Stay tuned (patiently) as we occasionally throw updates on here about what steps we're taking to get to our end goals, DIY tricks and life-hacks, child-rearing tactics (strategery), etc.

Monday, December 31, 2012

RADIO: Happy New Year Colorado!!!

It has been one hell of a spectacular 2012.  In lots of ways, a very good year.  In other ways, I've found myself wishing that the whole Mayan prophesy had been correct.  Bah, humbug.  At any rate, here's an opportunity for us to go on and make an honest year out of 2013.


2012 has set us back in a lot of ways.  Still stinging are the surreal massacres in Minnesota, Colorado, and Connecticut, where people who had no access to healthcare but plenty of access to weaponry committed atrocities that shouldn't have had any place in our society. Yet, there they were.  Right in front of everyone.

2012 saw us continuing wars in countries that we had all but forgotten about.  Yes, we're still at war with Afghanistan, but then again, we have troops in Iraq, we're still, after 5 decades, technically at war with North Korea, and we're at war with ourselves, with congress having voted to label the United States a battlefield, giving the government the right to detain whoever they wish without question or due process.

2012 also saw people in Washington and Colorado speak out for legalization and regulation of marijuana, which was unprecedented and wonderful, as perhaps it's a sign that the people realize the War on Drugs has been about as successful as Prohibition was almost 100 years ago.

But 2012 is all but gone.  2013 has already arrived in parts of the world.  We have the power to make it a better year, but it's on each of us.  We can't make the world a better place until we can make ourselves better people.  We need to spread compassion and joy and love.  Share them like we have way too much to keep for ourselves.

That being said, I'm sharing my time, my radio show tonight, with my friends back home in Colorado.  I'm playing music from there, and when the ball drops there, it'll be 10:00 here, right in the middle of the show.  So, Colorado people, enjoy... this episode of the B-Dub Chronic is for you.

Flobots "Rise"
Tickle Me Pink "Typical"
My Body Sings Electric "Oceancrest"
Five Iron Frenzy "The Greatest Story Ever told"
3OH!3 "Don't Trust Me"
Gabrielle Louise "On Account of Me"
The Fray "How to Save A Life"
The Essence "Dream On"
Five Iron Frenzy "Oh, Canada"
Chemestry Club "Bend to Colors"
Reno Divorce "Lovers Leap"
Gabrielle Louise "Don't Be Hasty"
The Helium Arch "Lost, But Free"
Royal Dead "Death Cycle"
Devotchka "All The Sand In All The Sea"
Joe Nicholson "It's Raining Progs!"
The Darning Needle "For Grandmother"
Tickle Me Pink "Madeline"
Mahatma "Me Siento Bien"
Gabrielle Louise "Until The Morning"
Flobots "Stand Up"
Michal Menert & Break Science "All Eyes On You"
The Helium Arch "Entering Capricorn"
The Fray "You Found Me"
Flobots "Handlebars"

So, Colorado, get down, kiss someone you love, and if it's a stranger, kiss them like you love them, too.  You never know what 2013 will bring...

Monday, December 24, 2012

RADIO: News and the Christmas Eve Playlist

The past few months have been a crazy mess of craziness.  Yes, that's redundant, but the layers and layers of chaos that have been permeating through all of this have just been a hectic mess.


At any rate, the radio show is tonight.  The playlist is as follows:

Maserati: "Monoliths"
Ratatat: "Lex'
The Darning Needle: "For Grandmother"
The Album Leaf: "Always For You"
Caspian: "Last Rites"
Massive Attack: "Teardrop"
Modest Mouse: "Float On"
We vs. Death: "Snow Cushioned The Fall"
Matisyahu: "Time Of Your Song"
Mice Parade: "Mystery Brethren"
The Echelon Effect: "Tracking Aeroplanes"
Sevendust: "Xmas Day"
Tristeza: "Aurora Borealis"
Band of Horses: "I Go to the Barn Because I Like The..."
Aberrant Corallary: "A Beginning Among Millions"
Oasis: "Champagne Supernova"
Saxon Shore: "The Shaping of a Helpless Joy"
Tortoise (featuring Bonnie "Prince" Billy): "Daniel"
Elbow: "The Bones of You"
Icaro: "Munich"
Sasha: "Wavy Gravy"

This is sort of a greatest hits of my favorite songs from the past year.  I'll be doing more of this next weekend.

Also, very importantly, from this point on, I encourage people to call in to the show, (907) 225-9655 or email me at fourteener.t@gmail.com, and tell your story, talk about your favorite Christmas memories, highlights from this past year, lowlights from this past year, shout out to friends, all that stuff... share your Chronicles, regardless if you had yours in a BattleWagon, too.  This has been a very difficult year for many of us, and we can only hope that 2013 brings love, respect, and justice to everyone.

Friday, November 23, 2012

THOUGHTS: On Gratitude

This morning, I'm enjoying time with my son. He is playing with his little toy race cars, loving it, while Star Wars plays on the background.

Yesterday, we had a feast, and I did the typical American deed of eating so much that it physically and emotionally hurt when I was finished. It was delicious, and it hurt in the best possible way.

It was a very unexpected and pleasant turn of events. The past few weeks have been turbulent, as they were at third point last year. And I've made some horrendous mistakes that have contributed to this state, not least of which is the abhorrent lack of communication with the wife. While fear based, one could argue very logically so, it is also avoidance driven. No matter how it's defined or what actually transpires, one can only take responsibility, as much responsibility as we can. We always have choices, even if we aren't conscious of them at the time.

So where does the gratitude fall in to this formula? The gratitude... I am blessed to have had a wife for 8 very difficult yet rewarding years, and whatever happens, I'm very humble in that experience. I'm also so fortunate to have had a son for four and a half months when some people never get that opportunity. I also have another son who unexpectedly fell into my life, and he's two years, seven months, and seven days old today, which is incredible. And (most days, like any toddler) he's filled with joy and curiosity and energy. He's smart, and he's funny.

And because these are the obvious things, I'll call them the tip of the iceberg. There is much more beyond sight to be thankful for, even the mundane and the every day stuff we take for granted.

So take a breath and breathe in life. It's all good.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

PROPHECY: Coming Home

We were hunkered down, hiding behind a big sandstone, my friend, his fellow-soldier, and me. The enemies were firing on us, and here we were in the sweltering heat, with no backup and no way to call for any.

A bullet came and struck the other soldier.  He slowly reached up, and put his hand to his temple. He looked at the blood where the bullet had struck him, and then he started muttering something as he laid down, looking like he was getting ready to have a nap.  I knew the result would be more tragically permanent.

I looked up, and my friend had finally managed to get a call out to help.  I looked past him, out in the vast mountain desert valley, and I saw a huge airship, reminiscent of the helicarrier from The Avengers losing altitude fast... so very fast.

I looked towards the west, where the hills were obscuring the setting sun, and decided to run.  I didn't want to be where that airship was heading.  I sprinted faster than I knew I could toward an old soccer stadium.  In the desert, with the signs of war surrounding everything, this derelict stadium was an odd beacon of safety from that monstrosity and whatever it was carrying.  I ran across the field and jumped into the bleachers, with barely enough time to see the bow of the ship smash the foxhole where I was calmly trusting my friend to get the word out that we were under attach, that help was on the way.

Darkness had set in, and with it, the horrifying realization that the enemy had a headquarters nearby, with lights, gunfire, talking, and laughing coming from one of the recesses into what was left of the stadium's inside infrastructure.  I cautiously began to look for an escape, but when I poked my head above the bleachers, I noticed that the enemy had sent out a search party.  Apparently, they knew I was there.

I slowly crawled to one of the stairways leading to the exit and the field.  Once I got there, one of the search party guys started coming up the stairs, flashlight and machine gun in hand.  I knew I was screwed.  Before the light found me, another man started yelling at him.  I couldn't understand what they were arguing about, but seconds later, the first man turned and went back towards camp.  I exhaled, but only in time to realize the second man was spotting me himself.

Knowing for sure I was busted, I did the first logical thing I could think of to ensure my survival:  I ditched my wallet (my I.D.), which could dispute my lie that I was, in fact, Canadian and not American.

The man escorted me back to their camp, where I got to know them all.  They were very intelligent, persecuted, and kind people, and I had a sense that they were protecting their home from invaders, regretting every time they pulled the needlessly violent triggers.  They all spoke English fluently, and we walked philosophy, family, honor, regret, all of that.

I stayed with them a few days, and one of them, a man I had gotten to be kindred spirits with for whatever reason, had offered to take me "home" to Canada.  (I still hadn't gotten up the courage to tell them the truth.)

The next thing I remember, we're at a small airport, somewhere in North America, but I can't remember where.  I just remember walking around, being trusted with that privilege as we were good friends at this point.  We sat down, this new friend of mine and I, and had a meal together.  I remember talking to a mother and her little girl, showing here places on a large map of the world plastered on a wall.  Then I excused myself from everyone.  I told them I had to use the restroom, but I knew that this was going to be the only chance I got to guarantee seeing my son again.  When I got of sight, I quickly hustled for the security line in the small terminal.  For whatever reason, there were glass dividers around a tiny, make-shift United States embassy.  I ran in, fully expecting to be tackled by the Marine security guards at the door way.  I was tackled, all the while screaming "I'm American!  I need help!  I'm home!  I'm safe!  I'm American!  I live in Alaska!"

I could feel myself smiling, although the celebration turned bittersweet as I looked up, and there, on the other side of the glass divider, my new friend stood looking at me.  I could see the hurt on his face.  He had risked so much to bring me here, only to have me run away and expose my lie in as indirect a fashion as possible.  And I grieved for him.  He held up a piece of paper, an itinerary that he and I had worked out together for this trip, and the look on his face was one that burns itself into your memory for lifetimes.

As the authorities started asking me questions about who I was, where I came from, where I lived, how I wound up here, I looked up to see where my new friend was.  I couldn't find him anywhere.  He had obviously left, and I hoped that he would smuggle himself back to his own home safely.  Suddenly the guilt had washed over me.  If I had been honest, I probably could have helped him.  I could have gotten him home safely or helped him bring his family here.  But I lied to protect myself.  I selfishly chose to be with my son, even though what's been happening to this man and his family and community and country was far more evil than an American son potentially losing a father.

After this flood of thoughts, my gaze fell upon the carpet there in the airport terminal.  The last thing I remember seeing was a crumpled up piece of paper.  I don't know if I imagined it, as I doubt my vision was that good, but it looked as if the ink had started running in a few places, as if drops of water had landed on it.

Drops of water or tears.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

THOUGHTS: The Unjust Bitterness of Grief

On Monday evening, while I was doing my radio show, I wound up posting this as a facebook status:

"I miss my son. I miss him with parts of me that I've buried over the years with denial and grief. He'd be 7 years old in about an hour and a half, and my little boy Malcolm has already experienced over 7 times of what Tiberius had on this earth. It's not fair, but as much as I hate it, I'm convinced that Tibbs was one if the lucky ones that accomplished his mission in the blink of an eye. We shoul
d all be so lucky. God didn't take his angel back. He took my son, or rather, my son went to the next place, teaching in four short months lessons about love and joy that the rest of us will take lifetimes to understand. Tibbs, I love you, I miss you, and I'm trying to understand why you left, but I just have to trust that you made the right decision. I'll see you again, and I can't wait to tell you about your little brother, your mom, the dog we got, Alaska! (We moved to Alaska! How cool is that?!) You probably know all of this already, but indulge an old man, young by your new standards I suppose. I think about you all the time, son. Be good, and I'll be patient. I love you."



It was this weird catharsis of stream-of-consciousness that I really didn't feel like I had any control over.  I started writing, and I just couldn't stop.  I wanted to just put up a quick note, and I didn't even want to touch on the subject.  But I did.  I did and it was like the dam broke.  It just came pouring out, sentence after sentence, and I wasn't even aware of what had happened when it was all said and done.  I felt like I had blacked out, like the thought was there, and for a brief second, I actually felt it, and then it left.  It left.  It's gone.  Oh, I know it's there somewhere, hiding out in one of the dark recesses of my brain or my heart, somewhere being buried by the stupid self conscious that's trying to "protect" me from the hardship that is grief.  But dammit, I want to feel it.  I want to meet it and deal with it, because as it sits, it's just been looming in over everything like a storm cloud in the distance, ominous as it slowly moves and just sits over me.  I want the storm.  I want the wind and the lightning and the rain and the floods.  I want the earthquake.  I want the strife, something tangible that I can put my hands on and wrestle into submission, or at least let wrestle me into submission.  At least to have some sort of interaction with this monster.

Monday night was the first time I felt like I saw it's face.

The messed up part is that I don't often think about Tibbs.  I think about the grief.  I WANT to think about Tibbs.  I want to remember him, remember my son learning how to laugh, learning how to make cooing noises, learning how to roll over, but instead all I'm allowed to focus on in my head is the grief that seems to smother his memory at every turn.  Every time I start to feel something, it goes away, and I just become bitter.  I'll even do stuff like play a certain song, look at pictures, try to remember a smell, and all I seem to be left with is that empty, cold, disdain for what I should feel that's buried.

I don't want to say that I hate this thief of my son's memory, this monster that's taken its place.  I understand it's reason for being, and I'm accepting of that.  I just want to be able to coexist with it, to establish a relationship with it, so that, every once in a while, I can humbly ask its permission to move on by and go visit Tibb in my head, tell him about the life that his mother and I have delicately and brutally patched together for each other in the aftermath of his short and powerful life, and how painfully difficult and beautifully rewarding it's been for both of us.

Sigh... I just feel like I'm forgetting too much, and I loathe it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

THOUGHTS/CHRONICLES: Demons

This past weekend, my wife and I relocated Schleicher Pad North to an adjacent flat across the driveway from the former location. The new digs has a little less room but a much friendlier floor plan, a washer and dryer, and a great, usable room for Malcolm (with a queen bed, so guests are now more welcome than ever). Financial constraints aside, this new place is incredible, and, should we survive the impact of the move, this will be much better for the family.

The young ladies at Green Coffee Bean have named the new BattleWagon "Big Red Juicy Fruit", but I just can't accept that. It's going to be the nickname for a while, until I can think of the name of the Loony Toons character Chuck Jones made that's big and red and only wears sneakers...

Lots of thoughts lately about the viability of an Eco-Village here in southeast Alaska. My dream has recently become an infatuation with what used to be called Bell Island Hot Springs. The place is ideal for creating a treehouse village and resort, a place for creative people to hide out and salt of the earth people to live off that earth. The property was owned by a geologist in Texas who passed away less than a month ago. I'm hesitant to contact his widow and see what is to be done with the property, but it is a wonderful place.

The whole idea of not just living my dream at all costs it's starting to really scare me. For years, I've been quietly accepting that I've done just enough of my passion to satisfy my own goals, but not nearly enough to realize them fully. Working an 8-5, not doing much of anything else, except spending time with one hell of an awesome two year old.. It's great, but it's not setting the example I'd like to set for him. I don't want him to settle and stagnate like his parents have lately. There is not nearly enough time to do everything, and I sincerely hope the Boy realizes that at a young age. I hope to inspire that somehow, and maybe that's the motivation I need.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THOUGHTS: Who and Why

I think of those two questions often in regards to myself, and it often seems I don't consider those questions nearly often enough. What, when, and where, in regards to a person seem pretty irrelevant, easily answered by who and why. Who are you? Why are you here? If you can answer that, then it explains what you're doing where and when.

The easy answer for me: I'm Russ. But I am strugglimg to really answer that without answering where and when. Now I'm in Ketchikan, and I'm trying to supper a family with a lower-middle class income that allows us to make it from paycheck to paycheck, barely. But even then, I don't really answer the who, and definitely not the why.

Look at a climber, someone who ways top ramen for months so they can eat top ramen for another few weeks at 20,000 feet. Who is he? He's a climber. This is what he does. Why? Regardless of what you may understand, it's in his bones, his soul, to push the envelope of what normal people accept as their limits. He believes in it. It's his faith, his driving force, his reason for being. Same goes for the mother, the test pilot, the space jumper, and, far too infrequently unfortunately, the political or the business owner.

So who are you, and why? The challenge for what may likely be another month without a blog are to try to answer these questions, and if you can't, then take a look at your life and see what you're missing. Feel free to share your stories on here with me and our readers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

THOUGHTS: Balance and Uncertainty

As life proceeds to deal me curses and blessings, I keep finding myself trying to distinguish between the two. I've found in all my years that the amount of deception that either will carry is bizarre and fascinating at the same time. What is originally perceived to be a very, very good thing can sometimes turn out to be a horrible burdon, partially because it really did have something to hide, but mostly we didn't see whatever it was in its entirety, be it a new friend or love interest, a job, a car, a house, a meal at a restaurant. When they're new, these things can look amazing, convincing us sometimes that our lives will never be the same without them!

Then, after we spend some time with it, the flaws start to show. Or, if we were disgusted originally, the really beautiful parts start to show. we discover and feel guilty or disheartened when the outcome isn't anticipated.

The universal variable in all of this is our personal needs to both judge a new situation, and to try to predict, our even control that situation's outcome.

The remedy, then, would seem to be obvious. Surrender control, accept things as they are, and love it all unconditionally, for you will always receive either love in return or a lesson that will help you love your life better.

We have to trust that there is a balance, and not that we should believe there's a plan, or that things happen for a divine reason. (This phrase strikes me as to obvious to base a part of a belief around. Of course things happen for a reason. The door flew open. The reason is that I kicked it really hard!)

Instead, there is one principal which has been both scientifically proven and theologically endorsed (yet not politically, no surprise). It's been stated in nearly every faith's served texts, and written into law in physics by Sir Isaac Newton. The ultimate statement of balance, the Golden Rule, karma, find your phrase for it.

It tells us simply that things happen, that the energy we put into the world, we receive from the world. When we can have acceptance for what things are, even if what things are seem drastically depressing at first, that acceptance allows us to appreciate the knowledge learned, the strength gained, the inevitable reward somewhere along the line, and sometimes, even, the humor in any given event.

In closing, I can issue a small challenge: look at a situation in your life. The nastier, the better. Maybe you lost your job or your husband recently left you. Maybe your dog passed away. Maybe you stubbed your toe because the lights were off and your two year old woke you up in the middle of the night. Whatever the situation, I want you to list off twenty good things about it. These can be things you've learned about yourself, things that have happened as a circumstance or result, etc. prove to yourself that there is blame in everything.

I love you all.

Justice out

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CHRONICLES: Fire Houses, Radio, and Sick Trucks

The past few weeks have been crazy.  First off, Miss Cat has purchased Hagrid, the 2nd BattleWagon from me in hopes of having a Plan B to caravan around the country in.  Well, after driving it to her house, the next day, Hagrid died in the driveway and refused to start.  So that leaves us in a spot where we figure out what to do next.  Depending on what the damage is, it may be an easy fix, or it may be a deal where we find her the fifth BattleWagon and help her dreams come true.  Strife.


To make matters worse, Big Red, my new Jeep truck, has developed a rather significant oil leak, which may be a simple seal and cheap to fix, or it may be something big.  At any rate, hoping to err on the side of caution, it's going to stay parked until I can get the Hagrid situation sorted out for Miss Cat.  We have another vehicle at our disposal for family stuff, and Big Red can wait for the good service from the local mechanic.

The radio show has been mellow, and I'm hoping to ramp it up a little bit soon, get some people to co-host with me, play some good tunes, and laugh a little bit more.

The latest news is that I got to do a scavenger hunt at the fire station tonight.  I finally fulfilled one of my life-long goals and got on with the Ketchikan Volunteer Fire Department.  Tonight we had drill, and our assignment was to find various tools on the Engine, Ladder, and Rescue trucks,  It was pretty cool, and I learned a crap ton of stuff.  I'm excited to get going with all of this.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CHRONICLES: Changes and News

For the longest time, one if my fantasies has been to own three full-size Jeeps. Shortly after my oldest son passed away, one of my failed coping mechanisms was getting a 1977 Jeep Cherokee Chief. It was failed because it needed way too much work and I was not prepared for that. Even though my mind was all messed up, I still made a very wrong decision at the time.

My fantasy of three is like this:  One J10 pickup for work, hauling stuff, plowing snow, helping friends move, etc. One Cherokee Chief as an all around vehicle, for playing, commuting, groceries, soccer games, road trips, hikes, etc. Finally, a Wagoneer, to be tricked out with the big engine, power everything, DVD player, TVs, rims, and a sweet motor to make it rip down the road in a time that would rival a sports cat yet be elegant enough that if my wife and I wanted to go out to a fancy dinner or pick up some fancy guests, we'd have a vehicle to impress them.

As fate would have it, I've found the first of three. A really nice J10 down in Skagit, Washington showed yup on craigslist. I fell in love.

With some juggling, I lucked out and found a buyer for "Hagrid", BW-2, the van I picked up in Denver after the death of the first B-Dub. It's been a great vehicle, but it's usefulness is admittedly limited. In this time of family work, a van is just too big with not enough useful space. A pickup will take stuff to the dump, move furniture, get us around us the weather gets crappy, and will let me occasionally play in the mud.

So, shortly, I'll be posting pictures of the torch for Hagrid being passed on to a friend of mine, an adventurous young lady named Cat, who has been invited to contribute to this blog with the continuing adventures of the BattleWagon. I'll also post about the torch being lit for BW-4 when it gets here, a week from Sunday.

The adventure continues. Keep yours going, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

CHRONICLES: The Blessings of Family

At the beginning of last week (showing my lack of certain attention to the blogging stuff), my Aunt Memo and Life-Mate Dave came up for a visit on their way north to Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, and Denali.  They were in Ketchikan for a few days.  I managed to snag a few days off, with which I was able to take them to the Saxman Totem Park, Ward Lake, and Totem Bight.  All that tourist stuff aside, the best part was the nights we had them over, eating and drinking and spending the family time that we've made less accessible with our time up here in the Great Wet North.


One night, Lyss had made fish tacos with some cod that our neighbor Greg had caught the previous day.  That night, as we were leaving, Greg asked us if we wanted a big king salmon filet.  Dinner for the next night was planned.  Lyss baked it with some garlic, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.  It was spectacular.  But, as good as the food was, it wasn't as good as the time spent.

Memo is my dad's sister.  That side of my family is small.  I only have one cousin who I haven't spoken to for a number of years, since before Bart was in high school as I recall.  But when anyone comes to visit, it's a rare and special occasion.

After they left, I was fortunate enough to have the distraction of going to Sitka myself for a few days for work.  When I got back, I took Malcolm and Dash and went down to Herring Cove to watch the salmon run.  He was pretty impressed with the whole thing, although we were both disappointed we didn't see any bears.  Next time, maybe.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

PROPHESY: An Unexpected Circumstance

It was sunny outside, yet still cool.  The leaves had begun their divorce from the branches, but the grass was still green, and the creek had not yet shrunken to a width that didn't require a bridge to cross it.


Dan needed to find his package, but we had no idea where the shipping place was.  All we had was a weird symbol, a logo of sorts.  It was an octagon, blue with many white lines crossing it in some sort of slanted geometric array, with a red A off-set on the upper right side.  Whatever place had this logo, I'm sure it would be across the creek where the make-shift docks are.  This town was small enough that the shipping and travelling terminal were easy to find and very close to each other.

As we crossed the creek and walked off the bridge, I peered through a window of the local coach offices and saw Dan's logo, so directed him that way and moved through the travelling terminal.

This terminal was a remarkable building, built from wood of the highest quality, yet it wasn't ornately done.  Simple planks of cherry and mahogany lined the walls of the structure, and round globes of light hung from chains from a flat ceiling that was open to the outside world in some places.  In effect, this was a quasi-indoor mall.

As I was taking my bearings, an older woman approached me and asked her if I could help her with something.  Since the purge of the old world, humanity's sentiment towards each other was a lot softer, so I offered to do what I could.  She led me through the terminal, out the south end, where a large warehouse existed.  It looked more cozy than a warehouse, and I realized that whoever owned it must have been exceedingly powerful in the area.  They had converted it to their home.

The woman took me inside, offered me a beer, and then explained her situation.  Apparently, the quality of drifter through these parts, drifters such as Dan and myself, wasn't a high quality.  Dan and I had been trekking for thousands of miles, though snowy mountains and over rough oceans, across dry deserts, to get here, and we were nowhere near our goal.  The local drifters were drunks, looters, thieves, a nuisance for the local attempt at law enforcement.  So when the woman told me that she wanted me to stay to marry her daughter, I had to stifle a laugh when I respectfully declined.  I understood the severity of their situation, but the idea... after everything that had happened in the past twenty years, it was a cozy translation into acceptance of failure, and that was something I wasn't willing to admit to myself yet.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PROPHESY: Hiding in the Shadows

It was dark, but fortunately for us, the moon was full, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Lucky considering where we live, one of the wettest places in what is left of the U.S. There must have been twenty of us in the building, but we didn't lie to ourselves:  this was no protection. No roof, no doors, not even glass in the windows. If the Taken found us, we'd be as good as Taken ourselves. They were everywhere, and the tension was just on the verge of pouring into the dark woods.

It finally broke when a lady and a little girl broke through the bushes. Apparently, they had found a way down to the beach, a drainage that was partially overgrown, despite it's recent installation. Such is life in the Alaskan rainforest.

We all took off, single file, quietly as we could, though for my own part, I was certain that everyone could heat my fearful heart beating out of my head. Once we got to the beach, the mission was clear: follow it south to the depot, and hope to God there was a van or a bus or something we could cram into. We needed to get away from the outbreak.

The Taken, or specifically, whatever caused them to be so, were vicious. The disease, whether it was vital or bacterial, nobody knew, spread quickly. The result was a being devoid of individuality, a being who could seemingly wordlessly "think their thoughts" into the mind of all the others. I know, it sounds crazy, but once one knows where you are, they all know. And then they all come looking for you. They want to take you.

We got to the depot, and hints of first light was staying to peek over the mountain. Morris, a guy I met in a bar and hadn't seen for years, challenged us. Apparently, they tried to take him, too.

Gently, I assured him we were on his side, still free, and he, in turn, told me he had a surprise for me. He led us to a small garage way up on a gravel hill. A both stained to slide the giant door open. A cloud of must flooded my nose, but the sight if one of my oldest and dearest friends almost erased any fear of death.

Morris had come through. He had found and rescued the BattleWagon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CHRONICLES/THOUGHTS: About Violence

As you probably know by know, on July 20th, a few days ago, there was a terrible tragedy that happened in my home state of Colorado.  A man walked into a movie theater and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 58 more.  Many questions have come up since then, concerns that gun control laws aren't strict enough, or the converse, that not enough people are carrying firearms for self defense.  I've had conversations about whether or not the death penalty should be considered for the suspect, or if he'll be considered some degree of insane and locked in a rubber room for years without a trial, as is the case with the man who wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed, what was it, nine other people?


Then, there's the reaction.  You see some of the most uplifting things in times like this.  You see the President of the United States speaking at a memorial service.  You see professional athletes and entertainers visiting the surviving wounded and the grieving loved ones.  You see communities and and arts communities with otherwise little in common banding together to diagnose and digest what exactly just happened to all of them, together, without discrimination or judgement.

Unfortunately, there's a bad apple that ruins it for everyone.  I understand this bad apple, but I don't necessarily agree with it, and here's where I share my thoughts.

Earlier today, while perusing some of the standard news blogs and social networking sites, I came across a picture of the suspect's head PhotoShopped onto one of those targets that marksmen use, the ones that look like people.  And while I can't help by sympathize and even mostly agree with the idea that, had someone in that theater had a legal concealed weapon that they went through a permit process to receive, there may have been less death, that short time has passed.  The instant of whether or not they were able to protect themselves has passed.  It's over.  It's done.  We grieve.  And with that, there's a celebration of sorts in calling for the suspect's death.  Not a death in terms of justice as far as the system is designed to accommodate, but a death in the slightly-better-than-the-suspect's-mindset-in-the-first-place-but-not-really terms.  In other words, those who seek revenge instead of justice are no better than those who committed the crime in the first place.  Yes, this guy, if proven to be so, was a bastard.  Does he deserve to die for what he did?  I defer to the court and the jury's judgement in that case.  However, will his death be one I celebrate?  I don't think so.  I think it's a cold and dark place people go to when they decide that anyone's death is worth celebrating.  I'm not referring to those people who celebrate the lives of their loved ones when they pass away.  I'm referring to the people who are so consumed by hatred, anger, and fear that they almost find a joy in seeing others suffer.

Don't be that person.  Raise the bar for yourself if you haven't already.  Death for death's sake is a horrible thing, and when, despite everything you may have lost, you stoop to that level, the level that's only marginally above how these things get started in the first place.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

CHRONICLE: Long Day After a Long Week

Today has been a catch up day for me. I took Malcolm to our daycare lady for a few hours. Then I did a dump run for us and Lyss's boss. I came home, ate a quick bite (grilled cheese with ham or turkey- hard to tell what it was), and grabbed a load of laundry. When this is all finished up, I'm going to grab Malcolm and go home to do done more house work. At least I won't be stuck wearing one pair of pants and undershirts to work this coming week.

Dash has been my companion through all of this, and while I ferrel guilty for boring him, I'm very grateful that he's been here, loyal and sweet. I guess that's the advantage of dogs over cats. All they want to do is love on you when they can. Cats want you to live on them.

Otherwise, we're planning a trip to Wally's cabin tomorrow night. We're going to try to see if this solar flare that happened yesterday generates an aurora worth staying up for. Lyss and I caught one the other night, and it was pretty magnificent, even if relatively minor. The most remarkable part for me was that it actually moves as fast as they show on TV. I always thought they played it back with time lapse to make it more dramatic. Pretty cool.

Here's Dash for you guys, looking happy as always.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

PROPHESY: The Town on the Next Island (1 & 2)

1

We were in an older building, climbing through narrow hallways up spongy stairs in the darkness. She looked at me as we neared the tip. She could see the lights from the outside world. Streetlights, but still lights.

We left the top of the old rickety stairwell and looked out, from the top of a damp, grassy hill down a tree-lined street. The houses and yards were nicely manicured from what I could see in the dark, and the street at the bottom of this hill led straight away from us up another hill, much gentler than the one that led us here.

As we began our walk down to the street, walls crept out of the ground around us, and we quickly found ourselves in a courtyard with a door leading to the street.

We jogged outside, and the streetlights died out and gave way immediately to morning sunlight. We found a car and drive up that street about a mile towards the end, parking at a small diner, and preparing ourselves for the coming storm.

2

My father was impressed with this town. The streets were steep, and the buildings were mostly direlects at this point, but I think he appreciated what it once was. He could see those sorts of things, the sort of sight that came with a certain mix of wisdom and imagination.

We carefully strolled up the main street, walking though the three or four blocks of the old business district, and began our ascent up the steep, old, concrete street. As we neared the top, the grade of the road forced both of us and the handful of other refugees to use our hands to help keep us from falling backwards. Once the summit was gained, we looked upon another town, slightly newer, also abandoned years ago. It was pretty. Creeks and ponds meandered through parks. The houses and businesses were built to respect that. No single street or sidewalk was straight. They all followed the water.

Thunder rolled in the distance. We'd have to find our way inside one of those places soon, before the rain comes...


Thursday, July 5, 2012

THOUGHTS: On "At The End Of The Day"

Today, I read a blog that a friend of my wife had written. In it, she chronicles how dynamic life can be at certain times. By dynamic, I mean way up (the sharing of one's life with someone very special to you) and way down (the loss of someone whom you've come to know for any reason). I read this blog, and shared a song with her. It was "Burial on the Presidio Banks" by This Will Destroy You. I don't know why I was especially compelled to post this on her page, but I did. Then I got to thinking of my own dynamic, and dynamics in general.

The next thing I know, I'm reflecting on my past few weeks and hours, thinking about how happy my son was at the parade yesterday, looking at the firetrucks and the dancers and the bagpipes and racecars and motorcycles... eating all the candy! We went to a friend's house and had a huge bonfire and set off fireworks! Dash got to play with two huge mastif/boxer mixes and Malcolm loved every second of it. He watched the dogs play and laughed. He ran after the bigger kids. I even helped him fire off some Roman candles! I was so happy just watching him soak it all in!

Then, this evening, I watched him fall asleep, still exhausted from yesterday's joys and a beach day today. He was asleep by 6:30 tonight. And as he fell asleep, I played that song and watched him as he slept. Suddenly, my thoughts drifted from the joy and love and happiness that I felt with Malcolm. They carried me to a place I haven't thought about in a long time. In far too long a time.

They took me to Malcolm's brother, Tiberius. Suddenly, my eyes swelled up, and my heart fell like it was going to float right out of my throat. I missed him. I miss him. He would be turning seven this November. I never got to take him to any 4th of July parades. I never got to sit with him and watch a bonfire, never got to feed him candy or wrestle around with him on the living room floor. I never got to tell him "I love you" just so I could hear him say it back. I never got to tell him I loved him that last time at all.  I never got to hear him fart in his sleep or giggle while I chased him around. I never got to send him off to his first day of school, or bring him to Alaska, or introduce him to his brother, or his brother's dog, the three-legged wonder named Dash.

I was flooded with sorrow, and I went into the kitchen to do what I haven't done in years. I just collapsed and let it all go. For a while. Then, I made myself a cup of tea, and made my way back into the living room, where Malcolm was sleeping peacefully on the couch. The hours that seemed to have passed were merely minutes, and Malcolm suddenly turned his head and smiled in his sleep.

There are unexpected turns in life, some that treaten to extinguish the very fire of one's existence. And while these moments seem so empty and unfathomable, they are just as much a part of our lives as the converse, the happiness that so often is right in front of us, sleeping on the couch, blowing in the wind, falling from the sky, or fading over the horizon. If we open our eyes, it's overwhelming in its scope and its fortitude, humbling, and all-encompassing.

I encourage the few of you who are reading this to really see the world around you, not just observing it and noting the clutter, but really seeing it. We're given far too short a time to not be continually inspired by the wonders all around us.

http://maurabryn.blogspot.com/2012/07/at-end-of-day.html?m=1

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DrWitVrXe5tg&v=rWitVrXe5tg&gl=US

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CHRONICLES: The UEFA Cup

We're here at work watching the match between Spain and Portugal. This is one of two semi-final matches, the other being between Germany and Italy. I'm really hoping that the final match results in Germany destroying Spain and taking the championship. Not that I'm ahuge soccer fan, but I respect that most of my family came from Germany, and will accordingly root for that team. They're one of my favorites in the World Cup competitions, a far better team than the United States is.

It's fun to watch. I have a co-worker who has family in Spain, and hasn't really let anyone live down the fact that they're the standing World Cup champions. To him, it doesn't matter that Germany has won it more times. It just matters that they didn't win last time.

Soccer.  The world's sport.  We'll see how the Rapids do next season.

CHRONICLES: A Quasi-Alaskan Solstice

Malcolm woke me up at 4:30 this morning. I was wondering why I felt so tired if it was so light out. By the way the sky looked, it could have been 6 or so. But yes, it was only 4:30. I had to snap a picture to share it with everyone.

Today is the day before the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It's been a lack-luster summer to date. I haven't spent nearly enough time outside. With the days only growing shorter after tomorrow, I'll be cramped for time. Before I know it, it will be dark at 3 in the afternoon, and the cycle will start all over again.

I am thankful, however, that I don't live farther north, where the sun never sets and rises at the different solstices. I don't think I could handle that. This is plenty to get used to.


CHRONICLES: Synopsis of a Dreamscape

It seems that since I've begun to pay attention to my dreams, they've become much more vivid and memorable. Last night, for example, I dreamed that I was walking up a long, gradual ramp in what could have been a school or a museum. On my left, a white wall with the occasional piece of artwork adorning it. A doorway here and there. On my left, however, was windows and a railing. It may have been wide open to the outside. At any rate, it was cool, almost dusk, and raining outside. As I walked up the ramp, I remembered being in New England, or maybe as far south as Pennsylvania. I recalled that this was a place my parents once brought me as a child. As we approached the top of the ramped hallway, it opened up into a large room, what I could describe best as a food court in a mall. To my left was a long, wide hall, almost like a concourse in an airport terminal building...

...this is the crap I remember when I wake up.

When I feel like they could be stand-alone stories, I write them in in a fashion that communicates such things. Sometimes, when I go back and read them, the dreams come flashing forth like memories from a distant past. It's almost as if they are memories from a different mental plane.

There have been theories that when your body sleeps, your mind is free to associate with its counterparts from other realities. In a way, someone could be dreaming about your life while you're awake and don't even know it.

Other theories, like the movie "Inception", have us believing in lucid dreams, which I've found to be a very real thing one time. I dreamed that I was falling, realized it was a dream, and gave myself the ability to fly.

I suppose the only thing I can do in the interim is to keep dreaming and see where these stories take me. It is, after all, good to see so many of these old friends lately.

CHRONICLES: The Moon, The Lake, & The Boy

Today was Father's Day, so natually I was treated to what the typical American father experiences: I let my wife sleep and I got up with the boy around 7:30. I wasn't really motivated to do anything, as I felt it was my holiday, so I relegated myself to only washing two loads of dishes. I read for a good twenty minutes, too. Then my brother, the boy, the dog and I went out to this place called "The Moon". I don't think i's officially called that. It's just a a semi-hidden area in the middle of town on top of a high hill with a pretty incredible view. Then we came home, I ate a quick, late lunch, and we went up to Ward Lake for a walkabout. Malcolm had a good time running up and down the trails. Dash pulled on the leash, smelled everything, and drained what seemed like a good 2 or 3 gallons to mark some territory.

At home afterwards, the bro grilled up some steak and some asparagus which I matched with some easy shells and cheese. A pretty magnificent meal considering my petty contribution. Now Malcolm's in the bath, and I'm preparing to face an evening followed by the last week of my 20s.  While I'm excited to turn 30, I'm not REALLY excited. The closer it gets, the more I realize I'm in the worst shape of my life, mentally and physically, and all I'm doing right now is growing old. (Insert Billy Crystal's speech from "City Slickers" here.)

All in all, Father's Day this year was kind of disappointing. However, the highlight was Malcolm. The highlight of everything is Malcolm. Even if he's in a shitty mood and I've had a shitty day, for whatever reason, he makes me feel needed, and he makes me feel loved, unconditionally, in a way that is totally different from what you feel from your parents, siblings, best friends, or lovers. And to that, I smile as I write and my eyes well up. Happy Father's Day to all you dads who understand how it feels to be a dad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THOUGHTS: Whistling Birds and Sunny Fog

The mind is powerful. When it's awake, it simultaneously keeps your body running and interprets so much information into understandable terms. It allows us to exchange those terms with other people and absorb even more information. When it's asleep, it's even busier, taking our souls to different realities, taking our perceptions flying through blue skies or naked in cafeterias or riding insanely giant bicycles.

It can be controlled.

Monks and shamans of many, many different disciplines have traned the mind to perform miracles of self-healing, stamina, kindness, and love. To believe that any of us aren't born with the same tools is disappointing. Each of us was given these gifts at birth, and many of us, at times, only begin to tap into their potential.  We sometimes do nice things for people at certain times of year, when the mood warrants.

What we do not achieve is the knowledge that we can do these things all of the time, every waking moment.

This morning, I sit here, outside, basking in the sunny fog and drinking a cup of coffee, wondering what my impact could be today, and comparing that to what my day will very likely actually consist of. It is somewhat daunting, but being aware of it only improves the chances that I will be somewhat successful in changing my dynamic.

The coffee starts to kick in, and I go with positive thoughts. Prayer, in my way, has been gently touched upon. Today will be better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CHRONICLES: A Sunny Day from the Inside

Got done with my morning jam session of printing, laminating, weeding, and application, and when I looked up at lunch time, I noticed that the sun was shining brightly in the southern Alaskan sky.

Work has been slammed, swamped, buried, or whatever other term you'd typically use to describe the situation requiring the taking home of design work and staying late for production. While I relish in the opportunity to help this company grow, I feel wary of burning out. Oddly enough, I find myself looking forward to the END of the summer, the time when work slows down, and where a productive day means cleaning the shop, organizing, taking an inventory, and maintaining all of the machines.

I can't speak for my co-workers, but when I look at Dash, laying on the floor exhausted, it paints a clear picture. The shop dog, one of three, is beat from running around like crazy. I can relate. I'm sure we all can. Go... go... go.... go.. Go.. Go.. GO. GO. GO! GO!   -sleep

That is the way of things.

Monday, June 11, 2012

PROPHESY: The Loss of Faith

I couldn't tell where we were. Some small enclosed room. It looked no larger than a room on a ferry or a train, but it was old and beat up. We sat there, talked. I was taken by how young, how beautiful she was despite the fact that everything around us was run-down and rag-tag. Rusty metal walls or bulkheads and old blankets adorned the place. She wasn't my girl, and, while attractive, not my objective. As we talked, a much older man came in. The thick glasses and white in his beard and hair painted him into his 60s, and the droll, sarcastic countenance lent him an air of annoyance, maybe even a slight narcisism -I couldn't tell yet. However, I could tell in her reaction to his entrance that she was equally annoyed, for, whatever the initial cause, this was her husband. She confessed in a dry and tired way that she had an affair again earlier that day with someone neither of them knew, the confession replacing the standard greeting. With that, I made my leave.

I left those quarters and turned right around a corner. A row of benches went back into some sort of large room, perhaps an old theater, church, or just a lounge. I went down the first row and found my old friend sitting there by himself amidst the coughing and smell of the inhabitants of the rest of the room. He sat quietly, donning jeans, boots, and an a-neck shirt, all of which were dirty from months of wear. A knife hung off the front of the bench from his belt at his right hip as he leaned forward to listen more closely to the display on the wall in front of him. I couldn't help but notice how much more muscular he had become since this all started, since he lost everything, everyone...

"What's the latest?" I asked him.

His eyes didn't move from the screen as he nodded, acknowledging my presence. "It's hard to make out. I can't tell where they're going next." He grabbed some sort of make-shift screwdriver and began prodding at the exposed wires in he wall underneath the viewscreen. He gestured to his left with an amused thumb. "That guy seems to be losing it, though."

I looked beyond him, across the aisle on the other side of the bench. In the flickering light, I saw the man he was talking about. He sat alone on a suitcase, almost hidden from view from a pile of duffle bags and clothing. A little more than middle-aged, he wore no shirt, and on his chest and shoulders I could see burn marks. They looked like a severe sunburn, except that they were in a pattern that would suggest an artificial cause.

He slowly rocked on his suitcase. "This wasn't the plan. This isn't God's plan. It's wrong. It's all wrong." His gaze was on nothing in particular, yet immovable in its focus.  I turned back to my friend.

"I recognize him. He was famous years ago. Years ago. He ran for president, even." I couldn't remember his name, but I did remember the news, back when there was news, when there was a governmet. I remember he wasn't too well-liked, and that his hair, which now looked graying and disheveled, was always immaculate. I also remembered his faith being a campaign issue. I wondered how it went wrong for him, and pity began to flow through me...

THOUGHTS: The Disfunctionality of American Government

Lately, I've been having very thought-provoking conversations and reading informative and intriguing news articles and editorials about everybody's favorite topic: politics. I've noticed a weird trend. No matter which side of the aisle people have been aligned with for the majority of their voting life, they're dishearted, disappointed, distrustful, and straight angry at everyone in charge, not just "their guy" or "the other guy".  Approval of all three branches of government seems to be at an all time low. A recent article I read somewhere (I can't remember where, but I think it was Esquire), basically called the current Supreme Court out, saying the judicial branch that used to be the last bastian of defense of the Constitution is now simply another tool for either party to push their agenda. Congress is virtually inept, spending more of China's money to make sure that their constituents, unknowingly in most cases (as the honest Congress-people surely wouldn't get re-elected), can sign as many bills into law as possible designed to destroy the middle class and enslave as much of the lower class as possible. The presidency: regardless of who's been in office since Lyndon B. Johnson, every single one of them has been driven by either a personal agenda, a party-bound lack of independent thought, or some paid-off security of future corporate wealth.

Throwing all of this into perspective, it's getting much easier to take seriously the rants of those like Alex Jones, Jesse Ventura, or Ron Paul. You know, the guys on the outside who make claims like 9/11 was an inside job or that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident never actually happened? (The latter was proven by declassified military documents since 2005.)

I don't know where you stand on this thought, and frankly, it doesn't matter.  It doesn't even matter is that you're reading this or some other more intelligent take on the state of affairs in this country UNLESS YOU TAKE ACTION.  Taking action isn't simply joining a party and going to the meet-and-greets and town hall meetings. Taking action is demonstrating. It's writing to your senators, reprasentatives, mayors, city council members and county commissioners so often that they know your first name. It's finding out what causes support YOUR stance and helping them. It's finding like-mended and unlike-minded people and having conversations with them to either deepen your beliefs or to learn that they aren't entirely accurate.

The hardest part, though, is learning to respect and fight for the other side. A guy is anti-abotion. Another guy is anti-gun. These two live in a place that's supposed to respect freedom. That means that if I'm anti-gun, i need to understand that as MY choice, not everyone else's mandate. If I'm pro-life, then I make that part of MY life, not by making abortion illegal for everyone. If I'm not gay, I need to respect that some people are, and they have the right to be free and in love.

Loving thy neighbor I one of the ten commandments in Christian theology. It's part of the Golden Rule, the Ethic of Reciprocity, the simplest most basic law, one that transcends Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, tribal spirituality, and even science and humanism. One of Isaac Netwon's Laws of Physics dictates that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Science has proven what phophets have preached for millenia.

But I digress from the theological tangent. The point of this rant is that we, the people, are losing this country to th few who would rob it and us blin for everything we're worth and it needs to stop. Do something. Change the world.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

CHRONICLES: A Good Quote

"Savor the fruit of life, my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine. But don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after time." -Ronald D. Moore as spoken by the character Kor.

That is all.

CHRONICLES: A Two-Year-Old, a One-Year-Old, and Captain America

Today has been action-packed. Trying to organize and keep up a house alone while a toddler and a puppy are running around all crazy... awesome. Every time I'm two seconds into a project, I turn around and this is usually the result: "Malcolm, don't touch that!" "Dash, don't chew those up!" "Malcolm, stop putting dog food in the water dish!" It's tiring.

But it is what it is, and I can't complain. Life is good for the most part.

Vivid dreams lately. I dreamed of a friend of mine from way back in the day, running into this friend in the wreckage of my hometown after some fire, and getting to know each other again after som significant changes in life. I also dreamed of another person I barely knew in high school, his wife and their toddler daughter, and how happy they were for me to finally meet her. These things rarely make sense when I wake up, but when I'm sleeping, they seem as normal as any other day's reality.

Work has been pretty busy, but we're working to make it through the summer. It's been incredibly fruitful for everyone involved, and the rut we experienced in the wintertime sometimes seems all but gone. However, there are still very blatant reminders of how diffcult it is and how the storm is far from over. That being said, there's lots to do to keep my focus and attention.

Especially at home. Malcolm is napping and Dash is laying on the floor next to my chair. It's mellow, at least for a second, so I'm taking advantage of the time by pushing through some chores and errands. Bart went into town and took the trash with him. Lyss is pulling a while day at the salon. Harry is just now very quietly stalking into the bedroom to avoid Dash's hyper-vigilant dog-hearing. She hasn't quite warmed to the dog yet, and prefers to stay either out of sight or out of reach. The top of the fridge is her new favorite place to hide.

At least, for now, the coffee is still warm. Time to get to work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THOUGHTS: Bahai?

Today I was reading a series of essays called "Bahai" by Horace Holly. One of the quotes I found there, and I'm paraphrasing here, was "to not find the Christ in Muhammed or the Buddha is to not find the Christ in Christ." I had to think about it for a while, and then, like a wave, a seriousness washed over me. The idea that someone who holds their religon as pure and infallble truth so much that all others must be completely dissimilar and utterly false... it's so narrow. I have a father. My friend has a father. We both have fathers. They are both our fathers. But my father does not negate my friend's father. Why is this the case in religion? Why does it all have to be so tied in? Why don't people respect the fact that we are each given a path to discover, and when we discover that, it's ours alone. It doesn't belong to a tradition, a family, a church, or a congregation. It doesn't belong in Scientific Law. Nobody can ever own what we discover, what we learn and what we choose. This being said, how on earth can we ever presume that our idea, our single awareness of what is, must, out of the billions of us currently here and the billions we've buried since time began, that your singular comprehension of the way things are must be right?  I think it's safe to say that everyone has an idea, and their idea comes from many places. Many people may have very similar ideas, but is it all the same, so much as to say it's right? Is it even remotely noble to kill for those ideals, or even to keep people in a "free" country from being truly free based on who they love?

Something to think about.

Monday, May 28, 2012

CHRONICLES: A Brief Summary of Alaskan Independence

I'm sitting here without a clue as to what I should be blogging about. It's an all-too-frequent process for me. I'd limit that statemet to recent history, but.. come on.. really?

It seems lately that there is much sadness surrounding much of the world. I talked to a friend who told me that Wyoming is putting various resolutions into place that could, if necessary, make them a stand-alone country outside of the rest of the United States. (It's interesting to note, however, that part of this also included the purchase of an aircraft carrier. No joke.) Then I did a mess of research about Alaska's storied past. To me, the "chechako" (newb for the kids), it's fascinating to discover some of this stuff.

Alaska was purchased by the United States for some ridiculously low amount of money. Even when adjusted for inflation, it's still brain-numbingly cheap. For a long time, it was a territory, which meant the United States could come in, take whatever they wanted as far as resources go, and go on their way. Understandably bitter, the sourdoughs (the people that have been here forever, not the natives, but the oldest transplants) wanted Alaska to have more power. Supposedly, the desired outcome was control of their own resources, ideally resulting in becomming an independent country. However, for whatever incentive, the most viable option at the time was joining the United States, which resulted in a long and steady relationship of respect and relative independence.

As the years went on, an undercurrent of sentiment began to rise in some of the locals that the people in Washington, so well disconnected from the state up here, have slowly worked into chipping away at the Alaskan control of itself. As recently as 2010, initiatives were brought to the state government promoting Alaska's withdrawl from the rest of the country to establish itself as an independent nation. Sean Parnell, then Lt. Governor, and the Alaska Supreme Court quickly struck it down, the latter citing cecession as illegal and unconstitutional. I read their verdict online, as well as the petition itself. Nowhere in the petetion is the word "cecession" written. However, it's in the verdict something like twenty-six times.

Now I'm not completely for Alaskan Independence. I simply feel that there was once an America that was free, whose people were educated, motivated, and allowed to exist without persecution, subtle or blatant. I also recognize that the America I refer to seems to be easing more and more closely to a dangerous precipice, and, from where I'm looking, Alaska hasn't deteriorated to that extent. I acknowledge the argument that Alaska accepts more government money per capita than any other state. However, in a state with no infrastructure that's over twice as large as Texas, has a very significant wealth in natural resources, and a population of less than 800,000 statewide, that's understandable. I would go on to say that, had Alaska control of it's own oil, timber, fish, and growth, much of that federal subsity wouldn't be necessary.

Sigh... at any rate, lots to think about that interests me. This is a fascinating place.

CHRONICLES: The Rise of Dash

Yesterday I fell in love. With a boy. A little boy. A one year old. With only three legs. Dash is a chocolate lab mix, and the lady at the vet clinic has been trying to find a home for him for four months. Every interested potential family has been hesitant because of his disability. In our family, we see it as joy in a challenge. So, with that, we adopted Dash. He's awesome. Lots of energy. Great around kids. Great with other dogs. Big. Playful. Awesome. Seems like he's been around forever already, and it hasn't even been a full 24 hours. Malcolm loves him and feeds him all the time, establishing their own relationship. They chase each other, and Malcolm has already given him a kiss and a hug.

Dogs... best friends.

PROPHESY: The Lookout, The Tower

I was told by Craig, the seasoned local, that if I could get up to where the old hammer was stuck in the rock and pull it out, i'd be the first to do so in fifty years. I wasn't quite as taken with that as I was simply getting to this place. It was new and exciting.

We set out mid-afternoon on a nice day, driving on a relatively flat dirt road, a rarity for this area. Ketchikan never really had trains, but this was as nice as any old narrow gauge track in Colorado. When we got to the end of the road, I looked ahead, and there, about one hundred yards ahead (right where Craig had said), was the rock. It was perpendicular to us, about fifteen feet tall, twenty five feet deep, and maybe fifty feet wide. It sat on a hill which put it just above the trees, and given our height already, I was already imagining what the view would be from atop.

As my bride and I approached and the sun began to set, we could see the silhouettes of the old hammer on top. It was actually a climbing axe, and I could see that the business end was in the air and the handle was actually embedded in the earth. I wondered how I was going to climb the front of it. Difficult, but not impossible. Suddenly it dawned on me: what was behind this slab? I bushwacked through a short thicket of alders and found a gentle, sandy ramp that climbed the length of the backside.

We scrambled up there. By now, it was dusk, and we stood on top of the giant, sandstone block. We looked down over the city. What was one the small, remote "city" of Ketchikan was now truly a city. The lights on the towers of the bridge across the Narrows flashed brightly against the shadows of the mountains of Gravina Island. The Tower, recently completed, stood over the remodelled Marine View and Tongass Towers. It looked like a cross between the CN Tower in Toronto and the Space Needle in Seattle, it's cream-colored concrete painted with red, blue, and green lights from the low end of the cylinder at it's peak. I retrieved my camera phone from my pocket and snagged a picture.

I leaned over to show my father-in-law what he was looking at, and, as I took my focus from the small screen, realized that the environment had suddenly shifted. Getting my bearings, I found myself in town, in a building under remodelling construction. Jim, an old customer of mine from my days at the sign shop, was there chatting my ear off about how lucky we both were to have had the foresight to buy as much property as we did before the boom. Now things were good, and we were both very successful.

As I woke this morning, I couldn't help but wonder what the future will truly hold for us all. With any certainty, though, what is guaranteed is only limited by what we choose to devote to it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CHRONICLES: The Rise of Dash

Yesterday I fell in love. With a boy. A little boy. A one year old. With only three legs. Dash is a chocolate lab mix, and the lady at the vet clinic has been trying to find a home for him for four months. Every interested potential family has been hesitant because of his disability. In our family, we see it as joy in a challenge. So, with that, we adopted Dash. He's awesome. Lots of energy. Great around kids. Great with other dogs. Big. Playful. Awesome. Seems like he's been around forever already, and it hasn't even been a full 24 hours. Malcolm loves him and feeds him all the time, establishing their own relationship. They chase each other, and Malcolm has already given him a kiss and a hug.

Dogs... best friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

THOUGHTS: Another Chapter, Life Lessons Abound

On the fifth of this month, I received an unexpected and shocking email from an old school-mate from college. We were anything but friends. My friend Joe used to call this guy "The Anti-Russ". Where I was extremely (to a fault) introverted and bubbly, he seemed to be extremely introverted and sarcastic. Where I was relatively intelligent, he came across as calculating. I never spoke to him after college, except after my son passed away. He tried to offer me sincere condolences. I returned the gesture with a cold reminder of what I felt his nature was years before.

This email I received from was a genuine heart on an electronic sleeve. I don't know what possessed him to send it. He told me how he read this blog, how he occasionally digested the content, and encouraged a self-belief that I feel like I've been lacking for quite some time, reiterating that, in some way or another, I'm still the same man I was ten years ago, despite whatever else has happened to me in my life.

I haven't blogged anything of any serious depth since then. It's such a mind-job to get one of the most empowering notes I've read in years out of the blue from such a person. I haven't journalled or written any real letters. It's sent me into a severe self-evaluation of sorts. To this man, someone who I wouldn't figure waste spit on me if I were on fire, I never thought he would even care if I were alive or not, much less care so much about the quality of my life.

The conclusion I have come to, which has been sort of simultaneously numbing and liberating, is that so much of what I percieved as this man's disdain for me and others is, in reality, a manifestation of my own offense, hatred, fear, insecurity regarding him. Everything I felt for him, in my mind, was wrapped up with his name and responsibilities. It's an ugly realization, to see a sick part of yourself in such a way.

I have yet to send a reply. I started to draft one, but I didn't feel that any words on my end could either match his grammatical eloquence nor sincerely capture or describe any of the emotions running around in my exposed heart and suddenly obviously self-harmed mind.

Still, I feel compelled to reflect on an article I had read months ago in the Church of the Larger Fellowship's publication about forgiveness and how it's not remotely enough to forgive one another. It's finding the constitution to forgive yourself that's the most difficult yet most truly awesome spiritual and emotional experience.

To this man who gave me so much to think about, I say this: I have been lucky enough in this life to meet and have very strong friendships with many more people than what's considered averaged. I'm very blessed to have a path that has taken me into so many noble and honorable lives. However, you, sir, have made me realize that the path I'm on becomes intertwined deeply with more people than I ever realized, but more importantly, your path, and the direction you have taken it, has the potential to do more good. Yours has the potential to change the world, and for that, I'm honored and privaleged that you have chosen to, however briefly, share a small part of your core with me. Thank you.

Maybe I'll put that in an email or something much more personalized. Perhaps by the time I feel ready to do it, after days, months, years, it will seem to be as much of a shock to him as his note was to me. But I am certain that from my point of view, I will be deeply considering it every single day.

I feel the moral of this story is obvious, but just in case this tiny keyboard for thumbs hasn't allowed me to convey the simple truth, I'll reference a cliche. "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer." The part that people forget to go on and tell you is, "Your enemies, after all, may have been your best friends the whole time."

Friday, May 4, 2012

PROPHESY: The Story, The Memory

As I read the article, I realized it wasn't as much embarassing slander as it was an olive branch. After all, I'd only heard from her once in the past decade, when my son died. This wasn't an expose about what a jerk I was by any means. She had wrtten about times we had camped out together with friends, drinking around a fire until the wee hours of the morning. There were words about the times I had lied to her, and about the times when I was most honest. I saw pictures of me waking up in my sleeping bag and being handed a beer, pictures of her underwater in a blue dress, and a brief sub-article about a snowboard company that had made an east-coast and west-coast version of the same board in honor of this article. Regardless of all of the craziness it will inevitably cost, I honored, flattered, and looking forward to the ensuing conversation.

The picture of me in the sleeping bag sparked a memory, as if it had turned into a video right there on the page, with some guy telling me "Schleicher! Schleicher! You gotta get up, bud!" He was smiling as he gently handed me my red solo cup. A fire team was hiking by on their way back from a training exercize, and a quiet fog nestled the New England wildnerness where we were camping out. I remember smiling, content, and the chill wasn't too bad at all.

It was a good day, years ago.

Monday, April 30, 2012

THOUGHTS: A Review, and the Realisation of the Radio

Bart and I watched the second film in the Family Guy Star Wars mockery series, "Something Something Something Dark Side". I was expecting some good jokes, but holy crap.... I was blindsided by vulgar adult humor that I really wasn't expecting yet wasn't put off by either. Yes, I'm sure it could have been offensive to many people, but I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. So, Seth MacFarlane, if you're a reader, kudos to you.

If you're a reader of this blog, you know I've been doing a radio show. Tonight, I finally figured out that this radio is the soundtrack to the curious wanderer, the person that I used to be, that many of you possibly still are. This is music in your headphones while you're riding at Loveland or Whistler or Winter Park. This is what's pouring out of your boom box when you take out after Brown's Canyon or Ruby Horsethief, what's coming out of the radio at your cabin up in Helm Bay, or out of your laptop speakers while you GoogleMap your next roadtrip.

This music is me, it's you, it's part of a story. Just don't be afraid to write it.

CHRONICLES: A Quick Note

For the second time in as many weeks, I've succumbed to this damn flu-like cold. I haven't been sick with a stomach bug, but I've had a fever and a headcold to beat the band. Thursday night, my fever was so high that my upper lip split open. I went to work yesterday anyway, but left after lunch time, my tired, sweaty, frozen body just aching for some rest.

All of this was greatly compounded by a botched install job over in Klawock. We ran out of materials and were rushed to get out of there much earlier than I was planning. So I ordered us to cut corners and get the job done in a manner that I am all but ashamed of. Still, it looks like I will have the opportunity to make things right. It will just cost me a trip to Prince of Wales. I hope to take advantage and do it on a long weekend on the ferry.

Thank goodness that the brunt of this flu is attacking my head and chest and not my guts. I don't think I could handle that at this point.

With any luck, I'll shake this, and all will be right with the immediate world. Here's hoping that's sooner than later.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

THOUGHTS/CHRONICLES: A Message of Love Hidden in Vomit

Last night, after the radio broadcast, we picked Malcolm up from the Tuckers. He hasn't been feeling 100% for a little while now, and he pomptly passed out in the car on the way home. After an 8 mile drive, we pulled into the driveway, when suddenly, he woke up, coughed, and hurled. I stopped the car, got him out of his carseat, and just held him close to me. He wasn't done puking. After a few more heaves, he and I were both covered in a white mess, spotted with chunks of beef stroganoff. Now, you need to understand that, normally, puke makes me puke. It's disgusting. I can't even clean up dog poop without making that "throwing up noise" we're all familiar with. The smell alone is enough o drive me away. However, for some reason, there was magic here.

Disgusting, I know.  Stay with me here.

With my free, bare hand, and without hesitation, I carefully wiped the vomit from my son's face. I talked to him softly, chuckled at the ridiculousness of the situation. I gently walked inside, straight to the bathroom. We sat on the toilet, covered in the icky. I talked to him softly as I slowly turned on the bath. Then i threw all of his clothes and the two shirts of mine that were wrecked into the sink and gave my son a bath.

I guess the unlikely moral of this story is this: last night, maybe I didn't "discover" what unconditional love really is, but it definitely reinforced my idea of the things I unknowlingly am capable of overcomming in regards to the little guy in my life.

Amazing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

RADIO: Special Thanks to thesirenssound.com

Tonight, Bart and I have a mess of new and obscure music made possible in part by the good people at www.TheSirensSound.com. It's a great forum for post-rock and the like. Check it out and listen to the great bands they're presenting. Everyone will appreciate you, including your karma...

I opened the night with Ulrich Schnauss and "Goodbye", followed by "A Time To Be So Small" by Interpol, and closed out my set with a long song by Red Sparowes called "Mechanical Sounds Cascaded Through the City Walls and Everyone Revelled in Their Ignorance". No joke. Best title for a song ever.

Bart's first set features some awesome songs, too.  His opening song, "Snow and Light" is by Explosions in the Sky, a band some have called THE post-rock band. Their soundtrack to the football movie "Friday Night Lights" is arguably what made that movie so emotionally pulling. He followed this with a new release from The American Dollar called "Heavy Eyes Ignite". Their new album, "Awake In The City" just came out last month, and we're happy that KRBD is one of the first stations in the US to feature this band. Follow this with "Islands" by The Xx, a band with one of the sexiest female vocals I've ever heard, then "No Strands" by Ratatat, "Cherry Tree" by The National, and he closed out his set with "Like Knives" by City And Colour, a band who's singer has a wonderful, icy voice.

I opened up my second set with "Monuments And Melodies" by Incubus, a special track recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of Denver, Colorado. I followed this up with "He Says He Had He Sun" by Haida and "Weather To Fly" by English alt-rock studs "Elbow". "Friend of the Night" by Mogwai came next, a song from their 2006 album "Mr. Beast", which Allmusic has said was "possibly the most accisble yet sophisticated album Mogwai (have) released." This shot was chased by another track by The National called "England", which closed the set.

Bart's second set was another awesome round of Bartholomew D. Opening with the awesome energy of Lykke Li, we played "I Follow River", followed by Ratatat's groovy "El Pico", a song that it's impossible not to bob your head to. Rounding it out, he played "Hot Like Fire" by The Xx, another new track called "As We Float" by The American Dollar, and "Welcome Ghosts" by Explosions In The Sky.

Our finale was a song called "The Fall" by a band called From Oceans to Autumn. The album is an EP simply called "The Flood/The Fall EP", named after the two tracks on it. This is a very good, heavy sampling of instrumental post-rock. If Caspian were PG and Cloudkicker were R, this would be PG-13... a nice blending of heavy guitar, a faster pace, and a synthetic orchestral overtone. It was an excellent way to close out yet another episode of The BattleWagon Chronicles, hosted so graciously by member-supported KRBD Ketchikan, community radio. If you love this music, or even if you read this blog and don't like the music, call the station at (907) 225-9655 and throw a couple bucks this way. It makes all the difference.

CHRONICLES: "Cars", Food, and Chores

Lyss left town Thursday to go to a raver's reunion back in Denver. That's left Bart and Malcolm and me to fend for ourselves, and while it's probably a horrid thing to say, I've gotten a tremendous amount of stuff done since she's been gone. We ran to the dump this morning, as well as stopped off at the shop to email off some sticker designs to Denver. Then Bart left and went to do stage-work for First City Players, and I stayed home, did dishes, cleaned the front hall, took Mlcolm outside to check out a boat, and caught up with my friend Ryan. The plan for the evening is to get some grub, pick up a grll, maybe do some burgers and what not, and just enjoy a nice Alaskan evening. We got an invite to go to the Monthly Grind out in Saxman. That's a local variety show of sorts, and tonight's is hosted by our friends Jenn and Claire. Claire stopped by on her way in, looking a '60's-era fabulous. However, Bart and I have been looking forward to some down time. Malcolm took a short nap in the car earlier, so we're hopin he passes out early.

We supplimented our movie collection with the first "Cars" movie, a very refreshing change of animated pace. I got a little sick of the second one.

Phew.

All of this stuff going on, and I still feel very empowered knowing that I'm doing a pretty good job being a single dad for a week. In some ways, it's even a little easier than negotiating the typical marriage lines. Of course, in other ways, it's substancially more difficult.

But, we humans keep plugging away, yes?

Monday, April 16, 2012

CHRONICLES: Molars Ain't Molars Until They're Strep...

So Malcolm's alleged "molar" issues aren't those at all. After anoth night full of fits and bad sleeping for everyone (Lyss on the recliner with the boy, me on the couch at the ready), we took him to daycare. Jenn said he had an epic nap, sleeping from 9:30 to 1:30 this afternoon. Cat had said that this wasn't a nap as much as it was a temporary coma. When I picked him up after work, I noticed a rash. When I got home, Lyss insisted that we call the sawbones. After a detailed conversation of me answering yes/no questions, the conclusion was drawn that we take him to the emergency room. After a relatively short time with an awesome, knowledgable doctor with a tie-dye t-shirt and a very cool nurse with SpiderMan stickers, the diagnosis wasn't molars or an ear infection... it was Strep Throat! Apparently, his tonsils are swollen and white, and the rash and fever he's been devoping are side effects of his immune system cleaning house. Poor guy.

The positive note is that I'll get to spend my afternoon with him tomorrow, and I will probably get to watch twenty one hours of geeky movies (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings). Plus, the bittersweet side effect is the fact that the triedand tested theory of daddy being joy and mommy being comfort is starting to evolve... the comfort of daddy is becomming somewhat more prevalent (much to mommy's shagrin).

With a kid, every day is an adventure. My friend Ryan once told me that the Hebrews believe that a man isn't really a man until he's fathered a kid. Any male can do that, but I'm finding that really being involved with the process is as much a testament to that statement as pregnancy is to a degree. Women are typically cited with the brunt of the burdon, but this boy has taught me how much a dad can mean to a kid, and how much a man can grow as a result.

CHRONICLES: Wrath of the Molars

My weekend has been a challenge. I was going to use the word "epic" to describe said challenge, but that word, like the words "adventure", "awesome", and petty much any cuss word, has been overused, it's meaning nearly negated by such. There was once a time when a person would be upset enough to cuss, and that's when you knew they meant business. Now people cuss all of the time. Everything is awesome. Trips to the local burger joint are epic. A successful shopping trip is an adventure. What happens if someone's driving acrossa hot desert, breaks down, and has to walk and all they have is a half a gallon of water and an extra shirt? If a burger is epic, then this must be an experience only dwarfed, perhaps, by the book of Revelations as considered factual... but I'm getting way off topic.

My challenge has been a lot more personal. It's now seven minutes after midnight. I finally broke Malcolm's fever (again), but he's wide awake. We napped for a couple of hours earlier this evening, but we've been awake since 9:30.

I suppose if I'm going to claim my entire weekend as a challenge, I should start at Friday night. After work, we went to the Tucker household for our inagural "Friday Night Burger Night". Bart had mixed ground beef and ground buffalo, and Jeremiah grilled them ever-so-gently on a charcoal grill. I had some sharp cheddar and pepper jack melted onto mine. The burgers themselves were heavy, round, and juicy. Delicious. I placed mine on a slightly-steamed bun, pre-dressed with mayonaise, and topped it with three strips of bacon, lettuce, red onion slices, catsup (I'm going to try to bring this spelling back), and spicy brown mustard. It was almost identical to Bart's, but he had avacado slices on his, too.

To garnish my plate, I filled the little space not occupied by this burger with some Bush's baked beans and some classic Lay's bbq chips. To was it down, some sort of blueberry lager with an 8% alcohol volume. All in all, it was a fabulous meal. Not epic, as nobody died cooking it, but really, it was pretty damned tasty. Afterwards, we hung out, put Mal to sleep, and enjoyed some adult time.

Saturday was relatively non-eventful. Lyss went to work for a few hours. I had kicked around taking Mal into town to catch a glimpse of the first cruise ship of the year to arrive in Ketchikn, but he was in a pretty clingy mood, so I opted for some simple playing time outside with him. When Lyss got home from work, Bart and I went back over to the Tuckers, and we played a game of Risk. I mistakenly misread the rules, assuming that new packaging, game pieces, and setup rules meant a radically different method of play. Almost 2 hours into the game, puzzled, I reread the rules and discovered to my shagrin that I messed up. We went back to old-school style of playing, and Jeremiah, who had been amassing armies under the new rules (showing high adaptability, it must be noted), quickly routed Bart and Cat. I, the last holdout, was swept in the next turn.

At about 11:15 last night, we went home to a crying Malcolm and stressed out Lyss. After briefly discussing his fever, I gave him some ibuprofin and read Hop On Pop. He mellowed out quickly. I forgot to mention that he was up with me at 3:30 that morning. We fell asleep on the recliner around 1:30 this morning. We woke up again 3 hours later.

Today, I did some dishes, and then Steve and I helped Cannon move some furniture to his new apartment. Two truckloads up three flights of stairs and around the back of a house. Then I came home, and the rest of the story is the beginning of the blog.

The title lends itself to the fact that Mal's fever seems to be related to the molars he's cutting in the back of his mouth. I gave him some benadryl tonight, both to help with some of the hives he's had, an to (hopefully) help us both sleep a relatively full night. He just passed out about fifteen minutes ago. It's 12:30. I'm going to bed.