Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Love of...Country?

This morning I read an exceptionally thought-provoking piece that bears sharing here. It gets at my personal beliefs about "love of country" and how dangerous that can be.

I will admit to wanting to document it here for my own selfish purpose of wanting to be able to find it more easily in the future. Regardless of my motives, though, anyone who stumbles across my post and then moves on to "High Treason" on via Negativa will be fortunate. He writes about a poem by José Emilio Pacheco, a highly-regarded Mexican poet.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

So This Is Christmas?

It's Christmas Day, 2011. It's not yet 7:00 am, but I've been up and awake for close to three hours now. I didn't get up early to prepare gifts or stuff stockings—we haven't exchanged gifts in quite some time and we decided this year we wouldn't even do our "traditional" stocking stuffers. So I don't know why I got up early. Maybe I just needed a bit of early morning reflection time.

After my wife and I decided gift exchange was rather pointless for us—if we need something and can afford it, we buy it— we shifted to doing stocking stuffers. We would fill one another's Christmas stockings with little treats: a can of smoked oysters, special jams or teas, a tin of sardines, a whimsical toy. It was fun and we enjoyed it, but I guess it just played out. This year, we didn't put up a tree or any ornaments or decorations.

So today is Christmas Day, but it doesn't look like Christmas Day. We'll have a special breakfast this morning and a special evening meal, which will add a bit of seasonal celebration.

Maybe next year we'll return to the old traditions. Or maybe we'll make some new ones.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Embarrassment of Low-Dose Sentimentality

I sometimes think people are embarrassed by their emotions, by what some would call their "sentimentality." I would argue that's true for some of us who tend to view the "Christmas mush" as a profit-driven, media-induced effort to persuade us that we should listen to our "consciences" and spend accordingly...our "consciences" tell us we must buy to express our love. Because we are skeptical of the motives behind the "Christmas mush," we are loath to buy into—and certainly loath to express—the emotions that the media present to us as evidence of the Christmas spirit.

But I think if the skeptics among us were to be completely honest with ourselves, we would not work so hard to present ourselves as unwilling to buy into the Christmas spirit.

Despite my lack of belief in the biblical basis for Christmas, I have no particular reason to find anything offensive about Christmas. While I think Christmas has been co-opted by capitalists to a very great extent, I find the themes surrounding the Christmas holidays (and many other religious holidays, for that matter) to be good and valuable and attractive. Goodwill toward men. Peace on earth. Sharing. Helping those less fortunate. Love of family and friends. Being charitable in thought and deed. Those are good things. (Noticeably lacking, unfortunately, is goodwill toward the Earth, but that's another post.)

But back to my opening comment: if you're skeptical about the motives of those around you, you tend not to want to reveal your own...especially the ones that are REAL inside you but that appear, at least to you, PHONY in others. Part of it is that you're questioning your own skepticism, I think, and part of it is your concern about your image among those who share what you may think is your intellectual superiority. You don't want to look like a patsy for the proletariat, as it were.

I will readily admit that I remain highly suspicious of the motives behind a lot of the "spirit of the season." Earlier and earlier Christmas sales, earlier and earlier Christmas tree availability (another issue for another post), bigger and bigger splashes by the media about their toy drives and help for the homeless and so forth. But I have to acknowledge that the results of toy drives and efforts to help the homeless are, or can be, wonderful. The fact that the motives behind them may not be "pure" in the way I'd like them to be does not change the results. While the results may not always be as good as I'd hope, they're probably better than the outcome of inaction.

Granted, some believe, as I once did, people are not naturally caring, empathic beings. But whether people come by those attributes naturally or not, I believe many people and perhaps most people do possess them. They want the world to be a better place. They want to help their fellow humans. They don't want to allow themselves to be the beasts we all can become. And I think most people, even those who present the face and the attitude of a hard-ass, believe the same thing.

In my admittedly schizophrenic assessments of people, I think the hard-asses are just willing to allow themselves to exhibit sentimentality in extremely low does, if at all, and that's an embarrassment in and of itself. I've been embarrassed across the board in that regard.

As of this moment, though, I am allowing myself to revel in the spirit of the season. I just wish I'd revel in it year-round. I wish we all would revel in it year-round.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cabin Porn

Thanks to my friend Bev, I just spent quite awhile salivating over design concepts, photos, etc. for cabins. I want DESPERATELY to have a place far away from the madding crowd as an escape. Take a look at this blog of Cabin Porn and you, too, will be converted.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wonderful Breakfast

I stumbled upon a very interesting blog this morning. "Stumbled upon" may not be the way to put it. A post from the blog was the first link listed when I did a search on Google for "wonderful breakfast." The blog is called Hallucinations. It is written by an Indian woman by the name of Shruthi Rao. She lives in Bangalore, India. She is a "foodie." She is a gifted writer. She was featured (with an incorrect spelling of her name and other details about her misrepresented) in an article in The Hindu (page 1, page 2). Despite the paper's apparent inability to get all the facts straight, it's interesting to read an English-language paper from India; gives a different perspective on the world.

The image is linked from the article on The Hindu.

Later I may explain why I was looking up "wonderful breakfast."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Pleasures of Pie

My fascination with pie, and the tendency to indulge that fascination, came upon me abruptly. I don't know the exact moment it happened, but I would say it occurred within the last four to six weeks. For reasons unknown to me, I have become moderately obsessed (say what?) with pie. Not all pie. Mincemeat, my favorite from my childhood, is no longer high on my list. And the pies shown in these images are not the kind over which I obsess. No, the pies with which I am profoundly fascinated are these: cherry, apple, pecan, and peach (not cobbler, pie!). There may be others, but I am not sure. Oh! I'm partial to rhubarb pie, too, though I've only had a few pieces in my life and none recently. So my affinity for rhubarb pie may be a function of memory playing tricks on me. I mean, I could have a piece right now and might loathe it. In fact, come to think of it, it may be a little too sweet for my taste. But then it may not be sweet at all. And since we're talking sweet here, is that not what pie is all about? I do not have much of a sweet tooth, though I tend not to turn up my nose at cookies and candy. But cake? I can do without it. Pie, though, is like nectar of the gods. Assuming, of course, that I am gods and it is my nectar (are my nectar? I mean, since we're talking plural here).

The pie in the top photo is a lemon pie, which was very good, but lemon pie and its cousins lack something I like: chewable substance. Lemon pie just fills my mouth with flavor. The crust adds a shade of substance, but not quite enough for my liking. I like a bit of "meat" to my pie. Which leads me, inexorably, to another favorite pie: steak and kidney. But that's another story. For me, "pie" immediately calls up something that goes extraordinarily well with coffee. Steak and kidney in a crust does not do that. But it's known as pie and I will not argue the point. But for the purposes of this treatise, I will ignore steak and kidney pie, if that's alright with you.

The bottom photo is a coconut pie, a coconut cream pie to be precise (if I am correct, which may not be the case). It was very good, too. While it also lacked the degree of substance that I enjoy, the little slivers of coconut gave me something to chew on, which satisfied my oral fixation a bit better than did the lemon pie. With the way I've been describing these two pieces of pie, you'd think I did not truly appreciate them. I did! I enjoyed them immensely! But they were not exceptional pies the way an apple can be. You know, an apple pie with firm chunks of apple that require your teeth to work a bit.

Back to my fascination with pie. It just took me by surprise. I have always enjoyed pie, but did not seek it out; I was satisfied to have a piece on rare occasions when someone else decided to buy or build one. But suddenly I am on a mission. When I drive by a funky little diner, I am just as likely to swerve into the parking lot with pie as my purpose as I am to check it out for what I call "diner food," which is a term I cannot define well so I will not try here, lest I go off course entirely and head in a direction not anticipated as I began writing this.

I do not know why pie is on my list of priorities of late. But it is. And when I think of pie, I cannot help but think of riding along with my father, as a kid (me, not him), on his trips to visit lumber yards around south Texas. He would stop and visit with the lumber yard owner and write up an order for a carload of lumber (my father was a lumber wholesaler) and then, as often as not, he would take me to a local diner for a piece of pie. We ate pie in several small towns in south Texas. Now I wonder if my recent excursions into pie-seeking is related to my recollections of my youth and my attempt to regain a foothold on memories long since lost. If that were the case, my fascination with pie could be a symptom of unresolved psychological issues or, perhaps, even some sort of psychosis the likes of which I have never faced before.

More likely, I think, I just like pie and have come to realize there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Except, of course, for the calories. I'll have to work on that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

West of Fort Worth

This was originally posted on September 1, 2008 on another blog that I created and subsequently ignored. Let's see if this looks the same:
If I were looking for a planned residential community, I might want to avoid this one. Of course I realize that there may be many other people who enjoy spending time with rattlesnakes. Obviously, the people who own the Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch do.

If you have been looking for acid stains, here's a number to call.

The courthouse in Weatherford is an attractive place.

Here's one of two signs we saw on our outing today, advertising dance lessons.

We had lunch here today. In Thurber, Texas. It's a place called The New York Hill Restaurant. My favorite wife and I felt rather young; the clientele was, by and large, über-elderly..

My seat at lunch allowed me to watch dozens of hummingbirds feast at several feeders. When we went outside, though, it was tough to get close enough for a shot.

The other dance lesson sign. I am dangerous on the dance floor. Seriously. I could hurt someone. And I probably have.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It has been only a few days since the greyness of early winter descended upon us. Insistent winds have torn most of the yellow and brown leaves from the trees, blanketing the lawns and streets of our neighborhood with dull-colored rags ripped from the limbs above us.

I am surprised by how quickly the stark dullness of these early winter days has ground into my psyche. I am tired of the uncomfortable coolness and tired of the lack of sunshine and tired of the wet, sloppy streets. It is too cool for shirtsleeves and not cold enough for a heavy jacket. When the sun tries to peak out from the clouds, the dullness seems amplified and exaggerated.

The time has come for me to kick through the doldrums. It's early. There is too much more of this coming to permit myself to be smothered by it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Personal Instruction

I arranged for web hosting for a domain name I secured a year or two ago, with the objective of creating a WordPress blog. The host allows "one-button installation" of WordPress, which I finally did. But I haven't a clue where to go from here. I have downloaded long and convoluted instructions that I simply cannot force myself to read. I need personal, hands-on, step-by-step instructions on how to get this rolling. I may be willing to provide room and board for my teacher. And maybe airfare. Meals, certainly.

Who will be the first to jump in and offer personal instruction?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Smiling Where I Can See It.

Thanksgiving is done. It was good here. My brother and my niece joined us. It was good.

But tonight I am no longer happy.

Goddamn it.

Seriously. Why?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Get Over It

Arrogant, self-important pseudo-intellectuals annoy me. You probably know one or more of them. You know, someone who sneers at "authors" who don't see eye to eye with the "intellectual." Or, someone whose interpretations of poetic rectitude MUST be right.

So what? Other people annoy me, too. I'll get over it.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I think I understand how people can, under pressure, become terrorists. They feel trapped and unable to control their own destinies. People and/or institutions around them behave badly and abuse them and others. Call it capitalism, self-absorption, or whatever you will, but being surrounded by intense and uncaring greed seems to set alight the fire under the pressure cooker. The only outlets are explosive eruptions, unless the perpetrators of binge-greed quickly back off. But they don't. Hence terrorism.

It may be different in different contexts. But I think I understand it to a great extent. Explosive rage let loose in unproductive ways. I believe I know it. I believe I've seen it. I believe I feel it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I wonder if it's the same for everyone. You reach a point of understanding and appreciating the reality of one's mortality, which seems like such an extraordinarily grown-up accomplishment. But then, out of nowhere, you run head-on into the real world. The REALLY real world.

For reasons I cannot explain, I ran head-on into the real world. Suddenly, tonight, I became aware of my own mortality. Completely, fully, entirely aware. One day, years hence or just moments away, I will be dead. The switch will be flipped and, instantly, I will be no more. Other lives will go on. My won't. I won't be aware any longer. My existence will have ceased.

I wish I had words to explain this revelation. It's both frightening and freeing. I don't want to know this, but I do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Am I experienced?

Today was too warm. The skies were too drearily overcast. The humidity was too high. I was in no mood for any of these discomforting excesses. What could be causing all of this ugliness on the day after I very nearly achieved freedom? Being an atheist of immense proportions, it would have been absurd to blame god. But having a seed of agnosticism lodged deep in my soul, I decided it couldn't hurt to consider the possibility that god was to blame. And so I expressed my displeasure.

"God," I said aloud as I drove my deeply unsatisfactory old pickup truck down the splashy boulevards of north Dallas, "this is bullshit! Just because you're an annoying crutch for people with belief in magic doesn't mean you have to punish those schmucks for my disbelief!"

"Son," a tinny voice responded, "you give yourself too much credit. You matter to me about as much as I matter to you. I don't care. The cycle of weather is one I can set and forget. You get what's programmed. Don't assume for a second I'm punishing anyone. You're not worth the ashes of my cigar."

With that, god stepped out of the truck and, with a sharp glance at my right front tire, caused it to go flat.

"Donkey!" I called after him. It was a necessary linguist bomb.

And the next phase is...

Certified letter to XO Customer Care: Check
Copy sent to interim CEO of XO: Check
Copy sent to Exec. VP of XO: Check
Keys returned to office building management: Check
Mail now being forwarded to PO box: ALARM--Forwarding order still not being followed
Old garage refrigerator disposed of: ALARM--Nothing done yet
Mind off of business: ALARM--Emails keep coming

This afternoon, I spent a while looking at all the boxes of crap we brought home from the office. They're stacked everywhere. We have to reduce those boxes to sheets.

And I spent time considering how to reorganize my garage...and what I need to do around the house to get it in the shape I want it to be in. That's more like it. Until I realize I need money to do what I want to do and I no longer have any income. Screw it. I'll do it anyway and figure out a way to make some money to cover the costs.

Tomorrow, if the mood strikes us, we'll hit the road for a day trip. Or maybe not. There's nothing saying we have to do anything.

This will take some getting used to.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Attempted Mellowism

Though there is still more than a bit to be done, we celebrated a little today as if it were behind us. It is, mostly. All that's left is turning in the keys, doing a walkthrough, and giving building management the address to which we, by god, expect them to mail our deposit. So, after I sold 500 pounds of scrap paper to a recycler for $19, we went to lunch at Del's Charcoal Burger. Del's is a tiny dive of a place that looks like it was built out of scraps. And I think it was. I love it. And they have the best root beer in the universe. We had a good, leisurely afternoon.

But it's not all done. There's the telephone crap. XO Communications, which I personally consider the lowest form of corporate rapist, told me today they will charge me for a month beyond November 7 because they claim that's when I told them to shut off my phone lines. Right. I told them in August to kill my account on October 31. But they could not port lines over by then (they claim), so they kept my lines alive. Now, they say they have 30 days after the termination notice to charge me. I didn't put it in writing, but what I told them, essentially, was to go fuck themselves and to expect to be sued if they screwed with me. I went into a bit of a rage as I explained to my wife how I planned to be involved in some form of corporate castration if those assholes played with me. And I vowed NEVER to pay them for another month. Of course now I have to somehow cancel the automatic withdrawals from my corporate credit card. Aha! Just cancel the card! Well, tomorrow I will send the bastards a certified letter informing them that any attempt to take unauthorized money from my account will be considered theft and will be treated as such. Bastards!

But that sort of stuff was supposed to stop on October 31! I know, it won't. It just won't. So I have to mellow and deal with things as they come. I'm very seriously considering something that I think everyone else should consider as well: DO NOT ENTER INTO CONTRACTS BINDING YOU TO A COMPANY FOR ANY PERIOD, FOR ANY REASON! Seriously, if a company providing a service (telephone, television access, electricity, etc., etc.) must have a contract binding you to the company, something's amiss. Consider it a signal that the company is not worthy of any form of commitment, because its requirement that you sign a commitment to receive its service is a very bad omen. The company is NOT to be trusted.

See, it's going to take me some time to mellow. But I will. I want to. I must.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Sprains. Bruises. Broken nails. Scrapes. I suppose they're all deserved. It was my decision, after all, to shut things down. It never occurred to me that I'd have to sell all this crap...or give it away...and then help move it.

I'm worn out. Truly worn out. I need some rest. Not yet, though. Give me another couple of days, then I'll relax.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The business of closing things down is grueling and far more time-consuming than I ever dreamed it would be. My expectations that we'd sell our furnishings quickly and easily for a reasonable amount of money were dashed. Reality took its toll on my wishes and dreams. Time will tell, but my expectation now is that we'll probably have to give away most of what's left, which is a significant amount, and will have to pay someone to cart off the dregs.

I was surprised that the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and other such organizations have no interest at all in office furnishings. And even the place that will take used furniture and re-sell it does not guarantee it will take everything; only the things it judges of interest to its prospective customers. Charities simply do not want our file cabinets, desks, old computers, etc. We are having a hell of a had time finding schools, churches, or anyone else to take them. We may well have to pay to have it all carted off. Damn it!

Such is life. So I don't bring much money in. That's alright. We'll just adapt and adjust and get the hell out of Dodge! I am so anxious to get away and decompress! That's hard, though, when you consider real life. Even though we're fortunate to be able to last a year without income, we know the future will require me to make a living. I hope I haven't thrown it all away with this odd step I'm taking. And I learned last night that the husband of a friend had died unexpectedly. One moment, things are tolerable, the next the world explodes into incoherent and chaotic horror. Yet another reason to reach out and take what we want from this world!

There's so much more inside me right now, but I don't have the energy or the words to release it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Plans don't necessarily transmogrify into realties based on those plans. Maybe they never evolve in quite the way we expect, or hope, they will. Perhaps plans are idiotic responses to wishes...wishes we could control our destinies.

I don't pretend to know, though I have my opinions.

Tears don't necessarily transmogrify into appreciations of what we've experienced in our lives.

I don't pretend to know why they erupt. Some of my friends will offer callous comments about them. Why don't friends understand? Why don't they appreciate that comfort is all we're asking?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Maybe it's better. Or maybe I'm getting used to the flames.

Or, perhaps, it's just the fact that I've given up and recognize that, no matter how much effort I put forth, it's just too late now.

A glass of bourbon, filled to the brim, would help this situation.

Just Bad

One day after my post about watching Buddha on PBS. One day after thinking I may finally have achieved some semblance of balance in my ability to deal with the world. Just one day.

In that one day, I've devolved into the lowest level ever. I have been a bastard these last 18 hours or so. Feeling badly about my behavior and my inability to be even remotely civil is insufficient.

I suppose that insufficiency is why I couldn't sleep. I've been up since 1:00 am. It's now more than two hours later and I am very tired, but don't want to sleep. I want to rewind the last 18 hours and remake them into something better, something less painful for the people around me. Especially my wife, who doesn't deserve what she's been listening to from me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It's interesting. I walked in the door this evening after a bitch of a day, long hours and lots of stress, to find The Buddha on PBS. I've watched it before, but never the full program...still haven't.
I say it's interesting because I was in the mood to complain, curse, and generally be snarly. But I got caught up in The Buddha instead. My snarly, cursing self could not coexist with that program. So I cooled a bit.

Was it my recognition that my anger and upset are useless in the face of reality? Was it that I understood the teaching that anger is the less attractive face of compassion? Was it that I was ashamed to be so obviously self-centered and self-pitying that I simply had to chill?

Don't know. Don't care. I am in another mood, and that's good. I'm trying to find the beauty in this moment. And I've found amazement and beauty in looking at my hands and saying to myself: "They are amazing. How could such things come to be?"

It's not conceit or self-love that brings that out, either.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Neighborly Neighbors

I would like to be more neighborly. You know, helpful, available, and friendly. I would like the same of my neighbors. And so when a neighbor calls out to me as I walk out to my mailbox to check the day's mail, I gladly approach him in the hope of engaging in a neighborly conversation. I am a slow learner.

Generally speaking, when that neighborly conversation takes place my hopes and expectations are dashed. Instead of a pleasant conversation about something that matters, it usually degrades into a gripe session about my inability to control the acorns that fall from my tree and an implied question: "What are you going to do about that tree?" Or an attempt to rally me to the cause of forcing another neighbor to move a van that has been parked in a driveway for "too long." Not long ago, it was an attempt to have me join a petition to block plans to bring east-west light rail trains through my neighborhood. To be fair, that last one was not an attempt to completely block the plan; it was an attempt to shield the neighborhood from the riff-raff and noise that surely would come from the route as planned.

Yesterday, my next-door neighbor flagged me down as I approached my mailbox, once again I allowed myself to be hopeful. This time, it paid off. Not in spades, mind you, but the conversation did not degrade into a platform for complaints. He told me he had put out traps within the last few days to catch "something" that had been bothering him. I didn't get details of the bother, but it was "something." He caught two possums. He called animal control to come get them, which they did. While they were here, my neighbor mentioned to them that he had seen a coyote and watched it cross the street from my yard to a neighbor's driveway, where it sat and stared at him for a few moments before wandering off behind the across-the-street neighbor's house. And he told them he'd heard there have been sightings of bobcats in the area.

These things, these sightings of wild animals, concerned him. He has a litter of several small children so I can understand his concern...a little. But he keeps the beasts inside his home for the most part and does not let them wander the neighborhood, so I doubt he has anything to worry about. What impressed me was the fact that he called animal control services instead of bludgeoning the possums to death. I like that in a person.

Back to being neighborly. My wife has an idea she plans to pursue after her retirement in a few weeks. It may help establish a more neighborly connection with our neighbors. Her idea is to have a "happy hour" every Friday afternoon when we're in town, to which she will invite neighbors and friends. All they need to bring is themselves and, if they wish, some snacks to share. She will make happy hour drinks. Each week will be something different. One week she might make mojitos, the next it might be sloe gin fizzes, the next it could be just a glass of white wine. She has a vague idea of "theming" the events so the drinks coordinate with the season or the nearest holiday or something like that.

I hope it works. I hope our neighbors come out and we develop some good, neighborly relationships.

If we discover that none of our neighbors drink alcohol on religious grounds, we're moving!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ethiopian: The Real Deal

The taxi driver who took me from DFW airport to my house is from Ethiopia. He moved to the States about 15 years ago. He's married. He has been back to Ethiopia within the last year. He returns periodically to visit family. He's from the western part of the country, from place called (I believe...I didn't write it down) Jima.

All of this information came after I asked him where he was from, originally, and after I then proceeded to tell him how much I love gored-gored and kitfo and zilzil tibs and awaze spices get the idea, I went on and one.

We spoke about his favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the Dallas area, Ghion. I've not been there, but on his recommendation I will.

I asked him about a dish I saw served and eaten as another Ethiopian restaurant where my wife and I have eaten a few times, Lalibela. I described the dish as a huge chunk of raw meat that was placed in the middle of a table where four men sat. Each man was given a HUGE knife and they proceeded to slice off big slabs of the beef and dip it into sauces of some kind and eat it. It looked like it was just up my alley, since I truly love raw beef.

He knew instantly what I was describing. He said it was something called tire siga. It is simply a chunk of very good beef from which pieces are sliced off, picked up in a piece of torn injera, and dipped in a spicy berbere sauce (though I swear my taxi driver said "dada," but I may have it's berbere. From what I've read online, the traditional tire siga is camel meat, which is a bit hard to come by here, and it's also dipped in lemon juice in addition to berbere. I may have to go to Ethiopia to find the real thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Today, the day before I leave for my final major client event in advance of shutting my company's doors (well, not entirely, but that's another story), I walked almost 10 miles before 8:00 am.

Actually, it was 9.73 miles, a record for me, shattering the record I sent yesterday at 7.62 miles. It's unusual for me to have sufficient energy to go for a very long walk two days in a row. Not to mention the oddity of being physically capable...generally, a very long walk leaves my legs very sore and my joints angry and unwilling to flex much. After today's walk, they (my muscles and joints) are expressing their outrage at my brazen attempts to get them to do my bidding.

Acchh. It will get better.

Tomorrow, Monday, I am off to Atlanta for several days of board meetings, educational sessions, social events, and deeply serious conversations about "the transition." That is, the transition to new management. This particular client has hired what appears to be a very, very capable company that's much larger than mine, has much more advanced technology, and is quite probably far more capable than I of moving the client's agenda ahead. It's a little depressing to think all I needed was more money to hire more capable people and I, too, could be more advanced. Well, all I needed was more money and more gumption.

Water under the bridge now, though. I am anxious to get the contracts DONE so I can then dispose of furniture and equipment, clean out the offices, set up new phone service (the business will continue to operate, albeit mostly on a virtual basis), etc. And THEN, the fun begins!

ROAD TRIPS! Where shall I go first? I don't know. Probably a few short jaunts inside Texas, first, then a few longer ones to nearby states. But soon, very soon, I expect to see a LOT of this country, and possible some others. I've fallen in love with a tiny snippet of information about a place in British Columbia called Smithers. I do not have a good reason. I just found information about it and liked it. Maybe the Spring will find me there. Or in Boston. Or Portland. Or Seattle. Or San Diego. Or San Francisco. Or Lenexa, Kansas. Or Marysville, TN. You get the picture, yes?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


In just 18 days, I'll have no more clients. No more income. No more responsibility for trying to herd cats. There is no doubt I will miss certain elements of it. The cat-herding is not one I'll miss, though.

But I'm getting a little nervous. I don't know exactly what about, but something is making me nervous. Maybe that no income thing.

So what? I've created a business before from nothing. If I had to do it, I could do it again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


How is it that we, the collective "we," think we have wisdom to share? We reach a milestone birthday or a milestone event and we seem to decide that simple chronological marker imparts wisdom. Why is that?

It's my position that wisdom does not accompany time nor experience. Wisdom accompanies the proper interpretation of experience. And even then the interpretation must be made in the proper context of life experience. In the end, it's quite subjective and not likely to be reproducible in the real world. So we all live our lives, using an unreliable model as our guide, a model that is transformed by experience and circumstance.

We all live a lie of one kind or another.

And that, my friend, makes me cry. And I can't stop.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Yesterday's news, and today's, was the death of Steven Jobs. The majority of what I read today about his death was in tribute to the man and his legacy, but there were a few people who either despised him for some reason or were annoyed that his death upset their expectations of what they'd find in traditional and social media. The latter group of people are, in my view, truly selfish and bathed in deep self-appreciation; the death of an icon does NOT, in their view, merit interrupting their routine. I have absolutely nothing but disdain for such attitudes.

I read a transcript, and viewed a video, of Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford. It was low-key, understated, and brilliant. It made me think about my life. Steve Jobs was a brilliant and very observant man.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I'm toying with the idea of allowing Facebook to languish in its thirst for useless change while I return to blogging more frequently. My comments won't be seen by as many people, but I suspect most people who see my comments now don't find them particularly enlightening or interesting. I can be boring right here on Blogger.

It's not that I can't adapt to change. I can and I do and I really welcome change. But when change appears to be made for its own sake and, in the process, reduces the utility and attractiveness of a product, I rebel. Maybe I'll get over it. Maybe not. In the overall scheme of things, my reaction to Facebook isn't all that important. But we'll see whether it's important enough to me to let Facebook go on its merry way without my regular presence.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walkery and Things

I woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning, around a quarter to five. On weekdays, I try to walk two to three miles early in the morning, but I put more demands on myself on weekends. On a typical Saturday, I would wait until around six o'clock to get going, but today I opted to get right into it. So, just before five, I set out for what I told myself would be a minimum of four miles.
It has been awhile since I went north on my morning walks, so I decided to inject a little change into my morning routine and headed north.

Despite the fact that I've been taking morning walks for quite some time, I'm never quite "up" for them. It might be different if they were leisurely strolls, but they're not. I push myself, though not too hard, to start with and keep up a pretty brisk pace, almost always 15 minutes per mile or better; that's four miles or more per hour. By the time I'm ten or fifteen minutes into the walk, though, I fee much better about it and am glad I pushed through the doubt about whether I really wanted to go out.

Most mornings I stay on low-traffic residential streets or on one of the nearby hike-bike trails, but today I spent the majority of my time on fairly busy main arteries, though at the early hour of my walks there's not a great deal of traffic. The one big difference, though, is that the critters I often seen on less-traveled streets are largely missing when I hit the main roads. No bunnies, no raccoons, no possums scampering across the street. Just the occasional car or caravan of cars, plus a walker or runner every now an again.

This morning, I saw a runner I've seen on many previous walks. As usual, this young, thin, closely-shaven-headed guy who runs carrying a light pack on his back did not acknowledge me when we passed going in opposite directions. I always acknowledge other walkers and runners and bicyclists but often am disappointed that they do not return the greeting. I wonder if they are so deeply into a meditative routine that they either choose not to interact with others or are oblivious to others around them.

At any rate, this guy followed his pattern of staring straight ahead and not acknowledging my wave and "good morning!" as we passed. A short while later, though, as I was walking against traffic, closely hugging to the curb, I heard a loud voice right behind me. I was not expecting it and was startled by it. I had my headphones on and was listening to "World Cafe," so I was admittedly a bit distracted, but I keep the volume low so I can hear vehicles and people nearby. I did not quite understand what he said, but later decided he must have said "on your right" as he was about to pass me. When I heard that loud sound, though, I twisted around quickly and saw him (the same closely-shaven-headed guy who had been running the other direction earlier) and said something like "Oh! You startled me!" He said, at about the same time and just as he passed by, "I'm sorry I scared you." It woke me out of my distracted state and probably increased my heart-rate by a good fifty percent.

As I continued on my way, I began thinking about all the people I see while out on my walks. Rarely do they seem very friendly as we pass by one another. I try to smile and wave and say "good morning" whenever I pass, but rarely do I get a reciprocal attitude. While the guy with the backpack may be in his Zen state, the guy strolling along at a leisurely pace, looking at the sky and the trees and the birds, probably isn't. Nor is the woman walking her dogs. Or the chatty women walking together. Most of them, if they acknowledge me at all, seem nervous and suspicious.

I wonder why. I wonder how they would react if I asked them to stop and talk to me. "I'm writing an article on interacting on the exercise trail and wonder if you'd have a word with me?" Would I be rejected?

I may find out. I may not.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleansing...Will a Year Do It?

The time is approaching, apace, when I will no longer be obliged to lie about business. No longer will I be required to advocate for business models I abhor, pimp for marketing strategies I find personally offensive, and prevaricate in the name of business development.

This may be a good thing. Or it may be an opportunity for me to look inward and realize what a prostitute I have been for virtually all of my professional life.

As I recall, the first time I was expected to be the mouthpiece for a cause I found offensive was just before the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The organization for which I worked at the time was petrified by the ADA. Its members felt like they were being targeted. They felt like the "disabled" were asking for too much and unwilling to pay for what they asked. They felt like they were being, spend money to make their places of business accessible without any reasonable justification for the requirement. After all, they reasoned, people in wheelchairs or people who were deaf and needed sign interpreters were unlikely to visit their places of business. Why spend money on accommodations when there was no one to accommodate?

Of course there was no one to accommodate. Absent accommodations, the people who really needed the accommodations weren't likely to be there, were they? And if they would come AFTER the ADA, it would only be to serve as needlers to the members I was representing.

Had I been blessed with balls and a strong sense of morality and personal responsibility, I would have fought the directive to defend members' positions. But I was ball-less and amoral. It was my job. I had to defend my employer. In hindsight, and in shame, I can say with conviction: "Bullshit!"

It didn't stop there, though. Aside from opposing ADA and arguing that the law was making too many unfunded demands, I argued that individuals who worked long hours for a single company doing the company's bidding should NOT be treated as employees. No, they should be classified as independent contractors because they agreed to be classified in that fashion when they were "engaged" by the business. No matter that they were bound to stay with home-bound people for 24 hours or 48 hours or more at a stretch, and no matter that their contracts provided that they would be paid only for 8 hours of work at a "contractor" rate within any 25 hour period. No, I was asked to...and I did...defend companies that didn't want the tax and administrative and insurance burden of employees. I was a peach, wasn't I? My morality was unmatched.

Looking back, I see hundreds of examples of abandoning my own principles and morals and sense of decency in favor of my employers' expectations. On those few occasions in which I argued as forcefully as I felt I could that my employers' positions were morally corrupt (even when I didn't use or suggest such terms), I was dismissed. "What's he gonna do, quit?" That's what the boards must have thought. If I had even a slim, brittle backbone, that's exactly what I would have done.

How can I make up for an entire life lived on the underside of morality? As much as I might want to do it, I don't know that I can.

The question is whether I can continue to live with the acknowledgement of my inability to made suitable amends to the world around me.

Maybe a year, more or less, on the road will allow me to clear my conscience. I guess we'll soon see.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Tonight, I watched The Other Side of the Border, a documentary produced by the local PBS affiliate, KERA. It told the story of a number of people who have long been forced to fight the realities of their "undocumented status" and what that status means to them, to their families, and to their futures. My emotions are fragile after watching that program because I really feel for the people whose troubles were profiled, but for much more, as well.

It troubles me that the program was produced in 1987. Nothing has improved. NOTHING! If anything, the people whose lives are turned into poker hands due to bureaucratic lunacy and capitalistic racism and greed on steroids are facing WORSE conditions today. Does no one really give a fuck what happens to these people? Are they really, truly on their own? Does our economic system really just drink their blood and throw their corpses on the stinking pile to be carried off by carrion-eating governmental policy wonks and corporate greed-feasters?

I wonder what burdens people carry? Does anyone feel guilt at putting families into an unending cycle of poverty? Does anyone care that children are being guaranteed futures of illiteracy, poverty, and fear?

Today, just for today, I'm on the edge of wanting my connection with humanity to end. I feel right now that I don't want to be associated with the filth that masquerades as humanity. I assume this shall pass...but it will be a temporary lull in an otherwise loathsome state.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Today's Thoughts

A friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page yesterday; I found it quite interesting. Surprisingly, the link is to a blog written by a minister in an Indiana church, a church affiliated with American Baptist Churches and the Church of Christ. Anyone who knows me as the heathen I am might wonder what I could admire about a sermon. Let me tell you.

While the Christian platform upon which the post was based is at odds with my own beliefs (or lack thereof, I should say), I found the writer's comments to be rooted deeply in "truth" as I believe it to be (which is to say "humanity," but outside the religious framework).

I did not post any "blather" about 9/11 yesterday, but I'm posting this today because it struck a chord with me. In response to another friend who expressed appreciation that I did not post any such "blather" yesterday, I said "If I had chosen to write about September 11, it would not have been required reading. If someone decides to mark the anniversary of something meaningful or painful by putting up blather, so be it."

Unlike many people, who deliberately chose not to watch or listen to any of the ceremeonial tributes to the 9/11 attacks, I watched and listened to more than one. I found some of what I watched and heard profoundly moving. I do not consider all the victims of those attacks to be "heroes," but I do consider the events of that horrific day worth recalling. The arguments made in the blog linked above that I found particularly appealing were those that acknowledged our own responsibilities, as a country, for our role in a global maelstorm. This, in particular, appealed to me:

When presented with an opportunity for humility, an opportunity to turn the other cheek and respond with lovingkindness, we as a people did not do so. When presented with an opportunity to look seriously at our shortcomings as players on the global stage and reconsider our historic methods of coercion, we as a people did not do so.

Instead, we have spent the better part of ten years responding from a place of fear and intolerance. We have waged wars that have not made us safer. We have said things that cannot be unsaid.

In short, we have dug ourselves further and further into debt. We have shamed ourselves.

Oh, by the way, another piece about 9/11 I watched yesterday intrigued me. It was a short (about 11 minute) video about the "boatlift" of people from lower Manhattan that day. According to the video, the boatlift was the largest water evacuation of people in human history, dwarfing the Dunkirk evacuation.

So, there you have just a sampling of where my thoughts about 9/11 were yesterday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just 2 Months

Time is moving at the speed of light. Just 2 more months and I'll be unemployed, with no income and no prospects for any. I'm trying not to panic, but it's not easy. There are so many things I want to do, write, experience, see, discuss. But I feel like I'm ADD in a big way. I hope that disappears; I cannot afford to bounce from idea to idea without taking any action on any of them. I cannot even write. Ugh.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Return to Bloggery

I have been horribly remiss in posting to Brittle Road. I'll try to do better. I've come across some new (to me) information, websites, email distributions, etc. in the past few weeks that I've found extremely interesting. So, if for no other reason than to record these sites for future reference, here's just a start of a summary of what I find to be of interest of late:
  • From Brain Pickings, I found this piece on 7 Essential Books on Street Art fascinating. I was particularly intrigued by two of the photos shown in the piece: and

  • Another one from Brain Pickings, this review of seven "must-read" books about cities
  • gives us seven books that help us, as the article's title suggests, understand urbanity. The most intriguing of the seven, based purely upon reading the reviews, is Who's Your City. Zinester's Guide to NYC comes in a close second, helped along with a wonderful graphic of Brooklyn, New York's astrological signs:

    The synopsis of the book I found least compelling, Aerotropolis, doesn't mention anything about what I believe is a dead certainty: that we simply CANNOT continue to rely so heavily on air transportation.

There will be more soon. If I can get my discipline back; it's been hiding under a rock.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not Bad

For reasons that escape me for the moment, I am feeling a little sad. Maybe sad is not the word, though I don't know what it is.

I've been watching television, something I do relatively rarely. Usually, TV reinforces my decision to avoid it. But tonight I watched a "reality" show about how people deal with uncomfortable realities. And then another one dealing with how people respond to horrific personal adversity.

How can anything on my mind compete? It can't. But I don't want it to compete. Woof. Life can be a bitch, but it's not bad for me. Not bad at all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

3 More Months

It's just a touch over three months now. Then, I'll be reasonably free to pursue things I've not been able to pursue for a long time. Like freedom. Like a new intellectual foundation upon which to base my life, or what's left of it. That may be a tad dramatic. But maybe not.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Well, what do you think about this?

Sunday, July 17, 2011


This is a personal post for me. Don't let it bother you.

I'm getting worried. Worried that I'm closing my business without giving it enough thought. Worried that I may, truly, be entering the realm of poverty, from which there may be no emergence.

I can't not deal with this because I have an obligation to my wife; I can't leave her in the lurch. But if it were just me, I could reasonably consider auto-euthanasia if thing got really bad. But I can't do that. I just hope I'm worried about things that won't come to pass.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I am having a rather tough time keeping my mind on work when I need to be working. There are obligations to meet, clients to satisfy, jobs to do, objectives to meet. But none of them hold any interest. They haven't for some time, but since I announced my intention, just about three weeks ago, to terminate my clients' contracts in a few months it has become worse.

There's no question I have the capacity to do the work, regardless of my level of interest or lack thereof. But something is keeping me in a constant state of lethargy with respect to "work" responsibilities. I keep telling myself it's only a few more months, I can stay focused...but then I realize I'm lying to get me off my back.

I can smooth this out. I can be mellow about it and get on to the jobs at hand. But will I? I must.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Abject Poverty

Abject poverty. It's a phrase that crosses the lips of a spoiled yuppie who describes what his life will be like in the future if he doesn't get a raise. It's a concept that somehow seems appropriate to discuss while suggesting the inadequacy of one's income. It is a condition most who know the meaning of the words cannot begin to comprehend.

Abject poverty is a condition of hopeless existence, in which the only certainty seems to be hunger and perpetual insecurity. That's not insecurity in the sense one doesn't know where the next month's mortgage payment is going to come from. It's insecurity in the sense one doesn't know where the next sip of water or the next morsel of food will come from. It's the insecurity of knowing there is no assurance of a roof over one's head tonight or a way to keep the searing heat of the sun off one's head during the meanest summer. It's having no place to turn for help, no one who can offer shelter or clothing or food to eat. Adject poverty is the most wreched condition, a condition that rips away every scrap of dignity and every confidence one will live until the next sunrise.

I do not know abject poverty. I only know of it. But what I know of it makes me think it would make me feel desperate and afraid if I had to experience it. There would be no room for humanity, at least not in my head. It would be a petri dish for depression and hatred and anger and suicidal thoughts.

Try to imagine, if you can, someone you love living in abject poverty. Imagine that person homeless, penniless, and threadbare--unbathed, uncombed, unkept to the extreme--starving and wondering whether the next meal will come before starvation or an untended wound snuffs out the last vestiges of life from a worn and fragile body.

I hope these thoughts make you feel uncomfortable. I hope they make you feel uncomfortable enough to dig into your pockets and pull out some change or some bills to use as a means of buying your way out of the discomfort by making a contribution to an individual or an organization who can help.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lust for Australia

I stumbled upon a blog today that I have added to my blogroll and shall visit with some regularity, I think. It's called Though small it is tasty. The person who writes it (Meg, I believe) has a the same adventurous spirit about food that I have...I like that in a human. That fact that the writer lives in Brisbane (I think) makes it that much more intriguing. I visited Brisbane once long, long ago...about 1995, I think. I loved it. I want to go back.

Another blogger who has since moved back "home" to the Netherlands from a brief (2 years or so) stint in Australia used to write about her life in Australia (on the other Adelaide). After reading her blog, viewing her photos, and getting wrapped up in her life there, I was ready to move...or at least make a trip. I suspect, after having read bits of Though small it is tasty, I may develop that same lust for Australia again. This time, though, I may be in a position to actually do something about it within the next few months. Of course, I'll have to sell my soul do to it, which probably won't bring much...I may have to take a freighter to make the crossing. Because a former staff member lives in Sydney now, I may be able to find someone there, too, to at least help find cheap hotels or direct us to an elder-hostel.

Ah, well, I best not make expensive plans just yet. I have to first get used to abject poverty.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A New Chapter


What hath this madness wrought? I did it.

Today, I announced the closure of the latest professional chapter in my life. My clients now know; October 31 is my version of the rapture. There will be enormous amounts of work between now and then to prepare for the transition.

And, there is the distinct possibility that one or more of them will implore me to stay for awhile to help with the transition. But, for all intents and purposes, October 31 will mark the day on which my business, as it has operated for 13 years, will cease. I'm not shutting it down, just making it into a shell that I may, or may not, resurrect later.

Now, I have a request: though the chief volunteer leaders of my client groups know, the rest of world does not. Please allow me to keep it that way for a while longer. Do not post congratulations on my other blogs or Facebook pages, etc.; while I would love to read them, I still must let things play out as they will.

I am at once elated and terrified of a life lived in perpetual poverty. But I am so, so, so ready to experience it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


This tune was performed in public by Girlyman for the first time last night (6.11.2011) in Fort Worth.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Creativity...Art...Vision...Or Not?

Having not painted, or having not painted "art," for quite some time, my latest attempt was a somewhat shocking reminder that, absent the technique and skill, one's vision simply cannot be transferred to canvas.

That disappointing realization led me on a thought odyssey that raised more questions than it answered. The principal question it raised was this: does the creativity represented by visual art lay within the vision upon which a piece of art was based, or does it lay within the execution of the vision? Or is it the amalgamation of the vision and the techniques and technical skills required to execute the vision? Perhaps there are more options; perhaps artistic creativity is simply an elegant adjustment of one's technical limitations to one's vision, resulting in art that successfully integrates one's skill level with one's vision.

Ultimately, I think it can be reduced to this: despite the logic and legitimacy of the arguments that define creativity, creativity is a highly personal experience. I believe it can be intensely satisfying to the artist when the vision matches the artist's technical skills. But it can be intensely frustrating when they are on different planes.

When I shift the discussion to another creative landscape with which I am more familiar, that of using the written word, it becomes clearer to me. There, it seems to me, the "success" of the product requires successfully merging creative vision with technical capabilities. Exquisite technical capabilities, without the underlying vision, results in flat, dull, unremarkable language art. Intense creative vision without the technical skills for execution results in frustratingly chaotic word-bursts on the page.

Maybe I've answered my own questions, after all. There's creativity in my vision for the visual art I want to paint. But the frustrating paint-bursts on the canvas revealed the absence of the technical capabilities to carry it to fruition.

I've long believed the core capabilities of a writer are formed very early in life, perhaps before one finishes middle school. Those capabilities emerge through the use of language, early practice, and through perhaps an innate appreciation of language and what it can do. While those capabilities can be improved, honed, and refined later on, they cannot be created later on without that earlier foundation. So, too, I think, the core capabilities of a visual artist probably emerge early; if they are nurtured early and practices and developed, they can be refined later. But I doubt the technical skills required to translate vision into visual art can be successfully created later on. A certain level of mechanical skills may be acquired late, but that magical mix of vision and execution seem, to me, to require a foundation that can't be built after the walls are up.

At least that's what I think this morning.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sharing Treasure

I have more treasures to share with you:

Remodelista: Sourebook for the Considered Home, an uber-intriguing interior design/architecture "blog" of sorts., a great blog from whence came the thunderstorm video in the adjacent post.

Peace and Love and Noticing the Details, a blog by Anne Herbert, that strikes a chord very, very deep within me.

Wonderful Thunderstorm Video

Watch this, if you can, on full-screen, in HD mode. It is, at once, deeply relaxing and highly energizing.

Hector Thunderstorm Project from Murray Fredericks.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. Many people do not know that Memorial Day began as Decorations Day, an event created by African Americans to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War. Its scope grew and it developed after World War I into an event to honor Americans who have died in all wars. Today, it honors Americans who have died while in the military service.

It's befitting to remember and honor the men and women who have died serving our country. But it would be wrong to equate Memorial Day with honoring militarism or aggression or American superiority over other countries. It is not, and should not become, a day to celebrate military service, nor should it be considered a day to equate patriotism with support for American military engagement. Memorial Day has become, and should remain, an occasion to express remembrance and gratitude to men and women who have taken seriously their duty to their fellow Americans and who have died while performing that duty.

I am opposed to wars and especially to wars launched with the objective of strong-arming the world around us into doing our bidding. War is an entanglement into which a country should go only as a last resort and only then after all other options have been exhausted.

That having been said, the men and women of the military do not set policy about wars; they only execute the policies they are given. Whatever they do at the behest of their commander-in-chief and their country, whether that direction is right or wrong, the sacrifice of their lives, made while performing that service, warrants our deep and everlasting appreciation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unspoken Conversations

There are conversations waiting to be held. Waiting for what? I don't know, at least I don't know all the reasons. No one does, really. But there they are, ideas sitting patiently beneath a mountain of unknown reasons, unshared, unappreciated, unspoken.

Some of them are mine. I have conversations tucked safely away in my head. Most of them are one-sided and late to the retort, unable to deftly shred the egos of those whose word caused their creation, simply because they are too late.

Unspoken conversations define regret. They define it. They do.

Monday, May 23, 2011


If there's anything about the Buddhist philosophy with which I am at odds, it's the suggestion that one MUST live in the now. I think memories...the an extraordinarily important part in our lives. They can shape the present and they can shape the future. Remembering things that once were unimportant can trigger the realization that those "unimportant" byproducts of daily life were, indeed, deeply important.

My memories of my early years have never been very clear, nor have I had many of them. Somehow, my years from 5-20 seems to have almost disappeared from my mind. But those occasional glimpses into what life was like for me when I was younger can bring back a flood of emotions. There's more to memory than recollection. Memory is the framework upon which our lives are constructed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Heatlh Insurance: Make it Burn!

It occurs to me; we bitch and moan about health insurance companies taking us to the cleaners and refusing to provide the "services" they are supposed to provide at fees that are remotely close to reasonable. Have we ever, collectively, decided to tell them to fuck off?! It's time we did that. Every company, and individual, in the USA should simply say, "enough!" Put aside as much as you ever paid to them into a pool that will provide health care to people who need it...people who join the pool with you. Illegal? Bullshit! Let the government show up and try to take it away while we scream bloody murder to the television cameras!

I'm so utterly, completely, irrevocably pissed off at the greedy bastards who run healthcare and the insurance industry in this country I could SCREAM! It's time we stop complaining and DO SOMETHING! The assholes feel it in their pocketbooks. Make it burn, people. Make it burn!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

To Your Health

The decision about whether to go without health insurance is, for me, purely a financial one. It's simply about weighing options: do I want to hand over $700-$800 per month to an insurance company for me and for each of my staff members or do take a risk and set aside some money to help pay for "catastrophic" medical bills?

It's not a decision I want to make, but I have to make it. Of course it's not only about money. It's about whether I can keep staff; will they decide they cannot risk it and simply go to a larger company at which "exposure" is not the insurance company's only criterion for pricing?

I learned from one person that the threshold at which insurance companies no longer look at rating individuals is 100 employees. Below 100 employees, you're screwed if you have employees who are "aging" and/or who have any pre-existing conditions that frighten the insurance companies. Beyond "rating" each individual, the companies can "rate up" the high risk people by 67% of the peak premium for those individuals considered to be high risks. Me. My wife. My client services manager.

So, our glorious government decided to get tough with insurance companies and require them to offer coverage to groups of at least two people. Hooray. But they allowed the companies to "rate up" individuals to the tune of 67%. Not so hooray.

The ugly, but not-so-secret, secret about insurance companies is that they are wallowing in obscene profits. While claiming they cannot risk their "low" premiums on "sick" people for fear of spreading unreasonable burdens to others who pay premiums, they are literally awash in money. One piece of evidence of that fact is the fact that they are deluging with wife with marketing materials for Medicare Part B coverage; they are actively SEEKING people over 65 as policy-holders? These are the same people they will not write without being forced to in small group settings? Aahh...but the Part B coverage is in addition to coverage provided by the GOVERNMENT. It is ADDITIONAL coverage. So catastrophic coverage is already "covered." I see. So, if you remove the risk for insurance companies, they are willing to take the risk. What the fuck, EXACTLY, is the business they are in? RISK! But they want ME to pay for it. They do not want to risk their profits by taking risks. They want ME to take the financial risks for the policies they write.

I absolutely LOATHE the insurance industry right now. I loathe the healthcare system in this country. I loathe the greed-driven approach to health "care" in this country.

I am an unhappy camper. And I don't know just what I'll do, but regardless of the direction I take, it will be financially very difficult and very hard on my ability to get and retain staff. Thanks to my old age and my perceived ill health. NOT, of course, the greedy bastards who run the healthcare insurance system in this country.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Want to be Buddhist, I Think

I am a million miles away from achieving my objective. I will have contradictory objectives along the way. Those intervening objectives, I think, can be pleasurable and can temper the path toward that one objective, but they get in the way. I don't quite know why I pursue them, too.

But the thing I desire to is to free myself from suffering and to free others from suffering me. If I were to live how I believe, I believe I would live better than I believe I do.

These may seem to be silly riddles, but they're least not entirely.

There is exceptional wisdom in Buddhist philosopy. But it's a hard target to reach.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I think I may have uncovered the problem. I'm just sad. It's me. It's not the environment, it's not other people, it's not chemicals. I'm just fucking sad. That's life. I'll get over it. If not, that, too, is just fucking life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just for the Record

I haven't known what to write lately, so I haven't written. At least not here, where I tend to write what I really think...sometimes. My mind has been on other things. Writing what I think has not been among them.

As I sit here wondering what to write, I realize I'm not ready, still. My mind remains on other things. It is on other things entirely.

These last few weeks I've been ill-at-ease over issues that are hard to articulate in my own mind, much less write about. I'm trying to make, and stick with, decisions, but none of them seem right or, I should say, prudent. But I am beginning to get a sense that there's an inevitability to it that suggests decisions are not mine to make. So I worry and I fret and I wonder what to do or what to do differently.

I'm being obtuse. It's only because I don't know quite what I mean. That notwithstanding, and just for the record, I am here. I really am. Right here. Right now.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Smile when you can

Smile when you can because, one day, there will be nothing to smile about and all you'll have are memories of those smiles. They will be treasures, those memories. And those smiles, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Once, when I was a young man, I knew the path to fulfilment would parallel the road less traveled. But fulfillment wasn't what I was after. At least I did not think that was what I was seeking. Nevertheless, those who had traveled that road called to me to follow. They knew me better than I knew myself. Or maybe that's just my wish now, my hope that I might have been better than ever I was.

That road, though, was littered with the corpses of unfunded travel, unbuilt houses, ungaraged cars, and unspoken compliments at all of those unattained things.

So I took a different route.

I took the road that would lead to largess. But I never felt entirely comfortable on that road, so I stayed safely on the shoulder, where my unease would be shielded from the stares of those who sped along the highway and where my conscience would not be so thoroughly out of place. As I was busy hiding from the prying eyes of those who were disappointed at my failure to fully embrace the philosophies that powered the race, I failed to see the disappointment in the eyes of those I'd left to make the lonely trek along that other, less traveled road. It wasn't just disappointment in their eyes, I now realize. It was contempt.

Somewhere along the way, I ran into roadblocks. I tried to run through them or over them, but I hadn't developed sufficient speed. All I did was ruin the undercarriage of the vehicle and slow my progress toward the destination. But I kept trying. I got out and pushed, from time to time, and I made some progress. The closer I got to the destination, though, the harder it was to see. A haze thickened around it. The light was blocked and I could barely make out what once had been, if not brilliant, at least bright. I thought it was bright. Wasn't it bright, before?

As the long journey along the shoulder of that well-traveled road neared the end, I found that the largess I'd been seeking had been damaged in transit. The haze had been caused by the smoldering oil-soaked rags that had been used to tie its broken pieces together. Others around me still clung to the shiny pieces that had been thrown off before the smoldering began. And they seemed to worship them. But I didn't like the looks of largess anymore. Yet when I turned around, hoping to trudge back down that road to the one less traveled, I found that those who would have been my traveling companions had long since completed their journeys. They had attained what I did not even realize we were seeking. And they were no longer willing to share the spoils of the trip. Their contempt at my abandonment of the path was complete.

You forgive a friend, but I was no longer a friend.

And so here I am, a lifetime and a universe and an experience away from the destinations that were so attractive those many years ago. The destination, as it turned out, did not really matter, for it is illusory. But somehow the journey has gone missing and I'm afraid it may be lost.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Mood. Mood controls us. Or me, at least. That's a shame, sometimes. But most of the time it's just a fact. I think we'd all be surprised to look back at our lives in the context of the moods we were in as we experienced each moment. We'd be shocked. And, I'll venture to say, we'd be disappointed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


If I believed in magic and religion and goblins and fate, I'd believe the world is talking to me tonight. The wind is fierce, ripping and tearing limbs of huge trees as if they were scraps of paper. It's coming out of the south, adding the blast of a southern wind to the awfully heated air. I don't like this; I never have and never will.

It's as if the supreme booggity shepherd were saying, "You're going to pay, motherfucker, for what you'd done to this earth." And I can't help but believe the supreme booggity shepherd is right. We're going to pay.

Maybe not yet. Maybe not my generation, at least any more than we already have. And we have. We've paid by living in crowds while staying in family farms that, half a generation ago, would have been utterly private.

I could go on. I won't. I miss the real world of my childhood. It's gone. Oh, shit, it's gone.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Unlike me, my father was not a man who wore his emotions on his sleeve. But he had emotions and he appreciated the poetic expression thereof. It's interesting to me that one of his favorite poems was this one by Rudyard Kipling, which in my estimation offers accolades to the suppression of emotion:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

The Pointless World Around Me

It's Good Friday. As if that mattered to me. It's just another Friday to me. Another workday. Another day spent in pursuit of something I'm not sure of. Is this sense that it's all utterly and completely pointless unique to me?

Humankind desperately tries to find meaning, something to justify its existence. Not just its existence. Existence. Period. And so we grasp onto events. Simple incidents. And we aggrandize them. We make them bigger than they are. Over time, they grow into massive collections of fables and lies and stories that ostensibly give meaning to what is meaningless. In this context, meaningless is not intended to have a negative connotation; it is no more judgmental than saying the weather is warm.

That having been said, I sometimes wish I could believe in fairy stories and that I believed there were some reason for all this (motioning to the world around me).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Plan

Lacking a coherent plan, I've begun to take action. That has its drawbacks.

Let me explain by example. Let's assume your objective is to secure a top-level job in biochemistry. But your educational background is in archeology. Nevertheless, you want that senior job as a biochemist. You've even identified the specific job you want and that job is in another town. You move to that town, buy a house, and show up for work at the job you want. But it's already filled by someone else. They question why you've shown up for work at a job that is not yours...especially since you haven't pursued the education needed to be a biochemist.

You failed to plan the intermediate steps required to achieve that dream job.

Now, let's assume your objective isn't the dream job but is, instead, early retirement. But you haven't saved enough money to fund it. And you don't know how you're going to cover necessities like health insurance, let alone living expenses, before Social Security and Medicare kick in. Nevertheless, you make the decision to retire early. You decide to shut down your business and move on to "the next phase" of your life. Whoops. You forgot to plan this out. How's this all going to work? Is it going to work?

Not having the answer, and lacking the ability to even ask the right questions, you blunder blithely ahead.

Plans are so "corporate." So mundane. So necessary.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Repetitive Reptition, Over and Over Again

Manic depression. Depressive mania. Depressive depression. Manic mania.


Monday, April 11, 2011

What a difference a TV makes

I'll be driving 300 miles south in the morning. Into a different culture. Sort of. Fifty years ago, that would be true; a totally different culture. I hate television again for yet a new reason

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prelude to Summer

It's April 10. Today's high temperature in Dallas is forecast to reach 88 degrees. Why? Was it something I said?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Just Coffee

I have plans for later. You know, when I have more free time. Lots of plans. Objectives to meet. Projects to start. Projects to finish. Things to do.

In the meantime, I suppose I will simply do the regular, routine stuff. The drudgery. Things that MUST be done.

Hey, I can mix them up! Yeah, that's the ticket! I'll execute some of the plans while I move through the mundane. Making the mundane more manageable. My, my, it's magical to make such memories in the moment!

No, just coffee. Why do you ask?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Jury's Out

Here I sit, waiting for the justice building to open so I can go do my civic duty as a juror. They should open the building earlier so hungry jurors could eat at the "justice" cafeteria.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Epiphany: I Don't Control the Weather

Yesterday's comfortable warmth was almost uncomfortable, but not quite. It reached the upper 80s which, in my mind, is a frightening precursor to a summer of hellishly miserable temperatures that soar into triple digits. I shouldn't be so pessimistic, perhaps, but I consider realism and not pessimism. If you lived here you'd know.

But for now, the heat is welcome, at least for awhile. I like going outdoors and feeling myself bake slowly as I putter about in the yard or clean up the garage or do one of the million other chores that need doing.

I would not mind the temperatures spiking during the day if only they would sink again to a chill in the evenings, as they have been doing. The recent oscillations have been to my liking; temperatures in the evening dropping into the 40s or 50s or even the 50s. It's when the temperatures never drop below the upper 70s or the 80s (or, in particularly ugly periods, the 90s) that I feel the urge to relocate for climatic reasons.

If I'm going to live a more peaceful life, though, I have to accept the whims of nature where I live or adapt. And by adapt, I mean move. That's not going to happen immediately. So I should accept nature as "she" comes. I can shed clothes, wear cooler garb, make more liberal use of ceiling (and other) fans, drink more water, get absorbed in things that take precedence over temperature, etc.

I've decided not to fight nature. Weather is not under my control. Nature will always win. Always.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The end of October. That's the target. Scary as hell, but exciting, too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

e-Friend Overload?

An online friend (Blogger #1) contacted me today, inquiring about another online friend (Blogger #2), the latter of whom had deactivated her Facebook account and whose new blog was not longer viewable. Having connected with email once or twice before, I sent a message to Blogger #2, explaining that B1 and I both were wondering what was up.

B2 responded that she was just checking out for a bit and was sure she'd be back, eventually. I relayed this message back to B1, who responded with something that struck a chord with me. She said, and I'll paraphrase: Many of my friends are people I've never met in person. We share intellectual commonalities of some kind. I'm always looking for my tribe.

That is so true for me, I'm always in search of people with whom I have something in common deeper than an appreciation for the same types of cars or the same television dramas. I don't find many people who reveal themselves to me as having any depth they care to share with me.

Perhaps it's because of where I live; the fact that open-mindedness here is viewed with suspicion and contempt. Or perhaps it's because I'm not easy to share with, in person. I suspect I'm a much more pleasant person in the ether than I am in the real world. I react to the world. Sometimes...often(?)...I react badly to it.

More likely than not, the truth sits squarely in the middle, borrowing heavily from both ends of the spectrum.

But, back to B1's reference to looking for her tribe. It really struck me. I felt like it described a quest I've rarely articulated. I have been looking for friends my entire life, people with whom I can feel comfortable, and vice versa, and people whose attitudes and sense of morality are in sync with my own, at least on a fundamental level.

Often, I've felt a sense of kinship to people for awhile because of the ideas they express, only to allow that sense to diminish. It degrades when I find that the ideas they express are based on religious imperatives that they think they should embrace. I have no quarrel with the ideas. But then I learn, or come to believe, that they do not embrace the ideas on their own but simply pay lip service to them out of an half-hearted commitment to the church. And it's not even a commitment to the church, but to a belief that something truly ugly awaits them in "the next life" if they don't adopt the concepts. That's where I smell hypocrisy. That's when my sense of kinship leaves.

Interestingly, that sense of kinship does not flee when I deal with people whose concepts of morality are based on religion but who do not rely on religion to justify those concepts. While I would argue passionately with them (and have done) against the legitimacy of their religious doctrines, I don't...always...find them to be offensive. I don't loathe people who are religous; but I do not respect people who are unwilling to question their own faith.

This rant is going all over, isn't it?

Back to my point. I miss my friend who has chosen to distance herself from those of us who value her "presence" on the internet. But I realize that we're not close; none of us are truly close. I don't know that I think closeness is possible without much more interaction than I have with my online friends. I don't doubt that we could become quite close, but I probably won't know it.

Maybe she is experiencing something like the feelings that have come over me from time to time. There have been times in which I have had occasion to interact quite frequently with someone via email, online, or some other form of non-proximal contact and that interaction has become suffocating. I don't know why and I can't seem to find any similarities between the people involved or even the types of interchanges...but I have found myself desperate for a break from the. Maybe that's what B2 is experiencing...e-friend overload.

The e-people with whom I regularly, or at least relatively frequently, interact now are people I find quite engaging. I consider them my friends. So I'm dredging up experiences and emotions, rather than feeling them first-hand, today. But maybe I'm on to something.

Or maybe I'm not. I've driven down blind alleys before, only to be attacked by herds of alley cats.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I came across a private notebook in a pile of paper as I was organizing my office last weekend. I did not recognize the handwriting in the steno pad, so I assumed it might have been picked up in the last-minute clean-up frenzy at one of the meetings we manage. Later, I decided it must have been given to me in a pile of detritus from a desk-cleaning by someone else.

I read through the notes, trying to find an indication of to whom the notebook might belong. Finally, after I'd read through to almost the last page...there must have been fifteen or twenty pages of notes...I found evidence that it belonged to a former employee, someone I'd fired.

The notes told the story of someone who was trying very, very hard to perform well in her job, but who was experiencing some very tough relationship challenges in her personal life. Many of the notes were short self-affirmation statements, telling the writer that she was a good person and that she could successfully get through the trouble she was going through. But it was clear from reading the notes, and now on reflection, that she her relationship problems were having an enormous impact on her ability to cope, both at home and at work.

I fired her for performance issues that were exacerbated by attitude. When I expressed concern about her performance, again, she reacted by saying she didn't like working for me and that she was looking for a job and would tell me when she found one. That was not the right response to have with me, especially after the considerable performance issues; so I fired her.

In retrospect, having now read the notes, I think I might have encouraged her to open up about what might be causing her performance issues. Many of them really were related to attitude; she didn't like following the processes I'd established, didn't think the rules applied to her, complained that no one appreciated the hours she spent on the job, and did not get along with other employees. But maybe all those issues were related to those personal relationship challenges. She's not a bad person and she was very bright. She had a lot of potential.

Maybe if I'd invested more time in her, and had overlooked the fact that I found her personally not very likable, she could have turned things around on the job. I guess I will never know. But it makes me remember that, sometimes, people can be privately dealing with pretty ugly stuff that can affect the way they behave. I, of all people, should know this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not that it matters...

In the final analysis, if there is a final analysis, the conclusion will be that we all took ourselves too seriously.

Even our talk about taking ourselves less seriously is tinged with concern that this very serious societal flaw is wrecking the social order. As if it mattered.

In the final analysis, it doesn't. "It." Code for "everything."

The common concerns about decorum? Way too serious. The strident insistence that our society needs a better social safety net? If our collective will could change it all, maybe...but in the overal scheme of things that are, by and large, outside our realm of control? Overly serious.

What about tsunamis and earthquakes and nuclear holocaust? Surely those deserve to be taken seriously? If we (the collective we...humankind and all) actually mattered, sure. And in the context of our own individual lives as of this evening on this planet, yeah, they deserve to be taken seriously. But in terms of humankind's actual value in the universe as we know it? Probably not.

So, it shouldn't matter, in the overall scheme of things, if I were to decide tomorrow morning to invite an attractive woman I happen to encounter on the street to engage in a hedonistic sex orgy in the middle of the esplanade on Midway Road during rush hour, right? Well, yes. But there is that part about "in the context of our own individual lives." That's where the argument that we take ourselves too seriously gets in trouble.

I still believe we take ourselves too seriously. I just don't know exactly where to find the bright line that divides what is too serious and what is not serious enough. Not that it matters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I intended to go to my office yesterday to try to finish some of what I started Saturday. Fortunately, I did not follow through on my intent. Instead, I had a truly good day on Sunday, instead.

My day started later than normal. I woke up well after 6:00 am, more than an hour later than I normally get up, thanks to getting to bed much later than usual last night. Usually, if I get up late I tend to have a less-than-stellar day; I feel like I've missed a part of the day, and my life, I can't get back. Not so yesterday, for reasons I do not understand. Yesterday, I just got up, made coffee, and went about my life.

My wife got up before 7:30 and reminded me that we'd talked about going to Hypnotic Donuts, a business that operates only on weekends and then only for a few hours in the a pizza shop that doesn't open until much later. So we went. And it was interesting.

My wife got a Canadian Healthcare donut, which comprises a glazed donut topped with a whipped sugary goo made from maple syrup that was further topped with crispy bacon. I had what they called the Kaye's Killer Queso; fried chicken, cream cheese, pickles, etc. on a biscuit. We weren't as overwhelmed as we'd hoped, but they were good.

Then, we headed toward the Dallas Arboretum, where a friend and former employee had taken a booth to sell her hand-made jewelry in an art show. Before visiting the art show and our friend, we wandered all over the Arboretum, taking in the spectacular display of flowers, flowering trees, bulbs, etc., etc. It was truly magnificent. Then we visited Julie's booth and then took in the other 100 exhibitors at the show.

Yesterday being the first day of Spring, the Arboretum was packed, as was the parking lot. The Arboretum had arranged for parking at a lot several blocks (maybe a mile) away, with shuttles getting the inhabitants of the newly-parked cars back to the Arboretum. As we pulled in to the parking lot from which we soon would be whisked away in a bus, we noticed an old, beat-up-looking bar across the street, a place called The Goat. I suggested we try the place out after visiting the Arboretum...something about its uttlerly unpretentious face made it attractive to me.

After the Arboretum, my wife needed food and, from what we could tell, The Goat did not serve food, so we drove off to the Lakewood area, where we had a late lunch at Matt Martinez' Rancho. After lunch, we were stuffed and decided to take a walk. The short walk enlivened us and convinced us to really go back and try The Goat. Which we did.

The Goat is a neighborhood bar. Really. Everyone in there (it wasn't crowded) knew everyone else. The bartender was super friendly and jovial. She invited us to have Nathan's hot dogs and cucumbers...she said they wanted to keep their patrons sober and coming back. But we'd already eaten, to no hot dogs for us. Yet. We drank a beer and observed. We liked what we saw...or at least I did. It's a very friendly, very casual tavern. The owner's (?) dog wandered around, nuzzling up to whoever was in the mood to pet it.
After an hour or so there, we jumped back in the car and headed toward home. As we wandered in that direction, we made up a list of "to-do" items, including getting my wife's car washed, going to the greengrocer and the grocery store, washing sheets and towels, etc., etc. And so we did those things.
Now, my wife's car is clean as a whistle. We are stocked up on tomatoes, onions, celery, cucumbers, tangerines (or some relatives thereof), etc. We have clean sheets and towels. And I grilled a long-frozen New York strip steak that should have been grilled many months ago but turned out OK, anyway.
My wife likes her steak very basic. I like mine jazzed up. So I ground some coffee beans and mixed them with lemon pepper and some hot chile power to serve as a rub for my half of the steak (after I drizzled lemon juice on it). I let it sit for an hour before I grilled the steak. At the same time, I grilled calabacitas (Mexican squash) that I'd sprinkled liberally with Vegetable Magic, a seasoning blend associated with Chef Paul Prudhomme. It was very, very good.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being spectacularly wonderful beyond words, I'd give yesterday an 8.75. It was a damn good day!