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Monday, February 08, 2016

Back On The Streets Again

"Well that certainly didn't play out the way I expected it."

That was the lone thought I had walking out of the dealership for the last time on Friday afternoon. It was bittersweet, but I was still tasting a fair amount of bitter on the drive home. While the money was never great; it was good enough to kind of get by, and the work was never super exciting; but it was good enough to interest me initially...  none of it had ultimately panned out to be much more than crap during the past 3 months.  And crap can taste moderately sweet to moderately bitter dependent upon the diet.

About three months ago the dealership began a steady infusion of Minnesota blood.  Apparent to all; the ownership hadn't addressed business concerns in a successful way, so change was imminent.  I feel for the owner.  The two truck manufacturers were not in good positions at the time.  One, multi-national; multi billion dollar corporation is the scourge of the industry; having multiple product lines removed from the market place via EPA emissions violations;while the other; a small Japanese imported medium duty truck importer with ties to General Motors and the auto industry; enjoys success on their terms; not comparable to the rest of the industry.  The owner is pretty flat footed in process to increase revenue.  Having already committed to the construction of a new / larger corporate headquarters facility; he was faced with trying to infuse cash into the truck portion of the business.  That meant selling off the auto - parts franchises he owned, and in November it meant selling off the trailer sales / repair operation.

But the truck portion still isn't generating enough profitability.  That meant more changes.  He brought in one individual to effectively run the entire operation from Minnesota that had some track record of gamed numbers.  So here we are.  New guy, new strategy. For everyone else that meant new rules, and if you weren't following the rules don't be surprised to see someone else from Minnesota show up to take your place.   Give it a few months and now nearly every location of the company is run by Minnesota mafia.  To make matters worse, as they massaged the books; they galvanized the parasitic relationship to the company. I'm not denying the Minnesota Method does not show higher profit percentages at the ends of the month; but the larger it grew, the more people came to feed off it and the bigger they got.

They have changed the way we do everything; and sometimes for no good reason.  Confusion is the new status quo.  Often times policy changes were barked out and emailed by the minute, often contradicting the same changes made days before.  But it was all in the name of pumping up two key numbers.  Again, I don't deny that those two numbers bumped up significantly; but at what cost?

Employees and their mental health was the first cost.  For me, that meant the past few months have been excruciating. There hasn't been a day I worked less than 12 hours.  My second job was seen as a distraction; but for all of the overtime there was never any consideration to compensate me for the extra hours.  Then came the weekends.  I found my self working 3/5 weekends in January.  Holidays too.  I got New Years and Christmas while technicians had 4 day weekends.  All just to push paper and pump up numbers.

When this mess started, I knew I would be getting hammered; but I hadn't expected to get hammered on the grill.  My office was taken, ["Don't you think it would be better to have everyone in one spot?"], my title was stripped, ["We don't do titles anymore, were all here for the customer."]; then my duties re arranged -- but never removed ["Well you can do the estimates between closing tickets..... While your'e at the counter you can help the customers....  Since you're here and a part of us, we need you to answer the phones.... You'll be the last one to handle these things..... Its important you take care of all of these things first"].  For the past three months I have been attempting to handle all warranty process of claims; all cash customer tickets, managing 14 technicians repairs, 4 phone lines, and 3 bosses to meet these new profit guidelines.  I never had days off.  I never got my weekends back.  My new boss wouldn't come in on Mondays, liked to leave by 2 pm on Fridays, and rarely worked 7 hours on the other days. But I was running up and over 70 hour weeks; still trying to work a second job to make up the money that this salary job was draining from me.

It had gotten to the point it wasn't workable for me any longer.  They all knew it.  Technicians were unhappy; repairs were deplorable; come-backs were rife. I had a service writer quit.  Only to be rewarded with a desk job in the new boss's office.  No phone, no responsibility; while I had to pick up all the slack.  Then they hired a new person, who was terrible.   No offer to train the kid from the Minnesota Mafia. It just continued to spiral.  But they hit their numbers.   The gross profit percentage still climbed over that magic peak of delight; even as everything else kept turning into shit.

Then last Friday happened.  I came back from lunch to be ushered into an unoccupied office in front of the building.  HR was there with Minnesota.  I knew it meant I was done at that point.  The explanation didn't take long, and I even laughed when I saw the papers that were drawn up.  I was being released for, "Not closing tickets as instructed."  HR was simply there to keep me from arguing or shooting up the place I suppose.  For all the sound a furry; the storm whispers through on a breeze. It was a chilly, northern Minnesota gust.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On the radio dial

I haven't had much time lately to post.  I think the last time I really sat down and tried to write was around the time my friend Jennifer died.  Its not that it overtook me with grief; but it was a mixed emotion.  Between working two jobs and Wrangler; there just isn't a ton of time left in my days.  But, thinking back about things; its too short not to make some time for these things too. 

I've been flirting with the idea of running my own podcasts for awhile now.  While I'd love to do just a hardcore social science show; its not going to happen.   While I'd love to do a Walking Dead cast; its maybe going to happen.  But maybe I really need to just go off and do my own show about me. That could probably happen.  We have been running with Far Afield for a awhile now [find it on iTunes, or Stitcher its free!] but maybe its time I move off and do my own thing.  They are my friends and will continue to be; but I think maybe I need the freedom to call my own shots on things. 

For a bit of back story; I never had any intention of doing podcasts, even though I've been an avid listener. Its a time commitment and a content commitment I didn't think I had a drive to accomplish.  Couple those things with my newspaper friendly voice and it fast become a no win situation.  So after coming on as a guest, and getting Far Afield going; I recognize how hard it is to make things happen.  I used to laugh when I saw radio people change shows and networks and still have the same basic show after the jump; I used to think it was only about money... Now I see the creative control thing is just about as important as the money. Which, doesn't seem apparent when its the same exact show for the listener; but how things get to that point makes all the difference.   Anyhow, moving forward a bit, the network the show is on is struggling with its own identity; enough so they are branching out to a video form as well live streaming to twitch and youtube.  Its going to create friction.  Our show is largely a sit back and listen type program; doing live video streams requires even more planning and preparation to pull it off; and I'm just not certain our show and to an extent, our network is ready for that.  We have had conversations as a show in the past about sponsorships and show direction; and its never really gotten very far.  Its not gotten very far, but I think we all realize where its going. 

As a fan, I like to sit back and watch Dave and Darren at be the good example.  These were a highly rated FM radio morning show duo who ran for 10 years; even being bumped frequencies through buyouts and mergers, still kept the show the same and profitable.  In the end, they were axed for more mergers to take place... they sat out their 90 day non competes, then started their own network and have blow up ever since.  I'm not looking to take that route; but I can see how it changed how they addressed certain ideas behind the scenes. And it whets my whistle a bit.

I'm not going to say conversations haven't happened between myself and other networks, but I'm not sure if I have the commitment and time to move forward with anything.  But its nice to think about it.  And its real nice knowing I'd have more freedom to do certain things... and yeah; supplementing my income by being able to market the show isn't awful either!  Well all see what comes to pass soon enough!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Looking Forward


Its not very often that even I come to a loss of words.  I had every intention of sitting down to hammer out a blog post about the last year of my life.  About changing jobs suddenly, about being unemployed, about worrying for money… how Wrangler has been, how my family is to me… reconciling the ghosts of girls past…  I figured maybe it was time to look forward with one descent look back.  May 14th was the day I was officially ousted from Menards after all.  True May Day spirit. Yet life gets in the way sometimes.

Then a few weeks ago I ran into a friend of mine from school.  Wrangler and I were out walking, and saw a blonde woman with a child and two dogs on leashes; I opted to cross the street and keep Wrangler moving… but by the time he and I got to the middle of the street, a soft voice called out to me.  I recognized the her before I looked up.  JH was probably the happiest, outgoing person I’d ever met.  She hadn’t changed a bit since Kindergarten.  Off and on after high school I’d hear from her, or see her best friend on campus at Iowa [JH was a defector and went to Iowa State].  After a while, I noticed she’d gotten married, picked up two Jack Russell’s and then had a son.  Life was pretty dandy.  I lost track of her for 3 to 4 years; and then I ended up on the same street corner with her.

We talked for a few minutes about things; I looked every part the homeless veteran… my beard was long enough to tuck in my shirt collar, wearing a rumpled fatigue jacket; and she was the light of the world, if I didn’t know any better.  Tall, blonde, thin, gorgeous in every way.  Her son was interested in Wrangler; and Wrangler doesn’t mind attention.  But after about 5 minutes we both knew we had to keep moving on… dogs don’t sit idle on walks you know. We exchanged email, remarked how crazy it was to run into each other like this [being blocks away from where we grew up].

I marked it off to chance.  Then marked my chances off. I look like a hobo.  I’ve put weight back on I took years to take off.  I don’t have much left over income after the bills send out, and even my dog can look pitiful with his eye we cant afford to have surgery for.  In the follow days we sent several emails back and forth; and yes, I even got her phone number.  She filled me in that she was divorced now, looking to start over and was finishing dental hygienist school.  We both thought dinner would be a great idea.  Unfortunately that’s as far as it got.  Working two jobs is impossible to have a social life.  Having a dog that demand attention makes it worse.  In the 3 weeks since then, I was trying to clear things out to find a Wednesday night this week to meet up.  Then I read Facebook this morning.  Her best friend noted JH died this morning. I didn’t know what to say.

I took Wrangler out on our walk this morning; the same Sunday morning walk we had a month ago where I met her.  We stopped at the same spot and looked around.  I knew better than to expect it to be a sick joke. But we paused one last time to look back, before looking forward.   I guess that’s how its supposed to be. 

I have no idea what happened.  I have the impression this was a known issue, as several comments mentioned seeing her in the hospital recently; but she never mentioned anything to me.  In fact, I’d think she was closer to a long and healthy life than I would be.  But that’s it.  Things aren’t what you want them to be when you look at it like that.  Life is about getting out there for the moment and not about putting things off.  Looking back at my life this past year, its been quiet and desolate on many fronts.  Humbling is a better choice of words.  But I’m still looking forward to whatever it is that happens. I just wish JH could see it too.



Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Dirtiest Words of An American Judicial System

The dirtiest words of an American judicial system are simple:

"Jury Summons"

It means I'm sitting at the courthouse at 8:00 am on monday morning, instead of drinking my coffee bitching about how slow the first 2 hours of my work day have been; I'll be crammed in the kennel with the masses of the general public, vying for my opportunity to get out of determining the guilt of some sap who got caught.

I'm not thrilled about it.

When the whole career change happened abruptly this past May, I actually walked into the courthouse and asked for jury duty.  The look on the face of the poor woman at the clerk's office was priceless, "you can't do that."   I tried to explain it.  No use.

Its not that I have a desire to be excluded from civic duties; its just that I know I cant afford to miss 2 weeks over someone's red light camera protest.... or 5 days of closing arguments about underage porn... or 4 months of determining whom really defrauded some pensioner's union....   While I was unemployed, I readily accepted the task.  Now, 9 months later, they come back and put me in the same position that everyone else is in; except they just don't want to do it.  I do--- I just cant afford to.

Either way, after reading the red print, nothing that I am required to appear, and that failure to appear can result, in yellow text, "in court action," I know where I'm stuck tomorrow morning.



Sunday, October 12, 2014



Seems like that’s the new scare.  It covers my news feed in Reddit, so that I miss new Hunger Games girl nudes… It blacks out daily tv news coverage so I miss out on sappy stories about Hollywood-has-bins that died.  Now its spamming the shit out of my twitter feed that I can’t get Walking Dead news.    Ebola-Shmola.  I’d worry, if it was really worth worrying about.

Ebola has [gasp] killed 4,000 people in Africa, home of the world’s longest running genocide antics, and yet everyone is freaking out about how awful it is.   To tell you the truth, as a disease, HIV kills 6,000 and Tuberculosis kills 5,000 PER DAY.  We’re talking 6 to 8 months worth and were only at 4,000 in Ebola-ville.  Put it in to comparative numbers for a second, that means Ebola is on pace to kill off about 5500 people this year.  Or yeah, about what TB and HIV do per day… If we really want to tug at the heart, 6.3 million children under 5 died last year… due to malnutrition, disease, poor neonatal care.  Not Ebola.   Not being fed.  Not having a hospital.  Punemonia.  Ghradia from shit filled water.  That’s a real killer.   And before we get snooty about it, I ripped all of those numbers from the World Health Organizations website.  All of them. 

If you really want to die in Africa, HIV and TB will get you, if you make it past 5.  Before 5 years old, you’ll die because there isn’t drinking water, food to eat, and your HMO is run by a guy with oxblood and feathers on his face dancing outside a hut.  That’s a a fucking problem.  But should you make it…. should you really, really want to wait for Ebola to kill you… think again.

Africa has been the home to genocide in the world for the past 40 years.  Its got serious street cred.  Al-Qaeda sends guys there as a study-abroad project.  I’m not kidding.  Last year alone, one guy, killing only Christians and Christian schools, in Nigeria alone, Abubakar Shekau, has raked up 1500 murders.  He’s pretty discriminate as far as ethnic cleansing goes in this part of the world.  Look at Sudan. What Hollywood lib’s want you to pay attention to as Darfur [forgetting the awful mess of political boundaries], in a year they’ve managed to kill 175k to 400k.  That includes the government helping out.  What the fuck are you doing worrying about Ebola in Africa???  Most of the populations in this region aren’t sustainable with a birthrate of 3x the United States… that’s adding up to be a lot more than Ebola.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want to catch Ebola.  But I’m also not going to walk around Africa anytime soon, for any reason. People in America think 1 dead kid in St Louis is a clusterfuck, wait till they walk around in Kenya and watch children with AK’s shoot up people dispensing grain from UN dispensary sites, while on the other side of town, they machete arms off people attempting to touch Bibles.  That’s whats something to worry about.

Monday, September 01, 2014

#thefappening by the numbers!

Last night I witnessed the Internet do the one thing that I think it was born to do #thefappening.

#Thefappening is born out of a few things that are really not newsworthy. It's not newsworthy that celebrities, especially attractive B list celebrities, would take nude photos of themselves on unsecured cell phones. It's also not newsworthy that all of these unsecured images of nubile nude bodies are somehow floating in the ether-ware that is the cloud. Also it's not newsworthy that anything in the cloud is subject to be hacked and disseminated.

Pure and simple what was newsworthy with the sheer volume of people spectating this madness. At 1 AM I was still watching a form on Reddit thread that had 36,800 active viewers. This was nearly 7 hours after your initial bombardment of nude images. Even as new images appeared, in all more than 100 celebrities have been targeted, Torrents and zip files in the hundreds of megabytes are being distributed like baseball cards at a six-year-old convention. Well I don't know what kind of numbers 4Chan was pulling down for all these things let's just look at some numbers based on my thread alone.

If we assume only one in 25 males was actually masturbating who watch this thread, that gives us 1,472 men who were happier playing along at home. You'll be on average 2.5 teaspoons per ejaculate 4Chan helped create a way to decimate the gallon challenge... Producing nearly 5 gallons of semen. All told at somewhere between 50 and $100 per donation of sperm typically paid, we lost a net revenue of nearly $74,000 in that one thread last night. If I were Jennifer Lawrence and her freshly unveiled boo bees, I would probably make a strong convicted approach to say go donate the proceeds from all your sperm you're donating on your computer monitors to my pictures to some worthy charity. And besides we're all fooling ourselves thinking only 1 in 25 wanted to satisfy their "hunger games "

But I digress...

Knowing that all these individuals were waiting for more images to upload they were constantly refreshing the website on average every five seconds. The thread help nearly 400 MB of images plus who knows how much and text let's call it 425 total megabytes of information per page refresh. Multiply this by our total viewers of just this thread alone, And we find it we are pushing nearly 14.9 TB of thorough put every five seconds they hit refresh.

So what? Well Jennifer Lawrence's booby's are best known for the hunger games 2013 release which is 142 minutes long. The DVD comprises about 25 GB of data in a Blu-ray form. This means Jennifer Lawrence and her bouncy's are worth about 900 Mb per every five seconds of her appearance on film. We are nearly 15 times the amount of data every five seconds just in still images that she is worth in 1080p x 5 .1 channel surround sound. It's possible she could move more data if she took off more clothing as our boys at 4chan found out.

But wait here's more. Last year the Super Bowl average 111 million viewers. It was carried on network television composing about 19.5 Mb per second to stream a three hour game. Which whatever and all that means a total amount of data moved for the game was approximately 4,458,732TBs. By our comparison our one thread was pushing 32,184 TB in the same time... With just text and some pictures. Or... About 1% of the entire volume of data needed to carry the Super Bowl around the world by .03% as many viewers.

The pains the screams the stained carpet but what other costs can there be???? Or so screams J Law's lawyers???

So the power up our computers lets low "ball" it some more. Let's be stupid and say our power supplies for monitor and computer use just 300 W per second. Multiply this by or 36,800 viewers only, And every refresh of five seconds of golden panties bills out we are consuming 55.2 mega watts of energy. Or about 40,000 MW per hour! Jumping G strings Batman! On average a Kilowatt hour is about $.15 in the United States. Meaning Those refresh of fun bags cost us nearly $10,000 in energy use.

That my friends is a great "American Hustle."

Unless you really want to stop there.   At 1am, on my facebook feed I had 15 people actively viewing and discussing this out of my 600ish friends.  Thats about .25%.  So lets say of the 300 million American's lets extrapolate and say .25% were logged into OTHER threads watching this.  That summons the Hoarde of 7.5 million boobie seekers.  Meaning.  Nearly half as many people were up at 1am watching for Beverly Hills Punanny as watched the Walking Dead premier [15 million], 11x as many as watch Sports Center all day [660,000 per 6a to 6p], but just about a quarter as many as watched the latest State of the Union Address [33 million].

Now you're getting the hint about the power of #thefappening by the numbers.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back In the Working World

Two days into the working world and I'm already getting bored.  Lets be honest, the new guy gets one of three paths in the world:

A) Avoid him.  Make him stand around.  Pretend he isn't really there because, its a new guy and we miss the old guy.  And the new guy is likely worthless any how.

B) Treat the new guy like he's in kindergarten.  Read documents to him like he's retarded.  Seriously; split your words in to syllables for even more dramatic reason, because he's new here... he must be new to english too.

C) Forget he's new; pretend he's the guy that worked there for 32 years and knows everything already. If the new [old] guy dares ask a question, brow beat the fuck out of him.  If there is a second question to clarify, proceed back to step B) [kindergarten].

For the most part, I'm in category A).  For reasons I don't understand people avoid me.  Conversations flow through me --- but right past me.  It's implied I'm so sufficiently incompetent I can't pick parts orders, and as a driver, I probably don't know how to drive either.  I guess I walk the 8 miles to work each day... who knows.  There are some brief glimpses of category B).  "This is an inventory screen.  IN- ven-TOR eee.  Its how we see what parts we have on hand today."   Not kidding.  Its refreshing to see how little they train me and how bad they will berate me.  I'm certain I have the only college degree in the building.  Most definitely the only one who wants to pursue post-graduate work.  I have more experience in handling parts, customers, inventory concerns, purchase order issues than they do.  Not to mention I have 10 years experience as a manager, running facilities larger than this, with more employees, that did more business.  But it's so much simpler to pretend I'm not there.

I had one quick glimpse of category C) the other day.  It had to do with letter codes on picking tickets using proprietary short hand for their antiquated computer system and how to file them.  I had yet to hold or read over a picking ticket when I was dumped on.   Naturally, I was mean-mugged, and reduced to category A) again.

All in all its going about how I thought it would.   As a driver I haven't touched a steering wheel in 2 days.  I've been sitting in the passenger seat for some screw up deliveries, and left to count dusty parts bins in a sweltering warehouse.  It isn't so bad.  If the pay was higher, I'd enjoy it! I really don't want to complain because I know they'll figure me out soon enough.  So in the meantime, being back to work is a great feeling.... even in the classic American Federation of Labor-market Training Academy.   Its just 3 short steps to success!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Surprise! -- There’s NO Surprise!

Back to waiting again.  Being unemployed for nearly 2 months now, many things don’t surprise me.  But, I am surprised that there hasn’t been any surprises.  Meaning: I wasn’t expecting to be down this long without any kind of a job.  I’ve had places deny me because I was over qualified and they refused to pay me more for the position because of it.  I was dumbfounded, and said I’d take the entry level payment.  The answer was a clear “no.”  Although I’ve had a run of about an interview per week; still nothing has materialized into any sort of an offer.  That’s very discouraging.  I remember back to the last time I was unemployed and it took about 2 months before I ended up working part time.  Cross our fingers, but 2 months is about up come next week.  And while I can probably hold out another month; things start getting uncomfortable for me come the end of August.  I’ll have to start making some quick decisions about major expenses I wont be able to afford… like my car, like my mortgage.  I’m holding on to my dog as long as I can, but I recognize even he is expensive in his own way; and should we hit DEFCON III, and I’m forced to move…  I don’t have any idea where I can go with him and be affordable.   It’s a shitty feeing to say the least. 

On the positive… the last few weeks has been completely refreshing.  I’ve been able to finish most of my house related projects I’d been putting off for nearly a year, I’ve spent lots of time with Wrangler, and had plenty of time to see friends.  One of mine came into town from North Carolina… under the old Menard schedule; it wouldn’t have been possible for me to see him… but being free from that, we were able to drink a few beers and chat until the sun came up.  That’s something important in my life I’ve missed out on in the past few years.  Yes, here and there it happens; but not to the level it should.  I’m a single male in his mid 30’s… that’s the kind of thing I should do.  It just doesn’t work out well when you got up at 430am and worked until 11pm.  That’s been the biggest positive to come out of all this mess; getting some semblance of my life back.   Yeah, gain lots of fear, lose lots of money, and kick your pride in the nuts; but you get some bits of your old life back… in the kind of way you want to live.   That’s not really a surprise either, when you think about it.



Monday, June 16, 2014

The Wait

The wait is by far the most nerve wracking part about find a new job.   I'm still unemployed.  Its been a month.  For a college graduate, with 10 years of management experience, I never would have thought I'd be waiting a month + to find a new full time, 30k / year job.   But thats what happened.   And the wait just kills me.

First you wait to find places.   Places you actually want to work at -- forget the job at this stage, is it even an employer you want to work at?  Then what.  Whats hiring?  Nothing.  Keep waiting.

Once you've waited long enough, and said employers are hiring for something; is it worth applying?  Screw qualifications, is it worth it?  I'll apply to be a master level electrical engineer... but if the area is flooded with them, or they expect such minute detail and 58 years of experience, its probably not worth applying.   So you wait it out.

Eventually you've waited out an employer, challenged the line for a position and applied the shit out of it.... now you wait to see if there is any interest.   98% of the time there isn't.  You just keep waiting.

2% of the time we get some interest.  A bite!  A yank on the line.  Then we wait for what else they have to say.  Sometimes you get to wait a week for a phone interview then wait all day for them to call and reschedule it.   Maybe you get one.  Then you wait while they connect the line three ways.  Then answer two questions.  Then you wait some more.   They hang up.


And so on.

Ad nauseum.

Ad infinite.

Ad sighs.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Wrangler Updates

More life with Wrangler updates for all the #beagle crazy people on the internet.


As we can all see, Wrangler is growing fast!  We’re right about to the 5 month age, and I’d estimate he’s tripled in size.  He is about 18 pounds now, and probably close to full length.  His ears and paws are about fully grown, but his legs and shoulders will still grow some.  The breeders thought he would stay under 30 pounds fully grown in a year and a half.  So far there are days where I doubt that, and there are days where I think this is as big as he’ll be. 

He spends most of his time chewing on anything.  He’s made this peculiar practice of trying to bury his chew toys and treats; which doesn’t work well on the carpet in the house.  Usually I let him paw at it a bit before I throw a blanket or towel over it.  After some more sniffing and hopping around it, it seems to make do for him. 

His temperament varies day to day.  Most days he’s easily excitable, plays very roughly and will bite quite often.  Some days he will be more relaxed, content to chew and jump around from furniture piece to piece and climb stairs for no reason.   I definitely know he has no fear of heights anymore!   The first few weeks he was at home with me, he struggled to climb stairs and then was too scared to come down.  Now he runs up hills and stairs for no reason, jumps to the back of the couch, like a cat, just for a better vantage point.   Silly.

He is still eating Purina Pro Pack puppy food.  Per the vendor, he should stay on this for at least a year.  With his major growth spurt over, I’m playing it by ear when his big bag runs out.    I might start weaning him to adult food slowly and go to small bags of puppy food for a few months.  My vet told me I could feed him more than I do, which is what the back of the bag said… 1 1/2 cups per day.  Some days he’s extra bitey or crazy I feed him and extra helping and it slows him down.  Never an issue eating more!


Lastly we are working on learning a few things.  We started with a clicker on walks to get his attention.  It does work, but its not the most convenient thing to carry around the house.   Lately I have him coming to with “peep peep” type whistle noise.  Breaking his sense of scent and tracking is difficult with a whistle or a clicker, but with a gentle tap, he usually shakes it off.  Sit, is the first real command we are working on.  I know everyone says it should be Stop or Drop, but he won’t.  Sit seems to be working.  We are rewarding with food pieces and he’s about 2 / 3 times reliable to sit with food reward by second call.  Much better! 

S. + W.

Wine OF the Week… Fish Eye!

Just something we have been laughing about on the podcast  [] aka Far A Field podcast…

I’ve been taking down a different bottle of wine on each episode.  I’m not Wine Guy.  I’m not even Snooty Beer guy, but this is fun.  This weeks pick:

Fish Eye – Pino Noir / 2012


BoXmLdMCEAAnElI  I don’t have tons of experience to compare this to, however the price tag was an absurd $2.99, which also had Fuel Saver credits attached to it at my local Hy Vee grocery store.   Since the big draw on this weeks episode was me losing my job; I thought getting plastered on cheapo vino was in order!   I’ll admit, after downing the entire bottle in an hour and change I did have a slight buzz going.  It’s alcohol content labeled as 13.5% by volume but that was really the best part.  It was fairly harsh, and I felt the alcohol had separated from the flavor pretty widely.  Not the worst on the shelf, and I’d use this to cook with or make a rum punch or especially good sangria; but on its own, I wouldn’t expect to see this guy served table side, by the glass, anywhere. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Will Work.

Will work for [period]

For the second time in my adult life I've found myself jobless.  On Sunday my long time, asshole inclined, boss decided he wanted to make a change.  I was out.  It happened pretty fast.  The details of it all take longer to go through that it matters.  I really had no reason to be let go.  I was by far the hardest working manager in the store; I met all the goals and requirements ever handed to me and often had to do it short-staffed while on ridiculous stretches [15 days were common in a row, 16 hour shifts were the norm].  For it to be a finger snap and be gone is a little unsettling.   So as it sits, two days removed, I put out my homeless person sign and hope the offers come in.

I'm not always super confident about things.  I prefer to say I'm a realist.  This is the type of situation you really need to be an optimist about to get through.   But here I am.  By everyone's standards, I'm smart, I'm educated, I'm hard working, and I'm unemployed.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Pebble Smartwatch

I don't claim to be a gear head, or a techno blogger.   But sometimes something comes around that seems so simple and chic, yet oozing with technology, that I can't stop myself.   The Pebble smartwatch is one of those things.   You can read gobs about these things all over the internet by lots of smart and qualified people, but my thoughts are pretty clear; I think its nifty; and I like that.

In the above image, I have loaded some optional software called SmartCards; which I noticed adds lots of functionality and sacrifices alot of battery life as well [both watch and phone].  The "out of box" experience, is more like the image at the end of the post.  As a watch its extremely light weight.  I didn't realize I had it on.  The case and strap fit my large wrists quite well, although  I could see some smaller sized people [maybe the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz!] say its too big.  Its a large, in step, fashionable watch size.  Its also 5 meter water resistant.  Also a perk I hadn't anticipated, but admired as a puppy owner.  We frequent the places we should not be, and knowing I won't ruin 150 dollars of technoporn in a splash is very reassuring; and found to be a challenge to the puppy!

As a watch without a bluetooth enabled smart phone, its pointless to own this thing.  Really.  Although, the text version of the watch is very cool and catches everyone's attention when I wear it; see the bottom image for what I mean.   Its very easy to read, in the light and dark!  Its a back lit e-ink design for very low power consumption and crisp viewing [it has more in common with an Amazon Kindle than a Casio calculator watch honestly!] But paired with a smart phone it takes me the next most logical step in the evolution of a watch.  Why wear a watch?  To know what time it is.  But WHY do you need to know that time it is?  This watch will tell you.  What time to I need to be there?  This watch tells me.  Who the hell is calling me at 4am? This watch shows me.  Its simple.  Its amazing.  Its really the logical step in wearable technology because it customizes to my personal need, and answers all those above listed questions without me really thinking.  Lets face it, we live in a "right now" world.  I don't always have the time [or patience!] to pull my phone out and see what time it is or who is texting me now.  Hell, at work, I can't even pull my phone out and I likely don't have the free hands to use it anyhow.  All I do now is check the time and I answer those questions.  Nifty.

So for what it does: A+  Its simple.  Its in-obtrusive.  It requires very minimal learning or manipulation.  It does have three buttons.   In all honesty, it could be done in one or two though...  In all functionality its 90% there.  So whats missing?  Well.  Some will say its one-way.  I like that.  I give that merit.  Other companies are making the Dick Tracey specials.... video chat, speaker phones, color screens, separate cell radios.  I wanted a simple watch.  I wanted black.  I wanted sleek and modern.   And I dont want to fuck with charging another battery twice a day.   Iphone kills me that way.   This watch touts 5 days between charges.  I'd say thats accurate using only the build in software.  If you add things, cut it by a third.   Still.  Not bad at all.   The fancy Galaxy Smartwatch does all that.  Its bright.  Its shiny.  Its twice the price.  Its a horrible watch.   This is a great watch; that doesn't require a backpack battery like my iphone to make it through the day.  But it is a one-way deal.  Thats a deal breaker for some of you I'm sure.  For someone like my dad, this is a deal MAKER.  For me, I'd prefer my technology to be under the hood, just out of the way.  It is missing a few things I thought it would have on board.  Some additional sensors, a basic gps [instead of eating at your phones data + assisted gps {which isn't real gps}], its own temperature / barometer, heart rate sensor.   Thats really it.  The gps part doesn't surprise me.  Thats expensive to miniaturize and hell to simplify.  But, if a freaking camera can have GPS built in, why shouldn't this? Even if it only pings every 10 minutes, it could probably do it more accurately than cell phone and use half the power the cell phone would need to triangulate it anyhow.   Sigh.  Temperature sensors are cheap.  There is plenty of space to do this on the watch case.  Sure, its not going to be 110% accurate since its sitting on my wrist; but again; it would be much more effective than pulling data through a cell phone, fetching a google search, pairing a gps position, then pushing the data pack to the watch.  Heart rate? That should be here.  Even the cheapo heart rate watches under 20 bucks would work fine.  Does it need to be as accurate as my cardiologist? NO. Just get me in the ball park within 5 bpm.  Its simplicity.  And what better place to take my pulse than where we teach med students to take it from, than the wrist?  

But what it does leave me with is two questions.  How long does this really stay relevant for me?  How long until this gadget is replaced with something more fully featured? Its a mouse trap.  Its just not one you've ever seen, because you use the same snap trap your grandparents used because it kills mice.  This one has a lot going on.  It kills mice two ways.  But that doesn't mean someone won't make a better mousetrap yet.  For me, does the utility outweigh the novelty?  I don't know yet.  After a day I'm still treating it like a piece of jewelry.  I take it off at night.  I take it off to do delicate or rough tasks.  But it goes back on.  Its a great watch.  Its clear to read.  Its sleek.  And I get the Red Sox scores and text messages with a tug of my shirt sleeve.   The Pebble smart watch is a winner.   For 150 bucks its a good deal.  When it drops under a 100, you better have one.... unless the next mouse trap hooks to your cell phone in a better way!


Both images are my own, as are my opinions!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Life With Wrangler


Life with Wrangler seems to be getting on track.   For the most part he listens to me.  That’s saying a lot for a puppy that’s 12 weeks old.  He still chews and bites at me.  Its not a vicious thing; its his version of playing.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, or I don’t bleed.  Were working on curbing that.  We’ve had two vet appointments and they say its normal for a puppy.   We’ll go with it. 

So far, crate training is going above average!  He will stay in it at night, and I can even sleep in my bed upstairs.  However, he tolerates it for a maximum of 8 hours.  After that, he barks and yips and howls to get out.   Still.  That’s along time for little guy to hold it, but sleeping helps.  We also us it to take naps in.  I’ve even caught him just wandering in there a few times.  All great signs!

Walks are the next biggest improvement.   Our first time out, we barely made it a block and couldn’t stay on course.  Everyday we are trying to get 2 walks in, and he can focus better and generally can go everywhere with minimal carry time.  When he does get carried is to cross the street [he tends to want to play in the middle of it], or when we won’t stop straining off the path.  A little bit of redirection, then he is ready to roll again.   Its usually a half hour of run around time up and down hills all around the park that’s across the street.  If he does well, we then go farther to a newer place he can sniff and he gets all the time he wants to sniff around.  But he has really improved with walks.  He will stay on the right side 75% of the time and moves at the right speed.  Otherwise he will dance all over the sidewalk and sniff at things or gallop along.  Still good for his age.

As far as play time: well, he shreds tennis balls in minutes!  My mother made the mistake of buying him a couple to chase…  He had peeled them like an orange and now I have neon green fluff everywhere.  Wrangler looked quite proud of that.  Kong toys are still the best, nuclear option.  I load it with a treat and give it a dab of peanut butter for crate time, and he’s good for 10 minutes.  Otherwise, we seem to enjoy toilet paper [it now can not be on the roll on the wall because he runs it off or chews it], shoe laces [I’ve replaced 2 pairs in past few weeks because of it], blue painters tape [which was left on a doorway] and any kind of zipper.  Yes. Zippers.   I don’t know why.  Metal, nylon, plastic, all of them get chewed up.  I have 2 coats I can’t wear now because the zippers are trashed.   But still, considering his teething stage, he’s doing well. 

Potty training is our big success.  He’s quite good about it.  He will go sit by the door if need be, but if we stick to the first out, 20 minutes after eating, and 20 minutes after play time, he’s not had any incidents.  And this little guy craps like a race horse!  So far so good.

Last but not least was bath time tonight!  Every morning when I shower he comes in, puts both paws up on the tub and cries as he tugs on the shower curtain; obviously he’s curious.  So we had our first bath tonight on my kitchen floor in a plastic tote.  I couldn’t get any pictures as I have to do this solo; but I will say it was funny watching his expressions!  He wanted out pretty bad. And he kept trying to drink the water or bite bubbles.  Pretty funny little guy!

A few people have asked me on twitter if I’d start a divergent Beagle bog… not interested… I neglect my Burrito blog [] as it is; so I introduced the #Beagle tag to filter my blog with. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lazy day

Even though he whines and cries, or bites at me when he plays hes still a good dog.

As I'm sitting here having a beer waiting for The Walking Dead to begin, he's passed out on my lap snoring away.  It's hard to deny how cute and innocent he is.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Show and Tell

.... other things, non beagle in my life...

Far Afield Podcast -- Rival Cast Media.

Do listen in.  This is the spin off show that came from the popular Grand Old Podcast, that really centers loosely around the 3 hosts Iowa roots [or issues].  Its a twice monthly run, sometimes up to 3 hours lin length, where we just sit around and have fun.   The other two hosts have shows in their own right, and I can just coast in and out where comfortable.  We bounce alot of humor off each other.  Seems to work well.  Lots of you are hitting me on twitter about the show with feedback.  I'm always listening.  Find stream links for the show on the networks site, or

.... working my day job is about to get nutty again.   The crazy business season is about underway.  Due to the market expansion, they are replacing a store nearest to me... meaning it goes dark; so my store gets greenlighted for the next 3 weeks of insane traffic.  Not that I haven't been through this before, but I still dread it a little bit.  Most of my staff is stretched thin, customers are upset about traveling 15 miles to my location, and the extra workload doesn't make me thrilled.  It should be over soon.  Then its just normal busy mode.  For the next 4 months.   sigh...

.... photo work has slowed.  My website is up and functioning, and some new images are up for purchase.   The last few months have been terrible to get it working.  The root of the problem was the buyout of FotoMoto a while back.  Accounts were not transitioned very well, and mine was actually frozen; worse yet, the links crashed out so I wasn't able to sell any work for a month.  After that, and tinkering with new settings; I managed to get new images up for about 3 weeks.   Then ICANN hit me.  Their policies on domain registration changed, my hosting company failed to inform me, so ICANN delisted my site.  Not cool.   I actually noticed my email was offline first; but a day later found a potential client calling me asking: "is this a joke, your website doesn't even exist?"  I was pissed.  After raging at my hosting provider for an hour, I was told it would take 24 hours to repopulate on DNS entries.  I laughed.  It should take seconds.  More than 10 years with my hosting provider is about to cost them my business over this.  When my contract expires, they harass me with letters, emails and phone calls: but when my site is going to be blacklisted because they wont offer me terms of service renewals on time? Hardly an apology.  I can bitch  more. I suppose, but its done and settle at this point.  My contract is up in June, so I hope Ipower is listening to the bad rap I'm banging out on them!   More photos are coming; due to the puppy though, I'm stuck keeping close to home, so expect some random macro works and small projects to experiment with light in the mean time.   When he gets bigger, we can go explore.

....  on the personal level....  I had a pretty big falling out a few months ago.  I try not to talk about it.  She ended up moving out, unannounced over a holiday.  It was upsetting to say the least.  Does it matter? No.  I can still pay my bills.  I still function.  And I still want her to be happy.  I will delicately state, it wasn't about me or what I did.  It was her.  It was her decision to leave; as I even tried to convince her to stay and work on things in her life.  I'm a good trusting soul for that sort of thing.  She meant alot to me anyhow.  But I'm not kidding myself, what was the future anyhow?  She was a recent divorcee from a long term marriage who questions alot of things about life as her own person. Thats fair.  For me, she was never interested in anything long term.  There never were going to be kids or marriage or long romantic unending stories.  There was no reason there couldn't be, but its her choice.  I do wish her the best.  I was honest when I told her that her future is important to me; but I have to be me, she has to be her.  Thats kind of where we left it.  Its fair, but we both lose to win in the end, if that makes sense.    I also had a birthday.  Right after all that mess.   Which was sobering as usual because of it.  Big thanks to the phone calls and messages from friends to cheer me up.  This year looks to be more changes ahead!  


Welcome Mr. Wrangler

Mr. Wrangler

The last few days have been consumed with this little guy!  I decided a few months ago I wanted to get my own pet again, and had been doing alot of window shopping.  Eventually I decided on a beagle because of the HoA issues of my condo.  After cruising alot of forums and websites, I decided to stay local; and can say Mr. Wrangler is also an Iowa native just like me.  I spend the day making a 7 hour, one way, drive and brought home a big challenge.  He is about 10 weeks old at this point, full of energy and chewing teeth!  We're learning pretty quickly though.  Potty training over 5 days has resulted in 2 incidents, of which one was my fault.  Crate training has been more cumbersome.  He hates it.  Clearly.  As I'm writing, hes napping in the crate, but it took a half hour to get him to go in, and even then he still cries for 10 minutes before settling down.   But so far, so good.  Honestly.  For a dog this young, with a first time puppy parent, by myself, were doing good.  Follow me on twitter: alvarado_scott  as I'm sure more pictures and posts about him will show up there.   He managed to sit still just long enough for one portrait with a real camera.  Hes definitely a cute little guy....   even if he chews my hands apart!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of Recent Things

Of recent things Scott;


I live in my own home.

I started over with my heart.

Found the greatest friendship I’d had to this point in my life.

Found a roommate to make life easy.

Lost a roommate making life more difficult.

Lost the friend, possibly for good, for reasons I don’t understand.

Felt my heart tell me to stop for good.

Resumed life alone in my own home.


I wish I had the time and space to brag more; but lets be honest: most people read this blog to see how messed up my life gets.   In short order, of the past few months, the above list, in order, pretty much is it.  Its sad.  At some point I hooked up with someone I had known for years.  We bonded.  We shared alot.  And… we were pretty damn good together.  She knew it, and so did I.  And somehow it went to crap.  She moved in with me.  She moved out.  She’s gone.  All the while, its not what I wanted.  Am I going to lie and say I didn’t want her?  Absolutely not.  I never had the chance to tell her why I was willing to do this; knowing the odds were good of it getting screwed up.  I shouldn’t really share it here either.  But consider all the posts about my life, my heart, and where I’d been, and extrapolate.  I wanted one hope.  I wanted one image.  One person through all of it.  And by the time I’d cleaned out most of my life, she and I showed up together doing the same things at the same time.  I will love that about her.  Despite the decisions she’s made. Of course I disagree with them.  But she doesn’t know which ones.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  She wasn’t willing to move forward and wasn’t ready in her heart to see it.  I did, and I do.  I love her for that.  I can’t hate her.  I can’t be angry.  I am upset.  But thats natual.  In the end, its me.  I don’t let her take the blame for anything else, except for the things she does.  I feel guilty.  I’m upset.  I’m the one that lost in all of this.   


Going forward.  Its time I really follow the words of people I trust.  From my friend out on the reservation, I received an email the day J moved out, even when I didn’t know she was moving [yes, she waited till I went to work, then cleaned out the house before I came home, and refused to answer me about it for two days].  He said the wind had turned sharply cold, the sky was suddenly dark and knew it was winter.  The wind, he said, blew that morning from the wrong direction and it carried with it the sand as he saw an eagle fly from my [east] direction.  For some reason, he knew it was about me he says.  He wrote to me to tell me the Great Spirit has blown strong and cold change.  That my path would be covered in dust and debris and uncertainty.  The eagle has flown from me.  But all these things he said might not have meant anything particular.  He told me he felt a great sorrow from the Spirit as he saw the eagle, and knew my heart was to be blown cold by this change.  He told me to be strong, to pray to Mother Earth, and know the Great Spirit of the circle will carry me along; it will shape the land, it will clear the skies again, and the winds will make me cold, so that the sun will warm me one day.  He said three great prayers and returned to the place he met me and burnt sage grass offering to the Great Spirit and to the Earth, and to my spirit to be strong.   I sat on the floor of my empty living room that night and re read what he said.  I was sad.  I was cold.  I was alone. Certainly everything about my journey and path was obscured and changed in one day.  So I wait for the Great Spirit, and I returned the blessing that night.  Thats all I can do these days. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


A quick out of context story....

As I sat out on the reservation, on the steps of some random trailer, in the middle of no where, South Dakota, deep in Pine Ridge; I thought about my life.   I thought about the things I was fortunate for.  I look around myself and realize the people I came to see, see me that way.  Fortunate.  Stupid.  Arrogant.  Gifted.  But teachable.  The wind kicked up sending dust and trash swirling about.  I felt more like I was in a trailer park, except that my Jeep was worth more than the trailer I was at.  My crappy income was more than the collective annual of the 4 people I'd come to see.  I felt fortunate.  But I felt like I worked for it.    I watched a trash bag flutter, while the garbage littered everything else around the fence line.   So close to its purpose, yet so far from being fulfilled.  That as probably me blowing around out here.  Trash on a fence line, so close to the bag, yet so far from being in it where I belong.

My friend, as I've come to think of him, was someone I met my first journey out the the "bush" as I call it.  He's a 50ish, average, long haired Sioux, who has lived his whole life on the reservation. His hair is still long and jet black, often braided.   I'll call him Eagle's Feather, to keep his identity vague.  To be clear, outsiders like me are not really welcome.  No one wants to associate with me.  My money is welcome, but I'm not.  But there isn't anything for me to spend it on.  There aren't any casinos on the res, no hotels really, not even a half ass placed to eat other than in Kyle.  Usually at the monuments near Porcupine, they still line up to sell me trinkets for 30 bucks off the highway.  That's about what I'm worth to these people.  

 Its  49 miles, on my odometer, to drive out to his trailer.  Its little more than a gravel road, with a gravel turn around in front.  His old mini van parked out side, with his daughter's Metro parked near it.  They have a small fenced section and a shed, that serves as protection for two old horses.   No one rides them.  They are too old.  There's no saddle or tack anyhow.   The one time I'd seen someone else ride out to their house was late at night, and the teenager used a rope bridal, without a saddle. It was an alarming sight in the dark.  Something I wish I could have photographed in a studio; the only way I could have captured it!! But,  hardly what you think of from the movies.  Eagle's Feather welcomed me, as he always had.  I hate to mention it, but I brought him a bottle of booze.  Its typical.  It a dry reservation.  No one asks much though; obviously I'm just a lost white man out here, who made a wrong turn... look any closer at him and hes a photographer that was looking for a new canyon to shoot.  Eagle's Feather always gives me an embrace somewhere between my elbow and my shoulder, and he always looks into my eyes asking me why I still come.   I laugh and tell him because the price is right!

Eagle's Feather is a low level member in the tribal council, who often led prayer and spiritual gatherings.  I had met him by accident as he was there to perform some funerary rites to an old grand mother that had died.  I, as I do, had wandered out onto the wrong road a few years before to take pictures, and they came upon me.  So that was the story of my first Sioux funeral.  He took interest in me that day because i was open to it all.  Because I didn't question anything and I asked to help and be a part, no just to observe.  I was told that the great spirits of the wind had carried me here to him, and the mother earth wished to keep me tied to the ground until I understood more.  His influence on my psyche was key at that point in time.  I did need some sort of grounding that I lacked.  I was exploring Buddhism.  It works for somethings, many of which were inside of me.  But it never gave me a place in the world at large.  Eagle's Feather saw me for that immediately.  So since then, I always stop by to see him.  Its my way of thanking him and renewing myself several years later.

This time I sat out here, talking on the steps to him, about how disconnected I felt.  He looks plainly past me to the canyon and the hills beyond me, as I begin to talk about the past year.   I felt like I had started to understand things.  That I was beginning to become comfortable with life and who I was. I knew I was alone.  I knew the point of my life was never   I told him that I had met someone that changed my life, mentally, she made things fun and interesting again. She was pretty.  She was fun.   Then she turned on me a few months later and left me to hang there for no reason.  No explanations, just abruptly tossed me aside and left me to feel worthless.  I told him about how much difference it made to feel a part of it all, and to feel connected.  He asked me why I was here, now, knowing the answer.  Because I wasn't connected.  He turns to me, "Wacignuni..." he begins.   Its a term to mean wandering.  He uses that with me, and made me learn it from the dictionary I bought.  He tells me a story about a day when the rabbit goes hunting as he always has and finds a family of bear and is ultimately eaten by the bears. Rabbit is a term for young person, but it makes the stories easier to relate to children. The point of the story was that rabbits wander into things not knowing where they go, most times it doesn't matter, but sometimes great things happen. Grave or awesome, the rabbit will only wander until that day or moment comes.  I can't say much.   I laugh and told him about the day he first met me.   He smiles and laughs too.  He tells me he wishes a bear would have eaten me that day to spare him all this.   

Being out on the reservation is much simpler.  Even though I see how squalid life is, its simpler.  No one has money.  No one, by and large,is really educated beyond 5th or 6th grade levels.  Very few finish school, or end up at the Lakota tribe run college.  Even fewer escape life on the reservation all together.   Yet, here I am.  I leave a new house I own, drive a nice car, away from a job I have, leaving my things behind as well as the people I felt blessed to have.   I come out in the desert to sit on the steps of a mobile home, thinking about my place in the world.   I don't understand it.   I come here to find guidance.  Simple guidance.  There isn't much.   He leads a prayer for me, and burns some sage in a bowl.  He takes my hand and marks it with some of the ash, and makes the traditional medicine wheel.  Eagle's Feather asks me what I really need in this world, and I think about that.   He told me the answer shouldn't require any thought.  The answer is, all that I need is provided for me by the 4 great directions of the earth.  He tells me that if I really am to have a wife, the the great spirit will provide for me. A great spirit would bring her to me.  Just as if I was hungry, so would I find food and water.  If I needed shelter, trees and caves were already provided for me.  He looks at me to remind me, my desires are not to be provided for, and that I know better.   

As a friend, I think Eagle's Feather would rather see me happy and fulfilled; yet I think he still would like to see me out on the res each year to hear about my own growth.  He often talks that I am ignorant of the will of the spirits of the earth.  I am.   I truly am.  But he tells me there is no shame in wanting someone to share my journeys with.  He goes on tell me that he thinks I'd make a fine son to him, that I have many great things to share, and many ways to be thankful to people in my life that many people wouldnt understand.   But he tells me, the only way to see it, is to see if the spirits provide for me; that rain falls so crops would grow, and that the sun shines to warm the earth and to show us to show us the way around it.  He understands how I feel.  He told me to continue to walk, and wander.  

I dont know that it makes much sense.   Thats what I thought about sitting on the steps.   After all that had happened, I was getting ready to leave as Eagle's Feather was inside talking with his daughter.  I watched the trash billow.  I thought back to all the dead cattle I had seen on the drive across the state.  What purpose did they provide?  What purpose do people on the reservation serve that dump garbage out on their own heritage area?  What do I really offer sitting on the steps in the desert to anyone back home?  I looked at the faint ash on my hand, and the circle of the medicine wheel.  As it turns all is balanced, all is humble and sacred.  Everything has a direction and a purpose, all is blessed in its simple existence and all is necessary.  Even that time alone in the desert is necessary.  As hard as it was to leave some of my creature comforts for a week, or hard to leave situations unresolved with people you feel committed to; it was harder to come back to it all after that.   I spent the week camping in a canvas tent, hiking and backpacking in parks.  I tried to forget people, or my feelings.   I had no cell service, and even my short wave radio didn't catch anything.  I was out wandering.  I came back, because all was provided for.  I sat on the steps thinking about that.   That sometimes it doesn't make sense; what was provided for you.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Drifting all alone just off the shore

If I were to make it a metaphor, I am awash, drifting endlessly in a small boat.

Everything keeps coming back to that. Even in my day dreams, I imagine myself being lost at see. I know its my own mind making sense of what I cant understand. Doesn't make it any more fair to me.

I should admit I did something stupid. I acted out on an urge. Thought, "hey Scott, why aren't you doing what you do right now?" So I did it. For years I'd wanted to get back to doing what I felt like. And when the mood would strike me; I act out in the most honest and endearing ways. I've wanted to be able to express that part of my life again for the past several years. I am a giver. Through and through. So, I turned around and sent a big playful order of flowers to the girl I met the other night. I called my florist, dreamt up a solution, and had the flowers arranged in a big toy pick up truck. Then it spent a few days without any answer. I kind of knew, deep down, if there wasn't an immediate good reaction, then lukewarm to bad was my best case scenario. So on the third day I get a nice, polite response. She was very surprised, enjoyed it, and was planning on moving away. Buzzkill.

I sit and realize though, that it isn't necessarily about this. The buzzkill is me carving off that piece of my pysche. Why do that shit? Everyone else would compliment me... telling me how bold it was... or how crazy it was that I could do that. It really never crossed my mind. Honestly, I've been looking for an outlet for that for a while. Get back to being me in some way. I held on to one girl for so many years, because I hated the idea of never having anyone to do that with... so I'd send her flowers, or do stupid shit. Here I am a few years later, realizing how frustrated I am, because there isnt anything I can do. So I try it again. Nothing. Like hooking up a jumper cable to a wrecked car.... it just doesnt go anywhere.

I have a hard time with that when i'm tired and should be sleeping. Im back on the shitty 15 hour day rotations, fresh off of 4 hours of sleep... and here my mind wanders about this kind of crap now. It probably isn't fair.

I sit and feel a slight twinge of guilt, thinking back about it. This is the kind of shit I've wanted to do for years. And, I should have been doing it. There was someone I should have done this sort of thing with, and I didn't do it because I felt like she and I werent ready for it. I should have done it. Here i am tossing away 100 bucks of dead flowers to a girl I'd known for 15 minutes; but I didn't send them to someone I'd known for years and cared about for too long to tell her. In a way I was right not to. She'd have been upset. I hate that feeling too. Knowing that whatever decisions I keep making, I can't ever seem to justify later on. But it never was that I didn't want to send them to the other girl. I did. I cancelled two orders at the last minute at different times. She doesn't know that. There are so many things I've wanted to do; but couldn't. I had to get to a place where I could do that again.

I say that, because I've been a giving person most of my life. I've been a very giving lover all of my life. The very first, fake, girlfriend I ever had... way back in kindergarten... started it. During the big Fun Night, I had a heart necklace engraved for her... I think it cost me 4 or 5 tickets... a lot of paper money for a kindergarten kid! Poor Debbie B! She never knew what hit her! That started 20 some years of madness I guess. But as a 30 something adult, I know the true value in what i do, when I give things. I give a piece of myself. it isn't just a toy, or flowers, or jewelry; it is a piece of me I give to them, to share. And as corny as that sounds, its hard to imagine some strange girl understanding me doing that. No wonder she didn't know what to say for 3 days. So why didn't I give to the girl that WAS deserving of it? I dunno. I wasn't ready to do that again. I wasn't ready to give up whatever was left of myself after what had happened, and what I had done to myself over the years.

In short, I have terrible luck with women. I alone, could give a new house and a car to a homeless woman, and still not get a date. I have always had that knack for being too much. People don't understand me. People don't want to. They always want whats simple, whats pretty, whats slightly less than accessible to them. I always stand there, waiting. I'm not pretty. In fact, I'm down right ugly. I'm extremely complex. And I'm always available. None of that seems good to anyone nowadays. But they always overlook, or wait too long to realize what i am good for. I care too much. I am loyal. I am a healer. I share. I give so much in experiences that its not a simple thing to approach. It scares people. It scares people because i don't go for the easy things either. I look inside people. I really try to put my effort into people that deserve it and me. When that rejection comes, its very difficult to take. Other peers thing its tough getting shut down by the blonde russian model at the bar... I laugh at her and dump the drink on her! Its the ones I stay up late with talking about things, sharing life with that I get attached to, that I really want to be with, that kill me in the end. Those are the ones that deserve the most from me, that is the hardest to give up on my end. If it were simple, it would be easier. Like flowers. Like those I'd send wrapped in a kids toy. Its a way to play with my heart and hers. Its all a metaphor I suppose.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

No Fate

I spent part of my morning watching Terminator 2 on netflix, on my new tv. I'm too lazy to hook up the blu ray player, and I only own it on DVD any how... besides.... its a wifi enabled tv.... its kinda cool to have netflix built right into the fucker. Anyway. I realize parts of the this one havent aged all that well, but some of it is great to this day. I remember how attached I was to it as a kid when it came out. John Costello and I went to see it in the theater. I remember we felt so lucky to get in as "under agers" but it was worth it. Explosions, terminators, Arnold. Great memories to have. As an adult I try to find those same root motivations in new things. Each new terminator movie that rolls out, for example, rekindles my spirit in the mystique of killer robots from the future. But the underpinning of the story is always that there is no fate but what we make. Sarah Connor carves this into a table during one scene in T2. " NO FATE" I found myself pausing the movie this morning to think of it.

We get up each day in this world and do what we do. How often do we sit and think, what is it I really want out of this day, in this world? When does that coincide with what we end up doing by the end of our day? Total it up. By the end of all of our days, what have we made? Lots of things for other people; little for ourselves. The idea that the future can change based on our actions today is probably true. Fate, has its place in the grand scheme of order... but not to this extent. I'd like to think that fate, or the things we lie destined to be doomed to; are that outlier... that five-percent we cant ever explain at the end of our lives. I'd like to say that I survived a heart attack because I forced myself to do it... I willed my heart to keep beating. Because i did. Instead, I lose sight of the fate that dropped me on a steel table that night in the first place. How do you end up dying of a heart attack at thirty? That part you cant explain. But you make of it what you will. I lived. Now, I wander around asking why I lived through it.

If there is no fate, then there really isnt any purpose. Fate has to have some pointed stick in this game. Somewhere in our lives, we all feel it jab us and move us along.

Uncontrolled Thoughts

One of the morning crew at work came by to talk to me the other day. He said he had some genuine concerns about one of the younger kids who ended up losing his job this week, basically because he went to pieces over his girl friend breaking up with him. I didnt have the heart to tell Rick what the real story was. Thats not for me to talk about... but the story he told me did make me laugh.

Did you ever hear the one about the snake that tried to cross the railroad tracks?

Well one day this snake thought there might be something better on the other side. So he slithers on up, pokes his head around, and waits. Eventually he gets the courage up to wrangle it over the hot tracks and he picks his way around the rocks and ties. Just as he gets to the other side, a train comes by in a furry, and runs him down, and it chops off the last inch or so of his tail! The snake winces in pain. He flips around, darting back and forth in dismay. After a moment, he turns around, and starts over the track to look around for the tip, hoping he could put himself back together. Before he realizes it, a second train comes by and lops him off right below the jaw. The moral of the story is, you can only lose your head when it comes to chasing a piece of tail.

I smiled when he finished telling it. Quick, to the point, solid punch line... makes a great little metaphor for all of us at times.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Strange Event Under The Lights

Thursday night was a strange one. Even for me.

About 15 minutes before the store closed, a customer comes back with a rented truck to return... being favorable to the people upfront, I go out to check it in and take care of it, rather than pull them across the store while they are busy settling drawers. As I walk up to the doors, I'm met by an attractive brunette with long hair in a blue shirt. She smiles at me. I ask who had the truck, and she walks over to meet me.

She insists immediately, that she might have left a cell phone charger in our truck. I laugh. "Its ok," I have to go walk and look at it anyhow. She, curiously, comes with me. I start making small talk as we walk across the parking lot. She immediately cuts in, "I didn't even know you guys had trucks to rent, it was so cool!" I laugh. We have lots of moments like this in the new store. She continues, "I needed it to move my bed... like my mattress and everything. I pretty much moved everything I own today all by myself!" We stopped at the truck as she said that. I look at her, realize shes probably my age, and definitely pretty attractive. "High five lady!" I say. She smiles, and protests.... "No... no its not good. I ... I kind of walked out on my fiancé today and just decided I'm through with it and him... so I moved out." I didn't know what to say.

She started explaining some of the situation as I fumbled inside to find her cell phone charger. It was a weird situation for her. Her fiancé wasn't good to her, she felt like she had settled too long. They were living in a house he owned, but couldn't afford, that was sold to him by his mother as part of a divorce settlement with his father. The house was in need of lots of repair, and he had somehow convinced her to move in, pay the mortgage and help pay to fix the place up. Again, I didn't quite know what to say, as I handed the charger to her. She stopped long enough to smile at me. She looked worried. I radioed in the mileage of the truck and that it was damage free. She crossed her arms and stood there, looking at me or past me.

So I started talking. I told her about me. I told her not to feel bad for that guy. At one point that was me in a way. I'd been walked out on, and even if it took me along time to deal with it, I was better for it. She dropped her story and demanded to know more about me. We kept at it walking back to the store. She kept looking up at me in my eyes, asking me why that girl broke up with me, or why she couldn't love me. i gave her the honest answer, I don't know why. I really never will, and it didn't really matter much to me anymore after all these years. I held the door open as she walked in to sign paperwork.

My mind was kind of running in circles. No one had ever come out of nowhere and started talking to me like that... especially someone like her in her position. I thought she was making it up, but I believed her at the same time. I didn't make sense to meet someone like this, at 10 o'clock at night on a Thursday. I watched her as she filled out a form, with a blonde friend of hers at the counter. I felt itchy. I felt compelled to do something. My life has been about doing things different lately. Its been about getting away from my comfort zone, to find whats real and what matters in my life to me. I pulled out my business card, and shakily started writing my phone number on it. I knew how awful of an idea this was. But I found myself doing it.

Almost instinctively she turned around, swished her hair, and makes a bee-line for me again. She puts her hands on the back of her hips, with her elbows pointed out, as she stands in front of me. I kind of blurt it out. "I uh... I... this is not me.... I really don't do this kind of shit... but.... this is my number.... why don't you call me sometime, I'd really like to talk to you some more," and I handed her my card. She kind of rolls her eyes and smiles and takes it, and puts it in her pocket and gives me a nod to follow her back outside. I just follow, blindly after her.

We lean against the bollards outside and keep talking about everything. She tells me that shes lived around here her whole life and know doesn't know what to do, I laugh and tell her the same thing, that except for college, I've been here too. She seems excited that I was an Iowa alum. She smiles, wrinkles up her nose, and says "oh my god, a Hawkeye, how cool!" I didn't want to tell her its practically a diploma mill any more. She says school was tough for her... nursing school. She tells me shes a nurse in Davenport, at East Rusholme. I know thats a hospital. I ask her what unit, but I was never prepared for her answer. She says the cardiac unit. Shes a nurse in the cardio ICU, where I had my heart attack two years ago. I tell her that, without thinking. She immediately seems worried or taken back. That I was too young for that. I worry if I crossed a line with my honesty. She wants more information... we talk. Its amazing. She knows my doctors... she knows how I was treated... she understands so many things about my heart that i don't. Amazing is the only word I could use.

Somehow we change the subject and keep talking about other things. She tells me her ex fiancé would tell her she has too lofty of goals and dreams for herself. I want her to tell me. "Well, I want to go to India..." I cut her off, "I want to go to Everest... on the Tibet side." We just stare at each other. After a moment, I tell her its a spiritual thing, that I wear my beads every day to remind myself of it.... She asks if I'm Catholic, and I take them off my wrist and hand them to her. Once she sees the seated Buddha on the beads, and the sanskrit characters, she smiles at me like shes going to cry. I don't know what else to say to her. I tell her the truth. Goals are so important to me. She nods, and crosses her arms, having moved closer to me, she looks up at me. I feel compelled to share it. I reach in my back pocket and pull out my notecard. "I even write down little goals for myself and carry them around," as i show it to her. After that, she never broke eye contact with me, and stands maybe 8 inches from me.

Before anything else could happen, someone kicks open the door, and stomps outside. I had been watched for a few minutes I suppose. She walks past me, never looking at me, and demands the mileage and information on the truck, while facing the girl, whom I still dont know. I stop and tell my coworker the mileage from memory, that the truck is fine, and dangle the key over her head [shes rather short]. I get a glare at me indirectly, as she forces paper work over to the girl to sign. My coworker then hurriedly snatches it up, stares at me, and huffs rapidly walking into the store, where she locks the door. The brunette gives me a wry smile, "shes... pleasant!," and laughs. I smile and laugh too, trying to make a half assed defense up, to which the brunette looks at me and says, "is there something with you and her.. I can see that" I shake my head no. Of course there is a story there. I feel like I need to lie though.

Her blonde friend then walks out the automatic door suddenly before we could talk. "Ok! Were all done for today!" The brunette turns and says, "hey this is like my new friend here.." To which I'm smiled at and given a thoughtful "thats cool!" remark. No one questions it. So the three of us start walking back out to the parking lot. I remind myself, I still have to drive the truck back in the locked yard, its not to keep hounding her. They make small talk about having moved everything, and how its been a long day. Her friend says, "well its not over, I still have a whole car full of shit to deal with!" Everyone kind of smiles. I realize, we are at their car. I stop. I don't want this to end. It has to.

As they unlock the car, the brunette smiles at me pulling her hair out of her face from the wind. She looks at me, straight in the eyes from the other side of the car and says, "Maybe I'll see you India.." I feel dejected. It is ending. I reply to her, "You know? I'd like that.... call me, we can see if we can get the same flight together." She nods, smiles, and laughs. She looks at me one more time, before she shuts the car door, and they drive away. And I am left standing in the parking lot at the store truck by myself.


I think to myself, in the past few days I fucked it up. I think, at other times, I did the exact right thing. I'll never know. Maybe not.

I never got her name. I never got her number. And somehow, I let her walk out of my life, just as quickly as she walked into it. I felt like I knew her more than I did, and that there was something more to her than just passing in the night. I feel like I should have gotten a text message seconds after the drove away. I kept looking at my phone for an hour. Nothing. Three days later... nothing. I'm sad.

But I remind myself, this poor girl just up and dumped out her life that night. She walked out on a fiancé, a place to live, and someone she [at one time] cared about. And I sit, jealous, that a stranger, whom never told me her name, isn't calling me immediately to get started with me.... all because i felt a connection. Who knows what she feels now. I swore I saw all the signs. Yet, my phone wont ring. I can't make it. I can't call her. I can't see her. I don't even know her name. Thats why i think I fucked it up.

Then I realize she has her own things to deal with, likely none of that is a fat guy, with a heart attack, working at a lumber yard, hitting on her the night she dumps her fiancé. Which, this is really all she knows right now. I can't blame her. I can't blame me either. Shes intelligent, shes got goals, shes a dreamer, she works hard, shes interested in me, and she understands my heart on several levels. I can't blame me for trying that. So thats why I think I did the right thing. I gave her my card. If she wants me; between my iphone and the store line / email, there is no other place I'd ever be reached at in my life. Thats up to her.

For all I know, that card went through the washer... ended up in the trash... or in the bottom of a box. I'll never know for sure. Maybe I will. Just maybe. It sure would make a great story, for a guy that has alot of them. It sure was a memorable way to start off with a girl who I can't name.