Dad, M*A*S*H, Beavis and Butthead…

My father passed away on May 11, 2012. Though I did have a chance to offer him a proper goodbye in person weeks before he passed, when he died there was no service, no ceremony, nor did I even visit his marker at the veteran’s cemetery in Las Vegas where he is interned. To this day, I still have not paid those respects.

I did though, during the months he was on hospice, write a eulogy for him because we knew death was certain. However, with no service any kind, I never had a chance to share a series of great memories with my dad. The remainder of this essay is a part of what was to be his eulogy…


When I was in high school I struggled early on. Before I even turned 16 I released myself on my own recognizance. Not long after dropping out, my parents divorced. I spent time with each of them, but eventually I moved out as a self-emancipated minor. I shared an apartment with an older friend who had also dropped out. As you might imagine, 2 high school dropouts trying to make it on their own did not fare too well too long.

At the age of 16 I knocked unannounced on my father’s apartment door on a May afternoon. Groveling, staring at my feet, and with my tail between my legs, I asked if I could live with him.

“Yes” he said, and immediately gave me 3 stipulations, “You can live here, and I won’t charge you rent, but this what I need from you…”

  1. I had to be employed.
  2. I had to be in by 9pm on weeknights, and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
  3. Every night at 10pm we would watch M*A*S*H together. It was his favorite program.

I agreed and lived out those terms. I was already working at a Nautilus Fitness center, rarely stayed out late, and I have always loved M*A*S*H, so this was an easy ransom.

Living with my dad at that time was a good settling in period for me. Though he occasionally traveled, we shared some quality moments during that time. I think this when my father and I began to trust one another on adult terms, and form what he would later call “the bond”.

Fast forward 13 years. My father was now taking fundraising campaigns on a yearly basis. He would take an assignment, say the Montana Historical Society, spend one year conducting a fundraising campaign, and then seamlessly move on to the next one. During this period he spent time in Montana, Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama.

As for me, I was no longer the 16 year old high school dropout. I had a wife, a new baby, and was employed as a scheduling analyst for America West Airlines in Phoenix. After our baby was born, my wife took her to Denver to live, and I flew from Phoenix to Denver on my days off to be with them. Monday through Friday though, I lived alone in Phoenix – in a 3 bedroom house.

dad 2

One day the phone rang. My father who had back-to-back campaigns organized for 4 straight years had come up dry, and had just sold his New Jersey home. I have no doubt that he was staring at his shoes as his softer than normal, tuck tail between legs voice asked if he could move in with me until he got another campaign. Without missing a beat…

“Yes” I said, “and I won’t charge you rent, but this is what I need from you…”

I went on to explain that I knew he was working on getting another campaign, but I requested that he be in by 9pm on weeknights and 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and that every night at 10pm he and I watch a show together like we did at his apartment in Denver in 1979.  I could hear tears in his voice as he began to thank me.

That’s when I explained that the show we would be watching was called Beavis and Butthead.

“I’ll pay rent” he said “I’ll pay rent!”

That may be the only time he ever called me a son of a bitch. We both chuckled. He would live with me for nearly 3 months, eventually moving to Las Vegas to get a jumpstart on retirement. He only watched Beavis and Butthead with me a few times. Sometimes parents just don’t understand…

The time we spent together at my home in Phoenix was the best. We dined out nearly every night on his dime. He had the place to himself on weekends while I was in Denver, and we continued, if not perfected “the bond”.


The day after my father passed in May of 2013 I was on a plane to Athens – to be a father myself. I had promised my daughter who was living and studying in Greece at the time that I would meet her there and I wasn’t about to cancel that trip. When I had to choose between daughter and father, I chose daughter. I have no doubt my father would have approved.

There was no service for my father. His body was cremated, and nobody came to pray. It was a Curtis Lowe moment that could not be avoided. I had intended to visit Las Vegas last October to finally say goodbye to my father.  That never happened.  Life, as they say, got in the way.

I hope sometime in the coming months to visit the marker where he is interned at the Veteran’s cemetery near Las Vegas.  If I never make it though, that’s okay.  I thank my father every morning for the love that he gave me, the tools he provided to prepare me for life, and for the sense of humor he shared with my brother and I.  In that sense, I memorialize him every single day.  Be well… rc


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 Lynyrd Skynyrd. Enjoy…

The Fingerprints Of Others…

I’m big on appreciating formative moments in my life; those times when a person, a circumstance, or an occurrence makes an impact so indelible that it will stay with me for years to come. I refer to these as the finger prints of others. Rarely a day passes without me reflecting on some of the fingerprints others have left on my life through the years.

From profound tragedies, to near-death experiences, to simple observations or words of wisdom that people have offered me through the years, the fingerprints of others have shaped who I am – because I allow them to.

In the past couple of months two occurrences took place that fall into this category; formative moments that I won’t let go of anytime soon.

There, But For The Grace…

Last week I was walking my dog on a well-manicured greenbelt in-between a sea of suburban dwellings clad in stucco and topped with ceramic roofs. Well out of his place, my dog and I were approached by what appeared to be a homeless man, unkempt and not walking too well – perhaps drunk.

The greenbelt of happiness...

The greenbelt of happiness…

As the man got closer, my dog, who has barked or snarled less than a dozen times in his 9 years on earth, began to growl at him. It also appeared, as he got closer, that he was well beyond drunk. Barely able to walk, but he headed our way intentionally – perhaps to ask for money.

My dog, Stroodle, sneered more as the man approached. I had never seen this behavior from him before. The homeless man, I suppose because he may have been in fear, kicked at Stroodle. Understand, he did not kick him, he only kicked at him. However, as Stroodle’s steward in this life, my protector instincts took hold and I punched the man in the chest. Not to be mean, but to keep him from hurting my dog.

Stroodle; center of his own attention...

Stroodle; center of his own attention…

The man fell to the ground and began crying. He was a sad wretch with bloodshot eyes, in filthy clothing, with no apparent direction, and then he was crying – and I had just hit him.

I attempted to help him up, but he refused. He then turned away from me, and staggered off in another direction leaving a scent of body odor and alcohol that would stay with me for a few more hours. As he was ambling away, Stroodle kept growling at him.

In the same scenario I would do this again – protect my dog using minimal force — but what was minimal…?  I can’t let go though, of the grown man on the ground crying at what I had done, though I know he was probably crying over much more.

I couldn’t help wonder where the man had been, what had lead him down this path, and where he might end up that day – or any day. There, but for the grace…

A Pee, A Picture, And A Pistol…

I had been traveling from Denver to the San Diego area last month helping a friend relocate her belongings. Rather than see her pay movers, I volunteered to load and drive a 26’ truck across the American west, with my friend and her dogs as the chase team. She was on a budget and I needed a road trip. It was a good fit.

On morning #2 of our trip we left Richfield, Utah as the sun rose. Just a quick stop for gas, and my obligatory 12-pack of Diet Coke to caffeinate the long haul ahead, and we were soon on the road. After an hour or so, I needed to make room for more Diet Coke by releasing that which I had already consumed.

We were clipping through the red clay and green scrub about an hour north of Cedar City, Utah when I spied travel complex with a large rainbow canopy above the gas pump islands. No city, no town, no other signs of civilization – just a gas stop alone in the desert. As I pulled into the complex, my friend followed me. It was soon evident that the travel plaza was no longer in business, just a truck stop ghost town. To a guy like me, that’s a playground.

If you're ever near Cedar City, Utah, ya might look elsewhere for a place to pee...

If you’re ever near Cedar City, Utah, ya might look elsewhere for a place to pee…

Since we didn’t need gas or food, and I still had to pee, I decided to give the place my business just the same. That’s when my inner child got the better of me, and I decided to explore and photograph the abandoned buildings of the complex – something I do frequently cross-country trips.

As I photographed one of the abandoned gas islands, a small SUV approached me at a decreasing speed until it came to a halt beside me. A man in a shirt and tie, but with no coat was behind the wheel. He had mirrored sunglasses that looked more like 2 compound eyes.

“I’m going to ask you to leave” the man said in a whisper. “This is private property”.

Me being me, I asked him if he was a representative of the owner, and if so could he prove it. I turned and continued to photograph some broken glass outside one of the structures.

“Hey” he shouted, “I am the owner!” That’s when I looked down to see a small handgun pointed at me.

Ok, I said. I’ll be moving on. No further words were exchanged.

I walked slowly back toward the 26’ truck where my friend was waiting outside her car, giving her dogs some water. I explained that we should get going, but said nothing of the man with the gun – since he had been out of her sight the entire time, and I didn’t wish scare her.

Up in the truck, back on the road, and still trembling from my experience, my eyes spent equal time divided between the road in front of me, and my side view mirrors for the next several hours. I would not see the man with the small SUV and the compound eyes again.

So Many Changes In Such A Short Time…

Despite my military service, and hanging out with some questionable characters in my young adult life, I had never before stood at the barrel of a gun facing back at me. Not for a moment did I think the man would pull the trigger, but afterward I could not let go how the life of my daughter might have changed if I had made one more sarcastic remark that could have put him over the edge. I continue to wrestle with that one. A fingerprint on my life, to be sure.

Unrelated to the story, just a cool picture of a snail along the greenbelt.   Taken with an iPhone set to mono...

Unrelated to the story, just a cool picture of a snail along the greenbelt.
Taken with an iPhone set to mono…

Last week I punched a homeless drunk in the chest, only to see him fall to the ground and cry. Yes, I was defending a helpless animal, but I had to hurt a person in order to help a dog. Another fingerprint from which to learn, and yet another wrestling match to take place in my head.

It is the fingerprints of others, as much or more than my own actions through the years, that have shaped who I am and who I am still to become. Like fingerprints on a doorknob accruing over time, the person I am today is much dirtier than the man I was 20 years ago. Of course unlike the doorknob, the fingerprints left on my psyche aren’t dirt so easily washed away. The dirt stays with me because I allow it to. In this case though, let’s not call it dirt – let’s refer to it character. Be well… rc

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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 Ry Cooder. Enjoy!

Pros, And Cons…

A Kick To The Gut…

The 2nd hit to the chin always seems to surprise me more than the 1st, though it’s usually not as painful. So earlier this week when I read that Adrian Peterson had been accused of child abuse only days after the NFL indefinitely suspended Ray Rice for punching his then fiancée in the face, I was stunned but not in any more pain.

Like many, my immediate reaction was, that’s it – no more supporting the NFL. In an era when crybaby millionaires dominate headlines ahead of more pressing social matters, it has often seemed to me ridiculous to support professional, and even high level collegiate athletics.

It's best not to judge, but if you're going to judge, please be consistent your judgment...

It’s best not to judge, but if you’re going to judge, please be consistent your judgment…

With so much going on in my own life; the more pressing matter of finance, family, community, and self, I have questioned for years why I have invested so much of my time and emotions into the actions of others, solely to satisfy my need to feel uplifted. Quite often, I am as let down by the play on the field, as I am by off the field behaviors.

And then I remember this, “It ain’t the 6 minutes, it’s what happens in the 6 minutes.”

This remains one of the most formative scenes from any movie I have ever watched. A good reminder that we have a very human need to be transported away from the daily articles of discomfort and disdain that bind to our psyches from living otherwise unstimulated lives at home and in the workplace.

A Walk Not To Remember…

When the baseball World Series was cancelled in 1994, I swore I would never watch another game. It took the Boston Red Sox contending for and winning a World Series nearly a decade later to bring me back, but even so, today I follow baseball from a distance.

When the NHL experienced a lockout in 2004-2005, I was beyond disappointed. Not that I was a huge hockey fan, but like a lot of people, I had believed the NHL was the last professional sports league not to be (excessively) distorted and corrupted by greed.

I could dedicate a year to researching criminal offenses by professional athletes, coaches, and administrators, and still not scratch the surface of what transgressions take place in the arena of professional sports. I could also say the same thing about the business world, Congress, and probably the local elementary school. The relative proportion of infractions might vary from institution to institution, but the truth remains that greed, violence, and corruption exist in all walks of life.

Upright Culture On The Skids…

Man has been playing sports competitively for millennia. Whether we’re talking about the ancient sports in Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, or Rome, there have been two constants in sport; fans and corruption – and the tween have always met, and seem to have been necessary and compatible bedfellows.

I’ll suggest that there may have been as many cheaters and wife beaters in the Native American sport of Pasuckuakohowog, as there have been in Cricket, Football or 3-meter springboard diving. I sometimes have to work to remember that there are many more citizens of good intentions, who are graceful practitioners of their athletic craft seeking only to succeed and entertain, if not to be role-models.

There Will Be No Roycott…

I will continue to watch professional sports for their value to both entertain and transport me away from an otherwise unexciting life. I will simply appreciate the good they have to offer, and look beyond frailty of character which is in all of our collective DNA.

Whenever discussions of boycotts arise during times when violence or corruption are exposed in professional sports, I always try and take a step a thousand steps back and view the bigger picture. I ask myself, who gets effected in a boycott, and what are the unintended consequences. Again, I could dedicate a year to studying that and still not scratch the surface. I will simply suggest that there are unintended consequences to a boycott of any kind, and unintended consequences are the folly of man.

In Artistic Terms…

Many reading this are not sports fans and will scoff at the very idea of investing time, money or emotion into the sweaty jocks of others. They may feel all sport should be boycotted all the time for their lack of artistic merit in society.

To them, I ask only that there only be consistency in judgment. For every person that chose not to enter a Mel Gibson movie on the evidence that he’s a foul mouthed anti-Semite, there is someone else listening to and appreciating a song of John Lennon. Though Lennon sang of peace and love, he had a taste for heroin that is well documented. I can assure you the chain of producing and marketing that drug was appalling, and that Lennon probably knew the steps it might have taken before it reached him – and he used it anyway.

There have been as many creative artists through the span of culture as there have been athletes who have had issues with drugs, violence, and greed underlying their creative endeavors. Many have been forgiven or overlooked because they stood for peace and love, if not for touchdowns. I ask then, with whom do we draw the line…? Be well. rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from The Allmans.  Enjoy…

Toxicity, people, and how I cope: The nutshell version…

Every morning I wake up and allow myself to be punched right in my psyche, hit by the negativity of some people in my online community.  Not only do I allow this, I set myself up for it.  With each fresh morning I open my 17” LCD window to the world, and allow myself be soiled by people I call friend.

Soon after, I begin asking myself, why do I do this…?  Why do I grant access into my consciousness, to toxic personalities pushing such heavy loads…?  It can sadden me, depress me, influence the direction of my day, and can change my perspective of life – all by 6:00 a.m.  Still, I do it day after day.

Gasses spew, but I am prepared...

Gasses spew, but I am prepared…

I know who I am.  I know who I wish to be.  I try to be who I really am as often as I can, though many times throughout the day I ignore my compass and allow myself to drift.  I find myself led off course by my own fears, and by the influence I allow others to have over those fears.  I work hard though, to stay centered and on track, and I guess I do a fair job of it.

When I attempt to answer my own question, about why I allow the negativity of others into my life, and why I keep those people there, the answers are complicated.  I guess I see it this way:  That the universe has brought those people into my life to begin with, and there is no denying they exist within my life, so they must be there for a reason(s).

They become my external friend first, but in time can become my internal enemy – but that’s on me, not on them.  I do little to dissuade their toxicity and negative energy.  I simply ignore it, and store it.  I do very little online arguing since I have seen nothing good ever come of this.  I have my opinions, others have theirs.

I ask myself: Are these people in my life to test me, to teach me, to hurt me, or to offend me…?  Not sure.  Mostly I think they are in my life to ground me – to remind me of who I am, who I am not, and who I might turn out to be, relative of course, to who I hope to turn out to be.

I think people who exhibit single-mindedness, who spew hatred, who can argue without ever listening, and who use social media as their outlet are speaking from a place of fragility and fear so deep that they themselves may not even know it’s there.  In that sense I feel for them – that they are so damaged they may not even know they are damaged, or why.  At least I know where my damage comes from.

I try hard not to judge people for these behaviors, as I hope I am not judged by others for the simple act of being myself.

At the end of the day I believe in an absolute universal oneness.  I genuinely believe that we are all interconnected — that everyone else is me, and I am them.  Maybe not in this life, but in the life next door, in the life down the road, or in the life I will live three lives from now.

I take it all with a grain.  I meditate to keep myself centered.  I exercise to keep my head clear.  I write to honor my creative gift.  I also listen without judgment because the voice coming my way might be my own voice someday, or may have already been.  Wishing you peace this day…  rc


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this by Sweden’s Hellsingland Underground.    Enjoy…

Ab-solutley, NOT!

Short and sweet this week.  Some thoughts on abdominal work which I posted to my Contemplative Fitness Facebook page a few weeks back.  If you haven’t yet “liked” that page, please check it out today.

Please check back here in two weeks for a fresh essay on the philosophy behind the fitness.


Abs: completely misunderstood…

Despite all the crunches, sit-ups, and kinetic abdominal exercises that you have done in the past, and all the ab exercises which have been crammed down your throats by the so-called “experts” in the fitness media, the primary function of your abdominal muscles has been long forgotten, or perhaps has never even been understood by you, the owner of the abdominals.

The abdominal muscles (and tendons) exist on your torso, along with muscles of the low and middle back, to stabilize your torso when your body is under strain. That is, they are meant to flex much more often than they are meant to move.

Sadly, as lists of the “top 5”ab exercises get thrown around the internet, the gym, the office, and the TV set, the most relevant and functional of all abdominal exercises never seem to make those lists.  Here’s the beautiful part though; if you’re a regular strength trainer, runner, cyclist, or just an active person, you’re probably already offering your abdominals all the functional training they need.

My two favorite examples exercises which strengthen and condition the abs, aside from standing up and siting down, are deadlifts and squats – the acts of weighted standing up and sitting down. Without realizing it, we flex our abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles of our low-backs when we sit and stand – this flexion is what keeps us from scattering our vertebrae all over the room.

Flexing the abdominal muscles is a natural involuntary response during most strenuous movement, including strength training, running, cycling, and gardening. In strength training for example, regardless of whether the exercises are performed on machines, with dumbbells, while seated or standing, your abdominal muscles continually flex to keep your spine in-line.

Notwithstanding, kinetic abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, and leg raises do not determine or influence the shape of the abdominal muscle – AT ALL. Genetic predisposition does that. The only tendons in your body that fuse muscle to muscle, and not muscle to bone, are the tendons of the abdominal group. Those tendons are what create the lines between the muscular sections of your would-be six-pack. Your mom and dad dealt you those tendons, and no exercise you choose will influence genetic predisposition.

Yes, the abdominals do allow one to sit-up and to crunch, but movement is a secondary responsibility for the abs. Flexion for the sake of stability is their main mission. If you do any amount of regular deadlifting, squatting, standing or sitting, then your abdominal muscles are getting their share of functional work.

If you would like to add a kinetic movement into your workout, I suggest the cross-over crunch (commonly referred to as the bicycle maneuver) shown in the attached video. This movement recruits upper, medial, and lower abs, as well as including a torso rotation to increase flexibility in the low back and obliiques. This is a very efficient exercise, and the only ab exercise I do on a regular basis… Be well.  rc


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button the blender in head.

Week Daze…

Nothing fitness related this week.  Working on several new fitness related essays for later this month, and for May.  In the meantime there is this from my personal journal, written last weekend. 

  Daze Of The Week

There are seven days in a week.  Though each day can be similar to the day before, the next day is sure to include some unique moment, fresh thought, or previously unknown experience.  Some of those moments and experiences will be good and some not so good.  Though each day of the week might represent something different to anyone of us, it’s fair to say many of us view each named day of the week pretty much the same.

For many, Monday is the daunting start of the workweek.  People often resent Monday for thrusting its blood thirsty hand through our chest, stealing the still-beating heart out of our weekend memories, and throwing it to the base of the pyramid.   Things at work might be accomplished on Monday, but often seem get done at a lesser pace for that resentment.

Tuesday it seems, is an unnecessary extension of Monday.  The primary difference between Monday and Tuesday is the rhythm of the day.  The weekend is all but forgotten and by Tuesday morning and the idea of bondage to the job has become easier to accept.  Tuesday is less sullen.  Things are likely accomplished at an increased pace over Monday, and the day might pass more easily.

Wednesday is hump day for many; the day that brings us past the tipping point toward the coveted weekend.  Wednesday is like Friday-light.  Wednesday morning we begin seeing the light of our impending weekend come into view.  That energy may prompt an increase in productivity during the first half of Wednesday.  Wednesday afternoon though, identifies a substantial roadblock between that blithe moment and the weekend – we’ll refer to that roadblock as Thursday.  On this recognition, productivity on Wednesday afternoon may be at a low for the week.

Thursday is just another unnecessary extension of Monday.  No, more like a sister moon to Monday.  How this chunk of Monday got thrown so far ahead into the week, scientists still don’t understand.  Thursday may be the longest day of the week.  However, Thursday is likely the most productive day of the week.  What else are you going to do all alone on that moon, except work…?

Friday needs no introduction.  Friday is at the top of the A-list of weekday celebrities.  Face it, Friday is the only day on any list of weekday celebrities.  Despite its probably low productivity, the mood is generally good on Fridays since nobody will have to see or deal with anyone else in the workplace again until Monday.  Friday is a celebration unto itself.

The perception of Saturday and Sunday differs much more for most.  There is less emotional gravity on the weekends holding us down.  Some degree of fun or relaxation is likely to be had – unless of course one has small children.  Then Saturday and Sundays become the other sister moons of Monday, and they are run by slave driver bosses much smaller than us.

Many flee on Saturday and Sunday, in different directions in pursuit of differing agendas.  Others just stay home and veg.  If nothing else, I’ll suggest that the weekend is a necessary pit stop to stay in the Monday through Friday rat race.   Regardless of how one spends Saturday or Sunday, weekends are a perfect distraction until Friday happens again.

Thus is the cycle of the workweek for the masses.  I understand that not everyone works a traditional workweek.  There is shift work, rotating schedules, technological intrusions on our soccer games, family outings, and meals.  But the days of the week are like puzzle pieces, and can be fit to replace one another for what is likely to be a similar conclusion regardless of one’s true work schedule.

When I was 19 years old Muppet Master, Jim Henson, told me that work is what we’re here for.  Through my many long and sometimes trying workdays, I have tried hard to remember and take regular inventory of that lesson.

The Colors Of The day

Since I was quite young, each named day has represented more to me than the place my life sits in the given workweek.  I’m not sure where this came from, but for most of my life when I envision the name of a day, Monday, Tuesday, etc., each of our seven days is represented to me by a color.  When I read, speak, or hear another speak the name of a day, I always envision a particular color in my head synonymous with that day, and I do so immediately.

  • Monday is red
  • Tuesday is brown
  • Wednesday is yellow
  • Thursday is blue
  • Friday is green
  • Saturday shares yellow with      Wednesday
  • Sunday is black

I can offer no explanation for the assignment of these colors in my head, but they have been there since grade school.  When I think of Wednesday I don’t think of hump day, I first think of yellow.  And so it goes for all the days of the week.  Each day is represented with an inherent color in my mind.  What these colors represent or why I may never know, they’re just ingrained in my psyche.

For those commenting this week, I am sincerely curious, does anyone else associate the days of the week with colors, or numbers, or anything else such as a car, super model, or breed of dog…?  I will be interested in your response.  Be well.  rc


Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Sun Volt.  Enjoy…