Thursday, May 31, 2007

News Mash

The News has some very interesting collisions today.
Bush wants the U.S. to stay in Iraq like we have in Korea, for 50 years.
Russia’s President says U.S. Imperialism is starting a new arms race.
The United States ranks 96th out of 121 in a list of the most peaceful nations.
And Alabama’s Governor says that slavery was evil and signed a resolution apologizing for his state’s role in slavery.

What does it all mean? I don’t know….
But it is possible that 50 years from now we may still be in Iraq, and maybe we will know who the enemy is and where the front lines are by then. But we will be bankrupt from building bigger and more powerful weapons to keep us ahead of the Russians. Yemen will still be more peaceful than the U.S. and we will still be 90 years away from apologizing for invading Iraq.
My Magic 8 Ball says, "Try Again Later"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Waking in the Dark

Waking in the dark, tongue dry and gritty, face pressed against an uneven slab of hardness, the prisoner felt the aches and pains of his last torture session reassert themselves in his ancient body. His hands traced slowly across the cold floor piling up small heaps of dirt and straw and who knew what else in their wake. His mind stumbled, fell and then caught itself on the edge of consciousness. Jump, he thought. Jump. He giggled quietly, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t a funny joke. Maybe it wasn’t even a joke. Jump. His legs twitched sympathetically. But it was his returning thoughts and their insistent habit of forming concepts out of memories that he wanted to avoid. Jump into the blackness again damn it. This is no time for self awareness.

Blackness and unconsciousness did not return. Instead, dust tickled his nose. A dim light leaked in between his crusty eyelids. A cough brought up flem thick with blood and a cursed memory of a padded stick falling repeatedly across the small of his back. Padded to avoid causing too many visible bruises. His mind offered this conjecture in spite of his emotional and physical desire for oblivion. And a name. His mind kept echoing a name. Samuel. The pivot point of a host of questions, questions accented with the stick and pain in the ribs, in the gut, on the back, on his legs. Where is Samuel? Pain. How did you help Samuel escape? Pain. How do you communicate with Samuel? Pain. Samuel. Pain.

Noise outside his cell drowned out the echoes. Boots crunching sand against stone. A gurgling sound, like beer in a barrel. He knew what beer was. Bitter hops and golden grain stimulated a cascade of associations where there had only been darkness a moment before. A woman’s voice singing. The smell of smoke, tobacco and other kinds. But before he could make sense of the memory a sudden whoosh of air and the jolt of being doused by cold, cold water shocked him like electricity. The prisoner shot up, going from prone to standing in one fluid movement with a grace and energy hid did not know he possessed. Teeth bared he growled at the guard like a wild animal deep in his throat. His hands twitched remembering ways to puncture flesh, bruise nerve clusters, break bones. The guard took a nervous step backward, dropping a wooden bucket before remembering the steel bars between him and the prisoner.

“Get this animal cleaned up,” the guard said to a pair of workers wearing blue coveralls and dragging a fire hose down the corridor. “The prosecutor wants him scrubbed up nice for the judge and jury.”

The guard turned and walked away from the cell as quickly as possible while trying to look calm and unhurried. Above the sound of the hose he could hear the prisoner screaming. “Why am I a prisoner? Who is the prosecutor? What am I charged with? Who is Samuel? Who am I?” The guard rubbed his throat with one trembling hand and prayed the prisoner would never remember the answers to those questions.

Who Wants To Be Smart?

Despite the extensive and very expensive efforts of small numbers of people to try and make us all dumb, I am continually amazed that so many of us continue to resist and actually manage to learn and grow. In fact, I actually harbor a deep seated hope that people are capable learning, wisdom and enlightenment. In my personal experience (and personal experience is the thing that lets you resist the dumb-ass propaganda we are bombarded with) we each of us have exactly what we need to wake up right now in this present moment. If we fail to take advantage for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a week, that is okay. The Universe continues to give each of us unlimited chances to try again. So look around and look within. We can get past habits of thinking and reacting. We can get past unfounded opinions. Most of the time we are not aware of our breathing, yet breathing continues and sustains us. Most of the time we are not aware of the beating of our heart, yet the heart keeps beating and sustains us. Now. In this eternal present moment. Accept the challenge; bring the unconscious into your consciousness. Ask the big questions: Who am I? What is worthwhile? Why am I here? Who is asking this question?

See what happens. You may learn things that are more powerful than the mind-numbing propaganda that passes for news, entertainment, education and religion in our modern world. Words cannot always describe what you might learn, but it is still worth the effort. Or as Chuang-Tzu is reported to have said, “The sound of water says what I think.” Good luck.

Who Blogs this Stuff?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dumb It Down, Baby!

There seems to be a concerted effort to make Americans stupid. Our media outlets are controlled by a handful of really huge corporations and they feed us less and less information and more and more flash. Reporters can only report from Iraq if they can get there. Most reporters rely on the U.S. military to get them there. But U.S. reporters are not allowed to report about injured or dead military personnel unless they have signed permission forms. And the Iraqi police are confiscating cameras from any reporters trying to take pictures of bombings. So what has always been an under reported military occupation now becomes more distant, more abstract, and less real than Lindsay Lohan’s DUI/rehab problems. (There are plenty of pictures of poor Lindsay.) So as the occupation of Iraq drags on and on, we Americans are supposed to make political decisions with less and less data. That means the News Media wants us to be dumb.

And that is just the News Industry making us dumb.
There is also our Educational System which is making dumber Americans. My kids are not learning cognitive skills in school. They do not develop the ability to tackle intellectual problems in school. They are coached constantly so that they will accurately select the correct responses on their multiple-choice standardized tests. All under the banner of No Child Left Behind. Fortunately my kids have parents who know the difference between critical thinking and “E. None Of The Above”. The school systems are producing workers just smart enough to occupy a corporate cubical, but not discerning enough to question the goals, methods and consequences of the corporations they work for. Schools want us to be dumb.

And there is also the Religious Industries making American’s dumber. America is one of the worlds’ most religious countries, in terms of participation. But America is also one of the most religiously illiterate countries. That is because America’s churches are not a place to develop spiritual skills or knowledge. They are not a place to learn to question our place in the universe. American churches (much like American schools) just present followers with the “answers” to multiple-choice questions. You are asked to memorize a creed; you are not encouraged to explore or discover. Dumb, unquestioning allegiance mislabeled as faith is preferred in America’s churches.

And I won’t even start on the Entertainment Industry (which is owned by the same companies as our News companies). Nor will I talk about our Health Care Industry. Just suffice it to say that they all want and need for Americans to be dumb, dumb, and dumb.

Probably the dumbest thing I can do is complain about this on a stupid blog read by 23 people, but it really tweaks my nut some days. And it is increasingly frustrating when logic, reason, evidence and involvement in an issue can be completely overwhelmed and defeated by a clever slogan shouted by a few well publicized pundits. Bumper stickers beat out experience and knowledge every time in modern America. So I guess I should stop talking specifics and just come up with a good one-liner.

Dumb People Suck!

Remembering the Memorial Day Weekend

I had a busy and varied Memorial Day Weekend.
Took Friday off from work and went fishing with the family.
Spent Saturday demolishing an old fence and putting up a new one. Afterwards I was very glad that I do not build fences for a living.
Sunday we cleaned house and did the grocery shopping.
Monday we got the dogs washed and did our patriotic duty and threw money at Pirates of the Caribbean III. It was better than the second one, but I hope they will stop now.
Spent a lot of time joking around with my kids.
Bought a DVD of The Fountain, but I have not watched it yet.
And I talked to my brother and my dad about Dad’s upcoming wedding.
All in all, a good holiday weekend. The dogs smell nice and I’m ready to go back to work.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Raspberry Alphabet

Northern Bandolier
Lurking Steadfast
Maybe Golden
Acoustic Liquid
Ark Pigboat

Particle Astronaut
Language Cooper
Palette Graffiti
Mariachi Shark
Bursting Alternative

Lowlight Highs
Quiver Penguin
Formica Music
Profile Bursting
Servile Joiners

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Too Cool for School

My daughter Chani is too cool.

She is a Student of the Month at Arlington Middle School.

She accepted her reward in a leather racing jacket.

Chani is my hero.

Peacing Myself Together

Peace is not the absence of War
Love is not the absence of Hate
Hope is not the absence of Despair
Acceptance is not the absence of Rejection

They are like muscles
They require exercise to grow
They are not things
They are not nouns
They are verbs
They require action
They are actions
They are not the absence of their opposites
They have no opposites
They need doing

Loving is a full body, full soul, full mind activity
Love someone
Start with yourself
Hope with all your heart
Accept those around you
Open your arms and your eyes
Reach out to the world
Like you reach out to your lover
And afterward, after a healthy period
Of divine wrestling
Of lowering your personal shields
Of unfolding your desires like a flower
Afterward, when you fall back exhausted
You will know Peace

And then you can start again

Which muscles will you exercise today?
Which verbs will define your actions?
Do not just be the absence of things
Fill your self up


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Bill OK'd on use of soldier names
Capitol Media Services
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.22.2007
Without dissent, the House on Monday gave final approval to legislation making it a crime to use the names or photos of deceased soldiers for commercial purposes.
SB 1014, which now goes to the governor, is aimed at stopping Flagstaff business owner Dan Frazier from selling T-shirts with "Bush Lied/They Died" printed over the names of more than 3,000 Iraqi war dead. Backers of the measure say that no one should be able to profit from the use of those names.
It also permits families to file civil suits to stop the use of the names and collect damages. Critics question the measure's legality and whether it infringes on a First Amendment right to speak out against the war.

U.S. Number One in Military Spending
Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

Halliburton (HAL) Announces Results of Annual Meeting and Increased Dividend05-16-2007 01:52:41 PM
Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) announced that at its annual meeting of stockholders in The Woodlands, Texas, its stockholders elected all twelve nominees to the board of directors and ratified the selection of KPMG LLP as principal independent accountants for 2007. The stockholders voted against all three stockholder proposals regarding a human rights review, political contributions and stockholder rights plans.At the board of directors' meeting following the stockholders' meeting, the board approved a 20% increase in the company's quarterly dividend to nine cents ($0.09) per share and declared a second quarter dividend on the company's common stock payable June 21, 2007, to stockholders of record at the close of business on June 1, 2007.
Apparently it is alright to make billions of dollars killing soldiers (and civilians) especially if you keep the soldiers anonymous. But don’t try to make an anti-war political statement that includes the names of any real dead soldiers. This news isn’t just mashed up, it’s messed up. War kills real people with real names, real families, real lives cut short. Memorial Day is next Monday. Who are we supposed to be remembering?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ruling upholds decision by judge with Ten Commandments robe

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a DUI conviction that was based on the fact that the Covington County trial judge wore a robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on it.
The Supreme Court on Friday declined to review the conviction of Robert T. Dalton for driving under the influence. Dalton had appealed his conviction on grounds the jury was prejudiced because the Ten Commandments were on Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan's robe during the trial.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals earlier upheld the conviction, saying the presence of the Ten Commandments on the judge's robe did not violate Dalton's right to a fair trial.
The Supreme Court declined to review the appeals court decision, without issuing an opinion.
McKathan started wearing the Ten Commandments robe in December 2004, not long after former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office after he refused a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building.
By the way, that is the Little Mermaid Statue in Denmark. Someone decided to imposes fundamentalist Islamic fashion rules on her. For some reason I found these two stories about robes interesting and thought they should go together. It makes me think about what our society will lose if we allow religious fundementalism of any flavor to invade our public spaces. But I won't preach...much.

Friday, May 18, 2007


The weakest part of my poetry the words
Worst part of my music the voice
The vulnerable part of my love is my heart
And my attempts at rhyme still stink like old farts

Count down to the future
Ten, nine, and eight, and seven
Rundown the ghosts of the past
Kill four or five, maybe six
Now is the eternal present
Three strikes now against the two of us
One zero…no hero…I guess we’re out

The greatest strength of my intellect: silence
My mightiest weapon is doubt
The most open part
Might be my broken heart
The simplest thing
But I can’t seem to figure it out

There is still time to invent a better conclusion
Time to edit and tweak
Time throw this verse away
Time to nap all day
Time to hope and to dream
I can write just the right thing
Time still to puke in the sink

Insert psychologically satisfying image here
Something obscure but symbolic
Something that pulls all the loose strings together
Into a coherent weave
Then end it with an obscure image from left field
Familiar, even clichéd, but still unexpected
Something to make them all think

Birds of a Feather

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Emperor Has No Closure

Emperor Jack chased his mother’s skirt across the well manicured lawn.
Everything he needed could be had with speed and precision.
But everything he wanted was always just out of reach.
Mother was supervising the restoration of the old pavilion.
She was especially concerned about the custom glass and the cornice work.
Workers in white coveralls scurried out of Mother’s path,
Leaving the Foreman exposed and vulnerable despite the clipboard in his hand.
“Ah, Madam,” the Foreman said with a minimal nod of the head.
Emperor Jack, skidding to a stop to avoid bumping into Mother’s backside.
He was not an expert in the intricate rituals of courtly protocol,
But he was sure proper respect was not being paid.
“You can see,” continued the Foreman, sweeping the site with the clipboard,
“The work is progressing apace. Although the glazers will require significant flogging
If we hope to finish the work on schedule.”
As if to punctuate this feeble statement with an oversized exclamation point,
A man with a trowel yelped and jumped backward
Just as a twelve-foot pane of glass fell out of its frame
Shattering into ten-thousand shimmering pieces
With a curiously muted sound.
One triangular segment slid across the pavement
Coming to a stop only an inch from Mother’s ruby slipper.
Emperor Jack noticed a small red splotch on a corner of the glass.
Horrified, he felt sure it was a flake of red from Mother’s shoe.
Then with relief, he thought it was only the worker’s blood.
But with growing puzzlement, Emperor Jack watched the red
Solidify and clarify its form into a circle made up of printed letters,
A logo of some sort printed on the corner of the pane of glass.
“Callard & Bowser: Confectioners”
“The sugar glass is not strong enough, Madam,” the Forman stated.
“And it will surly not survive the rainy season.”
Mother reduced her eyes to sinister slits and stared at the Forman.
“It is you who will receive a flogging if schedules are not met.”
Mother spun, skirts expanding like parasols, and stalked away from the pavilion.
Emperor Jack snatched up the triangular fragment from the pavement.
He waved it under the nose of the Foreman like a dagger.
Then Emperor Jack bit off a large portion of the sugar glass.
Emperor Jack chased his Mother’s skirts across the well manicured lawn.
He did not need the confectioner’s glass.
But he wanted it.
Even as it cut his tongue.

Monday, May 14, 2007

First Bass of the Season

Managed to spend a couple of hours in the boat with my lovely wife and our two dogs on Saturday. We landed our first bass of the season. Hopefully the first of many this year. We stopped at Silver Lake near Mt. St. Helens.

I think this may have been the biggest Washington State Bass I have ever caught: 17 inches & about 5 pounds. Big enough that it broke my reel, but I still got her into the boat. We always put the bass back so we can catch them again another day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush Tours Town Wiped Away by Tornado

Ben Feller – AP
GREENSBURG, Kan. — President Bush sought to lift spirits Wednesday in the wake of a killer tornado, dishing out hugs while stepping through the rubble of what had been a close-knit town of 1,400.
The president said he came to Kansas to tour the wreckage in the hopes that he could "touch somebody's soul by representing our country."
"A lot of us have seen the pictures about what happened here and pictures don't do it justice," said Bush, standing in the street in front of a brick one-story home that now has no roof. "There is a lot of destruction. Fortunately, a lot of folks had basements here in this part of the world and lived to see another day. Unfortunately, too many died," he said.
That must be the problem with Iraq, not enough basements.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Way of Seeing

I got new glasses today.
I’ve had glasses for using the computer for years now.
But these are new—they are for distances.
I thought my distance vision was good.
I had no complaints.
I could read road signs.
I can read the clock from across the room.
But I put on my new glasses and everything was different.
Everything jumped into focus.
Everything had more distinct edges.
Off—smoky and blurry.
On—clear and sharp.
Off—Chinese water color.
I was kind of pissed off.
Another shitty thing about getting older.
But now I am wondering.
Will it be better now to switch back and forth?
Some details are worth seeing.
Put on the glasses.
Some things are more pleasing
With an artistic softness to them.
Take those things off.

It is always worthwhile having
A new way of seeing.
That is why those cameras
Have all those fancy lenses.

Iraqi Tornado Kills Kansas Residents

Iraq Bombing Kills at Least 14 People in Kurdish Capital Irbil

May 9 (Bloomberg) -- An explosives-laden truck detonated in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, killing at least 14 people, the Kurdistan regional government said.
The explosion today in the compound of the Interior Ministry of Kurdistan's government also left 87 people wounded, including some in critical condition, and caused extensive damage, the autonomous governing body said in a statement on its Web site.

Kansas Town Surveys Destruction After Deadly Tornado
May 7 (Bloomberg) -- Residents of Greensburg, Kansas, returned home for the first time today to survey destruction left by the state's deadliest tornado in more than a decade.
"It looks like a bomb hit the town,'' American Red Cross spokeswoman Karyn Yaussy said by telephone from the farming community. Rescue crews pulled a survivor from the rubble last night, City Administrator Steve Hewitt said in a televised briefing.
At least 10 people were killed by twister, which destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg three days ago, Hewitt said. Winds of 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour) uprooted century- old trees, flattened homes and piled cars atop of cars. Every building on Main Street was destroyed.
The Red Cross housed and fed hundreds of residents at nearby cities yesterday while the town was closed. Officials said a curfew will be imposed tonight, partly as a precaution against looters.
I may have gotten the pictures mixed up. Do you think the Iraqi bombing victims will have a nice Red Cross shelter to stay in? Insurance claims to file? Neighboring cities to move to?
We can't prevent tornados. I think the invasion and occupation of Iraq could have been predicted and prevented.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Listening To: Cloud Cult, The Meaning of 8

Video: Chemicals Collide from The Meaning of 8 by Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult is the brain child of Craig Minowa or should I say "heart child".

Every new Cloud Cult album is like finding the secret diary of a friend who is making a valiant effort to get through a hard time. You feel almost guilty as you listen to the sweet, naive, outpouring of emotion that Craig puts into his albums. It is almost too personal to listen to. It makes you uncomfortable. But you are drawn to it, at first with morbid curiosity, but later with a grateful empathy as you begin to be amazed that your friend is able to express such intimate thoughts so openly. Of course this album is not a diary. And Craig wants us to hear it. But listening to this haunting, personal, soulful music is still an intimate experience. A rare thing in this age of mass production/mass consumption music where artists are always striking larger than life poses. This is music on a more personal scale.

If you like groups like Mercury Rev, Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips, give Cloud Cult's new album, The Meaning of 8, a try.

Hold on tight during the first listen. Power through it. Let it sit for a day or two. Then go back and revisit. I guarantee the second time through will be a different experience. Your hair will have stop standing up on the back or your neck, and you will be able to relax into Craig's emotional space and find some things you might recognise and resonate with.

Cloud Cult is not party music. But for quiet times and a pair of headphones, it can be an interesting journey.

And in an interesting note: the band tours with two full time artists Scott West and Connie Minowa who create paintings on stage during each of the Cloud Cult's shows. You gotta love that! Well, you don't, but as a painter/musician in all seriousness, I gotta say I love it.

They have a website:

Friday, May 04, 2007

Social Triumphs

There is not one day that goes by
That I do not think of you
Amazed by the crowds
The smiling faces

There is not one day that goes by
That I do not reevaluate
My intentions toward you
And their bestness

There is not one day that goes by
That I do not lie to you
With honest mistakes
Sincerely made

There is not one day that goes by
That I do not stop living
Refusing to take that extra step
To cross that gap

Between hugs and frowns
We read statements
We press flesh
We fall further
We dissemble
We disown
We are

There is not one day that goes by
That I do not shamble on
My shadow next to yours
Tantalizingly close

Social triumphs fade away
But the days go on
My shadow next to yours
Very pleased to make your acquaintance

Listening To: Tinariwen

I don’t know much about this group of musicians; they are from Saharan Africa and are Touaregs. I don’t know what they are singing or even what language they are singing in. But I do know that the music is fantastic.

Think Chicago Bluesmen, Led Zeppelin and African musicians all sitting in tents in the desert drinking tea, smoking a water pipe and making delicious rhythmic jams until the sun slowly comes up again. This music is like taking a vacation in an exotic foreign land and finding that they like Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters and incorporate the best of bluesy American music into their traditional tribal chants, drones and polyrhythms. Bollywood could make musicals to this. Hippies and Dead Heads could dance all night to this stuff. Dervishes could whirl their way to Allah to this music.
Wow. This is fun, funky, trippy stuff. Unwind, tap your feet, sway those hips, and enjoy Tinariwen.

You can download tracks at
And the band has a website:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Interior Spaces

Pewter ink stands
Hand loomed blankets
Photographed in the Solarium
Just in time for the celebration

Fiercely competitive entrepreneurs
Marvel at the modern efficiencies
Which make such satisfying aesthetics
Unnecessary for public institutions

Precautions must be taken
Before the paying customers arrive
If catastrophe is to be averted
And the status quo maintained

The original state
Was well documented
So there is no need
For Interior Spaces

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Joys of Business Travel

I was beginning to think I was in a movie with John Candy. I got up a 4 am just so my first flight could sit on the runway for 3 hours before taking off. I missed my connecting flight from Chicago and American Airlines couldn’t get me on another flight to Jacksonville until 4 pm the next day (8 hours after my demonstration was supposed to happen). United had a late flight to Orlando which put me in Florida at 1:30 am. Then I had to drive the rental car to St. Augustine. There was a multi-truck crash that happened right in front of me, trapping me (and many other drivers) on a bridge until the troopers and the tow trucks could clear a lane. I made it to the hotel and 4:30 am. I got 2 hours of sleep and then rushed to make my 8 am appointment with the client. We gave a great presentation. Headed straight for the airport and several planes later made it home at 2 am. So that was a total of 2 hours of sleep in a 46 hour period. But I made it there. The Customer was pleased. And I made it home. It has only taken me 3 days to get caught up on my sleep. Oh, the joys of business travel. I’m just hoping I don’t have to do it again any time soon.

An Open Letter to Ronnie

Thanks for picture of Dad and his new fiancĂ©. Dad sent me some pictures too. I’m glad Carol is nice and I’m glad Dad has someone he can talk to, laugh with and share his time with. Yes, it is weird seeing our Dad with another woman. But I guess we all just have to move past that weirdness and wish them both well.

I’m used to being the “ultra-liberal” of the family. I don’t see it that way. I think this whole “liberal/conservative” split is pretty artificial—it’s like the rivalries between American Idol contestants. Here in Washington State I am surrounded by as many born again republicans as there are in Bakersfield. Seattle is fairly liberal, but I don’t live in Seattle. Just like San Francisco is liberal, but Bakersfield is not San Francisco.

I’m 43, Jimmy Dean. James Dean. Rock On…