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Monday, January 30, 2012

CHRONICLES: The BattleWagon Chronicles on KRBD Ketchikan/THOUGHTS: We're Not Ready for Socialism

As you're probably aware, I've been blogging about doing a radio show of this same name on the air,, and, if you're in the Ketchikan area 105.3, 107.1, 101.7, 90.7, and 90.1 (depending on if you're on Revillagigedo Island or Prince of Wales Island). Tonight, I'm going to go purely instrumental post-rock, featuring (but not limited to) Explosions in the Sky, Caspian, Maserati, Cloudkicker, Saxon Shore, Red Sparrowes, Tristeza, The Mercury Program, The American Dollar, and The Helium Arch.

It should be a good show. I'm going to try to talk a little bit about the background of some of the bands I play, but hopefully, it winds up being very chill and helps people unwind after the rigors of a hard Monday. I sometimes feel like Mondays are shockers, days that catch us off guard after a relaxing or productive weekend. We find ourself on Mondays at work, taking orders from bosses or customers or both, a humble reminder that we are dependent and enslaved in a way to this capitalist system.

The real shocker for me, though, is that, given our society's current level of sociological maturity, capitalism is probably our best bet. I can understand the utopian aspect of socialism, but that requires complete consensus amongst the population, something that we humans will likely never have. We are selfish creatures. We want to protect outselves, to keep the wealth and the food and the medicine for us and ours, and let everyone else figure it out.

Wow. What began as a shameless plug for some good music turned into a philosophical/political rant. Umm... yeah, The BattleWagon Chronicles on Tune in!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Today, I've been taking it easy. Yesterday I came down with this horrible tomach bug. I feel a lot better today, but I think it was largely due to the fact that I fell asleep on my recliner around 7 last night. I only got up to hit the lights and go upstairs at midnight. I slept until 7 this morning. So now I'm rested, and the bug seems to have passed.

All of the glorious snow we had over the past couple of weeks is all but gone. It's been raining since Friday, and that rain has washed all of the small, un-piled snow away. There are a couple of tall piles of dirty slush around town, but that's about it.  In a way, it's very disappointing. I love the snow. However, I really missed the rain. The rain I what makes Ketchikan so inviting. I feel as if it's back to normal, and there's something to be said for normal. It's comfortable, inspirational to productivity, both of which are good.

This week will be an interesting one. I'm going to experiment with making a maple-bacon topped pastry as a "welcome home" gift for Lyss and Malcolm. Hopefully, Alaskan and Proud will be carrying the pastries I desire for optimal bacon usage. They're the long-John types (I've also heard them called Bismarcks, but I think those have cream inside, whereas long-Johns do not). The maple-bacon has bee an accidental blessing to so many of my recipes, including a take of a Fiery Habañero Red Chili that is extra delicious.

The sad part is that on Tuesday, I'll get to do February's budget, and I'm actually excited to do it. Bizzare, to be sure, but I get an odd sense of control from crunching numbers like that. I believe at some point it would make me an excellent business owner.

Sigh... here goes. Bring it on, February.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CHRONICLES: Just Keep Snowing, Snowing, Snowing...

I've lived in Colorado for virtually all my life. With the exception of my time here and a brief, three-month stint in San Antonio (thank God the Air Force and I didn't get along), Colorado has been my home.

The times I seemed to look forward to the most were snow days. I loved when we'd get a big snow storm, and as the sun set, the whole world lit up with a dull, pink light. I loved how the world seemed quiet, that when a car came up the street, you could only hear it when it was right by you. As soon as it drove away, it could have vanished. I loved the spring snows especially, with the big, wet flakes that would just cover everything like a monster. One time, I remember walking the streets of downtown Denver in an evening snowstorm, seeing the clouds light up and hearing thunder as I walked back to my quaint, cozy studio apartment.

But I can't remember a time where I've lived in a place where it's just snowed like it is here this year. I hear from the locals that this isn't normal. Normally, it snows, and then it rains and washes it all away. Well, we got a huge snow last week. It was plowed and shovelled, and then we got another snow. And another. Currently, with about a foot still left on untouched ground and feet in piles at the ends of driveways, we're in a Winter Weather Advisory. My boss, Steve, just got done plowing my driveway. When it warms up enough to rain, it just makes everything slushy. Then it snows again.

This... is... awesome!

Monday, January 23, 2012

CHRONICLES: Here Comes The Sun

After a week of snow and freezing temperatures, here's the sun!

The snow started Monday or Tuesday. We were forecast to get one to three inches. After a few hours, we had almost ten inches. So we plowed the driveway, and got it as clear as we could before the temperature dropped. It did drop. Boy did it drop.

I've found that four degrees next to the ocean feels a hell of a lot colder than four degrees at a dry elevation of seven thousand feet. I had heard that it's the humidity that gets into your bones and chills you.

At any rate, after shovelling and taking all of the appropriate measures, I found myself longing for a nice, warm shower followed by a bowl of chili. I got all ready for my shower, when I turned the knob in the bath tub. An ominous gurgling sound followed, accompanied by nothing. The pipes were frozen.

From my time spent in the van, I always have a water bottle on me, so I wasn't worried about making it through the evening. The next day, I took every water bottle I had to work and filled them all up. As a last resort, I could always melt some snow and boil it. It never came to that, though. I had plenty of water for dishes, drinking, and hand washing. And since I'm a guy, stepping out to use the facilities was no big deal.

After a week of shovelling a total of three feet of snow, sliding around on the slick roads, donning gloves and a beanie, turning on the water and hoping, after all of that, the temperature warmed up. The rain began to fall. The snow washed off the shoveled ground. The pipes thawed out, and today, ah today, the sun shone through the clouds.

Perhaps the only regret I have was that there was an intense solar flare, the largest one since 2005, which could have lit up our sky with a beautiful
Aurora Borealis had it not been for the cloud cover. Still, it's been an incredible week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PROPHESY: The Waking Dream

I have not yet slept, though my thoughts have left my heart weary in this cold Alaskan night. The thermometer holds a single, solitary degree on the Farenheit scale, a thirty-one degrees below where water becomes a metal, and I gaze out upon the sleeping town, envisioning a grand metaphysical blanket gently tucking itself into every chilly nook of the dimly-lit streets.

In this, I feel love. It's not a love that involves action as much as it's one that involves surrender, the surrender a sleeping child gives its mother, a love defined by trust and innocense.

There is a plan for us, o sleeping children, that when we awaken we will begin our lives anew, for each day, the world is a lump of wet clay, longing to be shaped and molded by us into whatever we need to provide us with health and serenity in our lives. Though we may not always see this, the clay and the tools with which to sculpt it are all around us. Whether we have a large wealth or borrowed clothing, we all have access to the same tools every day.

Hard times lay ahead, the kinds of times that test one's resolve in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity, and yet, through all of this, we innocent children, every day, are given the means to control our individual destiny. This is given to us with the freedom to use our imaginations, not only to create practical and logical ways to negotiate our journey, but to have the joy and trust that if we choose to ake a lap of faith and do something simply for the essence of happiness, that this, too, is a miracle, and will be rewarded by good tidings in the days to come.

The challenge is to realize all of the parts of who you are that have already fought desparately to create these ingenious ways to let go of our complex constructs of what is fed to us as reality, all of these parts that want to be free, that want to accept the gifts, that want to accept real and unconditional love back into our lives. Some of us have worked very hard in our mature lies to bury or scare away this trust, but it is never really gone. It's ours to own, and yet it owns us, like a mystic parent, holding us in its arms when we are hurt and cheering us on when we're competing for some sembalence of a victory.

Tomorrow is a wonderful miracle, but it's only earned when you realize that both yesterday and today were, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THOUGHTS: Growth and Work

I've found lately that it's almost impossible to predict, well, anything, I suppose. On Friday, last week, we were told that we were going to get an inch or two of snow. That wound up being amost a foot and a half. Not to fault the meteorologists: they do the best with what they have, like most of us. However, it's not limited to the weather. We have certain things we take for granted in life: our tires will stay inflated in our cars. Our water will stay flowing in our house. Our loved ones will keep our trust. Our reactions will be respectful.

Suddenly, no matter how much those things have been constant, they can change instantly. The quiet stream that trickles gently within its banks can suddenly erupt in a torrent of frigid, muddy water that destroys everything in its path. Or... the one person who has always made fun of you, called you names, beat you up, they could suddenly be the one to give you a thousand dollars or a new car.

Everything in life is fluid. That old saying goes "hope for the best, expect the worst." That saying needs to include the word "always". That way, we are reminded that nothing is a sure thing, that those things we care about are not to be taken for granted. They require maintenance and must be allowed to grow and, if necessary, leave.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

CHRONICLES: A Brief Cultural Lesson

I was going to wrie about something completely, but I thought i'd have to preface it, and that just became this blog entry. Enjoy!

I should tell you about some differences in names and definitions that people here use from people back home. First, when I was in school, I was taught that Alaskan's referred to where I lived as part of "the lower forty-eight". Actually, we just call it "down south". I was also taught that the area I live is called "The Panhandle". We call it "South East". Where I live is specifically "Southern South East", but it's South East.

In Colorado, we had natives, locals, and transplants. Natives were people born in Colorado. Locals had been there for 10 years or move, and transplants were usually recent arrivals. We also had "Californians" and "Texans", but they remained "Californians" and "Texans" as they never really "got it." Alaskans have Texans, too, but they don't get different things... like that Alaska is more than twice as big as Texas. However, transplants don't exist here. Once you're here for a few month, you're Alaskan. That being said, locals are also Alaskans, but if you call someone who was born here a "native" and they aren't descended from the indiginous people, you're wrong. In Alaska, native only applies to the original heirs of the land. In local cases, those are the Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimsiam tribes. Putting things together, I suppose the racial divide here is much more recent than it was in Colorado, where we simply called the Navajo by their name, as we did the Cherokee and the Ute, etc.

Another cultural difference is that, at least in Colorado, there's a large feeling that the land is ours to protect. Here, there seems to be a large feeling that the land is ours to exploit. I can't say I have strong feelings either way, as I'm an avid outdoorsman who enjoys scenery who also enjoys not paying $4.059 at the pump. So while I'm not a big fan of tearing up the hillside to get at everything we need to get to, nor am I a fan of clear-cutting a forest for profit, I feel compelled to say that if you have so much of something, you can utilize it responsibly and everyone's happier for it.

Anyway, I'll have to write another entry tomorrow and try to get on topic. All of this was going to be a preamble to me talking about wind and rain. Sheesh!

THOUGHTS: There's Rapids Behind That Bend

Here you are on a nice float trip, something akin to Ruby Horsethief on the Colorado River stradding the Colorado/Utah border. Mellow. Tie the boats together and start drinking. Throw some sunscreen on and enjoy the heat. Put your life jacket on and take a swim. No big deal.

But then suddenly you hear it, the droll rumbling up ahead. The relaxation of your trip so far has dulled your wits, and you think that you'll just climb back in your raft and enjoy the mild excitement that awaits. The rumbling grows louder. You proceed slowly, non-shalantly rolling over the edge of the boat and enjoying the sunlight. The walls of the canyon seem to come alive with noise. Your heart, despite your mood, starts to race. The river starts to bend. You begin to trust your instinct. The smell of churned water fills the air. Panic sets in as the adrenaline injects itself into your veins.  You've got to start paddling. Hard. Hard! No time to strap everything down! You've been too neglegent, and now, there's only time to make sure you get through alive! Paddling hard! Paddling!




...the fight is over. Time to assess what your laziness has cost you. You now know that, no matter how calm the river may be, you'll never lose your trust in its nature again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

THOUGHTS: A New Year, A Frequented Perspective

I had a few friends ask me what my resolutions for 2012 were going to be. Seeing what other friends had been saying about theirs, they seemed much simpler this year: family, work, success, etc. So when I thought about mine, my simple responce is "optimism".

I believe I've gone down this path numerous times, preaching the good gospel of how happiness cures your ailments, ad nauseum. They are very easy words to say, but so hard to actually trust. There was a point in my life where I considered happiness to be a fundemental part of my life. Everyone knew me as the happy guy, funny, kind, big hearted, etc... at least for a while. Then they'd find me to be a liar, or lacking follow through, or being nosey with gossip and inconsideration. It was a serious rock-bottom reality check to realize that I wasn't nearly as morally sound as I pretended to be.

Years later, through hard work and no work at aall, the outgoing and funny guy has all but vanished, replaced with waves of confident men, sad men, angry men, defeated men, happy men, quiet men, loud men, honest men... the list goes on, but the point is that when I stopped having faith in the happiness, in a way, I gave up hope for fixing everything else, and I didn't even realize it at the time.

Happiness isn't that complicated, as long as you're not afraid to experience the other side of that for what it is, and you're thankful for the experience. Fear, anger, sadness... they are feelings equal in worth to happiness, and when you allow yourself to cry, to yell, or run, you're truly unlocking the door for happiness to be there with you.

Don't be afraid to be afraid.