Like Guitars…

Like Guitars…

The guitar has always had a certain appeal to me.  Not just to hear them, but to hold and touch them.  The guitar has always had an aura of mystery to me.  

Like many, I have purchased a guitar or two in my life with the best of intentions, only to lay them down within a few weeks to gather dust in favor of greater priorities.  Though many times my imagination has seen me become proficient with a guitar, my reality has seen me dislike the idea of practice, thus getting nowhere.  

I’ll suggest most people who take guitar lessons aim simply to be proficient.  I have no idea how many people who take guitar lessons ever become proficient.  I recently asked a friend who is a guitar teacher about this and when he was done rolling his eyes, he said, “very few”.  He went on to remind me that people can take lessons ongoing, but if they don’t practice, the wont progress.  

This is something I can relate to as a teacher of exercise and fitness.  People have been recruiting my services for years, as a midwife between themselves and improved fitness. Like the guitar, being fit has a certain allure as well as an aura of mystery — something we would all like to have a proficiency with. It’s easy to imagine being more fit, as it is easy to imagine playing Proud Mary by the campfire. 

39DB7FF6-CFE4-4FD3-88C2-CA47A84DEA13

Though imagination is a beautiful thing, it alone doesn’t get the ship across the sea.  Fitness takes more than lessons.  Like playing the guitar with proficiency, fitness takes practice — and time.  

Purchasing a gym membership, a diet plan, or even the services of a fitness trainer won’t guarantee results.  Consistency in practice, and patience are the primary means of conveyance. 

And that’s where this little sermon ends — with the thought that becoming proficient with your body is no different than becoming proficient an instrument, though I’ll suggest one is slightly more important…  Jhciacb 

If  you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Chris Cheney of The Living End. Enjoy…!

What’s In A Name…

Yesterday, in response to an innocuous post my brother put up on social media, I offered a single word reply — fag. I’ve been calling my brother fag since I’ve been able to speak.

One of his connections took offense to this, and asked me whether I would use the N-word in reference to blacks or if I ever referred to Mexican as Spics. He then asked if I would be offended by the word kike.

In my life, I have been called kike, heeb, names that have compared me to an animal, and much worse — all for having been born Jewish. The good news is, I was born with thick skin so I don’t let it get to me. I never have.

My commenting that my brother is a fag was not in reference to his sexuality. It was in reference to the fact that I’m better than him at everything that we’ve ever done, that I always will be, and that he is giant puss. It’s part of the language we speak as brothers — even in our 50s and 60s.

A172EEE9-885D-4A0B-BF58-113653AEB674

To me, this is analogous to two words in two different languages, that are spelled and look the same, but carry very different meanings.

Fag, in the context of a derogatory term used towards homosexuals, is written in the language of hate. I don’t speak hate, ever.

Beyond that, I have been an avid supporter of, and an active voter in matters of gay rights. I have raised a daughter, now an adult, who is an activist championing gay rights in the communities she has lived in since she was in her teens.

That type of hate, prejudice, and hate speech have no place in this world, and I will speak out against it and vote against hate every chance I get.

EA1CE5A7-2FCC-4723-959B-A7799660620D

Fag, in the context of my brother being the world‘s biggest puss, is used in the language of a sophomoric boy trapped in a man’s body, which is a language I speak with fluency.

That is, my brother was born at fag, lives is a fag, and will die as a fag. When he gets to the pearly gates, Saint Peter will greet him and say “What’s up, Fag…?“

At which point my brother will reply…

“Shut up fetus face, now show me to my room…“

Mark and Saint Pete will punch each other on the shoulders, and all will be good in heaven as it was on earth.

I extended an apology to the man who took offense to that term, and offered him the explanation I have given above. I also sent him a friend request. Both apology and the friend request, thus far, have been ignored.

I know more than a few people who read this will also take offense to me using that term, lash out at me, attempt to initiate an argument, unfriend me, or block me altogether. Some though, may simply attempt to change my mind and ask me to quit using the term. I won’t.

08FA1A8D-87F4-4400-B8DC-0534A56F1B9E

I stand strong with how I use the term, and feel I’ve given an intelligent, if not well received explanation. I will always have some faults in the eyes of some or in the eyes of many, and for some, one of those faults may be speaking in the language of a sophomoric boy stuck in a man’s body. At the end of the day though, this is about two words, spelled the same and that look the same, but mean two distinct things, in two different languages… Jhciacb

 If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe.  Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Radio Birdman. Enjoy…!

Soul Food… For Thought…

Ruminating on souls this morning — who gets one and who doesn’t. Most assume that all human beings get a soul, and many of us believe that some or most animals get one also. 

However, it seems for as many people who believe that most mammals may get souls, and maybe a few select birds and fancy fish too, they don’t believe that insects do — or bacteria or even bushes. At the very least in the minds of many, there is limited soul distribution among living things. Some critters get ‘em and some don’t. 

E2DA1135-C246-4F6A-B073-6E0A33793AC8

And for all of it’s lofty expansion in the last hundred years or so, science is still unable to establish clear evidence of a soul in any creature or in any plant.  Science might be able to prove emotion and/or feeling in living things, but it can’t show evidence of a soul. The soulascope  has not yet been invented. And of course, there’s that question as to where souls come from to begin with…

For a great many people, the only answer to the question of where souls come from is God. 

With little investment though, I can create a soul in my own home.  All I need to do is to put two dogs together who kind a favor each other, and let them get more familiar with one another, and within weeks of that, there will be a new soul in the house, perhaps a half dozen or more…

2137A330-62CB-4723-9C23-C148C08966A9

For my part, I believe that all animals have souls, including fish and insects.  I regularly entertain whether or not plants have souls, but on that one, I remain undecided, but ever curious. 

Also for my part, I believe that all souls should be treated as equally as possible, though in a complex and often chaotic world, that can’t always be the case. 

A great majority of people in the world have no problem with the extinguishing of souls, all day long, so long as they get eaten or provide us with useful products such as shoes, costmetics, or some light-hearted amusement. This haunts me, ongoing, but I am guilty too. 

Taking souls is acceptable for most, in order that we each preserve the soul within us, or advance the collective causes of all human souls. Again, haunts me. 

F448E964-1CF9-4F82-9B71-FFDC2EFD3D1C

I’m just thinking about souls this morning. In truth, I think about them all day long — always bubbling under the surface… Jhciacb

If you  have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from the incredible Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. Enjoy…!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jhciacb

Addressing Obesity In Others…

I’ll state from the start that I’m less trying to initiate a discussion, than I am sharing the experiences of a career fitness trainer.

Discuss if you wish, but I reserve the right to delete, ignore, and to pass judgment based on my experiences.

As a career fitness trainer, I’ve been privy to discussions on obesity at many levels. My expertise has been sought to advise, to consult, and to help in framing such discussions.  I’ve seen the obesity of others addressed by family, friends, and coworkers from every possible angle.

Hint: these discussions almost never go well, and often have a negative, and even a contrary result on the individual’s behavior in matters of eating and drinking.

In cases where it’s a parent talking to an adult child, a spouse talking to his/her partner, friends talking to friends, or co-workers talking to their contemporaries about the need to lose weight, it can go south very quickly — even if the intentions behind those conversations are good.

3C859C44-C098-4380-A762-CA24617B31DF

The primary example of such good intentions usually cited is “for reasons of health”. That is, an individual wants to guide another individual towards weight-loss for reasons of improved health. And though that may be the foundation for many of these discussions, it’s my opinion that at the root of them it often relates as much to what the person looks like, as it does to their level of health or wellness.

Even in matters of obesity, human beings have the ability to cleverly mask their prejudice with so-called good intentions.

I have a client who has been with me on-and-off for nearly a decade. He’s approximately 80-lbs overweight. His parents speak to him regularly about the health implications of his obesity.

Though I am certain the parents of this man, who is now 30-years old, do have concerns that relate to his health, he is also the face of the family business. And as the face of that enterprise, I am just as certain that the parents of the young man would prefer he be at an aesthetically more pleasing weight.

D495C1A9-B67F-4EC0-9F1D-48BFB2431B56

Each time his parents address this with him, they speak in terms of improved health, but often segue into matters of appearance. This can send my client into a depression, and his eating and drinking tendencies often increase. He has confessed this to me.

Did I mention he was not far from a healthy weight when he began working with me…?  The whole reason he became a client was because his parents wanted him to trim down a little for photographs and videos that he would appear in on behalf of their business.

As he resisted and went in the other direction, his parents applied even more pressure, to which he resisted more, and the snowball effect was an 80-pound weight gain over an approximate 4-5 year period.

The pressure from outside, as gentle as it might be, was not always gentle.  For my part, I have tried to do my best to provide him with beneficial workouts, and I’ve encouraged him to eat in support of those workouts.

This is not an isolated case. I have known many like this, too many, and have known of many more.

I once had a client who was a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant. She was in my studio one day with her mother there to photograph the session. Suffice it to say that if you’re a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant, you’re drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, and probably quite fit, despite the very slight muffin top hips.  I was demonstrating an exercise for the young woman when her mother said in a voice loud enough for people in China to hear…

“Look at her, she’s fat!” pointing to the muffin top.

I wanted to hang myself. Instead, I just stood silently, broadcasting the most apologetic look I possibly could toward my client. I was grateful that she wasn’t obese, or she probably would’ve been disowned. And that feeds into my message more than a little bit…

If we have the ability to be judgmental and prejudice over people that we love being 5-lbs overweight, it probably gets much easier for us to be inexcusably judgmental over people we don’t know who might be 100-lbs overweight. Many people I know carry that level of prejudice and more. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the individual who is carrying the extra weight.

E9D9B53F-4CFE-4F98-A7EF-77BE36C0B550

No adult who is overweight, be it by 5-lbs or 200, is ever unaware of their situation or caught off-guard by it. Never.

From my perspective, whether a person desires lose 5-lbs or 50, they need cheerleaders, not false natured pundits of change hiding behind the facade of good health. There is no doubt that if I were the only voice in the ears of my weight-loss clients, they would be less likely to push back, even subconsciously, to their own detriment as many do when guided by the so-called voices of love.

By today’s sideways and prejudiced thinking, opioid abusers are now most often seen as full-on victims of doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, while obese people are seen almost exclusively as weak gluttons. This, in my opinion, is not the case.

Though we all do get to make choices about the foods that we put in our bodies, we all exist in ever expanding systems of complexity in which corporations and marketeers work harder than ever, and more intelligently, at leading us into lesser choices.

I can’t go an hour online without somebody putting information in front of me demonstrating how the corporations behind our technology and behind our pharmaceuticals work hard to lead me into being more dependent on their technology and their pharmaceuticals. With that in mind, I can assure you that the corporations behind our food products are working just as hard to get us to eat more, and more frequently.

517A6AC8-A673-4BDC-A7BF-81001A29FF33

Take a good look around in any room, social setting, store, or playground.  Though the temptation may be to blame an individual’s weakness for their excess bodyweight, they are increasingly tempted, if not outright lead into lesser eating choices.  That’s why it’s happening to so many more people with each passing year, myself included. This, all done by companies that make a little more profit with every pound that we gain.

So if you have a concern that a friend, family member, or coworker might be overweight, and you truly are concerned about their health, maybe mention it to them one time, and then let it go. After that, channel your energies toward the ever-changing structures and institutions that have allowed obesity to be on the increase.

Hint: It begins with your vote each November.

Lastly, and I cannot be more clear about this, if you use the word ‘fat’ in any fashion when addressing or describing an individual who might be overweight, that is moral equivalent of using the N-word… Jhciacb

If You have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this incredible outtake from Alex Chilton. Enjoy…!

The Strangest Accent…

In 1989 I was working as a scheduling analyst in the pilot planning department for America West airlines. They had sent me to Hawaii to help open a crew base there in preparation for flights to Japan.

With little for me to do there during my first few days, my workdays usually ended by 10 or 11 AM. My afternoons were spent walking the beaches, exploring shops and restaurants, but mostly surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki beach.

One afternoon, after paddling out, I sat mid-point on my surfboard taking in the peaceful scene. There were few people around and I remember feeling as though I had won the lottery. After a half-hour or so another man paddled out and sat beside me waiting for waves, but like me, was in no hurry to catch any. The man was quite tan, extremely lean, had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like he belonged in Southern California more than Hawaii.

While striking up a conversation and making small talk, I noticed he had a unique accent. I pride myself on being able to identify accents, even within regions, and I’m usually quite good at it. His, however, was distinct and I couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him leading questions in order to get him talking more. The more he spoke, the harder I had to work at identifying his accent, and the more lost I became in doing so.

I just couldn’t pinpoint his accident. The blonde hair and blue eyes lead me to believe he might be German, Scandinavian, or from somewhere in northern Europe. His accent though, sounded nothing like a European accent.

Eventually I just asked him…

You know, I’m pretty good at identifying accents, but yours is eluding me. Can I ask where you’re from…?

“I’m from Japan” he said through a small but noticeable chuckle.

Never saw that comin’…

E99C979B-B429-4294-BE31-9035E9131923

We talked for a few more minutes and explained that he gets that all the time. He was from a 3rd generation family of German immigrants who settled in Japan as missionaries before the turn of the last century. He told me he spoke no German whatsoever, and English was his second language. He had been raised and educated speaking Japanese, hence the accent.

Once he explained this to me, it was clear as a bell. He sounded Japanese. He was Japanese. He was just a blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese.

On one hand, I should get a pass for not being able to identify his accent. Blonde haired, blue eyed people rarely have Japanese accents. But the lesson learned that day was quite simple…

There is an explanation for everything, even for those things that are strange and unique. Sometimes though, those explanations are very well hidden and require a little digging…. Jhciacb

If  you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this tasty cover of a bubblegum classic from Cornershop. Enjoy…!

Heat Wave…

In recent days, temperatures here in Fallbrook have reached into the mid-to-high 90s, and even into the 100s, though yesterday we entered a cooling trend. Seems like there’s a lot of hot going around beyond Fallbrook too. Everywhere that it’s summer right now, my friends, family, and acquaintances are talking about — complaining about an exceptionally warm summer.

It’s hot out. Rumor has it, the globe is getting warmer.

I’m about to complete the book The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is among the most humbling books I’ve ever read or listened to.

Despite that it’s beautifully written — lyrical even, it’s a very hard book to take on. The Devil’s Highway is the detailed account of the Wellton 14 or the Yuma 26, depending on who you ask — the dozen or more men who died in May of 2001 attempting to cross the border from Mexico and United States.

Urrea’s descriptions in the accounting of this story are detailed and harsh. He was granted liberal access to personnel, records, and information involved with the tragedy, and uses that information to share what is probably the most accurate picture of what is both a tragedy and a modern mystery.

058ADA89-3ECC-4923-A5B3-35EF9E91C073

So Wednesday, when I was riding my bike on a 100° day, exerting myself and exhausting myself, I was thinking quite a bit about the mid-day heat, though I wasn’t complaining about it. I was thinking about the walkers — those lost me walking in circles under the hot desert sun for several days trying to get into this country for a better life, and what they were willing to do to get here.

My life, with all its difficulties, stresses, and frustrations, is incredibly easy, if not too rewarding nor fulfilling. I kept thinking about that as I was pedaling through the heat and humidity — about how good I have it, and contemplating whether I really appreciate any of it in the ways that I should.

Yup, the world is getting hotter, in physical climate and in social climates.

This is the hottest early summer that I can remember here in Fallbrook, and of course the temptation is to complain about the heat — nature’s beat down, but I can’t and I won’t.

I have access to water, shade, air-conditioning, and ice. None of the 14 walkers who died in that tragedy had any of that as they roamed through the desert walking themselves to death in the heat in search of a better life. But the truth is, they didn’t have any of that before they left home.

I believe in border security. I believe in legal immigration. I believe in working hard to do things in the proper way.

However, when I see what people are willing to do — what they are willing to risk in order to get to a place where they think they might have a better life, I completely understand. I share this, not to discuss immigration, not at all. I share this, for everyone who’s complaining about the heat, to keep it all in perspective.

A little food for thought on a hot summer’s day… Jhciacb

If  you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Passenger and company. Enjoy…!  

A Faith Of One…

I am resolute in my faith. I believe deeply, but don’t subscribe to any denomination or persuasion. I contemplate, but don’t fall into suit with any school of philosophy. I pray, but I won’t suggest I truly know who is receiving those thoughts. My life has a dogmatic structure, but it is self-designed, practiced with consistency, and always with gratitude.

Still, there are those will come to know these aspects of me and suggest that my faith isn’t real or outright false because it lacks a name, a well-defined deity, ancient decrees, or leadership from beyond my own mind.

That amuses me — the very idea that my faith is less legitimate, less sincere, or less worthy because it’s self-assembled, self-administered, and freelance.

My faith is my faith. It is just as real and just as sincere to me as anyone else’s is to them, though there is no way to accurately measure one’s faith in contrast to that of another — thank God. Or should I just say thank goodness…?

I’m proud of my faith. I’m proud in large part, because it’s MY faith, not anyone else’s. Over time, it has been customized to within a millimeter of my soul. It’s a well-tailored suit of spirituality that fits me like a glove. Along with my daughter, my business, and my most immediate personal relationships, my faith is the most important aspect of my being.

I just wanted to throw out there this morning as a reminder that, although actions can be measured, faith cannot. Criticize my actions, praise them, or ignore them altogether. To question my faith though, would be to take on a task that will fall well short of completion… Jhciacb

If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Ass Ponys.  Enjoy…!

Where To Let Them Age…

With coffee at my side and my dog on my lap this morning, I lightly run my hand over his graying head. I tell him that I love him and assure him that he’s safe in my home. This is the most important part of my morning routine. If there’s going to be any peace in my day, then holding my dog and reassuring him is the down payment for that peace.

At 13, I accept that he probably has just a few years left with me, so I do my best to make each day for him count and to ensure his comfort and safety.

4945E6C6-06E2-4E0A-8064-3FE7DF8489A9

My house is not a veterinary hospital nor a kennel. I don’t have all the medicines at my disposal which he might need for the illnesses that come with age. I don’t have any technicians or assistants on staff checking on him throughout the day. In an emergency, I would have to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Despite this absence of medication, trained help, and facilities, nobody tells me that as he ages he should be living in a veterinary hospital or in a kennel.

People accept that this is his home, and that despite me not being set up with as a pet care facility, this is where he belongs. Still, rarely a week goes by that a well-intended client or friend doesn’t suggest that my mother might be better off in assisted-living.

On one hand, that may not be a fair comparison. As people age, their need for care can be more complex and more far-reaching and that of an aging pet.

CF1A0E8C-F3A1-4FC0-A8BF-4FB38FF95E00

On a more visceral level though, I have to question why it is so easy to put older human beings in care facilities, yet this is never done with our pets. Is it strictly a matter of health, hygiene, or safety…? Or is it a matter of convenience…?

The answer to that, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Though it’s true that my mother might be better off with trained professionals in her proximity in case of emergency, a little red knob she can push if she needs help, or a cafeteria, none of those people or facilities will hold her hand each day and thank her for all that she’s done. Nobody will be there to tell her that they love her and actually mean it.

She might be in a safe room, but she wouldn’t be in a home. From that perspective, I see a little difference between taking an aging pet and putting him in a cage 3 miles from here, and doing the same thing with my mother, despite that the cage might have a sofa, a TV, and bingo on Tuesday nights.

67F4866A-FB19-4DE8-8D1F-733CCE779E31

What I am willing to do for my dog, at the very least, I should be willing to do for my mother, including putting a pill in a piece of cheese and throwing it quickly to the back of her throat, and rubbing her neck to ensure it goes down. That’s a joke, kind of…  Jhciacb

If  you’re not already a subscriber, please scroll up and and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Peelander Z. Enjoy…! 

Paul’s Left Foot…

Paul is my neighbor across the street. He’s a retired Hispanic man, probably in his late 50s. Paul is about my height with a large Buddha-like belly and skinny legs. He is a genuine person who’s always been gracious to me. We often stand in the middle of the road shooting the breeze when I’m in-between sessions. We make small talk about music, travel, and current politics.

Paul’s yard is mostly dirt due to regional drought conditions, but it’s lined with well planned shrubs, flowers, and has several trees in strategic places. Despite that it’s mostly dirt, the yard is well groomed and pleasing to look at. Paul spends a good portion of each morning walking around his yard raking the dirt, trimming the shrubs, occasionally bending down to pull weeds, but most often just surveying and inspecting his landscape.

714EF946-3480-4853-8138-1567A2490B6A

In the 3 years I have lived here, I’ve seen Paul in his front yard almost every day. Most days, even in winter, Paul is shirtless, seemingly proud of the belly that blazes the trail ahead of him.

A couple weeks went by recently and I hadn’t seen Paul. Because he’s not a supreme physical specimen and due to his age, I began to wonder if he had a stroke, a heart attack or worse. After the third week of not seeing him I walked across the street to speak with his wife one morning. She explained to me that Paul had lost his left foot due to diabetes and was hospitalized. She told me he would be coming home soon and would have nursing care coming to the house to help him with the transition.

“After he settles in” she told me, “you can come over and visit.” That made me smile. I then offered my sympathy, asked her to say hello to Paul when she visits him in the hospital, and made sure she knew I would be available for any help they might need once he returns home.

78EBBCF8-E8BE-4602-8CD5-EA85E213E2B5

A few days ago Paul came home. One morning his wife reached out and asked if I would help get Paul’s wheelchair out the front door and help him into the car for a medical appointment. This would be the first time I had seen Paul since his return home. When I stepped into the house he was in his wheelchair with this back to me. As soon as he knew I was in the house he began crying and said…

“I’m sorry Roy, I fucked up. I really fucked up. They told me what to do — I knew what to do and I didn’t do it. I’m really sorry Roy…“

158B7C9B-A6AF-40C9-997B-CF6AD5316D1D

I couldn’t understand why he’s being apologetic to me, but he was clearly embarrassed, distressed, and regretful.

I assured him that I wasn’t being judgmental, that I was there to help, and I that I will continue to help whenever needed. I gently suggested to him that he look forward and think about the future and recovery now. I helped get the wheelchair out the front door and ease Paul into the car. During the process, he never quit crying and expressing his regret.

26CEF1E1-B719-4736-BA7E-D7FAACE04348

Before they drove away, I told Paul I’d stop by in a few days and we could catch up a bit more. He looked down, mumbled something I couldn’t understand, and they drove away. I haven’t seen Paul since, though I plan to knock on his door in the next few days to visit with him.

I’ve been chewing on his words though, quite a bit over the last few days. It was one of the most human experiences I’ve had in recent years. Those words keeps resonating…

“They told me what to do — I knew what to do and I didn’t do it.”

It doesn’t get any more human than that, does it…? We all know what to do about so many things, yet so often we fail. We know what to do, and we just don’t do it.

When I think about this — really think about it, I am reminded of the importance of being forgiving and accepting of others as I hope they will do so with me.

I think about the human side of failure. I think about perfection being within anyone’s grasp, yet I look around and I see so little of it anywhere.  The idea of knowing the path to perfection yet never getting there was at the heart of most of Augustine‘s writings. There but for the grace… Jhciacb

If  you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe to this blog. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from the great Alejandro Escovedo.  Enjoy…! 

 

Step Back…

Step Back…

If you enjoy eating sausage, the old political cliché goes, you should never watch it being made.

We are approaching a time in the world when we should realize it’s more than politics that is sausage. That everything we touch, look at, enjoy, entertains us, and/or influences our lives is, in one way or another, sausage.

Culture itself, is sausage.

We are also approaching a time in the world when our primary form of entertainment seems to be staring into little reflective boxes to watch all of these sausages being made. Once we are disgusted with observing the process, we attempt to have our way with others in the form of oneway conversations about all that’s wrong with the sausage making process.

This is social insanity.

68D47687-9CF2-401B-9BAB-F2B0071F462D

I think we really have to wrap our heads around this, and that’s not easy. Not at all, but…

If our primary form of entertainment has become picking apart the very things that benefit us, and that we and others enjoy, and as we attempt to impose our curt thoughts on others with no intention of viewing things in their way or with any intentions of empathy, the making of the sausage is not the biggest problem we have.

Simply put, a problem larger and far more cancerous than sausage making, is the entertainment value we place on picking apart the things that we and others enjoy and that also benefit us. We’ve been in a state of social advancement for over 15,000 years.

If one is of color, transgender, missing both arms, developmentally disabled, or even a child in-tow approaching a border with the potential for a better life, right now — today is the best day on earth to be alive. Because right now — today, one’s chances of prosperity and far-reaching social support have never been greater than they are. That fact is inarguable, though you’re welcome to try.

92888552-917B-4D68-ACE7-688D90331F82

BREAKING…

The world isn’t going to be lifted from the potters wheel, trimmed, glazed, baked, and set on a shelf to be observed and admired in our lifetime. The world was not designed or Designed to be an end-product for any of us.

With the ebbs and flows of man and of social morality, we are well into the net-positive of flow. After more than 15,000 years of culture, ebb (toward the negative) today represents roughly 25% of moral movement, with flow (toward the positive) representing 75%. Those numbers, by the way, are my crude  interpretation of an approximation based on the cosmetologist George Ellis’s work on morality being built into the fiber of the universe. Slowly, and over time, ebb continues to decrease, while flow increases.   This is just where we are today.

790356A2-FCC0-4EB5-A780-727422E8F28A

It takes a lot of work to take such a large step back and to see the world from this point of view, but it is a step worth taking, especially on a day like today…. Jhciacb

If you have not already done so, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Chicago. Enjoy…!

On Normalcy And Eating…

It occurred to me recently that I don’t know how to eat normally. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to eat. I know how to for powerlifting. I know how to eat for bodybuilding. I know for cycling, for running, and for fat loss. I know how to eat vegetarian and vegan. I just don’t know how to eat normally.

Since the first time I stepped into the murky waters of physical culture when I was 13-years old, and as I have become involved with a variety of athletic tasks, I’ve eaten specific to those tasks, always. My edict has been that food is fuel, and to eat for function not for flavor.

E829EF4F-0F47-496D-8995-A9DCB26F39FC

Of course I have a veered off that path thousands of times. I have enjoyed restaurant food, Thanksgiving dinners, cruise ships, hotels, parties, celebrations of every kind, and I have brought the managers of all-you-can-eat buffets to their knees on multiple occasions.

In the scope of my lifetime though, most every time I have eaten anything, I have weighed its content against the results and consequences of how it might impact my body’s aesthetic, my athletic performance, or both. Agenda has undermined any sense of normalcy in eating for my entire life.

On one hand, I can easily think about all I have gained from a lifetime of these behaviors. I’m on the backside of my 50s and can still wear the same jeans I wore in high school. I can ride a bike for an entire day, I can bench-press my weight 10 times in perfect form, and I can jump on a picnic table landing square on my feet.

4607BD0A-59C7-485E-BCD2-D2B9460F00DF

On the other hand, I’ve never wandered into a Baskin-Robbins for a couple scoops of ice cream without contemplating — without stressing over how I’m going to offset it. Those stresses by the way, throughout the course of my life, have been very real and have shaped my psyche in ways I wouldn’t wish on anyone. This is a sad, if not bleak, way to live.

Just imagine spending your whole life analyzing and stressing over everything that you eat. Thinking about the good of it all. Thinking about the bad of it all. And through it all, never just being — never just picking up a piece of food and eating it without giving it some thought. But that has been my life of eating.

Anything set on the dinner table before me has rarely been more than a cluster of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and sugars to be analyzed, consumed or rejected. What has been separate from all of that, is the art, the joy, the spontaneity, and the creative intent behind food.

812BF060-FA79-476F-84B6-FFD148B0DEFA

Jazz Hands…

I don’t see this ever changing. It has minimized in recent years due to my increasing awareness of it, but living my entire life with this mind-set, those biological and behavioral synapses are in place and etched deeply into my psyche. For me, the idea of eating anything will always cause some level of anxiety. A little food for thought — so to say… Jhciacb

If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head oh, and there is this from Robbie Fulks.  Enjoy…!

Between Son And Father…

Six years ago this moment, I was staring out the window on a flight from Philadelphia to Athens. I was enroute to visit my daughter who was winding up her time studying archaeology in Greece. My father had died just 20-hours prior.

While his body was being transferred from the industrial refrigerator which housed him, to the factory where they burn bodies and  subsequently place them into fancy bags so people can keep place on their mantel or carry the ashes about to be spread into forests or over the sea, I stared out the window of an Airbus A3000 for 13-hours. Mostly, I looked down into the distant ocean.  Eventually day turned into night and I begin looking upward into the darkness, to the stars, and thinking about my dad when I finally broke down .

That would be the last time I would have to  feel the guilt that comes with  having to choose between being a son or being a father. On that occasion, I chose father and I would do it again.

C451DC02-B1E5-4AF2-83BD-897DA748FCA0

But it haunts me, ongoing, that as I landed in Athens full of excitement and enthusiasm to explore Mykonos, 3000-year-old ruins, and Greek culture with my daughter, that my father lay cold, stiff, and waiting to be burned, bagged, and buried after a life largely unfulfilled.

E481DFBF-D4DC-4352-9E41-9B55F3234D78

It stops me in my tracks daily
The unfinished business of a son

And each time I look in the mirror
I see his plans unfinished and his life undone

And if I am the continuation
Of those intentions that he left behind

I try hard not to disappoint him
But in my darkest hours I feel so blind

Yet I wake to another moment
Another chance to break new ground

And the daughter whose eyes are upon me now
Is still unsure about her dad some how

But tomorrow holds more promise
And I’ll hope that I rise above

Fueled by fire and passion
And with the guiding light of my father’s love…

Jhciacb

__________________________________________

If you’re not already a subscriber, please scroll up and take a moment to do so. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when you push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Dad’s favorite, the great Herb Alpert.  Enjoy…!

To Burst Or To Evaporate…

Ups And Downs…

A half-dozen times a day I step back, amazed and in wonder of just how rich my life is. I’m so full of stoke I could burst. But that doesn’t stop me from wishing I didn’t exist, at least a few times per day.

If that statement seems harsh and inconsistent, forgive me. That’s just what it’s like inside my head — all day long. Life is amazing — until I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and depressed —most often due to external circumstances, then I wish I wasn’t.

In those tense moments when the shelf over the clothes dryer collapses at the worst possible time, when somebody’s ignorance or hatred surfaces when I’m least expecting it, or when depression or sadness make unscheduled appearances, wishing I didn’t exist is the fantasy that gets me through them.

In-between those moments though, my life is flippin’ glorious. Any middle ground between the two, in case you are wondering, is scarce.

Yesterday morning, while many were sleeping in, I was happy to the point of tears. I had ridden my bike 20+ miles on a crisp but promising Southern California morning. I rode past a 100-year-old bridge, alongside picturesque vineyards, and up a couple of breathtaking vistas. I saw avocado groves, citrus orchards, and miles of tomato fields. Between the distant rising sun and my front tire, a beautiful coyote appeared then vanished in an instant.

63B9324E-7204-4E7C-98F8-1F5579F212B8

I wasn’t just in awe of my surroundings though, I was stoked at my ability to ride my bike through them — up steep hills  to subsequently glide down in joy while most around me still slept. When I got off my bike, I felt a high that could compare to no drug. It was the sum of freedom, accomplishment, and beauty, all rolled into a tidy moment. Ushering each week in this way is a ritual I would have a hard time giving up.

After my ride, and as I was prepping for the rest of the day, a growing series of disturbances began to get the better of me. Scrolling through the headlines didn’t help. Then a slew of unexpected and urgent emails paralyzed me, if only for a moment.  People say the darndest things when they think they can get away with it.  That was just after another crown on one of my teeth broke — just before a client was to walk in.

1709183C-A704-4D89-AEF5-01D6FB4CCA9A

Ebbs and flows…

Despite that there was so much wonder in my morning, so much beauty, and so much stoke, there were also those frustrations, fears, insecurities, apprehensions, and those all-too-often unexpected circumstances. When the contemplating gets tough, the tough just want to disappear — not to die, but evaporatng into the clouds sure would be nice some days.

If I were to tally it all up, in earnest, my life falls much more on the glorious and exhilarating side, than it does on the side of wishing I didn’t exist —that’s why I’m still here.

And please, make the distinction between being suicidal and not wanting to exist. When I don’t want to exist, it’s because I’m involved in a circumstance, emotion, or some combination of those that I just want out of. Not existing, seems so easy.

Some might suggest there’s a mood disorder at work here or something deeper. Maybe. Perhaps it’s just the Gemini in me. I dunno .

AED20C37-015E-4AB7-81F8-ED9E33DDCCEE

I love my life and many times a day I just want to burst with joy and shower the world with my stoke. But there are times when I just want to disappear. Perhaps knowing both of these each and every day is what makes me human, and in some strange way confirms my existence…. Jhciacb

If  you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Lonnie Mack.  Enjoy…

Writing With My Lips…

Transitions:  Hand To Mouth…

I’m typing an essay once again.  It feels good.  It’s been a while…

I’m currently looking through the window from seat 9A on Southwest Airlines flight 1045 with service to Denver and Charleston.  I’m stopping in Denver.  It’s been nearly a year since I’ve flown and almost as long since I have typed an essay, though I have written nearly 30 in the past 12-months. It was last May when I began dictating most of my essays, blogs, and social media posts into my smartphone, rather than type them on my laptop.

90542DCF-25C6-4646-BE1B-AAC6B52E34C5

The process was frustrating at first, but that frustration didn’t last long.  The learning curve was quick, and adjustments came daily.  Voice-activated technology has come a long way.  Within a matter of weeks, I was writing daily, by speaking essays into my phone and doing so seamlessly.

Speak Slowly And Clearly, Please…

In the age of the answering machines and later with voice mail, my father’s message was loud, distinct, and always the same…

“This is Al Cohen.  Please speak slowly and clearly at the tone…”

That was his voice message from 1975 until the time of his death in 2013.  In writing this, I realize that message is the memory I most associate with my father.  To hear it, one felt a responsibility to speak slowly and clearly.  Those two lessons, learned from my father’s answering machine when I was a kid, ensured a smooth transition from typing my thoughts to dictating them. Even from the grave my father is telling me what to do, but it works so I’m grateful.

  • Speak slowly
  • Speak clearly
D1D65108-70F3-4207-9CF7-65320CA7EAE3

Diego: A purebred North Korean Shepard…

In most of my dictations, background noise and other voices notwithstanding, if I speak slowly and clearly, my smartphone lives up to its name.  That said, proofreading before posting or publishing is more important than ever.  Words like our can turn into are and been can turn into men easily.  My smartphone makes little distinction between do and dew, though better recognizing context has been a part of every software revision.  Also, shizzle can easily turn into drizzle, though that one doesn’t come up often.

58A9B13B-1B24-4A95-8FBD-15E1A3863E76

While the lion sleeps tonight…

Probably the most important lesson I have learned in this transition, is the lesson of decorum – of when to type and when to speak.  Writing from my laptop has always been restricted to the location of my laptop – my bed, my desk, my front porch, and my sofa. These are places of absolute privacy.  By talking into my phone, I can now write just about anywhere – the park, the coffee shop, waiting in my car while my mother shops, and even in a fast-moving jet headed to Denver – or maybe not.  In a crowd like this, I prefer typing, which is what brought this essay on.

When I took seat 9A this morning, with service to Denver and Charleston, I began talking into my phone — an essay on another topic.  The woman in the seat next to me began to stare. I immediately realized it would be inappropriate to dictate an essay in such close proximity and this essay, on talking rather than typing, was suddenly born.

0853FEAF-0B18-47DD-BEFE-AE941B022656

With Ease Comes Guilt, Always…

There has been an inescapable guilt though – the guilt of a thousand Jewish mothers, that I still use term writing when speaking is how my essays come about.

“What are doing, Son…?” my mother asked when she saw me talking to the center of my hand one day.

Me:  I’m writing an essay….

“Oh” she said, “writing.  I see…” She rolled her eyes as she turned away.  I had just lied to my mother.  I was speaking an essay, not writing one.

Let’s say this essay goes viral and ends up in the hands of a well-connected editor or publisher.  He sees the fruit in my wisdom and the art in my imagination and offers me the opportunity to write for a broader platform; would I be a writer or a speaker…?

If asked about my craft, I can’t imagine telling a person beside me in a café that I’m speaking an essay or worse yet, that I’m speaking my first novel.  So, I feel guilty in calling myself a writer since I have always viewed writing as an action of the hands.  But that extends the question further – since typing onto a keyboard has been the mechanism for most writers, going back many decades, has anyone using a keyboard truly been a writer…?  I ask myself again, is writing an action of the hands or of the head…?

I’d like to introduce you to a fine typist, Mr. Norman Mailer – that just doesn’t seem to flow as sweetly.

The Future…

My track record predicting the future isn’t that good. I can scarcely predict the past.  I can say with certainty though, that dictating my thoughts into my phone is far more efficient than typing them into my laptop – this essay notwithstanding.  Going forward, a majority of my writing will continue to be done via my lips and will be dependent on the ever-improving voice-activated technology.

066C04CB-5148-4062-B2EC-4F01A579A5E5

Tesla. A very good girl…

In taking it all in though, I wonder if mind-activated software isn’t around the corner.  If so, will I be thinking my essays and possibly thinking a novel before I die…?  How efficient might that technology be…?  And how about the editing process be…?  Will there be an algorithm so efficient that it will know drizzle from shizzle before I ever think it…?  I hope so.  It could be a big time saver…  Jhciacb

________________________________________________________________

If you have not already, please roll up and subscribe to this blog. And please check back in couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Steve Gibbons Band. Enjoy…!

Daughter And Delight: A Path Out Of Depression…

It Always Passes…

Little twists of fate can turn the best possible day into be the worst, or so it can seem. We have all experienced this. Conversely, sometimes those twists can turn the worst possible day into the very best, and do so in a matter of seconds.

Yesterday morning I was battling a profound depression. Issues with my business, with a couple of clients, and within the generally chaotic fiber of my life had me at a boiling point by noon. That’s when my car died — on the freeway — on a 90° day — 15-miles from my home. Yup, my day was going that well.

Choosing not to jump into traffic, which was the obvious choice, I coaxed my car home slowly and got it to my mechanic. From there, after being told it might cost more to repair it than I have available, I walked home and prepared to take on the rest of my day, fully believing that it had the potential to still get worse.

If nothing else, I was hoping to sneak in a bike ride to help clear my head and center my racing mind, if only for a while. As I was about to get on my bike, my daughter’s name came up on my caller ID.

I have few hard and fast rules in my life, but at the top of that list is that I never let my daughter’s calls go to voicemail — ever. If I’m being honest though, I was bummed because I knew in taking that call I wasn’t going to get on my bike.

It was small talk mostly, and I silently wished I was peddling. She’s currently participating in an archaeological dig — three ships from 18th century being excavated in Alexandria, Virginia. I told her how proud I was of her for working in her field. At that, she chuckled which I thought was odd.

Daughter:  “I can extend it out a little further if you would like…” she suggested.

Me:  Huh…?

Daughter:  “The proud thing. I can make you prouder, but only if you want me to…”

Me:  What the hell you talking about…?

That’s when she told me she had been accepted into a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania — Ivy League.

She has accepted a five-year proposal that will pay her a generous stipend and allow her to achieve a PhD in nautical archaeology in exchange for teaching entry level classes in anthropology and archaeology, as well as for doing research in her field on behalf of the school.

Holding back tears ain’t my forte, but I kept it together as best I could.  She asked me once if I was crying. No, I said, I’m just cutting off one of my toes with a Swiss Army knife. She chuckled.

Yesterday morning I wanted to jump into traffic because I was so upset about the course of my day.  And yes, I really wanted to do it.  But as I always do during difficult times, I worked hard to remember that it always passes.  Within An hour, an unexpected twist of fate had me jumping for joy, and all I had to do was wait out the bad stuff.

Hearing that news of my daughter’s success will forever remain the brightest moment of my life. I know she will have other successes — many, but those who know my daughter know that she has been pursuing this goal since she was in 8th grade. I guess it skips a generation.

And to that point, I cannot speak about this without applauding the masterful job my daughter’s mother did in providing the structure in which she has flourished. She is the finest mother, and the finest human being I have ever known.

The bad stuff always passes. Wait out the bad stuff. It passes. It always passes… Jhciacb

If you have not already, please roll up and subscribe to this blog. And please check back in couple weeks to see what happens when I push the  STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Head Cat Enjoy…!

Spectrum Or Rainbow…

I might listen to an audiobook 10, 20, or even 30 times. That’s no exaggeration.

There are times when I’ll cup my hands, place them over my dog’s head, then ask him a question and hope for an answer – telepathically. I’ve actually done that, though he’s never given me any response other than a quizzical look.

I recall and remember clearly, many conversations I’ve had on the school bus, at the swimming pool of my youth, or on dates I had when I was 16 — and I recycle those conversations in my head repeatedly.

Walking in nature each day, as birds, squirrels, and rabbits cross my path, I might say good morning to them, and introduce myself…

“Hello, Mr. Rabbit! I’m Roy, and this is my dog, Stroodle. We live just off Main Street. God bless you, and have a good day…!” I actually do that.

Surfing at SanO one day a few years ago, as I was sitting outside the lineup watching other surfers and dolphins fare much better than I was that day, caught myself repeating a name over and over again — Alex Cora. I have no idea why I was doing it, but I just kept saying audibly Alex Cora… Alex Cora… Alex Cora… over and over again. Wasn’t much of a Dodgers fan and I think he is a crappy analyst, but for some reason that day I just kept repeating his name.

At moments like these – those times when I’m queuing up a book for the 30th time, talking to a passing bird, or inexplicably repeating the same word over and over, I wonder where I am on the spectrum.

Maybe it’s more a rainbow than a spectrum – just a happy place where I need to be to keep my sanity. Or more succinctly, perhaps being a little crazy keeps me sane. Maybe. Others though, who I see with similar quirks as my own, have one thing in common — a diagnosis.

That’s a heavy confession for an April Fool’s week, but it’s no joke. I don’t see too much wrong with any of my quirks and idiosyncrasies, but because there are so many of them and they sort of form the core of my personality, I often wonder if I live with an undiagnosed form of autism, Asperger’s, or just a new kind of crazy altogether, that hasn’t yet been discovered.

Perhaps I am need of a kind of therapy which hasn’t been invented yet. Maybe.

Maybe I’m just another eccentric though, in a town full of eccentrics. I dunno.

By the way, I’m not looking for any feedback here. Just sharing my thoughts at 6:00am —my compulsion to wake early, to write, and to share. Quirks, oddities, colors of the spectrum. No, colors of the rainbow… Jhciacb

If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe to this blog. Please check back in a couple weeks see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Kills. Enjoy…!

Chimp With A Smartphone Part III…

Chimp With A Smartphone…

My daughter, now 27, is responsible for that monicker. Several years ago, I sent her a black-and-white picture of some broken pier pilings behind the Oceanographic Institute at Moss Landing. I had taken that picture with an iPhone 5 set to ‘mono’. I did only a few minor adjustments with the lighting, and was immediately overwhelmed with how good a picture from a smartphone can be. I remain very proud of that picture (below)

275E8EA2-235E-4F3A-8701-72B52DAF697D

This was my daughter’s response…

“Dude, it’s a nice picture but your not Ansel Adams. You’re a chimp with a smartphone…”

I still chuckle when I think about it.   No nickname has better suited me.  Since that declaration,  I’ve taken thousands, possibly tens of thousands of pictures — all on my iPhones; an iPhone 5, an iPhone 6, and my current phone/camera an iPhone 7.

Smartphone photography suits me. There is less thinking and processing involved, and that supports my Chimpism. Smartphones are much more portable than a camera, a bag, and all the lenses and accessories that go with them. Truth is, a few years ago a friend gave me a very nice camera, and I don’t even know where it is.

Yesterday I took the mammal for a stroll at the abandoned San Luis Rey golf course in nearby Bonsall. Late last year a fire swept through the area, known as the Lilac Fire. It did a great deal of damage, but the local and regional fire fighting authorities did a masterful job containing the the fire. It could have been much worse.

Damage to the San Luis Rey golf club was minimal also, since it ceased being a golf club several years ago, and is destined to become houses and school grounds in the near future.

Further down the street, is the San Luis Rey Downs.  That horse training facility lost more than 50 horses in the Lilac Fire. I just didn’t have it in me yesterday to check out that area, but I probably will this weekend.

A few random things that I’ve learned about smartphone photography over the last few years:

  • The best time to take pictures is just after the sunrises or just before it sets, but you already knew that.
  • Smartphones do much better with the micro than with the macro. Close-ups of flowers, bugs, and even burnt golf balls do much better than with landscapes and portraits.
  •  I might adjust colors minimally after the fact, but I have more fun — and get more results from adjusting light, contrast, and shadows.

Here’s a few pictures from yesterday’s chimp-stroll at the corner golf course. Excuse me now, while I reach for banana… Jhciacb.

 

E2F9D389-0F89-4064-86D8-9157A2794D7FF9B93BF8-8C67-4039-B5A7-D632F1BF601660CB2C63-16B8-4B5E-90BF-A47AB4EA74066901BF35-DF6F-4EDD-BC59-9EC6BC9121C6DCC23DCE-11A8-40B6-A881-6D1FE8ED70B47322C794-9012-4DC4-9429-B50614353912FCDA3953-19FC-4CA8-AA48-BFAE58B22F6A58C3219D-C32A-4DF3-A065-773FB9E5598C65C58E09-2291-4868-BCC7-2DAB7F22F36CEDB9FD67-5638-4D66-8C39-50163128A4F656AEF3E2-DBB9-45A5-BD84-9B2EE93BF462AD60F157-3302-4C78-99A8-EE4464D131F183B6E6BE-4A81-4F6A-8565-810612FA1ECEC9117981-46AC-4D25-9965-5D327A038956358E0F2D-C6D1-4506-A993-E2AD8A6A918C22CE9143-7883-4AD4-8FEA-A1FBE324F13C69895E4F-A8B6-4EA6-8B26-F6FCE0938C619333DDF5-4F65-408D-8D08-2352586BFFCB284348AB-FBAF-452F-8647-042F7635797C

 if you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog, and please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP   Button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Leo Sayer. Enjoy… 

A Cold Bender…

Cold Bender…

It’s time to confess. For the last couple months I’ve been going on a bender nearly every night, and they often last deep into the night. Can’t say that I’m ashamed, or that I’m even concerned. It’s not like I’m missing work or fouling up any relationships. I just can’t seem to stop.

I’ve been using once again, and using heavily. Cold Chisel that is…

I first learned of the band Cold Chisel from KAZY radio in Denver in 1978 or 1979. On Sunday from 10:00pm-Midnight a free-form rock show was hosted by an Australian DJ. I think his name was Walter, but I’m not sure. I’ll never forget though, the first time he played Cold Chisel, and how he built them up before he played the song Khe Sanh.

I was immediately hooked on Cold Chisel, Australia’s hardest working and hardest fighting rock band.

In the pantheon of my rock-band gods there are, in no particular order…

The Call
Los Lobos
The Waterboys
Steely Dan
and Cold Chisel

Of course there are many other bands and many solo artists that have inspired me, touched me, and that I have obsessed on. However, these are the bands that have moved and touched me in ways that others never could. Each, for very different reasons.

IMG_5615

When I look at my love and appreciation for these bands now, I realize the biggest draw isn’t so much in the musicianship, in the personalities, or even in the production, though they are all great . The gravity that draws me in is for songs with well-crafted lyrics.

The lyrics to Khe Sanh (Don Walker) might be the most well-crafted lyric I’ve ever heard.

In the last few weeks I’ve completed two books written by Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel’s lead singer. I can’t recommend these two books enough — Working Class Boy and Working Class Man. They’re written in very linear fashion, very difficult to read due to their content, very grounding, and well illuminate what launched the fireball of Jimmy Barnes out of that rock and roll cannon so many years ago, to become one of music’s most notorious and dangerous frontmen. Jimmy is alive and doing fine these days, and has become a great story teller.

IMG_5538

Over the last couple of months I have watched virtually every YouTube video available on the band, including interviews, solo performances, a six-part documentary series about the history of the band, and every music video they’ve ever made. Some have moved me to tears.

When I think about music – – bands in particular, I first think about magic. Magic is what happens when unlikely ingredients come together to form the perfect whole, if only for a few minutes, a few years, or for a few concert tours.

Please take seven minutes watch this from beginning to end if you have a chance. It brought me to absolute tears the first time I saw it, and I still watch it regularly. An incredible performance by Don Walker and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel’s keyboard player and guitar player respectively.

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered where magic comes from, I’ll say it again… Magic is what happens when unlikely ingredients come together to form the perfect whole. Cold Chisel was/is the perfect whole, if only for a few minutes, a few concert tours, or for few years — which have now turned into four decades.

Like a lot of bands that have fallen to hit the ground, bounced back up, hit the ground again, only to bounce back up again over and over, Cold Chisel has known adversity –– in spades, including the death of drummer Steve Prestwich in 2011. Still, the band and its remaining members are still active today, occasionally together, but mostly involving other projects.

IMG_5463

Yes, I’m using Cold Chisel again, often late into the night, and I make no apology… Jhciacb

If you’re not currently a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and here’s one more from Cold Chisel singer Jimmy Barnes, written by the late Steve Prestwich. Enjoy… 

 

Spicy, Part II…

Spicy…

It’s been dry here this year. Our measurable rain thus far has been a fraction of what we had hoped for, and far below normal.

Last night though, a weak front came through and gave us a steady overnight shower. Rather than get on my bike as I do most Sunday mornings, I chose to amble through the woods with my phone and my mammal.

There was moisture everywhere, lingering and showing off. It’s as though the rain wanted a round of applause for all it gave us, however temporary that performance might have been.

The scents were fresh and spicy. The coastal rosemary, the sage, the Sycamore, the grasses and other constituents conspired to smell like a cache of potpourri, warmed and wafting.

It was a good meander. Quiet. Fresh. Inviting. Now, onto the bike… Jhciacb

IMG_5437 IMG_5445 IMG_5463 IMG_5464 IMG_5467 IMG_5469 IMG_5482 IMG_5485 IMG_5493IMG_5458

IMG_5455 IMG_5494

IMG_5453

If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Rev. Al Green. Enjoy…!

Monotheology…

My Road…

For the things that have mattered to me most; hobbies, interests, business practices, and even in matters of personal fulfillment, I have always preferred the path of being self-taught. That is, I’m at my best when I work within my own structure and on my own schedule.

Translation: I have an authority problem…

IMG_5299

For nearly 2 decades I’ve been attempting to create and adhere to a personal theology. My own beliefs, practiced within my own structure, and within my own timeframe and schedule. During the last couple of years, I feel I have made significant progress in this area.

The beliefs I value, the rituals I practice, and the sermons I create and study on my own behalf, have become an integral part of my daily life. And I can say with great certainty that they have made me a better person.

Though this Religion Of One is something I am quite proud of, some part of me has always questioned whether it’s the correct path. In a world full of ornate houses of worship — great and small, paint by numbers acts of ritual and obedience, and volumes of scripture which everyone has read but nobody has written, to state that I have carved out my own theology can seem lofty, ignorant, and selfish – – even to myself.

IMG_5215

Though I have mostly embraced my personal theology, I have also been skeptical of it.

This past Sunday I attended a structured house of worship for the first time in many years. It was with a small congregation in the small town where I live. Everything about it was cordial, charming, and peaceful. That is, I found the experience to be everything that is right with religion. It was pleasant.

As I took it all in though, that skepticism I’ve had of my own theology slowly and steadily began to flake off and fall from my skin. Though I greatly appreciated all that was taking place around me; the observance, the reverence, and the community, I felt uncomfortable and out of place. I was longing to be back out in the woods, conversing with my maker and contemplating my place in this vast and complex world.

IMG_5104

Leaving that service last Sunday, and stepping back into my own rituals, my own forms of charity and community, and on my own schedule of observance, I felt for the very first time that my Religion Of One is not a path of blasphemy or guilt, but the most available and the most direct road to where I’m going. So I will just keep stepping – – left, right, left, right, left, right, down the center of my own little path, with the absolute belief that this is just right for me…. Jhciacb

_____________________________________________________________________
If you have not already, please scroll up and  hit the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner. Please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Shiny Ribs. Enjoy….

Digital Postcards…

Digital Postcards…

At a different time in my life, when I traveled to exotic, beautiful, or unusual places, I would send postcards of my destinations to the folks back home. I might scribble something on the back – – just a few words attempting to capture the essence of what I was enjoying and why. I always ended them with “Having a wonderful time. I wish you were here…” I probably always meant that too.

Postcards, like payphones, are almost nonexistent today. The technology behind them has morphed and taken a different trajectory. The very smartphones that eliminated the payphone, have also served to squeeze the postcard into near extinction.

The intentions behind postcards though, have actually increased. We can now capture the images of our travels and text them or share them with somebody within seconds. Minus the $.43 stamp, and thanks to social media platforms, we can have unlimited recipients as well.

Today we don’t even have to be traveling to send a postcard. We just need to be somewhere exotic, beautiful, or unusual.

Or not.

We can send postcards of half eaten pancakes, a cigarette butt on found out of place on a running track, or even of dog excrement in the shape of the Eiffel Tower if we are so inclined — and so immature. For better or for worse, there’s no limit to the postcards we can send.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been getting postcards from me for a while now — roughly a decade, and almost daily. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that I love sending digital postcards.

Whether it’s by text, social media, or other digital platforms, I think that’s a good way to look at the way we increasingly share pictures of the day-to-day – – as digital postcards.

Despite the ill-conceived perception that we’re all just a bunch of mindless zombies staring into our phones as we walk into stop signs, hit our heads on trees branches, and step into potholes as we step and scroll, we are actually perpetual travelers with a desire to share. We regularly reach out to the folks back home because we want to share that which offers bewilderment, fascination, or amuses us.

What makes this so cool to me, if not slightly miraculous, is that we no longer have to accept and purchase somebody else’s pictures and captions to send to the folks back home. We have ownership in our postcards, and in the words that accompany them. Pretty cool.

So when you get my postcards, there’s a couple things I want you to know…

One: I very much see you as being part of the ‘folks back home’.

Two: I’m having a wonderful time, and I wish you were here.

Here are some postcards from yesterday… Jhciacb

 

 

IMG_4782

Please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Australian band, Powderfinger.  Enjoy…!

The Cutting Room Floor…

My oldest client is 93. She spent much of her retirement traveling the United States, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand in an Airstream trailer. It’s easy to maintain conversations with her while she exercises, because I can always default to her experiences living on the road for so many years.

She’ll often tell me of experiences she had during that phase of her life which she hadn’t told me previously. I’ve suggested to her multiple times that she write a book about those experiences. Of course at 93, it’s not likely that she’ll write a book. Her experiences on the road and the wisdom gained from them, will be left only to the memories of people she’s had conversations with.

IMG_4525

That got me thinking about how the cutting room floor of wisdom and experience must be as large as the universe, and expanding just as quickly. That is, most human wisdom is left to the ether of our memories.

One-hundred billion people have ever lived. Approximately 130-million books have ever been published. Though it’s hard to ascertain for certain, the number of published authors across all possible formats is probably somewhere between 25 and 60-million people. If my math skills serve me well, that’s a whole lot of unpreserved wisdom, thought, experience, and creative expression.

IMG_4504

Contemplating that, I got to thinking that when that day comes when the last human being takes his or her final breath, most human experience will have been left on the cutting room floor. And that, THAT is why I write, why I write daily, and why I embed my thoughts into digital formats — so there will be some record, not only that I existed, but that I thought, that I had ideas, and that those thoughts and ideas will not end up on the cutting room floor, whether they mattered or not… Jhciacb

 If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and subscribe to this blog. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Brick. Enjoy…!

Thoughts And Prayers, Redux…

Every morning, usually within 3 to 4 minutes of waking up, I begin my ritual exploration of who I really am. Don’t be too impressed, I don’t put a lot of effort into it, usually don’t come to any profound conclusions, and due to my susceptibility to the distractions of my pets and my phone, this process has little influence on the outcome of my days.

On those days however, after major natural disasters, news of the bombing of dozens in a public square, and especially on those days when we hear of yet another school shooting, I will dig a little deeper and ask myself some hard questions, seeking what I hope are honest answers.

IMG_4376

I simply wish to discover, for better or for worse, who I really am. Not the person I want to be, pretend to be, or strive to be, but who I really am right now at this moment.

When I ask myself the hardest question though, that’s when I freeze.

Am I a man of action…?

I suppose that all depends on how we define action. I want to believe I am a man of action, and with some circumstances I can be. In most instances though, and on the heels of great tragedy, I get very contemplative and even reflective, but action — well, I usually just leave that to the powers that be. I mean, my voting is supposed to take care of my action anyway, yes…? But it hasn’t always worked out that way.

IMG_4305

On the heels of tragedy, I’m a person who still sees good in the world more than bad. I’m a person who still sees society on an upward and more positive trajectory — an arc of increasing social cooperation and morality. I’m a person who favors love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, and decorum over screaming — every time. And I hope that I live in accordance with those conclusions. I’ve come up short though, on taking much action aside from my voting.

I’ll be chewing on all of this in the coming days and weeks. I’m certain little or nothing at all will come from my inward search, but maybe.

IMG_4297

I suppose the only thing I really feel this morning though is that, despite the ridiculous criticisms to the contrary, sometimes thoughts and prayers are all we have. For many, those thoughts and those prayers are the only immediate action we have to take as we seek shelter from the storms…. Jhciacb

_______________________

 Please this a like and a share. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Chuck Prophet. Enjoy…! 

The Process Is Served…

I eat out frequently. When I select a restaurant, I almost always do so with the belief that I’m going to get a quality meal, made from quality ingredients, and served to me by gracious people.

I have trust in that restaurant.

Never, and I mean NEVER, do I go back into the kitchen after I have placed my order, and watch every detail of how my meal is prepared and plated. Nor do I go into the kitchen and take inventory of all the people who touch the dishes, the utensils, and the ingredients which will form my meal.

True, they might be doing a horrible job preparing my meal, it might get screwed up, and there may be great arguments and conflict between those preparing my meal about how to assemble it.  However, there’s a system in place to ensure  that my meal arrives to me in a way that is consistent with me ordering it.  I don’t want to know what nonsense took place between those who prepared it.

I simply sit at my table with an absolute faith that, despite all that can go wrong in the preparation of my meal, that it’s going to come out to me on time, and it’s going to possess the quality I expect.

And it almost always does…

And while I’m waiting for my meal, I’m not  wasting a moment thinking about the preparation of it. I don’t sit at the table, stressed out, worrying – – hoping that everything is going to be okay, and that all involved are doing their job. I don’t await my meal with doubt, anticipate it with fear, and I don’t dissect the process in my head — mulling over all that might possibly go wrong in its preparation. I just enjoy a good conversation with a friend, or a little downtime on my own, but anticipating my meal is never something I pull my hair out over.

And as odd as this sounds, I feel that way about the political process in America. I don’t feel I need to watch every detail of how it is prepared. Nor do I take an active inventory of all the hands that are touching it all day long. I simply await the process, with an absolute faith that the end result is going to be satisfying.

I’m guessing that at least some, if not a majority of people who just read that, think I’m a fool. Perhaps, but I have trust in the process, and faith in the system. Though I have gotten a bad meal from my government on occasion, more often than not I approve, and rarely am I disappointed with the justice it serves.

Besides, I have many things and much to do, all day long, which require my attention, if not my stress and my worries. Life is short, or so I’m told. Today I will let the cooks of justice do their job, as I expect the people who come to me for my cooking, will trust me to do my job — without them digging into the details  of how I make it happen … Jhciacb

__________________________

if you don’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back every couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Grand Funk Railroad.  Enjoy… 

From Out Of The Fog…

I’m feeling a little more fitnessey these days. I had kind of checked out there for a while, despite that fitness is both my passion and my livelihood.

Approaching last year’s presidential election, and certainly in the months afterward, the mood of the nation changed. As our national depressive episode unfolded, I began to identify and to contemplate the things that matter most to me. And as much, I began discarding the things that were a lesser priority in my day-to-day life.

As odd as this may sound, through this self-exploration, I found the ideal of fitness; things like lunges, the best salads, and reaching a certain heart rate a few times per week, were a lower priority in my life than how I should be conducting myself as a citizen. And not just for me either, but for my clients.

As national monuments began being swallowed up or downgraded, as verbiage, finger-pointing, hatred, and ignorance manifest between politicians and constituents in equal portion and on both sides, and as I began to identify as much decay as growth in many of our social structures, the idea of fitness as a priority for anyone took on a tone for me that I can only refer to as petty.

More recently though, I’ve been reconnecting with the ideal of fitness, far beyond the light of beast-mode, PRs, being bad-ass, or doing sinister justice to a pair of jeans. It is an ancient ideal that I have been connected with since childhood, and now maybe the time when I need to be connected with it most:

Fitness, the quest for a greater physicality and increased abilities, is a responsibility. And yes, I genuinely believe that.

That ancient ideal is that families, businesses, communities, and larger societies all operate better and more efficiently when the individuals within them can operate and function at a higher level, with greater independence, and become less susceptible to the illnesses and injuries that might disrupt our contribution to those social structures.

And the basic tenants of that ancient ideal are these…

– Indulge a little less

– Eat a little better

– Move a little bit more

I can’t imagine why this is so hard for so many people, yet it is. And yes, I believe the inability to connect with these three simple bullet points is a part of the problem… Jhciacb

____________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Sons Of Bill.  Enjoy…

Road Transitions…

I have written down nearly every workout I’ve taken for 43 years. Every weight lifted, every repetition performed, and every set completed has been documented in handheld spiral notebooks since I was a kid.

A pen to spiral binder is a crude form of data collection, but it’s information nonetheless. Information to be studied. Information to be drawn from. Information to be used to make future decisions in pursuit of ongoing improvement.

After all these years though, I know how much I should be squatting with on a given night, or how much weight I should load on the bar for some skull-crushers. The putting the pen to paper at this point, is about more than gathering information. Above all things, it is about ritual, and for me, it is a sacred ritual at that.

This documenting of my actions with these crude tools, helps connect me to what I’m doing — to my purpose in the gym. It’s a necessary part of the workout, and a necessary part of my spirituality. In one sense, I’m writing down my actions and storing information for later use. In another sense though, I’m taking inventory of my beliefs.

By etching these letters and numbers which have accounted for so much of my life, I am in a sense, taking sacrament at the altar. It is this dogmatic process which transcends the workout itself, taking it to a much more spiritual level. That means much more to me than the gathering of information to be used later.

Another part of that ritual, is to close one spiral binder after several months, and begin another, which I did last night. Another mile-marker along the never ending road that I’ve been on since I was 13-years old, and I will follow so long as I am alive.

I don’t know where this road is taking me, and I don’t know when it will end, but I have enjoyed, and I have found great meaning in documenting the journey…. Jhciacb

____________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Thank you…

One Billion Friends…

Facebook claims to have over one billion users. Every so often I have this thought:

If I asked each of my 300+ Facebook friends to send and accept friend requests to one-another, and also asked if they would make the same request with all their friends and so-on, and if all users were compliant, eventually one billion people would be interconnected.

25442814_571336006544617_3599500953099282041_n

Of course, if this did happen, scrolling through status updates over coffee each morning would take a bit longer.

When I think about this more seriously though, I can’t help but wonder if social media isn’t an evolutionary step toward that universal oneness – a global consciousness in process, which is the direction I believe we are all ultimately headed in anyway.

I don’t mean that in a trite way.

25151853_568051840206367_3018757829771883589_n

Of course, I don’t truly expect to have a billion social media friends anytime soon, or to know what one billion people are thinking at any one time. I have a hard enough time coping with 300 opinions, let alone a billion.

I do think on some level though, that a digital imprint — a collection of all our thoughts is manifesting via social media, and is an actual step toward that universal oneness.

Global consciousness, coming to a server near you… Jchiacb

#siliconeternity

___________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this little gem from  Royk Erickson. Enjoy…

 

Unfinished Business…

I think that most aging athletes are little balls of unfinished business. I am, anyway. I always feel like there’s a little more to be done — that there is no endpoint. Death, perhaps.

I stepped into the weight room for the first time nearly 43 years ago. Although there have been some workouts skipped, a few weeks taken off here and there to rest, and a couple years missed after s skydiving accident in 1993 when I could not work out at all, I have stepped into the weight room nearly 13,500 times.

Do anything 13,500 times, and you’re bound to struggle with motivation on occasion. I’m going through a very unmotivated phase these days. I’ve been unmotivated before, so I know it will pass, but this one seems to be lingering — to the point where it has me questioning why I am still doing this after 43 years…? It takes less than a minute each evening, as I step into my weight room, for the lyrics of the Eagles song, After The Thrill Is Gone, to start doing gymnastics in my head…

“You don’t like winning, but you don’t want to lose, after the thrill is gone…”

As recently as August, I was enjoying a motivated uptick with my training. I had been training hard, and messing with my diet too. My physique was filling out a little bit, and I had been getting a little leaner. Though I had no aspirations to step on a bodybuilding stage anytime soon, I always feel like I’m six weeks away from being in the best shape of my life. And in the summer of 2017, I felt like I was approaching the best shape of my life, yet again.

Then, on August 2nd, I came off my bike at nearly 25 mph. I suffered one small fracture in my upper left temple, another one on my left jaw, and the third one on my left collarbone. Despite these, I only missed a half-dozen or so workouts, and I was on my bike again within a week. But the workouts were more stressful than meditative, due to the negotiations between any kind of movement at all, and the pain in my collarbone.

The wave of momentum I was riding prior to my accident disappeared beneath my feet. I haven’t seen it since. Though I have stepped into the weight room approximately 120 times since my accident in August, my workouts have been less than inspired. I don’t like winning, but I don’t want to lose…

My eating…? I feel more like the late comedian, John Pinette, than an athlete making a personal comeback. Still, I keep stepping back into the weight room at night, and getting on my bike each morning, for that feeling of unfinished business…

Certain things you retire from, recreational bodybuilding — fitness, whatever you want to call it, has no end point. So long as I am living, it will be a work in progress – – unfinished business.

So I will ride out this wave of unmotivation, in hopes I get my mojo back. Motivation lacks, but I have unfinished business. Same dances in them same old shoes… Jhciacb

________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Richard X Heyman. Turn it up, and enjoy!

More Quality Time…

It might sound strange to suggest, but I think I need more quality time – – with television.

Let me restate that…

I think I should be watching TV more, and in a better way.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, my father used every bargaining chip he could to curb my obsessive TV watching. He took it away from me at every opportunity — when I screwed up, talked back, or failed to make grades. He tried requiring me to spend one hour out of doors for every hour of television I watched. He even tried using a demerit system to correlate good behavior around the house with increased opportunities to watch my favorite shows. My father was constantly looking for ways to keep “the idiot box” from corroding my mind.

IMG_1834

In some ways, I think he was successful. Despite my relentless addiction to television, I did spend a great deal of the time outdoors in order to earn my TV time. I was also more receptive to household chores, and to saying please and thank you in order to purchase TV time.

Like many baby boomers, television has been both a positive in my life, and a negative. For better or for worse, TV has been an undeniable presence and influence in my life, regardless of which direction that needle was pointing at any one time — positive or negative.

In my post-divorce life, I had fallen more inline with my father’s opinion of television in his post-divorce. That is, I began to see television a legitimate social cancer, slowly dumbing down the human species, one episode of anything at a time. Always a walking contradiction, at the time I came to the conclusion that television was cancer, I owned 4 of them.

One morning in 2005, while getting ready for work and hustling from room to room with all my TVs going at once so I wouldn’t miss a moment of SportsCenter, I saw the ridiculousness of it all. I immediately stopped what I was doing and placed all 4 televisions on the sidewalk in front of my house. They were gone within an hour.

IMG_1810

In the 13 years since that morning, I have not owned a television, though I have lived in places or with people where TV was present. In those situations, I have watched them minimally, including my current situation where my mother has large TV in the living room we share.

I often click the TV on when I’m in the room, just to create some background noise, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. In instances of the occasional mass shooting or natural disaster, I might pay a little more attention, and watch for longer periods to ensure I’m ‘well informed’.

There’s no television program though, nor has there been for years, that I watch with any regularity, other than the Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy. Those, I watch alongside my mother each evening, as I keep her company and make small talk. I wouldn’t trade that TV watching experience for anything. I have no recent memory though, of watching any TV show or movie from beginning to end, without being otherwise interrupted or distracted by something seemingly more important at the time.

Let’s tell the truth: in this era, if you own a phone or laptop, you own a very small and portable TV. In that sense, for last 13 years, what has really changed is the size of my television, not the absence of one. And in the internet era, I have been able to manipulate and select my viewing choices, and have had more ownership with them.

However, the Internet has also provided something else; multiple rapidfire distractions in the form of smartphones and social media. Like many, most days the internet has me bouncing off the walls like a gibbon on crack. What little TV I do watch, on that 40-inch screen in my living room, is frequently interrupted by the 7-inch screen in my hand, or the 17-inch screen on my lap.

IMG_1740

In the pre-Internet days, it would not be unusual for me to spend three hours watching a movie – – One Eyed Jacks, for example, staring Marlon Brando. For all the nonsense and ridiculousness of the downside of television, the upside of TV has always been that it could take me to another place and another time, during which I would sit still and forget all things. TV was the beautiful distraction that kept me from other less beautiful distractions.

Now though, with the different ways we can watch TV due to the internet, and with all the distractions and interruptions that smartphones, laptops, and social media offer, the idea of spending three hours watching Dances With Wolves, uninterrupted seems prohibitive, if not impossible. In hindsight, gazing at a three hour movie almost seems like meditation compared to the chaotic media life I live today…

I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a movie which took me to another place and another time for several hours, where I was not distracted by notifications from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while also watching short video clips via YouTube.

IMG_1654

Yes, I think I should be watching my television more, and in ways that take me to a different place in time. I long to sit still and to be transported, without my attention span being chopped to smithereens by the temptations of technology. In the same way I now look at the George W. Bush White House as ‘the good old days’, I now look at the idiot box and its dumbing down of the America psyche, as a more simple and more wholesome time.

Excuse me now, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes is calling me. I’m going to watch it, and I’m leaving my smartphone behind… Jhciacb

________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Johnny Clegg . Enjoy…

Winds Of Change…

Straight up, I believe that most people have not used social media for the best possible outcomes. Almost from the beginning, I’ve seen  social media as a variety of platforms with unlimited potential for generating good in the world.  Most often though, I see it used for everything from displaying sophomoric hijinks, to the spewing of negative vitriol without any thought of who it might land on.

Social media has become a playground for the thoughtless, and a breeding ground for the continuation of bad ideas. It’s like we’re using the door handle of Maserati to pry the cap off a bottle of beer, just before we spill half of it down our chin as we guzzle it in an attempt to impress the girl across the room.

24294089_564457940565757_7895484047545875819_n

And for all of those who use social media to throw feces against the wall, day in and day out, I wonder how many realize that the walls they’ve been throwing it against are mostly their own…

I’ve thrown my share of feces too, and I admit that, especially early on. For for the last couple of years though, I’ve worked hard to let my social media experience be a positive one more often than not, and one that lends itself toward good will among my friends, if not my species.

One year ago tomorrow, I made the decision to post some form of original thought, usually a positive one, accompanied by an original photograph on Facebook every day for one year. In the year since I made that commitment, I have fallen short just 11 times.

24862214_566750853669799_3282863449581031659_n

When I say ‘original thought’, I don’t necessarily mean that I’m the first person to conceive the idea. I’ve just taken whatever’s been on my mind at a given moment, and applied my own twist to it each time I sat down to write. And honestly, I wish more people did that – – I wish more people would work harder to make social media more original, if not more positive.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the idea of sharing music, comedy, in-depth articles that provoke thought, and most forms of art, and intelligent discussions that I would not otherwise come across or participate in. On occasion, I even appreciate some sophomoric hijinks, though I try to keep that minimal. However, posting the same regurgitated thoughts, the same tired news stories from the same worn out and unreliable sources, and the same moronic vitriol day after day after day has grown tiresome.

BREAKING: If it’s breaking news, I’m going to find it on my own. I don’t need to read it on Facebook, accompanied by photoshopped picture of Hitler molesting the Statue of Liberty…!

Now that I have completed my year of original thought, I’m going to (attempt to) change the way that I use social media, at least to some degree. I won’t be deleting my Facebook account, or taking a social media break like so many of my friends seem to be doing these days.

25152122_568051836873034_3158887368521088456_n

The reality for me is that social media, in one form or another, is here to stay. I accept that.  Facebook and other platforms may go away, but something will evolve to take their place, and the path of increasingly complex inter-communication between Homo sapiens will continue. It’s an upward and ongoing path.

I still see value, and a tremendous upside to social media if we all use it intelligently, and I guess that’s my point. I’m going to refine how I use it even more, and strive to further improve my use of it, as I have improved other interests in my life. I may use it less, and will likely be more selective with my interactions.

I will also take this opportunity to suggest to anyone reading this, to take a good look at your social media habits and behaviors, and consider what it is you wish to get out of them. Ask yourself, what am I really trying to accomplish, and what good is it going to generate in the world beyond my own head…? And be honest with yourself…

24796379_565779743766910_4789080204416095572_n

I really think that should be our goal — to use all social media platforms as small ways each of us can improve our  communities and our species, one connection at a time. I just think that’s a good way to be… Jhciacb

___________________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Johnny Thunders. Enjoy…

 

 

Miss Perception…

…it’s not a beauty queen…

Monday through Friday I ride my bike through 10 miles of mixed Hills every morning just after sunrise.  It’s a full-on sprint. Each outing I ride at roughly 95% of my highest capacity for that course.

23754703_556606808017537_2698324429823732895_n

On Sundays though, I ride a flat round-trip of 26 miles from Bonsall to Ocenaside, ending at the water’s edge where I take a moment to honor the sea before I turn back inland. My Sunday ride is not a sprint, just a steady pace in an enjoy the scenery kinda way..

For the 20 months or so since I have been using this protocol, one inconsistency has stood out on my flat, 26-mile Sunday ride, yet I had not figured out the reason for this inconsistency until a few days ago.

Despite that my route to the coats is flat, and that the wind is usually at my back, my return trip from the coast is always, ALWAYS slower than my ride going there.  I average roughly 19MPH headed west, and 17.5MPH on my return.

One might immediately attribute this to tired legs, and that might make some sense.  Also, stopping for a few moments at the halfway point to take in the sight of the ocean does me no favors. And there is the psychology involved with turning back — the dreary trip home mentality.  So, it’s easy to assume that my return trip would be slower and pass it off as the combination of a mental and physical letdown.

21430311_527769260901292_2851108046251847883_n.jpg

One problem though, I’m an athlete. I train, eat, and prepare like an athlete, especially before my Sunday morning ride.  To my way of thinking, there’s no reason that my 13 miles coming back should be any slower than my 13 miles getting there. In fact, the wind is usually against me headed to the coast, and at my back on my return.  Still, I’m always slower on my coming back.

And equal distance. A flat ride. Proper nutrition prior to riding.  The wind in my favor on the return. So, why am I always slower on the way back…?

21557543_527769264234625_5999335984912238415_n.jpg

Perception. Or should I say, misperception…?

You see, my flat ride is it really flat. I start at roughly 300 feet above sea level, and I end at sea level. Only now, after 20-months of riding this route, have paid attention to my GPS data.  Now 300-feet of an elevation change over 13 miles is almost invisible. To look at this bike trail at any point along the way, it appears flat.

But it isn’t flat, and 300 feet of climbing, even if it’s over 13 miles, will impact cyclists of any level, and I am only an intermediate cyclist.  This 300-feet climbing costs me about -1.5MPH on my return.

Of course this has nothing to do with cycling, and everything to do with human perception.

23622080_557937424551142_5739162426757515219_n

For 20-months I have assumed this ride was flat – – and it is never been flat. And that, THAT makes me wonder what other assumptions I make all day long that are incorrect or that am completely blind to …? Indeed… Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Mike Clark And The Sugar Sounds.  Enjoy…

 

 

Flow With The Bummers…

Corky’s #7…

In the 1970s, after his career concluded, surfer Corky Carroll, espoused a dozen or so rules for living.  Rules from the perspective of surf culture that he felt, if followed, would help one better survive in a chaotic world.  Though I cannot find a single record of these rules, I remember rule #7 by heart, and it has done more to guide my adult life than the Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule combined…

Corky’s rule #7:  Flow With The Bummers

The absence of a Thou Shalt before it, makes it all the more agreeable.

Stick It To Me…

Life can be a lot like opening a cheese stick – it rarely goes how it should.  Cheese sticks are sealed in plastic, with the two plastic ends at the top loosely separated to be pulled apart.  Most often though, separating the two tear-away pieces of plastic takes more work than it should, and rarely ends well.  However, for those like me who have the tendency to block out past struggles, relying on the built-in method to open a cheese stick is always seen as the best option.

So, with one of the plastic ends pinched between my thumb and index finger, the other hand doing the same thing with opposite plastic end, and with the body of the cheese stick floating in limbo, I’ll pull the plastic ends apart, and it almost always tears before the full cheese stick is exposed.  Crap.

At this point, there ae two options.  One, dig in with my finger nails to release the cheese stick.  Or, take a knife and finish the job like I’m gutting a fish, and risk punching the blade through the plastic and into my supporting finger.  It shouldn’t be so complicated, but most often, I gut the cheese wrapper like a fish and puncture a finger.

On rare occasions, as I pull the 2 layers of plastic apart, the separation is clean and smooth.  The cheese stick in question is easily extracted, and I have just experienced a moment.  I enjoy those moments, because I know they are few, far between, and surely will not last.

111ch1.jpg

What usually happens…

And for those times which are most times, and when the plastic breaks before it exposes the cheese stick, I just flow with the bummers.

111ch.jpg

A moment of pure magic…

A Deep Breath And A Silent Chuckle…

I call it my Sunday Morning Service.  It takes place at sunrise, and it is as holy to me as any hymn, pulpit, message, or messenger.  I ride my bicycle roughly 26 miles to and from the coast, from a starting point that’s a 7-mile drive from my front door.  This morning started like any other.  The weather was perfect – foggy, cool, and no wind.  My soul swelled with the anticipation of my spiritual ride.  My mind was overcome with gratitude as I could already smell the salt air.  I parked my car.  I dawned my riding gear including my helmet, gloves, and my waterproof windbreaker. I took my bike from the back of my car (the front wheel must be removed so I can fit my bike in the back seat), and balanced my bike on the rear wheel and front forks.  I went back to the car for the front wheel.  You know, the front wheel that I left in my driveway – 7-miles behind me…?  Yah, that front wheel.

23031238_548797388798479_6122831799008821422_n.jpg

Sunday Service…  Today’s Sermon:  Flow With The Bummers…

After a couple rounds of expletives, and a rolling of my eyes into the very back of my head, I remembered Corky’s rule #7…

Flow With The Bummers.

I smiled a secret smile, gently placed my tongue between my teeth, and loaded my bike back in my car for the return trip.  Once home, I chose an out-and-back ride from my driveway into the local hills, and todays’ Sunday Service was inland – and what a service it was.  All the while as my heart raced, my face penetrated the fog, and as my mind chose to laugh at the error of my morning, I kept repeating to myself in a congruent cadence with my feet…

Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers…

And what a flow it was.

I’m So Different Now…

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way.  There was a time when I could go from zero to son of bitch in less than 2.5 seconds – and a time when that bike would have been thrown back into the car, followed by a slammed door, and very loud mother#cker!!!  With age comes wisdom I suppose, born from a trail of bad decisions, busted belongings, and broken relationships during critical times when I did anything but flow with the bummers.

23031720_548797335465151_4317457599664905343_n

Nature’s Pulpit…

I’ve never met Corky Carroll, and his rule #7 took decades to really sink in.  All these years later though, I am grateful for what has become my own golden rule.

Flow With The Bummers, people.  Or as Epictetus would have put it, face facts and act accordingly…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Colfax Speed Queen.  Enjoy…

 

 

A Few New Gigs: How A Love Of Others Finally Surfaced, And Finally Slowed Me Down…

A Quick Inventory…

It wasn’t that long ago, that I was immersed in the relentless pursuit of all things physical – or as many as I could fit into a day.  Lifting heavy weights daily.  On a rapid hike.  My stair-stepper, treadmill, or bike. I have used all these to escape from the world around me.  As recently as two years ago, I might have done all those things in a single day.  That was my pace for years.  Sitting still, I have long reckoned, left me vulnerable to the chaos of the world around me, and more so, to the turmoil within.  In mathematical terms…

Spare Time + Movement = Escapism

I would fit in time for work as I needed to, but only because I had to – work is what supports my movement.  In hindsight, between work and exercise, I left little room for anything or anyone else in my life.  As I consider this now, it seems I have spent the past 2 decades running away from the chaos of the day, and from the puppets in my head, soliciting lesser thoughts to my weakness.

22228626_540091283002423_2627905419423548483_n

Wars, natural disasters, school shootings, the relentless media and social media, the strained relationships of my past, and the abundance of ignorance around me, have never been fast enough to keep up with my racing heart and trekking feet.  My daily action has also been a method of self-medicating one (possibly more) mood disorders, and increasingly, I wonder where I fall on the spectrum.

As the distant worlds though, and the worlds more proximate to me have grown more complex, and seemingly more chaotic, the worlds within me have simplified.  Though I still find value in my daily action – strength training cycling in particular, my need for a physical release has lessened, and my desire for escapism has minimized, or shifted.  Rather than running away, I find myself running toward…

The Guillotine Chop…

If there was one factor – one moment that helped me revaluate my disproportionate level of physical activity, it is the day my mother moved in with me.  Okay, if comparing mom moving in with me to a guillotine chop sounds unsavory, I’m being kind.  In truth, her moving in was more like a dull bread knife cutting into the fragrant baguette that was my self-absorbed life.  Deep down though, I knew what I was getting into, why I was doing so, and honestly, I have never questioned it.  As my mother ages, she is going to require more from me – and that’s a most honorable gig.

21761896_533512920326926_2201811476389855694_n

Shortly after moving in, my mother quit driving.  Step 1 of my changing life began.  If my mother was not going to drive, I would make certain that she would still get out of the house each day of her life.  My hiking time, would become my time to take mom shopping, to her exercise class, or to lunch.  There were several other reasons that I gave up my daily hike, but that it consumed nearly 3-hours of my day, and was usually in the middle of my day, was reason enough.  This would now be mom’s time.

Paging Doctor Doolittle…

One day in 2012, a friend observed my dog sitting on my lap as we watched TV.  She pointed out that as I stared at the TV, my dog had his head pressed against my heart as he stared up at me – like I was his world.  Though I’ve always been a dog person, that was the moment I became a Dog Person.  The entertainment my TV brought to me was meaningless drivel to occupy my mind.  But to my dog staring up at me as I watched TV, I was his entire world.  From that day forward, I have dedicated no less than a large chunk of time to sitting down each day, and holding my dog on my lap – feeling his head pressed against my heart.  My workout my might get shortened, or skipped altogether in favor of my dog’s attention.  Yet another honorable gig…

Shortly after mom moved in, and after my dog won my heart – again, a cat named Mischa entered my life.  My soulmate family grew by one more.  Mischa, like Stroodle, requires a certain amount of lap time each day.  I provide this to her, unquestioned.  So, as the love of my mother and of my pets has expanded, there has simply been less time for running away from the world via exercise.  No complaints though.  In exchange for my time, I receive dividends of love. However, I have also noticed that taking mom to the thrift shop, petting my cat, and walking my dog – and doing so for them, are also ways to escape from the worlds around me.

22491510_543758249302393_4873028828183647309_n

Friendship And Community…

As I have found myself giving more time to my mother and to my pets, I have begun to question why I haven’t been giving as much time to my neighbors and my community. I have long believed that volunteerism in a small town is what is keeps community blood flowing.  I have not done much in the ways of volunteering here in Fallbrook.

This week I submitted an application to join the local Rotary Club.  Shortly after, I sent an email to the director of the local Senior Care Foundation, offering my services to conduct workshops on balance and walking for the seniors in my community.  I know time spent engaged with these organizations will cut into time otherwise allotted for physical escapism.  Two more honorable gigs…

The Life Of Pie…

As I reapportion the 19-hour pie that I refer to as my waking life, the thing I’m most coming to realize is this…

…my need to escape from the chaos of the day is very real.

However, it’s just as gratifying, perhaps more so, to run toward something than to run away.  Maybe…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Scabs.  Enjoy…

A Measure Of Speech…

On Sunday, not anticipating the events that would unfold in Las Vegas later that day, I listened to the July 24, 2008 episode of Speaking of Faith (now On Being), hosted by Krista Tippet.  Tippet’s guest for that episode was Dr. Stuart Brown, who is the Director of the National Institute For Play.  Brown is educated as both a neurologist and psychiatrist.

I had listened to this episode a dozen times or more.  The purpose of Brown’s institution is to generate new research, gather existing research, and correlate data about play, as it relates to the modern human condition.  I have always appreciated Brown’s view that play among children, often rough and tumble play, is a necessary element in preparing a child for the rigors of adulthood.

Brown, by the way, was part of the psychiatric team who attempted a postmortem profile of Charles Whitman – our nation’s 1st, but no longer the our most successful sniper of innocents.  So, Sunday night when I began hearing cursory details of the tragedy in Las Vegas, thoughts of Charles Whitman were fresh in my mind.

Brown, who has studied more death-row inmates than any other psychiatrist, suggests that an absence of play as children, and subsequently as adults is one of many commonalities that premeditated murderers share.  As I was chewing on this, and watching the body count rise, I reflected on all the play I did as a child, and all I continue to do each day of my life – and I am grateful for play.

21462803_530429913968560_8359673166387867271_n.jpg

On Saturday – the day prior to the tragedy in Las Vegas, I had listened to an interview with Martin Amis.  Amis, after the events of 9/11, wrote a series of essays for the New Yorker incorporating facts and a fair amount of conjecture about the men who perpetrated the attacks on September 11, 2001 in the days leading up to those tragedies.

In this interview, Amis spoke about his need to wait a fair amount of time before writing about 9/11.  He suggested that a good deal of time is necessary to allow the soul to cool to an even place, and to provide opportunity for facts to solidify.  In short, Amis suggested that after great tragedy, one should be measured in their speech.

So, I here I sit this morning, with all kinds of thoughts about Las Vegas, our country, our cultures and subcultures.  I am desiring to speak intelligently, but am still unable to think clearly.  So, as Amis suggests, I’ll allow time to pass, facts to solidify, and my emotions to stabilize.

21192731_524297417915143_8320288654538242812_n.jpg

I am though, struck by the this…

In the two days prior to Las Vegas, my mid was already on tragedy – on mass killings in particular, and in the need to be measured with my speech in their aftermath.  I guess that’s just where we’re at…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Pat Capocci and friends.  Enjoy

Chimp With A Smartphone Part II…

 

No essay this week.  No words.  Pictures.  Pictures only.  As my daughter says, I’m just a chimp with a smartphone and the social media habits of an 8th grade girl.  Guilty I am.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with an essay on my hatred of the telephone.  Until then, enjoy some pictures from Fallbrook, Bonsall, Oceanside, and a few from my own back yard…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Sonny Landreth and friends.  Enjoy…

 

Passing Thoughts…

I’m taking my cycling more seriously these days.  I’ve been taking advantage of the long summer days and recommitting myself to improvements in conditioning and fortitude.  Due to my work schedule and my responsibilities around the house, I’ve been riding early in the day, often just before or at sunrise.  And no, this isn’t about how I pass all the other cyclists I see on the road each morning as I ramp up my training intensity.  Actually, it is about that, kind of.

I pass between 5-10 cyclists each morning as I sprint around the perimeter of Fallbrook.  I blow by them these days.  When I pass by these other early morning riders, I feel like I’m on EPO.  I spy one ahead of me, push a little harder with each stride, and within seconds I pass him as though he’s a mailbox.  It’s as though they aren’t even trying.  Well, that’s because they aren’t trying—not to beat me anyway.

You see, the cyclists I blow by each morning could give a frog’s fat ass about me passing them.  They have no idea what a PR is, how fast they are going, or if they’re going to beat their time from the day before.  The riders I pass each day are on their way to work, and if they’re on one, a bike is the only transportation they can afford – if they are so lucky to get one from a thrift shop or a garage sale.

These are the grove workers and day workers that help support my community.  From the agriculture here, to the aesthetics of homes and businesses, my community owes much of its riches and beauty to the men who ride rickety bikes through the hills each morning at sunrise.  In their denims, long-sleeve shirts, and work boots, and with backpacks weighting them down even more, they ride early because their workdays begin early.  They don’t pedal fast because they need their energy for the physically demanding work that awaits and occupies them until the day’s light fades.  And when it’s all done, they ride home again.  It’s not exercise for these men, it’s transportation.  They ride The Tour De Opportunity.

_mg_9712_956_637_imagesjarman-watermark.png_0_0_30_r_b_-30_-30

In truth, I take no pride whatsoever in passing these men each morning.  In fact, I feel equal parts shame, guilt, and humility.  Shame, that I complain about so much in my life in comparison to theirs.  Guilt, that my life is so sweet, so free, so and easy in comparison to theirs.  Humility, that I am reminded by them all I am and all I have, as I glide by grateful for it all.

Each morning I ride my bike by choice, in pursuit of achievement, thrill, and satisfaction.  Almost immediately though, and throughout my ride, I am reminded just how little achievement, thrill, and satisfaction matter in the scope of putting food on the table.  I bow down to the men I pass each morning, who pedal the same roads I peddle.  They do so for more noble reasons, and with much more fortitude…  Jhciacb.

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Blake Babies.  Enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

Onion knife

David Lynchbrook…

I’ve often said that that living in Fallbrook is like being in a David Lynch movie.  It’s as though an invisible cloud of dream-state hovers over this town made from particles of whacky.  At any moment, at least a few of the personalities or situations which surround me are peculiar, if not out of place altogether.  When these personalities and situations collide in front of me, it makes me question my own reality.  Last night such a collision took place.

e

Fallbrook sits on the eastern border of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base and the Naval Weapons Depot.  It is common to see low flying attack helicopters and large transport aircraft overhead all-day long, and often into the evenings.  Fallbrook residents are so accustomed to this that seeing and hearing these aircraft is just a natural part of living here.  We are also accustomed to hearing and feeling explosions in the distance, from live mortar fire and occasionally larger explosives.  The larger explosions can cause the walls of houses to shake and pictures on the walls to vibrate.  The house I live sits on a hill less than one mile from the Camp Pendleton fence.  My neighbors and I feel these explosions regularly.

At the bottom of my hill, about 1,000 yards from my house and on the other side of Main Avenue, is a Pentecostal church.  The church is charming; an old building with a dirt parking lot and all the signs are in Spanish.  The congregation is exclusively Guatemalan.  Fallbrook has many Guatemalan residents and guest workers who make up a portion of our population.  They live here for work in the avocado trade.  This church plays live music 7-nights per week, and the music is always loud enough to be heard from my front yard and inside my house.

c.jpg

Higher on the hill above me, are two halfway-houses where addicts transition from court-ordered rehab situations back into the workings of society.  The residents usually stay for a month or so.  These houses are here near the center of town so that residents are within walking distance to most necessities.   Because of their backgrounds, many of these folks don’t have driving privileges.  If there is a single archetype for the halfway house residents, it is this: Caucasian male, 25-35 years old, lots of tattoos, baggy pants, long hair or no hair at all, but rarely with a common haircut, no shirt, and often with skateboard.  They skate down my street all day long heading into town, and return walking up the hill, carrying their skateboards in one hand, and their supplies in the other.

So last night, as I was watering the garden in front of my house, I stood fascinated, if not confused, by the confluence of all the personalities and situations which collided around me.  I was immersed in a cloud of peculiarity.  The tinny sounds of drums and out of tune guitars emanating from the Guatemalan church band down below echoed.  Simultaneously, attack helicopters were flying low overhead, chopping the air loud enough to cause the bones of my chest to rattle.  In the distance, large explosions from the Marine base could also be heard – and shook the windows of my house.  All the while, a steady stream of tattooed stoners transitioned up and down my street on skateboards, and walked back up again with grocery bags of Gatorade, cigarettes, and Little Debbie oatmeal treats to take the place the of drugs or alcohol they are here to leave behind.

b.jpg

As I was taking it all in, the Asian prostitute walked by.  Everyone in town has seen her.  She walks the streets of Fallbrook all day long and has for years.  She’s always in a mini-dress, carries a large duffle bag over her shoulder everywhere she goes, and most days has an umbrella to keep the sun off her head and shoulders.  I have no idea where she goes or what she does – she may not even be a prostitute, that’s just an assumption I make because of the dress and the duffle bag.  She has nice legs, but they do have that lived in look.

d.jpg

Last evening all of this took place around me.  I just stood there, garden hose in hand, watering my succulents and taking it all in.  It was as though they all knew a secret and nobody was willing to share that secret with me.  The pilots of the aircraft overhead, the prostitute, the dudes from rehab, the people of the church – even my neighbors on their porches also taking it in.  Everyone here is very nice – outright gracious, but I just know they all know something I don’t know, and nobody is ever going to tell me what this town’s secret really is.

Nothing big happens in Fallbrook, but for the eccentricity.  The eccentricity here – the peculiarity is quite large.  It’s the best part of living here, and why I stay.  Jhciacb…

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from the greatness of Lambchop.  Enjoy…

The Value Of Weeeeeeeeee…

Road Trip Moment…

A car drives along a country highway, no sign of civilization in sight.  Up one hill, down another.  Up another hill, down one more.  A father whistles behind the wheel, mindful of his precious cargo.  His wife is beside him in the passenger seat, reading a book.  A young boy, buckled safely in back looks out the window in wonder, enjoying the ups and downs of the hills.  Suddenly the young voice exclaims…

“Daddy, I have to go wee…!”

The father responds…

“Okay son, in just a little bit…”

Five minutes later…

I have to go wee…!”

The father responds again, hoping to get in a few more miles before breaking the rhythm of his trip…

“Okay.  Soon.  I promise…”

Five minutes later and at the top of his lungs…

DADDY, I HAVE TO GO WEE…!”

The father abruptly pulls the car to the side of the road, shifts into Park and as dust from the road flies about the tires he looks back to his son…

“Okay.  Okay.  There’s a tree right over there…”

The boy unbuckles his seatbelt, throws his arms in the air, and as though he’s at the peak of a roller coaster exclaims at the top of lungs…

“Weeeeeeeeee!!!”

Again…

“Weeeeeeeeee!!!”

One more time…

“This drive is so much fun!  Weeeeeeeeee!!!”

“Okay, Dad, we can go now.  I just needed to get that out…”

The dad snickers because he knows he’s been played.  The boy’s mother smiles a secret smile.  Tires scratch dirt as they hit the road again fueled by a bit of family laughter.

4.jpg

Losing Weeeeeeeeee…

Around the age of 10 or so, we abandon the concept of weeeeeeeee.  Letting go the idea of weeeeeeeee, is the first evolutionary step on the path to a life less fulfilled.  How different might each day be, of our dreary adult lives, if just once or twice a day we got to throw our arms in the air and go weeeeeeeee…?

I’ve often been accused of having a good attitude – as if it’s a crime in this era of perceived social turmoil.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go from zero to son-of-a-bitch in less than 2 seconds, but it doesn’t happen often these days, even under the worst of circumstances.  At the core of my good attitude, I am certain, is the calming effect that comes from making time most every day of my life to go weeeeeeeee.  For all my BS, the child i once was in that backseat, is still alive and well and living on my shoulder.

5

Wake Up, Go Wee.  Then, Go Weeeeeeeeee…

Though strength training has been central to my exercise life, for most of my life, I have always found peripheral salvation in intense cardio activities such as running, hiking, swimming and cycling.  Due to the current structure of my life, for the past year and a half or so, road cycling has been the beer chaser to the straight shot of strength training I swallow each day.

Each morning, 7 days per week, I ride a 10-mile loop around my community.  This is an early morning ride that takes me roughly a half-hour.  My cycling friends who enjoy riding 20, 30 or even 50-miles on the weekends, may scoff at the idea of doing a meager 10-miles.  This 10-miles though, is a full-on sprint.

1.jpg

Fallbrook is a community with almost no flat ground.  Throughout my 10-mile ride, I’m either going downhill or uphill, but am never flat.  I push the uphill sections hard – this this is where the exercise comes in.  At some points, my heart-rate may exceed 170-bpm.  Going uphill is where the challenge lies and where I find mental clarity.  Pushing my bike hard uphill makes me stronger, inside and out.  Since there is more work involved, and gravity works against me, the uphill sections take much longer to negotiate than the downhill stretches.

Downhill though, is where the weeeeeeeee comes in, and that provides a whole different kind of mental clarity.  As worked as my body may be, as much as my heart may pound and as dead as my legs might feel at the top of each hill, I always throw my hands over my head as I crest each hill, and glide to the bottom.  Even if I don’t say it aloud, I am thinking it as I ride; weeeeeeeee…!  I’m certain I always smile as I do this.

When my ride is done and my breath is caught, I am on top of the world, if only for a moment.  Part of that is from rising to a physical challenge of pushing the uphill sections hard while most still sleep.  Part of it too tough, is that a half-dozen times before my workday even begins, I get to go weeeeeeeee, just like a I did as a child.

3.jpg

Footnote…

A running friend recently called me out…

“Roy, if you ran for that 35-minutes instead of riding your bike, you’d burn a lot more calories and get a much better cardio/conditioning workout…”

True, I told him, and then reminded him I have run marathons and countless lesser races; 5K and 10Ks.  There’s no weeeeeeeee in running, I told him.  When there’s time on the weekends, I may get out and ride 20 or 30-miles, but my 10-mile sprint each morning, with a half-dozen or so weeeeeeeee sections mixed in, helps keep me fit, and keep me young.

Like you, each morning I wake up and immediately go wee.  Within a few minutes of that, I also get to go weeeeeeeee, and that’s just one more reason to have a good attitude and a good day…  Jhciacb

______________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Arrested Devlopment.  Enjoy…

 

 

Camaro or Lamborghini…..

Every bodybuilder has two physiques; the Chevy Camaro, in which he his spends most of his days.  Or, the Lamborghini that he cruises around in every couple of years or so, but only for short stretches at a time.

The Camaro physique is not a bad one to go through life with.  It’s easy on the eyes, turns the occasional head and has some power when needed.  Though it might not be the shining star of every intersection, and may have occasional body damage, it’s better than what most folks get around in.  The bodybuilder maintains his Camaro physique with regular lifting, some occasional cardio and a mostly good diet.

1

That said, when it comes to maintaining the Camaro physique, workouts are often skipped, cardio is always just an option, and the occasional or even daily ice cream or pizza won’t take too much away from the mystique of the Camaro physique.  In short, maintaining the Camaro physique is the act of being good enough and better than most – most of the time.  It isn’t though, the sum of one’s best efforts, and it ain’t world class.

Every so often though, the desire to take the Lamborghini physique out of the garage surfaces.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pulling the cover off, charging the battery and checking the air in the tires.  Prepping the Lamborghini physique for a road trip takes weeks if not months.  This is a time when preparation is a 24/7 process, all the details matter and little attention can be given to too much else – which is why it doesn’t get driven too frequently or for long trips.

2

To maximize the Lamborghini physique, there requires only the best fuel.  Constant attention must be paid to the surface – not a speck of dust anywhere.  Protection must be given from outside damage at any cost, so anything that is not consistent with keeping the body clean is left behind.

In short, maintaining the Lamborghini physique is the Siberia of living.  In exchange the sacrifices, one gets the luxury of being able to show off and blow off – anyone approaching or threatening to approach.  It’s a bobble of vanity, injects little value into society and lends nothing to the advancement of our species, but we all need hobbies and this one is mine.  Maybe, for short periods of time, it is a work of art.  The Greeks and the Romans thought so.

When it’s all said and done, the thing is this…

When one gets around in the Camaro physique, it’s a nice little car.  One wants to enjoy it – to fiercely accelerate on the freeway entrance ramp, change lanes with the flick of a wrist, leave the Prius at the red light in the dust, and draw looks from the lady getting out of the Mercedes in the grocery store parking lot.  Though it may not be Indy, driving a Camaro physique every day can be a lot of fun.  The Camaro physique is when most bodybuilders do most of their showing off in public.

3

Driving the Lamborghini physique, despite its immaculate aesthetic and powerful engine, is a time when most bodybuilders drive 55 and keep it covered up.  The leaner I get, the more I tend to wear.  That’s the secret pleasure in possessing something so beautiful – so powerful yet not letting on to anyone what you have under the cover and under the hood.

For me, truth be told, I’ve only busted out my Lamborghini physique a half-dozen times in my adult life, most recently in 2013.  At that time, I kept it on the road for less than a year.  I’ve always been content in my Camaro physique, working hard enough most of the time, to keep it from turning into a ’67 Ford Falcon with one door caved in.  But it’s been calling me lately – the Lamborghini physique.  Perhaps it’s just some feelings of the unfinished business of my youth bubbling toward the surface.  Maybe I just need a distraction from a busy schedule and a home life with increasing demands.  But it’s calling me.  I’m already beginning to check the air in the tires, buff out the paint a little, fuel the engine well and may let it roar for a stretch.

This morning I was in the body shop – so to say.  Barbell rows and deadlifts to Supertramp’s Crime Of The Century album.  Breakfast was a variety of mixed vegetables and tofu.  And then it occurs to me; can a Lamborghini physique be vegan…?  Not sure.  Stay tuned…  Jhciacb.

________________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from The Farm.  Enjoy…

 

The Me I once was, Once Again, Maybe…

Last night I stepped into my weight room with all the fire of a teenage boy.  I approached my workout with wide eyes and wonder.  Energy was high and possibilities were endless. The consistency of both my eating and training over the past few weeks helped me to see edges and curves in my frame that have been hiding recently due to the stresses and time constraints of higher priorities.

Rather than stick to my usual workout soundtrack of books on religion and philosophy while I trained, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass filled the room.  It was a measured, but serious 60-minute session of gravity management – a golden moment at the end of a challenging week.  I was completely dialed in to the moment.

2

Throughout the workout though, as always, the cynicism of an old man was trying to douse that fire.  It was another epic battle between the me I once was, the me that I am, and the me I wish to be.  The me I wish to be, by the way, has always been the me I once was, only better.  Funny how that works.

Cynicism is like witchcraft in the wind.  It finds its way through the smallest of cracks.  Youthful ambitions be dammed, they are as porous as a picket fence.  In-between sets and exercises, I chuckled at the ridiculousness of it all – of the very act of lifting weights, and condemned myself repeatedly for my childish play.

How foolish this all is, I thought.  One hour at a time, 6 days per week and over a 43-year period in the gym, I could have earned a dozen college degrees with that time.  I could have done amazing work on behalf of the poor.   I could have volunteered in my community.  I could have.  I could have.  I could have.  Always bubbling under the surface when I am working out, are those thoughts of what else I could be doing with that time and energy.

3

I reflected though, if only for a moment.  I do volunteer in my community, though I could do more.  I do give to the poor, though I could give more.  And through all the hundreds of books I have listened to during my workouts through the years, I have cultivated and customized an intelligence that no college program could have offered me.

In that moment – at least for that moment, I got good with my passion for iron, though I know I will question it again before day’s end.

aa

Spot me, Bro…?

Last night I stepped into my weight room with all the fire of a teenage boy.  I walked out with all the fire of a teenage man.  And perhaps that is another evolutionary step in becoming the me I once was once again, but only better this time…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from George Harrison.  Enjoy…

\

 

Dear Graduate…

Dear Graduate,

Well, you’re finished with school – at this level. You should be proud of what you have accomplished.  Like many, you’ll now be busy clearing the path ahead of you.  Also like many, you’ll be clearing it before you ever begin defining it.  Think about that.

Of course, your path will be largely defined by the influence of others, whether you are aware of this or not.  Ultimately, it is you who decides in what direction(s) your path will extend, and when it’s time to change directions, though you may not realize this until it’s too late. A good rule of thumb for marching through life – don’t just look at the feet in front of you as you step, but occasionally stop and scan the horizon.  The feet you are following may veer off the path without you realizing it.  This concludes my use of the term path.

On the occasion of your graduation, some pretentious asshole will stand up and speak before your entire graduating class. She will offer words of caution, of optimism and of inspiration. Because your parents and school faculty will be present, those words are likely to be tempered and sugar coated. I might use this platform to offer you some thoughts less sweet, which may help illuminate the roads you are about merge onto, which are certain to include many forks…

1

Work, Bosses, And Co-workers…

The best job you will ever have is the one you just left, or the one you are going to next. Rarely will it be the one you are in. You may find yourself in some employment situations where you work for assholes, but love your co-workers. You may be in situations where you love your boss, and loathe your co-workers.  At some point, these may intersect and you will despise everyone in your workplace. However, the winds may blow just right one day and you may find, if only for a moment, that you love everyone you work with. Enjoy those times, for they are as magical as they are rare.

Through it all, there will be times when you thoroughly enjoy the work that you do.  Some of your time though, in the adult workplace, will haunt you far beyond quitting time and will disrupt your sleep on a regular basis. The older I get, the more I see this as being evenly balanced. Please remember though, that at the end of the day work is what we are here for, not retirement.

5

Ultimately, if you can’t find a job that you love, or can’t learn to love the job you’re in, you may wish to create your own job and your own.  Of course, even when one is self-employed, a job is still a job. Self-employment is no guarantee for happiness, but it can put you in better field position.

Relationships…

Above all things, life is about relationships. Little else in your life will matter more than the relationships you experience along the way.  Appreciating the value of the relationships you maintain, and possessing the ability to understand why relationships so often change or deteriorate will be useful in finding your way in dark times.

People, you will learn, can be beautiful.  They can also be complicated, confusing, messy and tiresome.   At some point everyone gets dirty, bruised and ignored, and they will let you know it.  That they will let this bleed into their relationship with you only makes them human, not disposable.

You may be married someday.  If you are, that marriage may be wonderful, tolerable or tragic. If it’s like many, it will hold elements of all of those. It may also include divorce. Divorce, I have learned, is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the marriage. Conversely, a sustained marriage does not necessarily state quality in a relationship.

Before marriage and beyond, there will be other relationships. Many of these will start off with promise, but will quickly dull. Others may end with you never really knowing why they ended, and wanting for more. You may ask yourself at some point; how many soul mates does one get…? At best, that question can create knots in one’s stomach. At its worst, it can paralyze you to a point of emotional stagnation.

12

Marriage or partnership, if you are fortunate to find the right one, and able to ride it out for the very long term, it will not be without your share of sacrifice and second guessing. In relationships, it is best to wake up each day and do what you believe is correct that you win the day, even if it contradicts what you did the day before. That ideal by the way, can be superimposed over just about any situation or dynamic in life.

Loss…

You will have friends and loved ones who will get ill and recover. You will also have will have friends and loved ones who get ill and die. Nothing can prepare you for the shock you feel when a friend or loved one dies unexpectedly.  There isn’t anything you can do to prepare for how to handle this when it happens, but it will happen.

When it does happen, use these instances as perspective to better appreciate your own life, and those relationships that remain in it. Disease and loss never make sense, but they can make you appreciative anything and everything else, that much more.

Money And Freedom…

There will be times when you have money, and you will feel an overwhelming sense of security that fits you like a warm cocoon – don’t get used to it because it’s not likely to last. Other times you will be broke, question many of your spending choices and it will seem like the end of the world.  It won’t be the end of the world, though it should be the start of a new behavior.

At best, money is a useful tool, necessary to experience the freedoms and fulfillments that make life worthwhile.  That term, freedom, as most people know it, is an illusion destined to distort and disappoint. Ultimately, freedom means not doing the goose step down Main Street, and the proper use of money can help you avoid Main Street altogether – the road less traveled.

Lessons Learned…

There are lessons to be learned in every moment, every circumstance and every conversation you will ever have. Of course, you won’t find those lessons if you are not looking, listening and receptive to them.

Perhaps the most fruitful lessons you can hope to learn are those you will learn from watching others. Being a conscious witness to the joys, tragedies, triumphs and misfortunes of others is often the best way to assure your proximity to them.

Creativity…

If you can incorporate some level of creativity into your daily work, your life will surely be warmer. If there is no room for creativity in your workplace, finding a creative outlet beyond he workplace will help keep you whole, if not sane. Creativity is a gift we all possess, but very few take the time to explore it.  Exploring your creative side is just behind work and relationships in in the triage of what really matters.

I am reminded of the most formative movie line I know, written by John Hughes for the movie, She’s Having A Baby…

“In the end, I realized that I took more than I gave, that I was loved more than I loved, and in the end, I realized that what I was looking for was not be found, but to be created.”

That this was recited by Kevin Bacon, makes it that much sweeter.

You will be the creator of every single one of your days. I ask you rhetorically, what kind of day will you create today, that will be acceptable to you tomorrow…?

Taking 15 minutes every morning to build the day ahead of you, is an important exercise worthy of consideration.

xx.jpg

On Children…

I’ll suggest only one hard rule in all of this:  If you go on to have children, please don’t shelter them from the realities of life. Expose them to the beauty in life, but don’t screen them from the harshness and messiness of it all. Expose your children to life as it comes and teach them, as best you can, how to accept it. Be honest with them – all the time. Dishonesty with our children is the cause of more social decay than heroin and alcohol combined.

xc

Expose your children to who you really are without fear – regardless of how it may make you look in their eyes. Be humble when you are wrong, don’t gloat when you are correct, and when their names show up on caller ID, don’t ever let the call go to voicemail.

I wish you luck, graduate. Now get off my lawn!

Sincerely,

Still Learning

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Blitzen Trapper.  Enjoy…

Beyond Paris…

Over the last 24-hours, I have seen numerous reactions to the president’s proposed withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.  Within my circles, I have seen little support for the president’s intentions – none.  I have though, seen much outrage.

As a fan of the planet, I appreciate that outrage and harbor a good bit of my own.  However, caring for the planet – being responsible stewards of the globe that contains us involves more than being concerned over greenhouse gases, ocean levels, pollutant particles in our lungs or even jobs.

My cursory understanding of the Paris agreement suggests it has nothing to do with animal cruelty.  Since animal cruelty (on the surface) doesn’t effect climate change, that makes sense.  Non-humans though, make up roughly 99% of all vertebrate creatures on earth.

You see where I’m going here…

5

“Getchyer blue skies here!  Get ’em while they last…”

I have a hard time with people projecting so much concern over the state of the earth, when they still support the idea of lambchops, corndogs and dino-shaped chicken nuggets.  While it’s true that that food system and the issues of animal cruelty within it are very complex, I have a hard time listening to all the screaming and yelling about ocean levels by people who could care less about the screaming and yelling in slaughterhouses.

I’ve got some bad news for you that isn’t really news – it’s something we’re all aware of, yet unlike climate, we ignore this problem with our planet: the last thing a cow thinks before she takes 20,000 volts between her eyes and subsequently gets her neck slashed to be unceremoniously bled into a trough, isn’t…

“Good day, humans!  I’m allowing this act of cruelty so that Joe Schlepasaurus can take a break between refrigerator deliveries, and enjoy a ¾ lb. patty on all sesame seed bun…”

4

From the garden and the market,,,,

No.  I suspect that the last thing a cow thinks before the deadly stun is this…

“Holy living fuck, human, please don’t kill me….!  I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!! Please!  Please!  Please!”

Of course, cattle levels aren’t rising and threatening coastal homes, and the pigs and hogs who give it all up for the sake of corndogs and prosciutto aren’t ever seen by good folks like you and me bitching about the president withdrawing from the Paris agreement.

2

Will they rise up against us…?

I guess all I’m suggesting here is a little consistency.  If you’re willing to sound off about the oceans and the air, make a little noise too for your future rack of lamb.  That, or keep your mouth shut about the president’s intent with the planet.  I know, I know, shut up Roy and pass the mint jelly…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Alpha Consumer.  Enjoy…

Peek Peak Pico…

The Pico…

Each morning I walk with my dog roughly 3/4s of a mile down a nature trail that runs through the middle of town.  By nature trail, I mean it’s a well planted and maintained trail where locals can navigate through town without the hassle of cars, traffic lights, too much noise or too many distractions.  It’s a path where people like me walk their dogs, while others amble along to be alone with their thoughts.  Others still, sit in an escape from the employee breakroom at work, and enjoy a brown bag lunch on a hand painted bench under a Jacaranda tree.  It’s a quiet place.

18739671_474305159581036_8061457746781260488_n

Fallen tears of Jacaranda…

A creek trickles along the trial.  For three years, I lived in a little blue house directly in front of the creek.  Today I live one block to the east.  It’s a dirt path lined with bougainvillea, Brazilian pepper trees, wisteria, Jacarandas and a variety of grasses and succulents.

www

The hardest working woman in town, Jackie Heyneman, oversees the maintenance of the trail.  Jackie has been a major financial contributor to the project, and continues to be the director of volunteers who maintain the trail.  There’s even a small park beside the trail that bears Jackie’s name.  Every so often I’ll see Jackie, now in her mid-80s, on her knees replacing a sprinkler head or planting new flowers.  Because the trail parallels Pico Avenue, it’s known as The Pico Trail.

f

My old house…

Resident Non-Evil…

Pardon the contradiction, but The Pico Trail is home to a handful of my community’s homeless population.  Because the path is well hidden, these residents go largely unseen by the public and the police.  The Pico Trail intersects with three streets, each with a small bridge passing over the creek.  Those bridges make great shelters.  Look close enough and you’ll see mattresses for sleeping, pallets for burning, and the occasional trash bag or shopping cart full of clothes.

I speak to more homeless people by 6am than many people do in a month, or even a lifetime.  For their part, they are always respectful, if only loosely coherent.

a.jpg

 

18010737_455723004772585_6811848949243685502_n

Shelter for a few…

The Pico Trail is also a gathering place for teenagers dressed in all black, carrying skateboards and wearing obvious disdain for authority figures.  I’m sure they feel more comfortable there, smoking weed and talking shit about their parents and teachers than they would hiding at home with their shades down and their bedroom door locked.  At least they’re outside.

nmm

The trail is also a passage way, each morning for many of the Fallbrook’s day workers, casually peddling garage sale bicycles with their shirts tucked in, and saying please and thank you to everything that moves.   Some of them will stop on the trail after a long day of picking fruit or grooming properties, and will enjoy a taco and a beer on one of the benches as they make conversation with each other about the events of the day.  To me, this is the embodiment of the third-world charm that is a part of living in Fallbrook.

Curious Eyes…

For my part, the Pico Trail is a place disconnect and observation.  I disconnect from my job, and observe a handful of subcultures.  I greet everyone I meet, from dog walkers, to the homeless, to the day workers and even the wasted kids.  Without exception, my greeting is always returned.  Occasionally a slacker kid will just nod.  That’s oaky.

c

A creek runs through it…

As far as these homeless go, it’s hard to say if they are here by choice, and that’s not for me to judge.  I have never been asked for money, they always call me sir and I have never felt like I was in danger in their presence.  When I think of the Pico Trail, it is the homeless who live there that I think of first.  Some I have seen there for many years, and I know them by name.  Others, they come and go.

g

Names withheld.  long-time residents of the benches along the way…

I have long appreciated and felt kindred with the culture of homelessness.  I have lived my life close enough to the edge financially, as well as in matters of stress, that I can relate to both streams of homelessness; those there by circumstance and those there by choice.  My only real Plan B in life, should it all collapse or become too much to take, is to be a most aggressive bottle collector, and an astute connoisseur of good bridges, should I ever need to make one my own.  If it all comes undone, look for me first at the Pico Trail.

A Place For A Breeze…

b

Nature’s better use of a storm drain…

Nothing big happens on the Pico Trail.  Occasionally some misplaced teen energy will break off a tree branch or paint graffiti on a bench.  Occasionally an argument takes place about who gets the last sip of Old English 800.  Mostly though, all passers by are respectful of the space.  It’s a 3/4-mile bridge between several worlds; the one beyond it, and the ones within it.  It’s beauty mark on the face of a small town…  Jhciacb

13151626_270374216640799_7706555026611896843_n

A gramma and her boy under a jacaranda tree…

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Radio Birdman.  Enjoy…

Who Are These People…?

Friend or Foe-getaboutit…

When I began my first fitness blog in 2001, I developed a small, but dedicated following.  These were like-minded people who found value in what I was suggesting about the direction of fitness culture.  As near as I could tell at the time, there were a mere thousands of fitness blogs worldwide posting regularly.  By the time I shut that blog down in 2008, my following was roughly the same size it was when I began.  In 2008 though, there were millions of fitness blogs posting with regularity, most of them run by fitness hobbyists, not fitness professionals.

7.jpg

OB Pier.  Friend Of The Devil…

Wanting to break from the direction of fitness blogging, and feeling like I had something worthwhile to say about the state of nearly anything, I began a new blog in hopes I would attract more readers.  However, up against millions of other blogs, I would fare no better with the new incarnation.  Some readers from my previous blog stayed with me, but my audience of millions eluded me.  Those readers who stayed with me, were my first online friendships.

Face Facts…

Listening to PRI’s Marketplace program one afternoon in 2007, I heard a technology executive state that anyone with a small business or a small idea who wanted to grow it, would be wise to utilize the up and coming social media site, Facebook.  Facebook, he claimed, was going to be the future of marketing and the future of communications.  The man suggested there would be profound advantages to any businesses getting involved with Facebook early, that would not be as advantageous for the latecomers.   I immediately opened a Facebook account, and shortly thereafter created a page in support of my business and my blog.

30.jpg

Main Street, Bryan, TX

I knew few people in my analog life who were on Facebook at this point, but many subscribers to my blog were, so I extended those connections from my blog to Facebook.  I was now writing on 2 platforms for the same people.  Because the Facebook platform made it easier to cultivate discussions, plus it added an element of individuality, I got to know my readers on a more personal level, though the quantity of subscribers to the blog increased negligibly.

Eventually, I began making more personal connections on Facebook than business connections – friends of friends who I have never met, friends I knew from days gone by, plus more people in my daily life were taking the plunge.  At the peak of my first Facebook account (I have now had 3), I had roughly 2,000 friends.  That’s when it all got a bit sketchy.  I began to question the term friend.

As time doing more important things gave way to online time with my friends, I began to question how I was prioritizing Facebook.  I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace of posting, of scrolling and liking, and checking notifications with every break in my daily action.  Notwithstanding, my presence on Facebook did little to expand my business or my blog, and that was my primary reason for creating a Facebook account.  To make it more manageable, I pared down my friends from 2,000 to just a few hundred, and began to accept that this was now my social life, and had little to do with my business.

Living Alone With Hundreds…

For most of my life I’ve had few friends, and those who I called friend were friends for life.  I have always been appreciative, if not jealous, of people who seem to have many good friends.  I’m also an introvert with a pretty serious case of social anxiety disorder.  With Facebook, I came to life socially, and took on a noticeable confidence that I had not previously experienced.  I began accepting my friends, even those who I have never met, as real friends and friends for life.

4

39,700 feet over the line of demarcation.  El Paso/Juarez

Suddenly, I was spending time each day with people I like, people who I thought were cool, intelligent, interesting or just had some level of awesome.  Strangely, at least some of them found those qualities in me.

Coffee in the morning was now shared with friends in Omaha and Brisbane, as evenings by my fire pit were shared with friends from Boulder to India.  I was living alone, but rarely alone.  For the most part, I found these friendships inspiring.  I was exposed to new music, new ideas, new books, recipes, new conversations and within them all was no shortage of sophomoric humor.  I looked forward to being on Facebook.

Life Sentence…

With some online friends, there has been no doubt that a person is a true friend.  Like in real estate, sometimes you just know.  There are at least a couple of dozen people who I would gladly go into battle with or for, yet we have never met face-to-face.  I might not even know what they do for a living or if they have children, yet I know they would have my back and I, theirs.

39

Kyle Field, Texas A&M Campus

Other friends, have been more questionable – on some level, doubt about their intentions or sincerity occasionally bubbles under the surface in a why am I connected with this person kind of way.  It’s not that I inherently distrust them, it might be that I just don’t know them well enough – yet.  But that’s on me, not them.

There are also those incidental friendships – cyber-acquaintances; people I connect with superficially due to a common friend, common interest or both, but don’t spend too much time hanging out with.  It’s as though we just wave to each other as we pass in the hallway.

Always churning beneath the surface of any of online friendship have been two questions…

  • What do I really know about this person…?
  • If we were neighbors, would we hang out…?

Every so often during my daily scrolling, I will ask myself this of one friend or another.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever answered these questions honestly, since I rarely blocked or unfriended anyone.  I might not always like, comment or agree on their posts, but my friend for life rule reminds me that if I accept somebody into my life as a friend, I do so for life.   On occasion, I might question that rule, but it’s woven into the fiber of who I am – accepting of others as I want them to be accepting of me.

The Wear, Tear And The Joy…

Even online friendships can require work and maintenance.  In dealing with the half-dozen or so analog friends I had before the internet, nurturing those friendships could be draining.  Dealing with dozens or hundreds of relationships online can be outright exhausting.  Still, protection of the relationship is necessary for them to be true friendships.  This desire to protect is no different than with any other relationship, be it with my kid, my neighbor or my dog.  Getting along with a few friends takes work.  Getting along with a few hundred…

6

Los Jilgueros Preserve, Fallbrook, CA

When I suggested to my online Ohana that I would be stepping back from social media for a month or so, a few people teased me about it…

“Here we go again…”  came my way from a few.  Others were understanding and wished me luck or hoped that I find what I’m looking for.  Largely though, my departure was probably more unnoticed than noticed, and there’s a lot to be learned about online friendships from that statement.

In an increasingly complex and changing world, the meaning of friendship changes too, just as the meanings of Republican, Democrat, Scholar, Doctor, Uncle, Mechanic and thousands of other terms have changed.  It’s just where we’re at.

The Love We Take…

I wrote this essay, and a few others before it, to help myself explore how social media fits into my life and into my head in this changing world.  I also wrote it to help me better understand what it means to be, and to be accepted as a friend.  I’m certain will write more on the subject.

14

Jonathan Livingston Miagi, OB Pier

I have come to few conclusions about any of this.  Social media confuses me.  It benefits me.  It sucks up my time.  It inspires me.  It’s a release for me.  It’s my creative muse, my mistress, my downfall and my happy place – all at once.  But that’s not about social media, is it…?  That’s about me, the chaos in my head and my discipline, or lack of…

At the end of the day, life is about two things; work and relationships.  Social media, for me, has been an escape from one, and an extension of the other.  For nearly a decade, before I step into my shop each morning to earn my keep, I share time with like-minded friends that I might find inspiration or laughter.  When I close up shop at the end of the day, I have headed into the cyber world to vent, find inspiration or check out some new music.

For my part, I use social media to share interesting pictures, ideas or thoughts expressed with my words.  Sometimes it’s an online diary, other times it’s a place of worship, but I try hard to stay out of the mosh-pit of bad ideas.  I attempt to keep it positive and productive.

A Hot Spoon Or A Calling Keyboard…

On the heels Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible (which I cannot recommend enough), I realize that I have spent too much time on social media, Facebook in particular.  The good news is that I still find time for other things; analog friendships, outdoor activities, work and exercise to name a few, so I really can’t say that I’ve had an addiction.  It’s more like a codependency, but that too is on me, not social media.

33

Vegan nightmare.  Treating my family to dinner at The Salt Lick, Austin TX

What I have learned most from reading about and writing about social media, and the one lesson I would like to share from this experience is this…

It’s okay to be alone, unplugged, and with nothing to occupy my mind other the sights and sounds of whatever is taking place in the vicinity of my front yard.  I live so much of my life with gusto and enthusiasm, yet rarely do I get a Jones to sit and forget all things.  Going forward, this will be a greater priority to me.  I will turn off my off my phone more.  Seek to be stimulated, entertained and amused less.  I will remember it is important to do nothing at all, and I will build that into my day. 

On getting back to my original question – the title to this essay, Who Are These People…?  Well, they are my friends, and if you are reading this, you’re probably one of them…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from La Buena Muerte.  Enjoy…

Cra Cra Cra…

A Purpose Driven Mind…

Life, death and meaning – they have been woven through my thoughts since I can remember.  It consumes me; the value of a life, the reasons for death and the meaning of all that happens in-between.  I scarcely look at anything; my daughter’s eyes, a neighbor’s dog, a faucet, a fence post or a Pop-Tart without contemplating the value and the meaning of it all.

The biggest struggle I contend with is my daily steering between the great magnificence of life, and the utter insignificance of it all.  Not just my life and my meaning, but all the lives and meaning that are interconnected with my own at a given moment.

At the core of it are two opposing perspectives…

  • That in the scope of a vast and far reaching universe, the life of any being, critter or circumstance here on earth, seems insignificant, if not outright meaningless.
  • That in the scope of any moment, all life and circumstance I am proximate to and interacting with, be it my neighbor or a sea cucumber, is profoundly important and most meaningful.

bbbbb

I think of light.  Of light being a wave or a particle, quantum physicist John Polkinghorne once wrote…

“Light can be a wave or a particle, but it can’t be both at the same time.  Ask light a wave question and it will give you a wave answer.  Ask it a particle question and it will give you a particle answer, but it can’t give you both answers at once…”

That’s how a feel about life most days; mine, yours or anyone else’s.  It’s either meaningless or important, but it can’t be both at the same time.

bfff

The Spies Within Me…

Also in my head from an early age, were those people who I envisioned judging me.  As a child, I felt in a near literal way, that there was always a half-dozen or so people who had their eyes on me, 24/7.  These were a rotating cast of real life characters in my life, usually my elders, that I imagined viewing me and judging me from an ethereal conference room somewhere in the distance.  In my mind, they were observing me, discussing and deliberating over all my actions, yet never sharing their conclusions with me.

This feeling that a half-dozen or so people were watching me, influenced many of my actions and behaviors in my younger days. Sometimes my actions aimed to impress this pantheon in my head.  Other times, I allowed my thoughts and actions to drift into murky waters, without much regard for their opinion.

Though I would grow to disbelieve the people in my head were literally watching me, the feeling that I am constantly being watched and judged by those I look up to, has never left me.  I’m certain that feeling is the closest we can ever get to knowing God.

A Creative Outlet…

As a creative outlet, digital technology has given me the tools to express myself and to live my life in ways the analog world never had.  Social media has given me something to go with that – an audience.  That has been the most dubious aspect of social media for me – that more people than ever are judging my thoughts and actions, just like the pantheon of elders in my head when I was young.  Of course, this has been the result of me inviting them in, and subsequently throwing it all out there to be seen.

d

For over a decade now, I have made good use of the tools of technology.  The tools I have used the most are the word processor and the smartphone camera.  They have become a part of how I think and an extension of who I am.  The vehicle that I have used to deliver my product of being me has been social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even this WordPress blog.

I started slow, but my use/dependency on these tools and these platforms has increased over time, to the point where creating and sharing via digital technologies has become central to my life.  It has become my biggest active priority – perhaps too big.  I have come to view myself as a social media addict and artist; writer, photographer, moral philosopher and on occasion, even a comedian, who just can’t quit.

Somewhere along the way, the line between the analog Roy of yesterday, and the digital Roy of today has gotten blurry.  I often feel lost in the sense of who I really am.  Am I the guy who lived his life, for most of his life, keeping his thoughts and ideas mostly to himself, only to share them with a few close friends….?  Or, am I the guy who doesn’t think a single thought or make a single move without considering how my social media Ohana might react to it…?

I’m both, I suppose.  Like light being a wave or a particle, I just can’t be both at the same time.

f

I’m now 10 days into a Facebook hiatus – again.  It has already become clear to me how significant the presence of social media has been in most of my thoughts and actions in recent years.  I’ve come to realize that under the surface in so much of what I do and what I think, I am constantly considering how my friends would view my thoughts and actions if I were to share them on social media.  I scarcely look at, do or think anything these days without wanting to share it, or at least consider how people might act if I were to share it.

With that said, my most challenging thought in stepping away from social media has been this:  What good is doing anything, if I’m not going to share it and have it be validated…?

The Junta In My Head Part II…

I’ve probably thought far too much about all of this, and if you’ve read this far, you probably agree.  I thank you for hanging in there with the crazy.

When I was 10 years old, I felt a half-dozen people or so, were watching my every move, and judging me.  I acted sparingly because of it, as I silently worked out the whys of life in my head.  Forty-five years later, thanks to the digital age, I now try to work out the whys of the world with my online performance art, and I’ve invited hundreds to view and judge my own personal Truman Show, you included.  I once thought the whole world was staged just for me, and mostly, I still do.  In the digital age, at least get to choose my audience.

As far as answering the all whys in the world, and searching for meaning, I’m certain life is meaningful and important.  I’m just as certain that all life is meaningless and unimportant.  And the only thing I think I truly know is that it can’t be both at once…   Jhciacb

comments are closed this week

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this gem from Voxtrot.  A bit tinny, but enjoy….

Evolution or Vomit…?

Late Baby Boomers and early Generation Xers don’t have much in common in the things that define our social sensibilities.  In politics, arts, sports, faith and much more, late Boomers and early Gen Xers tend to have different priorities, which often happens as one generation morphs into the next.  One thing we share though, is that we will be the only generation of humans who will have lived a fair part of our adult lives both before and after the advent of digital technology.

Though it’s true there were people born in the early part of the 20th century, before cars and before airplanes, yet lived long enough to see a man walk on the moon, the technical evolution they experienced does not compare well to the adults who woke up one day, and had the internet happen.  The technical evolution of the mid-20th century, was just that, a technical evolution.   Digital technology though, did not evolve, it vomited.

b.jpg

My daughter wears a t-shirt that reads…

“One day I woke up, and the internet happened”

That’s not true.  It happened just a few years before she was born.  By the time she was in the 1st grade (1996), the internet was part of her daily life.  All of her sensibilities were cultivated in an expanding digital age.

I’m 55 years old.  If I consider my adult life to have started at age 20, then roughly ½ of my adult life has had access to the internet.  In blogging and social media, I have been a participant for nearly 1/4th of my adult life.  Assuming the internet isn’t a passing trend (wink), then when I die, I will have interacted with, if not been dependent on the internet for most of my adult life.  However, my adult sensibilities were all cultivated before the advent of digital technology, and before the internet.

c

I obsess on that – that my adult values and sensibilities were formed before the influence of the internet, yet digital technology has been, and will continue to challenge those sensibilities for the rest of my adult life.  Because of this, I continue to wrestle with one question that nobody born into an already digital world will never have to address…

How has technology influenced or changed the way that I think…?

Of course, there’s no way to truly know this.  Most of my social contemporaries probably don’t care.  It keeps me awake though, it regularly interrupts my thinking process, and it bubbles under the surface of most of my thoughts, most of the time.

Perhaps a better question – if I go back a decade or so, is this…

How has social media influenced the way I think, and the way I behave…?

I’m going to spend the next few weeks, or perhaps the next few months, exploring those questions here on this blog, and I’m going to be very open and honest about it.  I’ve taken leave of all my social media platforms except for this blog.  Whether I return to them, I can’t say.

xxxx

As I write this, I’m halfway through the book, Irresistible, by Adam Alter.  If what I have written thus far has captured your attention, even a little, then I highly recommend this book, despite that I haven’t completed it yet.  I can already tell it’s one of the more important books I’ll ever read.

In an inverse irony, what has fed this blog going back nearly a decade, is that I have promoted it largely via social media.  That has worked well for me.  If you’re reading this, then you are one of just a handful of people who willfully subscribed to it, or had it fed to them via my email data base.  In either case, thank you for taking the time.

If a crazy man blogs in the forest, does he make a sound…?  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this gem from Roy & Bruce.  Enjoy….

I Don’t Recognize It…

Like many, my life changed significantly on November 8, 2016.  Also like many, I went to bed that night with a sinking feeling in my stomach – the aftereffect of an election result I never saw coming.  That feeling had little to do with my political sensibilities, and much more to do with my human side.

I accepted long ago, and well appreciate, that roughly one-half of the people reading this hold beliefs in matters of economics, militarism, religion, and education that are contrary to mine.  That there is such a balance of opposing opinions in this land, and that it ebbs and flows the way it has for a couple hundred years, is testament to the integrity of the Greek foundation of our society.

ffffff

Still, on November 9, I woke feeling a little dazed, a bit sad and somewhat of a state of shock.  Through the next couple of days, I began asking questions of myself, and answering them honestly – and being honest with myself has ever been my strong suit.  With each question I asked myself, and with each subsequent answer, I could feel my values taking deeper root, and solidifying in a way they had not previously flexed.

The two primary questions I asked myself were these…

  • What is truly important to me today…?
  • What was important to me yesterday, that is no longer important today…?

It is truly illuminating, what can be learned from answering those questions.

I asked myself, and continue to ask myself other questions derivative of the two questions above, but those two are the heart of the thing.

olo

The answers to the first question were few – less than 10, and I wrote them down so I can look at them each morning as I drink coffee and build my day.  I have been resolute in constructing each day since November 9, around the answers to that question.

The answers to the second question were more numerous, and I’m still writing them down, as that list of answers still grows.  Identifying what was important yesterday, but no longer is, is easy.  Eliminating those behaviors from my day-to-day actions, well, that’s an ongoing challenge, but one I am also committed to.

As I watch the behaviors of the man we elected, and who is now the 45th President of The United States Of America, I have a steady reminder of how I wish not to conduct myself, how I wish not to be seen, and how I wish not to be heard.  I expected that from day 1.  Politics, positions, and platforms notwithstanding, it’s my opinion that a man representing 300-million people should conduct himself with a little more decorum – a little more professionally, as most of his predecessors have.

llll

What I didn’t expect, and what most reading this might find offensive or even insulting, is that so many of the behaviors from people on both sides of this election, have affected me more than I would have imagined just 6 months ago.  That is, the behaviors of my teammates, as well as the opposition are eating away at my good moods just as much as the behaviors of the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.  I have never been so disappointed in so many people all at once.

Before one suggests that I’m looking to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns when it comes to the murky waters of politics, I am not.  I’m in favor of argument, disagreement, satire, lampooning and even insults when the time is right, when it is deserved and when it is tactfully done.  However, I don’t recognize what I’ve seen unfolding in recent months – it’s as though somebody spiked the national water cooler, and we’ve left our sober brains back at our cubicles.

q

I’ve found at least one bright spot in all of this is, thought it is small relative to the entirety of the problem, but it is a bright spot none the less.  I have never worked so hard, nor been so committed to improving my behaviors when it comes to discussion.  In that sense, I’ve never been less ashamed to be myself or to be 100% honest while discussing politics, and I have become a committed listener!   For a Jewish kid raised on demerit slips, with a lifetime social anxiety disorder, that’s saying something.

We may not all agree on military, economic or education policy, but we should be able to discuss it.  I hope at some point we’ll agree on how we should conduct ourselves as a people when we disagree, though I see few signs among my social contemporaries that this will happen anytime soon.  I look to my daughter’s generation though – I hear her speak, I see how she interacts with her friends, and I see hope for more intelligent discussion down the road.  Still, I hope folks my own age and older can settle down just a smidge – speak a little more intelligently, and listen a little more attentively.

I think of that old locker room adage, you know, grab ‘em by the decorum…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this by Ride.  Enjoy….

Sweet Peachy Tea…

For much of my adult life, I’ve stated that every dog is the best dog that ever lived, tied for 1st place with every other one.  For the past 14 years though, I’ve been lying.  Peaches Fern Cohen, has held the highest place in my heart.  Not just in mine though, everyone fortunate enough to know Peaches, recognized that she was special.

Peaches belonged to my daughter, and her mother.  Peaches went home yesterday, to be with her sisters, Leilui, and Luna.

unnamed

If I could describe Peaches in one word, it would be Sunshine.  No ray of sun, shining down from the sky, ever touched or warmed me the way Peaches did.  It began with her face, which was sweetness incarnate.  It just wasn’t possible to look at Peaches without feeling her sweetness.  But that was just the first layer.  Beyond sweetness, there was the happy – and her happy was always turned on.

Except for the occasional grumbly stomach, broken leg, fractured spine, paralysis, or bladder reduction, Peaches radiated joy.  In fact, she experienced and survived all of those, and more – a big part of what made her exceptional.   Any one of those medical events might have taken her too soon, but not one of them did.  Each condition made her a little more fragile, but they also increased the worth of her spirit.  Her 14 years is a testament to the commitment she had to her loved ones, and ours to her.

IMG_2424

When I think of Peaches, my mind always sees her first, sitting outside beside the rosemary plant that she loved to smell.  Her face was often pointed to the sky, and it appeared that she was the one radiating warmth toward the sun.  Whenever I would see her like this, whatever toxins might be in my heart or mind, we instantly defused.

If I’m being honest, Peaches had an unusual look about her, but she made it work.  Due to the afore mentioned medical events, her body changed over time, becoming increasingly fragile.  A Pomeranian by birth, by the time she was 8 years old, she looked more like a punk rock Chinese Crested, mutating into a tiny pachyderm.  She used this funky look as both a fashion statement, and a way to make friends.  It wasn’t possible to walk Peaches without a stranger stopping to admire and inquire.  It almost always started with…

“Oh my god, she’s adorable….!”

The funny thing is, it was impossible to describe Peaches to a passerby with any detail, because once they saw Peaches, the person walking her became an invisible bystander.  People just marveled at her.

IMG_7597

One manifestation of the physical changes she endured, was a high arching spine.  This made her look like a little buffalo.  She often fulfilled the buffalo look by lowering her head into thigh of the nearest seated human – as a silent request to get petted.  If the petting hand would dare stop, the li’l buffalo would push her head harder into the human’s leg until they got the hint.

When she wasn’t being a buffalo, Peaches, always held her head high and looked up in wonder and in joy.  In 14 years, I never saw Peaches growl, snap, or display any intent towards another creature, other than kindness.  From her earliest days, she was a kind old soul.

10418960_10202728936086399_7472937476559870140_n.jpg

Every dog is the best dog that ever lived, tied for 1st place with every other one.  The one that rose above them all though, well she went home yesterday.  She is now free to smell the heavenly rosemary, to buffalo God’s thigh, and turn heads wherever she struts.

As Miss Trudy and I each held one hand to Peaches, our daughter was present in spirit.  Peaches lay calm on her belly, getting weaker, but still holding her head high.  Radiating sweetness till the very end, she was still looking up when she took her final breath.  Be well…  rc

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens.  Enjoy….

Irony At Easter…


One of the great ironies I see in the social media era is this…

I have a network of friends, liberal, open-minded people, who would fight to their death to protect my human rights. If I were gay, transgender, smoked pot, or preferred having sex with inanimate objects, they would support me. Yet there is a duality in how they view people’s religion – they are against it.

By the way, being against religion doesn’t make one an atheist, it makes one an antitheist, and that’s dangerous. Simply put, if a person is against religion as a collective, or a specific religion, that is a form of prejudice – period. To be against anyone’s beliefs in favor of their own is an undeniable act of bigotry, and cannot be justified, only rationalized. Hint: when you rationalize bigotry, you don’t look so good.

17903657_453796608298558_2492084802854076067_n

Religion has been part of our cultural DNA since hunter-gatherer times. If we accept that cultural evolution parallels biological evolution, and that over time it weeds out traits that don’t serve the cause of advancement, then cultural evolution would have weeded out religion millennia ago. This has not been the case. Though religion has changed through the years, its practice is at an all-time high.

Religion, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of culture. All art began as sacred art. All social structure began as sacred law. All wonder, I believe, is rooted in sacred awe.

As millions of people celebrate Easter this week, I am saddened to see so many of my open-minded friends poking fun at the Christian faith in the forms of memes, sophomoric observations, and childish ridicule. We should do better than that.

To all my friends who celebrate Easter, may you celebrate in peace. To all my friends who ridicule the former, don’t be so gutless. Please support those who wish to celebrate in peace, as you would support those who would rather not.  Be well…  rc

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this more recent twist on a classic from Dwight Yokum  Enjoy….

Tale Of Two Teams…

In the 1st grade, I played for 2 baseball teams. One team, the Oaks, was structured. We had a coach, uniforms, space at the municipal park, good equipment, officiating, monthly dues, a specific pecking order of players, and parental pressure. Our competition was assigned to us. On my first day with the Oaks, I didn’t know most of the players.

My other team didn’t even have a name. We had no schedule, we had to find, or create our own space to play, had rag-tag equipment, and a loose pecking order of players which rotated – depending on who might be available to play.  Though we occasionally had new players join us, the concept of the team was born because we all knew each other, liked baseball, and wanted to play.  Of competition, we had to seek out our own – similar groups of like-minded, anxious boys, fighting off the ailment of boredom. Leadership manifest Darwinian style.

Though I played hard for both teams, and many of life’s lessons were learned with each one, I more enjoyed, and feel I got more out of playing for my loosely structured friends team. I feel this way, because it wasn’t a construct – we weren’t placed within it.  We owned it.

There was creative fulfillment in assembling equipment, finding a field, seeking out competition, and scheduling our games.  Length of game, flexible rules, tools of the game, game times, and who played which position, solidified organically.

There was though, one conflict inherent with playing for two teams at once – that there were times when I had to choose which team I was going to play for, on those Saturdays when each team was an option. Since mom and dad paid the bill for the Oaks, my requirement to play for them superseded my desire to play with my friends.  Fortunately, no direct competition ever existed between my league team, and my friends team.

zxx.jpg

Scanning the headlines today, I see myself once again as a player on two teams. The first team, the Planet Earth. The other team, Team Human Beings.  I have a deep appreciation for, and profound responsibilities on behalf of each team.  As I reflect on the baseball of my youth this morning, I’m conflicted over who I should be playing for.  This time, mom and dad don’t get to make the decision for me.

On this day, my team of Human Beings, with its new coach, has chosen direct competition – to play against my friends team — Team Planet Earth.  Since I have appreciation for, and responsibility toward each team, my temptation is to forfeit – and I think of Shakespeare…

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…”

Or was it Neil Peart…?  No matter.

I am partial to the human animal, since I happen to be one, I have an inherent tendency toward that allegiance.  Sitting here though, contemplating – recognizing the Earth’s history as being far greater – far more significant than that of man, I choose that team — Team Earth.  I can only hope that 300,000,000 people will stand beside me, and switch teams.  That, or get out and vote in the coming elections to help Team Human Being elect a new coach, and a new managerial staff…  Jhciacb

_____________________________________________

If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Possum Dixon.  Enjoy….