sphoto number 6

          This glass marble reminds me of my stepfather.
          My first memory of him:  He was dating my mother.  I was seven.  We were all "going out" as a family to an event (I vaguely remember The Ice Capades but that may have been a different night) I think it was a celebration because I recall all the adults...her, him, Nana, and Papa...were happy and full of loud smiles.  He asked if I'd help him get a tool box from his backseat.
          I accompanied him out to his sky blue 1964 Lincoln Continental in the driveway, he opened the backdoor, and I commented that it was backward.  He laughed and said it was a suicide further explanation.  I'm seven.  Why's it called that?  Because it's backwards.  I didn't think to myself at this point:  Oh boy, living the rest of my childhood with this motherfucker is going to be a real treat if he thinks that's an explanation.  But I did the third-grader's equivalent (shoulder shrug or eye-roll or head shake) and thought "adults sure are stupid".
          Seeing the size of the metal box, painted the same color as the car, I thought he was testing me to either see how strong I was or to see how willing I was to try to pick up something I knew I couldn't lift.  I couldn't tell which test it was by his smile, so I went along with it...grabbed the handle, gave it a tug (it didn't budge) and then watched as he oompfed and grunted it into the house.  It was filled with his coin collection...and probably weighed as much me.
          In 1995 he died of heart disease complicated by diabetes and exacerbated by being an obstinate asshole.  I've written about my stepdad before.  Because he was divorced from my mother, after his funeral I took a month off from my military duties, slept in his house, and spent hundreds of hours sorting through and throwing away decades of junk, files, and papers (he wasn't a full-blown hoarder but he kept unnecessary thirty years of credit card receipts).
          This 1¾" (46mm) marble was on a shelf in his bedroom surrounded by other last memory of him.

          sphoto number 5

          I lived in Mons, Belgium 1993-95.  Summer weather permitting, I occasionally drove west about ninety miles to one of the beaches near Oostend (which I thought at the time was another everything-is-backward-in-French thing, today I read on everyone's favorite chalkboard that there's a historical reason why the farthest western city is named Eastend).
          After a long beach afternoon in 1994, I and my wife-at-the-time had a very nice dinner and stayed in a bed and breakfast in nearby Bruges.  The next morning I rescued this from a flea market vendor who was intending to cut it in half.  
          He was running a geode grab-bag: select from a huge pile of over three hundred various shapes and sizes, pay for it, and then he'd halve and polish the halves.  No guarantees that your geode would contain a druzy cavity.  On display were precut and polished halves with beautiful crystals lining the inside pockets (priced double to 20X more than the uncut, rough geodes).
          Although there is a slight score mark on this 2 inch (53mm) geode, it's as perfectly spherical as a naturally formed rock could be.
          The Flemish vendor (who spoke no English) seemed quizzical (het inclusief!) and became rather flabbergasted when I didn't want to take advantage of his saw and grindstone services and couldn't explain myself other than to smile and repeat, dit is goad, as I nodded and walked away.

          sphoto number 4

          Last April we stayed in a yurt (because we'd never done it before).  Two mid-week nights were available the following week, so we decided the weather was nice enough and made the reservation (we aren't dedicated foolish enough to lock-in anything over a year in the yurt camping in the Summer or on a weekend would never happen).
          As we headed to Fort Stevens State Park, the weather was normal for Oregon in April: partly cloudy and cool.  We stopped in Astoria, Oregon, to eat and I found this sphere in a second-hand shop.  Slightly larger than 2" (52mm), this hand-blown glass float most-probably was attached to a Japanese fisherman's net a half-century or more ago.
          As it got dark it began to snow.  By the next morning many of the high-passes were closed even though only about two or three inches accumulated on the beach.  We drove the ice and snow covered sand, explored local eateries, and kept as warm as anyone could when camping in below freezing weather.
          Although the yurt had a built-in space heater it also had edge flaps which were laced and tied-down.  One cancelled out the other.  Depending on the strength of the wind blowing through the cracks, the interior temperature fluctuated between 45° and 55° (7-13°C).

          sphoto number 3

          One of my most recently acquired spheres was a gift from my fiancée.  In 2008 we noticed a 2" (50mm) ivory billiard ball in an antique store near McMinnville, Oregon.  I was ambivalent about ivory.  After some weeks of thought and discussion, I realized buying antique ivory would no more incentivize the present and future slaughter of large mammals than would watching 1984-Traci-Lords-porn jeopardize the innocence* of today and tomorrow's sixteen-year-olds.  So I decided that if I ever ran across another antique snooker ball, I'd buy it.
          Two years later, my fiancée was traveling home after a week of working-on-the-road and I was sitting in our living room gazing at my collection.  I thought about the routes she could travel, realized she might be driving through McMinnville, and called her.
          'Hi, I was just wondering if you were driving back through the McMinnville area.'
          'Yup, why?'
          'Do you remember that antique mall we visited a few years ago?'
          'uuuuum yeaah?'
          'Well I thought that if they were still open when you got there, could you do me a favor and see if they still have that ivory sphere?  I know it's a long shot...'
          'THAT is so weird, I've got goose bumps.'
          'Huh?  What is?'
          'Do you know where I am right now?'
          'Oh wow.'
          'There goes my surprise.  I'm standing at the check-out counter with it in my hand.  You know it's got a couple cracks, right?'
          'Yea, that's OK.  What made you think to stop?'
          'I was driving past and just remembered talking about it.'
          'Is the din-din din-din Twilight Zone music as loud on your end as it is on mine?'
          'I can hear it much too loudly and waaay too clearly.'

* A human quality which, although not yet extinct, is narwhal-rare.  Or is that just the cranky old duffer in me coming out?

          sphoto number 2

          On my first vacation to Negril, Jamaica, I commissioned this sphere to be made from local ironwood.  I located an artist who understood only a little English but eagerly agreed to interrupt his current carving to make a sphere (which I described).  When I returned two days later, he presented me with a golf ball...the entire surface crammed with hand carved dimples.  I promptly paid for it without argument (my cats enjoy it...and it's probably under one of my chairs or couch at this very moment).  Then I commissioned another (for the same price) only, this time, would he be so kind as to make it smooth?  Yes, of course; respect mon.  And could he make it slightly larger?  Just a little larger?  Irie...two more days.

          It is smooth and it is ever-so-slightly larger (it's close to 1½ inches, 40mm).  It also has a hand-crafted look because it is almost but not quite a perfect sphere.
          Every time I look at it I think about pumpkin soup at a West End restaurant overlooking the cliffs, walking the beach drinking just-squoze orange juice from a recycled whiskey bottle with little shards of ice still floating in it; golfing at the Negril Hills (with a caddy who sprinted off as soon as I hit in order to locate the ball...what a way to earn a tip); sunburn removing beach massage with the goop squished fresh from Aloe Vera leaves; obtaining my SCUBA certification (with stingrays!); Orange Bay; catching crabs and lobsters from a pier using a net-shrift and some twine, and a private concert by Brushy One String.  All these memories are completely intertwined from my 1997 and 1999 trips; only with concentration can I pick the them apart.

          sphoto number 1

          I've been asked why there aren't more snapperhead pics of cats, myself, loved ones, Portland locales, or locals even (whenever I end a sentence like that, my inner ear hears the voice of Snagglepuss).  My tweet-able response (by which I mean, Mom, 140 characters or less) has always been:  When I rely on my eyes and brain my memories are strengthened.  Camera = crutch.  Carrying a camera weakens my experience.
          Along the same vain:  Van Gogh is attributed with saying that it isn't the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to.  The feeling for the things themselves—for reality—is more important than the feeling for pictures.  And I do soverymuchespecially love finding a quote by someone I admire which parallels my own thoughts on a subject.
          However, I do have a collection of items, like snapshots, which act as memory-stimuli, even though they aren't snapshots for anyone else but me.
          Here is the first one I collected:
          You see a polished sphere, about two inches (47mm) in diameter, made from veined red jasper sitting in a curved malachite dish.  I see Moab, Utah, 1990.
          Obtained at the end of a vacation from the Moab Rock Shop, it reflects all the elements of those two weeks:  Sitting up at night on the rim of a canyon watching a brilliant, close-falling, meteorite; tent camping in Canyonlands; hiking in Arches; trekking the length of Shafer Canyon Road from Dead Horse Point State Park to Devils Garden Campground (before it became easily accessible for two-wheel drive vehicles) in a front wheel drive Oldsmobile.
          Here's the most unique thing about this type of memory trinket:  overlaid and conjoined with that trip is my first visit, thirteen years prior, (with Brian Ottinger, a college friend) where we drove the same road, dirt and boulders at that time, but in the opposite direction in my shit-colored VW beetle (we each took turns riding on the rear bumper holding on to the curved flange of the roof-edge); bathing in the frigid Colorado River; and camping at Slick Rock Campground, as well as all my more recent visits to Moab and the Canyonlands National Park area (2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007).
          I wouldn't want to live there, but my favorite place to visit in the US is Moab, Utah.

Annual Cecil Picture

Cecil O. Zonkey - four years old

Best Bad Guy of the Bunch - Republican Democrat or Independent
                                              (a conversation)


          How do you know if you’re a Republican or a Democrat?

          That’s an interesting question for a fifteen year-old.  I assume you’re asking because you will be eighteen and eligible to vote in three years?

          No.  I have to write a paper on what it means to be a...fill-in-the-blank...political party.

          And your choices are only Republican or Democrat?

          Um, no.  I...just only know about those.  What are you?


          So you vote for Independent candidates?

          I have on occasion, but what it usually means is sometimes I vote for a Democrat and sometimes I vote for a Republican.  I never vote for a party, always for a person.

          So you know you’re an Independent because you don’t always vote for one party, instead you vote for whichever candidate is the best to you?  Sounds good to me. 

          I see from your expression you think that might be enough information to fill your report?

          Hah—yea, that was what I was thinking.

          If I were to explain what it means to be an Independent, I’d have to explain why I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, nor Libertarian, Green, blah, blah—the list is long—much more complicated than explaining why someone belongs to one party.  I have an idea.  Why don’t you pick something the government has done that you like or dislike and maybe I can help you determine which political party you prefer.

          I really can’t think of anything the government did or didn’t do.  I don’t pay attention to that stuff.

          Oh come on.  There must be some rule or law that you...

          I know:  I wish I didn’t have to wait until I’m sixteen to get a job.

          OK, that’s what I mean.  But, it isn’t exactly true—you are allowed to work at fifteen, it’s just that you are limited to certain types of jobs and certain hours.  But, since Child Labor Laws aren’t favored by one political party, none of this will help you write your report.  How about another one?


          Finish this thought:  ‘If I were elected King, the first thing I’d do...

          I would remove all the no skateboarding on the sidewalk thingy’s. 

          Ahh.  Now were getting somewhere.  Good.  This is a private property and insurance liability issue.  It may appear you’re skating on public property, but the entire grocery store parking lot is private property.  So they post signs which—at face value—prohibit you from skating there; the real purpose is to protect them from lawsuits when you get hurt or when you crash into someone else....

          ...No no, not those.  I’m talking about the sidewalk ones.

          I don’t understand.  What sidewalk ones?

          They’re yellow and bumpy?  You know.  They make them out of rubber.

          Oh.  Ohhh.

          You think those are installed to impede skateboarders?

          That’s what I was told.

          Actually, they’re to assist people with disabilities.  People who are almost blind can see the bright yellow; those who are completely blind can feel the bumpy-rubber texture; snow and ice melts fast on them, and they provide traction for wheelchairs.  The fact that it also dissuades skateboarders is an unintended side-bonus.


          Oh, I’m sorry, did I say that last bit out loud? 

          Not.  Funny.

          But it applies very nicely to the politics issue.  Very nicely.  Now that you know the purpose of the safety mats, would you still remove them if you were elected King?

          Yes.  Ahhmm, no.  Probably not.  Wait a minute—how does this have anything to do with political parties? 

          I’ll explain.  Let’s pretend you are King.  OK?

          Great!  As King I demand you give me an allowance.  This minute.  In fact.  Give me every dollar in your wallet.  It is a tax.  A new tax.  On...ability to talk to the King.  Everyone who talks to the King must pay this tax.

          Wonderful!  NOW we’re getting somewhere.  Even though you’re laughing, it indicates which political party you might be affiliated with.


          Yup.  But before you take all my money your highness, I’d like to address the issue of installing safety mats at every curb cut in your kingdom.  Once I’m finished explaining, I think you’ll agree.  May I begin?

          Begin lowly citizen.

          Your Highness...

          You may address me as Your Majesty or just Majesty for short.

          Very good, Your Majesty.  A million of your loyal and devoted minions are sight or mobility disabled.  Every one of them will benefit from the installation of safety mats.  The total cost to install a safety mat at every cut curb in your land will be less than .000001% of Your Majesty’s treasury or—to put it in clearer terms—it will cost you less than what you pay for one minute of electricity in all your government buildings.  They will protect these citizens from injury and even death.  If they save even one of your minions lives, isn’t the cost worth the expense?  Thank you for listening to me Majesty.

          You are most welcome my lowly citizen and I...

          Your Majesty if I may?  I’d like to address the other point of view if you will permit?

          Why yes, you...  with... the worst most-terrible almost-British accent.  Or is that French?  French Canadian maybe?

          I’m so dreadfully sorry about my accent Majesty.

          Go ahead then.  Continue if you must.

          I would like to appeal to Your Majesty’s common sense and suggest you do not install any so-called ‘safety mats’ anywhere in your land.  The person who spoke to you first claimed that they would cost less than a hundred-thousandth of one percent.  Which may sound like a small percentage; but you have a very large treasury Your Majesty.  The total dollar cost would be ten million dollars.  Want to know how to save that much money?...don’t install skateboard prevention mats.  I represent two million skateboarding minions—double the number of disabled in your land.  They could definitely be injured if they were to skate over these dangerous mats and get thrown off their boards into traffic.  You of all people, a Majestic skateboarder of the highest magnitude yourself, should understand that it’s better to have less government intervention, less government spending, and protect more of your minions.


          I would appreciate a chance at rebuttal, Your Majesty.

          Jeez.  I didn’t think it would take this long.

          Please Majesty?  I will be brief.


          My French Canadian opponent spoke as if it skateboarders should never be inconvenienced by dismounting their boards and walking around the safety mats.  Your wheelchair-bound citizens do not have that luxury.  He wants a few young and healthy skateboarders to enjoy a faster-smoother ride.   I’m requesting you assist and protect the weakest of your people, who may not be able to use a winter sidewalk to get to the grocery store.

          Does the French Canadian have a rebuttal for the rebuttal?

          No.  You have enough information to decide. 

          And depending on which way I decide will tell you...?

          Which political party you favor.

          I decide:  Not to install. 

          As any fifteen year-old King would be expected to do.  Which is why we don’t have any youthful monarchies and why you have to be at least 35 years-old to run for President.

          So which party would I favor?

          Republican.  Most juveniles are members of the GOP.

          You seem kinda upset.

          Not upset.  Not really.  It’s just that I’d have voted the other way.  Even when I was fifteen.  I’ve always thought it was very important to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.

          You want to know why I voted not to install?


          Because handicapped people can get up those low curbs without them already.  It seems like an unnecessary added expense.  Like braille instructions on drive-up ATMs and handicapped parking spots in front of a military recruiter’s office.

          Good one. 


          But all ATMs are the same...some are installed next to driveways...some are installed next to sidewalks.  You aren’t suggesting that blind people shouldn’t be able to use an ATM?

          No.  I bet now you’re gonna tell me the same thing applies to recruiter’s offices?

          Exactly.  The law states public buildings have to reserve a certain percentage of their parking spaces for disabled patrons.  Huge parking lots have a large number of handicapped spaces, tiny parking lots have one space.  It doesn’t matter what the building is used for.  And, just to play devil’s advocate—what about the parent-on-crutches who wants to drive their high schooler to talk about joining the Air Force?  Should they be forced to walk two blocks just because the military doesn’t recruit disabled members?

          Got it.  What about deciding against the safety mats makes me Republican?

          Republicans want less government—which means less laws and less taxes.  Also, Republicans are less interested in protecting minorities and more interested in protecting their own interests...which, in this case, would include a skateboarder assisting other skateboarders.

          Which makes me sound really selfish.  You aren’t addressing the fact that blind people in wheelchairs are already able to get up the curbs. 

          Because it’s specious.  It’s the equivalent of claiming:  same-sex partners can enter into civil unions so they have no reason to obtain marriage licences, or illegal aliens who were brought into the country as infants—who’ve grown up never knowing anything but the United States—should be deported.

          Both are claims made by...?


          Anything bad about the Democrats?

          I disagree with the Democrats stand on Affirmative Action; I don’t think it is fair to promote or select or accept or award one person above another for any reason besides merit.  I also don’t concur with their party’s policies on:  the PATRIOT act, Israel, NAFTA and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Sounds like you don’t like any party.

          Independent all the way buddy...every election I vote for the best bad guy of the bunch.

☀ Summer

          The trope of an unlikely athlete in a marathon...although she began the race with the crowd, as the sun's rays got longer she slowed down until all the other competitors moved ahead.  Then it was just her, still moving forward, exhausted.  It's late, now she is limping.  The finish line timer indicates it has been way too many days more than normal but, eventually, the unlikely athlete clears the 45th parallel...where she is met by her loyal friends:  Autumn, Winter, and Spring.

          In much of the US this year, Summer actually usurped Spring, arriving in March and—now—she's become über-summer (reminding more than 275 million US residents what it's like to live below the 33rd parallel).  Well she finally arrived in the Northwest:  three consecutive days above 80°F (27°C).

Golf GPS

          Another first.  Played with a ParView GPS on the cart.  Not only does it maintain score(s); indicate yardage to: pin, front/back of green, hazards and other golf carts; act like a golf OnStar to notify the course marshall if assistance is needed; and track playing also permits pre-ordering as you near the clubhouse, so your food will be ready when you hit the 19th hole.  What's not to love?
          I can estimate as well as anyone, but always knowing exact distances (combined with my numbers) means lower scores and less lost balls, which means more money in my pocket, which means I can afford to play at a course which charges more because they have ParView GPS on all their carts.

Married to the Sea - global warming

Although it's still quite cool and Spring-like here in the Northwest, I hear Summer is spanking
 98% of the rest of the US of A just like they voted against it in the last election...but it still won.

Deconstruction of Zeitgeist using the Bloody Socks Rule

          This is not a review of the film Zeitgeist—there are more than enough reviews (debunkings, addendums, etc)—instead, this is a brief examination of the film’s ideas and theories utilizing the Bloody Socks Rule as a litmus.  Although no new or original information is proffered by the director, Peter Joseph, because this film is slickly produced and smoothly edited it's much easier to watch than its progenitors.   

          It’s not unfair to compare the opening act with a barker filling the theater.  The director sets the stage describing the building blocks early religious leaders utilized to construct the christian faith.  Anyone who wants to itemize Mr. Joseph's erroneous statements should understand that none of his details matter.  It's completely irrelevant if it is all supposition or 100% true.  It doesn’t matter if various traits and plot arcs of the Egyptian god Horus (or his predecessors) were used to create the christ-myth.  The only important thing is the foundational themes which interweave the whole film. 

Theme #1 - The most powerful puppet-masters have amazing prescient abilities.
Theme #2 - To maintain their power, these super-apex men encourage their puppets to war.
Theme #3 - They successfully pass their secret batons from generation-to-generation and have done so for centuries.

          The film in three sentences:  Fifteen hundred years ago, the most powerful super-apex men were the priests who constructed christianity.  They sent their puppets off to kill in the crusades and burned witches for centuries just so they could drink from golden chalices.  Today, the most powerful super-apex men are politicians and bankers who work hand-in-hand to manipulate the US into its large wars and then keep them in those wars for as long as possible because the war-machine is profitable.

          I don’t think anyone will contest that Zeitgeist was scripted as propaganda in order to appeal to non-religious, non-wealthy, skeptical, disaffected, Americans.

          This is where the Bloody Socks Rule comes in (recap: focus on one valid piece of evidence).

          I call Zeitgeist’s bloody socks ‘The Unseen Unproof’.

          The film suggests hundreds of American political and military people either passively conspired to sacrifice or actively finger-on-the-trigger murdered thousands of our own citizens on 11 September 2001.  Even though it could only be possible if we were all Borg, the film implies that unknown and unseen explosive experts were allowed to rig three WTC buildings for demolition all through the night of 10 Sep 2011—because just hitting them with plane-loads of people wouldn’t bring them down and wouldn’t be sufficient to sway public opinion to go to war.  And, the missing passenger plane debris at the Pentagon as well as the unseen debris at the crash site in Pennsylvania means the missing planes (AA77 and UA93) didn’t crash.  There must have been missiles.

          The film doesn’t say anything about Area 51, but where else would you hide two planes and 100+ passengers?

          One of the things that amazes me about conspiracy nuts...they imbue ‘authority figures’ with more intelligence, capabilities, and cleverness than your average idiot.  In my experience everyone is an average idiot.  They don’t seem to understand that everyone:  Presidents, fighter pilots, WTC architects, ground-zero clean-up crews, policemen, firemen, receptionists, bankers, Osama, suicide-terrorists - all - are all just a bunch of overgrown kindergartners playing at adult games.

          Greedy?  You bet.  Prone to making mistakes?  Every day.  Capable of keeping a secret?   Never.