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Women Still Excite Me, Even In Holding

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: -^ny-indie-film-awardAnd 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.”

mcentees-soup

McEntee’s Soup

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).

tgged_cast

Some of the main actors

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,

pool-shark-2a

Pool shark

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. alla-091316-1a

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 in humor, Life, love, madness, My Life, rambling, sex | Leave a Comment »

The way of life or system of being a hermit

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 Flying star 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.

semicolon

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 in coffee, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants | Leave a Comment »

Cats and Statuary Do Not Mix; One of Them Has to Go

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 14, 2015

These two!

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. Dad Krissy & Charlie

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. 071415 (2) 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. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA 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. 061815 (16)

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,  Monkey King storean 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. Broken 1

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: 072514 (1)

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.

071415

Posted in Life, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cheating Death, Again, and Again, and Again

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.

Lutheran Hospital 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, Lincoln 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. Heart before

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.

Again.

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Not Exactly Proof of Death, but Pretty Damn Likely

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 5, 2014

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  Charlie II

Charlie

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.

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I Am Not Happy Very Often, So?

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 TwoMore-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. TheTruth

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.

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Dreaming of Random Acts of Sex and Situations Intolerable

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 1, 2014

One Foot Over the Line 2 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 in 1960s, Dreams, Life, love, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, relationships, sex | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coyote, owl, eagle, or death by car?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 8, 2014

Charlie 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.

Of course, the wildlife includes coyotes. coyote by Steve Shinn

and roadrunners, KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA which can lead to: wile_e_coyote.

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.

So.

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.

 

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An Explosion of Blackberry Wine

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 16, 2014

IMG_0160 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 in depression, Life, medical, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, wine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Killing is NOT the Same Thing as Murder

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 24, 2013

Why is that?

Killing 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.  fetus 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. abortionAbortion 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. 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? Christianity

THINK AGAIN.

Posted in crime, current events, faith, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, politics, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, religion, war, World | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Sometimes it takes a good swift kick in the heart

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.

stainless-steel stent

Stent

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. Stent 2

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 in health, Life, medical, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Opinion, 2042

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 23, 2012

page 24A ☼☼☼Wednesday, April 23, 2042 ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼The Morning News☻
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EDITORIALS / OPINION

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                                                                                                                   2020

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 in 2000s, current events, fiction, Life, madness, Mars, opinion, politics, rambling, rants, space, war, World | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Hiking the pāhoehoe and ‘a’a in New Mexico

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.

 El Malpais is a national park.

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.

 

Helpfully, the park service has provided wooden posts for some cairns, sticking straight up through the center of the cairn, but even these have a tendency to fall down, due to the really intense winds blowing through there.    This one was near one end of the trail.

There were piles of these poles here and there, so I assume it’s an ongoing project for the few rangers that have kept their jobs. It’s unfortunate that the National Park Service has felt the brunt of the many cuts in government over the years.  I guess we need to keep raising our Congress people’s salaries, and keep paying them for life, and make sure they have top-of-the-line free medical care.  Well, at least they think it’s more important, for them, even if they don’t think it’s important for the rest of us.

Anyway, you came here for pictures, yes?

Here ya go:

As I told the hike leader, it was one hell of a hike. Although I was tired and aching by the time we finished, (just under five hours including two 15-minute breaks), I really enjoyed this hike. The views were always outstanding, and the experience, on the whole, was fantastic! It’s one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. On the way home, we stopped at the ‘WOW’ diner in Milan, near Grants. Their menu is just as unique and varied as the lava fields are. With three pages of dinner entrées, I may never experience everything on their menu, but I intend to try. (There are still lots of hikes in the area.)  It is the perfect end to a perfect hike.

Posted in hiking, Life, My Life, photography, rambling | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Flying Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 28, 2011

The last time I was preparing to fly, I felt a feeling of impending doom, although I did not associate that with the flight itself. Now, I wonder. Here I am about to board another plane within a month’s time, and I again feel apprehensive.  Could it be that I have developed a fear of flying? It seems odd, although not so much considering the use to which some planes have been put in this country. However, I’ve always loved flying, even though I don’t get to do it much.  I have been excited the last few days about going to my brother’s wedding on  the east coast. Celebratory gatherings are so much more fun than wakes.

Why, then, does my mind dwell on scenarios of fighting with terrorists, surviving a plane crash, losing my luggage, and even ending up homeless, wandering the world? Too much violence in the world, I suppose. Hard to feel safe anymore. Of course, that was the intention of the terrorists, and the huge expenditure of money from a government in deficit has helped their cause by wasting our tax money on overblown security precautions, and a new bloated government agency. No amount of expenditure is going to make us safe ever again, but we keep on spending money, throwing money away, building new screening machines, hiring more clueless, uneducated screening personnel, making every U.S. citizen a terror suspect. We keep looking over our shoulders, backwards, instead of looking ahead.

    

Can we really keep spending money like this, just to create a false sense of security? It doesn’t even work, if I am any indication. I don’t believe all this removing my shoes, emptying my pockets, being x-rayed and hassled, and having to suspect all my fellow passengers is making me any safer. Paranoia inevitably leads to fear, and to an inability to function. Look, people: flying has always been dangerous. Planes crash on a regular basis. More people die in car crashes, to be sure, but there is no way to guarantee passenger safety just by hoping that our laughingly inadequate security measures are really going to keep some nutjob from finding a way to sabotage a plane. It’s unlikely that the whole flying a plane into a major U.S. landmark thing is really what every terrorist in the world is planning next. Our security measures are predicated on stopping that from happening. Someone can still plant a bomb in luggage, or fire a rocket grenade at a plane landing or taking off.  Hell, to really inspire more terror, someone is not going to do the same thing that was done before.

The next time, there’s going to be a nuke, or at least a dirty bomb. Forget the planes, for crying out loud. We need to ensure that those nuclear plants are secure, that transportation of fissionable materials, and even nuclear waste is secure. We know this, and yet we permit our government to spend the bulk of our security money on securing our air travel? Jeez, enough already. Let’s monitor terrorists, investigate possible security lapses in protecting our power grids and oil and gas facilities. Let’s go back to working with every nation in the world to seek out and destroy terror cells, and cut off their funding. No funding, no travel. If the nutjobs want to blow each other up, let ’em. But if they can’t afford large bombs, intercontinental missiles, and even plane fare, then we’d be a lot safer.

Every day, people die in this country. Sometimes it’s from car crashes, bus crashes, plane crashes, gas line explosions, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or accidents and homicides. Do we really think a few terrorists can do worse? I don’t. This is one huge MF-ing country. It can’t be taken down with a few explosions here and there. But we can fail, if we let fear dominate our everyday lives. We can fail if we use fear to win elections. We can fail if we keep seeing each other as the enemy. Some day, we need to stop fighting each other and work together to make this, again, a country that other nations envy, that everyone would like to imitate, not attack. People don’t hate us because of our freedom. They hate us because we threaten their way of life. Sure, some of them are just nuts, they strike out at power, because they are powerless. But, when we violate the sovereignty of other countries, when we exploit their resources, and attempt to impose, often simply economically, our way of life on other cultures, we create resentment. I think, maybe, we need to stop doing that.

Even the most powerful country on the face of the planet can fall under its own weight. Look at the Roman empire; look at the British empire. Look at the Third Reich. And those were just the most recent empires to fail. Throughout history nations and empires have risen and then fallen. If we want to remain a great nation, we have to represent more than a nation of powerful weapons and large armies. Spending all of our money and effort on weapons and security will not save us.

Are we with the rest of the world, or against it?

Posted in current events, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, rambling, rants | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

He was survived by two cats

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 30, 2011

I have such an odd feeling, as though I have no future. I have cleaned up my house, put things away, and find myself thinking that it is ready for the estate sale after I die. It keeps running through my head that I haven’t much time left. Last night I even thought that my due date is coming up sooner than later. All bills are paid for the month. Rent check, book I sold, and Netflix movie are all in the mail.

I watched The Man Who Wasn’t There last night.  Perhaps it influenced me too much. In identifying with the protagonist, I ended up being depressed. Of course, I never have to dig too deep to find such feelings. Been that way for some time now. I don’t feel sad as such. I just have this gut feeling that I will die soon. I kept getting the idea running through my head last night that once I leave my house today I will never return. That could mean different things, but it’s hard to imagine not returning to my house if I’m still alive.

I hope someone takes care of my cats.

Posted in depression, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

What IS depression anyway?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 26, 2010

Just what the fuck is depression anyway?  I tried researching it, after experiencing it for a few years.  Got medication simultaneously with counseling. I was definitely depressed.

Depression, which doctors call major depressive disorder, isn’t something you can just “snap out of.”

Symptoms

  • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
  • Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed (such as sex)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

Major depression disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when a person has five or more symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks. In addition, people with major depression often have behavior changes, such as new eating and sleeping patterns.

Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. If depression is very severe, there may also be psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. These symptoms may focus on themes of guilt, inadequacy, or disease.  It is thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals and other factors.

However.  Hmmph.  However, none of this says what depression is, or where it comes from. Obviously, trauma can bring it on: the loss of a loved one, a pet, a friend, or the end of a marriage, love affair, or even a job. Many things can trigger depression.  If it is caused solely by a chemical imbalance, then it would be entirely random, in my opinion.  People in all walks of life would be depressed for absolutely no discernible reason, whereas most of us can attribute those feelings to something that happened. Everyone deals with these things in different ways, and, in fact, it is common for everyone to be depressed at some time.  So, to follow the medical opinions, I should talk about major depressive disorder, that thing that just doesn’t go away for some people sometimes.

I think I know what it is, and where it comes from.  I’m not a doctor, neither an M.D., a psychologist nor a psychiatrist.

Now, Wikipedia says: “The biopsychosocial model proposes that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing depression. The diathesis–stress model specifies that depression results when a preexisting vulnerability, or diathesis, is activated by stressful life events. The preexisting vulnerability can be either genetic, implying an interaction between nature and nurture, or schematic, resulting from views of the world learned in childhood.”

Blah, blah, blah.

I think it is nothing more than our reaction to pain.  Pain, as many of us know, decreases in intensity after we suffer it for a time.  Runners, torture victims, accident victims, and victims of disease know what I’m talking about. There may be a variety of things involved, but we all commonly think about endorphins kicking in, numbing us to pain after awhile.

Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.

Well-being after sex, yeah, I know that one pretty well. I also like chile, red or green, and sure enough, a blast of really hot spicy food brings about a lessening of the hotness after a short time. I can then eat hotter chile, but I pay for it later.  So, one thing to notice is that this morphine-like substance we produce in our bodies doesn’t last very long. But, we can produce it over and over again, in response to various stimuli, including stress.  Some of us experience stress daily, so we must also be producing endorphins daily.

Here’s what I think: depression is our bodies’ response to psychological pain.  Depression is our psychological morphine, producing analgesia.  We go numb in response to psychological pain.  We cry, or grieve deeply, sometimes feeling an overwhelming crushing weight.  We can’t function that way.  We have to go to work, or continue our normal routines, so we have to push those feelings aside just enough to function.  Depression is the result.  If it was a relatively minor pain, we may work it out through continuing our normal routines.  Sometimes, however, the pain was severe, or was perceived as severe, and continues to recur. We may keep brushing it aside.  I think this is a normal mental defense, allowing us to continue our life until we can deal with the cause of the pain, similar to the production of adrenalin or endorphins, which give us temporary options for survival.

But, it has to be dealt with sooner or later.  Just as an injury can be ignored while adrenalin or endorphin pumps through our bodies, eventually the injury must be treated.  Depression is our temporary defense against psychological pain, but at some point, we have to deal with the “injury” that produced the depression in the first place.  How we deal with the injury is what our mental health industry is all about.  Alcohol and other central nervous system depressants slow normal brain function. In higher doses, some CNS depressants can become general anesthetics.  Temporary.  These measures are temporary, and can actually worsen depression.

An interesting tidbit I gleaned from the research literature is that endorphins attach themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions (limbic and prefrontal areas).  Perhaps endorphins are involved in the onset of depression? I do not know, nor care.

Do I know how to “cure” depression? No.  Various treatments, combinations of certain drugs with counseling, are said to allow our minds and bodies to slip out of depression long enough to allow us to reprogram ourselves out of it.  The length of treatment, types of drugs and types of counseling vary widely. The results vary widely.

Having just come out of a three-year long depression (at minimum), I have some observations:

1.) Depression is temporary.

2.) It does not occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

3.) In all likelihood, we prolong our depressive state ourselves.

4.) Whatever caused the initial depressive response must be overcome.

Yeah, I hear you: Overcome? How? Beats me.  Drugs and counseling will help in some cases.

My best guess?

Here ’tis.

1.) Recognise that one is depressed.

2.) Trace the cause. This may take medical and psychological help.

3.) Eliminate the cause. This one is tricky.

I know that there are techniques often applied, common sense approaches, that may or not be accepted by all.  For example, I have read that grief cannot be overcome unless one goes through various stages, like denial, and anger, leading to acceptance.  I’ve found this to be true for depression.  One cannot wish depression away – that is simply denial. Accept that one is depressed. And then get angry.  Avoid violent solutions, because the depression will worsen, and be prolonged, but anger? Anger is good.  Get really fucking angry. Maybe one thinks it was all their own fault. Let me tell you, getting angry with oneself doesn’t do a whole lot.  What hurt you badly? What was the thing that drove you over the edge? Was it your boss, your spouse, your ex, your lover, your sibling, your parent?  Hate them. Your injury? Hate it.  Give it all you’ve got.  Hate your boss, your spouse, your ex, the negligent driver, the government regulation, the politician?  Hate them.  Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.  Give into it.  Feel the vindication, the release, the shifting of the pain from yourself somewhere else.  When you’ve gotten the focus off of you and onto the cause, let it go.  Forget? No.  We can never forget.  But we can let the anger go, and the pain goes with it.  Then focus on change.  Get away from the source of the pain if you can, or confront it. Attempt to change the situation that caused the pain in the first place.  We all know what we have to do.  If we don’t, the pain will hit us again, and we will be depressed again.

In my opinion.

Posted in depression, health, Life, madness, medical, My Life, opinion, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

MORE PANCAKES PLEASE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 11, 2010

Some people eat beans every day
some people have bread every meal
some eat anything any old way
We had potatoes, hey, what’s the deal?

Ate a lot of them growing up
with potatoes in the garden
and meat vegetable potatoes
every night for dinner

Mashed potatoes Scalloped potatoes
Boiled potatoes Baked potatoes
Home-fried potatoes
French-fried potatoes

Potatoes au gratin
Potatoes and ham
Bacon potato salad
Sweet potato pie

Potatoes in the stews
potatoes in the soups
potatoes as main course
potatoes on the side

But, ah! potato pancakes
smothered in applesauce
Couldn’t get enough
More pancakes please.

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Deep Creek Youghiogheny

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 31, 2010

With nothing left to live for, no joy in my life, no pleasure in waking, breathing, eating, or even being, I knew I had to just get it over with and die.  I went through all the options: gun placed in my mouth to fire upwards, blowing the top of my head off – way too messy.
Razor along my vein, for maximum loss of blood – too slow, and painful.  What of pain? I shouldn’t care, but, it’s because I tired of pain that I no longer feel anything at all. No sense having pain be my last memory.
Jumping? What if I survive? What if I’m paralyzed? unable to die? kept alive for nothing?
Pills? so I can wake up choking on my own vomit?
Jumping in front of a bus? Same problem as jumping.
I really couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve some kind of pain, slow death, or public display.  I didn’t want anyone to know I died, or how I died. I had no one to impress, no one to feel sorry for me, no one to send a message to.  I just wanted it all to be over.
I found a solution: drowning.  I knew it would be unpleasant.  I had a plan for that. Nitrous oxide.  I would feel myself drowning, trying to pull air into my lungs, trying to breathe, but I wouldn’t care.  I’d laugh my way into death, gulping in whole lungfuls of water.  Then peace, with a smile on my face.
The water was deepest near the dam, about 75 feet, so I’d plunge deep into the numbing cold water. I wanted to sink, and sink fast.  I found four twenty-pound ankle weights.  It was hard walking with them, but I practiced until I managed to just look like I was just drunk or high or old. And jeez, was I ever old. Too old for life to hold any interest anymore.
With a small canister of nitrous oxide, I crossed Deep Creek’s concrete bridge leading to the dam.  It was 3:00 am.  I walked, slowly and silently. There was no traffic that time of morning.  I’d been there often enough to know.  I climbed the fence to the dam, clumsily, but without making a sound.    There was a maintenance ladder on the dam itself.  As I grabbed each rung, my legs felt dead.  It took a lot of effort to pull them up with me.  I was sweating in that nearly freezing air.  Those weights got heavier with every breath.
The water was calm, and inviting.  I opened up the canister and let it fill me with gas.  I had a small mask to cover my mouth and nose.  It took longer than I thought.  I hung there on the ladder, a few feet from the top.  My legs were tired. My feet were hooked uncomfortably in the rungs.  My hands, wrists, and ankles ached from the climb.  After awhile, I didn’t care much about the slight pain anymore.  I didn’t care much about the cold night air.  I was really happy, for the first time in many years.  I didn’t feel like laughing, but I was smiling.  I dropped the canister into the water.  The splash was reassuring, calming, a funny preview of my own fall.
I threw myself out as far as I could.  I was taking no chances, but there was little danger of hitting the dam wall, as it curved inward at this point, near the long tunnel that takes water to the powerhouse.  The water flows past the turbines, back into Deep Creek lake, back into the Youghiogheny river, continuing on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  I hit feet first, as I expected. There was pain, pain to my feet, despite the thick hiking boots I’d worn, pain to my knees, pain to my hips.  But the water was so cold, and I was so excited, it didn’t matter.  I sunk quickly.  I opened my eyes, surprised that I’d had them shut so long, surprised that I was holding my breath.  There was not much to see. It was dark, but some light from the power plant was reflected down into the depths.  I had expected to touch bottom, but I seemed to be drifting down incredibly slowly.
It was time.  I pushed my stomach in with my fists, expelling a lot of air.  It blooped out of my mouth and nose.  When it seemed I had no more air left, I held myself still, trying not to breathe until the last possible second, when my reflexes would kick in and force me to.  It was peaceful.  As I faced death, I realized I was ready.  She was gone forever. There was no one left to care for, no one to mourn my passing, no reason for my existence.  I was now useless.  I’d had a good life.  I’d loved, and lost, and loved again, and again.  I’d worked many jobs, some I’d enjoyed, some I hadn’t.  I had done all that I had set out to do, and I was content with my lot in life.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to die out of regret.  Hell, if I’d still had any regrets, I’d have wanted to keep on living, kept on trying to overcome those regrets for the rest of my life.  No, I had no regrets. It was just time to go.
My lungs burned with the beginnings of pain, so I opened my mouth and swallowed, deeply.  I sucked greedily at the water, blowing some residual water out my nose.  Then, then there was only water, and I was afraid. Fear stabbed at me like an ice pick through my heart.  I wanted to breath!  I wanted air.  My brain felt funny.  It was hard to think, but I kept trying to breathe. There was a heaviness in my head, a feeling of darkness.   My lungs struggled, again and again, for air.  The water was too heavy, too thick. I kept choking.  I started retching, water into water, and water back in again.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  Worst of all was the feeling of panic, of absolute fear.  I thought I’d wanted to die, but now I wanted to breathe, to live, to think again.
Too late.

Posted in Dreams, Life, love, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Future is Backwards

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 3, 2010

my indigestion, my yellow teeth
pain in my feet, pain in my back
or is it my sacroiliac?
all the times I’ve come to grief

they add up over time
these aches and pains
the body slows, stiffens
joints pop and squeak

The mind wanders though time
dull painful memories
sharp happy ones
the future is looking back

Posted in humor, Life, love, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, relationships | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Winding down, dow, do, d….

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 16, 2010

Emo warning.

Do you know that odd feeling in your throat when you get emotional? It tightens up, you find it hard to breathe, and maybe your eyes water.  Happens from time to time.  Sometimes I watch a sentimental movie and feel that.  There was a time when I felt deep regret over a lost love and I’d get that way.  Doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.  It’s an odd feeling, and only seems to occur with a sense of great loss, or empathy with someone’s loss or near loss.  I remember when my step-daughter survived cancer.  If it had been something I was watching in a movie, I’d have choked up like that, with my throat tensed and a feeling of  being overcome by emotion, regardless of outcome.  However, when Maya survived the surgery, and then again, when I found out the tumor was gone, after a whole lot of radiation and chemo treatments, I felt joy.  It was the purest joy I’d ever felt.  I was happy.  My throat did not tighten,  I did not cry, I did not feel overcome with emotion.  I was, instead, blissfully happy.  I stayed that way for a while.  I am, of course glad that she is fine today, and in complete remission, and it is not the type of tumor, being so rare, that she is likely to experience ever again.   The joy I felt back then was for her.  I love her so much.  I don’t need anything from her, don’t need to have love from her, or anything at all.  I wish her a long and happy life.

Mine is not so happy.   I experienced depression for a time in my life; got counseling, and medication.  It may have made a difference.  There was a change from that deep hopeless depression.  I was sad a lot.  It was sometimes overwhelming.  There was an almost physical pain, tightness in my chest, sighing.  That part is over now.

As always, I stay busy, even though I’ve retired from work.  I hike, I snowshoe, I read, I watch movies.  I buy things online and in junk/antique stores.  I don’t feel sad.  I eat a lot, which is not good, but it hardly seems to matter anymore. Nothing does really.  It’s not the way I ever thought I’d be: just drifting along.  No sadness, but no joy either.  It is hard to enjoy a movie, a good book, a good sleep.

Sometimes I nap and I wake up nearly suffocating.  It is dark and terrifying.  My throat feels like it has been closed up.  My brain feels oxygen starved.  I feel like I’m dying.  It happens more and more often.   I don’t know what it means for sure.  I’ve no known breathing problems.  I had pneumonia as a child a couple times, so perhaps my lungs are not all that strong, and I had asthma until I was twelve years old.  I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with my lungs now.  My hikes take me up over 10,000 feet above sea level sometimes.  It’s not all that easy, but I survive.  I hiked near that altitude once for 20 miles.

I don’t know what to make of all this sometimes.  I think I will drop off to sleep one day soon and I will just stop breathing.  That doesn’t seem to scare me.  It’s just the waking up unable to think straight and feeling like I’m dying that ever bothers me.  When I couple that with my lack of joy in living, with a loss of interest in companionship or love, and with no enthusiasm for the sex that always made me happy, I wonder if this is it?  Is my life over? Not in any figurative sense, but really.  Is this what it feels like to die, or just to grow old?

I should do something, right? I try.  I have a meeting tomorrow with people who want to change the world of politics.  That used to excite me, but it’s more running on inertia now. I do the things I used to do, and new things too.  I tried out to be a VJ ( a TV announcer/spokesperson), and it was good to try.  Didn’t happen.  I went to a local winery and I will be working there a couple days a week, with flexible days and hours.  I might be serving/selling wine, or helping clear the ditches, or helping with new construction. I may be able to help with some of the tedious paperwork stuff, since I have some experience with maintaining inventory and budgets.  It’s a new place for me. Something to do.

I don’t know if my life will change again.  I tried the guitar, but I’m not doing much with that anymore.  By now I thought I’d have a few dozens songs down.  My photographs never sell, so I don’t know how much I will keep that up.  My stories never sold, and I know they’re not that good.   My poems pale next to most everything I hear or read.  You’d think that would make me sad, but I don’t feel sad so much as tired.  I don’t know what the point of it all is anymore.  Going through the motions, eating, sleeping, doing things, watching things, reading, writing, working.  I just don’t know.   I know that people say, even when they’re dying, that life is a joy, and we can just enjoy every minute.  Can’t say I feel like doing that.

In reality, I think my life is winding down.  I think it may be ending soon.  I can’t say why.  It just seems like it.  Sometimes the brain knows things we don’t consciously admit to, or recognize.  Animals have been observed doing that: preparing themselves to die.  They sometimes seem to know.  Are people any different?

There are lots of things I can do: volunteer to help kids with their homework.  Ask someone out.  I have tried to get interested in other people, but the spark is just not there.  It’s not here in the sense that perhaps there is no need anymore?  If my life is going to end soon, then there really isn’t much point in anything.   I look at that in the reverse direction, and I think, if there isn’t much point in anything anymore, then maybe that’s the sure sign that I am going to die soon.   I have no regrets, no bucket list, no things I need to resolve. Death doesn’t scare me.  Nothing scares me.  Nothing excites me either, so that seems the same as death.

Well, tomorrow is another damn day.  Who knows what will happen?

I had a dream last night: I was moving.  I didn’t want to move. There were other people I was living with, and I didn’t want to go with them.  I stayed in bed while people finished packing.  I got up after awhile. There had been a very young kitten hanging around for awhile, feral, skittish.  I didn’t know where it had come from.  I saw it now, asleep by the bed.  It looked so sweet and happy there.  I went into the bathroom to pee and noticed little bits of cat shit around the toilet. Seems the kitten had decided to stick around.  I thought about sticking around myself, just by myself.  I heard a truck horn.  There were to be two vehicles going. Four guys in one big truck and the two women in a car.   I remember thinking it odd that the women and men were going separately, fearful that the women were going to disappear.  That it was deliberate.

I went back to the cat, stared at it.  I decided it was my cat.  I could stay.  Then I decided to go after all, but the cat was coming with me.


Posted in Dreams, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Fixing a Refrigerator with a Mass-air-flow Sensor and a Serpentine Belt

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 18, 2009

There was a lavender festival in my neighborhood last weekend. I didn’t go, but there was fresh lavender, and other products for sale across the street from me near the coffee shop.  I decided my house needed a little boost of sight and smell, so I bought a bunch of the fresh lavender.  Oddly, wildflower plants like that, when placed in water, need to have the water changed every day, as they foul it quickly.  I didn’t  know that.  It’s true.  That bunch of lavender sucked up every drop of water at first, then the second day the water was rank.  It does need to be changed every day.  lavender2 So, who cares, right?  It’s just one of those things I might have mentioned to my ex-wife, and she would have ridiculed me for saying it.  “That’s really interesting,” she’d sneer at me.  She was a hard woman to talk to.  She loved to spread gossip, talk about other’ people’s lives, her sister and bother-in-law, her mother and her mother’s depression, or her other sisters, or her friends.  That was all she cared to talk about.   This worked well for her on the phone, because she could call one person, pump them for information under the guise of curiosity and friendliness, hang up the phone and talk about the conversation she’d just had with the next person who answered the phone.  She hated it when no one she called was home, especially if she had something she wanted to tell everyone.  I was always amazed at her ability to have the same conversation over and over.  She didn’t particularly like to talk with me, because I had little interest in the personal lives of other people, so  I had little to say. I tried, for a long time, to listen attentively, but not only had I usually heard much of the stories while she talked on the phone, but she had the habit of repeating the same stories over and over, not remembering who she had talked to.  This had the effect of making me zone out.  She wasn’t saying anything new, or interesting, so my mind would drift off, particularly since she always had the TV blaring.  It was very distracting.

I have no idea why I’m rambling on about this.  Just chain of thought.  So many things to think about lately. kenmore I finally got around to fixing the refrigerator today. I had put a call in to the Sears repair people, because I had no idea what was wrong, or how serious it was.  The old thing cools really well, and keeps the freezer compartment frozen, so I had no complaints there.  However, the freezing cold water dripping onto the top shelf and turning to ice bothered me. I had a large plastic container under the drip, as it dripped at really odd times, sometimes all  at once.  Long story short, it’s $70 just to get a Sears repairman out, and then parts and labor.  It seemed cheaper than a new one.  I gave them my credit card info over the phone, but later on, a repair guy called, asked me about the problem, and told me how to fix it.  Since it involved turning the refrigerator off and “defrosting” the frost-free thing, I had put it off. I needed some ice coolers and ice for my food, and I couldn’t carry all that on the motorcycle.  I have a car, reflection1 but it needed work.  First, the  “mass airflow sensor” died.  Having no idea what or where it was, I asked the dealer about it – would cost a lot for the sensor, then labor, and I would need some other engine work done.  For $800 plus bucks, I didn’t trust ’em.  I took it to a local mechanic who quickly diagnosed the same problem, but said he could probably clean the sensor and I wouldn’t need to buy a new one.  Cool.  $257.70 I could save. however, he said the engine had not been running correctly with the air flow off balance, so I’d need a tune-up.  It was about time for one, so I told him to go ahead.  Still, even though he did a great  job, even replacing the crappy battery terminals, the fouled spark plugs, wires, and valve cover gaskets, I still ended up spending $827.70.  So, I felt it was money well spent, if I could then depend on the car, in case I needed it.  Of course, when next I did need it, the serpentine belt broke, completely shredding all over the engine. serpentine belt It was beginning to look like I’d never get those ice chests and ice so I could empty out the freezer.

Naturally, on my way to get a new belt, I laid the bike down when the front wheel spun sideways on some loose gravel in a turn bay.  Scraped the fuck out of my hands, my shoulder, 070709 (8) and cut my face too. 070809 (1) I totally freaked out the employees and customers at the dealership; walked in with blood running down my face, and all over my hands.  Got the belt however!   It was hard to work on with my hands bandaged. It took me a while to figure out how to replace it, even with a diagram of the path it had to travel, but I got it on last weekend, and everything worked.  So, finally I got the ice chests and ice today, so I could empty out the refrigerator.  Took three hours from the time I left for the ice and ice chests, took out all the food, and effected the fix I’d been instructed in by the repairman.  It all centered around a drain hole for the defrosted ice water that would ice over and prevent draining.  Since it couldn’t drain normally, the icy water would overflow into the refrigerator compartment.   Twisting a copper wire around the heating element and sticking it into the drain hole was the cure.  So far, it’s working.  I’m not certain I did it correctly, because the “obvious” place to wrap the wire around wasn’t so obvious to me, but I did get the entire refrigerator and freezer cleaned up.  Oddly enough, while it ran a long time to get back down to the cold temperatures, it then stopped cooling, long before it usually does.  It used to be near freezing in the back of the refrigerator compartment, but now I’ve had to raise the temperature setting I’ve been using all along. It’s more efficient now.  I’m hoping this fixes the thing for good – it often seemed to me to run far too long at a stretch, often long into the night.  Of course, it would have been way cheaper, easier, and less painful to buy a new refrigerator. 😦

So, tired, but satisfied, I popped in a movie: Waltz With Bashir, waltz w bashir an animated film by an Israeli filmmaker who fought in the war in Lebanon in the early 1980s.  He had forgotten most of what he did, and travels around in the movie visiting old comrades from the war to see what they remembered.   What little they did remember centered around atrocities, young men shooting blindly in every direction out of fear, massacres, and other horrors.  This is an army oddly similar to the US army, in terms of weapons, training and sheer chutzpah.  I was tempted to think that Israel has no idea what modern warfare is about, and has no misgivings about killing innocent people for no real purpose.  Of course, I found that they weren’t really all that different from the US.  Our military has done, and is doing, some really horrific things in the name of freedom, democracy, and protection of the “homeland”.  I think the US and Israel are evidence of the new way war is fought, without clear strategy or objectives, just fighting and killing with huge tanks, powerful weapons, and clueless soldiers,  in hopes it will all come out right if we spend enough money, shoot enough bullets, and drop enough bombs.   Looks like something is being done, but all that happens is war continues, with the certainty that even if a conflict ends, another will start.  We’ve entered the period of endless, mindless war that was adroitly predicted in the novel 1984.  Always war somewhere; we’re always winning, but the enemy fights on, and we need to support war or we’re unpatriotic.  It just goes on and on.  There is no longer an end.  Even if the combat  troops leave Iraq, we’re leaving behind bases filled with troops, a clear provocation.  In Afghanistan, we don’t even have a winnable objective, no way of defeating the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, or other terrorists.  Bombs, tanks, and bullets just aren’t accomplishing anything except more deaths of our soldiers and local non-combatants, and a terrorist every now and again, and we’ve no plans to try anything else.  The more we fight, the stronger the Taliban and al-Qa’ida get.  It is mindless destruction, with unprecedented levels of non-combatant deaths, but all we ever care about are “our troops’ – support our troops, support our troops, support our troops, and don’t question any of this, because then you won’t be supporting our troops.  I’m sure there were good Germans under Hitler, good Japanese under the emperor, good Iraqis under Saddam Hussein who “supported our troops” too.   People never seem to notice that, and it no longer seems to matter.  No one really cares.  As long as innocent people are dying somewhere else, it’s not really our problem, because God is on our side.  Of course, God is also on the terrorist’s side, on the dictator’s side, on everyone’s side in every war, but still people die; still people lose.

Rambling again tonight.  No real purpose here.  Just a lack of purpose.  All seems pointless now.  War is pointless.  Patriotism is misdirected.  God is equated with war, guns and victory over all.  I honestly don’t know what to believe in anymore, or what to care about, and that is reflected in my personal life.  No desire for companionship, love, or sex.  Just day-to-day mechanical living.  Why?

I started another blog alongside this one back in 2007 that was about ennui and war and all that.  This blog was personal at first, but now it all seems to run together in my head; can’t keep any of it separate, and nothing seems more or less important than anything else.

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Why Do I Ever Leave My House?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 7, 2009

What is it with me and pain?  How is it I seem to mess myself up so often?  I went hiking Saturday the 4th of July. It was fun. 070409 (52) We took off-the-map trails, found four geocaches. 070409 (13) Along the way the trail was about a 60 degree angle, down and up again. Going down I managed to slip on some loose rock and spun all the way around before I caught myself.  Ripped my middle finger open a little, bled on my backpack and shirt. No big deal. The hike was worse going back up; had to stop often to catch my breath, as we gained a bit of elevation as well as the distance climbing.  Made it.  Then, on the way back, it hailed!  In July!  Pea-sized bits on our faces and arms. Stopped under some trees by the last geocache and put on our rain gear, as it was pouring too.  Stayed where we were for a while, as lighting and thunder were arriving simultaneously.  We didn’t want to get into an open area where we were the tallest things around.  Finally headed on up to the top of the mountain where there was a porch around a gift shop that people drive to.  We had coffee and brownies, courtesy of one older hiker.  Not a bad day all in all.  I was sore in my upper legs later, and then sore on Sunday still, and then sore on Monday.  It didn’t hurt to walk upstairs, but downstairs was difficult.  I was not used to scrambling down such steep trails with loose footing.  Different muscles used, and they complained until today.  Today, the pain and stiffness was gone.  The cut on my finger was healing nicely.

I had to stop by the auto dealer on my way home. Friday had been a holiday from work, so I had driven my car for once, looking for a new desk chair, and a few other things that don’t fit on the motorcycle.  The ’96 Mercury Cougar is a good car, but I’d recently had to spend over $800 getting the mass air flow sensor fixed, and having the engine tuned up with new plugs and valve covers, filters, new battery terminals, etc.  It was running smooth and quiet.  All of a sudden, on my way home, it had made a funny noise, and the steering crapped out.  It’s power steering, but I could still move the wheel just enough to turn.  Found out the belt had disintegrated.  It was broken and shredded all over the engine.  A lot of coolant had boiled out too.  serpentine The belt is a serpentine one, snaking around various pulleys that operate the power steering, the air conditioning, the generator, as well the water pump.  Well, that was where I was going after work today, to the dealer for a good, reliable serpentine belt.

They had moved far up the interstate, and I had to fight traffic going north.  I got off near where they said the new place was, but didn’t see it.  It was supposed to be on the frontage road, and I hadn’t passed it yet, so I went down the side road a bit to turn around.  Pulled into a turn bay, but hit gravel.  The bike went down fast.  Picked it right up, although someone had stopped to help.  He even offered to put my bike in the back of his pickup, and take me to a hospital, but I thanked him and told him I was OK.  He had seen the bike spin out from under me.  The bike is OK, a little scratched up, especially my brand new windshield.  Crap.  Anyway, I got back on the frontage road and went through the intersection this time, and found the dealer about two blocks away around a curve.  Parts guy took my order for the belt, but he didn’t have a cash register in his work area, so he sent me out to the garage.  I told him about the accident.  He said he’d get me some gauze too and meet me up there.  The lady at the register gave me some wipes to clean myself up a bit, baby wipes of all things.  I didn’t know how my face looked, but I had seen and felt blood running down near my left eye, and my sunglasses were full of blood too.  I paid for the Ford Motorcraft belt, $52.81 and they gave me some bandages.  I went into their men’s room to clean up. 070709 (1) Nice gashes near my eye, and the eye was already swollen and dark.  Probably have a black eye tomorrow.  Scrapes on my left knuckles, my right thumb is torn up, both palms are scraped and full of gravel bits.  My left knee hurt, as well as my left shoulder, where my new heavy-duty cotton shirt was torn open.  I bandaged what I needed to in order to grip the handlebars and clutch and brakes, and headed home.  When I got there, I found a 1 3/4 inch diameter scrape on my shoulder, almost round, looks like the skin had been taken off with a belt sander, and still weeping. Oddly, it is not bleeding much except around the edge, and it doesn’t hurt. 070709 (7) Smaller scrapes below it, right into the tattoo.  Both knees are scraped, but the left one is bleeding a lot.  Bandaged everything else up that I’d missed at the auto dealer, after cleaning with a little peroxide.

Damn, only one Advil left too. I had wanted two.  Added four aspirin.  I don’t even know why I’m complaining.  I didn’t break anything, and the bike still runs. People go through worse every day.  Still, I wonder why I’m so damn careless and accident prone?  I ride every day, so I suppose the odds were against me.  Just can’t believe I was so stupid.  Should have slowed down more before getting in the turn bay.  Should have been looking for hazards.   Should have taken the car in for scheduled maintenance – perhaps they’d have caught the bad belt?  and then I wouldn’t have had to go there, but I rarely even drive the car. I didn’t think it needed more maintenance so soon. Of course, it’s 13 years old.

Oh, man, my neck and shoulder area hurts now. I sure hope I didn’t do any damage to my collar-bone or neck.   More and more, I feel like I just want to be home and stay here, never going out again.  Work is a real pain with the budget problems and the move to a new lab space.  I really don’t want to deal with any of it anymore.   I’m tired.  And, so what?

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Moon Watching, Watching Watchmen

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 6, 2009

moon

The moon, low to the horizon and huge, has a reddish tint to it tonight.  I tried to take a picture when I got home, but it was behind the trees already.

I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning, in the western hemisphere, North America.  It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.

It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I had just watched. Watchmen.  The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year.  The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot.  I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago.  Still have it lying around.  Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more.  Damn, that was a spectacular movie.   Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such.  That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page.  Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment.  The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.

Such a story.  Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, then hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks.  We could do better, but we don’t.  Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it.  And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending,  the lie is about to be exposed.

Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen.  She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print.  She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel.  Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action.  The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading.  By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy.  She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought.  We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it.  Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.

[aside: ran into Karen at the coffee cart later this very day.  I had to have coffee to stay awake after getting maybe one hour of sleep after this movie.  She smiled and forced a wave to me when she got in line.  I was talking to someone, so I waited until she come over to  sprinkle cinnamon on the whipped cream on top of her iced mocha. Told her I’d seen Watchmen, and she asked me about it. Told her how exciting it was, and the crowds there.  Asked her, since it was Friday, after all, if we could meet for lunch later.  She said she was having a working lunch.  Said she had to go.  The oddest thing of all was that I asked her if she had ever read the copy of Watchmen she had bought.  She got real defensive; said she’d read it two years ago! But I know she bought it only recently, when the second printing came out, and I had even asked her if she’d read it, and she said no, that she hadn’t had time yet.  Now, suddenly she read it two years ago?  That doesn’t make sense. Something is very odd here.]

When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know.  She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face.  “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times.  Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers.  Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace.  I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.

As intriguing as Watchmen is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen.  I didn’t ask her.  I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me.  She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me.  I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them.   It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger.  Very effective.  Very legal.  I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me?  And Karen.  How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal.  I’m not really sure why.  I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintigrating marriage or the end, when it came.  But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it.   Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.

But, life goes on. Sort of.  In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone.  Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing.   I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted.  We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous.  Perhaps we’ll never change.  We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it.  We even participate in our own little ways.

And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know.  I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me.  If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation.  I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore.  I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one.  I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever.  When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen.  I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again.  It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on.  The chances seem slim now.  I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon, but  I don’t fear death.  I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore.  I don’t even know what would make me truly happy.  Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be.  So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?

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Good ol’ February 14

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 11, 2009

090608-22 Another Valentine’s Day.  People make fun of the day, and criticize it as meaningless commercial promotion for the greeting card and candy companies.  I’ve often found, however, that when I’m in a serious relationship, it is satisfying to do something nice for your lover on a day that is dedicated to love. Once I didn’t, by mistake, actually.  I was one of those who felt that gifts or flowers as sentiment should come spontaneously and randomly, and I acted on that.  However, I knew, without a doubt, that my lover at the time would want to be treated special, so I had a plan. Since I rode a bicycle every day to and from work, it was difficult to range very far in getting flowers, which is what I thought most appropriate at that time.  And, of course, arranging to have them delivered never occurred to me. Every day, I passed a flower shop on the way home.  I had never had a real girlfriend or lover to buy flowers for before, and had no idea how early one has to buy these things.  However, the shop would certainly have had some kind of flowers left, even if they weren’t roses.  So, I left work, and headed home, climbing the slope of “nine-mile” hill steadily.  I reached the flower shop, and THEY WERE CLOSED! As in shut down and moved away. Crap.  I couldn’t believe it.  I knew of none other within miles, and I was expected at home anyway.  I went home, and promptly told my love what had happened, and she said it was OK, and no big deal.  DON”T EVER BELIEVE THAT.  It is just not true.  Later, after she’d left me for someone else, and we’d become friends again, years later, she told me that’s when she changed her mind about me. She was actually pretty upset.  She met this guy coincidentally the next day, and she became interested in  him.   rose4jam-2

Be that all as it may be, however, I’ve been with many women since then, and I never screwed up like that again, always giving flowers and treats, and not because I had to, but because I wanted to.  So, I like Valentine’s Day.  However, since that last divorce and my subsequent unrequited love infatuation and rejection, I don’t think much of this approaching day of love.  It sucks, really.   I added a note to myself on my appointments calendar for the 14th: Kill myself.  Now, it’s unlikely I will.  For one thing, I’ve gotten really interested in learning guitar, and I practice every day.  I understand a little bit of the nomenclature, and I’m training my fingers, and making slow progress.  It may take a long time, but I think I can do it.  So, since I want to see how well I can do, I should stick around a bit longer.

Before this, I joined the Mountain Club, however.  I went on four hikes, up and down hilly terrain, for lengths of  8 to ten miles, and enjoyed it.  Loved the slowly increasing strength and stamina, but I haven’t been hiking since January 1.  I used to go hiking on level ground about 4 miles every Sunday before going mountaineering, but I haven’t even done that.  Now I’m focused on guitar.  I wonder if I can keep my interest in that?  Or will I lose the excitement that grips me now?  If I do, will I decide there’s no further reason to keep on living? or will I find another item on my bucket list to throw myself into?  I can’t predict, just can’t tell.

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Where would I go now?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 14, 2009

I watch so many, many movies these days.  The TV is useless for much of anything else.  I don’t know what I see in the movies.  I like to escape, of course, but that is less appealing than it used to be.  There are so many stories to see, ideas to hear, intrigues, and mysteries, and wonder. Still, I find it hard to sit still for movies anymore.  I wander off and read, or check my email or auctions or Word Press stats, or play solitaire, and watch some more.  It’s not so much the movies themselves, but that I am restless again, as restless as I was in 1973 and 1975 when I rode away from jobs and family and stability.  I rode away the first time, but came back and tried again.  In 1975 I rode away for good.

Movies seem to have relevance sometimes, but I am tired of extrapolating them into the myriad ways that they reflect my own life, or comment on it, or condemn it.  They’re not as much fun as they used to be for me.  Neither is my job, and my life, which once had purpose.  It’s time to return to the carnival.  We, most of us, speak of running away to join the circus, and that’s what I did so many years ago, although it turned out to be a carnival: no animals, well, live ones anyway.  There were always the two-headed goats and five-legged cows, but they were actually in jars of formaldehyde, which you would only find out after you paid your money to see ’em.  The marks always lined up to see those kind of things, and the painted signs outside always made it seem like the animals were real, and just inside.  But, a carnival doesn’t put on animal shows, just people shows.  Mostly it’s all “punk” kiddie rides and ferris wheels, and all  the other mechanized thrill rides, with music blaring from giant speakers.  No big top, no tents really.  Lots of trucks, motor homes, and trailers.  And electrical generators, of course. Need power for all that stuff.  All those lights.  All those popcorn “poppers” and games-of-chance “joints”.  Try your luck, but you’re really buying cheap fluff.  Hotdogs and ice cream and sodas. Eat and spend. Eat and spend.  The real American dream.  Carnies epitomize our values – buy low, sell high. Maximize profits. The ideal is to get the most for the absolute least you must provide in return.  Provide thrills and escapism; promote gluttony for empty calories.  Cheap thrills. cheapthrills

When I left the carnival, I realized that much of the world around me was the same, even Universities.  It’s all sleight of hand, and manipulation, and cheap thrills.  Education, sure, it’s important, but secondary to research grants that pay the bills.  Stationary carnivals.  My brain is tired from trying to keep it straight.

I went back to work, and finished college.  I pay my bills, I eat a lot.  I watch movies. I marry and divorce and marry and divorce again, and buy and spend and work and buy and spend.  Cheap thrills.  I am viewed as more respectable than a carny, but the differences are slight.  Some towns only sit in one place, some move around, but we stay the same either way.

I can’t imagine I’d really want to work a carnival again.  But, traveling is always good.  Hiking? Bicycling? The physical activity is liberating.   As you put distance behind you, it feels like a new world, a new beginning, and you can’t go back.  All that walking or biking would be a waste if you went back.  But, one doesn’t have to travel in the opposite direction to go back.  I’ve been back to visit, but I live 1675 miles away.   Where would I go away to now?

Posted in 2000s, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, Travel, World | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bitch, moan, grumble, gripe.

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 11, 2009

It’s a good thing I like to complain, because I felt like crap last night.  Had been to  a day-long meeting of statewide union execs, and felt funny.  It was a long, tedious legislative training session.  Parts if it were interesting, and in New Mexico, most of us public employees are entirely dependent on money flowing from Santa Fe.   But, I had a hard time getting lunch down, and couldn’t even finish it.  That should have been a warning sign, as I can eat, and eat, and eat like a teenager.  And, it shows.  Anyway, I keep feeling, first, pressure in my stomach, than a god-awful pain.  Every so often the pain would flare up, and it was intense.  Got home finally, and felt like crap.  Took a short nap, but woke up cold, shivering almost.  Then I felt feverish, like my face was on fire.  Then it seemed I was feverish and still cold!  Had to put slippers on my feet, and my winter vest, and I had the heat turned way up!  My head began to hurt, then my stomach too.  Sometimes it alternated, sometimes it was both.  I wanted someone to kill me!  if_flowers_could_talk_by_sqthreer Good god! that was painful! And, I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat or drink anything.  Tried to watch Hellboy II, but had to keep pausing it, as I couldn’t relax.  Wrapped myself in a blanket on the recliner.  Popped some vitamin C, drank a cup of ginger tea finally, but I had to force myself to drink it.  9:30 pm – I’d had enough – went to bed.  Woke up six hours later feeling better, surprised that I was alive at all.  Got up to pee, but went back to bed.  Didn’t want to get up at all.  Still hot. Then I realized I’d left the liquid-filled radiator heater on high all night!  Turned that off, and got back in bed.  My head still hurt, in fact, I couldn’t get comfortable anymore.  My neck felt like someone had pummeled it, but the worst part was that my whole head felt sore.  It hurt to be face down, sideways, or face up.  There was no position in which my head didn’t hurt.  And some acid had worked its was up my throat, so that tasted and felt horrible.  Finally forced myself up to take some Advil.  Feeling better now, but my stomach is still unhappy.  I wonder if I could have gotten food poisoning.  staph1 Sheesh. salscale2

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Day 15 – a very slow day.

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 3, 2009

Well, here I am, 3 days into the new year of 2009, day 15 of my vacation from all things work related.  I’m trying to see what I’ve accomplished.

1.)  Replaced the remaining three almost-bald tires on the car – they have whitewall stripes too, matching the car (well, actually it’s cream colored).

2.) Took the rear tire off the motorcycle, scraped the grease off the gear and rim, and replaced the tire, which was stark-raving mad, er, nude, er, uh, bald.

3.) Broke a link out of the stretched-out bike chain (had to use a cold chisel); cleaned, adjusted and greased the chain.

4.) Went hiking around To’hajiilee, just west of Albuquerque. Hiked beyond my comfort level, took some nice pics.

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5.) Had lunch with my 1st wife.  Learned she thought I wanted the divorce; I thought she did.

6.) Had dinner on Xmas day with my step-daughter; made a kick-ass chile with Italian sausage, green chile, and black beans. We both enjoyed it.

7.) Went hiking in San Lorenzo canyon (near Socorro, New Mexico); hiked just past my comfort level; took a few pics.

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8.) Bought a digital picture frame; learned I haven’t beaten my eBay addiction yet.

9.) Read several books: Titan’s Daughter, by Sci Fi author James Blish; Ballroom of the Skies, a Sci Fi novel by crime/mystery novelist John D. MacDonald; Please Write For Details, also by John D. MacDonald, Wild Traveler, a 1967 story about an adopted coyote by A.M. Lightner; Jack of Eagles, by James Blish; Berlin (2): City of Smoke, graphic novel by Jason Lutes; graphic novel David Boring, by Daniel Clowes; graphic novel Far West (Vol. 1), by Richard Moore; the screenplay of Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff; a wierd “art” graphic novel Jellyfist, by Jhonen Vasquez and Jenny Goldberg; and Aya of Yop City, a graphic novel by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie.

10.) Finally watched: 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the new 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth, the orignal Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), Transsiberian, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Outer Limits: The 2nd Soul, the animated Superman Doomsday, anime Kai Doh Maru, Bridge to Terabithia, a dumb anime: Fencer of Minerva, Chap. 1, and The Incredible Hulk, with which I easily identify.

11.) Learned how NOT to make chocolate chip cookies.

12.) Went out to dinner with an old girlfriend on New Year’s Eve; played 2 games of chess, took her home at 10:00 pm (She goes to bed early).

13.) Went hiking 5 miles up the La Luz Trail in our Sandia Mountains; took the old trail back down; got off the trail; had to bushwhack and slide through snow to the bottom and hike back up to the trailhead.  Went beyond any comfort level I thought I had before. Had a GREAT time, because my step-daughter and her boyfriend went with me. (Hope they forgive me for leading them astray.)

Did NOT pass Go, collect $200, fall into or out of love, or have sex, but I  least I kept myself busy.  What a demented way to live. 🙂

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Trippin’ Through the ’70s – Chapter Thirteen

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 27, 2008

Now I’m the criminal the border agents expected me to become, Sean thought.  “Public drunkenness, failure to pay a fine, theft.Time to get the hell out of Dodge. Sean headed back to the US, to the border between the Sault Sainte Maries.  So much for Canada, he thought.  At least I’m still headed west. He had to deal with the border again.  US customs this time.  Well, at least I don’t have anything they can arrest me for.  I wonder if they’ll ask me for my draft card? I’m screwed if they do that.  I mailed the ashes back to the draft board long ago. What if they don’t let me back in? A man without a country, that could be me.

The customs agents weren’t used to seeing a man on a bicycle crossing the bridge.  They saw the bulging yellow bags on Sean’s bike, and they knew he had dope.  “It’s all these kids go to Canada for,” agent Stimson said aloud, to no one in particular.  Everyone had heard it all before.  Everyone had pulled dope out of car trunks, glove compartments, door frames, and spare tires.  They’d seen it all.  Almost.  No one, including agent Stimson, had ever seen anyone brazen enough to load a bicycle full of dope and just ride right up to them.

“We’ll have to inspect those bags,” he told Sean, hoping this hippy would run, hoping he’d have a little fun.

“What’s this?” he asked Sean.  “Oh, those are soybeans,” Sean told him, and Sean was enjoying this. “And this is brown rice, and this is granola, and these are alfalfa seeds.”  Sean smiled.  He saw the agent frown, “We’ll have to open these.”  Sean didn’t like the idea of having his food pawed through, but he knew there was no choice.  Nevertheless, he complained, doing his best to make the clown think he was hiding something.  “Well, I’d rather you didn’t, you know, it’ll be messy.”  The agent took the bait, dumping each bag out one at a time, sifting through each one, but there was nothing there but soybeans, brown rice, granola and seeds.  “What did you say these were again?” he asked.  “Alfalfa seeds.”  Stimson could tell this hippie was jerking him around.  He’d could always have the jerk held, say he’d detected an odor of cannabis.  Instead he said, “We’re gong to have to keep these.  Can’t tell where you got ’em, or even if that’s what they are.  Too risky.  Agricultural rules.  Well, Sean thought, that takes care of that. God knows when I’d ever have been ever to stop somewhere and sprout them.  I can’t eat them this way. The less weight the better. He smiled.  Agent Stimson saw the smile, and he wasn’t about to let a hippie get away with anything.  “We’ll have to inspect your bike,” he said.  What’s in these tubes.” “Tubes? You mean the frame?” Sean bleated. “Yeah,” agent Stimson said, “you could have all kinds of things inside the frame.”  Sean just stared.  It wasn’t something that had ever occurred to him.  “How could I, where, how could I get anything in?” he stammered.  “Well,” agent Stimson said, calmly, “what about right here under the seat.”  He bent down and looked underneath.  Hmm, well, nothing here, damn it.

“Have a seat,” he told Sean.  “We’re going to take a look at this. I’ll bet this seat comes off.  Who knows what we’ll find.”  He imagined the hippie was squirming now, sure he had him.  Sean, however, was not looking forward to reloading all his gear.  Stimson took the bike into the interrogation room. Sean pulled out a paperback from his back pocket and read.  Stimson took the seat off, and looked inside, tapped the frame all around, and decided that was enough.  He kept his eye on the hippie, but he was too young to be so calm if he was hiding something.  “Alright,” he told Sean.  “Here’s your bike, and all your stuff is on that table.  You can go.”

Sean grabbed a leaflet he found and used it as a scoop to get all the grains back in their respective bags.  At least they didn’t mix everything up, he thought.  He reattached the saddlebags, gathered up all his tools and loaded them back into the small basket under the handlebars.  He refolded all his clothes, and had to roll the blanket up again, laying it out on the floor and pulling it tight, banding it with bungee cords.  He strapped it down under the spring on his luggage rack, in between the saddle bags.  Giddy up, he thought.  And, Hi-yo Gypsy, away.  He rode back into the US, back into Michigan.

There wasn’t much to see in Michigan’s upper peninsula that wasn’t beautiful: lots of birds, water, and trees, but on the road and along it there were also lots of trucks with camper shells, and lots of Winnebagos, the RVs, not the Indians.   It was cold at night.  Sean began the afternoon in shorts and a t-shirt, but ended up with a long-sleeved shirt and long pants by nightfall.  He rode for days, weeks, crossing into Wisconsin,   then quickly into Minnesota. Every state looked the same close to Lake Superior.  Beautiful, Sean thought.  Gorgeous country up here.  I had no idea.  Looks more undeveloped that I thought anyplace in the US was. And colder.  The nights seemed to be getting colder as he went.  He rode, days and nights, stopping to buy a piece of fruit and a small carton of milk for his granola every morning.  In the afternoons he continued cooking brown rice and soybeans, then cooking some more for dinner.  He slept out of sight.  There weren’t many towns, gas stations, or restaurants as he got farther from the lake.  He stopped in a bar one chilly night, on the road to Hibbing, Minnesota, asked if they had any coffee.  They didn’t.  Didn’t seem very friendly to Sean either.  That night he wore socks, two heavy shirts, and long pants over his shorts.  It was getting harder to pedal with all that on.  The lights of towns and homes were farther and farther apart as he continued west.

It became routine.  Get up, ride for awhile.  Stop and eat. Ride for awhile. Stop and eat. Ride as far as he could, eat, sleep, get up and start it all over every day.  The miles flew by, and Sean was happy.  Sometimes he stopped to wander through old ruins of houses.  Sometimes there was a pond he could jump in.  He sang songs, thought about things he’d forgotten, nursery rhymes, Captain Kangaroo’s riddles, and Tom Terrific. Rocky Jones and the Space Patrol with the booming voice over.  He sang songs out loud: I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, Bingo, Eency Weency Spider, The Farmer in the Dell, Hickory Dickory Dock, Hokey Pokey, If You’re Happy and You Know It  (clap your hands),  Ring around the Mulberry Bush, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain (when she comes), Take Me Out to the Ballgame, This Old Man, Three Blind Mice, and even Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  It didn’t matter what.  I didn’t even know I knew those songs, he thought.  There was something about the rhythm of the pedaling, the steady push and pull.  Sean decided it was like meditation.  He had never tired that, but decided it must be something like this.  Get your mind off of everything stessful; let it go; spinning, caroming through the dusty corridors. He felt better than he ever had his whole life.

I’ve always lived by others’ rules, he thought.  He had always done what he was told. The nuns and priests had told him to love God is to obey God, so he had.  They told him that heaven was the goal of his life and hell waited for him if he failed to follow the rules, the commandments, the laws.  So he had.  He had aspired to heaven, to see God, to experience the bliss and rapture of this God being’s presence in his life.

His parents told him to go to school, to do his homework, to babysit, to do as they said, so he had.  The priests and nuns had made it very clear that, after God, one must obey one’s parents, and the law.   Rules and laws told everyone what to do with their lives, he had understood that.  His parents told him that, as the oldest, he must set an example for the younger kids, so he had.  He did what he was told to do.  Through countless sinks full of dishes scrubbed spotless, linoleum floors that shone cleanly through the Johnson’s Floor Wax, the near-spotless bathrooms, the hand-waxed hardwood hallway, the lawn manicured with a push mower, and the weed-free beds of flowers and tomatoes, he had done as he was told.  He was as perfect as he could be, although his parents would dispute that.  He had thought of himself trying to be the perfect son, the pious altar boy, the virtuous boy scout.  Good grades, but bad dreams.

Often, in his dreams, he had been chased.  At first there had just been the wolves waiting in the shadows, waiting for the hand to fall alongside the bed, or for eye contact.  Sometimes Sean had lain awake hours at a time, trying not to look, holding his body stiff, arms tight against his sides, afraid the wolves would strike if he moved.  In his peripheral vision he could sometimes see their eyes shining in the night.  He knew they were there, snarling, waiting to bite and tear bloody pain into him.  He kept his breathing even, and stared straight up at the ceiling until he passed out into fitful sleep.  As he dreamt, he was still terrified.  He was pursued by dark, threatening things that towered over him, chasing him until he fell into holes, terrified of pain at the end of the sudden stop at the bottom, but the darkness went on and on, and it terrified him, this endless falling.  He never stopped, but he would suddenly know he was awake, and see the grayness of dawn.  Sometimes he woke up sooner, with the urgent need to pee, but when he went to the bathroom it wouldn’t start, and he knew it was his fault, and he tried to relax, to let it happen, and eventually it would.  The relief was wonderful, and he was happy, relishing the relief, the warmth, but he was still in bed, still half-asleep, and he knew he had to get up then, and tell his mother.  She didn’t want wet sheets on the bed all night.  And it got cold anyway.  After awhile all that stopped.  He sometimes had dreams about a girl in his class, and she lay there in bed with him, and they kissed and snuggled their bodies together. He didn’t learn what sex was for some time after those dreams started, but when he did, he finally understood the dreams.  Sex, however, was forbidden, especially to teenagers, and girls didn’t like him anyway.  Sex was just for marriage and making babies.  Sean had decided he’d like to be married and make babies.

Maybe.  Sean wasn’t so sure of that anymore.  The world was facing enormous problems due to overpopulation.  He didn’t want to add to that.  He learned how to have sex without making babies, and that was just fine by him.  Right now, however, he was all by himself, and, he was running low on money.  Pretty soon he’d have to find work.  He stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere one evening.  The guy there told him to check out the carnival down the road.  “There’s always work to do tearing it all down.  Tonight’s their last night; they’ll be looking for people.”  Sean thanked him, and practically burned rubber.

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, crime, Dreams, faith, family, Life, My Life, rambling, sex, Travel, Writing | 1 Comment »

raison d’etre – 1:11:11

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 26, 2008

Time to ramble again.  I have a glass of wine in hand, a white wine from the New Mexican winery San Felipe, that they call Moscato.  Sweet, but not as much as a muscat. I sound like such a wine snob.  Ha!  I just shared my life with a wino for 14 years.  After a hundred wine tastings, visits to California wine country, and traveling to every winery in New Mexico, I absorbed some of the lore.

Tonight I’ve been watching the 1979 movie, Being There, with Peters Sellers and Shirley MacLaine, and really enjoying it.  I paused the movie to write this.  The readout is 1:11:11.  As with most movies, I only enjoy them if I put myself into the movie, and, much like a medical or psychology student studying disease, I imagine what I watch to apply to myself.  The child-like gardener that Peter Sellers plays is easy to empathize with. He only knows how to do one thing, but somehow people imagine that he knows much more.  Because of the way he’s dressed, and misinterpretations of his description of his life, he is taken to be more educated and intelligent than he really is. That’s where my imagination comes in.  I am him, and imagine that I’ve always been this way.  As far as imitating what I’ve read and watched and people I’ve known, I am.  I also question if I am who people think I am.  I say I work with DNA, which seems to impress people, but I backed into the position, working my way from lab work on rats and mice, to a research position extracting immunoglobulins from the glands of mice and purifying them, to working with proteins.  I learned how to operate simple machines that can uncover the amino acid sequence of proteins, or take amino acids and assemble then into a protein.  The machines simply take known science, and using valves and solenoids, deliver reagents in standard formulas with standard protocols.  From there I learned to do almost the exact same thing with DNA, using very similar machines. At first I was not paid very well, but these days I make about half of what some of the better-paid professors make.  I always live in dread that people will find me out – realize that I don’t really understand much of what I’m doing.

I’ve always wanted to be a scientist, but never could get through all the classes.  I understood basic chemistry, physics, and math in high school, but college was another story.  Laboratories were always fun, but genetics lectures, calculus, and physical chemistry bewildered me.  Oh, I understood the lectures well enough, but I could never remember all the formulas, equations and pathways, and did miserably on tests.  I persevered for a long time, finally passing several classes in calculus, basic genetics, basic physics, organic chemistry, and basic biochemistry, but even though I understood the purpose and usefulness of integrals and derivatives, and stoichiometry, the biology of cells, and vector analyses well enough, I can’t remember how to use them anymore.   I can balance simple chemical equations, and my high school algebra never leaves me, but my understanding of the science of DNA is so rudimentary.

Just like the gardener, I stumble through life, getting credit for knowing far more than I know.  What’s worse, it’s all falling away from me now as I age.  I can barely type anymore, as I invert so many letters and words, even adding extra words, or leaving some out.  Without editing, I hardly make sense.  Without computers, I’d have failed to get through many of my final classes, and it’s much worse now.  I just make too many mistakes, and don’t control my fingers all that well. The brain feels tired now.  I have been playing chess, and doing OK, but only against a novice player.   I don’t know how much longer I can continue to pretend that I have a clue what’s going on, or can concentrate long enough to do a job.  I’d like to retire from life now.  It’s been fun, but, really, it’s all a bit too much for me.  People, and money, and relationships and reading and writing.  I want to withdraw.  I don’t want to be here anymore.  But I stay.  I work every day.  I talk to people.  I go to political rallies.  I play chess.  I still exist.  Existence is not a sufficient raison d’etre.  But, then again, why should I care about the reason for my continued being? Why does it matter to me?  I think we all need a plan, something to shoot for.  What is left me at this stage of life?  Yes, yes, whatever I want.  But, I seem to want less and less.  To be a child again.  That would be nice. To play, to move from one thing to the next, to have no place to be, nothing I must do. Being here.

Surely, we all can’t be simply dragging ourselves along this way, simply to drag ourselves along?

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Motorcycles and Old Trucks Are Like Cream and Sugar

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 10, 2008

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Roadblock

I ride my bike to work every day, or, I should say, I used to ride it every day until it wouldn’t start anymore. I jumped it from a car battery – wouldn’t turn over. I checked fuses, charged the battery, checked the fuel line, and the spark plugs. Everything seems good, but it won’t start; it just grinds and wears the battery down, even the jumper battery. I replaced the starter solenoid – no luck. I jumped the solenoid across the terminals and the bike still just grinds, over and over, but real fast. Now it seems the starter button is dead too. I finally give up. I decide to take it to the best repairman in town. I have to schedule an appointment, and they squeeze me in as a favor, since I want to ride in the Ride for Kids that benefits pediatric brain tumor research and treatment and provides scholarships for the kids too. My step daughter went with me last year, and after all she went through with her brain tumor, I really look forward to her company.

I called to verify my appointment, but before I did, I had to make sure I’d have a truck to use. My friend Mark always has his good old Dodge, and after helping him build his house, he always lets me borrow it anytime I need it. He’s like that anyway. He’d lend anyone anything, even money, although his newest wife ameliorates that a bit, I think. I called him, and left a message on his cell phone, and I wasn’t expecting a quick reply, as he’s often busy or traveling. Amazingly, he called back in 20 minutes or so, from his plane. He had just turned his phone back on and got my message. Good timing. He was off to speak somewhere. I told him what I needed, and he apologized for being out of town, and that the truck was not available – it was at the airport. I was prepared to go get it, pay for it, and put it back before he returned, but he said, “But! There is another option!” (He often speaks in exclamation points, and loudly, as he is hard of hearing these days.) He said he had just bought another old truck, a ’59 Ford. It was in the field behind his house. “It’s a little tricky,” he said. I might have to spray the carburetor in order to get it to start. He had a can of spray on the seat, and the key was in the ignition. 1959 ford

So, OK. I come home, eat, and head over to his place. I leave my car inside his yard, and head for the field. It has been raining. The field is muddy. I traipse though the mud. I close the tailgate, noting that the bed is outlined in leftover manure, so I know what he uses it for. It doesn’t start right off. I spray into the air intake, several short bursts, as it says on the can. I try again – it fires right up! It is a very old looking, beat-up truck. However, it has all its windows, and they aren’t even cracked, which is damn good, because I can’t get stopped for anything, as the truck isn’t registered yet. The seat is high. It is narrower than the original, and welded in place in the center of the floor, so I can’t move it up, and it’s a little short on the ends. It reminds me a lot of the ’51 Dodge-post-office-parcel-post truck I used to drive. This one has four speeds instead of three, but in the darkness I can’t tell. The lights come on, but go off if I turn the knob too far. I don’t have instrument lights, which is why I can’t tell right off how many gears the truck has. I think it has four gears, but I can’t find fourth. I put in the gear where first was in my ’51, and head out, shifting into what I think are second and third. At the first stop the engine revs really high. I hit the gas and it dies. I spray the intake again, and it restarts. Off I go down the road. Playing with the light switch, I notice that I can get the instrument lights on, but it’s a delicate balance between having all lights, having only headlights, or having only instrument lights.

At every stop the engine races like the timing must be way the hell up, or the carburetor wildly adjusted to keep it running. It takes a while to understand what’s going on. I finally get a rhythm going for stopping: push the clutch in, and tap the gas before braking. I make it home in one piece, without the engine dying again.

In the morning I move the truck around (after spraying the air intake) and lay a board from a small grassy hillock onto the bed. The bike is heavy, and simply pushing it up a ramp isn’t going to be easy. I notice that I have put the truck in second gear, where I thought first was. It is the simple H pattern, but my tired brain and bad memory forgot all about that. I think it starts alright in second because it revs so fast. I push the bike up onto the grass and run towards the truck, but a neighbor stops to help and we push it on fairly easily. I’m wired on coffee, because I thought it would be a major effort by myself. I tie the bike down, noticing, in the light of day, all the colors. One door is a turquoise green, a fender is pink. The roof of the cab is painted white with black, zebra-like stripes. The rest of the truck is a faded pale blue, where it isn’t rusted through. The moistened manure smells really fine. I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t torch it the minute they saw it in the parking lot.

The truck fires right up this time and runs much the same, except after a few miles there is a popping noise from the accelerator, and it is suddenly unstuck, and I don’t have to hit it anymore to get it unstuck. Linkage? Anyway, it runs fine, but I try not to stop with the bike in the back. When I see the sign for the motorcycle shop, it is beautiful. I have never been so happy to arrive there. it takes three of us to get the bike down, and I abandon it there. Carl, the best bike mechanic in the world, chats a bit. I tell him how I am hoping to take my step daughter on the Ride in ten days, and how happy I am that she is healthy again. Carl tells me about his wife Teresa, who had three surgeries on her ovaries, and how one operation left her bleeding internally, but she is much better now. His mother has also been operated on, and had her hips replaced. It is early in the shop. No one else has come in yet, and he is relaxed and calm. Later, people will be lined up, and the phone will not stop ringing all day. It rings now once, and he picks it up, but it is a fax coming in. I tell him how busy I am these days, with little time to work on the bike, and he tells me how busy his life is. He is in his church choir, and also plays drums for the church’s band, so he is often practicing. My step-daughter is in a similar sort of church herself. I am not religious, thank god.

A couple men show up outside the door, so I head out. I notice the CD on the truck seat. It is my Honda Magna 1993-1997 manual. I run it back inside to give to Carl, but he has already gone back into the shop. The men are explaining what they need to Carl’s substitute helper. I don’t know her, but with Teresa out, someone has to be up front to order parts and help customers. I hear her tell them that the earliest possible day she can fit them in is a month and ten days away! I am a very, very lucky man.

What kind of life would I have without motorcycles and old trucks?  It would be like drinking black coffee all the time just for the caffeine, without enjoying the drink.

Coffee in a white cup served on a saucer with stirring spoon.

That’s a cup of coffee.

Posted in coffee, family, humor, Life, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, Writing | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Keratoses & Barnacles & Young Pretty Doctors

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 19, 2008

Actually, to be specific, Seborrheic Keratoses (seb-o-REE-ick Ker-ah-TOE-sees).

I found this thing on my ass, of all places. It was a mostly round, raised area, with a brown circle, almost like a cell nucleus off to one side, and the rest was red. I went to see a doctor over a month ago, and got referred to a dermatologist. The doc said it wasn’t cancer, so I guess that’s why there was no big rush. Of course, it’s also because the University is trying out this new managed care thing, and rather than have an employee stop by the employee health clinic and get seen right away, I guess it’s better to make appointments, and wait for those to come around, if I can remember to even go. But, I’m straying from the story here.

So the dermatologist, over a month later, takes a look at it, and she says right off what it is. I’ve got a nice pamphlet explaining it all. So, nobody really knows why these things occur, but they’re not cancerous, and they’re not from sun exposure. That is pretty obvious, especially if you saw how white my ass is. I’ve never had sun shining on that part of my anatomy for very long. Here’s the salient point from the brochure: “…almost everybody will eventually develop at least of few of these growths. They are sometimes referred to as barnacles of old age.” How nice.

barnacle.jpg

Real barnacles

“They become more common and more numerous with advancing age,” which is what my doc kept trying to say, without ever mentioning age. She said, “as we get wiser” and things like that, trying to be funny, I guess. I said, “You mean, as we get older and fatter?” She didn’t want to agree with that.

Anyway, my barnacle is irritated, probably by having my jeans rubbing against it all the time. Even though it isn’t dangerous to have one, these barnacles can itch or bleed, so they are often removed (among those of us with health insurance). Liquid nitrogen to the rescue! So I ended up having my ass frozen by Dr. Kim, a pretty young doctor. Not so bad.

Meanwhile, there are also actinic keratoses. The first doctor I went to noticed them on my forehead. They are little tiny hard bumps; they feel like a piece of sand glued to my forehead, and I’m always scratching them off. These I hadn’t given much thought to. I had felt them on my scalp before, and asked another doctor about them, but he tried to tell me they were just sand, and only after bugging him about it did he finally admit they were probably keratoses, which can be pre-cancerous. He dismissed it as insignificant and harmless, so I never worried about it. Hey, I’m getting old anyway, so who cares? Long story short, these are also called solar keratoses, because they are found on fair-skinned people who have had significant sun exposure; they are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer (10% do become actual cancers).   How nice. actininc-keratosis.jpg

Again, treatment #1 is freeze ’em right off with liquid nitrogen. That was more fun. However, it’s likely I have more, and will continue to develop more around my forehead and slowly receding hairline, so rather than make regular trips to have my face and scalp spot-frozen the rest of my life (the doc gives me another 30 years), there are other methods. One is a topical chemotherapy lotion that really reddens the skin for awhile ( that’ll look really nice all over my forehead), and the other is another cream that promotes an immune-type of response (also possibly creating red blotches all over my forehead) for a much longer time. I have a prescription for that, so once these frozen ones fall off, I will start using that. After three months: fours weeks of treatment, four none, four treatment, I should be through with these little things.  The odd thing: the cream, Aldara, is also used for genital warts and actual skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas).  In my incarnation as a cancer lab worker, I used to give skin cancer to rats, then treat them with combinations of drugs and radiation, before those treatments were tried on terminal cancer patients.  Then I had to dissect them – skin cancer will eventually invade the entire body, organs, lungs, brains – not a pretty sight.

And, the moral of this story? Use sunscreen, especially when you’re young. The doc, the young pretty one, said I probably got these started when I was 18 or so. Actually, it was riding a bicycle around the country a few times in my 20s, but close enough. Never wore a hat much, and certainly never used sunscreen. Of course, my parents took us to the beach every summer as kids, and we always got sunburned, every single time. It wasn’t ’till I lived in Arizona for awhile, after bicycling in from the East Coast, and working outdoors there, that I ever had a sustainable tan of any kind. I told Dr. Kim that it was great: I was tanned and muscled for the first time in my life. She thought that was pretty funny, or wanted to me to think I was funny.

“Who’s that knocking on my door?” said the fair Young Maiden….”

Just call me Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

barnacle-bill.jpg

You should listen to or read the bawdy lyrics for Barnacle Bill the Sailor sometime.

You won’t believe it! (Barnacle Bill the Sailor song lyrics)

betty-barnacle-bill.jpg

A much tamer version: Betty Boop Cartoon

UPDATE: 4/30/08. I’ve started treatment for the actinic keratoses. Weird!  The first morning after treatment I could see more of the little bumps under the skin, and they stay visible.  No reddening of the skin yet.  I did wake up with acid reflux.  Felt like acid in my throat.  Later on, I felt so tired I was like the walking dead.   Drank an extra coffee to get me through the day.  I was unusually talkative, and even more unrestrained in what I said to people than usual.  Suddenly, about 9pm last night, I felt like I woke up.  My mind was clear, and I felt happy.  I even smiled, for no reason at all.  Odd.

UPDATE: 08/14/08. Finished treatment last month, but one area still itches.  Every place I saw raised bumps and scabs that itched like crazy during treatment, but only that one area still itches every day.  Odd.  I learned that 10% of all actininc keratoses become skin cancer, so I do wonder.

Posted in Bicycling, health, Life, medical, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, skin cancer, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why is it?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2008

power_cord.jpg Why is it that wrapping a long cord around something is extremely satisfying? Like an electrical cord around a power tool or vacuum cleaner? You wrap it in neat circles around and around, so it’ll stay together and unwrap easily. But, it irritates you when you want to use it and you have to just as slowly unwrap it? Seems to take forever. Why is that?

Why is it that you’ll clean up your car or bike thoroughly once in while, vacuuming, wiping, washing, polishing, but, not other things you use just as much? Like the toilet, the bedroom, the garage, the den? Why is that?

Why is it that your house has no odor until company is coming? Then you smell something rotten, something fishy, sour milk and dirty socks? Why is that?

Why is it that you remember to watch the lunar eclipse, and when you go out the moon is covered by storm clouds and you can’t see squat? Why is that?

Why is it, that, needing a new VCR, and debating the relative merits and popularity of Blu-ray over High Def -DVD, you buy the cheaper Panasonic HD-DVD player that plays every CD & DVD format in the world, except Blu-ray, but Panasonic drops the entire technology a couple months later, leaving the foreseeable future solely to Sony’s Blu-ray? Why is that? blue-ray_vs_hd-dvd.png

Why is it that, early in every political race, the one candidate, out of a huge field of candidates, that you really like, who makes the most sense, who seems the most trustworthy, intelligent and visionary, is never one of the the two left to duke it out? Why do we always have to choose the lesser of two evils? What’s that all about?

Why do people make lists like this? Why is that?

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Posted in current events, humor, Life, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A New Bike

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 9, 2008

flying.jpg There I was: flying – nothing around me at all. Air – I could feel air under me. I knew I was gonna die. It’s a very comforting feeling – when you know you’re going to die. You just relax, you let it happen, you don’t fight it. I’ve heard that in such moments, your whole life flashes before your eyes. All I thought of was that I was going to be late. I thought about the classes I’d miss. Maybe I didn’t have that much time to think.
I don’t remember anything from the realization that I was airborne until I found myself lying on the ground, wondering where I was. I was lying down, I might be in bed, dreaming. I was outside. I wasn’t in a bed. I wanted to get up, find out. I realized I didn’t know who I was! Now that was scary! I remember telling myself (whoever I was): Just lay here. Relax. Let it come. It was like trying to remember something on the tip of my tongue: think of something else, don’t think about what it was I’d forgotten. I closed my eyes.
I remembered the construction site, the hole in the floor for the cellar steps to be added later, being pushed, falling, waking up to a headache, being carried across a field, blood on my face, getting stitches above my eye. metwo1957.jpg I remembered standing outside the tree house, trying to cover a hole in the roof on a rainy day, slipping, falling, coming to with a terrible sharp pain in my arm, the visiting relatives in our house, the ride to the hospital, the plaster cast.
It came back to me. Pumping my bicycle down that hill, hell-bent for speed. Traffic. Lots of traffic, rush hour traffic. A whole lane to myself. I was keeping up, moving pretty fast. Warp factor seven, Scotty. Suddenly there is a car coming across the lane to my left, pointed right at me. A big white whale of a car. I see a panicked woman’s face through the windshield, her mouth open, her eyes wide. The car is trying to cut across traffic into a driveway I don’t know is there, to my right. It is practically on top of me as I stare into the woman’s eyes, then, I’m here.
So I knew where I was – in the street. Somehow I’d survived. I opened my eyes to a typical Baltimore grey-blue sky. I knew who I was, forgot that I’d forgotten.
Voices. There were people talking somewhere. “Now, don’t you worry about it none. I saw the whole thing,” I heard a man say – I could hear an eager concern in his voice – “It wasn’t your fault. I’ll testify in court for you.” Now, why would someone say that? I wondered. Someone else – I remember a deep gravelly voice – asked, “What about him?”
Another voice: “Him? He’s dead,” with a definite certainty in the tone. Nice!
It was time to get up. My leg muscles were strong from bicycling every day. I usually spring to my feet, like a cat, I imagined. So, I popped up off the street suddenly, wondering why I was alone, why no one had come to help me. firemanrest.jpg Through the traffic I saw firemen sitting in lawn chairs in front of their station on the other side of the street. They weren’t looking my way. It was almost too much. No pain, but my left leg felt weak, wanting to give way, to not support my weight. I spun around on my right leg, and saw a car, the car, the white whale, an impressively long car, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV. lincoln_continental_mark_iv.jpg It was empty, door open. There was a crowd on the sidewalk, maybe ten feet from me. Men, black and white, in denim overalls, with grey lunch boxes, brown bags and silver thermos bottles were arranged in a ragged circle around a white woman with her head hanging down. She was heavy, not fat, but matronly, motherly looking, with blond hair. Her dress looked expensive. As I started moving, she looked up in my direction, staring at me, her mouth open again, or was it still? I limped towards her. She practically jumped off the sidewalk and headed for me.
“Hear, sit in my car,” she insisted, softly, and gave me her arm for support. I let myself fall into the car, sinking into the plush rear seat.
She left me there. I looked around. It was an expensive car. Besides the softness of the seat, the colors were unusual. 73markivpict5.jpg The interior and the seats were all the same light tan color. In 1973, it was the fanciest car I’d ever been in, except, perhaps, for the limousine I’d ridden in after my grandfather’s funeral mass. That had been some car. I remembered playing with the electric windows, thrilled to be in a black limousine, even one going to a cemetery. I was 12. I didn’t play with the windows this time. I was 22 years old. I knew the windows would be automatic. I knew the car was expensive, and I wondered if this woman would take me to the hospital. There was pain shooting up my leg from my foot now. The pain was increasing every moment. The woman’s face appeared at the door. “Are you all right?” she asked. There was a hint of worry, and fear, in her voice. “No,” I replied, “I’m not. My foot hurts. It hurts a lot. I don’t think I can walk on it.” She disappeared again. I laid back on the seat, trying to ease the pain. A fireman appeared. I told him about the pain. The swelling was very visible now. He told me I should go to a hospital, get it x-rayed. I said OK. He left for a couple of minutes, and came back with a piece of plastic. He put it on over my leg like a sleeve, and it filled with air, somehow. The pain seemed to lessen a bit. He asked me if I could walk. I said, “No, my foot hurts real bad.” He told me to lay back down. After a few minutes people grabbed me, helped me up and out of the belly of the beast, into an ambulance.
At the hospital, I lay on a gurney for quite some time. I thought accident victims would get immediate treatment, but I was wrong. First they ask questions: “Do you have insurance? Can you pay for this visit?” Then I get a clipboard with papers to sign. “Sign here, and here, and here.” Then nothing. The pain was intense, like the time I’d broken my arm. It worried me. No one seemed to care that I was in pain. Nearby, I heard children crying. I looked over. One of them had a head wound, another had a broken arm. They had to wait too. I did my best to be patient. When someone finally came to see me, I asked if I could get an x-ray. “Yes, as soon as it’s available.” The x-ray didn’t show a break. The doctor said the upper part of my foot was sprained. Nothing serious. I called my roommates to see if they could come get me. They were very nice. Don and Joan. I walked out of the hospital with an arm around each of their shoulders. I still couldn’t put any weight on the foot. I don’t know where they got the car, because none of us a had a car. Afterwards, the hospital sent me a bill, for x-rays and crutches. I couldn’t believe they billed me for crutches. No one had offered me crutches, or even mentioned ‘em.
I stopped by the Free Clinic where I volunteered and they found me a pair I could borrow. A lawyer called me. He called on behalf of the woman who had hit me. That was strange, as I’d given Mrs. Penn-Central-Fruit-Company my number, and had been expecting her to call. He acted like it might have been my fault, but that’s what lawyers do, I’ve since learned. lawyers.gif He asked me how I was, and what had happened. I explained the situation. He said he’d call me back. When he did, he asked me what I wanted. I told him I’d lost my Schwinn ten-speed – it had been dragged across the lane under the car; one pedal arm had been bent backwards into the spokes, and the 16 gauge steel tubing was impossibly bent in a couple of places. I needed one to get to school. I told him I had a bill from the hospital. He said that his client had already offered to pay that – just send it to her. I told him she shouldn’t pay for the crutches on the bill, as they hadn’t given me any. He said he’d see about getting me another bike. I got a check. It was enough to buy a new ten-speed. I picked out a tough, German-made one, as soon as I was able to ride again. All my friends told me I should have sued the woman, but I had a new bike, and no expenses as a result of the accident, so I never considered doing that.

However, a couple months later, someone stole it from my girlfriend’s backyard, even as I was planning a cross-country bicycle trip. A friend of a friend at the Free Clinic came by with his Gitane bicycle, said I could use it. I told him I didn’t know when I’d be back. He said not to worry about it. It was a really nice bike. I’d had enough of Baltimore, of mildewed row-houses and cockroaches, of bumper-to-bumper traffic and pollution alerts. School was not working out very well. I was studying calculus, organic chemistry and physics, writing for the school newspaper, marching in demonstrations, going to meetings, and volunteering one night a week at the Free Clinic. My grades were terrible. I helped organize a teach-in at my school around the continuing war. We called a student strike, but few people boycotted classes. I missed a key genetics lab. A teaching assistant told me, “You’d better decide what’s important.” I figured everything was important, that I could do everything. The school finally decided for me, dismissing me on probation for six months. That was when I’d decided it was time to go. I’d quit my job to go to school full time. My savings were almost gone; the scholarship and loan were over. My girlfriend told me I could stay with her until I found work, but the idea didn’t thrill me. I didn’t want charity, and I didn’t know what kind of job I could find or when.

I traded my waterbed for a sleeping bag. Bought 5 pounds each of brown rice, soybeans, and granola. Threw in some alfalfa seeds for spouting too – needed greens. Took two pair of jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, some t-shirts, and some basic tools. I asked my mom to repay a loan I’d given her. She came by my girlfriend’s house and gave me part of it. I had about $80 altogether now. I headed west with my Gitane. gitane.jpg A French racing bike. Gitane is French for gypsy. Bike (bique) means penis in French, I’d been told, so I wondered what I could do with my gypsy penis. I didn’t have much else.

Posted in Bicycling, Life, My Life, rambling, Travel, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cops, Priests, and Altar Boy Scouts

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 29, 2008

badpriest.jpg (me in costume, years ago)

I wanted to be a priest. Yeah, a god-damned priest. Why? Well, for one thing, they have a good break in life. They don’t pay taxes, and they have an easy life. All they do is give sermons and repeat the same old shit all the time.

Just because I said that, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t religious. You couldn’t have paid me enough to miss Mass on Sunday – a mortal sin. I didn’t want to go to hell. elevationofhost.jpg I was an altar boy too, serving God in the cold, damp fucking early mornings before school. I should have become a priest. I was primed for it. After eight years of Catholic schools I was ready to believe that God saw everything I did, knew everything I thought. I didn’t dare hurt Him by sinning. My classmates didn’t like my attitude. I was a true believer, and they weren’t. Of course, much of that was my reaction to their thinking of me as an idiot, so I had to have something that made me better than them, if I wasn’t ever going to be their equal.

I could see them laughing at my perfect, good-little-Catholic-boy responses to the nuns’ prompts in class. A good example is the story I wrote in fifth or sixth grade. We’d been told to write something about winter. Could have been about snow, and sledding, and snowball fights, and snowmen, and fun. Instead, I wrote a sermon. It was only a paper to be turned in, but I wrote a reminder to everyone to think of Jesus being born into that cold winter snow, much like the storms that were so terrible we couldn’t even go outside in them. I was proud of it. I was a religious Sambo, grinning and jiving that Jesus stuff, hoping to impress people with my virtuous love of God. A goody two-shoes in the extreme. Better than other people, with the correct relationship with God. Hah! It worked too well. The nun read it to the entire class. I’ve always been an idiot.

Father Kirsch didn’t think I was perfect. He kicked me out of “the altar boys” for talking and clowning around in line while we waited for his sorry late ass to show up at May Day procession rehearsal. talking-in-line.jpg He made us line up in twos, and stand that way until he got there. Since he was late, I was bored. When authority figures weren’t actually in the room, my virtue seemed to evaporate. Kirsch outdid everyone in the self-righteous department. He stormed and fumed about our performance, whether by the altar or on the street. He fired me right then and there, the moment he walked in, since I wasn’t standing there perfectly quiet and still. I was horrified. I cried on my way home. I couldn’t tell my parents about it. My dad had been a deacon himself for years, and had taught altars boys himself at a different church before we had moved, before we were old enough to be in ‘it’. Serving Mass was a kind of calling, akin to being called to the priesthood. You took it seriously, and, like everything else my parents told me to do, there was no such thing as refusing. For weeks I pretended to go to rehearsals. I walked down to the church and even looked in. I hung around the shrubbery until they were almost through and went home. My parents didn’t ask me where I’d been. Why would I lie about that? Eventually someone told them, and I was back serving Mass again, for awhile. Serving Mass under Kirsch was stressful however. Once I missed my cue to ring the bells, without which no one in the pews knew when to stand or kneel. Horrified, I missed the next one too. One rings them three times during the raising of the host, three times during the raising of the wine. That day it was once, then three. I could hear the confusion in the pews, but I never heard a word about that one.

I was also a boy scout – uniform and all. boy_scout_with_oath.jpg Weird that that organization finds so many ways to get money from parents, money mine could ill afford to part with when six other kids needed basic necessities too. Poorer kids didn’t join at all. All that crap: manual, merit badge books, field trips, uniform, compass, knife, and camping fees and gear too. There were times when I had to wear my uniform to class. Green was at least different than the tan shirt and brown pants I had to wear every other day of the school year, with the iron-on patches on my elbows and knees. I wore my knife on my belt. That was a odd thing to get away with, but when you’re a “boy scout” you are also close to perfect: trustworthy (people depend on you), loyal (to family, leaders, school and nation), helpful (without pay or reward), friendly (a friend to all), courteous (good manners), kind (strength in gentleness), obedient (obeys the law), cheerful (whistle while you work), thrifty (save), brave (can face danger), clean (in body and mind), and reverent (to God, and faithfully). So, there I was, on my way home one day, all gussied up in my starched shirt and badly creased pants (I had to iron my own clothes). I stopped by the drugstore where I read comics. Some of my classmates were hanging out there.

“Hey, pretty boy.” “Are you a good little scout?” “That’s a nice bandanna you’ve got there.” “Can I try it on? I want to tie my hair up.” Rough crowd. Even white Catholic boys have gangs, toughs and petty thieves. These guys regularly stole from the store. I was told a story once about being chased by cops down the alley, with gunshot warnings. These guys were 13 and 14. Like I said, tough neighborhood, of sorts. However, enough was enough. I saw red. boy-scouts-bigotry-e.jpg I was a boy scout, brave and all that, so I pulled my knife out and waved it at them. “Come on,” I told ’em, come and get me. Here I am. ” Of course, they backed away. They laughed too, but they weren’t smiling as I moved toward them. No one else in that school could possibly have carried a knife. I’m surprised they even let the Scouts carry one. I was insane, and waving a knife. And it was sharp too – I always made sure of that. I probably had a whetstone in my pocket. Even Maranelli backed off.

Maranelli was one of the tough ones. One time, a couple years later, walking home late one night, I got jumped. Two guys grabbed me from behind. I was surprised how strong they were, and how firmly I was held. I wasn’t optimistic until the third guy came around in front, saying, “Got any money?’ I recognized Maranelli. He recognized me too. “Hi Frank,” I said. He told the other two to let me go. “He’s OK,” he said. We didn’t say much else. Didn’t really know each other outside of grade school, and I was already in high school by then, downtown, away from there.

It’s a good thing I didn’t stick around that neighborhood, considering those kind of career choices. I was, as I said, a good boy – oldest of seven, responsible, the ‘good’ example. Washed dishes, mowed the lawn, picked weeds, scrubbed floors, babysat. Didn’t talk back. Studied. Went to Church on Sundays. Went to Monday night religion classes after eighth grade since I was in a public school then. Still. Still, I had been in trouble enough. Used to swipe candy bars on a regular basis, especially Kit Kats. kitkat.jpg Mmm, chocolate. My parents weren’t about to buy crap like that except at Easter. Since I’d read the whole Science Fiction and fantasy section of the local library, I took paperbacks from the same store too. I had a whole library of purloined paperbacks at home. A nearby toy store had lost several model cars to me and my brother. Somehow, I always forgot to confess such things on Saturday. Really. Never entered my mind while I was in the confessional. I had a routine, and I followed it. It was supposed to be instructional, but I used my littlest boy voice, and the priests rarely asked questions.

Got caught stealing a couple times only. The first time, the toy store owner just called my dad. He made me and my brother wait in his office. I ditched the razor blade there. I’d been using it to neatly open the clear plastic coverings on the packages. I stuffed it into the corrugations of a cardboard box. fluting.jpg The owner was no dummy. His desk was locked. He did come in and search us. Looked all around the office too, even in the trash can, but nobody would think to rip apart all the cardboard on a box for a razor blade. He thought we had knives. I told him the packages were already cut. My dad took us home, read us the riot act. I don’t remember the punishment for that one. He told us the story about how he had been caught stealing and his dad had left welts all over his legs for that. Leather straps or a belt were not an uncommon punishment for us, but never that severe.

The second time, I was not so lucky. I’d stuffed some paperbacks under my jacket, but I’d done it so many times before that I actually forgot they were under my jacket as I reached for the door. The drugstore owner was pissed. He accused me of being with a gang; wanted to know which one. Told me that the gangs stole stuff for fun. Tried to convince him I wasn’t in a gang, didn’t know anyone in a gang. He had already called the cops though. 1967chev.jpg Too late for cuteness and innocence. The two cops put me in the back of the squad car and headed out; said they were taking me downtown to the station. I started crying. Seemed the best thing to do, and really, I was scared. I wanted them to know I was really sorry. I was really scared of jail, and scared of my dad when he found out. I started telling them not to tell my dad, begged ’em not to. Did my best to convince them that my dad would beat the hell out of me, and it was a possibility, after all. They didn’t turn at the light. They went on across the main street, up the hill and down the many blocks I walked each day. Took me home. My dad was at his second job. My mom came downstairs with two kids in her arms and two more screaming bloody murder upstairs. Cowards left me there. They left faster than I had imagined. Maybe they knew my mom’s dad, who’d been a Baltimore cop for a long time. bpdpatch.jpg My mom told ’em, “His dad will take care of him.” Dad probably would have too, except he didn’t touch me anymore since I’d knocked him down and tried, really tried, to kick his teeth in. He was still stronger than me, after all, but that had made him proud somehow. He’s spent years trying to convince me not to turn the other cheek to bullies, to stand up for myself, and not take abuse. So I did. He started slapping my head back and forth. I knocked him down. He wasn’t expecting it. But he smiled the whole time, that time, and never hit me again.  We talked this time, and that was it. He yelled some, as I recall, but we both knew he wasn’t going to hit me.

Posted in crime, faith, family, humor, Life, My Life, rambling, religion, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Coffee Trash

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 27, 2008

OK, I’ll admit that I like coffee. No, this isn’t the first line of my therapy. I just like coffee. I like it leaded or unleaded, with caffeine or without. I enjoy drinking it. I like the flavor and mix of roasted bean extract flavored with raw sugar crystals and cow juice. I have access to an espresso cart at work, and I have developed an appreciation for espresso, but a single or even a double shot doesn’t give me much to sip on. I like Americano coffees. Hot water and two shots of espresso at work jump starts my day. On Sunday mornings I amble across the street to the Flying Star. It serves great coffee – far better than Starbucks, or any fast food restaurant or gas station convenience store. I have a favorite now; I order an Americano with four shots of espresso. The funny thing about espresso is that it doesn’t have the jolt of caffeine you’d expect, nor the bitterness of brewed coffee. It actually tastes good. So, to paraphrase a song lyric: my mind begins to wonder. I walk through Flying Star’s little parking lot every Sunday morning, and what do I always see but empty take out coffee cups. Not strange, you say? pigs-ina-poke-nr1.gif People are pigs, you say? Well, amazed to discover: the discarded coffee cups are not from Flying Star! Most are from Starbucks, with their characteristic green logo, some are from 7-Eleven, and some from Circle- K. It boggles my mind. There are no other coffee shops of any kind within miles. People have to have brought these cups with them on their way to Flying Star. Now that raises a lot of questions in my trivia-obsessed brain.

Do people need a coffee with them in order to drive to Flying Star? If they like Flying Star coffee, why buy coffee elsewhere before they get there? Are people that addicted to the caffeine that they have to buy one on the road on their way to a cafe? Why drop the cups in the parking lot? If they are going in to the Flying Star Cafe, why not dispose of the empties there, or just outside the door in the highly visible trash can? Why drop these cups in the parking lot at all? It’s a mystery to me. Flying Star coffee is highly rated around town, so I can’t understand why people are drinking coffee elsewhere, and then coming to this Cafe? Why would people drop their cups in the parking lot anyway?

cigs.jpg The only thing I can come up with is that these are smokers, or former smokers, or that they have tapped into that same mentality. Smokers used to drop matches and butts everywhere, higgedly-piggedly, although I rarely see a used match anymore. Occasionally I’ll see a discarded, far more ubiquitous disposable lighter. One of the problems associated with smokers is that they simply drop their spent butts wherever they happen to be, sometimes putting them out, sometimes not. If a building policy forbids smoking inside, then piles of tobacco droppings are certain to be found spread around the door like guano. Smokers seem to have adopted the crime mentality that permeates many people’s brains; it is the mentality of the law-abiding citizen who breaks a law or moral code, and comes to accept the label of criminal. Once you’re a criminal already, then why care about anything? How else to explain the careless way smokers throw matches, cigarette butts, and cigar butts out of car windows, over their shoulder, on simply down at their feet? It is the behaviour of brain-addled addicts, to be sure, but addicts who have no sense of social responsibility. Enter our new, more socially-acceptable addiction: coffee. Along with the habit comes the old habits: toss, drop, ignore.

Cigarette butts were bad enough. Now it’s styrofoam cups littering the sidewalks, cups.jpg and all the parking lots of our schools and workplaces. It is a shameful product of minds that cannot accept responsibility for their own actions; that cannot see their actions as bad. I imagine the attitude is, “It’s not my driveway, my house, my sidewalk, so why should it matter?”

Why have we become such trashy people? Is it simply another sign of civilization in decline? The attitude used to be: “Out of sight, out of mind.” It gave us leave to dispose of things we called trash, even people, because we didn’t see it anymore. Now, we have, “Out of mind, out of sight.” If we don’t mind, it don’t matter. How long before nothing matters anymore? Sad.

Posted in Life, madness, My Life, opinion, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, Writing | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
angelalimaq

food, travel and musings of a TV presenter.

Crumble Cult

By Tony Single

Southern Georgia Bunny

Adventures of an Southern Bunny everything from dating, sex, life and shake your head moments.

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

Katrina K Guarascio

Katrina K Guarascio

Amanda Rudd's Blog

fantasy/scifi writer, crazed academic, and unrepentant geek

Midnight, Texas

www.lathamcasting.com

Something Like a Storybook

from Morgan Bradham

CONTRARY BRIN

Speculations on the Future: Science, Technology and Society

UNDER

CONSTRUCTION

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.