Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks. I cannot say that I am religious, nor do I believe in a god. I do, though, believe that people mold, shape and influence each other's lives in ways that we do not understand and cannot fathom. Everyone in my life has had some sort of effect, some more profound than others. I would like to thank my grandfather, for providing me with the best male role that anyone could ask for. I would like to thank my parents for giving me life. My family for giving me a strong moral base, though I haven't always followed it. I would like to thank my friends for providing color, support, love, companionship, acceptance and criticism- for without these things I would be less of a man. I would like to thank my dog and my cat for the blind love and allegiance that they give me. I would like to thank my dog's breeder, for taking a chance on me.

Even though at times I can be quite an ass, prone to outbursts and a bad temper, always remember that I love all of you, and that once you are family-you will always be family.

Semper Fidelis

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jarhead, the movie

I saw "Jarhead" the other day. I found it to be a good movie, true to life, and it brought back many memories for me.

I think the most compelling memory for me was the memory of the "upside-down V" that was painted on coalition forces vehicles. The reason I remember this is because I remember painting those numbers on our unit's vehicles. My unit was a Marine Expeditionary Unit, formerly known as a Marine Amphibious Unit. These units are deployed 6 months of every year, or at least they were when I first joined the unit. Soon after my first deployment they changed to an 18 month rotation instead of a 12 month rotation. This background is just to say that my unit deployed in July of 1990 for a six-month tour. My unit was highly trained, highly motivated and prepared for any contingency that we would be asked to face.

That being said, we were in Subic Bay, RoP when we got word that Saddam had invaded Kuwait. So we went. Along the way we were given word that our vehicles needed a special paint job, apparently jungle camo doesn't work in the desert. So we deserted them up. Then they sent word that all vehicles needed that special "V" on them. So we stenciled it on all of our vehicles.

That's really all I can say about what we did, and where we went. My unit was kept seperate from the rest of the units and we participated in various missions throughout the Theater at the behest of the coalition forces commanders.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Being Sick

Being sick is the worst, the absolute worst. I have been sick for the last week, effectively fighting off the majority of the symptoms until Sunday night. My symptoms: fever, sore scratchy throat, massive headache, blurred vision, body aches-pains, chest wracking coughs and of course sinus and bronchial drainage. (And acute paranoia that this is some sort of avian flu, even though I don't raise chickens.)

I've been going stir crazy at home, what with the cat and the dog both sensing that there's something wrong-but all I want is to be left alone. Of course I still have responsibilities to them-food, exercise and loving. They got what they needed and more. I can't count the times that the cat took a nap onn my chest, while the dog snuggled close to my legs.

I did discover two really cool things: a sore throat remedy that is all natural and though short lived, works brilliantly, and the easiest chicken soup ever. The sore throat remedy is simple, easy to make and healthy; take a lemon and a lime, microwave for 12 seconds-cut in half-juice both of them, microwave honey-comb honey for 15 seconds, mix with juice, microwave this for 15 seconds-stir well-drink it down. Very soothing mixture and you can't beat the vitamin C nor that pleasing honey aftertaste.

Second: Chicken soup, the easist I've ever known. Take whatever vegetables you like, in my case it was carrots, garlic, and frozen green beans, put them into a pot filled with water. Take one of those pre-roasted chickens you can get from the grocery store, put that into the water as well. Allow to come to a rolling boil, add 1tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, simmer for about 45 minutes. Voila! You have a hearty broth with chicken meat that literally falls off the bird. If you wanted to get more creative with this, I suppose you could add a bit of sage or rosemary, possibly onions for a more hearty, earthy taste. I know it's not a "low-fat" chicken soup, but who really counts calories when they're feeling ill?

That's all- I'm out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The world is going to Pot

The world is going to pot
Denver Votes to End Marijuana Use and Possession Penalties

Are we seeing, as one prominent activist predicts, "the beginning of
the end of marijuana prohibition in the U.S."?

On November 1, Denver became the second major city in less than a
year to eliminate all civil and criminal penalties for the possession
of up to one ounce of marijuana by citizens age 21 and older.

Fully 54 percent of voters passed "I-100: The Alcohol-Marijuana
Equalization Initiative." This initiative, led by the organization
SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), argued that local
laws should treat the private adult use and possession of marijuana
in a manner similar to alcohol, and that its use by adults should not
be subject to criminal penalties.

There's more.

Last fall Oakland, California voters approved a similar initiative
to "tax and regulate the sale of cannabis for adult use."

And on November 1 a proposal in Telluride, Colorado to make "the
investigation, arrest, and prosecution of marijuana offenses ... the
town's lowest law enforcement priority" missed winning by only 24

"A few years from now, this [Denver] vote may well be seen as the
proverbial 'tipping point,' the beginning of the end of marijuana
prohibition in the U.S.," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the
Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Replacing the failed
policy of prohibition with common-sense taxation and regulation of
marijuana has become a thoroughly mainstream issue, with the voters
of two major U.S. cities endorsing such an approach within one year.

"Last year, there were more than three-quarters of a million
marijuana arrests, an all-time record," Kampia added. "That's
equivalent to arresting every man, woman, and child in the state of
Wyoming plus every man, woman, and child in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"The public understands that this simply makes no sense. Regulating
marijuana will take money out of the pockets of criminals and free
police to go after violent crime, and the voters of Denver took their
first step in that direction today."

Ironically, Denver was the site of the very first federal marijuana
arrest in American history. On October 2, 1937, Samuel R. Caldwell, a
58-year-old unemployed laborer, was arrested by the FBI and Denver
police for selling two marijuana cigarettes to a 26-year-old man. For
this dastardly act, Caldwell was sentenced to four years' hard labor
at Leavenworth Prison, and fined the then-enormous sum of $1,000.
Caldwell served every day of the sentence, and died a year after

Of course, local measures like the Denver one don't override state
and federal prohibitions against marijuana. But they give citizens
enormous and very real protection at the local level. Such measures
also very strongly catch the ear of federal politicians.

This may be part of a growing trend: pro-liberty communities defying
unjust federal laws by passing local legislation. It's quite similar
to the nationwide revolt against the Patriot Act by local and state
governments, which we've reported on in past issues.

Which city is next?

(Sources: Marijuana Policy Project (MPP):
NORML on the Samuel Caldwell tragedy: )

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It happened again

Well again last night I had one of my night terrors. As usual I remember it very well. Night terrors are horrible because of the paralysis that occurs in the waking moments. This paralysis, whether real or perceived is a torment in and of itself.

The "dream" started off in a normal dream manner. I was in a house, staying over for the night. Of course it was me surrounded by strangers or should I say people that I had just met. (Strangely most of my night terrors include me with people I'm not familiar with-it's a theme and while I'm in the dream I know what is going on but I feel helpless to stop it.) The layout of the house is similar to the house that I grew up in, yet different in the details. There's another Pharaoh Hound and I'm in the foyer leaning over the staircase to the downstairs, so I can get a good look at the dog-that's when I feel the floor start to lean and something is slowly pressing against me as if to push me down the stairs. I panic for a second and then leave the room, without much of an incident.

After a meal we all settle down and are talking about the "strange presence" that we all feel. It's as if the air is electrified. I decide to snap a few digital pictures to see if I can see any "orbs" or other mysterious things in the room. I begin to take a few pictures and instead of seeing the "orbs" or lights on the digital screen, they appear around the room in real-time. At this point the air is charged with electricity and seems to crackle. The hair on my arms, legs and head feels as if it's sticking straight up. Little lights are circling the room whipping themselves into a frenzy. And I say to the "entity" or "entities" "You have my permission to leave now."

I woke myself up by saying that actually out loud. And when I woke up the hair on my body was still on end. My heart was beating quite fast and I could not move. I felt as if someone was there in the room with me, but I couldn't look about. The dog was still lying on my leg and the cat was sleeping peacefully next to my pillow. They weren't concerned, nor were they awake. So why was I paranoid? Why couldn't I move? Was someone there?

After being "paralyzed" for about 15 minutes, I must have fallen back to sleep. All I could think about was the feeling of being watched and the fact that I couldn't move.

So yes, it happened again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Wow what a life this is...

It's been about a month since I've been able to compose myself long enough to write. My train of thought and focus has been derailed for over two months. Living with a puppy is tough mentally. It's also very time consuming, as I'm finding out.

My days are still filled with work, though they begin a bit earlier now that I must take Xerxes out for the morning stroll. Once we load up in the truck he's ready to go to work. His mornings are pure leisure, by any account. He eats a nice breakfast, strolls around the lot to make his morning rounds and then he goes to sleep. He awakens about 11am to make the rounds again and eat lunch. Then it's playtime for 20-30 minutes and back to bed until 3:30 or so. Our day ends at 4:30pm as we load up into the truck and head home. It's a short ride but he makes the most of it by watching for anyone to get too close to the truck. Then he goes back to sleep. Upon our arrival home, he is usually so tired from the ride that he doesn't want to get out of the truck at all. So after 5 minutes of coaxing he debarks and promptly lies down in the grass. 15 minutes later, if I'm lucky, we're inside eating dinner with the cat. "Scrambled eggs and dogfood...Oh MY!" Then it's naptime again. After our short nap we go to the dog park from 7pm until it closes at dark. We shower, then get ready for bed. Then at 11 or 11:30 we go out for our last walk. Wow what a full day we've had.

That, is a summary of how my life has been for the last 9 weeks. Of course that's minus all the friends we have coming over, all the going out we do and all of the friends that come over...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Yes Virginia There is A Pharaoh Hound

While many of my readers have moved on, thinking that I would never write again, I have returned-sort of. I have been kept busy with a puppy, some personal difficulties, work and an marked decrease in my time spent alone.

My puppy is an amazing creature. He's smart, silly, energetic and a lot of work. He's also the cutest (soon to be handsomest) puppy ever. I know that these dogs are supposed to be aloof and somewhat standoff-ish, but in his case that means coming over to a stranger, sniffing them and then moving on. His need to be near me, or at least within visual range of me to feel at ease. There are times when he'd rather be with me than eat in the other room (strange for a dog that is so incredibly food motivated.) The long and short of it is this: I'm a 24 hour dad now...and though it's alot of work, it's still the best thing that's ever happened to me.

I get questioned all the time: what kind of dog is that? What's he mixed with? Is that a new breed? How'd you find out about him? Is there a local breeder? and many, many more questions as well. Those answers as well as many others will be forthcoming.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

June 12, 1968

June 12, 1968. Curry County, New Mexico. Clovis Memorial Hospital.

A baby breathed his first breath, emerging into an unknown world. A world at war. A war of violent revolutionary proportions in Asia; a clash of cultures in the Americas. On that day many people died and I was chosen to be born.

I've met only one other person born on that same day, and that was many years ago. I could bore you with the names of those who share the same birthday, but to no avail, you could just look them up on the internet yourself.

A few years ago birthdays stopped being celebratory and started being reflective. "What have I done this year? Am I better off now than one year ago? Do I still have clear goals? Did I accomplish any of last years goals?" I can't say that I have clear cut ambitions right now. I can say that I've not become worse off. But the fact remains that I'm not that much better off. I'm still single, I have not yet found the person that's right for me. I think that contributes quite a bit to the way I feel sometimes. It would be nice to be able to roll over during the middle of the night and listen to the breathing and feel the heat of a lover, calming and reassuring me that they find the same security in my presence. As a young man I was always told that eventually I would find my other half. That searching and playing the dating game was not necessary. Perhaps I let my other half slip through the .

On my 25th birthday I was kidnapped by some of my friends and taken to the premiere of "Jurassic Park." That makes me feel old now. Oh well. June 12, 2005 seems to have become just another day. No cake, no silly hats, no kinapping. I may go get another tattoo later today.

My eyes are itchy right now, my allergies are acting up. I'd better go.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Your Failure to Laugh

Perhaps this has something to do with global dimming. As our light levels decrease perhaps we get a little more glum. Either way it's interesting to think that laughter can be quantified.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


I used to wonder why churches and villages and other clans would use excommunication as a form of punishment. I always thought that excommunication would be a relief, especially from certain societies that had rules and laws which were onerous and burdensome. To me what could be better than being removed from such a society? All of a sudden the outcast is in total control of the rules and regulations that govern his/her life.

As I've grown, I realize that, much like a wolf-pack, humans need rules. Humans need stratification, laws and the security that those laws provide. Not the enforcement of those laws by police, but the security of knowing boundaries. The security of knowing what is expected and what is not expected. The blanket of warmth that snugs us into the fabric of society.

I don't always agree with it, but it seems that humans beg to be led. They beg to be spoonfed what to think and how to think it. Humans want to be told what to believe. They want to know how they should feel. They turn to the tabloids, they turn to the cable news, they turn to mass media. It's quite sad that the few individual thinkers that exist are considered "radicals" or "revolutionaries." Perhaps it is because those persons can see through the veil of popular opinion and glimpse the truth.

I've heard it said that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump right out and hardly be burned at all. Yet if that very same frog can be placed into a pot of warm water on the stove, it will swim around and die as the water temperature becomes hotter and hotter. This metaphor is being used as a reality by large companies and governments to slowly change the way that we view our world. To introduce a new style of product, often a is interjected before the unveiling of the final product. Ford Motor Company did this in the 1980's by changing from the big boxy styled LTD's and Fairmonts and Thunderbirds to the newer more aerodynamic look of the Tempo, Taurus and new Thunderbirds. They did it again in the 1990's with the order to unveil the 2004 F-150 with it's radical new styling.

We sit and watch our government change it's policies and add laws with non-sensical riders attached. We are so concerned about ism that we watch as our rights are systematically eroded and erased. We don't even bat an eye. Our ability to move from state to state is soon going to become difficult. Imagine roadblocks on interstates hampering our interstate commerce. It will happen. Shades of the KGB you say? I agree. Isolating from state to state. Soon after it will be counties, then cities. When all else fails and unemployment is high-create more government, that's what we're coming to.

Our Congressmen reap benefits after only 6 years that many of the commonweal work a lifetime to achieve, yet fall well short. These "leaders" don't pay into social security and they hardly pay taxes. Our tax system isolates the middle income wage earners and rewards those at the topmost and the bottommost of the system. Little by little the most elite are assuming control of our daily lives. They are pushing us further and further from the decision making processes that direct our daily activities, and like that frog we swim around comfortably warm but totally unsuspecting.

I'd say that rather than being excommunicated all at once, we're watching it happen inch by inch, it's just that we're too busy being spoonfed media garbage that we don't see it happen. That's the saddest part of our isolation, isn't it?

Friday, May 20, 2005

What in Life?

In lieu of an actual blog entry which requires thought, editing and contemplation, I will use the lyrics of a song which wrote itself in my head and into reality today. I hope that you enjoy it.

What in Life?

What in life is so important
What in life is so real
What in life can make me turn and walk away
From that which I feel?

Carry on, carry on
Carry on, just carry me away
You won’t even listen to what
I’ve got nothing to say (to you)

What in life makes it worth living?
What in life makes it true?
What in life can I remember
That will be complete without you?

Some things I won’t forget
Some things I won’t save
Some things will just fall apart
Some things I will not take

What in life is forever?
What in life is complete?
What in life can make me whole again
As I shuffle down your street?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mama Always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun

"Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.
But Mama, that's where the fun is."

Driving home from work tonight, this song was playing on the CD. I listened. I really listened to it today. That one phrase stuck with me, as if to tell me to write tonight. So I am writing. . .

The eyes of the sun. That's where the fun is. Bruce Springsteen, Manfred Mann. Do you think they really looked into the eyes of the sun? I think the real question is have we? What are the eyes of the sun? Do they only exist in our songs? I think the "eyes of the sun" are a representation of that which is on the very edge of being both rebellious and harmful to ourselves. I think maybe it also symbolizes our reach for that which is unattainable, that which is unknown. It could be those all night parties we wanted to attend in our teens, the prom queen that we couldn't ask out-but secretly we rehearsed doing so, it could be the exposure of all of our secrets to someone we trust, it could just be that feeling of truly being accepted for being who we are.

I think that we, as humans, tend to define ourselves continually. And that continuum needs to be periodically updated. As social creatures, our social habits change, our social circles evolve. In with the new, and out with the old. But is that "where the fun is?" There's something to be said about being conservative in one's social circles. But friends grow older and you cannot expect relationships to remain static. You cannot expect life to remain static. Change is the propellant for the rocket of success, and success may lie in the "eyes of the sun." Change though, invariably causes pain and it is that pain which is the catalyst for some to seek other social relationships and social bonds.

What type of identity do we share? Am I not human? Do I not bleed? But does that make me any less human than you, or conversely any more human? I think not, therefore I am not. I'm amazed at how cliche some of the most basic ideas of the construct of humanity have become. I read and say them to myself and they seem to have lost the very meaning that they engendered. When was the last time that anyone you know asked you a question of substance, a question of thought, a question of intrigue?

We have lost the capacity to think. Not the capacity to learn, nor the capacity to memorize, but the capacity to think! I for one, question authority. I question the abstract concepts of rights, truth, justice. I even go as far as questioning the morality of right and wrong. Much to the chagrin of my parents who think I was raised better. The fact is that I learned how to think for myself, again much to the chagrin of my parents and much to my own surprise. I surrounded myself with a /alcohol induced fog when I was an adolescent. I hid from my intellect, I hid from my depression, I hid from the real me.

I didn't really learn to think until I was in the Marine Corps. And that, of course, really bothered my superiors. I have always known how to argue, but once I learned how to think, my view of the world changed. I read books that opened up new worlds to me, among them "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," "The Dancing Wu Li Masters," "A Brief History of Time," "The God Particle." I read religious tomes and philosophy. I read Russian literature, French Literature, Early American Literature. I wrote. I stayed awake at nights debating concepts and ideals which I had previously accepted as truth. I delved deeper into the mystery that is humanity. I created my own theories. I won't bore you with those during this post though...

I wish that the idea of University hadn't been corrupted. I wish that Universities today were still dedicated to the best and the brightest. I just feel that by incorporating "University" into the schooling process, we have dumbed down the education and turned it into a business. And the business end is very successful. Yet our graduates still cannot think for themselves. In the midst of a crisis they'd rather throw their hands up and say "What do I do?" instead of actually doing something. That's a sign which tells me that he didn't even try to look "into the eyes of the sun." Sad isn't it?

Friday, May 06, 2005

What is this life?

Life is what you make it out to be, or so I've been told. "Carpe Diem!" cried the Romans. Seize the day! To sum it up I guess it means make the most of every day, laugh when you can and live life to it's very utmost.

There are times when I find this very difficult to do. I seem to be at a changing point in my life, where I become morose and despondent as well as restless. I don't know which way to turn. I am in therapy and this helps quite a bit, but my level of motivation comes crashing down almost every day. I have very little energy and my thought processes seem to cloud over. I do not understand this because it only affects my personal life, my business life-my professional life is unaffected. I remain motivated, perhaps too much so and I accomplish those tasks which I must do. I meet the goals that I should meet.

Where did my energy go? Did my motivation take a vacation? Why do I depend so much for external support for my own energies? Why is it that being alone is so easy and being with others is so difficult? I don't want to avoid society, but it seems that I don't want to join it either.

Some days I feel as though I never really learned the lessons of high school and college. Perhaps it's the that I did as a youth, perhaps the alcohol. Perhaps it's the lack of apathy that I felt at home, or the fact that I was ignored on a daily basis. Perhaps I am just feeling quite sorry for myself. Whatever the case, sometimes I still feel as if I am not a wanted nor a needed member of my own family, my extended family or anyone's family at all. I am the forgotten.

When I was in the Marine Corps, I was part of a unit that disappeared off of the radar screen during the first Persian Gulf War. They called us, or more correctly we called ourselves "The Lost ARG." (Amphibious Readiness Group.) That's what I feel my destiny has become: To perform with distinction, the missions that are set before me, yet to remain anonymous except to those who are in my immediate vicinity. Is that a noble thing or is that ignoble?

Why does it seem that my friends ignore me? My social world collapsed recently when my best friend and his wife moved to California. I didn't see him all that often but I always knew that if I called him and it was important, he'd be there. I don't blame him for following his dream. I'd be a dick to do that, but I do blame myself for not being able to make new friends easily. I'm not an easy person to know. My appearance does not belie my substance. I am the book which cannot be judged by it's own cover. I've run into that several times in the last week. Hardly anyone knows who I really am. Hardly anyone knows the scope of my yearnings, interests and life's work. I love to think, to write to discuss knowledge, information, economics, intrigue, politics, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of rhetoric, the philosophy of philosophy. I've just recently learned how to express my feelings, and in as much as I am new at this, I do it somewhat often through these pages, but maybe not enough in person. There are times I feel like I am living a lie and that I shouldn't be involved in the auto parts business, but that I should be some sort of a business strategist or involved in some other field or endeavor that tries the limits of my knowledge and my intellect. I learn languages quite easily and can adapt my approach to suit almost any cultural norm. But in direct juxtaposition to all of this: I love my job despite all of these additional talents that I have.

My passions are many and my aptitude for these passions is quite high, yet I don't see the world in terms of dollar signs, but in terms of the heart. I give up and I give this all to you.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The waiting is the hardest part

Most of life, it seems, we wait. We wait for traffic. We "wait a minute" for someone. We wait for our main course at a good restaurant. We wait for the bus. We wait for 5 o'clock to get here. We're waiting for the weekend. We wait until the last minute to do our taxes. We wait until the last possible instant to merge into traffic. We are a society of waiters.

I to wait. I have watched the dog this past week. The soon-to-be 16 year old Peke. With her assorted sounds, smells and needs, she makes an interesting bed-warmer. But I have still not gotten much sleep with her around. I'm averaging 2-4 hours a night. I cannot live like this much longer. I feel like a parent. When I'm at work I'm worried that she might forget where her water bowl is or something else significant like that. Anyways, the parents were supposed to come back today. I was supposed to drop the dog off with them this afternoon. I cancelled all my plans for the day. It's almost midnight and they've still not shown up yet. I'm tired and I want to go to sleep. But still I wait, still I wait.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


What is this bravery that we discuss? What does it really mean? What is courage?Is bravery that which propels you onward in a fight, or is bravery that stuff of legend that admits no fear and faces every situation with grim resolve, despite an apparent outcome?

I say that bravery is that sense of self that allows an individual the opportunity to make the right choice despite the actions of others. Bravery is making a stand for ones' beliefs in the face of ridicule, in the face of consequence and in the face of failure. Dangerous situations don't necessarily require bravery. Being brave doesn't mean not being afraid. Being brave means that an individual performs his/her mission for the sake of mission accomplishment; for the better of his/her peers. Did "Chesty" Puller's accomplishments make him a brave man? Or was he just executing missions to the best of his ability? Is it valiant to kill men in combat?

The ultimate in bravery to me is having the ability to refuse to go along with the crowd, standing tall for one's personal beliefs in the face of peer pressure. That being said, I am not a brave man. I don't like social situations so I avoid them. I don't really know when this started, but I am trying to change this.

My downstairs neighbor died this past Sunday. He had been in intensive care for about 30 days. His name was Bill and he was in his mid 70's. I guess alot of people would say that he lived a full life. Every time I saw him it always appeared to me that he felt he had a lot more life to live. His daughter told me about his situation when she was over checking in on his condo and his things. I sent my regards to him while he was in the hospital. I hope that helped to boost his spirits. When it snowed I always shoveled his car out and shoveled a walkway across the parking lot. I never told him that it was me that shoveled him out. One day he came out as I was shoveling and he asked me if I had been the mysterious shoveler, of course I said yes. He thanked me and we had a nice conversation after that.

Despite the sytematic failure of his body, he still remained strong willed and fought through his pneumonia and other ailments. When his family told him that he'd not be able to go back to his condo and live alone again, he lost his will to fight this last battle, a battle for his very life. Bill bravely accepted the fact that his self-directedness and independent life was at a close, and he chose not to live like that. That is bravery.

I hope that I don't cling onto the tendrils of life hoping against hope that my independence will return. I hope that I can make the brave choice.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A dog's life for me...

Saturday, in the pouring rain I picked up Sophie. Sophie is a Pekingnese dog. She's 16 years old, fidgety, vocal, and very persnickety. She eats what she wants to eat, she does what she wants to do. She has howls, yowls, whines and barks. She is very full of herself when she alerts me to the fact that there's someone else in the room, or in the apartment or outside. There are times when she acts like a puppy, but most of the time she is the epitome of an old dog: she's mostly deaf, her joints ache, the one eye that she has left is clouded over and all she can see is shadow and movement.

This is practice, I think, for the new puppy that I'm getting. I'm learning to be a caretaker and a father. I was also told something kind of disturbing when I picked her up; I was told that if she "had a stroke or something else happened" not to allow the Vet to give her an MRI or perform any additional testing. I don't know. I just know that when she is over here, she acts like a puppy most of the time. The rest of the time she sleeps. She struts and prances when she's outside. Her vertigo makes it look a little awkward at times though. She has always been my vision of a tough little dog. She's never backed down from any challenge that I've ever seen.

I like to think that when she does go she'll end up back in the same pack that her brothers Shiloh and Sammy are in.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Oppression is...

Opression is trying to sleep when the ambient inside temperature is 87*F in your apartment. Opression is having 4 floor fans going full blast and still not being able to cool down the apartment. Oppression is when the air conditioning units are not turned on by the residents themselves but by a board of advisors that set an arbitrary date.

So that was my night last night. I didn't sleep much, maybe two hours, if even that. It was so hot that the cat didn't get on the bed, she slept on the floor. Around 3am I went to go into the living room, where it was a bit cooler. I've slept on the couch out there before and to be honest, it's quite pleasant. My roommate beat me to it. I could have squeezed in on the love-seat but that would have been quite uncomfortable.

Sure, sure, there are worse things in life than having a hot house, but having a hot house is still a very oppressive thing. I've never been able to sleep in a hot house. In the summer I turn my air conditioning down to about 67* or 68*F. If I thought it would be reasonable I'd turn it down to 50*F. I like it cold, not unbearable cold, just cold enough so that I'd have to wear a blanket when I'm lounging around the house.

I hope that the "powers that be" will turn on the A/C soon.

Monday, April 18, 2005

When I'm Bored...

When I'm bored I like to read and I also like to write. Sometimes I just start writing (like now) and I'm not sure where the words will take me. I'm not really sure in which direction I will ramble. Since my interests are so diverse and so eclectic I could begin to ramble about anything.

I think I have some sort of a computer virus on my home PC. My Norton Utilities hasn't caught it, nor has my Windows Firewall. Luckily for me, I don't store any sensitive information on my computer, well I do store passwords but since I do not have unlimited access to all of my accounts online these passwords will only allow a very little amount of damage to occur. The reason why I think that I might have a virus, or at the very least a snooping hacker are these: My AOL Instant Messenger is constantly crashing; my computer has been renamed and my computer has crashed 3 times in the last 24 hours, with minimum programs running. Oh and I still get popups from sex sites even though I have CyberSitter installed on my computer.

My AIM has been acting strangely for the last few weeks. I'll be having a conversation and the window will say " is typing" but no words ever get sent to my window. Also when I send messages they will appear with weird blank spaces randomly typed. It is almost as if I am being censored. (This also appears to a lesser extent with my blog entries.) Perhaps I am being filtered by this CyberSitter program?

As everyone that has a machine knows, when one first purchases and boots up a computer a prompt appears in which you have an option to name your computer, most people will choose names like "Home" or "Office." I chose the name "Abulafia" which is from an Umberto Eco novel. This morning I looked at it and now my computer has been renamed "Mysterious." Quite interesting, if you think about it. In order to rename the computer this person had to have incredible and complete administrative access.

Several times during the past 24-36 hours my computer has crashed mysteriously, rebooting from scratch, and each time after the reboot it tells me that "Windows has recovered from a serious error." I'm not sure if it's related but other programs have shut down automatically (with no prompt or command or click) from me. Perhaps this is some hacker showing me that he can remotely turn on and off whatever programs I have running. Perhaps it is some "piggy-backed" software that is riding the "Mysterious" stream of electrons in cyberspace. I wish I knew.

Oh yeah and pop-ups. Goodnight! If I am surfing for a period of more than 5 minutes at a time, I get popups for sexsites (no pictures just a URL and a "File can not be found" icon) and it's quite annoying. It's a big concern of mine because I sweep for spyware and adware on a daily basis. I search the registry, the internet cookies, running processes and programs and everything else I can possibly think of.

I don't know what to do, other than totally disconnect my PC from the cable modem and/or take a shotgun to it. (Which is a problem since I cannot legally discharge a firearm in my county outside of a gunrange.)

Friday, April 15, 2005


What makes us tick? Why do we do the things that we do and what encourages us to do so?

In the simplest terms man is no more than an omnivorous primate. We have combination teeth which provide for tearing meat and crushing vegetables. We have an opposible thumb. But what sets us apart, is ambition and foresight. Some might argue that logic or higher brain function sets us apart from the rest of the animals. I don't disagree with this but I feel that logic and higher brain function is an offshoot of ambition and foresight. But this blog is not to argue that point. This blog is meant to examine some of the reasons that I do what I do...

I am driven by myself to be the best that I can be in whichever endeavor that I pursue. If I can give my all to one particular task, and I am not the best at it, I am fine with it. However, if I do not give my all and I am bested by another. It took me a very long time to be satisfied with not being the best at everything that I do. But my compulsive behavior does not allow me to be satisfied with an effort of less than 100%. In my work I want to be the absolute best, I want to be the "gold standard" by which others are measured.

I currently work in a Body Shop Parts Office, which I manage. In the last 7 months since I have taken over, my return percentage to other vendors has dropped, my sales have increased and the overall productivity of my bodyshop has been raised. The frustration of the Body Shop Management with the Parts Department is the lowest that it has ever been since I've been employed at this dealership. My success is due to several factors, among them is the fact that Charlie, my coworker, is a master at organization and the development of processes. We operate on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. We also operate on a fairly strict separation of duties. Both of us are goal oriented and driven to succeed. Our operation in the Body Shop has been noticed and for certain insurance company repair programs we are #1 in our respective region. Our success has been noted by the rest of the parts department, and some of them want to defect to my department. This is notable since the legend or shall I say spectre of doom surrounding the body shop was quite ominous.

But why am I driven to work hard at a task for which I never wanted? The financials are nice, to be sure, but there is something more. I never want to fail a task and have someone say "The truth is that you never really tried."

I played roller hockey for the past 10 years. I'm not big, I'm not that skilled, my hands aren't that soft and I don't have many moves. The niche that I fit in is one of a hard working defensive forward that is strong along the boards. I viewed my role as one of giving the skilled players a breather, drawing a few penalties and doing the dirty work that no one else wanted to do. I'm good for a goal or two or four a season but not much more. I'm also a good teacher/coach of the game. I never liked leaving a game knowing that I didn't give everything I had to help my team. Some games the best thing I could do was to take very short shifts and get the skill guys out there as much as possible. To be honest, I love my playing time, but I can certainly accept the fact that my best, isn't THE best, it's only what I can offer. In my playing time I learned alot about the game, yet there is so much more to learn. And that learning is what I obsess about.

I have always had a thirst for knowledge. I remember being a small child, a toddler in fact, possibly around 2 years old, observing my father reading a book. I kept thinking that whatever he is doing it must be important; It must be more important to him than me. (After he I found out that was true.) I wanted to know what was in those books. What was it that held him captivated so many nights, for so much time. I then taught myself to read at a young age. I'm pretty sure the reason I started reading was to find my father. I was hoping to find him trapped in one of the pages and he'd come to life in my mind. Maybe I'm just grasping here, I don't know. But I was driven by knowledge then and I'm driven by it now.

That's enough of me for now, for someone that s himself so much, I do alot of talking about myself.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I just took another test...

Libertarian or Proletariat?

Being a Libertarian has it's advantages, I must say. Just the fact that my "party" realizes that people are different on an individual basis makes me feel welcomed. While many people consider the libertarians as extremist, the truth is that their views are quite parallel with the majority of the US populus. Interestingly enough a comic strip "Beetle Bailey" keyed in on these ideals.

That's my quick note for today. I am working on an official entry which should be posted by the late afternoon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The world is going to the dogs

I know that a large percentage of my recent posts were dedicated to animal companions. There is a reason for this: I am soon to be the proud owner of a new puppy. As far as I know the puppy isn't born yet. I am purchasing a Pharaoh Hound . (I wish I knew how to make these links work so I wouldn't have to show the whole URL.)

I was watching one of the dog shows on television a few months ago and I thought that this dog was statuesque. I started doing research about them and discovered that, indeed, the dog should make a good companion and fit in with my lifestyle. So I started inquiring and put a deposit down on a puppy that had not even been conceived.

I'm getting very excited at this point, as the due date for the expectant mother is now past. I hope that she had an easy time at birthing and that her and the pups are ok. As I have not yet heard from the breeder, I am resting a bit uneasy. The amazing thing is the amount of support I have received from friends and family. This is one way, I'm guessing, for me to get out to the mountains and go on hikes, take long leisurely walks, and possibly even get involved in other canine activities such as lure coursing, obedience and agility.

Pharaoh hounds are good hunters, and though they are considered "sight hounds" they also use their noses more than other sighhound breeds. They are particularly athletic when outside of the house but somehow know that it's ok to be a "couch potato" when inside.

My biggest concern is that my cat, who is very co-dependent, will begin to hate me for adding a loud, large (60lb,) drooling sycophant canine into the household. I know that I will lose a bit of the camaraderie I have with her, yet I cannot help but think it would add a bit more variety to her otherwise mundane and banal life. (The biggest excitement for her now is when the pizza guy comes to the door-and all she does is look for the quickest place to hide.)

So there is my reason for the canine posts.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The information super-highway

The internet, cable television, satellite radio, satellite TV, cell phones; all are part of the information superhighway. They feed information to you at a moment's notice. They can reach you in the privacy of your automobile, your workplace, or they can interrupt the sanctity of the daily bowel movement.

I find it strange that we need to have information in such a rapid manner. I don't really remember how slowly information traveled in the 70's, or the 80's. I am not sure that it had much of an affect upon my life. Stores weren't open 24 hours. Most television stations weren't on air for 24 hours.

Now we get spoonfed information, and we get, for the most part, all similar information from similar sources. The biases are the same, the conclusions and the verbiage. Everything is dumbed down so much that we are not allowed the liberty of thinking. Reason has left humankind. Again we are told which clothing is best to wear, which vitamins we should take, which drugs will help us live full, meaningful lives and which products will make us smell better, look better and be more appealing to whichever sex we are trying to attract. We have become a society of somnambulists.

Creativity and originality are leaving, wave goodbye as we watch them sail away. Our voyage is no longer into the unknown, our voyage is into the known. We are being told what to think, how to think it, how to express it and how to feel fulfillment from it. We are medicated, placated, relaxated, and artificially stimulated. Our food is modified, sterilized, preserved codified, homogenized, pasteurized and freeze-dried. The films we watch (US made only) explain every detail to us and always end with certain resolution. The good guy always wins. But the good guys often times do bad things to accomplish the greater good. We revere the Rambos out there. Not because they do the right thing, but because they take on greater odds. We are taught that greatness means doing great things for great recognition. Not that greatness sparks from doing the right thing no matter who is nearby or peering over our shoulders. Greatness starts with doing the right thing, regardless. We are taught that people will like us because of what we wear, or what we smell like. Not so.

I'm sorry that the world has turned this way. I'm sorry that we feel that modernization and information is a prerequisite for happiness. I'm sorry because I can see that the future of our world will be dictated by those few who will be the self-appointed leaders of the "free-world" and the rest of the populus will be mindless drones that do their bidding. I'm sorry that the world is being hypnotized by a pop culture that even Warhol could not imagine. I'm sorry that the blackness spreading over our lives is dimming even the very hope which we cling to in our hours of need.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I was asked about customers...

Since I was asked to report on customers at my workplace I shall do so on this post. But be aware that this is only a preliminary glimpse into the life of a parts-guy.

To most of you readers, going to the dealership to get your parts means a trip into the heavily trafficked part of town, hustling to find parking, being greeted by all manners of sales staff who would rather you purchase a new car rather than fix your current model. And that's even before you arrive at the Parts Department.

I must make a quick aside here prior to mentioning the interaction between parts-guy and customer. There are three different types of parts guys that I have run into. There is the guy that is working the counter because he is unable to find a better job- either because he is uneducated, lazy or otherwise unwilling to search for a job; there is the guy that sells parts because it pays well, he's good at customer service and the job seemed pretty easy; and there is the true parts guy: a guy that understands automotive systems, and can explain those systems in either a technical or a lay-person manner, he loves what he does and is incredibly intelligent and dilligent in his search for that "impossible to find" grommet for the rain-gutter drain tube in your 1983 Ford Fairmont that you don't want to sell because that car "has memories" (which are of course rusty and have since been painted over.) Usually these guys are not "public" friendly and they only end up working the front counter during lunch breaks and on Saturdays.

With that preface let me tell you the story of a good customer transaction; The customer comes is and has either a registration or a copy of his/her VIN, knows the general location of the part, possibly even the nomenclature, or has driven the car into the dealership to show the parts-guy. The Customer knows all pertinent information relating to his question. This is not often the case.

As a parts department representative, I do not set prices. I am not responsible for what the manufacturer uses as a "list" price. I know that I am in business to make money, yet I will not deliberately add to this list price. I give discounts to senior citizens, members of the military, and others, case dependent I assure you. If you walk in and are looking for a thousand dollar accessory for your $60,000 Navigator, I will not give you a discount. As my co-worker likes to say "that's sway. 'S-way it goes."

On to the stories: A customer comes in holding a broken piece of metal. The metal bar is bent and broken, it fell off the car he says. No, I don't know from where it fell off. Well maybe the back of the car. Fifteen minutes of questioning goes by. The piece is finally discovered, after a trip to the vehicle: A trunk lid retaining spring. Fourteen dollars later the guy is back on the road, part in hand.

I was standing at the counter one day and this older gentleman enters and asks me if I work there. I glance down at the uniform that I wear and look at the company logo. "Why yes, yes I do. How can I help you?"

"I need a bolt for my engine."

"Which bolt?" I reply.

"I don't know, but it's about this big." He opens his fingers to indicate a bolt about 2-2 1/2 inches long. "Do you have paper and a pen?"

I hand him a piece of scratch paper, hoping that he's going to possibly show me which part of the engine this bolt came from. I glance down at his doodling. He's drawn me a poor illustration of a bolt.

"Sir, I know what a bolt looks like. What part of the engine did it come from?"

"I don't know."

"How can I help you find the bolt if you don't know where it came from?" I ask, clearly getting frustrated.

"I drew you a picture."

"Sir, is there any chance that your drawing is exactly to scale?" It wasn't, I knew that. It wasn't even close. It was the crudest drawing of a bolt I've ever seen.

"No, I was just showing you what the bolt looked like."

"I know what a bolt looks like. If you can't tell me where it came from in the engine I won't even know how to start looking this up."

"Why not? Can't you just type in bolt and it will come up?"

"No sir, I need to know where to start. You have to help me help you here." I snapped at him.

"Well it's obvious I'm getting nowhere with you. Where's the other guy that works here?" He shot back at me.

Luckily my colleague was at lunch and the guy left without speaking to him.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I recieved a printed version of this email, thought I would share it with everyone...

As seen in a dog's diary:

8am-oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!!
9am-oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!!
10am- oh boy a walk! My favorite!!
11am Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!!
Noon- Oh boy! The kids My favorite!!
1pm-Oh boy! The yard!! My favorite!!
2pm-Oh boy! the kids! My favorite!!
4pm-Oh boy Dog food! My favorite!!
5pm-Oh boy! MOM!!!! My favorite!!
6pm- Oh boy!! DAD!!! My favorite!!
7pm-Oh boy!! A tennis ball!! My favorite!!

As seen in a cat's diary:

Day 183 of my captivity...
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded--must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair--must try this again on their bed. I decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an attempt to make them aware of my capabilities and to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Mmmmm, not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices this evening. I was placed in solitary throughout the event however, I could only hear the noise and smell the food. More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." I must learn what this is and how to use it more to my advantage. I am convinced the other captives are flunkies, and maybe even snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time...

-author unknown

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Win or lose it's all the same

Realization is key. Experience earned and learned gleans wisdom.

The circumstances of our individual lives are often pondered and remembered with feelings of fondness or feelings of hurt. Should we discount the good things in our lives that have ended just because the cycles were completed? I am mainly speaking about the sense of warmth, love and companionship that one receives from being owned by a pet. Whether a dog, cat, ferret, mouse, bird or some other type of pet. Pets enrich our lives. On a cold day they snuggle up to us and share their warmth. On a bad day they sympathize with us and make us feel appreciated and wanted. On a good day they share with us the joi de vivre that they inherently possess.

Perhaps it is because their lives are much shorter than ours that they seem to be willing to live in the moment. The simple act of chasing a squirrel may distract them from their companionship, but they chase with such a fervor that we cannot help but enjoy ourselves too. It seems though that when we think of the pets which have owned our hearts that our longest lasting memories are also the saddest ones. We move on slowly afterwards and say "never again." These resolutions hardly ever last, of course, finding us somewhere down the road contemplating the emergence of a new cross-species friendship.

It is hard to think that in my life I have known the companionship and trust of many dogs. It makes me feel old, actually. There is a dog lying on my bed right now that is rapidly aproaching her 16th year of life. Those of you that have read my blog know that I am speaking of Sophie, my parents' pekingnese dog. I am dog-sitting this weekend and will be again at the end of this month. She is old and tired most of the time. She is mostly deaf and her one remaining eye is cloudy so she sees only opaque shapes and shadows. Amazingly enough she still has that very same joi-de-vive which I spoke of earlier. She howls when I come home from work, she swells with pride when she has alerted me to the presence of some stranger and she still loves to play with a tennis ball.

In her younger years she was as fierce a dog as I have ever seen. She would fight her "brother" (a blond peke named "sammy") over something as simple as "the look." Her brother Shiloh, a Japanes Akita, was not immune to the danger either as I have seen her attack him over a semi buried dog biscuit. She lost both of them and yet she still remains. Often I wonder what her thinking process says about the loss of her "pack." Does she know that they died? Does she miss them? At this point, does she even remember them?

Shiloh was put to sleep due to stomach torsion or bloat. The last time I saw him was one of my favorite memories of him. It was in the late December, a crisp, cold day. The trees were bare and the ground was covered with brown leaves that crinkled underfoot as we walked down the wooded trail. The smell of musty drying leaves hung in the air as a reminder that winter was in full stide. We plodded down the trail, my Mother, the three dogs and I. Shiloh was a bit arthritic then, and his vision was failing, as was his hearing. Off to the left we all heard a clatter and we turned to see two majestic white tailed deer hopping away from us in that characteristic hop- leap that whitetails have. Shiloh didn't see them, but he certainly smelt them and felt the excitement as it traveled down the lead to him. His syes were alert, his ears erect and his muscles tensed as if he were ready for the chase. Off to the right we heard another clatter, four more white tailed does were in full alert running through the back yards of the houses uphill from the trail. Shiloh saw the movement but was unsure what it was.

That's the way I choose to remember this amazing dog. Alert, poised and ready. At home on the hunt and always between his family and danger. Akitas are like that. They boldly face any and every threat to their family and willingly fight to protect their pack. They are incredibly fearless and are devoted, intuitive family members. When I think of him I think of his intelligence, strength, size and also his lifelong search for the perfect place to poop. (Anytime we went on a walk he would spend anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes seeking out the perfect place. Sometimes he would get as far as going into the squat and decide to move on. I'll never know why, but I'll always remember it with a smile.)

The message of this particular entry is: Remember the good times people. There are too few honest and good moments in this life to forget them. Learn the lessons of life from pets: Live each day to it's fullest extent, be loyal to your family and there is always a better place to poop than the one you've just found.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Angle of Attack

In aviation there is a term called "angle of attack." This literally means the angle or attitude that an aircraft has with respect to the ground. The nose can be pitched up (a high angle of attack) or pitched level (a low angle of attack) or, I assume the nose can be pitched down (a negative angle of attack?.) But what does this have to do with life in general?

In life we are often beset by various problems, concerns and challenges. It is up to us to learn how to confront and deal with these issues. So we need to decide how we will confront them. Sometimes, it seems, that to confront the issues head-on is appropriate; sometimes sidelong is better, and sometimes it is necessary to call in for reinforcements and plan an alternate method all together.

I call this process "deciding the angle of attack."

I can think of lots of processes that we, as humans, go through in which we need to decide an appropriate course of action. Mechanical action is one example. Sometimes it is best to use a different angle to maximize our torque. Sometimes our opposable thumbs get in the way. Different situations require different strategies.

I quit drinking alcohol in March of 1993. I haven't tasted a drop of alcohol since then. (Well there was a rum cake incident that left me feeling ill.) That was a problem that I confronted head-on. I conquered my alcoholism and have since moved on. I find that other problems in my life are not so easy to conquer. I have a compulsivity/ addiction problem. I find one thing and become so fixated upon it that all else falls to the wayside. To conquer one addiction it seems that I add another. My addiction to tobacco, for instance. I've tried many times to quit, all of them were unsuccessful. I tried the nicotine gum. Disgusting, and it made me jumpy. My isolationism is another addiction. I prefer to be alone. Sometimes so much so that in my solitude I am irritated by the mere suggestion of socialization.

I guess what I am saying is that in order for me to confront and conquer these problems I can't just sit and think about them. I need to choose an angle of attack and close in on them. If that angle of attack fails, I'll reset my angle of attack and go at it again. Seems like a lot of work when you think about it, but there is no other way to solve a problem than to take action against it.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

People are Rude

Granted I don't look like a nice guy. I do everything I can to avoid that "guy next door" look. I shave my head and have a goatee that is around 4 inches long and I'm working on the whole fu-manchu thing. My normal look is a sneer that shows off the teeth I had knocked out playing hockey. So I'm guessing that people view me as threatening. It also doesn't help that I drive a truck and listen to some extremely hard music (I guess one could call it offensive music as well, though it is NOT rap music or ghetto or hip-hop whatever they call it these days.) So with that being said here's the story:

I go to the post office the other day. The parking lot is a "one-way" design to allow for mail drop off traffic. I drive a truck so I don't bother with the crowded part of the parking lot, I go to pull into the "overflow" lot where there's more room and I can back into a space without the fear of a Mini-Cooper being crushed under my rear wheels. I get cut off by a 4 door sedan that pulls in front of me. Oh well. My horn doesn't work so I can't honk it. It's a beautiful day so I am just enjoying life. It's not like I'm vying for a parking spot anyways.

I get out of the truck and proceed to the first set of double doors. There's an older lady (maybe mid-60's) coming up behind me so I open the door for her and let her go first. (yeah I was brought up to do that)

No "thank you." No acknowledgement at all. Hmmm.

I open up the second set of doors for her as well. No "Thank you." Again no acknowledgement. I say "You're very welcome, ma'am" as she walks into the post office. She doesn't even blink. Now I'm thinking "What a bitch." But I don't say anything. I just go about my business.

Isn't it proper etiquette for me to open the door? Isn't it proper when someone does something for you to at least acknowledge them?

When someone allows me in front of them in traffic I give them a "wave" of thanks. Always. I let people in front of me in traffic and the "wave" percentage is about 50%. Ridiculous I think. I realize that in this DC/Metro area everyone thinks that they are more important than they really are. But people, if you died tomorrow the world would keep turning. People would still be angry and have bad attitudes in traffic. We are all in this together.

Keep that in mind when someone holds the door for you.

The Letter

Below is a copy of my letter to AT&T/Cingular. I will let you know how things have turned out.

to kmvr: I resisted the urge to have a cell phone for a number of years, but in my current occupation communication and my availability at all times are invaluable. Without further adieu here is the straight text copy:

AT&T Wireless
68055 Anaheim Hills
Anaheim, CA 92817

March 30, 2005
To Whom it May Concern;

I have been a loyal customer with AT&T Wireless for over 3 years. I am satisfied with my rate plan, my phone, and the excellent customer service I have received during this time period. Unfortunately my current Nokia phone needs to be replaced.. After researching suitable replacements that would meet my needs I found that the Motorola V551 would be the best fit. The reviews were outstanding and the features superlative. Unfortunately AT&T/Cingular wishes to charge me $169.99 for this phone. If I were to buy it at a shopping mall kiosk or online I could get the phone for less than $50, and in some cases entirely free. It is unacceptable that a loyal customer should pay more for a phone through a service provider.

Secondly, in shopping for rate plans I have found that to keep my 1,100 anytime minutes per month my monthly cost will increase by $10 or an additional 20%. This too, is unacceptable. A 20% rate increase is quite substantial. I am contemplating leaving the Cingular/AT&T network entirely because of a rate plan and it’s inherent increase due solely to a corporate restructuring.

The Customer Service Representatives that I spoke to were helpless and unable to explain why my usage minutes remain the same yet my rate increases. They were unable to or not allowed to find a creative solution to my issues. In addition the supervisor that I spoke to didn’t seem to care at all about my situation. This was never the case with AT&T Wireless representatives. I never completed a service/issue call without a feeling of resolution when I was with AT&T Wireless.

I find it appalling that the big market companies reward the new customer with heavy discounts, free phones, accessories and other items.. Yet those same companies will not reward a loyal customer base. They would rather lose subscribers knowing that yearly others will shop for new service with whichever company offers the best free phone, accessories and rate plan to them. When companies base their policies upon customers who have loyalty, those companies risk losing their long term subscriber base.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have questions please feel free to contact me by any means necessary.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

GSM= Guaranteed to Suck your Money

Cell Phones.
Cell Phones and rate plans.
My how they try to steal.
My how they rob you blind.
How did we live without them?
I think I may find out again.
(written while on hold with cingular/AT&T trying to negotiate a rate plan and new cell phone purchase)

I have been with AT&T for over 3 years. My phone is ancient by most, if not all standards. It has been called a dinosaur, so I figured that now is a good time to update. Not only do I have to change. But do they even seem to care? NO!

So as far as I'm concerned this whole cell phone business is a misery. (No not a mystery...a MISERY) I'm miserable, I feel like I'm being railroaded into getting a plan that costs more but gives me the same or less. The phone I have is old but it's reliable and they need for me to switch to a newer phone that may not give me the same reliability. ACK! All I want to do is scream out but no one cares. They make their money based upon sales. Rollover minutes mean nothing to me, except for the fact that I may, once in a while, have a few extra minutes for a month. Whoop-di-fucking-doo.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Reality TV

I just thought I should add this piece to my blog. If ever there was a reality TV show that needed to be made, though most of them don't, it would be one I would call "The Parts Department." It would take place in several parts departments in dealerships, bodyshops and aftermarket parts stores. You see there are things that occur in parts departments that do not, nor could they occur in other venues. We have one guy who told the boss on Tuesday that he'd be in late on Wednesday. He works the 8-5 shift. He showed up Wednesday at 4:30, worked for 1/2 hour and then left. I couldn't make this up, this is true. There's another guy that refuses to put his cellphone down. He talks on it constantly to his ex-girlfriend (who is married and back with her husband) while he's talking on it, he fields business phone calls and helps customers. No one has said anything to him about it. (I would but he's not in my department.) I know a guy that has worked in parts for almost 40 years. He's a district manager and because none of his employees care about their jobs he works almost 70 hours a week and no, no overtime pay for him. It's no wonder he yells alot.

A guy walked into my office the other day and said "Edward, have you seen mypenis ?"

I replied "No."

"It's breathtaking" he reported and then walked out of the office.

Another guy is the typical chick magnet and he has stated that he would make love to a clone of himself because "I'm f-ing gorgeous."

We have another guy that works the front counter who comes to work a bit early and goes to sleep in one of the delivery trucks. Today he put a sign on the windshield "I am sleeping in the truck, the motor is running, please call my cell phone at 8:25 to wake me up." He works the 8:30 to 5:30 shift.

The two guys that I get along with the best are both older, one is retiring at the end of this month and the other leaves at the end of April. Both are motivated, intelligent, quick-witted and deserving of retirement. It amazes me that we are letting the one go at the end of this month. He's been doing parts for more years than our manager has been alive. The one that's leaving in April is my co-worker in the bodyshop parts office. His sense of organization is second to none, he takes no crap from anyone and he has taught me alot about the role of a manager. I'll miss both of them tremendously.

So let me know if you want more updates upon the ridiculous happenings of a parts department, I have alot more stories and, as I said before, there is no way that I could have imagined these on my own.

What does it mean?

Today was an interesting day at work. We've not been super busy so today was the day that the owner came down and talked to the bodyshop manager about cleaning things up. Interestingly enough there was plenty of help and things got straightened up, thrown out and put up. The lot looks pretty darned good. We must have tossed away several thousand dollars worth of used doors, bumpers and assorted body panels. It was good.

My co-worker told me that he had discovered an injured pigeon underneath one of our parts trucks. I went to look and sure enough there it was. I'm not sure what happened to the bird but there were feathers on it's chest sticking out and it wasn't flying away. I assume it had either been shot or attacked by a predatory animal. The pigeon also had a yellow band on it's leg. Which tells me that it was either an animal that had been captured previously or possibly a homing pigeon. One of the adjusters had brought her son in today (first time for everything) and he captured the bird in a cardboard box and called animal control. They came a short while later and the bird was rescued from the wilderness of an urban bodyshop.

And they all lived happily ever after. (I have always wanted to end a blog with that phrase.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The world of Traffic Court

What a morning. I spent all morning in traffic court. I was guilty of the crime of driving with an expired state inspection sticker. I chose to go to court to take care of this matter because there's always a chance that the fine will either get lowered or possibly the case will be dismissed.

I arrived about 25 minutes early for my arraignment. I thought this would be appropriate because of the various metal detectors/security screening checkpoints that I would encounter. I must have a jacket that was sewn with metallic thread. I beeped and squawked as if I were made of solid lead. So I had to be a human cross for about 2 or 3 minutes while I was screened to find out what exactly was causing the ruckus. I took off the jacket then resumed my "iron cross" position. Apparently the metal rivets that hold my shoe laces to my boots were causing a large amount of magnetic interference. Hmmmm.

After my interrogation I look at the docket displays on the wall, find my name and seek the appropriate courtroom. I find an open seat on a bench and await the proceedings. I find it unbelievable that people show up to court in such rag-tag clothing. I would think that we, the defendants, would rather impress upon the judge that we know how serious our situation is and that we dress in the correct (business smart) fashion. But no, there are athletic jerseys, untied sneakers, ripped flannel shirts, t-shirts and the like. The judge enters, we all stand, the docket begins. We get the "no cell phones allowed" lecture. We also get the "No talking, eating or reading" lecture. The judge begins with all the motions: motions to dismiss, motions to continue and other legal things like this. Ten or fifteen minutes later the actual proceedings begin.

I sit there and watch as the judge calls out a name "Jose Jimenez Ortega Oliveira Rodriquez" three people stand up. None of them is the man the judge is asking for. (By the way that was not a name that was called, that was an example.) I sit through "do we have an Arabic translator here?" "Does he speak Farsi?" and "Hablas Anglais?" for about another hour and a half. Finally my name is called. I proceed to the lectern and answer the judges questions with a "Yes Sir, Your Honor." The judge turns to me and says "Well as long as the trooper has no problem with it, your case is dismissed. Thank you for coming in sir." "Thank you Your Honor."

Time well spent, I'd say.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The road to where?

I don't often go to the theater or cinema. I'm not a "catch it on opening night" kind of guy. So tonight I am watching "The Road to Perdition" with Tom Hanks. Wow. Incredible movie. I see it as a movie about making choices. With each choice comes a chance. With each chance comes a change. It's also a movie about loyalty, family and trust. Where do we stand on such issues? Where does anyone stand? These things are not concrete. They are concepts. Human concepts. Yet they determine the extent of our relationships with others. Determinant factors one might call them. To whom are we loyal? In whom do we trust? Is family the final answer? Does run thicker than water?

So many questions, so little time. I find that the more I contemplate this life, the more questions I devise, the fewer answers that I come by and the more confused I remain. I've never really had faith in my fellow human beings. I've never felt the need. Humans are capricious, self serving and for the most part pretentious. The funny thing is that on one level I crave social interaction and on another level I despise it. I am often reminded of something I read in "The Brothers Karamazov." The priest said something to the effect of "The more I love Man the more I Mankind, the more I love Mankind the more I man."

But the truth is I need people in my life. I need to depend upon them. I need for them to depend upon me. Interdependence is what we've built our societies upon. It is the cornerstone of humanity.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Well (now that's a deep subject)

I'm not really sure where I'm going and I'm not too sure exactly where I've been. I can tell you that I've done alot of things in my life. I can say that I've been to countries in Asia, I've been to Austrailia. I've gone through the "shellback" ritual when I crossed the equator onboard a naval vessel. I've hung from a rope underneath a helicopter 500 feet above the ground. I've seen the sunrise and the sunset on the open ocean. I've seen a nighttime sky that was so clear you could see satellites in orbit. I've looked at Saturn with high powered binoculars and seen it's rings. I have seen the scourge of war and the defeated. I've witnessed the burning of oil fields and seen the first signs of nature's regrowth. I've seen sea spouts, flying fish, whale sharks, and sea snakes. I've witnessed a burial at sea and had the experience of friends dying.

Most people see that I support the war in Iraq and they feel that I am a hatemonger, a hawk and that I kowtow to the whimsy of the Bush administration. They read my blog and they feel that I am unjust in my attitude towards Kerry. The truth is, with my experience in the military I feel each death a little bit more than non-military people do. I've seen with my own eyes what war is, what it does and what it looks, feels and smells like. So when I hear that another soldier has fallen my heart feels pain. But having been in the position of the fighting man, I also know that I volunteered for that task. I sweated in training, and trained for a long time to become the warrior that I was. When I went to war that training was invaluable to me in the accomplishment of my various missions. I had pride in what I was doing. I believed, not necessarily in war for war's sake, but in the greater picture. I believe that these young men feel a sense of pride, a sense of devotion and a sense of greater good to their purpose.

So to those of you that call me a "hawk" I guess that's what I am. I believe that war will always be with us. I believe that the more one sweats in training the less they will bleed in combat. I believe that the American fighting man is the epitome of what he should be. For the most real look into why the American fighting man is so good, watch the movie "We Were Soldiers." So support the troops, even if your ideology differs from the ideology of he who sent them. They believe in their mission, so should we.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

First Night Out in a long time

As I told you in my previous post, I will be getting out more and more. Today I went with one of my friends to his "spades" playing group. Pretty interesting group. Of course I didn't get to spend any one-on-one time. Who'd want that in a big group setting huh? The games were good. I haven't played spades for a while, well since sometime in 2000, actually. Well back to the story anyways. My spades partner, Adam, was less than thrilled with many of my plays. I've never played with him before, I didn't know what to expect with him. I tried to keep my game very simple.I don't like to over-bid. I prefer to underbid and take a few sandbags. Well the overriding strategy at this gamehouse is the "underbid and sandbag 'em to " strategy. In all the time I've ever played I've never encountered this strategy. So shall we say my game was less than stellar. I think we got sandbagged back at least 3 times. I have NEVER seen so many 7s and 8s walk in all my card playing years.

The group was really cool. I liked everyone. I got bit by a ferret (and there are quite a few of them there.) Now my cat is ignoring me. I left early, I just felt like I gave it all I had this first time. Besides I am always afraid that the longer I hang out with new people, the closer the time comes to when I say something inappropriate or completely and utterly out of line. So I tend to leave early and come back often. The other thing is that I'm not a fast talker. Some people are fast talkers, I'm not one of them. And the fact that I don't process and talk fast sometimes leads people to believe that I'm being aloof and precocious. I'm not, I'm just processing and deciding the correct course of my conversation. When I don't process, I end up ing off people. Oh well. I thought it was a good night out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Goal Setting

My therapy group and therapist believe that I should socialize more. I guess I'm ok with that. I've never been the most social of humans. In fact, there are times when I truly can say that I people; people in general and people in specific. Of course this is not a good thing. Unlucky at love is one thing, but unlucky with social skills is entirely different. I've seen examples of how I could turn up if I continue in my anti-social ways. So therefore I am setting goals as to how much I should socialize. Since for me life is a series of either "just getting by" or compulsivity, I think my goal should be two days/nights a week to go out and have "fun" or hang out or do whatever people do. Sure I sound cynical here, I am a cynic at heart and a smartass by nature. So Sunday will be my first outing. I believe it is some sort of a card game. It should be fun and it should be interesting. I will say this: From what I know about myself, my attitude towards whatever it is that I wish to accomplish reflects upon how well I accomplish that task. I know that may seem ludicrous for me to say, yet it is the truest truth that I know. So stay tuned for my whacky observations and wild times to come. (oh yeah and one more thing: stay tuned for my rant on global warming.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

People are strange

People are strange. I'm included. We perform self destructive behaviors and engage in hysterics for no apparent reason. That's all for now.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Yet again we find ourselves here

We find ourselves here at the crux of life. What do we do with our "extra time?" Extra time is an invention of the post modern world. We don't have "extra" time. We don't have time in general. Time isn't really something that exists, it is more of something that we invent. Time is yet another concept which we have invented to measure, categorize and subdivide all things. Time is a quality judgement. And yet we can have "extra" time.

Isn't time spent really considered life? Can we waste time or is that just an euphemism for wasting our lives? Perhaps it is more than that, perhaps less.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Did you ever notice?

Did you ever notice that misery seems to bring more misery, yet happiness isn't as prolific? Did you ever notice that it is easier to be brought down than it is to get back up to a happier plane?

Keep you thoughts positive because your thoughts will become words. Keep your words positive because your words will become behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior will become habit. Keep your habits positive because your habits will become your destiny.-Gandhi

Saturday, March 05, 2005

We're Defeated Again

The most poignant line in a long while was uttered at the conclusion of the movie "Seven Samurai" [Kurosawa] by the leader of the Samurai. At the end of the battle, the village is saved and four of the seven samurai have been killed. The leader says "Again we're defeated." The woes and the truth of battle are espoused in that simple idea. "It is the farmers who are victorious" the Samurai finished. As always it is the soldiers and the military that lose even in victory. They lose their innocence, they lose their civility and they lose their comrades. The victors are always those who either cannot defend themselves or those who direct the warriors in combat.

Certainly the celebration of the victory should be shared, but a hollow celebration is not a true celebration, is it? The victory of having buried men that you've trained with, watching friends and leaders die, the victory of another man and with it his family's patriarch. Yes, victory, can be quite decieving. In battle men die, that is fact. In battle men kill, that also is fact. But with those facts come this: Warriors are to be feared before and after the battle, but during the fight they are to be revered and worshipped. They are weapons that are wielded by some that have no business wielding them. They are always the losers, that is the way of war.

Kurosawa shows us this. Kurosawa also makes an argument for the ronin, and for the samurai culture in general. "This battle will bring us no money and no renown." And yet several samurai accept the challenge. Each have differing reasons. Each have different outcomes. Seven againts 40. Seven. For the sake of protecting the villagers, for the sake of rendering assistance where it is needed.

Ask yourself this: If you were asked to help defend those who could not defend themselves, would you be one of those seven? Would you?

Friday, March 04, 2005

cool quizzes

Your Brain is 40.00% Female, 60.00% Male

You have a total boy brain

Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts

And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...

You never like to get feelings too involved

What Gender Is Your Brain?

You Are a German Shepherd Puppy

Intelligent, quick witted, and a bit aggressive.
You've got the jaw power to take a bite out of anyone you choose.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Interesting note

I've not gotten any response from my "Zen" postings, so I'll curtail them for a few. Perhaps no one cares anymore. After all who really wants to think about anything? I guess I'm one of the last and final few that do. I may tend to over analyze, over scrutinize, and over observe things in general and in specific. I don't forget much. I think it's a curse more than a blessing. My memory only serves to show me my shortcomings and my pitfalls.

I have noticed patterns in my life that indicate a strong desire for failure. Whether desire is the correct word or if desire brings with it the connotation that I actually want to fail in my attempts, I do not know. What I do know is that my life has been a long string of buildups and catastophes. Perhaps I would be better off lying in the bottom of a grave. I don't know how I survived this long as it is. I know that I am a constant source of disappointment for those around me. I have no innate social skills and I'm not friendly, well I don't appear to be at first. I am a strange animal. I have separated myself into purely business Ed and purely banal Ed. The twain do not meet. I don't like to hang out with the people that I work with, and I don't like to work with the people that I hang out with. My sense of family is such that I don't really care as much about them as I should, and I rarely talk to them.

I play my guitar alot as a way of letting out my emotions. Funny though, there are times when I can't play, when I cannot feel. At those times nothing appeals to me whatsoever. Music is a release for me, yet I cannot help but think that it is a waste of time. That is what I was taught. Unless I am going to make a career of it, I shouldn't spend too much time in extracurricular activities. But I am good at it.

When I was in the Marine Corps, a group of my fellow Marines and I would play our guitars and sing, mostly folk music; Neil Young, America, Bob Dylan-that sort of stuff. When we were deployed to the Philippines, we used to frequent bars that hosted "open mike" stages. Scott, Steve and I would get up and play our guitars and sing our hearts out. The regular players there, Andy and Bong, would let us do our three songs and then throw us off the stage. Andy and Bong could play and sing like nobody's business. One night Bong was out doing whatever it was he did on his night off and Andy's throat was utterly destroyed by a cold. Steve and Scott were on base so Andy asked me up. I went up and played my three songs and started to get off the stage. Andy motioned for me to stay up there and continue playing and singing. I played for about an hour. I did some of my originals, "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley, some Neil Young and a bunch of other stuff I don't even remember. When I finally finished Andy bought me a beer and said something to me that I'll always remember. He said "Your friends are good but you, you've got it." Those were the sweetest words that have ever been said to me. I wish I could feel today that same music in my heart. I wish , I wish, I wish. That beer, a Red Horse, still ranks as the best tasting beer and most satisfying beer I've ever drank.

Since then my life has become a tragic comedy scattermarked with the stains of my failures, my lack of respect for myself and others and my utter contempt for life. I know you can't understand the gordion knot that is Edster, for that matter I cannot understand it either. I've never thought a problem through, I've always looked at it from every angle and tried to solve it backwards or forwards or sideways. Usually I just try to deny that problem's existence. I bury it and say "it doesn't matter." But it always does. It always comes back to haunt me. I'm a murderer, a thief and a liar. I'm cold blooded, conniving and sociopathic. I'm scared and I'm lonely. I'm scared of dying alone yet I don't want to take a chance on reaching out to someone. I don't like to be vulnerable. I want to control every situation, I want to understand and I want to know. I question authority. I thumb my nose at religion. I defy god. My defiance comes from the belief that if we are all "God's children" then he really fucked up when he made me. Sometimes I think that a slow thorazine drip would complete me. I could then enjoy the catatonic existence that I crave, my mind wouldn't always be thinking. I've tried to smell the roses and when I do I always think that there is something else to do, something more important. I hate myself for who I am, for who I was made to be. There are things in this world that should not be and I am one of them. Everything I touch turns to shit, everyone I know ends up hating me or at the very least being disappointed in me.

Don't get me wrong, suicide is not an answer. First of all I'm too much of a chicken shit to do that. Secondly my father suicided when I was a child. You want to talk about fucking someone's mind up, that's a good way to do it parents. Kill yourself when you child needs you the most. Even better, divorce your spouse and move away. Then your child can have a living "dead" parent. This world is going to shit and it appears that I'm leading the way. I've been depressed for who knows how many years and even now when March 15 (yeah that's right, the Ides of March) come around all I can think of is my father sucking the barrel of a revolver and pulling the fucking trigger. Oh he was a literati. He should have killed me first and saved me from this existence.

Silence is golden.

Hello darkness my old friend.
I've come to talk to you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left it's seeds while I was sleeping.
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Down narrow streets of cobblestone.
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp.
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night.
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more.
People talking without speaking.
People listening without hearing.
People writing songs that voices never shared.
No one dared.
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said I you do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I may teach you.
Take my arms that I may reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell.
And echoed within the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out it's warning.
In the words that it was forming.
The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls,
Tenement halls,
And whispered in the sound
Of silence.
-Paul Simon

Sunday, February 27, 2005


What is it about mankind that makes them long for freedom? Why do we seek to cast off the oppressive rule of tyranny? Is it for the betterment of our own lives? Is it for the realization of self? What is it?

Would you risk your life, your liberty and that of your family to topple an evil regime? If you survived this would you then remain to help put into place a government that might be more fair and decent? There are many individuals that history shows did just that. Most of them died for their effort, but their death, in martyrdom, stands before us as the realization of their dream; the ultimate sacrifice. It must be worthwhile to endure and strive towards a goal, if that goal is altruistic and just.

Freedom is that altruistic goal in too many cases. Though the Magna Carta was written almost an eon ago freedom still is not realized across the world. Oppression still dominates the landscapes of the third world, and though the struggles are heartfelt, they are ultimately doomed to failure because of the lack of unity. If men like John Hancock, James Madison, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin and so many others had not drafted a constitution and another document called the "Declaration of Independence" our homes and our lives would be drastically different. Think of the name of that document: The Declaration of Independence. Wow! I declare that I am free. I declare that we are free. I stand in front of you and shout "I am free from your oppressive rule and I will fight to remain so." Those men crafted seperate states, a united country and they were able to obtain support from the common farmers, woodsmen and merchants throughout the countryside. The Revolutionary War was fought as a struggle against oppression and the tyrannical government that reaped the rewards of the North American resources yet had none of the responsibilities associated with the production of such.

Freedom. Such a small almost insignificant word, but behind that word is a concept that millions of persons have deemed worth fighting and dying for. The leaders of the revolution also wrote a wonderful document called "The Bill of Rights." Are those concepts and ideas worth a man's life? Ask every person who has had an original idea. Ask every wife of a fallen soldier, airman, sailor or Marine. These are the reasons that they fight. Say a silent thanks everytime you walk into your church, read a newspaper, or voice your opinion. For without your "inalienable rights" there is no reason to have originality, intelligence, greed, ambition and there is no freedom.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Zen and the continuation...

The first two bricks in chapter one were self-realization and "being trained not to see." As we continue onward in our journey Pirsig introduces us to technology. At first we are riding the motorcycle along with him. Then as we discuss John and Sylvia, the riding companions, we are introduced to maintenance of the motorcycle, which Pirsig himself enjoys. Yet John is frustrated by it all. John doesn't want to know what goes on inside of the engine. John enjoys the benefits of the technology, yet not the technology itself.

Is John a symbol of the world in general, or just that part of the world that doesn't investigate the concepts or technologies that drive it?

Another important metaphor is the landscape. The landscape in the country is empty of technology yet full of life. Is Pirsig saying that rural life is real and urban life is cold and lifeless? By introducing us to technology and showing the basic routine of maintaining a motorcycle Pirsig is really showing us his love of "that which makes things work."

Our third brick is, of course technology. When combined with self-realization and being "trained not to see" we see that Pirsig is showing that people, in general, have been trained not to care about these technologies, not to marvel at the beauty that lies within the engineering of technologies.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Zen and the Art of Critical Reading

Robert Pirsig wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in order to communicate with the reader that each of us has a duality about ourselves, each of us has choices to make, and each of us have a need to determine our own definitions of our own values. In order to do this, Mr. Pirsig discusses his own battle with his past using the framework of a cross country motorcycle trek to do so. In each section of the book he introduces new ideas which, in order to be fully understood, must be contemplated with previous ideas and ideas that he introduces later. In this respect he builds the book as if it were the foundation of a house. Each idea is a brick and links to another and another.

Chapter 1

We find ourselves upon a motorcycle riding in the hot morning sharing in the ride smelling the smells and feeling the wind rush by us, we feel the rush of seeing wildlife, hearing the motor roar and trying to yell over the clamor to our passenger or fellow riders. This is a clever literary trick, Mr. Pirsig has shown us that our journey actually began before the book started, perhaps on our way home from purchasing the book, perhaps at the bookstore, perhaps our journey actually began when we discovered that we had self-realization. Perhaps Pirsig's journey began at that same time, an hour ago, yesterday, last week. Pirsig has shown us that the "I" in this book could be the "I" that is reading it. We are the same, yet as we read on we can see that we are different. Here Pirsig makes his first reference to the past as well, tying in this stretch of open road to "memories" that his fellow rider "doesn't have." The fellow rider is Chris, his son.

Pirsig also comments upon how traveling by motorcycle is different than traveling by car or bus or train or plane, in those vehicles one is relegated to being "a passive observer" instead of a part of it all. His comments also regard his anti-establishment views to a certain extent. He mentions that the rural routes and country highways are things that we, the interstate driven people, are "trained not to see."

Those are bricks numbered one and two. Self-realization and being "trained not to see." Though they sound different in aspect, they are related to the modern man in ways that we'll make apparent over the next few weeks. Eventually I will edit these blog entries and create a more cohesive structure which should shed the light on why this book is such an important work that it should be required reading.