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Friday, March 16, 2018

The Head Trauma of Radical Acceptance

Last night, I finished (in two days, a record mind you) a book written by a friend of mine called "The End: A Story of Truth".  Holy crap, what a book.

I wouldn't call this one of THE most mind-blowing books I've read.  In my list of must-reads, there aren't a lot of place holders.  "Illusions" by Richard Bach is consistently in the top five.  The idea that a messiah can be reluctant to accept his purpose is particularly intriguinig.  Another one that stands out is "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho.  It's about a boy who travels the world looking for something that he had all along.

"The End" is different.  To me, it's personal.  In this book, the places, the characters, the time frame, some of it I can actually remember.  Not in the author's way, as I didn't live his Truth.  I lived my own, quietly, chained to my fortress of anxiety and fear that I wasn't able to break free of until I left for college myself.  This is a trip back to high school, where the struggle was real, and really well hidden.  The internet was in its infancy.  Facebook, Twitter, even MySpace didn't exist.  I had a website on AngelFire called "Planet Bigg Russ".  This was a strange time.

So to hear that, during this strange time, a kid I grew up with was having an even stranger time, a more difficult time, living in a world of isolation and insecurity, in many ways mirroring my own, in other ways highly contrasting my own truth.. to hear all of this is... difficult.

The story itself is a biography of sorts.  I don't want to give away anything important in case you (the one person reading this) is concerned for spoilers.  The gist of it, though, is that one man tells another man the important parts of his Truth before the consequences of his suicide attempt take him to the next plane of existence.  It's a story filled with tragedy and loss and hardship, written in a way that makes the reader FEEL the pain of the author. 

One of the most difficult things about this Story of Truth is just that, the Truth.  Truth isn't a hard and set thing.  It's relative.  It's relative to one's experiences and environment.  My truth can't be any more different than yours or anyone else's.  Adam's truth was harsh.  The adult mind that I've earned, the Truth as I've come to understand it, has let me take in these words with love.  I'm not saying I love the story.  In fact, quite the contrary, I hate it.  I hate to read about people struggling alone.  But I love reading those stories at the same time, because the stories, when they are told, are devoid of the fear that consumed the stories themselves.

Fear kept me from sharing in a Truth.  That's all life is, when it's good, is two people who can share one Truth, ugly as it may be.  I spent almost all of my childhood keeping my Truth guarded and assuming that everyone wanted to do the same.  I've spent almost all of my time since trying to understand how those Truths can be shared or combined.  This book has encouraged me to share my own, and I feel like I'm better off as a result.

To the author of that book, Mr. Adam Rudolph, I say this:  You were one of the first kids to make an awkward nerdy first grader laugh on the playground.  You were the guy that, from the top of Timber Town, could inform the rest of the kids that you were in "a restricted area" with bitter sarcasm that none of the other kids understood.  We played soccer together, and I remember that 7 story tree-house that your cool gunsmith neighbor had.  I also remember that you were never, ever a dick to me.  I'm sorry our truths didn't coincide more, but I'm thankful and appreciative that I was able to see more of yours.  I owe you one, buddy.

Friday, March 9, 2018

So many Goddamn deer

Another new addition to the family. Don't know what we're calling her yet. Base Camp? We got a 29 foot Forest River Cherokee with a slide out. So freaking excited to load it up and go!

We haven't really gone anywhere or done anything spectacular lately, as it's been the knuckle-down before the build-out.  I am going to get Malcolm today, so we'll see if it's a memorable trip.  I may even stop to snag some pics of my tree, finally, in my life, if I'm far enough ahead of schedule.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Way back when I started this blog, I was working for a company in Denver that may or may not still be open. It was probably one of the worst companies I've ever worked for, but it was also the most fun I've ever had working. I made some great friends there, some I still keep in touch with ten years later.

My favorite boss there (I had a few, turnover was brutal), was a guy named Bob. He was a drummer, a guitar player, composer, and had once toured with Tom Petty. He told me the lead singer of Cake was an asshole, and loved Radiohead.

Once, he gave me a playlist of awesome post-rock music, mostly instrumental stuff like Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, The American Dollar, stuff like that. An EP that snuck into that mass of tunes was by Inu.

The album is a solid solo effort, incredibly dynamic, with serious subject matter, low octane, and enjoyable.

Give it a listen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Kung Fu Panda

I don't know if anyone has seen the movies, but the overall story of the Kung Fu Panda movies feature a panda named Po. Po is a humble cook, adoptive son to a goose and noodle chef. In the beginning, he plays with action figures of his favorite martial Arista, those rained by Oogway, a tortoise, and Sheefu, some sort of rodent or primate. Po discovers that he is the chosen one, the Dragon Warrior, the savior of the people who live in their valley. This is confusing to him, as he's aware of his limitations. Pandas aren't known for their grace, speed, or strength. He didn't know his real family. He was in over his head, conflicted, not knowing his destiny, his purpose.

In the climax of the third and final movie, Po it's faced with an enemy, Kai, a warrior who had been in the spirit realm for lifetimes. Unable to discern what he is supposed to do with an overwhelmingly powerful adversary, Po realizes that his whole life, all of the pieces that, until then, seemed to have no relevance to each other actually needed to work together. Was he the son of a goose or the son of a panda? Was he a student or a teacher? He was all of these things. He was, in fact, the Dragon Master.

My take from these kids movies is that we are so much more than the sum of our parts. We are the product of our parts. For those who aren't into math, we are so much more than our experiences all added to and tallied. The super computer in our head does far more than record experiences. It learns from them, takes them all apart, and puts the failure into the program to keep it from happening again. Every experience you have helps you grow, makes you better.

You are all of you, working together as one. You are indespensible.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Respectful American Party

One of the coolest parts about having your own blog that nobody really reads is having the ability to stand on a soap box and speak some truth.

The driving force for me, a father and husband, for building our homestead, living simply, doing the things we can the way we choose, is that there's an ugly and cold world right outside the door.

I'm aiming to change that. I don't know how, but I do feel compelled to write about my experiences all over, share them politically (occasionally). I'm not aiming to destroy a single person or a party, as much as, I suppose, I'm simply looking to share respect.
Respect is where we start. If, by some fluke, you're reading this, you have probably read other things, like the news. You probably know who the American president is, and what he stands for. You probably don't know what your neighbor thinks. You may not even know your neighbor's name. Start there.

We are a country, a society, of people who are disconnecting from each other. Regardless of faith or belief, we are all connected. Through social interaction, we grow, we learn, we change, we cooperate, and the world becomes a better place. We are denying ourselves that interaction, instead learning to type at over fifty words a minute with our thumbs alone.

The irony if living in a time of social media is that there's so much information, the truth hidden in plain sight from us, all of us. We are so eager to find the next sensational thing to share that somehow, in whatever skewed way, supports the stance we have so defiantly made. Opposition must be crushed. Changing one's opinion doesn't just mean one is weak, it means one is also unintelligent or incompetent. Danger isn't the truth. Danger is the people surrounding it.

We have an opportunity everyone single day to change that. We can talk to strangers. We can help old and disabled and pregnant and young and healthy people alike, because it's the right thing to do. We can work hard, and enjoy the fruits of that labor without leaving behind those whose exposure to people, education, resources, has been marginal at best. We have within us the power to not only fix our home but to explore countless more, in our lifetime. glad I didn't get a chance to read the news before I read most of that.  Love thy neighbor.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Snow, Cars, Climbing, and Stubborn Pride

We're got the third snowstorm of the season, second of the year, this morning. I don't know how much actual moisture we got, but being that it's February, I'll take whatever we get with happiness and humility.

I picked our newest family member from the mechanic today. He replaced a bunch of gaskets and the water pump in this first phase. We'll have you see how she does. I like to think of the old cartoon where there's water leaking through a wall, and you plug one leak, find where the others are. This vehicle is 30 this years old, after all. At least the new gaskets aren't made out of cork!

Getting excited to go climb some rocks sometime soon. The little girl is getting to a point where I can't keep her from climbing anything around her, so a harness and a rope may be a good thing to make sure she can get a good experience. Maybe a trip to Eldorado Canyon sometime?

In other news, apparently my last root canal left me with a souvenir. A small file or wire, something, got stuck in my tooth. Oh well, thank goodness for medication and a fantastic partner who refused to let me whine in my own personal suffering and made me go to the ER... twice... and to Cañon City to a dentist. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A New Year, a New Format?

Since the actual construction of the homestead hasn't commenced, I'm going to start putting some good music to listen to on this blog.  These songs have stories beyond their melodies, and will likely be making up my playlists as I plug away at getting one thing after another finished up.

Radiohead - Optimistic

Here's the kickoff.  "Optimistic" was on Kid A, which wasn't my introduction to Radiohead, but should have been.  (I jumped on the bandwagon around the time Hail to the Thief came out, and that's my jam.)  It's a deep song, that gets into your head and makes you feel just a little bit better about the way things are.

John Mayer - My Stupid Mouth

I've been in a John Mayer kick lately, listening to his first album, Room For Squares, over and over again. I almost always have to skip the first track, it was far too overplayed. However, I'm finding some real gems on that album. One that stands out to me is "My Stupid Mouth". It's a simple yet elegant blues-rock ballad with throwbacks to the best parts of the 90s (this did come out in '03), but when you realise how modern it sounds, the gravitas of this song, this album, this artist...  Digressing, this song plays deep on the heart strings.

Milky Chance - Stolen Dance

Milky Chance isn't a great band. Seriously, I listen to them over and over again, and I hear off pitch singing that comes across as lazy and uninspired. That being said, it's catchy, and it's a craving that soothes as much as it drives me nuts. The tunes are great to have on in the background while you're conversing with a friend, working on something loud, or just not really wanting quiet, but don't want to commit to actual complex melodic or lyrical construction. Doing dishes is when I find the most joy with these guys, Milky Chance.