Friday, December 26, 2008

Why it failed

All over the world the question bears heavily on minds. Why did the 3rd annual Orgasm for Peace fail? Strife still grips the planet and Hamas is shooting Happy Hannukah rockets at Israel. This, only six days after the event designed to end war forever. The riddle is even more perplexing, since it can't possibly be related to the basic concept.

Millions have an orgasm at the precise moment of the Winter Solstice. That sends a wave of positive energy around the world at the speed of light. So powerful would this wave be, the brain chemistry of humanity would be altered, and nobody would care for war anymore. So the concept is without error, and who would expect such an idea to start in California, anyway?

I believe the failure of this noble effort must fall squarely on execution. The participants can't be blamed either. The core failure lies in the difficulty of precision in body functions.

I've never met a person who could hiccup on demand. I've never even met anyone who could sneeze whenever they felt like it. How much more difficult would it be to schedule an orgasm at 12:04pm on Sunday 12/21/08? Perhaps the peace energy wave was weakened by a high percentage of 12:02, 12:06 or even 12:09 orgasms.

When seeking to alter the brain chemistry of an entire species, intensity of the wave is a pretty important factor. After all, we have to be scientific about these things, right? So it was probably doomed to fail, due to the imprecision of bilogical functions with respect to celestial mechanics. Or put another way, human bodies & heavenly bodies just have a heck of a time synching up.

Sure, some will point to Tibetan holy men, who through meditation can control their body temp and such as that. I've heard those stories too, but I've no information these techniques have become common knowledge throughout the Western world. Therefore only a few thousand Buddhist monks can be reliable for exactly 12:04pm. That's not enough orgasms to change the brain chemistry of the human race! Besides, I think those guys are celibate.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sorting out CD's

Who put AC/DC in the Manheim Steamroller case? I don't like either of 'em much, but there's no sense in that level of cruelty. Well, that's what I'm trying to nip in the bud with my sorting operation. Hey! It's a rainy day, and I have LOTS of free time! Now being about 3/4 finished, this is a good time to pause and wax incoherent.

Many of these CD's were given to me as gifts. I never realized that before. There's the 12 volume "Classics of Classical Music." I remember when that was bought for me. There's Allmans live at Fillmore & Neil Young's first, with "Cinnamon Girl" on it. Those were both bought for me to go with another gift, my first CD player.

Some of these CD's represent nuanced gifts, and stand out like a ruby in a black man's ear (thanks Joni, and God bless Bud Higgenbottom). There's the Yardbirds double CD, bought for my birthday one year by an angry young man. He thought he was mad at me, but really he's always been mad at himself. Still, he was trying to reach out.

From happier days, there is the "No Direction Home" CD from the Scorcese documentary. Father's Day gift. He was doing the happy dance as I opened it.

Oddly, I picked up an unlabeled CD just now and started listening to it. Who in the world would be so disorganized as to make a CD and not label it? Oh, same person who'd put AC/DC in a Manheim Steamroller case, I reckon. In the first notes of the CD, I got a chill, hearing "My Father's Gun." Who would be so knowledgeable of me, so painstaking as to lovingly make a CD full of songs few know I revere, while throwing in some Bob Marley and Stone Temple Pilots for subversion's sake? WHERE ARE THE LABELS?????

Maybe some are not so disorganized thinkers as to believe everything needs a label. It just is, and even in the worst of times, we still strain against chains of our own forging to find some language with which to speak to those we love. Labels are merely options at times.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh, come on!

Why waste time thinking about a Hobson's choice with the big 3 auto makers? Tax dollars & ratholes love each other; nothing in the long run will keep them apart. But not every millionaire is seeking favors. It's time to stop stereotyping the filthy rich. See, these lads are millionaires too. It's obvious they're quite frightening to small children. That's as opposed to other kinds of millionaires, who scare grownups.

These men don't want a taxpayer bailout. They only want justice. It's always these shy, introverted types whose rights get trampled. Well I've seen the tears on their painted faces, and I'll speak up for KISS.

In essence, would seem entry requirements for a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should work like this:
1.) You play rock & roll.
B.) You're famous.

With that criteria, there's no earthly reason why KISS isn't in there! Hey, I don't like their music, but millions do. Nobody can say they aren't unique, or that their influence doesn't endure. I bet they can do a sold-out world tour anytime they want. In Japan alone they'd make a mint, and not just because of their Kabuki makeup. So why is KISS not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Is it cause the judges don't know what rock & roll is? I see they put James Taylor in their little Hall of Fame. Look, if there is one trait shared by all good rock & roll, it's....(drum roll please) it should be fun. Yep, rock & roll is music of rebellion. If you're at a rebellion and you're not having fun, you may be on the wrong side. KISS is fun, so they don't have to be deep and brooding. They've provided so much entertainment to their fans over the years. They should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Wait a minute! You don't think it's some kind of Pete Rose deal do you? Did KISS get caught betting on other bands?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big as Ike

When my parents' generation passes I'll miss the rich texture of their language. In a recent phone call with Mom she used a phrase in passing. I didn't think about it until later, when I was driving to pay the electric bill. A truck pulled out in front of me (glad my brakes work!) and I exclaimed, "Now ain't you big as Ike?"

And I smiled, thinking where I'd heard the phrase last. It's an adverb I guess. Means something like, "with an air that implies assumption of inalienable right."

If I'm ever talking to Mom and she says, "That kid drove his four-wheeler across my back yard with an air that implied assumption of some inalienable right" I'm gonna look around for Rod Serling! But it's all just as well.

When Mom says, "Big as Ike" I know exactly what she means. I can't possibly catalog the hundreds of peculiar expressions I grew up hearing. But I feel the richness of that dialect in my bones. I'm not saying the english language will become a vast arid wasteland twenty years from now.

Right now, there's a woman somewhere with hands on hips, looking down at her little jug eared kid sitting in the middle of the bedroom he's been told to clean. She may be saying, "You're so lazy you could be a Sushi chef." In years to come it will resonate, in part because of its strange, pretty logic. In part because it comforts. The grown man who'll repeat it links with a time when Momma's disapproval was his only worry.

And many of the phrases of my parents' generation will go forward as well. They will go forward because they're so artful in summing up common human experiences. The most useful of the phrases will go forward until nobody even knows why they say them. But I will miss the people who said them to me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fry the sea kittens

In small doses I quite enjoy flakes and crackpots. So I drop by the PETA website now and then.

PETA has decided since they've done a great job getting folks to stop eating pork, beef and chicken, now the fish need a hand, or a fin, I dunno. Actually they've given them paws. Yeah PETA thinks people will be reluctant to eat fish if the name is changed to "sea kitten." I think they got the idea from a really good Danny O'Keefe song...

Catfish got whiskers and a cute little grin,
But you never can tell where a catfish has been...

Then again, do PETA folks have a breadth of knowledge that would include O'Keefe songs? Maybe just a lucky guess.

I suspect if everybody went vegetarian tomorrow, many tens of millions would starve to death in a year. It's probably impossible to grow enough protein to feed the billions of humans on this planet. Fish, well sea kittens, they eat protein humans can't digest. And they convert it to protein humans can digest. Now beef, one could argue it takes more acres to provide a pound of animal protein than it would a pound of plant protein, and that sounds swell, but it's not nearly all the truth. Many places cattle graze around this world, you can't grow wheat there. Grass is stubborn, it'll grow lots of places. Wheat is different. Humans can't digest grass. Cattle can digest grass. Humans can digest cattle. I'm sensing a plan here.

Who knows? Maybe one reason starvation rages in India is because it's a mostly vegetarian country. This planet probably can't sustain several billion vegetarians. Think I'll continue to consume sea kittens.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My College Transcript

Got it in the mail last week, just opened it. Fairly interesting. And I say that honestly observing that me saying something is interesting is about as shocking as a three year old liking ice cream better than green beans. For Lord's sakes, I'd watch a three hour documentary on belly button lint! Actually I think I have, that Ken Burns does good work. So anything I say is interesting, take it with a grain of salt.
Wonder where that phrase came from? I'll have to research this "grain of salt" thing very soon.

That said, my transcript is revealing, illuminating, disconcerting. For instance, I only made a 2.0 in Abnormal Psych back in the 70's. I should've thought my family background alone would've helped me get a better grade there. I made the Dean's list in 1998. Of course, I bet I made a different Dean's list back in the 70's. Like maybe the list of freaks we got to get the HELL off this campus!

What's really odd though? I've long felt I don't actually belong in Engineering. I've been running on this internal narrative where I'm smart enough, dogged enough to play, but I don't really belong on the team. Actually I've long thought I'd be better suited sitting around the Harvard faculty lounge, having a heated debate over whether John Donne is the only English poet whose name actually rhymes. I can picture myself easily dispatching any rival who would posit otherwise.

Transcript says different. Chemistry, Physics, Electronics, I made 4.0 in all those classes. Even while working two jobs. American History, Literature, 3.0. Hey, even public speaking I made a 3.0! Daddy always said if the English language died of exhaustion, I'd be the one who killed it. Maybe I'm a techno-geek after all. I still think John Donne is a funny name.

Trick or Trick

Halloween isn't a holiday and I should stop calling it that. It's one part mish-mash of Celtic superstition, one part Mother Church tradition (which has been pretty superstitious at times too) and one part American orientation for our kiddos, wherein we teach them to pretend to be something they're not and expect stuff for free. So I won't call it a holiday when I can help it, I'll call it a happy day.

People like me (and I'm hardly unique) have some really precious memories associated with Halloween. When I was about seven, I was only supposed to go up and down my street. But I got hooked up with the Mexican kids up the block. Their Uncle loaded us in the back of his pickup, and we went ALL over the greater Los Angeles area! Got a LOT of candy! Got home around 11:30 and Mom wore out a flyswatter on my butt. So everybody had a good time. I think at least one of my root canals can be directly connected to that candy haul. Lots of fun memories like that I associate with Halloween. But not this year.

We laid off forty people yesterday. That's a third of the production workforce. Laid off four of my maintenance men too. Sure, of course, these people were the lowest performers, with a few noteable exceptions determined by very un-business decisions. But very few of them were certified losers. They were mostly folks doing the best they could, trying to earn a living.

The housing sector has excess inventory. Words are such wonderful things. You can take heart rending moments, apply the correct words, and ABRA-CADABRA! It's just an excess inventory problem is all. The whole thing becomes with proper words, about as bland as the directions on a TV dinner box, or even as bland as the contents thereof.

Trick or trick. Not an altogether happy Halloween for me, nor those forty employees. Considering it objectively, I'd rather have faced Momma in her prime, waiting up for me with a flyswatter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hippies kill again

This weekend in two separate incidents, babies were beaten to death by their moms' boyfriends. There won't be marches or any other public outcry. Only the funerals will draw a crowd. Everything after that gets done in solitude mostly. People I don't know, I give them benefit of doubt.

I presume two mothers will grieve a long time in solitude. If not them, somebody, grandparents, aunts, uncles, somebody. I know the killers will regret their actions as the justice system grinds to the point where the cell door closes, and word gets out among the prison population they killed babies. I may be naive, but I believe somebody will grieve for the baby killers. Just the way we humans are I suppose, but few can accomplish a level of monsterhood so intense that nobody loves them, misses them and hurts over their actions and outcomes.

I can't help but wonder why this happened. How does a grown male reach the point where he can use his fists on a baby? That's just me, Root Cause Analysis David. It's just in me to ask why these precious little ones lost their lives like that.

Some might answer, "Well it's the pressure of being poorly educated, with little purchasing power in a consumer based culture where one's self-esteem seems tied to acquisition. This horrible pressure acts on the most feeble minded like they're canaries in the coal mine, and they become babykillers, etc."

May be some truth in that, and I'd be willing to debate it at the funerals. Me, I HATE the damned sixties. Other than civil rights and some music, not a good thing came from the 1960's. Strip away the trappings and it was all about advancing the idea that a culture could be built around serving only self. Self comes first.

Meth, crack, AIDS, thanks you damned hippies! Babies born out of wedlock, treated to a parade of self-worshipping boyfriends, some of them murderous, wasn't that the logical outcome all along? It's all about self after all, right? Thanks again, you damned hippies.

The highest level of humanity one can attain is this: With a non-martyr heart, look the whole world in the eyes with a sincere smile and lie your ass off, saying, "It's OK, I was going this way anyhow."

The lowest level is to serve only self. Those people are without exception the most miserable individuals I've ever met. For all their grasping, their hands stay empty and their hearts are emptier. And some of them kill babies with their fists.
That's what hippie-think gets you, a culture of emptiness and moral relativism.

Friday, October 3, 2008

No room for Harry?

Some of the media animosity toward Ms. Palin confuses me. Sure, she's pro-gun, anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion, while most people covering her feel strongly the other way. That sounds like a too easy answer.

Perhaps the media reflects an unspoken current felt by many Americans. That current might be we've become comfy with leaders from the ruling class, so we're suspicious of candidates from outside those ranks.

Our 2008 Presidential candidates are of the elite. The last two guys were too. The 2000 election was between two elites. What about Bill Clinton? Hmmm, that ball could break either way I guess. Humble birth, but Rhodes scholar, Georgetown law professor too.

History of Presidential elections implies Americans don't want leaders chosen from among our ranks. After all, what non-elite Presidents have we had lately? Carter for sure. Ford was pretty non-elite too. Nixon was non-elite in his way.
That's my entire list of Presidents during my life time who didn't rise from the ruling class, or go through an extended period of class orientation.
Reagan just an ordinary guy? Give me a break David! Maybe to Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart!

Are we getting where we think the job of President is so hard we regular folks couldn't manage it? Are we getting where we think less of our abilities as regular Americans?

The three ultimate non-elite Presidents have been Jackson, Lincoln and Truman. Two mixed records and a towering figure in human history; not a bad score for average Americans. Ms. Palin deserves every bit of scrutiny she's getting. Politics is a tough business, not for sissies. If she can't take it, even the low blows, she doesn't belong.

But I wonder have we become a country with no room for Harry Trumans? We're now a nation that only likes elites in the Oval Office? Should I tell Huckabee to forget his ambitions? There might be a Lincoln out there somewhere.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who was Colton Greene?

This beautiful, gawdy thing is now office space for lawyers. But it was built as the Tennessee club. Colton Greene was the man who made it happen. He turned up in St. Louis in the 1850's. He was twenty. He was also penniless, intelligent, charming and very vague about his origins. All he'd say was that he came from South Carolina. By the start of the Civil War he'd amassed a fortune through hard work.

He fought bravely for the losing side in the war. In 1867 he rode into Memphis, again penniless. The river town was pretty hopeless in those days, Yellow Fever was rampant. Greene went into business. Insurance, banking, anything where he could make a dollar. He also turned his hand to the morale of the war ravaged city. He promoted better sanitation, and started a Mardi Gras celebration that revived community spirit. He was just always into something. He organized the Tennessee club to bring together city leaders for charitable and economic cooperation.

There's no record that he ever told anyone about his life before St. Louis. He spoke several languages fluently and quoted Shakespeare with ease. If he ever trusted anyone enough to talk about his family or childhood, he must have trusted well, because they kept his secrets. Colton Greene died in 1900. He left his fortune to various charities. He left me a really cool building to admire, and a mystery that will probably never be solved.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Vigilists

It's just a pile of stone and glass. It's not supposed to be responsive. Yet, just like falling snow can make an entire city quieter, early Sunday mornings do something to a hospital.

Outside the entrance three middle aged people who look related are standing aside, speaking softly. A young woman paces back and forth, talking on a cell phone. As you pass by she's saying, "I didn't expect all these questions. It's kind of overwhelming you know." In the lobby a teenager is sleeping in a chair, her purse for a pillow and a denim jacket for a blanket. These are the vigilists.

Most are strangers to one another and will remain so, but they have one thing in common. Just right now their lives are frozen in time, waiting for news. The day may pass without news. The news may come and confirm their worst fears. Less than a mile away the world remains its dizzying diversity of activity. Less than a mile away someone feeds the cat then reads the morning paper. Less than a mile away Starbucks employees are arriving at work. In this place though, early Sunday morning is mostly about the vigils.

Of course it's not uniform even here, now. Over by the elevators a family group is all smiles, perhaps discussing a late night delivery from the Stork. Life goes on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Edwards Group-think

I'm reading articles about how John Edwards is now and ever shall be as popular as a tattoo artist with Parkinsons' and something strikes me odd. I wasn't in a coma during the 1990's and the name "Monica" still rings a bell with me. Yet Bill Clinton will be speaking at the Democratic convention.

So why the difference in how the two affairs are seen? Is it that time has led people to forgive Bill, while the freshness of the Edwards thing won't get him a pass? Nope, it's not that. I remember what people were saying when Clinton was in trouble. They were saying, "It's a private matter, nothing to do with solving the nation's problems." I've every reason to believe Clinton supporters were sincere in their reaction. Yet now some of the very same folks seem equally sincere in their desire to ban Edwards from the planet. I've been wondering about the difference in reactions all weekend.

It could be argued the response is a self-serving effort to cull a rival from the 2012 or 2016 Democratic race. I don't think it's that.

I think the difference in response lies in the personalities of the wronged spouses. Elizabeth Edwards is a mother who has buried one of her children. As a man, I can only approach about a third of the agony that must be to a mother. And Elizabeth keeps battling the cancer that will eventually kill her. A very sympathetic figure. Obviously there is steel in that woman, beneath the soft exterior.

With Hillary, all the steel is on the outside. Nobody can feel sorry for Hillary; she wouldn't allow it, unless it got her votes. That's the decision Hillary made a long time ago, and she's to be respected for it. She's a tough bird in a tough world. But she made a choice she must live with. When Bill cheats on her it's not the same as John cheating on Elizabeth.

Hillary is just a cold person, and she took that course to survive, but she is cold. If all the ice up in the Arctic ever melts like Al Gore predicts, Hillary should be sent there and the place would freeze up immediately. She's a smart, capable woman. She might actually make a good President. But she chose to be cold, perhaps unknowingly. So that's why John Edwards is not welcome at the Democratic convention, but Bill Clinton will speak.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In my De-fence

Here is the way I see it. Should I wake up tomorrow with a burning desire to speak Italian fluently, I hope I try. I may not get there, but I'll be better for the trying. So I took fencing lessons. It didn't work out as a lifelong pursuit, but that's fine. It's not that I want to be a fencer, it's that I want to be a person who is open to new experiences. As we get older our horizons contract, unless we launch a massive counter attack.

Learning about fencing was lots of fun. For one thing I learned that sword fighting in the movies is a bunch of crap. All offense and no defense. A trained swordsman would kill Errol Flynn in fifteen seconds. I also got to meet some interesting people, and was privileged to view a fascinating culture. Now it's time to move on. That's always been one of my faults; I don't "move on" well.

I'm 51 and I'm trying to learn stuff here! Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Men don't stop playing because they get old. They get old because they stop playing." So I agree with that. There's more important stuff to learn than how to hold a foil, or proper footwork. For me, I have to learn to say, "Well that was nice, what's next?"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Driving in Memphis

That was a great tune by that guy, the guy with the song, whatshisname...
"I was driving in Memphis, knuckles white on my steering wheel.
Yeah I was driving in Memphis, watching out for all of the automobiles

Or something like that.

Well, I wasn't watching close enough at 7:15 on 7/17/08. Sitting there at the red light minding my own business. WHAM! right in the back end. Then a car that looked as if it'd been to several demolition derbies pulled around on my left, straight through the red light. I wasn't angry at getting hit, but the getaway kind of defeated my composure. The getaway was not to be.

When the light turned green I followed my new friends closely, and dialed 911 to relay the license number. Following them wasn't very hard. Their front fender was crumpled against the tire. The tire was smoking like an AA meeting, and looked like 35mph was best they could manage.

The 911 operator was telling me not to follow them but that was a waste of her time. They finally stopped at a Target parking lot (kinda ironic in a way) and the passenger took great pains to assure me they weren't running really. Well OK, maybe, I guess. When the Police came I explained I was just too excited when talking to the 911 lady; they didn't actually hit & run, they just hit.

So now my wife's car is in the shop. I'm glad nobody got hurt, they make cars every day... well, not in Detroit I mean. But somewhere on this great planet, somebody makes cars every day.

"I was driving in Memphis"....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Owning our actions

All organizations are similar in some respects, and things like this happen at factories too. Drawing on a decade of managerial experience, I predict the investigation will yield the following responses.

5. No, I clearly remember Bob saying, “I’ll get the door.”
4. If you’d just let me hire more people…
3. Well, what I hate most is it turned out to be a false alarm.
2. But on the positive side, our response time has really improved.

And as a manager, I can guarantee the following response will be heard:

1. This never would’ve happened if you’d have let me buy the shorter truck.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

About George Carlin

He was in a way, a sort of H.L. Mencken for our age. Guess we would disagree on many points, but I can still respect him.

In his later years much of Carlin's material wasn't particularly funny; in fact some of it was downright mean. Only he knew why he got like that I guess. To me though? Majority of human cases we should as our hearts allow, let a man's failings pass with him and remember something good.

George was a really funny guy when he was younger. Sure, as he grew older he morphed from comedian into a self-styled observer of culture. Such observers often don't have the value they assign themselves, and they're not correct as much as they think, but still? I will miss funny George. Heck, I started missing him 10 years ago.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

Barring some breakthrough in biology (which I'm sure someone is working on right now) everybody has a father. A distinction there is our level of access to that father. Hate it when shallow minds address deep topics, but here I go anyway.

Expand the meaning of "level of access." It really means more than Dad is passed away, or Dad's in prison for life and that's a good thing, or Dad was last seen in the family station wagon with a Hooters waitress, crossing the Mexican border.

Your father can live right next door to you, and you still may have no access to him. Some fathers are cold and emotionally distant, while others are just too busy with their stuff to be accessible.

My dad passed when I was ten, yet I've never once felt lack of access, all these years. No man gets to choose his father, but all get to choose what kind of father they are. Just my opinion, but "high-access" father is the best way to go, though it's hard work. Such fathers deserve a day of honor; the rest deserve a swift kick in the arse.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indians, Night Riders and a Lake

It's Reelfoot Lake, northwest corner of Tennessee. It was formed early
1800's by earthquake I've been told. I wasn't around so I take the word of others on that. The lake is about 13,000 acres and has its share of lore.

There is a "doomed lovers" legend about two Indians and the earthquake being the wrath of the Great Spirit. And there were very real men in hoods doing violence in the early 1900's when the lake was temporarily in private hands. Both of those things make sense to me.

A legend about Indians constructed by white folks would endure, especially if it sounds suspiciously like "The Iliad." And what kid doesn't want to hear a story about Indians, for goodness' sakes?
The same logic applies to the Night Riders of the early 20th century too. They took the lake as community property, and the fish in it were part of diets around there for generations. All of a sudden someone flashes a piece of paper that they own the lake, so no fishing. Of course there was going to be violence.

Nowadays the Night Riders are gone. The Indians are gone too, though many of the locals would likely boast of being one-sixteenth something on Momma's side. There aren't many good paying jobs in the area, people struggle to get by. I guess in that region they always have, regardless of century or skin color. But the people are still there and the lake is still there.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Parking on hills

Turns out it wasn't really the starter that was making all the trouble. It was the thing attached to it. What DO they call that thing, what's the technical term? Oh yeah, Motor! There is an ear broken on the motor block, where transmission and motor come together. So they're together, but they're not really together in a good way...sounds like a lot of marriages.

So in the interim, I have to park making sure I'm on a hill. The flywheel is chewed up, there's a dead spot in it. Like my hero RE Lee, I'm lately mindful of topography.

The broken ear on the motor block can't be repaired, because motor block on a 1988 Mustang is cast iron, as well it should be. And it costs $3500. I paid enough attention in Metallurgy class to know you can't weld cast iron. So it was never the starter really. The starter was the canary in the coal mine, trying to tell me the motor had an ear problem, just like Van Gogh.

Oddly enough, I once got my right ear cut off by a chain link fence, but I got better, and I digress.

So now we are engaged in a Great Civil War, testing whether this Mustang or any Mustang so constituted can long endure. I'm sure not rich. I have to decide now if the Mustang is going to get restored fully, or consigned to junkyard. Well, ya know? Middle aged white guys often go in one of three directions:
1.) Go buy a motorcycle.
2.) Go buy a Corvette.
3.) Drive around in a restored classic car.

I've got nothing against motorcycles or Corvettes. I really despise getting old though, but compared to the alternatives? I like English sports cars, always have. And this Mustang, I didn't choose that car, I inherited it. But I'm going to restore it. After all, it got me to Holly Springs and back, with just ONE muffler falling off in the process. Worth restoring just for that day.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Singing in Church

Sitting in the front pew by necessity not by choice, (SOME little Church!) my beady green eyes were darting back & forth. I had been invited to perform because my co-worker is their Minister and he was planning a service a little less structured this week. I accepted because I reasoned that since I didn't much care to participate, probably I should do so.

He had assured me, "Just play Amazing Grace, that's always good." It had been a good service. A man stood and talked of his trying to beat drug addiction without God, and finding it impossible to do so. Then he sang a song.

When the man who talked about drug addiction sat down, this young couple came up front to sing. They were cute as two kittens, neither of them past twenty-five, and obviously so much in love. They gave the Preacher a CD and asked him to play track five. Meanwhile, there I was in the front pew, getting ready to sing Amazing Grace.

Turns out, track five kind of WAS Amazing Grace! They sang it well, but I didn't have time to think about that. I was busy weighing options, and had about four minutes to plan. I could either:

1.) And that was great. Have you folks ever heard the Reggae version of Amazing Grace?
2.) Stairway to Heaven is a song that has always touched me, and here it is.
3.) Play something else, pull something out of thin air.

Four minutes to think, and I thought about the man who spoke of drug addiction. There was a time in my life where that could've been my story. Had there been ample enablers around me, I might have gone that way too. What's so magical about me, after all?

Every Christian has a conversion story, and they aren't all objectively dramatic, but all are dramatic to the owner of that experience. I stood to sing a song I'd written fifteen years earlier, and hadn't played much since.

As I wandered wild and aimless through my life,
As I stumbled like a boxer on the ropes.
As I stood out on the edge looking down,
It was only then that I began to hope.

I doubt that I'll be invited back anytime soon, and that is fine with me. I'd have rather sung Amazing Grace cause it is easy. But perhaps there is something about the Lord, that He/It doesn't want us to be comfortable around Him/It. Track five forced me to dig deep and understand I could've easily been this guy talking about drug addiction. Nothing magical about me that I've noticed yet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Some things in life we take joy in, and to explain the process becomes problematic. First, because this delight is immediate and doesn't come from the same part of the brain that forms words. Second, because often, describing the reason for our smile sheds no light. A smile is good enough.

Point is, at times attempts to explain that which we find joy in is simply a futile exercise. Just shut up and throw it out there. Nobody wants to read another editorial David! It doesn't enhance the experience, OK?

I found this matchbook cover outside a convenience store. Transcript of instructions follows:

Firmly grasp individual match, keeping fingers away from igniting tip. After liberating said match from its confinement, assure that your matchbook cover is closed. Briskly strike the tip across the provided strikeplate on the backside of your matchbook to facilitate ignition of said match. Repeat when necessary. Flame good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

He-man Auto repair

Well, I could have had the car towed to a shop and let them fix it. But I figure anyone who can jump out of an airplane should be able to change a starter. Yet, perhaps the former has no bearing on the latter?

She is a 1988 Mustang convertible, and we have a complex relationship. Neither of us know whether we're in the midst of a slow process that will restore her to former glory, or if I am just too stingy to buy a new car. As with many other relationships, we're just taking it day to day and we'll see what happens.

Two things were certainly not in question:
1.) The starter needed replacing.
2.) Whoever designed the 1988 Mustang thought my hands were much smaller.

And there we were. One of the things about growing older is one's skillset tends to decline in some annoying ways. A good third act demands we reverse this natural process much as possible. Try to hold on to old skills, but find new ones too. Now, I've never been much for auto repair. I'm good with my hands on woodworking or playing guitar, but working on cars has never been my forte.

A light bulb came on over my head! Not old-school light bulb, but one of those new fangled squiggly ones that helps save the rainforests and all. I would change my own starter!

The first day, I got one bolt loose. Only took four hours, so I thought that was pretty good!

The second day, I got TWO bolts loose in ONLY six hours!

The third day I rose early, and fortified by coffee, went again to face the beast. Lying under the car, I just couldn't figure out how to remove the old starter from the underbelly of the Mustang, cause I was pretty sure that was necessary before putting the new one in. After some debate with myself (like two hours) I realized I must remove this tubular steel brace and then starter would come out just fine. A couple of more bolts loosened, and WOW!

No headhunter in New Guinea has ever been prouder of a trophy than I was when I held the decripit starter in my hands. Was all I could do not to knock on neighbors' doors and show them the starter. The replacement went along at a dizzying pace! It only took four hours!

The Mustang started right up! Well, after I charged the battery. Turns out I'd accidentally left the key switch on four days. Hey, anybody could make that mistake, all right?

The only thing I really regret is taking three bolts out when the job only required two bolts loosened. Turns out that third bolt had nothing to do with the starter. It was actually one of the bolts holding the transmission to the motor, and you know for best results in vehicle operation, those two have to stay close together.

But hey? Anybody who can jump out of an airplane can spend three hours removing, then another four hours replacing a bolt they needn't have messed with in the first place, right?

Friday, March 21, 2008


Some just shook their heads, while others exclaimed, "OOH! I've always wanted to do that too!"

But regardless of opinions pro and con, there I was about to skydive for the first time. My opinion, when you hit 50 you are embarking on the third and final chapter of your life. Now would be an acceptable time for a few plot twists.

I wasn't a bit afraid, until the instructor began giving me pre-flight instructions. I suppose I had presumed his title was purely honorary or something. Up until the instructions started, my perception of the experience had been:

1.) Pay $200.

2.) Get securely fastened to a professional skydiver.

3.) Jump from plane, land without incident.

So learning I was expected to do certain things and do them correctly made me a little uneasy. Knowing me as I do, and recalling that I have messed up a thing or two along the way, maybe this skydiving wasn't such a great idea after all?

Just a little male pride was enough to get me through. Quickly, all the chutes were packed, we were suited up and bustling onto the airplane. Not much time for second thoughts.

At 15,000 feet, I was somewhat nervous when the plane door was opened. I've been on lots of aircraft before, but never one with the door open. But by then, we're going. Stand in the doorway, rock forward on ONE, TWO, and on THREE thrust hips forward with all your might, and there you are!

Freefall was a little frightening. I had meant to yell "Geronimo!" as I've heard is customary, but just remembering to breathe was a chore. After that hard jerk of the canopy opening though, it is all worth it. We floated down through clouds towards a landscape that looked so much more beautiful than it had at ground level.

I would have been happy to stay up there an hour like that, but you know gravity. All too soon my feet were in the gravel of the landing area, and it was over.

So now what can I do with this experience? I intend to use it as a motivational tool, sort of my own personal "If they can put a man on the moon" thing.

When faced with something I don't particularly feel like doing, but know I should, I resolve to say: "Now anybody who can jump out of an airplane ought to be able to do this!"

We'll see what trouble that attitude gets me into in the near future!