Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 22, 2016
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 10, 2016
A large percentage of voters in every state never complete their ballots. This is not to their own advantage. On every ballot there are initiatives, questions, bond measures, and even constitutional amendments. Not voting on them means we don’t have a say on the very real issues and laws that affect our lives every day. It could be as simple as voting on widening a major street, renovating a bridge, or as vitally important as increasing or decreasing taxes. This is often how those things get done. Focusing on celebrity politicians distracts everyone from the real local issues.
Do you want more money spent in your local school district, or less? Do you want your state to increase taxes on gasoline, alcohol or cigarettes? Do you want your city or town to create traffic circle intersections, or not? Do you want everyone to carry an ID in order to vote, despite no actual evidence of any significant fraud? Do you want electronic machines or paper ballots? Very often, these are things you’ll find near the bottom of your ballot, after all the candidates for office.
And what about those candidates? The local politicians decide how to appropriate money for police and fire protections services, and new roads, and new schools, and water use, and traffic laws, business regulations, and building codes, and a host of little things that affect us nearly every day, much more so than the words of the elected heads of political parties, particularly Presidents. Of course, Presidents can involve our country in wars, resulting in more terrorism or less. They can appeal to the best in us, or the worst in us, and give directions to national discussions, but in the end Congress usually has the deciding vote, and anything a U.S. President does without Congressional approval – and the President does have certain powers to do so – can be reversed in the next election. So, voting for your U.S. Senators and Representatives is vitally important, and who is the President is somewhat less important.
I’ve heard and read of too many people who say they aren’t going to vote because they don’t like either Clinton or Trump. Pardon my insensitivity or rudeness, but that is utterly STUPID! Not only are there two other candidates for President on the ballot in every state – Gary Johnson and Jill Stein – but there are all those local and state politicians, and the other issues I mentioned above on the ballot. Hell, if you think no one is a good candidate for President, leave it blank! but VOTE anyway. Imagine if 5, 10, or even 50% of all eligible voters left the top position blank? Maybe the major parties would work harder at putting forward candidates that really inspire us to vote FOR someone, instead of AGAINST someoone?
Anyway, this has been my subtle reminder to all U.S.A. citizens to VOTE. Remember to read the ballot beforehand, and even obtain or print a sample ballot and take it with you. You can take it with you to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.
Show your patriotism: VOTE THE WHOLE BALLOT, PLEASE!
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 14, 2016
So, I got a message that I was booked on T@gged, season 2, for a day. I’m a background actor these days, in addition to making and selling wine. People try to not use the term “extra” anymore, preferring the more accurate “background actor”, and probably for two reasons. Firstly, it is a bit more accurate, in that you’re not just standing there. You get directed, to walk here, eat, drink, talk, or pretend to talk, clap your hands, or just pretend to, ride a horse, drive a car, etc. But you do it primarily without speaking lines.
Secondly, many of the background are indeed actors, with lines, in local independent movies, usually without pay. I’ve done some of that, and a short movie I was in, WelcomeMatt, will show here in town a week from today. Neither I, nor anyone else in the short, have seen the final product, and it was shot three years ago. However, it has been shown at movie festivals, and it has garnered four awards so far: Best Male Actor (Feature), Best Short Film, Best Produced Screenplay, and Best Comedy/Dramedy.
and there’s this: -^And no, the best male actor award was not for me. I was a supporting actor, very early in the movie, a corporate executive who fires the main character, Matt. I had a number of lines of dialogue with Matt and helped set up the premise of the movie, so they couldn’t cut too much of me out. So, I know I’m in the movie, but that’s all. I’m also pretty sure that my performance was crap, since I’ve learned a lot in the last three years about acting in front of a camera, and how different that is from stage acting, and how difficult it is. I was totally stressed during shooting. I had studied my lines hard, but was nervous about remembering them. Hah! That was the easy part.
I’m calmly sitting there at a desk, ready to go, when the camera crew come in, and the sound guys, and the script supervisor, and the director, etc, and there’s all this activity, talking, lights, and a boom microphone over my head. I say my lines, and then again, and again, and again. And my actions get modified a bit, and sometimes Matt isn’t even in the scene, and I’m talking to thin air. And the camera moves to another position, and we do it all over again, and the director tells me to do this, or not do that. Then the camera moves behind me so they can record Matt’s reactions. And suddenly I can’t remember my lines for crap, even with the scripty’s help, and the director tells me to read ’em off the script if I have to, “I don’t care how you do it, just do the lines.”
So, since I’m sitting at a desk covered in papers, some of them become pages of script and I get through it. Although I’ve been dying to see myself perform, I’m apprehensive about my performance, to say the least, and not sure if I should even tell anyone close to me about it, but I already have. Good or bad, I have to live with this performance.
So, since then, I learned about background acting, which is something I get paid to do. For the last two years, I’ve been background in about 20 movies or TV shows. I got to be a stand in/photo double on the TV show Night Shift. I was an actor in a short silent movie, and am currently cast in a TV pilot that has yet to begin shooting. The shooting has been postponed for the last year, but we hear, “Soon, soon.”
The locations are not yet confirmed, and the director was replaced and the entire script rewritten, so all my lines I’d been working on changed.
I still go to auditions, and don’t hear much back. I’ve some lines to videotape myself doing, and then send them in for a preliminary audition. I’m also getting a tape made of myself doing a short monologue, because that’s something you’re expected to have ready when you apply to audition for the big movies.
But, still, I keep on doing background for whatever I can, like
T@gged (Verizon’s go90 original series).
So, I was on the T@gged set Monday, from 6:15 pm until 5:30 am Tuesday. There was a lot of waiting. We were at a local high school in the cafeteria. I kept wandering around the school, walking, and walking. I had forgotten to bring a book, something I know I have to bring. I saw a young woman reading a paperback book. I saw a woman reading a book on an electronic device. Some people watched videos and movies. Some played games. Some talked. Some told jokes. But they pay us, right? So we wait. Martha, an actor I’d met recently, sat with people I know, and I said hello. She showed me a picture she had on her phone of the two of us at a Film Foundation event where we’d recently seen each other. Great photo. We’d auditioned together once, and had gotten to know each other. She has a similar scientific background like myself, and she’s a good pool player,
very intelligent, and good looking, but married with two young kids. I enjoy her company. She smiles a lot, and looks really good. For some reason my eyes keep following the bouncy movements of her breasts, loose in her low-cut blouse. Soft and smooth, and so inviting. But, well, she’s a friend, and married, and a coworker in this background acting, and I really can’t tell when I’m being inappropriate or if there’s flirting going on. And I’m quite a bit older than her anyway, and I shouldn’t jeapordize a friendship by being my own creepy self. And she got picked to go on set long before I did, so she was gone.
And then there is this amazingly sexy redhead, Alla, who shows up on most movies I’m background in, and I spent time speaking with her, and she was having stomach problems, and she thought it was because she had been wearing this extremely tight corset for a prodution she is working on, and she said her internal organs are squashed and bruised, so that’s why she feels so bad. And she said she needed something hot to drink, and when coffee was available, I suggested it, but she wasn’t sure coffee would be good for her, and there was no tea or hot water, and finally she got up and got coffee, and we talked some more, and she is very friendly, and my roving eyes keep noticing her unfettered tits bouncing around in her low-necked blouse, and I liked her exposed freckles, and what the hell is wrong with me anyway? Why am I being such a dick? Can’t I just be friends with women without checking them out, without fantasizing about their bodies? Most of the time I’m good. I look women in the eyes when speaking with them. I listen to what they say. I converse, I’m friendly, I’m helpful, I’m considerate, and a good boy scout. In fact, I don’t find most women attractive anymore. But I was getting turned on. I can’t say why. I don’t think this woman finds me attractive, but Alla is good looking, with a fine – I mean really fine, taut and lithe – body.
Finally the production assistant asked us to go hang out outside, because our scene was coming up. We milled around for some time, but they finally came to start letting people into the auditorium where the action was. But, out of around 200 background actors called in that day, they only took 55 initially. The rest of us went back to waiting. Around 2 am we had lunch (pizza). The 55 came out and ate also. The crew ate. The cast ate somewhere else. The 55, cast and crew went back in.
But, getting back to the young woman reading a paperback. I noticed her sitting across the cafeteria when I first got in line to obtain my pay voucher, fill in the four pages, get signed in, and then approved by wardrobe. It takes awhile to get all that done. She had done all that already. She never moved from where she sat, and I swear she seemed to be looking at me, watching me. She had glasses on, reddish hair, and tattoos. She had that book with her. After I was signed in, I sat with friends, but she had moved across the cafeteria. I could’t take my attention off of her. I kept glancing across the room at her, kept trying not to stare, and looking away when she looked my way. (I may be creepy, but I try not to appear that way.) That went on for hours. I watched her read her book, except when we were all interrupted by announcements of pending action that didn’t materialize until so much later.
During lunch I missed her, but I went outside and found her sitting on a wall. Not wanting to scare her, I sat down a little distance away at a table, facing obliquely to her, without saying anything. She looked my way from time to time; I tried to look at her surreptitiously. Once, we made eye contact and I smiled at her. A production assistant come out and made an annnouncement. I made a comment about it to her, and she replied, but went back to reading her book. A pleasant, not-unfriendly voice. Somehow I found encouragement in that, even though she is young, and I’m not. At one point we all went back into the cafeteria for an announcement. She went back to reading across the cafeteria from me, and I was restless. When she crossed her legs I could see her tattooed thighs.
I finally decided I was going to introduce myself to her and went over. Her name is Nicole, with just the c. She was reading the second Game of Thrones novel. We talked about it, and fantasy fiction, and science fiction. Even though she’d been alone all this time, some guy suddenly walks up and asks her about the Game of Thrones book, and starts talking to her about the ones he’s read, and I’m like, what the hell? where did you come from? and why now? But he wandered off after a bit, and Nicole and I talked some more.
Later, we had to move close to the actual set to prepare for going in. We managed to sit closely enough to talk. I said a few things to her. She wasn’t freaked out or put off. When we finally got to go into and fill up the auditorium, I lost track of her, even though I’d been fantasizing about sitting with her. Looking for an empty seat, I actually found her sitting alone, stood there a moment, and she noticed me. I moved into the row before anyone else could, asking if I could sit next to her, and saying something lame about wanting to sit close enough to be on camera. She was unconcerned about that herself, just happy to be sitting in a comfortable chair instead of those metal stools in the cafeteria. As part of our job, we had to react to events on the stage in front of us, gasping, or murmuring. I turned to her, but she usually turned the other way, and I turned to the woman on my other side as well. Once Nicole did turn towards me and murmured something about the action on stage. During breaks between action, we did manage to speak a few times. She felt cold. (It was freezing in there.) I didn’t want to to blurt out the trite line about being able to warm her up, but I sure would have liked to snuggle. She said she was going to climb under three blankets when she got home. You know where my mind went. She mentioned getting hungry again. At four in the morning, trapped on a closed set, there wasn’t much we could do about that.
Finally, about 5 am, the assistant director said we were wrapped and to head out. I said good night to her, and told her, truthfully, that I was happy to have met her, and enjoyed talking with her. As I headed for a door, she was behind me, but turned and headed out another door. I saw her already near the front of the line to get her pay voucher signed. I had put mine outside in my car with my extra sets of clothes. You don’t want to lose your pay voucher. So, by the time I got it, and got in line, Nicole was a hundred people away, and I was near the back of the line. I saw her turn my way, and tried to wave, but she didn’t seem to notice. I never saw her again. I tried to find her on Facebook, without any luck. A first name is not much to go on. Why didn’t I get her phone number? It didn’t seem appropriate. I didn’t have any reason to ask, and I know how creeped out young women get by older men hitting on them.
I went home and slept. It took a while to shake off the effects of the coffee I’d been drinking, and I only slept a few hours. I got up and fed the cats, went outside for my jeans which were still in the car and noticed a box on the patio; something I’d ordered had been dropped over the gate by Fed-X while I’d slept. The gate had been swollen from rain overnight. I opened that, looked for mail at the mailbox kiosk, and ate breakfast. Later I decided I was too sleepy to read, or screw around on the internet, so I took a nap. But, boy howdy, did I wake up horny! Suddenly all my fantasizing caught up wtih me, and I had an erection I could open a door with. I figured it would go away, and tried to go back to sleep, but it was not having anything to do with that! It had been some time since I’d had an erection like that pop up on me out of the blue. Then I noticed it was 3:30 and I had to be somewhere at 5:00. So I got up, but the penis stayed ramrod straight, and I didn’t even have to pee. I was regretting not having gotten Nicole’s number, and that made me think of her, and how much I lusted for her, and that erection wasn’t going anywhere. And I thought about her, and Martha, and Alla, and I grabbed some lotion, and I spent 45 minutes imagining myself with any one of them, and I erupted into a gloriously delayed orgasm, and wondered again why I was by myself.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 8, 2016
It’s a parasitic growth on tree roots, usually pines. It’s interesting how it takes on the characteristics of a pine cone, made very apparent here sprouting among the cones themselves. Bears do eat it. From a hike in the Sandia mountains on June 9, 2016.
You never know what you’ll run into in the mountains around here. These shots are from a hike in July.
Some amazingly acrobatic dancers at the International Folk Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 10, 2016.
Like I said, you never know what you’ll run across in these mountains. This guy is about 3 feet long, full grown for his type, lying right across the trail, but very sleepy. July 18, 2015.
July was a very busy month. Here I am, made up, posing with the fire breather for a Gothic Circus themed music video. She dressed like that for the whole 1st day, but since we were on loaction at a masonic temple, the Masons asked that she cover up a bit the next day. Aww.
CLOUDY DAYS CAN SURPRISE YOU
Wrapping up July, here is a hot-air balloon flying over my house, silhouetted against some rare clouds.
HORSE CLINIC FOR MOVIE COWBOYS
So August found me at an open house for actors needing to learn or polish horse-riding skills. Directors can be very picky about who they let ride a horse on set. Even the two life-long professionals shown here can’t be sure a director will pick them. 08/02/16
A SUDDEN RAIN
Looks like snow, but it’s just raindrops backlit by the sun or an otherwise bright summer day. 08/30/16
Albuquerque just had its 48th science fiction convention. The Convention Theme was “Rockets, Robots & Rayguns”. Although you see some costumes here, it’s not so much about that as it is about the authors. There are plenty of chances to meet one of your favorite authors. And, the auctions are not only a lot of fun, but the final one on Sunday gives you a chance to auction off your own superfluous items. There was also an art show, open to all, based on the theme. The panel discussions can be interesting, but there are also presentations by authors and at least one by a scientist. This year, the science talk was by Sid M. Gutierrez, NASA Shuttle astronaut and the first Hispanic astronaut.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 11, 2016
Keith Knight is a cartoonist, a really funny cartoonist,
and one of his regular features is something he calls: Life’s Little Victories. It is about those little things, that, on balance, help keep us going. For instance, if you had two pairs of gloves, but you lost one of each pair. Odds are you’re left with unmatching gloves, but when you lose one right-handed glove, and one left-handed glove, so you still have one set (even if they don’t look alike) – Victory!
Thinking about some of the similar things that occur in our “golden” years, as they are oft called, I decided to create a list of life’s little victories that are more specific for those of us in our declining, or reclining, or advancing years.
Life’s Little OLD Victories
1.) When you suddenly remember you have a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes, but you realize you’re already on your way there.
2.) When you have to go, really, really bad, and you not only make it to a bathroom, but manage to get your pants down, and also sit down on the toilet before your bowels cut loose.
3.) When you can’t afford to get new glasses, but unaccountably, your eyes have changed in the oppposite direction and you can see fine without them.
4.) When the mail carrier updates your package delivery status to “Delivered,” so you know that 10-minute walk up to and back from the mailbox kiosk is worth the trip.
5.) When you’re at the supermarket, and you suddenly remember to buy some essential, and you still remember to pick up what you came for.
6.) When your pension or social security check is a day late, and you think you’ve run out of your prescription medications, but you forgot to take them yesterday, so you still have one more day of pills.
7.) When a speeding car rounds the corner, knocking you down as you’re crossing a dark side street, but the driver stops to check on you, and you didn’t break anything.
8.) When your cardiologist says you’ve reached the point where your cholesterol is regressing to a very healthy level, so you can just keep doing what you’re doing.
9.) When the power is out, and your cell phone is dead, but you’ve written your activity schedule on your old-fashioned paper calendar, and you still have a land line.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 6, 2016
So yesterday I helped filter 300 gallons of cranberry wine, but I fucked up, because, of the three square filters we use to pump wine through, I managed to turn the 3rd one 90° so the holes didn’t line up, so even though it seemed like everything was fine, only about 2/3 of the wine got really filtered, and we only discovered that when we tried to filter a small batch of wine with lots of sediment, and the higher pressure punched a hole in the filter and so today I had to refilter that whole 300 gallons of wine into one tank and then pump it out into the two tanks eight of us will use to bottle that wine and three other batches of wine on Saturday. And Sunday my step daughter and I will label some of that wine.
So when I got home there was a message from the background casting company. Because of a bad weather prediction for Friday, the shoot for the episode of the TV show I was to be in the background for was moved up to Thursday, and if that was OK, “…could I come in right away for a costume fitting?” And of course I said, “yes,” but before I went to the studio I stopped by Ramona’s house to pick up my hiking cap that I’d left there, because we usually watch movies together on Wednesday nights, but not tonight, so then I dropped off a book I had borrowed from a photographer who sponsers a teaching/learning photography group on Wednesdays called Guerrilla Photo Group, and then I went to the movie studio, and found out that the shoot was postponed until Friday anyway, but I had already told the vintner at the winery that I couldn’t work Friday, and then emailed him that I could work Friday because the shooting had changed to Thursday.
So I usually hike in the mountains on Thursdays, but I decided to go to Tractor Brewing Company’s tap room for Poetry and Beer night, and I had two strong beers: an oatmeal stout and a Farmer’s Tan Red, and an “asian style” chicken sandwich with sriracha mayo from the food truck outside. So now I don’t have acting work for tomorrow, and I could hike, but I really just want to sleep. I don’t want to set an alarm for early in the morning again. I don’t want to think about anything tomorrow. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.
But, of course, I have a part in a horror film and I have about nine pages of dialogue and rambling monologue to commit to memory by April 24, and I’m not quite there yet, and I probably shouldn’t be doing so many things, but I’m “retired” so what else should I be doing? I don’t want to just sit on my ass. Sometimes it seems like all I do is sit on my ass, but this week reminds me that I really don’t.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2016
I am a very imperfect man, with many flaws. That said, I’m going to tell you some things about the concert I went to this morning. There is a classical concert 50 Sundays mornings of the year here. I do not go every Sunday. For one thing, it costs $15, and since there are espresso baristas who provide great free coffee, tipping is a nice thing to do. There are people who bring fresh home-baked sweets as well, and there is another tip jar there, so it’s easy to spend $17, and I’m not going to do that every Sunday. Besides, sometimes the music is choral, or operatic, and I’m not going to those. I like my classical music, old or modern, to be instrumental only. Perhaps that’s a flaw, but I do not care to change it.
This was Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, to be exact. Born 1685, died 1750. It was a sold out concert accommodating 150 ticket purchasers, and the volunteers who make it possible. The first part of the program was performed by a fantastic cellist who was solo cellist of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway, among other positions in the U.S. She played Suite No. 4 for solo cello in E-flat major. It is a complicated piece, and a very busy one, with seven parts. I remember thinking how thickly populated with notes it was. The notes seemed mostly brisk and sharp without long duration. Since I am not a musician, I cannot speak technically about the music, but it rocked! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 17, 2016
It was nice. I sold the photo of a roadrunner, and the concert was fun: music Albert Einstein used to love to play. A local actor depicted him on a stage, and sometimes he gave a monologue over the slow sections of music, about music and musical instuments and math and science. The concert part was sold out.
94% of the photos were ones that I had bonded to metal (aluminum). It’s a fascinating process whereby an emulsion is permanently bonded to a piece of metal and the photo is permanently embedded into the emulsion. The process creates a sense of depth, and the wood blocks, or woooden frame or metal frame on the back add to the sense of a photo viewed almost in three dimensions.
The one exception in my part of the exhibit was an image of a Sponge Bob-like hot-air balloon that I crewed for in 2010. It is a regular print, matted and framed. I was allowed to use my photos as I wanted, and they used this image in their advertising. The special shapes balloons are mostly made in Brazil, and they bring them to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta to fly and sell them. I used my balloon ride that I earned by crewing to take photos from above, and I got a nice shot of the balloon while in the air. I don’t recall the exact name of the balloon, but I named my photo Wheeeeeeeeee!
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 13, 2016
I live in Albuquerque, at the base of a mountain range called the Sandias. The mountains often block rain and snow storms from hitting the city very hard, so many winters there is just no snow in Albuquerque at all. However, the long drought has ended for most of the state, and this past year we had more rain and snow for any year since 1986. Technically, according to geography studies, based on the average amount of rain that falls here, New Mexico is more accurately classified as a steppe. (In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes.) Locally, people say we live in a high desert.
Long story short: we’ve got snow! Not much hit the city. In areas closest to the mountain range, there were several inches. In other places, like outside my house:
I hiked up the Pino Trail on December 17 looking for snow:
I went for a hike on Dec. 24. There was still snow in the mountains.
In fact, we got snowed on as we hiked. Things were looking up!
(photos by Robin Tackett)
So, I hiked up the Piedra Lisa Trail on the first day of the New Year:
Good snow, but I knew there was more on the crest of the mountain range itself.
Hike leader Robin Tackett set up a hike for Jan. 7, where we would ride the aerial tram up to the crest and hike along the ridge:
As you can see, the tram station was nicely iced over. In fact, the workers there had to carefully inspect the cables, as well as clean under the docking area for one of the trams, chipping away ice and frozen snow.
This is living! However, not only did I not bring snowshoes, but I forgot my camera this day, so none of the photos are mine. Photos by Robin Tackett and Khondeh M.
One more trip up the mountain, up the Pino Trail again on Monday the 11th of January:
It was a (relatively) warm day, (the sun was out) and there was no wind! Damn! Life can just be so good to me sometimes. (Even though some people aren’t).
Such a glorious start to winter. I hope this means the upcoming fire season will be quenched by the rain to come. Moisture! Snow! Come On Rain! Here’s hoping there’s enough rain to discourage the bark beetles and moth larvae that have been destroying so many acres of trees, and they won’t be so easy to burn. Yea snow!
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 10, 2016
Another Sunday morning, although, truth be told, it’s just another day. I wandered over to the cafe for some good coffee – 2 shots of espresso diluted with a bit of hot water – and some breakfast, because I get tired of the stuff I make.
It’s nice to get out of the house too, but I can’t say I like the crowds on a Sunday. Way too many people all at once, and many talk as if what they have to say is really important, loud and clear words cutting through all the other mindless chatter. And I brought a book with me that I use to shut ’em all out, but it’s hard to do. They come in at times, standing next to me, looking for a place to sit, and we all know how busy the place is on a Sunday, but they look anyway, thinking there’ll be room just for them. Important assholes.
I never understand why half of ’em don’t go up or down the road to where there are dozens of food or coffee joints. It’s probably too busy for ’em there, too many people, too many cars. But they come here, here where’s just a bookstore and a cafe, and they pack the parking lot full to bursting, and the latecomers drive around and around looking for that spot that must be waiting just for them somewhere. And the tables are mostly full, and although they know it, they come with groups of five or six and expect to find room. And they ask me if I’m using one of the extra chairs at my table, and I pull my eyes away from my book and say no. And I go back to reading, and sure enough, another group has come in, and another one of them asks me for another chair.
And I just want to tell them to go somewhere else. When they arrive before I do, and they stand lined up from the order counter, and the line snakes around past the door and heads north, I just turn around and go back home. It’s just not worth it to stand quietly in line while people talk loudly about nothing, and have no idea what they want to eat when they finally make it to the counter. And most of ’em come from the rich houses a little north of here, and they have big dining rooms and kitchens, and lots of chairs, but they want to squeeze in here where they pretend their words matter. And their big expensive houses are empty except when they come home at night and sleep in them.
And I grow more impatient with humanity. And I lean to eremiticism. Sometimes I am lonely, but more and more I’m just alone, because I just can’t stand to hear humanity babbling, especially when the babbling rises to a dull roar. I grew up with six siblings, and you’d think I’d be more accustomed to background noise. When I first left home, I missed the sound of other people in the house, low conversations, or toys being fought over, or crying or toilet flushing. I used to think I’d prefer that to living alone, because as much as I enjoy solitude, the loniliess creeps up on me and it aches. And the aching makes me aware of just how alone I really am, despite my reluctant acceptance of being a recluse, because, well, maybe I’m not a true hermit.
I could be a cenobite, but I’m not religious, and I no longer want to be part of any community, I think. And yet, something drives me across the street to eat at the cafe. I am a hermit in a crowd, but the crowd bugs me. At the same time, I have been trying out for parts in movies, and I must, of necessity, be around other people, interact with them, and act. I’m good at acting. I think most of us are, because we act differently around each group of people we get around. I feel as though that’s how I’ve gotten through life, acting here, acting there. I smile when I’m not happy. I talk because people expect it, but usually I’d rather not. Conversation, to me, is private, shared one at a time with someone I trust and like to be around, but there are so few of those.
Blogging is almost ideal. I get to talk without listening, something most of humanity seems to prefer. We talk at each other, and listen for the pause that allows us to speak again. It’s all a big pause here. I can type and type and type, and maybe someone will read it, and maybe no one will, and that’s OK. But something drives me to write and put these words out where someone might read them, and I don’t know why.
And, just like a semicolon in a sentence, like the one tattooed on my arm, I know there’s more to come. I haven’t finished what I have to say just yet.
And, I suppose that’s a good thing! After all, a few months ago, a man drove his car here and parked by the cafe and blew his brains out all over the inside of his car. I guess he had nothing more to say. Was he lonely, or just sad? Was he terribly troubled? Was he in pain from loss? Was he dying of some incurable or painful disease? I’ll never know. It saddened me, me, a recluse. Why should I care? if I don’t care about humanity? Perhaps I can only care in small doses. Humanity is just too big. There are too many. Too many.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 19, 2015
There was a sudden shrill yip nearby
near the other side of my front door
and another loud yip and another
as I sat reading a book of poems
with a white cat on my lap
The cat tensed, his head came up
I patted him reassuringly
but he jumped off my lap
and ran to the door, listening
then he jumped out the flap.
I was a bit surprised
The last cat that had sat on my lap
had died out there close by
I never knew how he died
but he had always feared coyotes
I imagined the worst.
But this cat is fearless.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 9, 2015
I like kissing. I like the feel of silky skin on my lips, and of moist lips buried in my lips. I like the give and play of the lips, hard and yet soft at the same time. When you’re in lust with someone, kissing is the most delicious and delirious thing you can do. Well, it is, until you factor sex in. Kissing stimulates blood flow throughout one’s body: the skin is sensitive all over, blood feeds the skin. Blood flows to the genitals as well, and the whole body participates in the arousal of sensual pleasure. Still, for me, even with skin to skin and genital to genital, I still like to continue kissing. Near orgasm, I can lose track of my lips, but as that height is reached, I want to kiss. And oral sex before the genital sex just increases that juxtaposition of mouth and groin, of pleasure above and below. Passion. That’s what it’s all about. Passion can supercede reason, as least temporarily. There is a state of bliss we reach when we have sexual congress. It is exquisite.
Only love, real love, can surpass it, but the two of them together? It is transcendent.
However, not all sex is like that. Even when some relationships start that way, or become that way over time, it can fade, can slow, can cool, until it is a simulation of passion. There is still the quickening of pulse, and usually an orgasm, but sex can become like kissing a distant relative. Dry lips, tightly drawn together. No give. No take.
Sex is like a kiss. If the kissing is perfunctory, passionless, then the sex will be too.
When I was young, all sex was wonderful, exciting, new and intense. THERE’S MORE: click to Continue Reading
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 9, 2015
Sat down to write but there was a cat sitting on the desk. I was unwilling to chase him off since I’m only a day back from having been gone for a week, but I ended up picking him up and relocating him to another part of the desk. For a cat that used to live on a golf course, and only saw familiar faces once a week, he seemed to take my absence hard. I had thought, if he hadn’t disappeared, that he’d be happy to see me, but he remained sitting in my chair after I had first entered and closed the front door. A very talkative cat, he remained quiet as I petted him. His eye seemed to have been unusually leaky, with a large dark spot of something in the white fur underneath the eye. He sat so quiet and unmoving I thought he must be sick. Perhaps the eye was infected? I gave him a few treats. He had been fed treats at the golf course, and expected them daily. However, he would not eat them. That’s when I decided he must be sick, and I resolved to get him to a veterinarian, first thing in the morning.
In the morning, he was different, much like his regular self. He sought me out, and I gave him treats. He ate them. His eye looked better. He is active again, well, as much as he usually is. For a young cat, he sits and sleeps a lot. So, anyway, I sat down today to write about my trip to Pennsylvania.
It was very wet there. Joaquin was a hurricane threatening the U.S. East Coast when I arrived on October 1. It is now a dissipating tropical rainstorm, aka a post-tropical cyclone. It rained all of the day I arrived, although I meant to run when I arrived. It rained all of the next day too, and it was still raining early Saturday morning. Not only did I need to run, as I have been training to run my first full marathon, but my sister and her family were planning their annual burning man party for that evening. All of the wooden pallets for the giant figure were soaking wet. Artists showed up and were working diligently in the garage to create a face for the burning man, although this year it would be a woman, with the face of the bride of Frankenstein’s monster. The Bride of Burning Man. Those are firecrackers in her hair. There was a body too, to be attached to the wet pallets already stacked, and two huge balloon boobs to be tucked into her cloth blouse.
I had left with my brother-in-law to do some shopping, and he asked me to help with the final assembly when we returned. The rain finally slowed, and had mostly stopped. I said I would help, but it was then 11 am, and I waited until 3:30 pm, without any action on the pallet creature, so I took off on a run. As I passed the field with the Bride of Burning Man, it was finally being worked on from a huge metal scaffolding. I, however, needed desperately to run, and run hard. I ran a mile up the country road in front of their house and found, past the turnoff for that road, that the road continued. After I’d run that mile I found a small track in a park built by a tiny elementary school. It measured less than one-third of a mile, so I’d have to run around it 3 1/2 times for each mile. Given that the roads around that remote countryside were all two-laned, without runable shoulders, I opted to run that little track instead. To top it off, there were portable outhouses on site, an essential part of running for an almost 65-year old. My birthday was days away, and this marathon ten days after that was to be my birthday present to myself: Take that old age!
After 32 times around that little track, I’d had enough. I had run steadily, relentlessly, and I was tired, with one more mile to go to return to my sister’s house. I had been charged by my running coach to run 18 miles, but it was late, lightly raining, and it had turned cold enough that I’d had to wear a jacket for the last couple miles, and it would soon be dark. I resolved to run the next day and the next. However, my back was very sore, and my body ached all over the next day, and the next, so I put off running for two days, and only ran another 6 1/2 miles. It would have to do.
The party was awesome. There was plenty of food and drink. My sister makes her own beer, and there were two small kegs of her beer on tap, as well as bottles of her reserves, and other beer that people brought, as well as wine. There were some fine dishes to sample, spicy fried chicken, and some nicely spiced home-cooked shrimp. My sister had also prepared a Hungarian goulash in a huge kettle on a fire outside.
The face was dropped on the way to attach it, but it looked only slightly changed for that. Due to the high winds and problems with one arm, it was not attached. However, even with one arm, she looked good. The burning was preceded by women with flaming hoops, a man with a flaming bucket, and even one woman with a flaming whip. There was a soundtrack for the whole thing, and the music built to a nice crescendo to coincide with the burn. Before the burn, people had assembled some gunpowder “bombs” to go off during the burning. Some were constructed to simply add smoke and fire, while others, as had been done for the 4th of July, were made for noise. It took some doing to get the burning going. A lot of accelerant was used, but even so, it looked doubtful the Bride would completely burn. One man even used a commercially available personal flamethrower to help things along. The booms from the noise bombs were not only loud and startling, but I felt the shock wave from 80 feet away, including the heat of each explosion. Powerful little suckers. The next day, there was a story in the local paper that people had heard two or four explosions in the area, and one woman, on a street some distance away, claimed one of her windows was broken by a shockwave. Police are said to be investigating. The police, however, where about 7/10 of a mile away from the burning of the Bride of Burning Man, and they did not drive over to see if the explosions had come from that.
My step-brother, however, is prepared to reimburse the woman with the broken window. As well, it was decided not to use the loud booms for any future burning man parties, as local dogs were spooked, and even though they did not appear to have been affected, there are also horses in the area. Perhaps the booms will return for the next 4th of July party.
It was a spectacular event, all the more notable for its huge flames after days of cold rain and high winds in the area. One woman came to the small track while I had been running; she said she simply had to get out of the house. Photos follow:
LOTS OF PHOTOS; CLICK TO CONTINUE
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 4, 2015
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 31, 2015
There’s this fiction writer (above) who spends a lot of time in this compound (that’s what it’s called) where I live. He rents a house here to write. I see him at the mailbox kiosk sometimes. I once complimented him on his old science fiction novels, real space opera stuff that I love to read. He said the series might have been the best stuff he’s ever written. They are good books. The characters have more substance and human emotions and sex than in most of the sci fi I’ve read, much like Robert A. Heinlein’s works. There’s a darkness in the stories, rebellion, violence, and blazing lasers of course. But people stop to love, and there’s a feminine quality to the relationship talk, which seems odd coming from a cantankerous old writer (arisco, in Spanish) continuously chomping on a big fat cigar. He says he is a family man, and has to balance writing with family time.
One day I spoke to him about his other line of works, fantasy books that lean on authors like Tolkien and Roger Zelazny. I asked him what he was working on, and it’s more of the same, sounded like. I told him I didn’t read much of the sword and sorcery stuff, which, in retrospect, wasn’t a good comparison to his writing, just a way of cataloging fantasy in my head. However, he appeared to take some umbrage with that, saying that there aren’t any swords in the book he’s working on – not really my point – but, “…Well, there is one sword.” Then he asks me: “Who are you anyway?”
Well, I think I pissed him off, and that’s bad because I worship writers. Oh, well. I’ve deeply loved several women, and I always managed to piss them off too. Who am I to describe someone as cantankerous, anyway?
But, aside from the obsessing over things I’ve said and shouldn’t have said to famous authors and the ex wives and lovers, that question remains uppermost in my mind: “Who are you?”
Who the fuck am I?
I’m a guy that lives alone. I’m not certain I could ever live with anyone ever again. I like my solitude too much. Some days I can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Or I get up and sit in front of the computer, which amounts to the same thing. Some days I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 am, and hike up the mountains around Albuquerque: Sandia, Manzano, Jemez, and sometimes Sangre de Christo near Santa Fe, or up in the Rocky Mountains in the northern part of the state. There are over eighty mountain ranges, but I don’t plan to visit them all. I am retired, after all. I need my down time, and hiking up thousands of feet of elevation can be hard work.
In fact, I was having trouble hiking up for any great distance a few years back, and found out I had heart problems. Too much plaque in my arteries. Big fat artery in my heart was mostly plugged, and, in the process of getting that rotor-rootered, it moved to completely block the artery (Felt like a mild stab to my heart). Fortunately, I was already getting prepped to have a thin plastic tube shoved up my arm to my heart, and I was surrounded by medical personal and high-tech equipement, so within a minute, I had relief from that. It was blessed relief from my overwhelming symptoms of chest pressure and the feeling of impending doom that had dogged me all that afternoon. They left a stent in place to keep that tiny section of the artery open.
Recovery was fast, but my cardiac surgeon insisted that I work out to pump up my heart rate a bit more than I had been doing. I hadn’t been hiking much more than a few hours once a week, especially since I was having a hard time climbing mountains any more. The cardiac rehab center he refered me to was way too expensive for me: $90 a week (after insurance). I had once done a stair climbing challenge that benefitted the American Lung Association, and still had a flyer they’d included in my donation packet for a training group of runners. I called them and ended up running instead. I’d never run before, so it was a revelation how hard that really was. I’d always thought joggers a bit crazy, but it is damn good cardiovascular work, and that’s what I needed. They call themselves the OxyGenMorons, or morons, for short. So, I was partly right.
So now, I hike up the mountains, and jog. I’ve run two half marathons, which are defined as 13.1-mile runs. I’m training now for an honest-to-goodness fucking 26.2-mile marathon this October. We’ll see how that goes.
I hiked in the Valles Caldera last Saturday, which is now a national preserve instead of privately owned. That was fun, even with a bit of rain. I contunue to try to hike on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and then run a few miles with the Morons at 6:00 pm those days as well. Saturdays are often long runs, from 6 to 14 miles. I may do some longer runs soon. I do have to be ready on October 18 to run 26.2 miles. Training is supposed to be 5 days a week for marathoners.
Well, besides running, I’m a background actor. I’ve managed to get on the sets of TV shows like Better Call Saul, Night Shift, Gunslingers, and Longmire, and movies like BARE, Highly Functional, and War on Everyone, as well as many local productions. Like it is said, it keeps me out of trouble. In two days I’ll be on the set of Gold.
With all of this, I’m still trying to maintain my association with a local winery. I only average working there two days a week, but I enjoy the hard work of picking fruit and mixing vats of wine, and filtering, and pumping into and out of tanks, bottling and labeling and selling. It’s far, far different from my old job, DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, and protein sequencing and synthesis before that. That seems like a lifetime ago now.
I take photos too, when I’m hiking mostly, but sometimes with a group called the Guerrilla Photo Group, where we experiment with photography, mostly in a studio setting. Sometimes I enter my photos in shows. Over the years, I’ve sold six photos. although Bon Appétit once bought the use of one photo for their magazine.
This all sounds like I do a lot, but I really seem to spend my life more like today. I got up late, shortly before 9:00 am. I feed the cats, and drank some juice (carrot, apple, or cranberry-raspberry-blackberry). I ate some eggs, and drank coffee. My refrigerator has milk and juices and ice tea and State Pen porter for later in the day. I walked a book I’d sold on eBay to the mailbox across the street. (I buy way too many used books online, so I am continuously reselling them or trading them away. I like to read, but many of the books I read are graphic novels or very old paperbacks, and they do not show up in my local library. If I buy books cheap, and resell them, I don’t end up paying a lot for them on average.) After that I read a bit. I am about to walk up to the mailbox kiosk and check my mail. Woo hoo, I received an old record album.
That’s my life. That’s who I am. A bit lazy, with bouts of frenetic activites, or reading quietly at home. My job no longer defines me, and it’s hard to say what does. I’m not just a hiker, or a runner, or a photographer, or an actor, or a winemaker.
Does that answer your question, mister fantasy writer?
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 14, 2015
I try to have nice things, but with cats or children, it’s not easy.
I acquired two cats some years ago. One was part of a litter dropped by a feral cat in my back yard. I watched the mother feed them, and then teach them to hunt. I was fond of the little group, but my wife at the time didn’t care for animals, and didn’t like having them in her back yard. I had to get rid of them, and once she decided they had to go, they had to go immediately. I had no time to look for homes for them, and wild cats with no shots and not neutered are pretty hard to unload on anyone. I had to trap them and take them to the animal control center. It saddened me, but it had to be done. I set out a trap, and got all but one. Interestingly, the only one not to go into the trap was the one I’d had to rescue from inside a two-sided picket fence I’d put up. It had dropped in from on top and couldn’t get out. I’d had to remove a plank to get it out, and had taken him back to his mother.
I decided to keep him, and not just because of the circumstances. He was a near-perfect duplicate of an orange-striped cat that had died in my lap earlier that year. That particular cat had been half of a pair of cats belonging to my dad when he died, and my mother had maneuvered me into taking both cats. Both were also now dead.
So, not only did I keep this tiny twin of my old cat, but I gave him the same name: Charlie. About one year later, a female cat showed up in the yard, and she and Charlie II were close friends before I knew it. So, I kept her too. She had the same black and white colors as my dad’s female cat Krissy who died a couple of years earlier, although not in the same pattern. I called her Girl, until I could think of a name. I still have her; she’s about 12 years old. Charlie II, unfortunately, is gone. He disappeared one night. Eight months later, a neighbor told another neighbor, who relayed it to me, that he’d seen a dead cat in the garden area of this compound I live in. He said it had looked like the one in the photos I’d put up all over the place. I wish I’d known.
So, it had been nine months since Charlie II had died, and I had mentioned his death to a hiker who leads meetup hikes. She knew of a cat that lived on a golf course, and she badly needed a home; would I take her? Well, I’d been thinking of getting a cat to replace Charlie II, since the female was obviously lonely. I had finally given her a name: Kilala, which is the name of a Japanese cat demon. She’s never became totally tame, and cannot stand to be picked up; she’s not a lap cat either. But, she and Charlie II had been inseparable. I really wanted to get her a male companion. Charlie II had been quite the lover. I agreed to meet a couple who had taken responsibility for getting the cat adopted. I had to be vetted first, so they could be sure I’d take care of the cat.
The cat was well-loved at the golf course, and had been given bedding in a little wooden cat house. The golf course’s clubhouse personnel had been feeding it for two years. The couple approved of me, and I ended up with the cat, the cat house, cat treats, food bowls, a little round cat bed, and a huge bag of dry cat food. And, of course, I ended up with Snowflake. The couple had named her that because of her almost all-white fur. They even took her to a mobile veterinarian for shots. However, among the couple I’d met, the vet, and all the people at the golf course who doted on the cat, no one had noticed, until just before I went to pick it up, that it was male after all.
Snowflake has settled in here. He had been called Snowflake so long that that is the only name he’ll respond to. Even with a cat door, and freedom to roam, he stays close by, and usually in the house. However, he and Kilala do not get along. It’s been over three months, but they still fight. They’ve sniffed at each other, and tolerate each other’s presence in the house, but my older cat won’t accept him. I think she tried one time, but he had been neutered very young, and doesn’t know what to do with a female cat. The fighting tapered off for a while, so I thought things would be fine, but the hissing, growling and chasing go on.
Sunday night, they had come barreling in the back door through the bedroom – not unusual. But this time they rounded the corner out of the bedroom door and I heard a crash. It was a Chinese plaster figurine, unglazed, 19 inches tall, that I’d acquired the previous year. It was beautiful. I have a set of three. I bought one from the Monkey King, an eBay store with a physical storefront in California. Shortly after that, the store announced a huge going-out-of-business sale, so I purchased another figure cheaply. They are replicas of old Chinese female musicians that reside in museums. However, even though Monkey King wrapped the crap out of the figure, it arrived with the base broken, very smashed up.
Monkey King had sold the figure to me at a bargain price, but they agreed to replace it. It hadn’t been their fault, but they were in their last days, so I agreed to pay shipping. Meanwhile I decided to try repairing the figure. I worked with glue and rubber bands over several days, and got it mostly together. Some smaller pieces had been crushed, so it’s not perfect, but I have it:
The one the cats knocked over was the first one I’d bought, a musician playing a pipa, a four-stringed lute, behind her head! Her head, unfortunately, had been knocked off. Both arms were broken off at the elbows. The beautiful flowing scarf had been broken off in several pieces. The pipa was broken at the neck. I was pissed. Damn cats!
The cats had run off immediately, fight forgotten as soon as they knocked the figure over. Kilala had run outside; she was the one who was instigating these fights, so I slammed the door behind her and locked it for the evening. Damn, I was pissed. I cannot replace the statues. The Monkey King store is long gone, and I have no idea where they bought their merchandise. In fact, I think they bought the raw plaster figures, painted them, and then rubbed ashes on them to make them resemble the old figures in the museum. I had cleaned most of the ashes off.
I feared Kilala might run off, but by morning she was back in the house, through the cat door in the house’s front entrance. I ignored her. Later on, however, as I looked at the broken statue again, I decided I’d try to fix it. I got out my glue and went to work. It would take a while, but the action of working on it calmed me down. I fed Kilala, and later on petted her.
I decided it was silly to blame cats for something like that. And, really, what do some statue replicas really matter anyway? The world is full of violence and injustice. Material possessions are of no real importance.
I always find it odd that the loss of some object bothers me so much. Part of that is that I object to changes in my life: divorce, retirement, loss of a lover or friend. I seem to have a hard time accepting change, although I know that change is not only inevitable, but change is life; life is change. Hard for me to accept emotionally. But, emotions about physical things make no sense.
Be that all as it may be, philosophy aside, I fixed the damned statue. I may lose things from time to time, but part of me really likes keeping things as they are, inane as that is.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 4, 2015
Got knocked down by a car the other day. It made me think about all those times in my life when, but for one thing, I would have died. As an infant, and later as a two-year old, I had pneumonia. I was saved by penicillin, by science, technology and society, twice. Before penicillin, I would have been dead as an infant.
As a six-year old, I fell into a house under construction. The incomplete basement had no concrete yet, the floor was mud with pools of water. Me, my brother John and Eddie Knight were bringing the biggest stones we could find and carry, climbing the foundation wall, and dropping them into the pools of water. The object, of course, was to get a huge splash. We dropped in our stones, enjoyed the splash, and set out to find bigger stones. I dropped a nice one in, hit the water nicely, and turned to see Eddie plop the biggest stone I’d seen all morning on the floor level of the foundation, so he could use both hands to climb up. Somehow, I couldn’t help myself. I ran over, grabbed the stone, and dropped it in. I think it made a big splash. I say think, because all I remember is perhaps a sense of movement. Eddie, pissed off as all hell, had come charging at me, I think. The details are vague. Because I was standing by the edge of the hole in the floor we were using (it was for the stairs to come), I must have gone right over. I woke up some time later. Two adults were carrying me through tall weeds in the huge field behind my house. I had cracked my head against one of the stones, maybe even Eddie’s big one. Lying face down in the muddy water, I would have drowned. My brother pulled me out. Eddie, meanwhile had gone for his parents, who were carrying me home. I never saw Eddie again. He never came by. I would guess that he felt guilty, or his parents simply forbade him to play with us again. Life saved by my younger brother, although medical science repaired my cracked skull.
I turned eight years old during my stay at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (formerly the Hebrew Orphan Asylum). My appendix had ruptured, and I remember being told later that I had peritonitis (literally an inflammation of the stomach lining), although today the term used is blood poisoning, or sepsis. In septic shock, weak, and barely able to shamble, with support from my mother, who drove me to the hospital in a borrowed car, the staff there knew I was in trouble from my blood work. An x-ray did not show cause, so I was taken for exploratory surgery. The appendix was hidden behind an organ, and hadn’t been visible on x-ray. Again, medical science, through surgery and chemistry, had saved my life, although I was hospitalized for four weeks, and convalesced at home for another week. Happy Birthday!
Soon after that I developed bronchial asthma, and survived by using steam and a towel over my head, or a prescription inhaler. Sometimes I simply couldn’t catch my breath at all. I didn’t know where it went or why it was running away. The asthma attacks went away sometime after my 12th birthday.
Of course, not everything I did was life threatening. I slipped trying to repair a leaky roof in a tree house and fell to the ground, breaking my arm. Excruciating pain came with that one, and a cast on my arm, and notoriety at school. It was hard to brag about falling out of a tree. I was just embarrassed.
I must have developed an acute sense of caution, because I didn’t get hurt again until I was an adult. I got creamed by a huge beast of a car as I had been pedaling down a nice hill. It hit me broadside, and dragged the bicycle across the street, but I had been thrown forward by my own momentum. I bounced, and passed out. Passers-by thought I was dead. I heard them say so as I came to. They’d already given up on me and were comforting the driver! I was in shock, didn’t know who I was or what had happened at first. I was thoroughly amazed that I’d survived, because my last thought before the impact had been that I was going to die. Traffic had been thick and heavy, and I could have easily been run over by some other vehicle. As it was, my own momentum had carried me in a high arc straight forward, and the car was so big, a Lincoln Continental Mark III, that it had blocked enough of the lane to keep the other drivers away. Saved by the eighteen-foot car length. Nothing broken this time. I had a major sprain on the top of my left foot, which had been hit by the car. The heavy Schwinn bicycle pedal arm had been bent, back into the spokes.
Bicycles on highways or city streets are accidents waiting to happen, and I had a few more. Once my shoe was simply ripped off my foot. Once I skidded on gravel on a mountain road and slid down a long section of blacktop, taking a lot of skin off my chest and stomach. Ouch. Another time, a car side-swiped me as I pedaled down a city street right on the edge of the road. It appeared as though the car had passed another car on the right, illegally, had not seen me up ahead, and clipped me. The impact left a huge bruise on my ass and thigh muscles. I was stunned at first, and lay on my back, staring unblinkingly into the light rain that was falling. I worried that I was paralyzed. The driver didn’t stop, but someone else did after a few minutes, and an ambulance took me and bicycle to a hospital. Bruised and scraped flesh was all I received then, but it could have been worse. Somehow I had fallen without breaking my neck. Somehow the car hadn’t broken my hip or run over me. Little things.
Given my history, buying a motorcycle was not a very smart thing to do, but at least it put me out into the drive lane at speed, instead of paralleling the other vehicles, riding bicycles in the gutters full of storm-drain grates and broken glass. It didn’t take me long to lay the bike down: the first time taking a corner in the rain, slipping on icy roads, or hitting a crazy dog on a curve. I was never hurt, but I went through a few turns signals and mirrors which stick out to the sides. I learned to anticipate accidents, to always brake the front and rear wheels simultaneously, and even ride on icy or snow-packed streets. I got good. However, as I neared my house one fine day, I decided to pass in front of a stalled car blocking my lane, and he hit the gas microseconds before I got there. I t-boned him, and sailed over the car hood. The bike was totalled. I was sore and bruised but none the worse for wear after a few weeks. Everyone in the neighborhood said I must have said my prayers. I didn’t pray anymore, so that wasn’t it. Given my moral turpitude at the time, I could have thanked the devil instead, if I’d still believed in such things.
Years passed with my replacement motorcycle. As I was near home again, in a different house with a wife waiting for me this time, I misread a red traffic light. I thought it was still green, but the sun was directly behind it as I topped a hill. I sailed into the large Route 66 intersection at about 40 mph. There was a pickup directly in front of me; I looked up – the light was red. Never even applied the brakes. Totalled that bike too. I was again bruised and scraped up. My arm was a bit sprained, so I wore a sling for a short time. The driver of the pickup told my insurance company that I had bent his truck frame. Really? Well, no matter. I got another bike, number three in a series, and I never wrecked it. Since it was old and leaked oil, and always needed repairs, I finally traded it in. Success! I had ridden a motorcycle the entire time I had owned it without damaging it or myself. However, the newer bike was not so lucky. Within two weeks I had laid it down, negotiating a turn, I didn’t understand what had happened until it happened again. This time I took it in to a shop. They found a spacer missing from the front axle. Such spacers keep the wheel centered on the axle, but without one, the wheel was sliding to one side as I turned, causing the wheel to lock up.
Of note in all this mayhem is that I paused in June of 2013 to have a minor heart attack. The large descending artery on the right side was partly clogged when I first got to the heart hospital, but within minutes, the clog had moved to completely block the artery (sudden minor pain). Fortunately, I was already hooked up to an IV and heart monitors, and my wrist was prepped for sticking a balloon up to my heart to clean it out and leave a stent behind. They went ahead and did that, and I felt relief immediately. Recovery was rapid and complete. Four months later, I ran a half marathon in three hours exact. A year later I ran it in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Cheating death. Again.
So, I’ve dodged any motorcycle accident for many years now. I am very aware of my surroundings. I always know where other vehicles are, and I keep a constant eye out on side streets and pedestrians. I hit nothing, and nothing hits me. I have a car now also, and my motorcycle habits have transferred. I have no accidents, because I am always acutely aware of my surroundings. So, it came as a shock last Friday evening to find a moving car pushing against my body, again.
I was crossing a street at a slight angle to reach my car. It was a cold night, and I was worried about an approaching storm, so I had opted out of riding the bike. I was in the southbound part of the street as I saw a car approach the intersection from an eastbound lane. I sped up so I wouldn’t be in its path. It was about 50 feet away, so I had plenty of time to reach my car before it even reached me. Wrong. She had turned wide, and sped up as she straightened out, but not where she should have been. She was squarely in the northbound part of the road. Her right fender was pressing hard against me. I noticed the rest of the car was ahead of me, instead of behind me in the empty southbound lane. She never said what she was doing. Was she just turning wide? She later said she only saw me at the last moment before hitting me. Had she tried to avoid me? swerving around me? She never said much else. Liability issues, I’d guess.
Fortunately she did see me plastered against her grille, and stopped. I was thrown forward and hard onto the asphalt. It hurt. So, there I was again, lying in the street again, wondering how the hell I’d misjudged that situation. How the hell had she caught me? I hurt all over it seemed, but I thought I should get up. My right hip area had impacted the street, and it was in considerable pain, but after a few minutes, the pain went away. We exchanged information. She is an artist with the gallery whose open house I’d just left.
I went home, took two Advil Liquid capsules, applied some Blue Emu cream, ate a late dinner with some chokecherry wine, and got some sleep. The pain was back next day, but so far, so good. The hip only hurts to the touch. “So don’t touch it!” I know, I know, but sometimes ya gotta roll over in bed, or ya bump against the side of a chair. It’ll heal. There’s skin scraped off again, but no bruising. The pain seems to be deep, and just behind the hip bone that juts out there. Worked hard yesterday, did a lot of heavy lifting and shoving at the winery, with no pain, so I think I’m OK.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 5, 2014
I wasn’t sure at first where to post this. It doesn’t really fit on my Ennui blog. It is kind of random. I just found out today that my missing cat is dead. I was speaking with a neighbor who makes beer, and he promised to bring one by. He asked what my house number is, and I told him, asking him if he remembered the poster I had up for months asking if anyone had seen my cat, since it had my house number and phone number. He remarked that another neighbor said he had seen a cat just like that at the same time (June), dead in our community garden. Well, thanks a lot for telling me neighbor! I’ve wanted some closure since then. It makes me mad and sad at the same time.
I’ve missed that cat so much. He was a cat who waited for me to get home. Even though he had and used the cat door, he’d wait for me to unlock and open the main door. He loved attention, and sleeping on my lap, and bed. At eleven years old, he still loved to play. Sometimes I think I hear him. I’ve posted posters of him, and walked the surrounding neighborhood nearly every day, calling him and whistling for him. He used to come running when I whistled. Two neighbors left me a phone message that they’d seen a friendly cat just like him in the next neighborhood down the road, and I walked there nearly every day for three months calling and whistling for him.
I had always imagined he might show up one day, that someone had taken him in, or he wandered so far away that he’d become confused and lost. Of course, the worst scenario was that he’d been eaten by coyotes. He was such a lean, healthy, strong, and fast animal. It’s hard for me to imagine him not being able to climb a tree or building to get away, and he could run really fast. Aside from the occasional coyotes, it is a safe neighborhood for cats. We are far from the major street, and the speed humps in our cul-de-sac road keep my neighbors driving below 15 mph. Traffic through the compound is very light, and he often slept or played on the large flat roof that results from having six houses connected. He is microchipped, but animal control here had no record of him being picked up injured or dead, so I had some hope I’d see him again.
It’s strange, after all this time, but now I am grieving for him. I missed him before, and couldn’t quite believe he was gone. Now, I have to accept it, and I don’t even know what happened. Was he hit by a car and left in the garden? Did he choke, or was he poisoned by something he ate? Why did no one tell me? That poster was up right by our mailboxes for a long time, and everyone saw it. You’d think the person that saw a dead cat in the garden would have told me. The bad ugly thing is that this happened right after there was an email broadcast to all the residents here from another neighbor that cats were shitting on her roof, and left a turd on her patio, that a roadrunner had been mauled, and that cats can decimate all wildlife in an area. I fired back that, from my experience, cats eat what they kill, and would not have left an injured bird. The email misrepresented the study on cats. The point of that study was the effect of un-neutered cats, proliferating unchecked. Mine have always been neutered. The neighborhood is full of wild birds, doves, pigeons, and all manner of small mammals, and in the seven years I’ve lived here, there has not been any noticeable decrease in the wildlife. Sure my cat ate some birds and rodents, but the roadrunner is a fierce predator itself, even eating rattlesnakes, rodents and other birds. It is not in danger from cats. (Coyotes are faster, but roadrunners can fly.)
My cat went missing right after I sent that email. That’s why I’ve been angry. The thought that some idiot may have killed my cat on purpose really infuriated me.
But that’s over now. I know it’s hard for people to accept that a dead pet can cause such sadness. I know he wasn’t my child or a person, but he sure was a friend, affectionate and loyal, and since he was initially born outdoors, of a feral mother, he never accepted anyone but me, retaining a wildness that I liked, and yet being very trusting and affectionate with me, and the other feral cat that showed up a year later.
The main reason I had moved into this compound was for the safety of my cats, and the fact that there were many trees to climb, and grass to frolic in. Now, I’m not certain that I’ll stay. In my mind, animals need space, room to run and play and hunt. Of course, I recognise that the freedom my cat had probably led directly to his death, and I should accept that. It just makes me so fucking sad.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 25, 2014
Another set of older photos; these are from June 28, 2014. I worked as a volunteer photographer for ACE, which encouraged me to stop and ask people to take their picture “for ACE”. Included in those photos are Joel Hodgsen (of Mystery Science Theater 3000), and professional body builder Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the 1980s. Both of them graciously allowed me to snap a photo without having to wait in line or pay a fee. Please do not use these photos without permission. Click on any photo to see it full size.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 19, 2014
Although the photos are a bit old, just from May of this year, I still wanted to post them. I had fun taking them.
May 3, 2014: Concerto Grosso No 1, Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo, & Tabula Rasa. Fantastic concert in a great place. Established in 1880. 1/4 of Albuquerque’s workforce was employed here in 1919. Eighteen buildings remain on 27 acres.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 10, 2014
Today was another day. It was a day like many others. I woke too early, in that it was very dark. That was to be expected, inasmuch as I had drunk a pint of beer the night before. What was unexpected is that, after I fell back asleep, I woke again, before dawn. I knew that I had to be up fairly early, as I had work to do, and 24 miles to travel before 9:00 am. However, because I had also run 3 miles the evening before, I wanted as much rest as I could, so I stayed in bed. Before long, after a period of daydreams, I noticed it was light, which, this time of year, meant it was later than I should have gotten up, so up I got. For the third time that morning, I peed.
I made a double Americano, and sipped it while browsing the land of the internet. I ate a banana, and showered, and brushed and flossed my teeth. I was running late, but I rarely care about that. I am retired, after all. The sky was dark with rain clouds, but it is never safe to bet on rain in Albuquerque, so I mounted my old motorcycle anywa and rode to Placitas. There was work to do at the winery. I am a partner in the winery. The work involved “buttoning up” a storage shed, to quote the vintner. The vintner showed myself and Michael what needed to be done, and began working with us, but was soon called away. We cut wood strips, and screwed and nailed pieces along the upper east side of the shed to close the openings there. First, we had to move all the old pipes, wood, metal, and other junk that accumulates in farms and ranches everywhere, and remove a small fence along the side of the shed, so the project took many hours. We took a lunch break because the vintner always makes lunch (venison stew today) for whomever is working. After lunch we worked for 30 to 40 minutes, but the rain came and chased us off, since we were using power saws to cut the lumber and pressed plywood.
We went inside. I was still hungry, and I wanted something sweet. Since there is never anything sweet to eat at the winery, I persuaded Michael to drive the four miles down to the closest shopping. He bought coffee for us and the vintner, and I bought a wonderful peach and apple cake baked right there in the local grocery store. It was heavy in its pan, full of peach and apples slices, spiced with cinnamon in a sugar syrup, and covered with a simple cake. It was incredibly delicious, and not only did the vintner partake, but our newest partner, who is upgrading our computer books and website, also had some cake.
Michael and I finished the work on the shed and stowed the tools inside it. It still doesn’t have a door, but, there is still a lot of work to do: sealing all the cracks inside, and then we will power wash the entire inside, because of the activity and shit of pack rats in there. Then it will become a functional place to store things safely.
But, as it was after 4:30 already, I headed home. I hoped to make it home without being caught in the rain, but I did not get far before it caught me. I’m used to that. On my way home on Wednesday night (my 64th birthday), I had also gotten caught by rain and soaked. If I had thought to have brought my chaps, and worn my boots, I’d have stayed mostly dry. Fortunately, today, I had at least worn my boots. I arrived home with only my pants wet, from the top of my boots to my knees. I threw them in the washer as soon as I got inside the house. They are clean and dry now.
There was an interesting book reading by the coauthors of More Than Two, and a discussion about polyamory across the street at the bookstore at seven, so I had time to walk over there, dressed in my leather hat and leather jacket, as it was still raining. The talk was interesting, and the questions even more so, as: “What is the effect on children in polyamorous groupings?” and “What about legal problems, mortgages? What was their experience with couples introducing a third person into the relationship? I thought the book, and the discussion rather dry and boring, or I was just very tired, so as soon as there was a break, I grabbed an unrelated book by Neil Gaiman that had been on the shelf in front of me, browsed it, bought it and left.
I went into the restaurant next door and had a vanilla bean milkshake. It was good. I was still a bit warm and red in the face from being outside most of the day, and I had a thirst I couldn’t quite quench with water.
I walked home, not a long distance, but perhaps a city block away in length near the back of the compound I live in.
Suddenly, I found myself humming loudly, and enjoying it. I was even voicing some da, da, da da, dadadadas, along with the hums. I was unaccountably happy. I couldn’t even stop doing it. It was just spontaneous, and I enjoyed it. It doesn’t happen very often, and it didn’t last long, but today had become a day unlike many others.
Tomorrow I will run 8 miles. The next day I will hike 12 miles in the mountains. I will do some more running and working next week. In one week I will run a half marathon.
I’ll likely take a week off everything after that. Read, watch some movies.
Such is my life.
I look forward to feeling happy again some day.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 24, 2014
Sometimes my dreams intrigue me. I woke up the other day after dreaming about a strange happening in a restaurant. There was an argument going on, and I was following several of the people involved. One man stood off to the side and simply wrote comments on pieces of paper that he handed to the people arguing. He wrote comments like, “bullshit” and “irrelevant” and “you’re an ass” – things like that. Suddenly I felt the need to get up, and I approached him. I had been following one argument, and while I didn’t agree with the last point entirely, (it escapes me now) I felt the need to add my opinion, being that there was some merit to the argument, but only up to a certain point. I wish I could remember it now; seemed important at the time.
However, as I approached the man who gave out the comments, and I felt he would probably give me a scathing comment of disapproval, he instead threw a whole bunch of written comments in the air. At first I thought he was exasperated, but he simply came over and stared at me. He seemed to be watching me as I continued to make my point. He looked concerned. He listened very intently ro what I had to say, it seemed, and then walked off, out of my field of view. Then he returned, looked and me, and kept looking out over the balcony. I continued to speak, and he continued looking at me and walked away again. When he came back again, I noticed that I felt funny. My chest was tight, and I didn’t feel good. I realized I was likely having another heart attack, and the man had noticed. I decided he was trying to help, had called an ambulance and was looking for it.
I wondered how he knew. Was I acting odd? Slurred speech? I couldn’t tell, but he seemed to know. Of course, I woke up before this could play out. Was he a doctor? Why had I approached him? What had I been trying to tell him? One thing I remember is that I felt very grateful that someone noticed and decided to help. Amazing.
Awake. Being wide awake, then, I noticed that my chest did feel funny, and my heart seemed to be calming down, like I’d been really excited. The story I’d seen could have excited me, or the argument I was making, or, which seems most likely, my heart had flipped out for few moments, and the dream was my attempt to understand what was happening. In one of my recent stress tests, the EKG had revealed extra heartbeats as I was recovering from the test. The doctor had been concerned enough to put me back on a heart calming beta-blocker drug. A stress test, following a few weeks of that drug, showed that I was doing better after stress, with very few extra beats, although a few showed up during the exercise this time. However, his opinion, and that of others he had consulted, was that I stay on the drug, at least until I see him again in six months.
Damn. I had been happy to get off the damned drug. It seemed to make me drowsy, and it made training for a marathon harder than it should have been. At least I’m only on a half dose this time. Last time, I felt like I couldn’t get my heart rate up at all while running, and I had trouble getting enough oxygen, with no stamina. I’m better now. Is it my heart that is stronger? or it because of the half dose? I don’t know, but I’m running a half marathon (13.1 miles) on October 19, so I’m anxious to see how it goes. Maybe I’ll dream about it.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 1, 2014
Woke up this morning early, dreaming. I had stayed up until 1:00 am, but I was wide awake at 5:30am. I ran a lot last evening, in the rain, with lightning just a few miles away. It was the first time I’d run in the rain. I liked it; I was able to keep my body temp down while running. Cool, in reality.
The doves are cooing and I have my coffee now. I decided to post because my dream fascinated me. In my dream, I had decided to live on the street. I know, I know, one does not just “decide” to do such a thing, but hey, it was a dream. I had some sort of small tent or structure over me, and I was under a large blanket, peering out at life on the street. Part of me wondered what I’d done with all my stuff. That part of my brain decided that I still had a car and had my stuff in that.
As I peered out, I saw a couple I knew. I knew the male better than his partner, but they came over and looked in at me. Suddenly the woman was getting into my tent, box or whatever it was I was in, and she was naked. So was I. She climbed under my blanket and lay on top of me. Her skin was warm and smooth. I was in heaven. Then, of course, this guy also came in. He seemed a bit hesitant at first, but he came in and lay down next to the woman. I had no idea what was going on.
In fact, I quickly realised that the two people didn’t know who I was, that I was out of context, and in the poor light available, they hadn’t recognised me, as I had thought. That raised interesting questions to me. Did they do this sort of thing all the time? Did they seek out homeless men to sleep with? Should I tell them I know them? As I pondered ways to shock them with my knowledge of their identity and introduce myself, I realized I’d forgotten their names, which killed my element of surprise, so I said nothing about myself.
Realizing that they were probably expecting sex, especially since the woman had her hand on my erection, but I wasn’t into either this ménage à trois stuff, or sex with men, I wasn’t sure what to say or do. The male asked me if it was alright. I said I wasn’t into men sexually. He asked me why. I told him that men just didn’t turn me on, and he, of course, wanted to know why I wasn’t curious. I told him, I had been curious, but I had gotten over that. I went into a reverie, and could no longer tell if I was just in my head or speaking out loud.
I remembered my roommate from when I’d first left home. He was into young boys, his words. I accepted that about him, but came to realize he was also intererested in me. In fact, he was four years older than me. I’d thought of him as a friend, but he had other ideas. Nothing ever came of that, not for lack of trying on his part, but I’d had to punch him a bit to finally dissuade him.
Shortly after that experience, my best friend had been a lesbian. That doesn’t mean that I learned anything from the experience, but years later, on a trip to Canada, where my old roommate had become an expatriate, I had needed his help getting across the border, after a run in with the border cops, and I was staying in his apartment. He made it clear I couldn’t stay long, as he couldn’t afford to feed me. It was clear that he wanted me to feel grateful for his help, and he told me to go ahead and make myself breakfast while he went off to work. I had very little money at that point, having lost $50, half of all the money I’d had a few days earlier, and I was feeling a bit desperate.
When he came home later, it seemed clear from a number of things he said, that, if I were to be open to sex, he could possibly put me up longer. That was consistant with his previous attempts, and I figured I should consider that. However, the sight of him naked didn’t excite me, in fact, I was totally flaccid, and couldn’t get it up anyway. That seemed to settle the issue for him. Somehow, people always seem to assume one can get into something they have no interest in, if only they try. It often doesn’t work for heterosexual relationships; so there wasn’t any reason to expect it would work for a homosexual relationship either, except that young men seem to always be ready for sex at any time.
I really do think that there has to be some physical attraction, and some hormonal signaling, for this whole sexual attraction thing to work. I don’t think one should ever have sex with someone one is not attracted to. Random sex with strangers is just not a good idea, in my opinion.
So, that is what I told the couple. The woman still wanted to have sex with me, and, as had happened before, the man said he would just watch. I had turned down that offer as a young man, but I was very much interested in this woman, so I was considering it when I woke up.
Ah well, it would have been a much more interesting dream, I think.
Once, while I was young, tanned and muscular, I met a couple who invited me to their home for a party, and since I didn’t have a car, they drove me there. However, there was no party, except for the three of us, and the man had made that offer: I could have sex with his wife, if he could watch. It was the first I’d ever heard of such a thing. I considered it for a nanosecond, but at 25 years of age, I turned them down. I felt vulnerable, and a bit worried about what would happen. Rape came to mind. Being bound and tortured came to mind. But, most of all, I knew damn well I couldn’t have enjoyed myself with the woman with anyone else watching, much less her husband.
Once I told them I wasn’t interested, we had a few drinks, talked some, and slept, since it was very late at night. I slept on the couch and they didn’t bother me. In the morning they drove me back to where I lived. I never heard from them again, but it was fascinating to learn that there where people who did such things.
I don’t know why all this bubbled out of memory last night.
Perhaps I was curious about what my stepdaughter was up to. She had texted me to pick her up from work, but hadn’t said where she was going, Her evening class was over, and I thought she might want to have me take her food shopping, since she doesn’t drive. However, she had wanted me to take her to a certain bar, a favorite of hers, one not far from where I live. I was going to be running with my running group, and would have to turn around as soon as I dropped her off, and go right back to near where I’d picked her up. I remarked on that, since I thought it was kind of funny. She was apologetic, as she thought it would be easy for me, since I’d be so close to my home.
I asked her if she was meeeting someone, and she said, “Yes.” I asked her if she was having dinner or just drinks. She said, “Dinner.” And she said, “Bye, See you next time.” I was curious who she was meeting, but she didn’t seem to want to say, or give me any information; I was curious why.
I love that woman a lot. She inspired me to run. She runs a lot, always has, except during her cancer treatment. It took a lot of work on her part to get back into running, but she runs marathons these days. I ran a half-marathon last year for the first time ever, four months after my heart attack, and will run one this year. She will run a full marathon at the same time, probably in little more time as it takes me to do a half.
When I got back from my run last night, I thought about stopping into the bar where she was, but I know she likes her privacy. I remember thinking that I’d have joined her if she’d asked, but three can be a crowd, and anyway, we don’t hang out much anymore.
So, perhaps that is why that threesome idea permeated my dreams. It’s not that either of us would ever comtemplate such a thing as the stuff of my dreams, but I was lonely, and I’d have enjoyed some dinner company. Boy, do I have to be careful that she never knows I even connected her vaguely with the kind of things I dream about. She’d be horrified. I’d hate that. When I say I love this woman, I mean it. I love her with all my heart, and always want her to have a great life. I’d love her even if I never saw her again, but I hope that doesn’t happen.
Some day, she’ll be married, with a kid perhaps. Maybe we’ll drift further apart. I used to drive her to and from work, but she doesn’t need me for that anymore, just an occasional lift here and there. I’m divorced from her mother these last seven years, and her mother avoids me like I have bubonic plague. No communication or reapproachment with that one. She’d kill me if she believed I had any designs on her daughter. Hell, my stepdaughter would quickly terminate all ties with me too, if she thought I’d ever thought of such things, even in a vague association with a dream.
I don’t know why I even brought it up. It is nice to have someone to love like her, even in a non-sexual, platonic way. In fact, I’d find life a whole lot less tolerable without her. It’s bad enough my cat got eaten by coyotes. “Situations tolerable” the Traveling Wilburys sang, and really, my life could be worse, but it could be better.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 8, 2014
Charlie, my feline friend for the past 11 years, went missing two weeks ago. While he often strays for a day or two, this is unusual for him. I have always followed the practice of letting him come and go as he wished. If he wanted to hang out, he would do so. Perhaps the time came. He is a very affectionate cat, born in my yard of a feral mother. I fed his mother and the other kittens, until my wife (ex-wife now) insisted I get rid of them. There are so many feral cats around here that Animal Control has to euthanize them all, so I put it off as long as I could. When I finally got a trap, all the cats except Charlie went in for the food. I felt like I’d betrayed them. But, I kept Charlie. He had been one who found his way inside a new double-sided picket fence I’d put up, and I’d had to take a plank out to remove him. Perhaps it changed him subtly. He was a bit freaked out at first to find himself alone, but I continued to put food out for him. Eventually, he allowed me to pet him while he was eating, an action that became imprinted on the little orphan. Even as an adult, he’d usually wait for me to pet him before he’d start eating, but not always. When he’s hungry, he wouldn’t stand on ceremony.
A year after he became attached to me, another cat showed, a female as was obvious soon enough by her swollen belly in a skinny body. The two cats hit it off right away. The new feral cat I called Girl until I read about a Japanese demon cat named Kilala. I tried it out on her, and she actually responded immediately, so she became Kilala. Both cats were neutered, and they have been constant companions ever since, sleeping together, screwing, fighting, or running across the flat roofs of the houses here. Even though I’d had to move seven years ago when I found myself divorced from my wife of 14 years, the cats stuck by me, acclimatizing themselves to their new home and environment. This area is largely farmland, full of water-filled ditches, and wildlife of all kinds. My attached house sits far back from the main street, so I feel the cats are safe here, safe to run and play and hunt. There is no danger of them eliminating the prolific wildlife, being just north of a wildlife preserve, and smack dab in the middle of hundreds of quail, rabbits, mice, gophers, and all manner of other critters.
Coyotes are actually faster runners than Roadrunners. However, Roadrunners can fly, and coyotes can’t, so it balances out. Roadrunners are fierce predators themselves, competing with cats for small birds, mice, and the eggs of other birds. They even kill and eat snakes.
So, the very real possibility is that the local coyotes got my cat. As strong, healthy and fierce as he can be, one never knows. I’d about given up on Charlie, assuming he’d likely been eaten, when neighbors saw my poster for Charlie and left me a message. They’d seen a cat like him in the neighborhood just slightly north of me. It’s far enough that I believe Charlie may not have heard me whistling for him. This is a cat that comes when I whistle, if he’s anywhere in the vicinity. Anyway, not only had this neighboring couple seen a similar cat, but picked it up after it came over to them. That would be unusual behavior for Charlie. Neither cat has ever warmed up to strangers, even close friends or family. They disappear whenever anyone visits. But, I reasoned, perhaps Charlie was lonely? He is a very affectionate cat, with me and Kilala.
I have started walking through that neighborhood every day now. I whistle for Charlie, but have not seen any sign of any cats at all. It appears bad, but I still haven’t totally given up hope. Perhaps he didn’t get eaten. Perhaps he’s wandering. Perhaps someone took him in, in his desperation? I may never know, and that’s the thing that bothers me. It’s hard to say goodbye when you don’t know what has happened.
I had to say goodbye to my wife. That was hard. The parting was sudden and not amiable at all. We’ve never talked since. The cats were a real comfort in my sudden isolation and loneliness. Since then, I’ve stayed busy, and know a lot of people. I met a woman who warmed me up physically and emotionally, but she dropped off the face of the earth, as far as I’m concerned, having no further interest in me. It’s hard to deal with these losses. Now I’m sad, and nearly cry during movies, and not even sad movies – anything with emotion in it. So strange.
This will pass, but, damn! I hate it. The cat was such a strong part of my life, like my ex. Even my on again – off again relationship after that, with a warm, affectionate and sexy woman, ended as suddenly as it began. The cat was a better friend than that.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 5, 2014
The Dome Fire burned in the Jemez Mountains in the northern portion of the state of New Mexico. Devastating portions of the Santa Fe National Forest and Bandelier National Monument, the fire exploded on April 26, 1996, starting from an improperly extinguished campfire. 16,516 acres in Capulin Canyon and the Dome Wilderness were burned. The fire was fought by over 900 firefighters. In 2011, the Las Conchas fire reburned the wilderness area almost completely. Congress designated the Dome Wilderness in 1980. The Dome Fire burned the majority of the wilderness. The area was closed under a Santa Fe National Forest Closure Order.
On May 30, 2014, I hiked through a small part of the area. I was struck by the fact that all the trees had been burnt, to the ground. In fact, I could see portions of roots that stuck out above ground burnt. Everywhere I looked the trees remained as black ghosts of their former selves. In some case, due to the destruction of the soil, extreme flooding brought down centuries-old Ponderosa Pines, breaking them up like matchsticks, or simply pulling them out of the ground.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 16, 2014
I feel like this is my last night on Earth. Almost one year ago I had a heart attack – on that day, I felt doom, oddly like the end of the world, or at least my world. I honestly felt like my life was finished, like I was going to die. If I hadn’t gotten myself to the heart hospital, I’d have been dead – so they say. At the hospital, I was shown an echocardiogram of my heart. The main right artery was nearly completely blocked. Only a trickle of blood was making it past the clot. The doctor convinced me that I needed balloon angioplasty, where they would break up the blockage with the balloon-tipped catheter and leave a stent in place. I asked about options. He said I could undergo drug therapy, but he didn’t recommend it. He seemed amused that I was unconvinced that angioplasty was my best option. I said to go ahead. They decided to insert the catheter via my arm, instead of my groin, after they shaved both areas. My groin may not have been the best choice since I hadn’t showered since the morning of the day before. They asked my if I’d taken Viagra. I had, on Saturday night – it had been a nice night of sex with a woman I knew at the time. It was then Monday. They probably thought I’d not showered since then. In actuality, I’d showered on Sunday morning, but masturbated Monday, that very morning, and washed up, but had not had time to take a full shower. I had had to rush off to pick my stepdaughter up and get her to work on time.
I felt fine that morning, and, in fact, donated a pint of blood after I’d dropped my stepdaughter off. My blood pressure was OK, and my pulse steady, and all seemed fine; my cholesterol levels have always been good. They told me to go eat a big breakfast. Taking them up on that, I stopped at a breakfast buffet. I had a pile of bacon, a little bit of scrambled eggs, some carne adovada, a small waffle, some fruit and coffee. I felt great. I went home and relaxed, played around on my computer: checking the status of things I had for sale on eBay, reading email, looking at my blogs on WordPress. I picked up a book and read for a while. It was then that I felt the weird pressure in my chest that wouldn’t go away and kept getting worse. Nothing I did helped. The feeling of doom crept in. Death. An ending. It’s over. All that went through my mind. No pain. No numbness. No nausea. Nothing but the most unusual sense of impending doom, and the pressure in my chest. I survived.
No heart attack now. I’m off most of the medications. I’m supposed to keep taking aspirin every day for the rest of my life. I’m still taking a statin drug to keep my cholesterol down. It’s lower than it’s ever been in my life. I also take a drug to fight off acid reflux. It helps. However, I don’t feel like taking any more drugs. I checked my blood pressure the other day, and it was higher than it’s ever been in my entire life! Way higher. I never had a problem with hypertension before. I started training for a half-marathon shortly after the heart attack, and ran it in October: 13.1 miles in three hours. Slow, but I made it. I had never run before. I’ve been running since, but not lately – I’ve had too many conflicts, what with work at a winery, and being on a movie set, and hiking sometimes in the mountain. Somehow I am busy, even five years after I retired from my day job. All is well.
Psychologically? I don’t know. I came back from visiting a friend who just had cancer surgery a few days ago. She had her thyroid removed, and her parathyroid relocated. We visited a bit, and she said she was tired, and wanted to nap. I left, but later saw that she was on Facebook, and at dinner with friends. She hadn’t mentioned that. I’d offered to take her out, or pick something up, but she’d said no. Well, that felt odd.
Watched a movie tonight: The Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty. Great movie. Easy to identify with the main character. Just before it ended I heard a muffled explosion from my kitchen. I was engrossed in the movie and didn’t want to get up. But then, I heard the sound of water running, and dripping, and I had no idea what it could be. I paused to see what the hell it was, and discovered my kitchen cabinet leaking. A bottle of Blackberry wine that came from the winery I work at, but had been opened by my stepdaughter, and recorked, had exploded and was pouring out over the countertop. She hadn’t liked it, and had given it to me. I grabbed some towels to mop it up, left them in place and watched the rest of the movie. Since then I’ve cleaned up a little, taken most everything out of two shelves and wiped up all the wine. I still need to wash it out. My whole house smells like wine now. It’s past time I should be in bed. I need to get up in 5 hours to drive to Santa Fé to work with the film crew. It’s the last day, day 13 of filming. It is a Sci Fi TV pilot. Whether or not it will ever be seen by anyone but ourselves, I can’t say. It’s an excellent concept, and everyone has worked hard. Very low-budget. Most of us worked for free. As extras and crew we’re not paid (except coffee, donuts, fruit, cheese, water and pizza). The actors are paid, although not much.
It feels like the end to me. Running through my head is the idea I can’t shake: that this is my last night ever, that tomorrow is my last day, ever. I don’t know why. I’m being melodramatic. I’m foolish. I know better, but not much inspires me to write anymore. This does. What if this is my last night?
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 24, 2013
Why is that?
It is so, because murder is a legal term for killing not sanctioned by society. If all killing were murder, then executions would be murder. If all killing was murder, then any death in wartime would be murder: killing the enemy? murder. Friendly fire? murder. collateral damage? murder. Because we sanction those things, we do not define them as murder. Recently I came across the comparison of the fines and penalties for harming the eggs of protected species, like Eagles, and human fetuses. The argument appears to be that if it’s wrong to destroy eagle eggs, then it is wrong to kill human fetuses as well. This does not follow logically. The Eagle, for one, although recovering, is an endangered species, and the fine is an attempt to allow that species to continue. Does anyone, really, anyone, believe that abortion is killing the human race? That we are in danger of dying out as a species because of abortion? No, of course not. Hell, we continue to proliferate, for now. What does threaten the survival of the human race is pollution of the air and water, and eradication of too many animal species. Life on Earth is a balancing act.
When we kill off entire species, we remove an element from the balance. For example, animals are usually either prey for some other animal, or prey on some other animal, or are both. If a species goes, its actions in the balance of things go too. The result can be overpopulation of that animals prey, or an absence of prey for others, whether it was mammalian or insect, or aquatic in nature. Sometimes, another animal can fill the void, sometimes not. Sometimes, the death of a species results in the death of many other species. Some argue we are in the middle of just such an effect now, where the death of so many thousands of species has reached a point of cascade, wherein it is impossible to stop, and we will be left with only humans, for a short time. For, regardless of whether one is vegetarian or not, humans are dependent on animal life for our survival.
There are so many interactions between animals and plants, between animals and insects (another animal, but I’m making a point here), between animals and the air we breathe and the water we drink. Humanity would cease to exist long before the last animal species was wiped out, because it is a co-dependancy. A good example of co-dependancy is that between wolves and deer. Too many wolves, and the deer are removed. Not enough wolves, and the deer overpopulate, then overgraze the available resources and die out en masse from starvation. Huntings laws help keep that balance, but hunting laws are not going to keep us alive when all the predators are gone, or when all the prey is, or when all the bugs are gone. There are billions upon billions of interactions in the world that result in life for humans, and we can’t imitate them all. That’s the reason for endangered species laws.
Be all that as it may be, however, I’ve strayed too far from the point. The point is that killing is not murder, legally. Abortion is NOT murder, legally. There is a movement among Evangelical Christians to define life as beginning from the moment of conception, frivolous and stupid idea that it is. Does the world celebrate birthdays or conception days? Most of us know that life begins at birth. No one wants to see a baby killed. However, killing living, breathing human beings is almost universally illegal, except for executions, and in war, or self-defense, or by accident. Killing is not and cannot ever be considered murder in all cases. Killing a fetus is just such a case.
Killing a human fetus, is not, for the time being, murder. There was a time when it was. Murder is a relative term, depending entirely on what the society making the laws believes.
For, if killing a fetus is murder, regardless of the law, then so is execution, war, and accidental death. We don’t seem to agree on this. A number of fundamentalist zealots want life defined as beginning from the moment of conception, so they can justify making all abortion illegal. However, almost all of them accept execution, and war, and do not want those things to be illegal. It is a very inconsistent, illogical and convenient. Is all killing murder? or not? Does a woman who slips and falls, kill her fetus? or a woman who is involved in a car accident or other such incident that results in the fetus’s death kill that fetus? Are they murderers? How many exceptions will the believers accept in order to make abortion illegal again?
But then, there is that other question. If one is opposed to all killing, and all killing is murder, then eating animals is certainly murder, for animals are often cruelly killed, tortured and abused in the process of becoming what we refer to as meat. Dead animal flesh is dead animal flesh. The animal had to be killed for that. If killing is murder, than eating meat condones murder. Hah! you say? animals are not human. Why is that? Very convenient. We can kill, that is, terminate any life we want, as long as it isn’t what society defines as human. Funny how most animal fetuses, including human fetuses, look exactly alike in the womb at some point. It is in the development that a fetus becomes an animal or a human. So somehow, people argue, animals and people are not the same, and it is OK to kill animals for food, even if they resemble us, because well, they are not human – by law. Again, it is a legal fiction that animals and people are not protected from killing in the same way. There are animal cruelty laws, but those usually apply only to pets, and ranch animals like horses, which often are a kind of pet. Slaughterhouses kill every day, and we don’t blink an eye at that.
So again, I have to ask, why is a human fetus, unborn, not yet even breathing, more important than a living, breathing animal? The historical answer has always been: the soul. Biblical teachings have it that human beings are special, and are thus endowed with souls. Animals have no soul, therefore, it is legal to kill them. And, kill them we do, in the millions every day, and yet it is not murder, because we do not define it as such. So it is with abortion: when it is legal, it is not murder.
So, the whole question of abortion as murder comes down to this soul, a religious belief that sets humans apart from animals, for the purpose of allowing us to kill animals without shame or repercussion.
Some people do not believe in the concept of souls.
Some people believe that all living things have souls.
Some people selectively believe that only humans have souls.
So, what life-begins-at-conception laws and anti-abortion laws really are, are an attempt to impose, legally, the belief on all people, that souls exist, that a human fetus, alone of all creatures, has a soul, and therefore cannot be killed. This attempt is only possible if one does not care what other people believe. Lately, I see all these complaints from the politically-motivated-religious right that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Somehow, it is persecution to resist their attempts to force their beliefs on those of us who do not share those beliefs. This has happened throughout the history of religion. Those who believe have killed those who do not believe the same things in the same way. “That was in the past,” they say. Bull. It is happening again. This same group of self-righteous religious fanatics wants to make providing access to abortion, or having an abortion a Capital Crime. Again, those motivated by their belief that they are right and the rest of us are wrong, want to kill everyone who does not accede to their beliefs, and they want it to be legal to do so.
That is the essence of religion: do what I say, or you will die, for I am right, and you are wrong. And you seriously think I shouldn’t be offended by that? You seriously think I shouldn’t fear your blatant attempts to legislate your particular brand of morality? to make everyone follow your beliefs by law?
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 2, 2013
I have the most bizarre dreams sometimes, but I forget them quickly. This one stuck with me. I’ve a friend I see occasionally. We used to travel a bit with a group that visited state monuments, went rafting, saw the sights, etc. She is the daughter of an old lover, from many, many years ago. She is 30 years old. Lately she has returned to school to work on a graduate degree, so she doesn’t get out much. However, she does like to catch movies from time to time, and set up a regular trip to the dollar theater for anyone who wanted to share. I was part of that group, but, eventually, it dwindled down to me and her. She is a lovely woman, bright and funny, and good-looking. I enjoy her company. We don’t date, as she considers me a family friend. Even after her mom had dumped me for another guy, I was still invited to family gatherings, especially after that guy dumped her mom, and she has since remarried and divorced two more times.
Anyhoo. This dream was about Mona (name altered to protect the innocent). Mona is attractive to me, but off-limits. And, after all, she is quite a bit younger. In this weird dream, Mona decided one day that we could be lovers after all. I was really excited about that, and, oddly, in this dream, we were going to move in together, before we even had sex. We went to a house that belonged to neither of us, perhaps the new one we’d be living in and ended up in bed quickly. Now, that was a scenario I was really happy about. I would love to see her naked. I would love to fuck her, perverted old man that I am. In bed, Mona was next to me, naked. I swung her over on top of me, and in the process spread her legs wide. Instantly, this tremendous fart escaped from her, and I could feel it on my toes! I could even smell it, but it was not so terrible. Mona was really embarrassed, but I told her it was no big deal, and it didn’t matter to me; in fact, I laughed. She laughed with me, but then, of course, I woke up. Damn. I would have enjoyed the sex part. Well, fantasies are fantasies, and sometime they must remain so. Sigh.
I treasure Mona’s friendship. I do not want to alienate her. However, the last time we saw a movie, the weather was still warm. Mona wore a short-sleeved shirt, and as we got up to leave out seats, our arms brushed together. The sensation was electric! (No, it wasn’t static electricity). The sensation was one of extreme pleasure. I know from that what the effect of climbing into bed with her would be. Be all that as it may be, however, Mona is a masseuse. We had arranged a massage session for after the movie. Mona has a massage table, and oils, and incense at her house. The massage took an hour. Mona took the pain out of my neck, and rubbed all of my body from my neck to my toes, except for my penis, of course. She’s not that kind of masseuse! It was a wonderful massage. There was no sexual element to it at all. I was extremely relaxed, and did not experience an erection, which I was afraid I would, given how sexy Mona is. It was the best massage I’d ever had, without any element of sex involved, although I was indeed naked. Mona rubbed my arms and legs and kneaded my back. She worked my neck good. It was heaven.
I’m not sure I should relate this dream to Mona, but I’d sure like to share it with her. She has a good sense of humor, but I’d hate to have her think I’m dreaming about sex with her. That might make future movies or massages difficult. I always seem to find ways to alienate women.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 11, 2013
There have been many times over the last five or six years when I thought I was ready for death. My life didn’t have much meaning, but it didn’t have to, I thought, since I had lived a good, and a long life already. I mean, what’s the point of just living? Life needs to be lived, and I mean lived, enjoyed, relished, savored. It doesn’t matter what the mix of good and bad is. A really good week makes up for a bad day anytime. An exceptional day makes up for a bad week. However, since my days were one long string of bad, mediocre, or really crappy times, I couldn’t figure out why I was still alive.
Sometimes, I felt like I was dying. It seemed to me, day by day, that my life was winding down. Sometimes I had trouble hiking, and I could feel my lungs struggling to bring air in. Sometimes I felt pain in my chest. In my mind, I suspected I might have a heart attack anytime, or simply stop breathing. I was old enough. The idea didn’t bother me. We all have our time, and it seemed mine had passed. A few times, after I’d fallen asleep in my recliner, I’d awakened to find myself half dead, my brain fuzzy, my thoughts chaotic. It was as if I hadn’t been breathing for a few minutes. I would get up and walk around, but even though my lungs were moving, there was no oxygen in my brain. My brain felt dim, and dark, as though I was trapped underground. I mean, what is more symbolic of death than that? I asked my doctor about it, and she said those were panic attacks. Well, you’d panic too if there was no oxygen going to your brain. I believe I actually did stop breathing each time, probably not for long, but long enough to trigger my body’s desperate attempt to reboot. I envisioned a time when I would be found dead at home, probably days or weeks after the fact. Who would check?
When my step-daughter had experienced her brain tumor, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and more radiation and chemo, that had been really troubling. I didn’t want her to die. She survived, and the joy I’d felt then had been true joy, unbelievable happiness. However, my marriage ended shortly after that. There was no further contact, no hope of reconciliation. I had a friend I’d known for years, and asked her out. She was horrified at the idea, and gradually pulled away too. I retired from my job of twenty-five years. I lived alone. It all seemed pointless right then. Was I depressed? Sure. But, eventually that passed, but I could see that I wasn’t really living, I was just marking time. It was as though I was in a waiting room, killing time, only I was just waiting for death to tap me on the shoulder, even though I was occasionally having good moments.
So, a week ago, I did have a heart attack. I suspected it might be a heart attack before it had hardly begun. I had felt something odd in my chest, a tightening, or pressure, on and off for months. It never lasted long, and I could simply sit down and rest a bit and I was fine. I don’t exercise enough, so I attributed it to my less-than-perfect stamina. Hiking in the mountains here, once a week, even for 5 to 9 miles, is not really enough to stay in good shape when you’re old. When the day came and the pressure wouldn’t ease off, and I felt anxious, was sweating like a pig, and foggy in my head, I thought, yeah, maybe this is it. For years, I’d believed that I would welcome it. I debated going to see my doctor, the newer one who had diagnosed exercised-induced asthma. I was breathing OK. I had no pain. However, something was wrong. At first I thought I would get over it. I took two aspirin. I tried to relax. Increasingly, I felt worse. Suddenly, I had to make a decision: do or don’t. I decided to act. Got help. Heart attack verified. Angioplasty performed. Clot destroyed. Stent placed in right coronary artery.
For someone prone to hypochondria, this was actually vindication. I knew I was sick, and I was. More importantly, I made the decision to live. If I had just sat down, or gone to bed, I would have reached the point by myself, as I did in the cardiac lab, where my heart went into arrhythmia. I would have died, painfully, all by myself.
So, I had decided to live on. I took steps to get help. I survived. I am on drugs for a while to help get my body through this experience. I signed up to train for a half-marathon. It feels good.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 8, 2013
I hike in the mountains, nearly every week. Sometimes its a three to four-hour jaunt, sometimes six hours, with a lunch break. The elevation gain can be 1000 feet or 2000. I’ve done much harder hikes in the past, but found that I was having too much trouble keeping up with the other hikers. Instead of getting stronger with more stamina over time, I was having a hard time finishing 12 mile hikes up and down a mountain trail at all. So, I began hiking with a Meetup group, hiking just the three or four hours at a leisurely pace. I tried snowshoeing to the peak of one mountain, Mt. Taylor, at 11,301 feet. I had hiked it on two prior occasions, and snowshoed it once before, but didn’t make it that day. I had to stop to catch my breath a few times. Once I leaned against a tree and felt like I could fall asleep right there, standing up. I fell so far behind that the hike leader, tired of coming back to look for me and unwilling to wait for me in temperatures near zero degrees F (he was not warmly-enough dressed), relayed a message to me that I was to turn around. I had never failed to complete a hike before, so that was upsetting. I knew I could get to the top, but just needed more time. The hike leader had also cancelled our scheduled lunch break at the top, which is when I felt I could have caught up to them. I missed the wonderful sluicing through the deep powder on the back side of that climb. Well, so it goes. However, on the way home by car, I had trouble breathing. My chest actually hurt upon taking a deep breath. That was very troubling. Back home, I saw my doctor and he said I had exercise asthma, and prescribed an inhaler. I used it a few times before hikes, and had no trouble. However, on several hikes with rapid elevation gain, I had felt strange and weak when we stopped for lunch.
Then, last Sunday, while puttering around a winery I help out at, I felt the same strangeness, more like a tightening of my chest or pressure on my chest. I had only been cleaning up, putting equipment away, and climbing up and down a short ramp when I felt it overtake me. I sat down in a chair with a glass of cranberry wine and relaxed. I felt better after a short while, so I finished my duties and went home. At home I was comfortable and relaxed and slept well. The next day, however, was far different.
In the morning I awoke early, had coffee, and picked my step-daughter up from her home, dropping her off at her job. She doesn’t drive, due to a problem with her peripheral vision, so I take her to and from work most days. This day I also had a blood donation appointment, so I went there after dropping her off. The blood donation went well – no unusual blood pressure, pulse normal. Afterwards I stopped at a breakfast buffet, and for $6.49 had bacon, sausage, eggs smothered in red chile, a bit of carne adovada (pork marinated in red chile), small slices of french toast, and fruit – hey, the blood place said to eat a big breakfast, so I did. I dropped off a package at Fed-X for my step-daughter and went home. It was a slow day after that. I messed around at the computer: reading news, checking blogs, Facebook, eBay, an art site (Deviant Art), and then sat down to quietly read a book. In mid-afternoon, however, I felt that strange pressure in my chest. I used my asthma inhaler, but to no effect. I took two aspirin. I stretched out on my bed for a bit, but without improvement. I felt odd, perhaps a little anxious. I was sweating, so I turned on the evaporative cooler. I went back to reading. I still felt that something was wrong, and I still felt hot. I increased blower speed on the cooler. I began to worry. It was getting late, after 4pm, so I wasn’t sure if I could get to the clinic my doctor worked at before it closed. Suddenly I decided I was going to go anyway. Enough uncertainty! I had to find out what was wrong; I might even be having heart problems. I decided not to take the motorcycle, opting instead for four wheels, should I become weak or unsteady. However, I changed my mind as I was backing the car up, and went back in. Something was wrong and I was getting worse fast. I called 911.
It didn’t take the EMT guys long to get to my house, as the firehouse was less than two miles away, but they had to search for my house in this compound so I got up and flagged ’em down. They came in, asked questions, took vitals and decided I should go to the hospital. An ambulance had arrived after they came in their firetruck. By this time I was sweating profusely, felt weaker, and didn’t mind lying on their gurney. I’m not sure it was a good idea to attempt an IV while the ambulance was bouncing over the speed humps, but I got to the hospital OK. They sent me to the cardiac lab, and five or six guys went to work, taking pictures, repeating vitals and finally deciding that I was, indeed, having a heart attack. There were options, like drug therapy, but the best idea presented was to do an angioplasty, where they run an inflatable device up an artery into my heart to open the artery there. X-rays had shown that the artery was indeed almost completely blocked by a clot.
I agreed, so the team went ahead. I felt a pain after they began. I said “Ouch!” just as somoene was sticking a needle in me, and he apologized, but it was the sudden sharp pain in my heart that had gotten my attention. The pain increased, but, miraculously, as they worked and the catheter reached my heart, the pain subsided; the pressure that had been building stopped, and I felt great! They had used the balloon-like device on the end of the catheter to ream out my artery, and then released a stainless-steel tube from there that expanded to fit to the walls of the artery. It’s called a stent. It’s an odd, meshed device. To me, it resembles those old Chinese finger puzzles, but on a much reduced scale. The stent will remain with me now. I must take a drug for one year to prevent my body from rejecting the stent. Ha! I wish I only had to take one drug. I must also take aspirin, a small 81 mg dose, every day. I am taking a drug to lower my blood pressure, even though my pressure is normal. I am taking a statin drug to lower my cholesterol even though my cholesterol is not high. I am taking a drug to block blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. I am taking a drug to lower the acid in my stomach. And I am taking a drug that lowers my heart rate, reducing strain on my heart, which was only minimally damaged in all this.
In short, I survived, and in good shape. I’m certain I do not need all of these drugs. My blood pressure is now lower than ever, at about 118 over 70, as I just measured. I already eat fairly well, so my cholesterol is not dangerous, but I welcome the assistance of the drug, for now. I think some of the others are a bit too much, as I would like to be as drug-free as possible. One drug can be interfered with by fish-oil supplements, which are in my daily multivitamins already. If the fish oil has the same effect, I don’t know why I can’t just take that instead of a drug.
Ah, well. I’m lucky to be alive, and damn lucky to have had that cardiac team work on me. They worked very quickly, efficiently and smoothly, each one performing certain vital tasks, and being watchful of changes in my status. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived. I need to take them some wine.
I received lots of messages from friends and family, and my step-daughter visited me while I was confined to the hospital for two days. My friend, who is “not a girlfriend”, declined to visit me in the hospital because, as she put it, “…hospitals freak me all the fuck out…”, but she said she wanted to see me to verify that I was alive. We went to a movie and had dinner Friday afternoon. Life goes on.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 29, 2012
Orbiter, this is Lander.
Go ahead, Lander.
We have determined that the atmosphere is Earth compatible. We are preparing for egress.
Affirmative, Lander, we concur. Recommend full suits.
Roger that Orbiter. Full suits, with open helmets.
Roger that Roger, Lander. (chuckle). Any visible signs of life?
No, Orbiter, not yet. There seems to be a ground fog, obscuring most of the surface. We are on solid ground, and we will be exploring cautiously.
Roger that, Lander; step by step.
Egress now Orbiter. Surface is firm, under a thin layer of coppery dust.
Can you see anything yet, Lander?
No. Wait, yes, Orbiter, there appears to be something moving towards us in the fog.
Lander, what do you see?
Lander, come in. Lander?
Lander, what do you see? Is everything OK? Lander?
Lander, Lander, come in Lander. What’s your status?
Orbiter, AOK. We are OK.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 5, 2012
So, on the fourth of July I was making my way home from a hike, and I ended up detoured by a parade in the village of Corrales, NM. I tried to get around it, following directions from a sheriff’s deputy, but I simply ended up farther along the parade route. Not sure how to escape, I took out my camera and started shooting. In a few minutes I noticed that a Model A car club had put all of their vehicles in the parade, so I shot them all. There are a few other pictures of other vehicles here as well, since they were all so interesting. In this type of gallery posting, click on whatever shot you’d like to see full size. Then, after viewing it, you can scroll through all of the photos one at a time.
If you like the shots, let me know.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 8, 2012
Albuquerque’s Comic Con, second year. Just wandering around on opening day, Friday June 8, 2012. Click on each image to view full size.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 31, 2012
Some call El Morro a bluff, or a headland, but it translates directly as The Promontory. It certainly is a prominent feature. At this place are many features: colorful rock formations, cliffs, centuries-old graffiti, excavated ruins of the Atsinna people, and the only source of water in the area for hundreds of years since modern peoples found it. Although there are some petroglyphs left behind on the walls, there are fantastic inscriptions left in the sandstone by thousands of others as well. Modern-day graffiti is removed immediately, as all of the old inscriptions were documented in 1934. In the 1920s the first superintendent erased any inscriptions he found that were added after 1906, so the ones left range from approximately 1275 to 1906. The first modern-day inscription was left on March 11, 1583, 15 years before New Mexico became officially part of Spain.
I spent some time there photographing the beauty of the place, and taking a few pictures of the inscriptions to see if I could. Contrast in the light-colored sandstone is poor. One ranger tried darkening the most famous inscription, by Don Juan de Oñate, with a No. 2 pencil, but preservationists no longer take such steps. Oñate, first colonial governor of New Mexico, established Santa Fe, but is infamous for cutting off the left foot of every Acoma Pueblo man over the age of twenty-five. Eighty men had one of their feet amputated (although other commentators put the figure of those mutilated at twenty-four). He also had 800 Zuni people killed, and enslaved 500 others. A statue of Oñate, erected in Albuquerque in recent years, had Oñate’s bronze left foot cut off in the night, although it was restored and the statue moved. General Don Diego de Vargas also recorded his visit here in 1692, after retaking New Mexico after the successful united Pueblo revolt of 1680. Click on each image to view full size.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 23, 2012
page 24A ☼☼☼Wednesday, April 23, 2042 ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ ☺The Morning News☻
EDITORIALS / OPINION
It is a measure of visual acuity. It was a popular TV news program. It is also the year Mars was first touched by a human. It is the year the United States lost its technological edge, its pride in leadership and exploration.
By 2020, the United States’ economy had spent too many years fluctuating between extreme lows and mediocre progress. Attempts by every President and Congress to address the problem had done little. Military spending had increased, and the short-term effects had kept the economy going, but military spending does not have any positive long-term effects. It is not an investment in the future; it does not improve infrastructure, education, health care, technology or knowledge of our solar system.
There was a significant improvement during the Clinton administration, when both president and legislators cut government spending and waste, and concentrated on reducing the national debt. Of course, all of this effort was for nought, considering the money spent during the next administration on the invasion and occupation of two countries simultaneously. The cost in human lives was great, but the devastation wrought on the U.S. economy was greater.
Subsequent administrations tried once again, to tackle the ailing economy. Greater money than ever was authorized by Congress to jump start a recovery. The hemorrhaging loss of jobs stopped, but new jobs were slow to materialize. Taxes were cut again and again, but still the effects on the economy were slight. The national debt continued to grow. Politicians clamored for more war, for greater military spending, as if shaking our military might at the world was enough to save us. It wasn’t. Taxes were cut again. Few in the U.S. realized that we had already lost our way. A country that had grown great through exploration and innovation no longer had such goals. There was no vision to inspire us to grow, to innovate, to change. Fear of terrorism still dominated our lives, as we gave into the very purposes of terrorist attacks: to inspire fear, to focus almost exclusively on defensive and offensive capabilities, at great expense to ourselves.
Meanwhile, although the rest of the world was having similar problems with economic disasters, they had learned, from the United States, not to give in to despair and ennui. In the 1960s, in the United States, despite an economy-busting war in Vietnam, we had a space program dedicated to landing on and exploring the moon. Despite the costs of running that war, and investments made in social programs, we still found the time and money to land on the moon, to explore it, to participate in building Earth’s fist space station. Spin-offs from our space program gave us new technologies, and inspired ever greater innovation. We had pride in our country, in our goals, in our technology, and in our education system. All wanted our country as a whole to succeed, to grow, and to become the best.
In Australia, in Asia, and in Europe, people still believe in setting inspirational goals. One of them was the continued human exploration of space, the idea all but abandoned by the U.S. They worked tirelessly to send human beings into space, to move beyond our small lunar satellite to the planets. They mined near-Earth asteroids, and then they put mankind on Mars. To be accurate, the first footprints made on Mars were female, but humankind had reached another planet, and far sooner than near-sighted politicians and educators in the U.S. had envisioned. Cuts to the operating budgets of NASA crippled plans to land on Mars; the goal was pushed farther and farther back, until 2037 was the earliest possible date for a U.S. Mars attempt. Innovation was taken away from government, and left to private citizens. This was admirable in it’s reliance on capitalism and entrepreneurism, but investors were loath to invest the money necessary to reach near-Earth asteroids, Mars or the other planets in our solar system. Robots landed on Mars, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and several asteroids, but the start-up money necessary to successfully mine, transfer, and process elements from the asteroids just wasn’t available to the few wealthy individuals who believed in the work.
Ferrying people into low Earth orbit did little to inspire the kind of creativity and wonder of the 1960’s space program. In fact, the role of the U.S. became little more than support for the efforts of other countries to grow their space programs. We needed their assistance just to maintain our own system of communication, defense, and navigation satellites. The information gleaned by our robotic exploration programs did much to advance Earth’s reach into space, but the U.S. reluctance to finance human exploration and establish base camps crippled our efforts to reap any benefits from our investments. The second space station went into operation without the participation of the United States. When China established their first moon base in 2020, we scoffed at the idea, claiming it was unimportant and insignificant. We knew that we would soon reach Mars. We just needed a little more time. Our economy wasn’t up for the task of massive spending on the establishment of bases in space. Unfortunately, despite their own economic woes, Australia, the European Union, and Japan followed suit by establishing bases on the moon, and set up processing facilities for the material coming from Chinese asteroids Ni and Hao.
Still, the U.S. goals were robotic exploration, and perhaps a 2037 Mars landing. But we no longer had the guts to compete in any space race. Our politicians, right and left, wanted to focus on growing our economy through artificial means, believing that all would fall into place as soon as we cut taxes far enough, as soon as our government no longer had the burden of investing in social programs, education, health care, or the worry of caring for the aged. And still, we invested heavily, not in innovation, infrastructure, or space, but in war. It has been argued that we had no choice but to support Israel in their devastating attack on Iran, but, after, all, we were the ones who had advocated, and indeed, proven (to ourselves) that preëmptive strikes were perfectly justified in the name of security. The staggering costs of supporting Israel in their jihad crippled us far worse than anything we’d ever done. Significantly, NASA’s budget was cut further, and private enterprise could not pick up the slack as our economy spiraled ever closer to ruin.
The joint Soviet/Asian/Australian/EU Mars venture electrified the world in 2030. Not only had they landed on Mars before the United States thought possible, but their joint base was now the center of technological innovation. The newest methods of sub-surface mining, extrapolated from their earlier work with asteroids, provided not only the water necessary to make life on Mars possible, but also those rare elements on Earth that were nearly depleted and too costly. Cheap rare-earths and precious metals flow outward from several asteroids as well as Mars now, providing the means for each of those countries to grow exponentially.
The United States will reach Mars one day. We’ve passed our 2037 goal now, and there is the promise that we will reach Mars by 2050, and begin the reap the benefits thereof. In the meantime, food riots continue. We lack the national will to spend money on space exploration when so many are hungry and homeless. Even if martial law is lifted soon, as promised, we may never see the grandeur of our country restored. We have fallen too far behind. We are safe and secure behind our borders for now, although few people around the world any longer seek to cross our borders legally or illegally. We lost our edge, our will, our purpose.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 17, 2012
Previously, I uploaded some pics from my hike across the lava flows in El Malpais Conservation Area, founded in 1987 near Grants, New Mexico. See: Hiking the pāhoehoe and ‘a’a in New Mexico. I went back. This time I saw, not only the lava and spectacular landscape, but also an incredible arch, located in a very accessible public part of the area. It is called La Ventana (The Window), and it is also in the El Malpais Conservation Area, founded in 1987 near Grants, New Mexico.
and here’s more of the pictures from my 3/11/12 hike (click on a pic to view it full size):
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 2, 2012
MARCH 2, 2012
As much as I’d like to go to Mars, and work in a habitat, it’s not likely; the earliest populated mission to Mars is in 2037. However, I have applied to the Cornell/University of Hawaii Mars Analogue Mission and Food Study. Applications are now closed, and about 700 people applied; only eight will participate. It’s a 120-day Mars exploration analogue mission that will take place in early 2013 on the big island of Hawaii. I’m psyched! Actually, studies of the effects of living in an enclosed environment for long periods of time have already been done. Between 2007 and 2011, a crew of volunteers lived and worked in a mock-up spacecraft. The final stage of the Mars-500 experiment, which was intended to simulate a 520-day manned mission, was conducted by a crew consisting of three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian and a Chinese citizen. The experiment helped plan the mission, identifying possible problems and solutions. The mock-up facility simulated the Earth-Mars shuttle spacecraft, the ascent-decent craft, and the martian surface. Volunteer crew used in the three stages included professionals with experience in fields such as engineering, medicine, biology, and spaceflight. There have been many other similar studies and more underway, in Antarctica, Europe, Russia, China and Australia.
520 days! Holy crap! That includes a round-trip flight time of between 400 to 450 days. What will we do in space that long? I’m trying to imagine what 120 days in isolation will be like, and that’s only in a contained environment on Hawaii. However, the habitat part of this mission doesn’t involve psychological effects or exploration. It’s all about the food! People on long missions typically eat only prepackaged meals, or concentrates. No matter how tasty the food, a type of fatigue sets in, a food monotony, and astronauts not only lose interest in the food, but also eating meals altogether. Additionally, prepackaged meals contribute more weight to a mission already starved for mass. Every bit of mass taken on a spaceflight must be boosted into orbit, at tremendous cost with limited storage space. There are other problems: prepackaged meals have a shorter storage life than the individual ingredients. Moreover, all of the crew members have scientific and exploratory goals, and time spent in food preparation and cleanup is time lost to research.
I think this type is thinking is short-sighted. I know exploring Mars will be exciting. I know the prospect of living on another planet will be exciting. I also know that there is such a thing as job fatigue. One cannot spend all of one’s time on the mission. I don’t mean just that all work and no play makes the Mars explorer dull. I mean that everyone needs a break from their own work. I propose that each member of the crew take turns preparing meals and cleaning up, say one day a week for each person. Perhaps one day a week, assuming there is a six-member crew, be a non-cooking day. The crew could simply eat prepackaged meals on that day, and everyone gets a break.
I’m sure that the experience of preparing meals will benefit every member of the crew. There will be the benefit of eating freshly prepared foods. There had better be a small array of spices! Salt, pepper, red chile powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, maybe some packaged shallots, and other spices as crew members might suggest. Nothing helps break the monotony like different spices; and dried powders are very light. Will there be cooking oil, I wonder? How about some sesame oil and chile oil too? Certainly some oil is a necessary part of our diet. Instant butter! Mmm.
One thing I’d recommend: high fat, great tasting food. One does not get fat or malnourished by eating good foods. One gets fat or malnourished by eating too little or too much food. Period. These programs might be making the mistake of assuming all the food must be low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar. No, my friends, I don’t think so. If portion size is strictly controlled, one can have snacks and deserts and still maintain a healthy diet and weight. I’m sure the calorie-intake needs of each person can be measured, and such a group of dedicated explorers, knowing how limited their food supplies are, will adhere to strict guidelines for food consumption. There should be enough leeway to allow for the occasional party, with some special food and drink.
What will these intrepid explores drink by the way? Water is extremely heavy to ship into space. In an ideal situation, the Mars explorers will find ice or other trapped water on, or close to the surface. But we do not live by water alone. I’m sure there are some powdered drinks to break up the monotony. Coffee, PLEASE! But you know what makes digestion go better, and livens up the entire eating experience? Wine! How’s that for an idea? I know a lot about wine, particularly food-pairing. I am a partner in the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, New Mexico. We pair our fruit wines with a wide variety of foods. Apricot wine goes extremely well with fatty fish and aged cheese, for example. Cranberry wine goes quite well with roast chicken, turkey and mild cheeses. I’m not just talking about a connoisseur’s point of view. I find that certain foods, like venison, soft and/or aged cheeses, for example, bring out intense fruit flavors in wine. The wine itself alters the palate so that the food itself is more flavorful. How about that, mission control? Can we have wine with our meals? We need it. Can wine be freeze-dried and retain its alcohol and flavor? I don’t know. Alcohol is usually the first thing to go when dehydrating liquids. The alcohol would sublimate from even frozen wine. I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I’m telling you all right now: if you want those souls trapped in a hostile environment to always enjoy their meals, they will need wine. Put it in individual lightweight boxes, like those ubiquitous boxed fruit drinks. Put it in small bags. Put it in anything lightweight, but bring it!
MARCH 3, 2012 – Walking to Mars (Mars reached the closest point to the Sun in its orbit)
On Wednesday, February 29, after I had sent my application off the night before, I went hiking into the Sandia Mountains. Short hike; just fours miles up and back the Domingo Baca trail. The entire time I kept thinking that I need to get in better shape. I still have to pass a Class 2 flight physical. Of the 700+ people who applied for this mission, 30 will be selected and notified to get the physical. I expect the physical will help prune that number down to the remaining eight. We still don’t know when we will hear anything. In the meantime, I need to keep walking. Today, March 3, I went on another 4-mile hike, but climbed 1200 feet in elevation in one hour! My hiking group hiked to the Eye of the Sandias. It was painted in the 1960s, refreshed in the 1990s and it looked as if it had been touched up within the last two years as well. The Eye looks out at Albuquerque, monitoring its growth, according to legend. It was a good hike. We started at about 7200 feet and climbed to 8400 feet to take a break at the Eye. I took some photos and we went on back down. I suspect I’m going to have to increase the number of hikes I go on, and get back to those 9 to 12 mile hikes I was going on two years ago. Time to get this old body back into shape, and I’d better hurry. I’d hate to be selected and fail the flight physical. Anyway, here are some pics from today. Some are looking out across Albuquerque to Mount Taylor, some 90 miles away. Other shots show my hiking companions, the Eye itself, and parts of the trail. One shot shows I-40 snaking eastward though Tijeras canyon, even as we were able to view Albuquerque and Mt. Taylor. It really is a good place for an eye.
MARCH 5, 2012 – News & Information
Finally, some information: “The selection panel is currently going through the applications to determine a short-list of candidates, who will then be asked to get an aviation medical exam (at our cost), and to provide references. We expect to be able to inform you whether or not you are on the short-list by the end of March.” Good to know.
In case some of you are wondering why the hell the Mars mission itself is important, there is this:
Half a mile high! Image from the high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. More info: http://bitly.com/zNeD5P
MARCH 9, 2012 – posted on HI-SEAS:
“As we go through the applications, we are blown away by the caliber and the passion of the applicants. You all are amazing.”
Of course! 🙂
MARCH 12, 2012 – The Case For Space
Please read this article: The Case For Space
In it, the author makes a logical, but also very compelling pitch for the United States to go to Mars sooner, not later, and to revamp its space program now. A hazy “commitment” to Mars sometime in the late 2030s is not going to keep us on track. President Obama said that the Apollo program “produced technologies that have improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors to test for hazardous gases; energy-saving building materials; and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. And more broadly, the enormous investment of that era — in science and technology, in education and research funding — produced a great outpouring of curiosity and creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.” Of course, according to author Neil deGrasse Tyson, there is much more to that list of revolutionary spinoff technologies, including digital imaging, implantable pacemakers, collision-avoidance systems on aircraft, precision LASIK eye surgery, and global positioning satellites. Even in troubled economic times, the author states, the United States is a sufficiently wealthy nation to embrace an investment in its own future in a way that would drive the economy, the country’s collective ambitions, and, above all, the dreams of coming generations; in 1969 the United States went to the moon while fighting two wars — one cold, one hot — during the most turbulent decade in American history since the Civil War.
Imagine the excitement when NASA, bolstered by a fully funded long-term plan, starts to select the first astronauts to walk on Mars. Right now, those science-savvy future explorers are in middle school. As they become celebrities whom others seek to emulate, the United States will once again witness how space ambitions can shape the destiny of nations.
MARCH 28, 2012
No news yet; just this post from HI-SEAS:
“We expect to have an update for applicants next week. Thank you for your patience as we give your applications the attention they deserve.”
I’m patient, but next week seems so far away now. 🙂
APRIL 7, 2012 NEWS!
Received this today:
“Thank you for your interest in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and
Simulation. As you may know, we received almost 700 applications for
this mission, for only six crew positions. Because of this huge
response, we have had to add one more stage to the process (as
originally described in the call for participation). At this point, you
are one of the candidates for a potential
education/journalism/outreach/art/social-media position on the crew.
However, we will have to narrow the total pool down further before
moving on to interviews, references and medicals. We expect to be able
to notify the ~30 crew semi-finalists by mid-April.“
This must be what waiting for a launch window is like: “end of March”, “next week”, and now “mid-April”. I’m pretty damn excited! I feel like a kid waiting for a holiday.
APRIL 20, 2012 Final News
My last message from HI-SEAS:
“Dear HI-SEAS Applicant,
Thank you again for your interest in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog
and Simulation. I am sorry to inform you that you have not been selected
for the interview stage of the application process. We had a very large
number of highly qualified applicants, and it was extremely difficult to
narrow the pool down.
We expect to be able to run further HI-SEAS missions, so even if you
will not participate as a crewmember this time, we will keep you on file
for future opportunities. If you would like us to delete your
application from our files, let us know.
Thanks again for your application, and for your commitment to human
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 2, 2012
I went hiking in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness recently. I thought people might be interested in seeing some photos. After you click on one, you can use the arrows to view all of the photos. They are high resolution photos, so give each one time to fully load before moving on to the next one. It was fantastic hiking there.
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 25, 2012
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 9, 2011
For many years, I’ve traveled by the lava flows around Grants, New Mexico. I’ve stopped to smell the lava occasionally, and even picked the tunas, the fruits of the prickly pear, as they are known around here, which grow near the lava by the highway. I’d never hiked through the lava fields before, so when a hike came up to do so, I jumped at it. Now, hiking through cold lava is not as easy as it sounds. The smooth flow, pāhoehoe, is not bad to walk on: mostly flat, good traction. The ‘a’a is not so easy. Much of the later half of the hike was on ‘a’a, the sharp, strewn rocks blown out of the volcanoes, including sharp rocks and loose gravel-like stones.
There is a trail, (a very loose term), through the badlands. It is 7.5 miles long. Seems easy, right? Well, people do get lost and die in there. In fact, human bones found scattered on a lava flow in El Malpais National Monument have been identified, just last year, as those of James Chatman and Crystal Tuggle, father and daughter, who never came back from an afternoon walk there nine years ago. See? It is so easy to get lost in there. The trail, such as it is, is marked with cairns throughout. Sometimes the cairns are no more than ten feet apart, sometimes, 20 to 30 feet apart, when the trail is obvious. Usually, it is not, so the cairns are placed liberally along the trail, showing the way through every twist and turn.
There’s one there, in the upper right corner, next to one of my hiking companions. Now, this one is fairly easy to spot, but do you see a problem? The cairns are simply piles of lava rocks. On a rise like this, fairly easy to spot, silhouetted against the sky. Imagine that you are walking through a field of lava and all of the cairns are about two to three feet tall (max), composed of rocks the exact same color of the background. Here are two cairns in a row; can you spot them?
The advice the park service gives is to always have the next cairn in sight before you leave the one you’re at, and I wholeheartedly endorse that. Occasionally, this takes a bit of reconnoitering, but there is always a cairn alongside the trail in the direction one needs to travel. Looking at the photo above, you might be tempted to say that one needs only follow the other hikers, right? Wrong. Suppose you’re a slower hiker, or you stop to pee or take a photo. The other hikers are gone, around a bend, down a hill, or behind a pile of lava somewhere. You then have to navigate on your own until you see them again. Sometimes you walk right past a cairn, if you glance up at the wrong moment, so you have to backtrack a bit and try again. Imagine doing this right after a snowstorm. It had snowed the night before, but fortunately, it was light, and tended to melt as the day wore on.