotted this well written snippet by a fellow cyclist and just had to share.

If you ride you know those moments when you have fed yourself into the traffic, felt the hashed-up asphalt rattle in the handlebars, held a lungful of air in a cloud of exhaust. Up ahead there are two parallel buses. With cat's whiskers, you measure the clearance down a doubtful alley. You swing wide, outflank that flower truck. The cross-street yellow light is turning red. You burst off the green like a surfer on a wave of metal. You have a hundred empty yards of Broadway to yourself. ~Chip Brown, "A Bike and a Prayer"

* Image poached from Party Bots. It is a silk screen image they sell on tee shirts. The artist and main man is Karl Addison. Some cool stuff. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thoughts While Driving

I had considered another "Whiskey Wednesday" entry tonight. Last Wednesday while feeling the gut warmed euphoria of a couple of shots of whiskey, I thought," I oughta make this a weekly thing like other hip bloggers do. Seems many of them have some kind of regular hook to bring in the adoring fans. Yeah, I'll spend Wednesday night lightly sipping some decent whiskey and then discussing, pontificating, or spewing forth whatever comes out."

That was last Wednesday. Between then and now I have had a chance to consider the ramifications of such an obligation. Heavy thoughts weighed me down on several commutes back and forth the brutal 8 miles to the bike shop. I almost broke a sweat.

My first concern was could I live up to the higher bar I had constructed for myself? Having had 57 years to get to know my proclivities, I knew that committing to a regular anything was pushing my personal envelope past it's usual limits. I have my ritual bag pretty full what with waking up every day, going to work at least 5 days in a row, and then topping it all off with enough mental machinery to keep the blood flowing and somewhat oxygenated. Throw another "routine" in and well, one of the others might just suffer. This was my first "but".

My second concern came as an "Oh Yeah" moment. One of those moments when my mind was vacant of any thought as the pavement buzzed by and suddenly I remembered I had given up drinking many years ago. Only recently had I fallen off the wagon with my occasional intake of the Demon Rum. And while my flirtation with alcohol has been fun, I did have a good reason to stop the drinking. It had become a habit. And not a good habit. I stop short of saying I was an alcoholic, but I will say I was pretty much an all around champion substance abuser. If it gave me a buzz, hey I was ready. Alcohol had hung in the longest and when I sent it packing, I felt good about it. Insisting on downing some shots every Wednesday sounded suspiciously like the troublemakers inside were trying to subvert all those years of sobriety and clear thinking. The evil bastards never go away, they just get tucked into nooks and crannies.

Several days passed and suddenly it was today. Wednesday. On my way home I found the best rationalization for not tipping a few today. I just flat out did not have a hankerin. I came home tonight and looked at the bottle of Rebel Yell and nothing happened. No trepidation, no lust. Nothing. So tonight I don't drink. Tomorrow, hey who knows? Creating an excuse to drink is how it all started in the first place.

BUT - this post was to be about thoughts while driving. Not about whiskey, routines, or stupid human tendencies. Tonight I was going to relay my thoughts about my lifetime of thinking while behind the wheel, in a jet plane, on a bicycle pedaling from here to there. Tonight I was going to talk about how I have spent so many minutes, hours, days, years traveling somewhere from somewhere else. I had a whole post thought up about the odd things that came to mind while in transit. Some kicked off by a visual cue. Some teased into existence by some news clip or angry snippet from a disagreement encountered the day before. I was also going to pick away at the edges of some of the darker thoughts I have had while moving from point A to Point B. I mean, I cannot possibly be the only one who has had evil or nasty thoughts. I assume we all do from time to time. At least that is my hope. Certainly the variety of evil people, things and deeds written about over the years would indicate I am not alone.

My failure to deliver on the idea of this post as originally intended only proves the strongest underpinning for why I should not try to commit to a weekly post that has the same focal point or starting point each week. Hell I can't even keep the same thought in line for more than a minute or two. Maybe next time.

So goodnight to all you other Space Cadets out there.........You know who you are if you know what I mean........