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Latest Humorous T-shirt Slogan:
"You Wish!"
This one has to be taken in context to be appreciated. The girl wearing this belly shirt was maybe 5'0" tall, with a muffin top going on, despite the fact that she was clearly in her third trimester of pregnancy. In addition she was wearing a thong that came up past her low-rise jeans and pushed her muffin top down over the edge to really emphasize the roll. I'm not in perfect shape so I don't expect that others should be, but when you are wearing that shirt, along with the rest of the outfit, you open yourself to scrutiny (and perhaps random looks of horror).

It's fun to hate:
The Soccer Moms who insist that they drive gas-guzzling SUV's for the safety of their children despite the fact that they are 6 times more likely to be in a rollover accident than any other vehicle. It's like beating your child unconscious with the butt of your gun so that he will remain on the floor, thus making him less likely to be hit by a random bullet coming through the front window.

When Shadowtwin reigns supreme:
There will be mandatory, passive birth control required to participate in any form of government assistance. If you can't afford to raise your child on your own we are here to help you, but we must first make sure that your reproductive organs are adequately contained. If you don't like that policy all you have to do is support your kids your damn self!
Vote Shadowtwin!

Wildly inaccurate, yet shockingly precise, predictions based completely on happenstance and arbitrary universal fluctuations.
Your Horoscope:

Sagitarius: 11/22-12/21
A typographical error in your Church's newsletter will lead to you performing sex acts on dozens of anonymous strangers in your pursuit of "oral highground."

Capricorn: 12/22-1/19
The stars did recently tell your wife to "listen to her heart" regarding whether or not she should leave you. The stars did not intend for you to listen to her heart. But once you used that bonesaw on her sternum (not trusting the stethoscope which just responded with a cryptic thumping sound), we're pretty sure she made up her mind anyway.

Aquarius: 1/20-2/18
The stars would like to apologize for stating in their last prophecy, "Be wary of the stranger you meet at beach this weekend. The stars aren't sure why, but they don't trust him." Through a cosmic hiccup, that information was supposed to be released this month. The August prophecy should have read, "A dark and handsome stranger will approach you on the beach, profess his love for you, and sweep you away for a jetset marriage. After which you will lead a long, happy, prosperous, healthy life as the Queen of a small island nation." We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Pisces: 2/19-3/20
Your new stopwatch will allow you to time how long you can hold your breath underwater down to the thousandth of a second. Unfortunately, poor planning will mean that you are not able to actually share the information with anyone.

Aries: 3/21-4/19
Your innovative new device for beauticians to use while giving pedicures can be wildly successful and make you quite wealthy IF you change the name. Trust us, no one is going to buy a "Ped-O-File".

Taurus: 4/20-5/20
Your Mother always told you to wear clean underwear just in case there was an accident and paramadics had to see them. But as you board that plane today, the stars want you to know that you needn't worry about it. The debris field will be more than 8 square miles, making it impossible to find most human remains. Not to mention that the ensuing fire burned so hot that it disintegrated not only all fabric, but most of the thin metals aboard as well.

Gemini: 5/21-6/21
You just had to get that genital piercing, didn't you? The stars tried to warn you not to, but you went ahead and did it anyway... Now all your worst fears will come to bear when, at a campground this weekend, you run afoul of this guy:

Cancer: 6/22-7/22
The less traveled by areas of the Grand Canyon's north rim offer some of the most breathtaking views of this natural wonder. You will soon find out they also include some of the worst footings and none of the handrails. They do, however, provide equally awe-inspiring, terminal velocity impacts.

Leo: 7/23-8/22
The stars heard your pleas, begging for someone who you could share your love with and embrace for the rest of your life. If you are still single, throw your arms around the closest person to you at 3:44pm GMT on Dcember 9th -That'll be the one. Trust us, you won't have time to be picky...

Virgo: 8/23-9/22
The stars have piled up most of your things on the front porch. You can stay at a friend's house, but you aren't coming back home until you admit what you did and apologize. The stars' Mother was right about you... (you must have really pissed them off; the stars were in tears while they told me this)

Libra: 9/23-10/22
The stars have been doing a little thinking and a lot of math. The population of planet earth is roughly 6,796,590,704. That means that roughly 566,382,558 people share each astrological sign. About 18,620,796 have the same birthday. Based on average life expectancy as many as 248,277 people were born on the same day, in the same year, for every zodiac sign. How can one statement possibly predict the future of all of them? Ehh, fuck it. "A full moon while Venus is rising is an omen of good things to come."

Scorpio: 10/23-11/21
They say you never know how you are going to react to a crisis. After a home invasion this weekend you will: You will scream, "Do whatever you want to my wife, but leave me alone!" You will then create a distraction by throwing your newborn at the assailant as you dive through the window to safety. Now you know.

Music lost to history:

Aerosmith - Dream On When I started doing these, I could never have imagined that I would be putting an Aerosmith song here. Since I was born in 1974, this song is well before my generation. It was recorded in 1972 and released in 1983 on Aerosmith's Self-Titled Album, but to read the information on it at Wikipedia most of us would become familiar with it from a re-release in 1976.

Like most of the music being released in the late 60's/early 70's that was pushing the rock-n-roll envelope, Dream On relies heavily on solid composition and and melody. Before the era of the modern effects processor, these bands had no distortion to hide behind (or very little), and synthesized instruments hadn't yet made their way into music. In that way the music always sounds more raw to us today because, quite simply, it was. While it seems laughable to think about today, music like this was so far removed from the bubble-gum pop of the 50's that it still wasn't accepted into the mainstream. As the baby-boomers became the target demographic, the rock-n-roll movement really started to pick up speed, with bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith clearing the path for the much darker and heavier bands like Black Sabbath.

While I (and most of my generation) are probably far more familiar with the Aerosmith of the late 80's and early 90's, the reason this song makes it onto my MLtH page comes down to one thing: Age. Not necessarily the age of the song; In fact, as I sat down to do the research for this today, I had no idea when it was released, but would have guessed (closely) the mid 70's. Tyler was born March 26, 1948, meaning that this song was written when he was only 24 years old. I'm not sure why, but I have always thought this song was pretty amazing given his age at composition. I suppose it is human nature to wax poetic about the days of yore and the imminent passage of time, but the melody sets a mood that makes you feel it right along with him. As the song nears the end and his lyrics become more more frenzied, you can almost feel the pain (longing?) in his voice. Listen to it with headphones and no distraction sometime, you'll see what I mean.

I wrote a short bit some time ago about Kelly Sweet's cover of this song (see the video on Youtube). While I have since gotten over the initial hatred I felt towards the cover of the song, I still just can't like it. The words are there; she hits the notes; but I just can't hear it in her voice. As if there is somthing very personal about the song and Tyler's deliverance of the lyrics that just can't be duplicated. At least to me.

That said, I have heard Aerosmith doing the song with an orchestra, and it also seems to lack the passion of the original. So perhaps the thing that I like so much about it is the under-produced, raw sound of it, or it may be that I am still hearing it through the ears of that impressionable youth that heard if for the first time in a dusty old Van with my Uncle Art. Either way, it seems it is Lost to History.

Music Lost to History Archive

I Can't Believe it's Not Porn!
WhorePresents.comYep, it's not porn. It's not a site with gifts for sale either, which is probably a good thing since I can't imagine that any woman would be at all flattered to get a gift -no matter how nice- in a box that says "Whore" on it.

Daily Reading:
Magazine Man
Shane Nickerson
Wil Wheaton
Hoyazo's Poker Blog

My reading list changes from time to time, and there are many sites that I visit that are not on the list. They are listed in the order that I visit them, enjoy!

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Monday, October 31, 2005

The ghost in the attic

Since it is nearing Halloween, I guess I better tell this one.

This was the house that I lived in as a child, and only until my parents divorced. It was not particularly old, 30-40 years just really isn't old when you are looking at architecture. The house that I am currently living in (and buying) has been here since at least 1896, the insurance adjuster that looked at the house had to fudge the number to 1986 to get us insured though. Why, I got no idea. This house has been standing in exactly the same place for more than a hundred years. No storm has been able to move it, no amount of flooding has relocated it, it is pretty solid. So solid, in fact, that all of the exterioir walls are 18" thick, and made of brick, mortar and adobe. No wolf will blow this place down. (though the 18" thick walls really do suck when you have to replace pipes and the such, as I learned last year at Christmas.)

The house of my childhood lacked at least a couple of things. A foundation would be the most notable. The house was built on sticks that just stuck up out of the ground, there was no concrete involved. Dad paid, to believe the story I heard, $5,000 in cash for that little house. It was really a great little house (here I must emphasize the word little.)

Some time after Dad bought the house, he realized that he would need to find a way to add sleeping quarters for all of his children (technically, it would have been his lack of condom use that led to this situation) . There were actually only two bedrooms in the house at that point, the parents and the kids. Each of those rooms was tiny. Like, you could fit a bed and a dresser but that was about it. In fact we kids actually had the larger bedroom since they still haven't invented the triple-decker bunkbed. My brothers got to sleep on the bunkbeds, I got to sleep on a mattress on the floor (to dad's credit, he did actually nail some boards together around the mattress, but it was hardly a bed).

So it was out of necessity that dad finally decided to add on to the house. Well, not really add on per se, since there was never anything added to the exterior, let's call it a redneck renovation. There were two major changes made to the house out of necessity (in which order they came I really can't remember, but they were around the same time), one was to turn the attached garage into a living room. This freed up the previous living room to be the new master bedroom. That change should have meant that there was another bedroom for the kids, alas that bedroom was turned into dad's den. Well, he called it a den but the fact is that all he kept in there was guns and all of the equipment that he used to reload all of his shell casings. It did have a desk in it, but I doubt there was a single paper in the thing. Oddly, the new living room (old garage) was the only part of the house that had an actual concrete slab as a subfloor. That conversion was pretty easy when compared to the next. It was time to build second story sleeping quarters.

If I haven't yet mentioned that my father was cheap, now would be a very opportune time to do it. He left the garage door mounted to the new living room since he thought, and I don't know if it is true, that it couldn't be considered "livable space" (by the assessor) if it still had the garage door. So when he decided to turn the disused attic space into bedrooms it was a very covert operation. The water heater (no, not a "hot water heater", if the water was already hot why in the hell would it need to be heated) was located in a small closest just across from the bathroom, the remaining space between the water heater and outside wall was a closet in the bedroom. Dad thought that he could turn that space (the closet behind the water heater), which I am guessing was roughly twenty inches wide (probably closer to two feet), into a staircase. Which he did. Much construction ensued.

The former disused attic was taking on the shape of livable space, to a point. The apex of the ceiling up there must have been five feet or less, near the walls the ceiling would have been more like 2.5 feet. A couple of closets went in, if you can call a galvanized pipe that goes between a couple of pieces of lumber a closet, that is. He did enclose the closet like spaces with some faux knotty pine veneer, it didn't look that bad really. A family of four foot tall people would have loved this house. I never realized just how short that ceiling was, nor how small the house was in general, since I was only five or six years old at the time.

Dad expertly left the closet door in place, that being the access to the newly christened upstairs. That way the county assessor would not know that he had increased the square footage of the house without increasing its size. Problem is, my oldest brother happened to ask the assessor if he/she (I don't remember, probably a man though) had seen the new upstairs. So dad ended up with a house that was worth quite a bit more, had to pay way more in taxes on it, but, it also had a staircase so narrow that I would probably have to climb it sideways at this point. What the hell, I got my own room out of the deal. Actually, no, I don't think I did. I remember having a bed opposite my middle brother's bed in the one half of the new attic/bedroom, but I think the eldest brother might have gotten the other half of it all to himself.

--In the interest of journalistic integrity I have just fact-checked this portion of my story. My mother could not confirm the actual chronology of the home construction project, nor the living arrangements after the new upstairs. Thankfully, my middle brother was able to corroborate the aforementioned timeline, and tell me that the room that used to be the kids room was now the room with a brand new Bumper Pool table in it. Later it also had a pinball machine in it, though only briefly. We (myself and my middle brother) did share the one upstairs room while the oldest brother had the other. After this conversation it all came flowing back to me.--

I can clearly remember the living arrangements. I know that the new living room predated the new upstairs. The eldest brother got the new room closer to the railroad tracks. My middle brother and I got the one nearest our neighbors. The old "master bedroom" was converted to dad's den. The old "kids bedroom" was converted to a game room. This is exactly why they should use cubic footage when determining living space: The upstairs shares the "square footage" of the lower level, but there is no way that anyone over the height of about 50 inches could actually live there.

Enough about the house though. Now comes the oddity.

For reasons that science can not explain, we ended up with a ghost in the attic. I am a pretty rational person (at least I have become one since then) and I can't figure out what logic would have placed that ghost there. The house had never been haunted when it was a single story dwelling, the alleged ghost was never seen anywhere except in the upstairs (which didn't exist until 1980 or so), the house was only 30-40 years old at best, yet, there was a ghost in there. Why. Why was the ghost there?

While I was on the phone with my brother today I asked him about the ghost, he remembers it just as vividly as I do. It was a guy who looked a lot like Abe Lincoln, wore the stove-pipe hat as well, wore a red and black plaid shirt, and just sat there on a stump. Sitting on the ethereal stump, on the second floor of a house that was relatively new, this guy would either clean the barrel of his rifle, or just have an axe leaning against his leg. What I didn't know at the time was that the way dad used a rod to clean his rifle was exactly the same way that they packed powder into them in the old days. Was he cleaning his rifle or loading it? Why did he appear to be sitting on the stump (he wouldn't have fit in the room if he was standing)? Why did he look like Abe Lincoln (the only character that young minds can identify with from the civil war era.)? Ditto for the stove-pipe hat.

I would love to say that I saw this apparition a few times in my youth and then grew out of it, but the fact is that I never did. When I moved back into that house when I was about twelve years old, that guy was a pretty constant presence. He was never vicious, never did anything that could be construed as harmful, yet I was still horribly afraid of him. Of course he has yet to kill me, knock on wood. There was one night, as I was climbing the narrow stairs, that I saw the guy just at the landing, I was so freaked out that I left my dad a note on his door saying that I could not turn off my light because I feared the guy would kill me if I did. That note still existed shortly before dad's death, I know that because he showed it to my two best friends, only months before his death. I was the only one that wasn't laughing.

I have never been one to put a lot of stock into the "paranormal" things that happen. Hell, even real believers in UFO's have to admit that 90-95% of them are easily explained away. That is all well and good. But I saw this guy either cleaning or loading a civil war era rifle right in front of my eyes, wearing a stove-pipe hat, no less. It was not a cloud that might have resembled a hat, it was an actual guy, sitting there performing the action. My brothers both saw him as well, as such we were all scared to go up the stairs alone.

The guy that I saw was actually there. Whether it was due to lights in the background making it look like he was there when he really wasn't, that is something that I will never know. I do know that all of us brothers saw the guy, in exactly the same place, for years. He never tried to injure anyone, but that didn't seem to sate us. It is hard to sleep when you know there is someone in the room next to you with a loaded civil war rifle, after all.

The only thing I really wonder about is why the guy/ghost only showed up when we got a second level to the house. Is that the same height that he was at when he was eventually hanged? Who knows.

I hate that freaky house.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Rich Oil Companies laugh at consumers

I saw the news on the internet yesterday, then on the front page of the Arizona Republic paper today, it turns out that the big oil companies really are making a mint off of the oil shortage. That is all well and good, that it to be expected, they are in business to turn a profit, but $10,000,000,000 in profit, for a single oil company, in a single quarter, seems a bit excessive. (that number was later revised to just over $9,000,000,000)

I am no financial analyst, but it seems to me that the oil companies may have been getting a bit too rich off of the oil shortage. Their profit margins seem to indicate that it really wasn't costing them any more, why did it cost all of the customers more? Stupid supply and demand.

My main beef with this situation is that many commuters can no longer afford to buy other things. We are coming up on the holiday season and your average, middle class family is going to have to spend most of their disposable income on gas and increased heating costs, as opposed to throwing it away on petty crap in the malls. I am betting that this Christmas shopping season is going to hit with a resounding thud. But, the oil companies will have record profits for the quarter, yet again!

Wouldn't it be nice if there were some sort of system whereby the oil companies were forced to follow strict guidelines when gouging their customers? Of course that would have to be a federal act and even I laugh at the thought of the current administration approving any form of regulation for big oil. That would be a serious conflict of interests.

I hope that at the very least, this "oil crisis" will force some staunch republican voters to think that maybe we need to look into funding for alternative energy sources. While there is no way that can truly matter for at least a couple of years, it would at least be something. If, once the current administration is out, the legislation were to pass immediately, wouldn't that be a nice legacy for Mr. Bush. The President who refused to pass legislation that could possibly take away from his massive oil empire. That has to be right up there with "The Great Emancipator" as far as single phrase summations go.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Finally a lawsuit for the DaVinci code

When I saw the headline that read Date set for Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial. I just had to click through to read it. I figured it could only be one of two things. The first that Dan Brown had somehow filed suit against himself for plagiarising his first novel Angels and Demons, which didn't seem likely, the second being that Dan Brown and his publishers had finally gotten around to suing the people who made the movie National Treasure. It turns out it was neither. It is actually Dan Brown and his publisher being sued (it is short so I will quote it all):

LONDON (Reuters) - Two historians are suing the publishers of Dan Brown's best-selling religious thriller "The Da Vinci Code" in a case which lawyers said Thursday was due to start early next year.

Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent are suing Random House for lifting "the whole architecture" of the research that went into their 1982 non-fiction book "The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail."

Lawyers on both sides of the case met Thursday to thrash out technical details, and said a trial date had been set for February 27.

They would not comment on how the trial might affect sales of the hugely successful novel or the distribution of a major Hollywood adaptation which Sony Pictures plans to release in May next year.

Random House said a "substantial" part of the claim by Baigent and Leigh had been dropped as a result of Thursday's discussions, and added in a statement:
"Random House is delighted with this result, which reinforces its long-held contention that this is a claim without merit."

A spokeswoman for Leigh said he still intended to pursue his claim against the publishers of Brown's book, which has 36 million copies in print worldwide and has upset Catholics for suggesting Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child by her.

The same theory is put forward in The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail.
Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown's book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. A third author of the 1982 book, Henry Lincoln, has decided to stay out of the action.

Ironically, a special hardback, illustrated version of their book, called Holy Blood, Holy Grail has just been reissued by none other than Random House.

In August, Brown won a court ruling against another writer, Lewis Perdue, who claimed The Da Vinci Code copied elements of two of his novels, "Daughter of God" and "The Da Vinci Legacy."

Perdue had sought $150 million in damages and asked the court to block distribution of the book and the movie adaptation, which features Tom Hanks alongside French actress Audrey Tautou.

That is hardly how I thought this was all going to come down. Of course the fact that I found it in the Odd News section might be an indicator of just how seriously the allegations are being taken. The allegations are pretty ridiculous when it comes right down to it. I don't know if Brown ever looked at the particular book that they are suing him for plagiarising, but I am damn sure that Brown did a lot of homework on the book to make sure he had everything else (location, pictures, etc.) covered. I bet he referenced tons of non-fiction while he was researching aspects of the plot of the novel. That is what you do if you want people to take this type of a novel seriously.

Trying to sue someone for researching a subject before writing about it is a bit suspect anyway. That would necessarily mean that every college thesis is basically plagiarism. You have to reference dictionaries and reference books to build a base for the project, not to mention newspapers and magazines, yep, you plagiarised them all. Nevermind the fact that you are only looking for actual facts. Hell, I have been plagiarizing math my entire life: at some point I read that 1+1=2, I have written that very statement many times over the years.

What I really loved about the article, though, was this quote: Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown's book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. First off, the characters name is Sir Leigh Teabing, which is in no way an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. If you were to leave the "Sir" off of his name you could spell Leigh, you could spell Baigent, but where the hell would you get the and? Second, if you were really plagiarising someone's work, would you make an anagram of their name that only required moving a letter or two? Personally I would at least mix the letters together rather than using the exact name for the first name then barely mixing up the last. I would never use a name like Mark Waint if I happened to be ripping off Samuel Langhorne Clemens Mark Twain. Tim Warnak is the first name that I can quickly anagram from Mark Twain, and, as an added bonus, it doesn't seem to make it glaringly obvious that it is an anagram.

The lawsuit seems to be claiming that when those two guys wrote a book in 1982, they were the only ones in the entire world that had ever thought that maybe Jesus had actually married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child or children, which is completely untrue. There are even some religious scholars that admit it is a possibility, since the biblical texts are far from a complete and accurate historical document. However, religious scholars are not Priests (or the pope for that matter), therefore the church refuses to accept any possibility the Jesus ever fornicated with a woman (or man. Had to throw that in just to piss off religious zealots). I can see their logic. The bible doesn't say that Jesus ever married anyone, sex out of wedlock is a sin, Jesus never sinned, therefore he died a virgin.

Thing is that the bible leaves out a lot of important details. Like why God hid a bunch of huge dinosaur bones under the ground, forced them to fossilize, then let modern man find them. Were you to take the bible literally, you would simply have to believe that Noah loaded two of every dinosaur onto his boat, along with two of every other species on the planet (many of which eat wood, which must have sucked. Imagine trying to save all of the species only to find that on your fifth day, out of forty, the insects have eaten the majority of your boat. Sucks to be Noah). That must have been a damn big boat, and a monumental undertaking. I would probably be more inclined to believe the story had the bible started out, "In the beginning, God created a Huge ass boat, knowing he would need it later. Then he created the Heavens and the Earth, which was easy stuff after that boat. God realized that the boat would not actually fit on the face of the earth so, rather than scrapping the boat (he spent some time on that thing, it was all pimped out), he killed all of his pet dinosaurs and hid them way under the ground. God then used his power to shrink the boat to such a point as it would fit on the earth (sail the earth? not so much, it was still big enough that, stern to bow, it was roughly the diameter of the earth). God then killed off many other large species of animals, in the hopes that he would be able to get his boat small enough to actually be able to move around the earth using its waterways. Once God had destroyed hundreds of thousands of species, he got angry and said God Damn It. God ordered Noah to load onto the boat whatever would fit, which was roughly 300 species. Now God had to atone for the sin of using his own name in vain. It took him millennia to figure it out, but he eventually decided on the "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" scam: Pretend to have a son, make the people crucify him (as his son), boom, instant atonement for his sin."

Makes more sense than the bible.

This has gone a bit off topic though (can you say understatement?). I am gonna call it a post.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tesas Hold 'em

I'm relatively sure that this post is going to bore the hell out of any potential readers (not that I am sure I have any potential readers, mind you), but I am going to post it anyway.

I have been playing Texas Hold 'em for several months now, with limited success. I have tried to avoid reading any strategy guides for the game since learning it myself, with no preconceived notions, seems so much more enjoyable than it would be if I was thinking back on what someone else told me I should do in a given situation. It is probably a really bad idea to play the game with no instruction, however I have limited my gaming to (mostly) games that are just for fun, as opposed to the games where you use real money (though I have played a few of those as well and I am still in the positive -of course the only money I have wagered on the game so far has been change).

I have learned a great deal about the game while playing with fake money. Honestly, I think I have learned a lot more about myself than the game, but I think that is the biggest part of getting better. It took me a hell of a long time to figure out that some of my decisions were just plain foolish. I am still making some pretty foolish decisions which, more often than not, lead to me losing the hand and smacking myself on the forehead. However, some of the bad decisions work out in my favor and make me think that if I make the same bad decision later it will work out for me again. It never does.

Do you remember that old Kenny Rogers song The Gambler? I approached Texas Hold 'em with that song in mind (poker training through sappy country songs, it is a marvel that it didn't work out, eh?). That mantra might work for five card draw, but it certainly doesn't work in Hold 'em. Hold 'em gives you only two cards, while there are another five that belong to everyone at the table. That is a completely different animal. The song was partially right, but, it turns out that in Texas Hold 'em, you don't need to "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." All you really need to know is when to fold 'em. Which is most of the time.

It took me a damn long time to wrap my mind around Hold 'em. I was used to playing the five card draw games where I knew that whatever I had no one else did. If you get dealt a pair of aces in draw poker there is no way that anyone else can have three (if they aren't cheating). If you get dealt the pair of aces in Hold 'em it is entirely possible (however unlikely) that someone else as the same hand. Once I finally got my mind wrapped around that, I started playing a hell of a lot better.

The unfortunate part of Hold 'em, at least for me, is that it requires a hell of a lot of patience. I have had times where I folded before the flop more than ten consecutive times; I even folded from the big blind when I had a shit hand (3-8 off suit) when someone raised. I would guess that I have to fold 80% or more of the time because the cards just aren't likely to fall my way. Even when I have something that could be good, however unlikely, I usually end up folding it. The 2 and 5 of hearts could be a straight flush, maybe a full house, maybe a three of a kind, maybe a flush, maybe a straight, maybe two pair, maybe one pair, but someone else may have a pair of aces and flop the four of a kind (I must confess that I have yet to actually fold before the flop on any hand where I could possibly get a straight flush. Though I usually do fold immediately after the flop, since it has never gone my way.). It gets tedious and boring at times.

Folding on damn near every hand has its advantages though. When I am in a game and fold five or six consecutive hands, people seem to take notice. So when I get a decent hand and call the bet I am taken more seriously than the guy who tries to bluff every hand (not that he is bluffing per se, just that he figures his 2-7 off suit can turn into a full house with the flop). Usually by time I actually get into a hand there will be a couple of good players with most of the chips, while there will be a couple with virtually no chips. I will have very near what I started with, since I am playing to not lose most of the time, playing to win only when I have a really good hand. The other players at the table seem to figure out that if I am in, while not a blind, I have something. Which is basically the only way that you can bluff in this game.

Now the reason I wrote the post:

So it was that I was dealt The Hammer (2-7), after a half a dozen pre-flop folds, and I decided I would try to bluff. I bet 3x the big blind, expecting no takers, but there were two who called. Shit, it was game over. But, and miraculously, the flop brought up 7,7,2. A betting war ensued. I had the boat, albeit a low boat, I figured the hand was mine. Tons of chips later, we were on to the turn. The turn was a Queen, the betting war continued; I went all in. One of the others walked away ran folded. The other buy called. By this point I was a bit nervous, what did the other guy have?

I will tell you what he had. He had a pair of Queens. Thus, he got two pair from the flop. He also got the boat from the turn, but his boat was way better than mine. While it is not possible to see the other player's cards (at least on the service I use, even on all in), I figured I was still in good shape. I had my 7-2 boat going for ages now, what could he possibly have? Queens, that is what he could, and did, have. I didn't realize how close I came to losing until well after the river dropped the final seven. My four of a kind beat his full house. But I came dangerously close to losing that hand.

That was when I decided that I really needed to tighten up a bit and assume that whatever the best possible hand was, someone other than me actually had it, and I was betting against him/her. I end up folding the majority of the time, but I don't lose nearly as much when I fold as I do when I play through with a really shitty hand.

It was a lesson learned.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tin-foil hat time!

Like most educated people I believe absolutely everything that I read. As a result of that I try to make sure that I don't read anything that I might disagree with. Keeps me from having to change my thoughts and views on key subjects. That might not all be entirely true, but it is to a point. I probably believe a lot more of what I read than I really should. That is why I am now sporting this aluminum sailor's hat, I don't want the government to be reading my thoughts while I type this post (though I guess they could just read the post anyway, maybe I just like the damn aluminum hat. What is so wrong with that?!).

The radio station that I listen to all the time was talking about A JFK Conspiracy Website. Most notably, they were talking about a particular little video clip that was on that particular website. I had to go take look.

image courtesy of The image that they were talking about is over there on the right. All that I can say is that there must have been an expert in Photoshop that was able to pull that little thing off. To be fair, it has probably been a few years since I saw the actual footage of the event, this might not look anything at all like the way it actually went down. I mean I know that the driver didn't do it, but I don't remember if he turned to look back at Kennedy or other such nuances. Still, I say, that is some damn good Photoshop work.

Since I was already on the aforementioned website, I figured I would just look around a little bit. They have tons of stuff on there. I only clicked through about three of the pages, they go into way more (possible) detail than I care to look at. But damn are they ever thorough. One of the links is (from a different site) an hour and a half presentation of the case for conspiracy, which points directly to former president George Herbert Walker Bush. Incidentally, if you watch that whole video let me know and I will send you my tin foil hat. I skimmed through a couple of other pages, including one page that was an alleged confession from the guy that actually shot Kennedy from the front. Fascinating stuff.

Let me set aside the foil hat for a moment (maybe). I have always found it pretty odd that JFK's murder was so quickly put onto Lee Oswald. The position that he was supposedly in (you know the one, the book depository) was well behind the car, didn't have a very good view and would be the least likely spot for a sniper to set up (of course that is exactly why it is assumed that he did it from that position). The thing is, had the sniper been in the book depository, he would have had a much better shot as the car was coming directly at him than he had while it was driving away. If your goal is to make sure that you kill someone, wouldn't you take your best shot? Why wait until the car turns the corner, which forces a more difficult shot? Just going for skill points?

I don't believe that the assassination was masterminded by anyone in the government, but I also don't think that just one guy was responsible for it. The official "Warren Report" seems pretty bogus, but so do most of the government conspiracy things that I read on this website. I am sure that the truth has to fall somewhere between the two. Just where the truth lies (interesting wordplay, that) may never be known.

Now I will put aside my foil hat until I decide to talk about UFOs.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No hand basket for you!

When I left off, after a very long aside about car wrecks, I made the statement that Hell was now looking to me for pointers. I still consider that to be true. The fact is that I am going to really have to sugar coat this next section to make it possible to post it at all. The people involved are all still alive, all have their livelihoods to think about, and probably wouldn't want to recount the experience anyway. If I ever get around to writing a story about my life I might be able to recount this all factually, for now I am going to have to settle on vague details and no names.

I was on the lam at this point. I would have honestly been arrested if I happened across the path of any law enforcement officer. It is not that I am proud of the fact that I fled the state to avoid my just due, no, it was more about being young and stupid. Of course the last thing that I wanted in my new home was to come into contact with any sort of police officer. Much to my horror, I found that the little trailer park my mother lived in was basically 'Crack Central' in the town. Frequented by junkies and the cops alike. Just fucking perfect.

I have never been in law enforcement, but I can tell you that if it takes them months to identify and bring down drug dealers they simply aren't trying. All you really have to do to find the dealer is find out which houses still have lights on at 3am, have cars coming and going every five minutes around that time, and a couple of guys deciding that this is the perfect time to paint the house. This is likely, at the very least, a distribution center of small amounts of the substance.

So I had gone from the hell I was in in Oregon, where it was easy to simply blend in and not be noticed, to being in the middle of 'Crack Central' in a brand new state. A place where the cops looked at everybody with a suspicious eye. I didn't want to be any part of it, but the truth is I really didn't have a choice.

...Scene Deleted...

I had been working there for only a few months when the owner began to feel a bit of pity for me. Especially since my Mom was now planning on returning to Oregon, the state I really needed to avoid for a while. The owner gave me quite a deal on a little studio apartment, so good that I won't even go into detail here. It was at exactly this point that my life started to suck just a bit less.

I was able to pay off all of my outstanding court fees in Oregon, as well as almost 10,000 dollars in debt in that state in only a couple of years. All, that is, except for one outstanding DUI conviction that I had agreed to go through a diversion course to strike from my record. I made many attempts to resolve that issue. The problem is that the judge in Oregon wanted me to actually appear in his courtroom to talk to him. I was in no position to make a jaunt across a few states to talk to the judge, I needed to be able to resolve this over the phone. No go.

It seems that when I fled the state I had not left a forwarding address (well, duh! That was why I fled the state.), therefore I had failed to appear in court a few times, since I had never received the summons. The judge thought that I might be a "flight risk". Which I think is wonderful. I fled the state, lived in a different state for a couple of years, then I contacted the court to try to take care of the matter, then they thought that I might be a "flight risk". Way to mind your records.

I had exactly two options. The first was to go back to Oregon to face my day in court. This option would only suck because they would likely add on failure to appear charges for every summons they sent, yet which I never received. The second option was just to wait for the statue of limitations to run out. It is only seven years, after all. That is what I did.

Over the years I befriended a woman who works at the local court (the small town that I live in is actually the county seat), she gave me a couple of ideas about how I could try to remedy the situation. One of them was that I could ask them if they would let a judge in the State and County I was in rule on it, still the judge would not allow it; he wanted to see me in his courtroom. I was never able to resolve that whole situation, well not in the way I would have liked to, but it eventually went beyond the number of years where they would have been able to prosecute. Biggest wimp out of all time.

Once the time frame for prosecution had expired, I called the courts in Oregon to see if I had any outstanding fines. I did, to the tune of only 700 dollars. I wrote a check out and put it in the mail. A couple of weeks later I called back and asked the same question. No outstanding fines or warrants, sweet. I then called the DMV in Oregon to check on my driver's license status. It was listed as expired. Not suspended (which it had been), not revoked (which it had been), simply expired. It would cost me 138 dollars to get it back since it had been expired for so long. Unfortunately they would not be able to send me a copy of the license, but they could send me a paper that stated that I had a valid driver's license in that state, with no driving infractions in the past seven years. They did exactly that.

When I went to the DMV here in Arizona I was expecting to have to take a driving test. I had really only had my license for six months or so, over a decade ago, before it got taken away. I was really surprised when they simply looked at the documentation, checked it out on the computer, then asked me to pose for my license photo. I was trying to look stoic, but to anyone who knows me, that photo came out to look a bit mischievous, maybe more than a bit. When I look at the photo I think that I look like the guy that ate the dog, that ate the cat, that ate the canary.

The reason that I was trying to make sure everything was resolved at that point had little to do with me. I was to be married only a month and a few days after I finally got my driver's license back. I wanted to make sure that my future wife wasn't going to be marrying a felon. I am quite happy that it worked out the way it did. Even happier to find that having paid off all of that debt (from Oregon) had actually improved my credit rating. To the point that the wife and I were living in our very own house (well the bank's house for thirty years) only eight months after the wedding.

Suddenly, as sudden as it can be after years of toiling to make amends, my life was sucking less and less. I now have a wife who truly loves me, a home that is ours (outright in a mere 27 years). In lieu of the 2.7 children, we have 2 dogs, 7 cockatiels, tons of fish, & (the wife has) several horses.

I would have to say that I am pretty happy and content with my home life. I am living my own version of the American Dream and it is wonderful. I couldn't rightly ask for anything more. Nor could I want anything more. Happiness is very subjective, I have found exactly the amount of happiness that I had always hoped for, but if that Powerball ticket ever hits I won't bitch about that either.

Post Script: I really doubt that I will ever take the time to go over this portion of my life again (though I will probably try to lump the five or six stories together on a single page for ease of navigation. No promises). I do, however, feel an urgent need to answer a question that no one has ever asked of me. That question is: "If you had it all to do over again, knowing what you know now, would you have made the call to keep your father alive? Knowing that the decision would have made it so you never would meet your wife, as well as one of your best friends?"

That is a question that I ask myself A lot. If I had it all to do again I would certainly want my father to live, however, I am still unsure about dad's desire to live or die. Yet, were it not for his death, I would not have met my wife, my friends would be different people, my Mother and Brother might not be who/where they are today (hell, they might not be at all)...

Just now the wife came into the "computer room" to give me a hug and tell me that she loves me.

While I would love to have both a wife and a father, I would not have this wife were it not for the death of my father. That pretty much seals it. Sorry dad.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

...Still Worse...

My arrival in Arizona was not what I had expected. First of all, the people at Greyhound had neglected to take the difference of time zones into account when they made my bus ticket. That meant that I had arrived in Phoenix just about a half an hour after the bus to Casa Grande had departed, no problem, I could just catch the next one. Problem was that the next one wasn't until the same time the following day. Call me crazy, I didn't want to spend the next twenty-four hours in a bus station in Metro Phoenix. I called my mommy.

It took them a while to get there to pick me up. While the drive is only about sixty miles, it is over some of the busiest streets I have ever seen. When they did arrive, and I saw the chariot that was supposed to carry me from the depths of hell to my brand new life, I was really, really scared. The thing could only be called a "car" since it had the requisite number of wheels. Nothing else about it seemed to be car like, at least not in my eyes. Dune buggy perhaps, car, no. I figured I had ridden in worse (where that might have been I really don't know) so I just threw all of my belongings (being a small duffel bag holding a bunch of cassette tapes and an overnight bag holding what clothing I owned) into the back seat. Then I got in, sat down, and prayed. I am not one that is normally into prayer, mind you.

Now imagine playing some old Atari game, Night Driver for instance. Further imagine that you are actually in the car, feeling all of the bumps along the way. But there has been an old dirt road substituted for the track. The car's exhaust system isn't working properly, thus pumping the fumes into the car. The car is traveling way faster than it should be (I mean that car in specific; some cars can do eighty or ninety with no ill effects, this car shouldn't have crested twenty-five, ever.), like probably about fifty or so. I thought to cry out for my mommy, but she was in the car as well. That ride was one of the most frightening things that has ever happened to me, more frightening than many of the car wrecks I have been in.

Now a quick aside about said car wrecks. The first (that I remember) happened in southern Arizona somewhere around 1982. Mom, was driving an old Ford LTD that completely lost control for some reason or another. I don't really know exactly what happened to make us spin out and careen off of the road, but I do know that as Mom was sitting there, completely white-knuckled, and breathing really heavy, I said something very close to "that makes it really hard to read." Which, oddly, wasn't meant as sarcasm, I was honestly trying to read a book in the back seat. Hard to do when your Mom is throwing the car into a horrible spin and flying off of the road (if you are reading this, Mom, and if my recollection isn't completely accurate, just click that little thing at the bottom that says "comments". It will give you a place where you can write a message and post it, that way you will straighten me, and the rest of the internet out at the same time).

The next wreck I was involved in was in about, 1996 or so. Mom and her friend Angie had decided to move to Arizona, which required a car trip. We had a lot of crap to haul, but only two very small cars to haul it in. I ended up in a 70's era Honda civic with Angie, a couple of cats, and about three metric tons of our belongings. Now the 70's era Honda Civic was noted for many things, gas mileage, being ugly, gas mileage, cheap maintenance and most of all gas mileage. What it was not noted for was its hauling ability. Thus, piling tons of books, clothing and other various stuff into the back of it had a noted effect on the handling. Meaning that the ass end of the car was touching the ground while the front end almost wasn't. A corner was subsequently missed. We smacked into a huge dirt embankment. I, being ever so mindful of others needs, not to mention a huge fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, had the wind knocked out of me, but was not about to stay in that car until it blew up. I screamed "we have to get out before it blows!" and ran like hell. Nothing actually blew up. I did eventually get my wind back, and a small sense of how stupid I was for running from the burning wreckage minor accident.

The next wreck that I was in was self induced. I have mentioned it here previously, thus I am not going to write it again. If you care to read about it, yet can't find it, let me know. I can't seem to find it myself right now, once I do it will be at your disposal.

The next one was not actually a wreck, it was a near wreck. Were it not for my ability to think on my feet, act on a fraction of a second's warning and basically just save the world in general, it would have been a wreck. Thanks to my heroic actions it was only a near wreck, that is something that you should all be proud of me for. Unfortunately it didn't shake down quite like that. It was ultimately me that averted the disaster, the rest is just a lot of ego fluff. Here's how that one went down...

Dad and me were going to go to some yard sales that morning. It was a nice day for it. Clear skies, moderate temperature, we could spend hours at it. We wanted to eat a bit of breakfast first though. Dad was a bit of a Breakfast snob, he would really only eat breakfast if it was at "the Owl" which was a restaurant that he was buddies with the owner of. This restaurant was also a good forty miles from the house, it took an hour to get there on a good day. Today would not be a good day.

We were actually on I-5 when dad started to lose it. It was, once again, a result of his taking an insulin shot without eating anything (that is why I always assumed that he did them like clockwork). Pretty suddenly, the van bounced off of the meridian (and thank the forces it was there), dad said, "stay in your own lane, buddy." That was just about the point that I knew that he was not coherent. I had a hunch that he might have horribly low blood sugar, unfortunately the only thing in the van that could possibly have any sugar in it was a single cinnamon flavored tooth-pick. That was SO not going to work. I yelled "dad, pull off of the road" several times. Each time I did that he would pull off of the road, only to realize that he was no longer on the road, then he would steer back into traffic. I was only 15 at this time, and I really thought I was going to die that day. The thing is I really didn't want to.

I continued to scream at him to pull off of the road, and he would, only to pull back on once he realized he was no longer in the lane. Sometimes pulling way too hard and causing us to hit the meridian again. I finally jumped into action. I sat in the passenger seat and buckled the safety belt. It was really only grassy fields that were were rolling past, we were only going forty or so by now, every car behind us was afraid to pass, it could work out on its own. Then I remembered the bridges. If dad decided to pull off the road just before one of the bridges that would have led to a lengthy fall, it would certainly have been most unpleasant. Then I really jumped into action.

The van was a 78 Chevy, it had those two "captain's seats" with a void between them. Dad had built a small seat out of wood that he had placed between them (it was all padded and upholstered to match the van), why, I don't know. I threw that mess out of the way. Now came the hard part. I had to somehow wrestle him out of the driver's seat while maintaining control of the van. It is certainly true that his mind was not working at this point, his muscles however, never seemed to show any ill effect from low blood sugar. He outweighed me by quite a bit, I was extremely uneasy about how I was going to try to handle it. Suddenly it hit me. I stood right next to his seat and screamed "Dad, pull over!". Once the van was off of the freeway I made my move.

The van had power steering and an automatic transmission, two facts that I was going to use to my advantage. The second the car was on the paved shoulder of the road I reached forward and turned off the ignition, then I pushed the shifter from drive to neutral, to my dad's plea, which seems funny to me now, "don't do that, you'll ruin the transmission!" If you have ever tried to steer a car that had power steering while the engine was off, you would know that it takes a lot of upper body strength, my hope was that me trying to keep the car on the shoulder, combined with the inherent difficulty of steering it anyway, would let us roll to a stop before he was able to steer us back out into traffic. It took, and I am not kidding in any way, every ounce of strength in me to hold the van on the shoulder as dad was trying to get back on the road. Since he couldn't understand what was going on, he just kept saying "what are you doing", over and over again, each time trying to yank it back on the road. I tried to reach the brake pedal but dad's legs were in the way, one of his legs was actively pressing down on the gas pedal. This went on for about two minutes I would guess, yet they seemed to each last a good hour or so. When the van was finally traveling less than five miles an hour I decided it was time, grabbed the shift, pulled it back and pulled it up with all my might.

It was a delayed reaction of sorts. It took a couple of seconds, well probably only fractions of a single second but my reference to time was pretty suspect at this point, of holding the shift near park before it actually went into park. The van was going less than five miles an hour, but it still threw me forward a bit when it finally engaged, dad actually bumped the steering wheel during the process, but his body was sort of acting like a bowl of jello at this point. Needless to say, no one was hurt. I swiftly pulled the keys from the ignition and threw them towards the back of the van. It was at about this point that dad said "Why did we stop?" I reminded him that he had promised to let me drive into town, which seemed to answer his question well enough. "Let me help you into the other seat" I suggested. He did let me help him into the other seat, where I promptly fastened him in with the safety belt. There was no way he could figure that device out in his condition. Then there were a couple of things that I had to take care of before we continued.

I needed to retrieve the keys from the back of the van, but that would have to wait for a moment. It seems that a couple of motorists, those who had been behind us as we had been playing bumper cars with the guard rails, were concerned and had stopped behind us. I jumped out of the van, ran to the concerned people, explained the situation, and asked if any of them happened to have a candy bar, of course none of them did. One mentioned that he was going to get to town and phone the police if I left the scene, now, I really didn't know if low blood sugar could be fatal, but I wasn't about to wait here until the police arrived. I offered to give him my dad's information, which was housed in the van, if he really wanted to call the police. I even told him what restaurant we were going to be at. This seemed to sate the man, so we walked back to the van (where I figure I would just take a check out of his checkbook, write VOID across it, then add any other information the guy wanted).

When I opened the door of the van, there was dad, sitting proudly in the driver's seat. He was merrily driving along, foot on the gas, hands on the wheel, all despite the fact that there were no keys in the ignition. I looked to the guy that wanted the information for a second, then back to dad. "Dad, you said you were going to let me drive us to the restaurant." Dad didn't say anything, just got back into the passenger seat. I jumped in, went to the back and grabbed the keys. I got back out again only long enough to tell the man who wanted all of the information to just follow me to the restaurant if he really didn't believe my story. It was at that point that dad popped his head out the door and said "are you coming to breakfast with us too?" (wonderful timing, that.) The guy agreed to follow me to the restaurant, but took down the license plate just in case.

The guy really did follow me all the way to the restaurant. When I finally parked and got out of the car, the guy ran up to me asking if he (dad) was okay. "He will be as soon as I get a little sugar into him." was my response. The guy helped me help dad into the restaurant. I didn't wait for a waitress, I ran behind the counter and got him a cup of Coke, no ice. "Here's a cup of coffee, Dad." I said, as I gave it to him. The results were almost instant. Dad looked at me, then looked at the other guy at the table and said, to me, "Who is he?" A question that, thankfully, I didn't have to answer.

"I'm just an acquaintance of your son's," Mystery man said, "He just wanted me to make sure the two of you got here alright."

Dad looked at him for a second, then looked at me for a second, then said, in a vast understatement, "We got here just fine."

Thankfully, just then, Jerry, the owner of the restaurant and a good friend of my dad happened to pop around the corner. While dad was talking to Jerry, I asked the guy if he really needed the information, turns out he didn't. He just thought I was lying about everything the whole damn time.

Funny thing though, as mystery man got up to leave, Jerry yelled, "sure you don't want breakfast? We have some great specials today." Mystery man looked at his watch and said, "I am a half an hour late for work as it is, but thanks." Dad looked at me and said, in no uncertain terms, "I don't know who that guy was, but I don't want you hanging out with people that can't get work on time."

After a shot of warm coke and a bit of breakfast, Dad was just fine. Until he actually left the restaurant, that is.

"What in the fuck happened to the van?!" You see all of the bouncing off of concrete dividers has a way to leave a mark on a vehicle. The van now had those marks in droves.

I tried to tell dad the whole story, much as it is written here. He stopped me short, "Well, we made it. That is all that matters."

I am not entirely sure if dad was even coherent enough to have seen the mystery man, whether the mystery man was actually concerned or just thought someone was driving drunk, there are a lot of things that I am not sure of. This story, however, is something that I am completely sure of.

Now, that extremely long digression aside, I had been talking about arriving in Arizona. I got to mom's house with only one extremely scary car ride as a consequence.

By this point, Hell was looking to me for pointers...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

...And then it got worse...

To start, I just want to make sure and mention that my driver's license was actually suspended while I was still sixteen years old, as alluded to in the last entry. I was not able to get my driver's license back until I was twenty-seven years old (long story). I do hate "the man".

I am going to skip, yet again, the story of the behavior of friends and family after dad's death. I will touch on a couple of things that happened while my brother was my legal guardian, but basically this is going to be the part where I made horrible decisions that forced me to flee the state.

After the last ticket that I got I was no longer able to get insurance at all; the insurance companies all told me that I had too many tickets on my record. The thing is that the majority of the tickets were for not having insurance. It is one of those circles, like when I wanted to get a car. I needed a job to get the money to buy a car, but a needed a car to get a job to get the money to buy a car. Some problems really just can't be solved. So I was now, quite knowingly, driving around with no insurance, and on a suspended license.

My brother and I had moved into a small house in Winston, it was much closer to work and school, and, frankly, it was all that we could afford, and just barely at that. I managed to finish off my Junior year in High School while we were living there. I think I failed a class, but that was fine since I only needed four classes in my Senior year to graduate, so just one extra class. Unfortunately my two best friends graduated the year before I was supposed to, and they might have had a negative influence on me over the next couple of years.

During the summer break, after my Junior year, I was working pretty much full time. It may have only been 32 or 34 hours a week, but full time. There were bills that needed to be paid and I had to contribute to the paying of said bills. The unfortunate side effect of that was that now that my "full time" paycheck was rolling in (that 600 dollars a month or so) it was being consumed by the household. We actually needed that money just to get by. I continued working full time when Senior year started up. I was only taking five classes, I figured I could just work the 3-11 shift, get to bed by midnight, then be back to school all bright and chipper at 7a.m. Let's just say it didn't work as well as planned and leave it at that.

Since my planned graduation, the one that would have happened before my 18th birthday, didn't work out as planned (there is a wonderful story about that, one that is too long to get into right now), I was no longer getting Social security checks. Once you are 18 they are done, much like child support. Now I really had to work full time, there was no money coming in other than the wages that my brother and I made. There was, however, a small insurance policy of some sort that paid out when I turned 18. My brother convinced me to use it as a down payment on the dumpiest little trailer I have ever seen. But the price was right, so that is what we did.

I had to actually saw part of the frame off of my swanky waterbed off to fit it into my little room in that trailer (no shit). It was only the part that supported the headboard though, so no big loss. At some point though, while living in that little trailer, myself and my brother just really began to hate each other. Not the sort of hatred where you actually hate each other, this was the hatred that can only come from not having any money to pay the rent. We didn't even have such luxuries as a phone at the time (that is an even longer story, yet not the fault of myself or brother), we were barely surviving at all. It was about this point that my brother and I parted ways, and on the worst of terms. Each of us blaming the other for everything that has ever happened in the history of mankind.

It was at about this point that the girl I had been dating all of those years decided it wasn't going to work out between us. It was death to me at the time, damn near literally (committing to suicide is far different than trying it; turns out you have to really, really mean it if your goal is to die). So, without a house, without my girl, all that was left was my friend Dave (and not that type of friend, thank you). We became gold prospectors (it would be so funny if it wasn't true). Cow Creek, in Oregon, has some pretty rich placer deposits and we figured we could cash in on it. We had a dredge, a sluice box, and a lot of free time.

I would be lying if I said that it was a horrible experience. It was pretty disappointing, to be sure, but not horrible. We would just wake up in the morning, throw all the gear into the van (though they call those old Volkswagen vans buses for some reason) and roll to the next place. We did find a lot of gold flakes, even several small nuggets, but hardly enough to endure the toil of it all. Yet, the sleeping in the middle of nowhere, waking up whenever you felt like it, cooking everything over an open fire, that was great. Just being alone in the wilderness, using only your hands and a few simple tools to survive, man, I would love it if everyone had to do that. Even if they only had to do it for a week or so.

The windfall of gold that we were expecting was pretty slow in coming. In fact it never came. We cashed in a few vials of gold at the local gun shop (of all places) but it was pretty obvious that we needed to think bigger. Like The lost Dutchman's mine. We were obviously smarter than anyone that had ever tried to search out this mythological wealth. We were going to go to Arizona to find it.

The story took a completely different turn late one night. That was precisely when some jackass (all signs point to me) decided to drive all the way to Roseburg for some supplies. Roseburg was about thirty miles away, over some of the most winding roads I have ever seen, at least until Winston when it straightened back out. I had imbibed a bit of the nectar (a bit is quite the understatement), but wanted to acquire food and supplies for the trip. I was horribly drunk (there is no use in lying), yet I was able to drive the car over all of the winding backroads to end up at a particular intersection (if you have ever lived in the area, it is where the road from Green intersects with the road that leads to Roseburg. There is a huge building on the other side, it is a trading post called "Libby's".) I stopped, looked both ways, then got rear-ended by a big black truck.

The hit was solid enough that I slid through the intersection, just in time to see the big black truck speed away. Just fucking great. My car is in a ditch, the guy who hit me just sped away (ain't no one gonna buy that story, especially since I was a bit, um, happy). What could my excuse possibly be? I started walking down the road. Once I saw another car I flagged him down and asked him if he could help me pull my car out of the ditch. He, it turns out, radioed both the police and the local tow truck, then just drove off. Bad, to worse, to hell.

Now, as drunk as I was, I realized that I was in a pretty good position. No one actually saw me behind the wheel of the car, unfortunately I was the only witness to the guy actually rear-ending me and sending me into the opposite ditch. That might not have been good. Bring on the consequences.

No one ever saw me in the driver's seat of the car. No one ever came forward to say that they were driving the big, black truck on the night of the accident. It was concluded, though not factually accurate, that I just missed the brakes and crashed into that wall. My lawyer (court appointed) said that I should just do a little thing called "diversion" (whereby you can strike the first DUI from your record completely if you finish a simple class). I figured that the truth was something that only I knew, no one was going to listen to my story. What I didn't realize was that you had to pay for the class.

I would soon be living in my friend's garage, very soon. I got a job right away. I went to my first "diversion" class and found it totally underwhelming. I continued to work that job for only about six months. Why was I let go? Some of the other employees were buying beer for me. Horrible habit, I know. The owner of the store read that as selling alcohol to minors, which it never was. Once I, and all of my friends, were fired from that job, I simply gave up.

I could no longer pay for my "diversion" classes. I couldn't even pay to put a fairly warm meal on my table, truth be told, I didn't even have a table. "Dear God, please grant me a handbasket, I know where I am going to end up, I just want to take a few trinkets with me".

There were no trinkets to be had. In all honesty, I arrived in Arizona with only two changes of clothes and a bunch of cassette tapes. Then, it got worse.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

...And then the man started holding me back

This one will also skip past the details about everyone else's reaction to my father's death. It is all about me dammit!

It turns out that my knuckles weren't really hurt all that bad, just horribly bloody. Also the entire problem with my car turned out to be that the alternator worked while the car was running, but it didn't do anything towards charging the battery (some diode was bad). I was also barely on the upside of the E mark on the gas gauge when I jumped out of the car and ran down to the bottom of the amphitheatre. Lucky the car didn't roll away, I never set the emergency brake. That was all in the past though.

I was now a man. I had come to terms with everything, or so I thought, and I was ready to move on. What better way to prove that you are now a responsible adult than to buy a motorcycle? I started off slow, I got one of those "enduro" bikes that are both street legal and capable of mountain climbing. Problem was that it was only a 250cc thing, and I was riding it on the I-5 on my way to work. If a Big Rig passed me it would nearly knock me over. I needed an upgrade. I settled on something that looked much like this. Mine was a tad more beat up, other than that, the color is only slightly off, mine was more orange. The rest looks just like I remember.

I don't remember the precise amount that I paid for that little bike, I do know that it was somewhere between $200 and $600. I didn't buy it because I really liked it, I bought it because it was what was in my price range and it got a hell of a lot better gas mileage than the car I was driving. That thing ran like a champ.

Have you ever been a boy in his late teens burdened by the fact that you recently killed your father? Add to that a shiny new (quite used) motorcycle and see what zaniness ensues. Good times.

It was probably about the fourth day that I had the motorcycle when I decided to see if it could actually reach the max speed on the dial. I was actually wearing a helmet (possibly the wisest choice I had made in months). I hit the straight stretch right in front of my school and gunned the engine. The straight stretch ran only about a half a mile, and the speedometer went to either 105 or 115 (can't remember), but I never reached max speed. I had to slow for the upcoming corner. I had it down to only 90 or so as I flew around the corner, noticing that there was a cop car pulling out of the disused weigh station to follow me. Just fucking great.

I could have run, probably should have, but I didn't want this whole thing to end in tragedy, so I just slowed down to the 55MPH speed limit and hoped beyond hope that he wasn't going to pull me over. The cop's lights came on and all I could think was "fuck", seemed such a fitting word at the time. In addition to not having any insurance on the motorcycle, I also didn't have a license to be on it in the first place. This was certainly not going to go well.

The first words that came out of the cop's mouth were, "do you know how fast you were going?" I may be stupid, but I was not about to let on, I wanted to know how fast he thought I was going, I just stared at him blankly. "I clocked you at 79 coming out of that corner!" He screamed.

My first thought was, Sweet, he didn't catch me on the straight stretch. My first words were, "I'm sorry."

I don't know what I was trying to accomplish when I said it, but it doesn't really matter. He took my license, expired insurance card (which didn't cover motorcycles anyway), and went back to his car. The tickets that he issued me were: Operating a vehicle without a license, Operating a vehicle without insurance, speeding, and reckless endangerment ( the last one was not actually heard by the court since no one could figure out who I was recklessly endangering, since it was only me on the road). Those tickets were a hefty fine, but I never stopped riding the motorcycle, never got the motorcycle license either. Yes, I was a bit stubborn.

From bad to, well, more bad.

I was driving the corvette along one day, getting more and more nervous about why the cop behind me hadn't pulled off onto one of the side roads. Of course the lights came on, of course I got pulled over. What was the offense this time? It had nothing to do with my driving, it did, however, feature the same cop that questioned me after my father's death. For reasons that I don't even want to know, the cop knew that I was only sixteen years old, yet the registration for the corvette said that I was 18 (why did he remember me so clearly?). He just wanted me to straighten it all out with the DMV, so he said, yet he gave me another ticket for not having insurance (it would have cost me $277 a month to insure that corvette in 1990, of course I was only 16).

When you are a teen, if you happen to live 15 miles or so out of town, you don't really follow all of the rules. I got insurance only long enough to show the paper to the court, then quickly cancelled it. Got me out of the ticket, kept my license from being suspended. Yet, that cop seemed to have an eye out for me, and not in a good way.

All I wanted to do was go to school, then to work, then back home. I didn't need any of the crap that mr. uniform was throwing at me. Mr. uniform was pretty good at finding me though. A couple of weeks later I was dropping off my middle brother at the bus station, in a car that no cop had ever seen. It was on a deserted street, it was the middle of the night, I got pulled over for having a dim license plate light. The light wasn't burnt out, it was just "dim". Guess who tapped on the window.

If you guessed it was that same cop you would be wrong. It was a totally different cop, though I think they shared the same brain. Result: driving without insurance ticket. If I would have had even a dollar to my name I would have fought that charge. A "dim license plate light" is not enough to warrant pulling someone over. Had I mowed down a street full of children that would have been something, but, seriously, a dim license plate light? That was when my driver's license was suspended.

Not surprisingly, that is also about the point that I started to really hate cops (what a bizarre coincidence).

Shortly after that point my life picked up the handbasket, then started looking for things to ad to it on my trip to hell.


What year is it again?

I saw this fascinating article today. Yeah! Intelligent Design. It boggles my mind to think that this type of thing is actually being litigated in the year 2005. People are certainly free to their own opinions, but must they try to force them onto completely rational, yet impressionable, kids? I guess we will only know once they rule on the case. For now I will just simply have to laugh at the absurdity of one "scholar's" quotes:

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of "intelligent design" testified Monday that evolution alone can't explain complex biological processes and he believes God is behind them.


Behe, whose work includes a 1996 best-seller called "Darwin's Black Box," said students should be taught evolution because it's widely used in science and that "any well-educated student should understand it."

Behe, however, argues that evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force.


Behe contributed to "Of Pandas and People," writing a section about blood-clotting. He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting "is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design."

This is just to rich to pass up. Major props to the guy for trying to at least make it sound like he is not some anti-evolution nutjob. But doesn't his statement about evolution come across as more of a back-handed insult to science? As if he thinks that evolution is complete crap, but we might as well let the kids learn it since all of those kooky scientists seem to base a lot of stuff on it.

My biggest beef with the whole article is in the last paragraph that I quoted, the part where it says, He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting "is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design." Now see, in order for him to make that scientific argument, wouldn't it be necessary to present actual facts that support Intelligent Design? Just saying that evolution doesn't explain it therefore it was God is hardly a scientific argument. A delusional argument yes, certainly not scientific.

Also, wasn't the whole point of Intelligent Design supposed to take God's name out of it? Wasn't it supposed to appease the people who were bitching about their children being taught religion in schools? If it was then he totally lost the ball when he testified that anything that Darwin couldn't explain was therefore an act of God -to paraphrase-.

Since he brought up God, the gloves are off.

I am going to dismiss the bible outright here, for the sake of religion. The bible is a bunch of folklore that had been handed down in verbal tradition for millennia before anyone got around to putting pen to paper. Once someone did put pen to paper the next transcriber didn't like it, thus he changed a bunch of stuff, and so on, for all of history. I do find it pretty odd that they left things in there like the story of Noah though. In order to believe that story you must believe that 1) the entire earth was flooded. 2) Someone built a boat large enough to carry two of every living animal species (they didn't make mention of the species that reproduce asexually). Yeah, picking the bible apart is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel a slut on prom night. So I won't do that.

What I really want to know is where this Intelligent Designer happens to live. The entity can't reside on the earth or any other celestial body, since he created all of that. Where's his pad? Does he have a split-level joint (nice place, has a pool and everything) in in some suburban area in the recesses of a black hole where all of the other Intelligent Designers live?

Who created the Intelligent Designer? It is stone solid fact that life can't appear spontaneously, intelligence is not something that can be divined from natural means, else evolution would make absolute sense. Then the question would be who created the entity that created the Intelligent Designer, and this would obviously go on to infinity, I don't have the time to type that all out. I think you will see my point.

Intelligent Designer must not have a lot of friends (perhaps he won't let them watch the game on his Big Screen, hogs all the beer, who knows), 'cause he seems to have entirely too much free time. What a workload the guy has. In the beginning all he had to do was to set down some genetic codes and DNA for a couple of million species (that is only known species. And only on the earth. Mind you, his design covers the everything in the cosmos). Now he must have to toil away endlessly creating new DNA for every new being, making sure that no two fingerprints are ever the same, making sure that the blood clots, etc.

That was fun.

The argument for Intelligent Design only attacks evolution. They find a hole in the evolution of a species and say "where's your proof?" They are attacking lines of beings that, when viewed side by side, look like they are slowly changing form. Yet, were you to ask someone who supports Intelligent Design what their proof is they would simply say that evolution can not explain everything. Quite an argument.

What is going to be really sad is that, in the future, we will have found enough fossilized remains to definitively link every bipedal mammal to one another, and there will still be some religious idiots claiming that they (all the bipedal mammals) were on the boat with Noah. Delusion Intelligent Design will probably never go away, but, in a strange irony, I have no doubt that it will evolve. Just as Christians used to believe that God lived in the clouds, then swiftly changed gears once we visited the clouds.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Then it all went to hell

The story of my father's death has always ended with the actual death, followed by my feeling responsible for it. Mostly because that was how it happened. Now I am going to talk about what happened after that, the names will not be changed, no one was innocent.

If there is one thing that I learned from my father's death (aside from the obvious; a sick person is not the best judge of how sick they are) it is certainly that you only know who your friends are when you die. To be a bit more specific, you don't know what your friends are really like until you die. Of course you are already dead at that point so it is not like you can really make any changes to your friends list. So I was the one that got to see just what kind of friends dad really had.

The day after his death (you know, Christmas day) people were already calling and showing up at the house saying things like, "he told me that if he died he wanted me to have "x". I didn't let anyone take anything, I was still holding out hope that he had a will stashed away somewhere. As the coming weeks would show, no such document existed. Events that would soon transpire would make that a moot point anyway.

The most pressing issue at this point was what was going to happen to me (I thought it was the most pressing issue anyway). I had been dating a girl for years, we had plans to get married. We really didn't understand that we were as young as we were, and couldn't understand why everyone wanted me to move out of the county to live with dad's relatives, or out of the state to live with my mom. I wanted to be emancipated, since I was 16 it should have been possible. I don't remember exactly why that couldn't work, it might have been opposition from my mother or possibly the Social Security payments wouldn't come to me if I was emancipated. I don't know. What I did know was that I was not going to move away. I had been dating this girl for like three years, which may not seem all that long but at the time it was almost 20% of my life.

That was when I made the second worst decision of my entire life (the first being that I didn't take dad directly to the hospital. And the third came only two years later. Glad I got those horrible life changing mistakes taken care of at a young age.), I agreed to let my oldest brother become my legal guardian. This would allow me to finish my High School years in Oregon, with basically no adult supervision. My brother was four years older than me, but he was not an authorative figure. He told me to jump, I told him to go fuck himself. This was the worst decision I could have ever made.

It is funny as I think back on it. Everyone was trying to do what was best for me. Best for me always seemed to include being ripped away from all of my friends and transplanted somewhere else. Since I haven't had the opportunity to see what life would be like for me now had I agreed to do what was best for me, I simply assume that it really would have been what was best for me. But children can't seem to distinguish the difference between what is best for them and what they want. Since I really was just a child I was thinking only of what I wanted.

As I think about it, I bet the only reason that it all went the way it did was because of how hard I was being on myself. I was totally convinced that I had killed dad. That was something that I was trying to deal with this whole time, and I often couldn't hold back my emotions. Throw out a few comments about how you are going to have to tell kids in your new school that you are only there because you killed your dad and the grown-ups kind of give you some leeway. I was not trying to use that as leverage in any negotiations, that was how I truly felt. So it was decided; I was going to live with my brother in Oregon.

I will go into more detail about the time spent with my brother, as well as give you some idea of the measures people went to to get ahold of dad's stuff at a later time. Right now I want to go a bit more into the mind and actions of, well, me in the days/weeks following dad's death.

First off I just have to mention that I had always had a dream that dad would die in a car accident. Though he was always in the Corvette in the dreams. It always happened at the same spot on the road to our house, where he would miss a corner and go careening over a cliff, not a particulary big cliff, to be found dead the next day. The death was always from drowning though. The car would end up upside down in the little creek and he couldn't get out. Since the car had power locks and windows I have always assumed that the windows simply wouldn't roll down and that the lock had somehow jammed (I had been having this dream for a long time before he actually died too). I believed this dream so much that I would often stop to look over the ledge, where he wrecked in the dream, on my way home from work. Sometimes I would actually get up and drive to that corner at about 3:00 in the morning just to make sure that he wasn't laying in that little stream (I think I only did that two or three times).

There were times that I would get really worried that he might not make it home. Since this was before pagers or cell phones I had no way to make sure he was alright, but I had a system. You know how it seems like the second you are doing something that you shouldn't be doing your parents happen to show up? That was my system, and it worked like a charm. I only really ever worried about him when he was driving the Corvette, and it would usually keep me awake until I saw his head lights come down the driveway. When I got really worried, around 3:30 or so, I would do something that I wasn't supposed to be doing, like, say, handling one of his many guns. I wouldn't take it out an shoot it or anything like that, hell wouldn't even load it. I would just sit on the couch with the gun across my lap polishing it, buffing the finish on the wood, oiling the mechanisms, anything, just so I had the gun in my hands. Then, like clockwork, I would see the headlights coming down the driveway, rush to put the gun and oils away, and make it into bed just before he popped his head in to make sure I was there. Irrational behavior to be sure, but it worked for me.

It was with a similar attitude that I faced the reality of his death. I would alternate between times where I thought there would be no punishment for whatever I did, to times where I did something wrong on purpose, in the hopes that he would appear there and scold me for being such a bad son. I had always been so intelligent that it seems odd to me that I would have done such a thing, but it turns out that I might just have been in denial; as long as I wasn't willing to admit that he was dead that meant that he wasn't.

I did a lot of really stupid shit over the first few weeks. I mean insanely, near suicidally stupid. One thing I did was play a game of quarters with a guy twice my age. We weren't playing it with beer though, it was Bacardi 151. I was so wasted afterwards that, I shit you not, I got into the passenger seat of my car and tried to start the glove box. He laughed at me and told me I was on the wrong side, then let me drive home. Even at .8 MPH I was hardly able to hold the road and hit the gravel shoulder many times on the two mile quest. I thought for certain Dad was going to be at the door to give me the lashing of a lifetime, he wasn't there at all. I went to bed wondering how I had made it home at all, and where the hell was my punishment. It never came.

I never did anything quite that stupid again, but I did a lot of other crazy stuff. Once I realized that I was not getting any punishment for my actions I felt bulletproof, not a good thing for a teen. The reason that it took me so long to get around to actually mourning the loss of my father was that I had spent that entire time either at school, at work, or at a huge kegger down the street. Not thinking about it made it seem not real, at least not my reality.

The most unfortunate thing is that when it finally hit me, the very second I knew that he was never coming back, I happened to be at work. I caught a glimpse of his beard and Roseburg Lumber jacket through a window in the back room. My heart jumped. I ran like hell towards the front (where he was headed) turned the corner to see him and yelled "Da......What can I do for you, Sir?" Everyone in town had one of those jackets, it was only a matter of time before someone with that jacket and a beard would walk past that window, yet, it was at exactly that moment that I realized he was really dead. I made up some sort of an illness to get me away from work for the remainder of the night and drove away.

Away was the only destination I had in mind when I got in the car, alone might actually be more accurate. By this time we had long since been forced to move out of the house where dad died, but that was the direction that I was heading. I went past the turn to the Byron Creek Estates and kept going as the road turned to gravel. Twenty minutes later I stopped, jumped out of the car, and ran blindly down the hill. I had been here many times, but never in the dead of night. I walked the trail carefully during the day, that night I just ran blindly. I ended up in what I will call the amphitheatre (a beautiful rock formation near where I lived with my dad. It was an outcropping that had about a fifty foot vertical drop with a very small stream falling off the edge. If you took the time to walk down behind the waterfall it was even more beautiful; There was enough room that hundreds of people could have pulled up lawn chairs and watched the little waterfall, with nothing but unspoiled Oregon wilderness in the distance. -maybe I should be writing tourist guides-) stood there for a moment. Sat there for a couple more. Then I completely lost my mind.

I was pissed off. At myself, at my dad, at the earth, the universe in general. This was the first time that I was able to express that anger. I screamed my lungs out (maybe I knew where I was going after all; the amphitheatre made it sound a lot louder when you screamed, but no one was within 30 miles of the location), I told my dad how much I hated him for dying, I told myself how much I hated myself for killing him, I told God that I was going to try to sneak past St. Peter just so I could kick him in the nuts (no shit). I yelled at the universe in general. I was mad, damn it! I took my aggression out on the only thing I could find, which was, quite unfortunately, the beautiful outcropping that I previously described. (score that God/Universe:1 My knuckles:0)

How long I stood there screaming, trying to beat the shit out of a rock, I will likely never know. It seems that I had exhausted all of my energy in the endeavor, which was probably for the best. I woke up the next morning laying in the softer portion of the gravel/sand mix. My knuckles were crusted with dried blood, my voice was all but gone (something I wouldn't learn until much later. When it come right down to it you don't audibly talk to yourself very much), and I just wanted to get home. I was freaking freezing. The standard uniform in the food service industry may be 1)Uniform. 2)Suited to the job. 3)Forgiving of imperfections. They are also 4) Very, very thin. But, I still had to get back to my car before I would be able to get on the road home.

I have to tell you that I found it extremely odd that I couldn't find a single footprint in the mud on the way back up the hill. So odd, in fact, that I went back down the hill and up the other side to try to find one. I couldn't find a single footprint on either side. It had rained the night before, as I found once I got into my car, the seat was sopping wet. Yet the mud on the way down the hill was inches deep. Could the rain really have washed away inch deep footprints? Well, the hill was also very steep, I have seen rain do worse. I just thought it was odd, in a strange sort of cleansing way. Whoever went down that hill the night before was left at the bottom, the man coming up the hill was brand new. But still on the universe's shit list...

The fucking car wouldn't start, it had a dead battery. Some jackass must have left the lights on. No big deal, it was mostly downhill on the way back, I could just pop-start it. After 10 or so tries at the pop-start I was beginning to wonder why it wouldn't work. Turns out that some jackass left the car running when he bailed down the hill. Once it was out of gas it sucked the battery dry as well. Just fucking perfect. I was able to roll a lot of the distance, since it really was a lot of downhill, probably could have gone a bit further but I was a bit afraid of trying to cross that narrow bridge (it had only 12 inch wide tracks) at the speed I was coasting. There was only one uphill stretch between where I was and the paved road, but there was no way I could push the car up the hill alone. I resolved to push it off to the side and walk down to the nearest house (probably only six miles or so) to buy a gallon gas.

The walk wasn't all that bad. In fact I didn't have to walk nearly as far as I thought I would. It seems that when you are wearing a uniform from a fast food joint, walking the edge of a deserted road, and it is pretty early in the morning, the passing truckers (logger in this case) get kind of curious, particularly if you are also carrying a gas can and a length of hose. The first truck that came up behind me pretty much locked up his brakes (he would likely have backed up to me had he not been hauling a trailer full of timber). "What happened to you?" he asked.

Shouldn't this be precisely the point that I realize I am still in my work clothes, it is like 7AM, and I am walking down a deserted road with a gas can and a length of hose? "Ran out of gas." I said.

"What happened to your hands?"

I looked down at my knuckles, having completely forgotten about the severe ass-whooping I dealt to that rock the night before, "I, uh, tripped over the hose on the way up here."

The guy just laughed. He did offer to drive me down to the main road though, you know, the one that is actually paved. Beyond that, he offered to drop me off at the nearest house, which was what I was hoping for anyway. He made no further mention of my knuckles, my attire, or the fact that I was walking around with a length of hose. (I bet that trucker has a version of this same story that is way different than mine).

The up side is that the place I was eventually dropped off was the home to a man who had 1)a gasoline reserve for his tractor, 2)a set of jumper cables, 3)enough good sense to just do what the man with a hose and bloody knuckles asked him to. I did give him 5 bucks for his trouble (at the time gas was only about a dollar a gallon) and thanked him.

This was, thankfully, the last time I would have to wrestle with the guilt I feel for having killed my father.

Until the next day.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I finally tell the story

This is a story that I told briefly when I first started this website. I have never actually elaborated on it. I am going to do that today. This is the story of how I killed my father.

Dad had been pulled over many times for driving drunk. I know of at least three. His lawyer was always able to get him off on a technicality of one sort or the other (one I remember was that he was pulled over for failure to signal when turning out of the bar's parking lot. It turns out that, at least in the state of Oregon, it is not required to use a signal when turning from private property onto a main road.) but, dad would never submit to a breath test. Failure to submit to the test automatically suspends your license for six months (dad had good reason to not submit to the test: he was drunk. He knew the lawyer could get him off on a technicality, but if he actually had a blood alcohol test on the papers that would have been a lot more difficult). I am not defending his actions, that is just what he did.

His license had been suspended for about a year by the time he died. In Oregon (all states?) if you are pulled over with a suspended or revoked license the officer will immediately cover the tags on your license plate with black and white striped stickers. The only way to get the car legal again is to either get your license back or sell the car. Neither of which my dad ever did. What he did was put the cars into my name so that they would be street legal again (when he died 4 of his 5 cars were in my name). This might be a long aside, I will tell you in a moment, once my train gets back on track.

The car wreck that eventually led to his death was on December 21, 1990. The reason he got into the car accident was that he was going to go out drinking for the night, therefore he took an insulin shot without eating anything. There was a foot of snow on the roads. He had to drive slower than normal, he never made it to the bar. He went into insulin shock on the way and rolled the van over on the highway. He was clinically dead when they found him. The ambulance that responded noted that he seemed to have alcohol on his breath, but it was really just an odor that smells like alcohol on the breath at those times when his blood sugar was really low (I just tried to google an explanation for it but can't seem to find one. Hell, maybe it isn't true at all. I just know that when I had seen him with low blood sugar -dangerously low- his breath did smell like he had been drinking. Yet, once a candy bar was inserted, the odor went away).

He was revived by the paramedics and admitted to the hospital shortly thereafter, where they did actually do a blood test which was negative for alcohol, and they found, from that same test, that it was just horribly low sugar. Should have all been well and good. They covered him in casts (the more I think about it I think it may have been both arms and one leg, but I know he had something on his chest as well; it could have been one of those ones that holds the arm out at an angle.), and were going to leave him in the hospital overnight for observation. Unfortunately, he had gotten a DUI not a week before that and was released on his own recognizance until the trial. The cop that had arrived at the scene of the accident happened to be one of the cops that had previously pulled him over for DUI, and insisted that he be released from the hospital to stay in jail until his trial. The doctor released him to the custody of the cop. Dad went to jail.

The people who were in charge of booking inmates, however, were not about to let him stay in their jail. With adult eyes it is pretty easy to see their logic (not the cop that demanded his release from the hospital though), which probably ran thusly, "If he dies in here we are going to get sued!" The next part I really don't understand. Dad didn't go back to the hospital, flat-out refused to. He had a girlfriend pick him up at the jail and spent the night at her house. (here I must note that it was not a rare occasion when he would go out drinking and not come home until the next day. He was always a smooth talker). When I got home from work at about 1 A.M. I wasn't alarmed by his absence (also to note that the cut off for drinking was 2:30 A.M. in Oregon, so I wasn't expecting to see him until the next day anyway).

Early the next morning the phone rang, this was also not uncommon. Sometimes dad would leave his car at the bar and ride home with his woman du joir, then call the next morning to get me to give him a ride back to his car. This was far too early in the day for that though. And it wasn't my father on the other end of the line, it was one of his girlfriends. This was the first time I learned that he had been in a wreck at all. The first time that I heard that he had some broken bones. He wanted me to pick him up and bring him home. I had no idea of the shape he was in (though you do, thanks to horrible story telling) until I arrived to pick him up.

It was hard to imagine that this was the same man. His iron fist, my way or the highway attitude, and stern, knowing look were all gone. This was a man, in a bunch of casts, that had to be helped to the car by a forty year old woman and a sixteen year old kid. He was in a bad way, in hindsight. He was also the man without whom I would not be here typing this, wouldn't be doing much really, likely wouldn't have ever been created. When it comes right down to it there is a fine line between being a child and being the glue that makes those old playboy centerfolds impossible to open. He made me the former, and lots of magazines the latter (there are ways that I know).

Simply getting dad into the car was a bit of a challenge. He had a full leg cast (as I write this the condition is really coming back) which is really not the easiest thing to try to fit comfortably into a 1976 Ford Courier. He had to sit sideways, damn near at the gear shift, with his cast pointing towards the passenger side. With every bump that we hit on the drive home, which was only about 35 miles but took well over an hour due to the snow, he moaned in such pain that I hurt for him. Several times I suggested that we get him back to the hospital, he would have none of it. Once I got him home, then had to break into his bedroom (the key was left at his girlfriend's house), and onto his bed, he seemed to relax a bit. He just continually told me that he was fine.

Dad had a phone mounted to his swanky waterbed, so did I (which it took me a year of begging to get). So he actually called a few people during the days that he lay there dying. I didn't actually pick up my phone and listen in on any of the conversations, but I did overhear a pretty telling remark one time when I went to check on him. Though I don't remember the exact quote, I do remember the end of the quote with crystal clarity: "I don't remember any pain until they woke me up." When I heard that I was afraid that maybe he really didn't want to live. I was now really worried.

I begged him to let me take him to the hospital, he flatly refused. I went to bed that day (December 22, 1990) crying. There was nothing that I could do.

The phone rang early on the morning of the 23rd, which I believe was a Saturday. It was my Grandmother (of all people), telling me that Dad had just called her to get her to call the house, so I would answer the phone (wake up) and go tend to his needs. Which I dutifully did. Again I begged him to let me take him to the hospital, or call an ambulance, hell anything. I needed to do something other than dump his shit out of a can and bring him peaches. He was not in very good shape. He would hear none of it. He said he was fine. (In my heart I knew that he wasn't).

I resolved to actually sleep on the floor in the room with him from then on. I wanted to be right there when he needed something. I wanted to help him get better. For the life of me I can't decide, even in my own mind, whether he wanted to get better or not. Yet, I do know that he never got any better. I kept asking, insisting, that he go back to the hospital. He told me, sternly not to call anyone. He was fine. Yet, as I watched him slowly die, I knew that there was something that I would, could, should do. Unfortunately, by the time I did it it was far too late.

On the morning of December 24, 1990, I just couldn't take it anymore. I knew that he was dying, and that no one other than me could do anything to stop it. When I woke up, it was to him asking me if I could get him a bowl of peaches. I got him a bowl of peaches, blissfully unaware that he had not been taking his insulin shots. Then I ran upstairs to call the ambulance. I was too scared to go back into his room before the ambulance got there, he had told me, in no uncertain terms, not to call an ambulance.

When the paramedics arrived, some thirty minutes later, I motioned for them to go to the kitchen door. I didn't want to tip dad off that I had called them. When I opened the door and explained the situation, mostly that they should expect him to be pretty ticked off that they were here at all, one of the medics said, "where is he. We just want to do a couple of tests". I led them to the door to his room, then said, "sorry dad, I had to call them." And the medics went in.

The rest was just a flurry of action. I could see medics talking into boxes, saying things like "no breathing. No pulse. Starting CPR (CPR being something that I had actually learned that year at school. Might have been helpful had I used it on him somewhere near the time he actually died, eh?)". It went on, "Not responding to visual stimuli, blackened residue emitted with chest compression." It was at roughly that point that I thought to scream "He's Diabetic!" (might as well have screamed "he's Mormon" for all the help that was). I really, really wish that this story had a happy ending. Unfortunately it doesn't.

I had sat there for two entire days watching my father die. I didn't call the ambulance because he told me not to. Once I decided to defy his order it was too late. Had I used my newly discovered CPR skills I might have kept him alive until help came, but I was too scared of how mad he would be that I called the ambulance and was too afraid to even check in on him before the medics were there. Turns out I should have checked in on him.

The coroner's report (there was an autopsy since the death was not supervised, whatever the hell that means) said that the cause of death was
ketoacidosis. It is also known as diabetic coma. His blood sugar was damn near double the level that they consider fatal. Yes, he died. At my hand, no less.

I am pretty sure that dad knew that not taking his insulin shots, then eating really sugary foods, was not a good thing. I figured that the reason he asked for a can of peaches shortly before he died was because he hadn't been eating anything and needed to level his blood sugar out, since the insulin shots lower it so much. Had I known that he hadn't been taking the insulin shots I would probably have reacted a lot differently. Who knows.

I kept taking the canned fruit to dad because I thought he had been taking his insulin. Had I known that he wasn't taking his insulin I would never have done that. Hindsight, I guess. It may be 20/20 but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. For all intents and purposes, I killed my dad.

It would be wonderful to blame the police, or the doctors, or, hell, anyone but me. The fact is that it was me, and only me, that could have saved his life. I didn't. I watched him die. It was all me. I could have driven him to the hospital when I first picked him up, I could have called the ambulance at any time the two days he was at home. Instead I waited until he was already dead (I didn't know he was already dead). I guess I am not much of a son in that respect.

After the medics had been working on him for about a minute I knew that there was no use. The medics continued to work on him as I went to the phone in the dining room and started calling people. The first person that I called was my friend David, I was hoping he could come over to keep me company during the ordeal. It was his father that answered the phone. I asked for Dave and his dad told me that Dave was still asleep. Then, (odd that this is one of the things that I will never forget) I said, "Sam, my dad is dead. Can you wake Dave up?" A moment of silence, then, "Call 911!" came from the other end. Once I assured him that the ambulances were already there working on dad, Sam finally did wake up Dave. Though I really don't remember him being there for a while. Truth be told I don't remember a lot of what happened for the next four hours.

I continued calling people. The next call went to Dad's Mother. The only thing that I can remember about that phone call is that the first thing she said after I told her that dad was dead was, "Don't let them take the furniture!" I don't know who she thought 'them' was, nor why that would be the first thing that sprung into her mind, but that was what she said. I made calls to every relative I could find a number for, who in turn called every other relative, and soon the word was out.

I might try to convey myself as being calm and collected, it was a hell of a situation to be the only person involved in at my age, but the truth is I probably wasn't. When the coroner backed his suburban down the snowy hill to the front door I jumped up, ran to the door, and screamed "Don't take the furniture!" I thought I was making a joke based on what my Grandmother said, but no one around seemed to see any humor in it at all. Those around being only medics, the coroner, and some police, who were currently questioning me.

I don't remember a word of what I said to the police. I don't even remember a single question they asked. I was just sitting there, tears in my eyes, yet not willing to cry, shaking uncontrollably, wishing it would all be over soon. Then, and it seemed quite suddenly, everyone was gone. It was just me and Dave. How long Dave had been there is something I just don't know. Oddly, once I realized he was there, I realized that I really wanted to be alone. Not away from Dave, mind you, just alone with my thoughts for a bit. Before he left, Dave opened up the garage door, pointed at dad's corvette, and said something like "It really is yours now." Which was true, it had been in my name for quite a while...

I was sixteen. My father had just died. I had a corvette at my disposal. There were exactly two things that I really needed to do (well three). First, I really wanted to go see my girlfriend, she had such a soft shoulder and I really needed it at the time. She was only fifteen at the time and, it turns out, the shoulder was indeed soft, but so was the mind (I don't know if she was able to grip the fact that he was dead at all), there was no way that she could have known what I was going through, she did the best she could though. For that I must thank her.

The second thing that I had to do was not because I wanted to. The police didn't want me, the minor child, to be staying unattended at home (how attended I had been over the previous couple of days didn't figure into that logic), so I told them that I would go to my Aunt's house (the one who is my dad's twin). I actually did go to her house. Not because I was planning on staying there at all though, no no, this was all a part of my mission to get to the last thing that I really needed to do.

The third thing that I needed to do was get that corvette out and see what it could do. Which was a pretty stupid thing to be doing on extremely icy roads, but I was sixteen and for some reason (even beyond age) just didn't give a fuck. I had to drive from my house to Myrtle Point (where the aunt lived), it was about 50 miles I would guess, over one of the most winding roads I have ever seen. There were a couple of straight stretches on that road though, which is how I can tell you, from first hand experience, that the '70s era corvette is completely capable of going fast enough that the needle passes max on the speedometer (which went to 160mph). Though at that speed the scenery looks like you are going into warp speed on the Enterprise.

I stayed up there only for a few minutes, it seems. The aunt thought that I should go ahead and live with her while completing school. I thought I would rather have died on the way. I think I really did hit warp speed on the way out of Myrtle Point. That night I slept at a friend's house, I think it was in Roseburg, but it could have been near where I lived. Hell I might have even spent it at my house, I really don't know. Then, then it all started to get really crazy...

Thursday, October 13, 2005


So as I was walking to the bank today, a monumental journey of about a block, I happened to walk past someone who was jogging, no shit.

I have always walked really fast, in fact if I am with anyone else I have to slow my normal pace quite a bit. Still, I walked past someone that was jogging. Isn't the point of jogging supposed to be to move at a speed that falls somewhere between walking and running?

I am sure there are health benefits to any sort of physical activity, certainly for those whose only exercise otherwise would be walking to their car, then their desk, then back to their car, then to the couch. Does slowly jogging have any more effect on you than walking quickly? Seriously, I want to know this. She was not lifting her legs high as she went, not running on her toes (a friend tells me that running on your toes helps to build the muscles in your calves), she was just jogging along with strides about 1/3 of my normal walking ones.

It really isn't my place to question the way someone exercises, of course I have never let that stop me before! Though really I just want to know if jogging slow is somehow better for your body than walking fast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More on music

In a previous post, I was talking about a really cool music service. I ended that post with some offhand remark making it sound like it was about as accurate as astrology (not be confused with astronomy. One is scientific and has data to support their findings, the other is astrology).

I Just googled to find Hitler's date of birth, which happens to be April 20, 1889. I was thinking that I would make some comments about how many other children were born that day, none of which went on to be the monster that Hitler was, thus proving that astrology is absolute and total crap (which it is). But that search, the one for Hitler April 20 brings up some of the weirdest conspiracy theories I have ever seen (sure other events happened on the same day in history, but come on).

To follow that weird, astrological, imminent doom type metric, I was actually married on the 14th of April in 2001. The 14th of April, it turns out, was a pretty bad day for history. I console myself by noting that while Lincoln was shot on the 14th, he didn't actually die until the 15th. While the Titanic struck the iceberg on the 14th, it didn't actually sink until the 15th. Also, the 15th of April is the day that the government demands that you pay your taxes, thus proving that it is the 15th of April that is cursed. The 14th will likely just be a really bad day.

That digression aside, I was talking about music. I actually got a comment regarding it after I made the post, and a phone call from a friend. The friend recommended Yahoo's version of it (sorry, I can't bring myself to use any of the services offered by the only survivor of the dot com bust), the commenter recommended I actually went to that site, but didn't download the software (.fm is something I have never heard of), but they do have a search engine that led me to a few more bands that I have never heard of, who, it turns out, kick ungodly ass.

That Pandora site is still the best one that I have found, previous caveats being noted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fall at last!

It is often said that there are only two seasons in Arizona; summer and Winter (though I would debate Winter, when it only gets as low as the forties overnight, and the highs are in the sixties/seventies). We do actually have a full cycle of the seasons though. For instance Fall began just yesterday. It will be over in three or four days, likely.

Fall and Spring in Arizona are basically what summer is basically anywhere else. We finally have highs in the eighties and lows in the sixties. The major difference is that, to those of us who live here, it is starting to feel a bit cold. It is not quite sweater weather yet, but it soon will be. A few more days of this ideal temperature and we will be into full blown Winter. Wearing sweaters on days when it is sixty, even as we see the senior citizens walking around in shorts and tank tops. Odd, that.

I have always believed that the climate you live in changes your body, by that I mean that it changes the way your blood flows, changes the way your mind perceives hot and cold, basically just changes you completely. I went to google before I began typing this to see if I could find a medical explanation. I was not able to find what I was looking for. In the absence of facts, I will go ahead and give my very own clinical explanation (to be taken with a huge bag of salt).

I moved to Arizona in late November 1994. I moved here from Oregon. When I left Oregon the daily temperatures were running from (just guessing here) high thirties for lows, to high forties for highs (possibly low fifties). When I stepped off the bus in Arizona it was over sixty, downright warm. My first "Winter" here I never really wore jeans unless I was at work, it was just too darn warm for them.

Fast forward eleven years.

As I type this it is 76 degrees according to the national weather service, though just a touch under seventy in the house ( I just turned off the cooler ), and it is feeling a bit nippy. I am wearing shorts, a tee shirt and socks, but thinking I might need to break out last year's sweat pants. My fingers are actually cold, so cold that it is difficult to move them for typing purposes. This at just under seventy! How did eleven years make me go from hot in the high sixties to cold in the high sixties?

My theory is that the temperature actually effects how thick your blood is. In cold temperatures the blood will thicken up a bit so that it can hold the warmth from your abdomen all the way to the little digits on your fingers. In hot temperatures it will have to thin down, not for cooling purposes, but to be able to get the blood/nutrients to the extremities as fast as they are using the oxygen (when it is 117 outside you tend to use a lot more salt and minerals than you do when it is cold).

In my theory I simply assume that it takes a long time for your body to adjust to the new climate, which would probably be true anyway. The theory of evolution shows that beings that are most suited to the climate of any particular area tend to thrive there, while those beings that aren't suited simply die off (if you are religious, read that as "God wipes beings that aren't fit for their environment off of the earth"). That is why the earliest know humans were nomadic, right? They had to wander around to find not only a decent climate, they had to find food as well. If the chill has forced all the little creatures off to better climates, early man had no choice but to follow.

That might have all been well and good for early man, but I am sitting here with cold fingers. Perhaps I should go ahead and migrate to a warmer climate? But where? Perhaps hell, I hear it is pretty warm there.

I was not able to get Darwin, God or Satan to reply to questions. Bunch of smug bastards.

Happy Fall!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The most coolest music jobby thing ever

My daily surfing routine brought me to this link. At Wil Wheaton's site, of all places. Now this is a concept! Just type in the name of a band or a song and boom, they start throwing all sorts of shit at you! All similar to the style (I suppose the definition of style is pretty loose) of music that you entered. If you hate a song you can just move on and they will try to find something more suited to your taste.

The type of music that I like doesn't lend itself to any sort of radio airplay, and I don't have the time or patience to seek it out on the internet. This little thing makes it a lot easier. Now I sincerely doubt that I will actually subscribe to it, but being that the first ten hours are free I will sure try to find some cool new (no matter how old they are they are still new to me) bands while I am at it.

The service is freakily accurate. I have now listened to ten songs, only once did I actually have to do a WTF and nix the song. Not to mention that about half of the songs that they played are actually somewhere in my CD collection. It puts me in mind of when I started my very first website, which, oddly enough, is still online (if you really want to see it I will email you the link). I put one of those radio stations onto it, this was back when they actually let you select bands that you wanted to be played on the station. The dead link to that web radio station still exists on that website. It turns out that someone (probably Lars Ulrich) got all in a huff about being able to select only certain bands to play, thought it was infringing on copyrights and the such, thus they had to give up on letting you select bands. Those stations still exist, but now you can only select from a genre. What a pile of something.

This Pandora thing has already given me the names of a few bands that I would like to sample additional music from. The first was The Haunted. Man, they do some really heavy stuff. There have been a couple that I have yet to find websites for, but it is hard to find this kind of heavy shit on the radio. I just heard, in succession, a song from Death, followed by one from Metallica (Dyer's Eve, you know, one of the good ones), now it is playing Slayer.

The one major drawback, as I just found out, is that you can only skip a certain number of songs per hour. That means that if it picks something totally inappropriate and you tell them to skip it, you can only do that a certain number of times. I didn't count how many I actually skipped, there is still only one that I skipped because I just didn't like it. I was mostly just skipping past the ones that I already have in my CD collection, trying to find stuff that I hadn't ever heard. If I would have just listened to all of the songs, which I like anyway, mind you, I would probably not have hit that wall.

Wow! Superjoint Ritual sure knows how to kick some ass! I suppose what I call music wouldn't work for everyone. But they do have that handy feature that lets you search for an artist or title to start with, then, sort of like playing a game of MasterMind, keep trying new songs until they really find the niche that you are into. It's the best thing since porn sliced bread.

The best part about the whole deal, again, as I just found out, is that the more artists/songs you add to the "station", the more likely they are to find more stuff that matches your tastes pretty closely. While you may not like the stuff I do, Dew-Scented being the most recent example (that kicks some ass!), I bet they have some more down to earth genres as well. Hell, when I entered Goo Goo Dolls as a new station, I got a bunch of stuff that sounded pretty much like them.

Since I am not a spokesman for the company, and therefore all I get out of this endorsement is the satisfaction of 10 free hours of their weirdly accurate music selections, I am gonna call it a post.

Or not. Boy, that last selection just sounded like a guy taking a really big dump, through a straw or something (meaning he had to poo through an opening the size of a straw, and tried to 'sing' while he was doing it), to hear his voice. Of course, once I said I hated that one it was followed immediately by some Pantera. They know me. Much in the same way that astrologists can say that, since you are a Libra, the sun will rise in the morning and go down at night, now that is some freakily accurate insight.

Seriously though. They played only two songs that I simply didn't like in a stretch of two hours. There is no way you would get such results from a radio station. Also, they never repeated a song, try getting that from your local radio station. It is a great idea, though horribly over-priced, and I would really like to see it catch on. Perhaps get some legs

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cardboard hill

It takes so little to entertain a child, well it took very little to entertain me when I was a child. I really was one of those kids that would play with my new toy at Christmas for a few minutes, then get hours of entertainment out of the box that it came in. And I wasn't alone.

There were railroad tracks mere feet from our door, there was a river just beyond them, there was a creek in my back yard, there was also a small park (with a huge ass tree in it) just across the tracks. There were so many ways that I could have had fun, but that was for personal fun. No one else really played in any of those areas. There were a couple of seasons, however, where everyone in my block liked to engage in the same two activities. One was to tube down College Dr. (which, of course, only worked in snow) and the other was to take a run down cardboard hill.

I don't know if the cardboard hill thing existed anywhere other than the particular block, on the particular street, in the particular town where I was living, but damn those was good times!

It was really a simple concept. Behind Jason Friedman's house (well, technically it was his parent's house) there was a big old hill. In fact they actually had a strange terrace of car tires buried into the hill behind their house to keep the hill from flowing down and destroying it. Those made for an excellent ladder to get to the top of the hill. The hill itself was nothing more than a bunch grass (well something like grass) that would be dry and yellow at the correct time of year. It was easy to knock it down (usually just took a few runs down the hill on a piece of cardboard), and carve trails to zoom down on a piece of cardboard.

When the season was right we would all go dig through the dumpsters behind the Albertson's store, which was less than a block away, and try to find the best, largest pieces of cardboard that we could. If you had a wimpy piece of cardboard it would likely tear out on the way down and leave you with a blistered ass, and a run back to Albertson's to find another piece (what is totally unfortunate is that we all lived in Oregon. Oregon was way ahead of the curve on recycling. The majority of the cardboard from the Albertson's was put into this huge compressor thing and recycled. The best we could usually find was some small scrap no bigger than 12 inches square).

Once the hay weeds grass whatever the hell was covering that hill was pushed down, it acted like sex wax on a surfboard. Imagine barreling down a hill, completely out of control, no steering, no brakes, no protection, on nothing but a very thin piece of cardboard (unless, of course, you happen to be my mother --who actually does read this-- so for her sake let us pretend that our safety measures went beyond the 'just jump if it gets too bad' mentality --which they did not-- ). Good times.

There was a blackberry bush right at the end of the run, how close you got to the bush was a sort of character building machismo kind of thing. If you rode your flimsy little cardboard close enough that the briars actually stuck your little sliding body as you bailed, that meant you were a dare devil. Of course this was at the time that television was airing (I am not going to link to them) The Fall Guy, The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch and The Smurfs. While the Smurfs might not seem to be such a motivational factor in all of this, considering the other programming, the Smurf's was really the biggest motivation. Nobody wanted to be Brainy Smurf, you know, the guy who didn't fit in.

Each kid would speed down the hill on his/her (no female entity would be stupid enough to try this) tiny chunk of refuse (call it what you will. I saved many pieces of cardboard from the local landfill, for a few days at least), each successive run would make the path a bit longer. Eventually it would lead to the patch of briars that separated us from the unknown (well it was known, even to me, but I have to save the reveal for later).

So you sit on a piece of cardboard and then let gravity take its course. You end up totally tearing ass down the hill. I don't know what the top speed acquired on that hill was. It seemed to me that it was akin to a rocket launch, or at least a Dragster, but I was quite young at the time. Memories do have a way of glorifying the past, don't they?

It so happened that one of us found a watermelon bin behind the Albertson's one day. If you have never seen a cardboard watermelon bin I will give you a brief synopsis. It is a huge piece of cardboard, way thicker than any normal cardboard. It is stapled (with seriously heavy-duty staples) at its only break. The dimensions that matter are that it was about 30 inches tall (which translated to 30 inches wide for riding purposes), it was at least four times thicker than normal cardboard, and it looked like it could really survive anything (the thing was about a half of an inch thick FFS).

We were all pretty young at the time. We knew what Math was, but only in an abstract manner. 1+1=2 for sure, but acceleration, gravity, velocity and other such was a bit beyond our reach. So, in our infinite wisdom, we called this piece of cardboard "the truck" and decided that we would all ride it down the hill together. Big Mistake.

Looking on this with my adult eyes (or what pass for them around here) I realize that this was pretty damn stupid. While "the truck" was certainly the best piece of cardboard ever, it was also enclosed on the front and back (when you are doing what we were doing), which meant that you have no idea which way you are going. Gravity will take its course and you will be at gravity's mercy for the rest of the ride. Of course I was young and stupid, one of those two, I am happy to say I have overcome, but I am still stupid. I really don't think that anyone who jumped into "the truck" went on to be a math major.

Our little minds didn't seem to put together the 2+2 equation. We had no idea that having four of us in "the truck" would make us accelerate a hell of a lot faster than just one kid on a piece of cardboard. We tore ass down that hill! Since we were now in an enclosed traveling device, no one knew when we were getting close to the briars. We tore ass through them as well. We had, at this point, gone fifty or so feet further than anyone else had ever dared. Not on purpose, mind you, had someone voiced concern over getting close to the briars we would all have bailed, but no one did...We were in for the whole ride...

That was when we went careening off the cliff. No nets, no wires. We all went off the cliff, quite fabulously, with a piece of cardboard as our vessel. We all hit with a thud. It was a thankful thud, as I noticed that everyone else had immediately exited the vehicle. There were whoops and cheers up above, coming from the people who didn't just crash their cardboard into asphalt, they thought it was the best thing ever. I couldn't even ham this one up, well, I suppose I could have, but the wet spot in the front of my pants might have given me away.

I don't even think that we were gods for a single moment; Once the other kids knew that the fall to the street was survivable, not to mention that we had mowed down the berry briars in advance, they came in droves to try it. Damn my luck.

I had the opportunity to visit cardboard hill when I was 20 years old. The hill was only about fifty or sixty feet down to the drop. The drop was only about six feet. It seemed so much bigger back when I was so much smaller.

Still, good times. That is an experience that you will never forget.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Having read an ancient post from Magazine Man, I have taken to thinking about old friends. That went from wondering what they are up to now to wondering why we were ever friends in the first place. I don't mean that to be facetious; I really wonder how we ever ended up as friends at all.

My first "best friend" was a kid named Dean. We didn't become friends because we necessarily liked each other (though it turns out that we did), but more out of convenience. He was the kid nearest my age on the block. In the world of a child under the age of about, say 35 (that is what you think as a child), you really have to get close to those of the same age that live nearby. Neither of us had yet entered school, which meant that we had lots of time to play around out in the yard. Of course his yard was probably no bigger than the room I am sitting in (though well manicured), so most of the play went on in my yard, but with his toys, as he always had the very best, newest toys on the market. My yard might have had the wonderful little creek running through the back (come to think of it that might have just been a broken water line at the neighbor's house), a wonderful dirt hill, a huge rock that I was never able to move, yes it was the ultimate playground, but I didn't have the toys.

We played together damn near every day for at least a year (that being the year that my middle brother had to ship away to school day by day, leaving me alone) and it was a hell of a lot of fun. No offense meant to Dean's yard, but it is hard to really have fun with action figures if there is not the threat of drowning in the vast river (broken water pipe?), being stuck alone in the middle of the desert (sandy area around the telephone pole where nothing seems to grow), that huge rock (which I am pretty sure was just a piece of bedrock, since there was an actual river only a hundred or so yards away), which sometimes served as a lunar base for action figures, sometimes served as a free zone while playing tag (if someone got a bit too winded they were safe from being tagged while touching it). In addition to that, my yard also offered access to the railroad tracks (less than 100 feet from the house, and with no fence), and a sewer access panel (manhole cover) within inches of the aforementioned 'desert'.

It is a wonder either of us survived, the same could be said of my brothers.

Dean and I got along pretty good. He had the toys, I had the adventurous back yard. Yet there comes a point when you are playing 'transformers' (which he can transform in about 1.2 seconds, while it takes me a good ten minutes and the instruction manual to do the same) that I realize he has me totally out-skilled. Time to play the territory rule... At my house time will stop while transformers, um, well, transform. That was my first (and probably biggest) fight with Dean. He thought that rule was crap. He noted that the entire 'Transformer' franchise was based on one team always winning, and that if they all transformed at the same speed it would take away most of the drama ( no, he didn't actually say it quite that way, his quote was something more similar to "If I let you win one then would it be fair?"). I threw him straight out of my yard! After all, it is not about playing the game, it is all about who wins and loses.

Dean and I were not exactly in constant contact for the next several years. That was due to my parents divorcing though, I didn't have the luxury of the internet at the time and I had moved a good ten or twelve miles away from him (practically to Siberia to my young eyes). It wasn't until I called him up, completely out of the blue, several years later that we started to hang out again.

Gone were all of the differences, we were now "men on the prowl". Men, as much of a man as you can be at 12 or 13, on the "prowl", thus looking for a simple boob feel. We used a roller skating rink as our venue to hunt the prey (by prey I mean beautiful women girls that were around our age). Both of us would go on to score tons of phone numbers, unfortunately, at least in my case, the voice that answered the phone was certainly not the little hottie I was calling for. It was always her father. And the father never, ever, wants phone sex with a young boy (thank god I didn't happen across Michael Jackson's number). Their daughter has to be asleep by a certain time, etc.

When I eventually did get a hook up (and by that I am not trying to imply sex, just a real phone number, for a real girl, that I was really skating with), Dean and whatever other friends were with me remarked that the girl was "way out of my league". Well, it turns out that, on that night, they were all right.

It took me about four years (she actually consoled me after my father died), one promise ring, one engagement ring (which I actually pawned my guitar to buy, at the time it was like giving up a nut. That, the giving up a nut thing, I would do now, in a second, if my wife needed help, ), so I guess it really was just puppy love. Time will tell though (as it always does).

Dean's mom didn't exactly agree to me staying at her house, but she didn't turn away the money (I think I was giving her 50 bucks a week, though it might have been more or less) when I decided that her garage was the perfect place to get ahold of myself...Ego and all...Thing is that there was no insulation in that garage, it was basically just plywood thrown over a stud or two. It was really frickin cold! Yet this is where Dean, Steve and myself spent the better part of the year (Steve was old enough to buy the beer).

Games of quarters would ensue. That is likely why I am writing a blog, as opposed to writing a thesis.

I know that Dean got married and still lives on that same little street. I don't know what Steve ever did. Here is to hoping that he is alive and well!

If you are Dean or Steve, and you happen to find me, crack that beer open (or soda, yohoo, spritzer, etc.) and remember the days.


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