Monday, May 22, 2006

The Two Part Blog...

Part One: Along The Awesomely Plain Path...

I got up quite early this morning, iPod in hand, & digital camera around my neck. The goal was to enjoy a short, quiet walk while most of the world was still sleeping, and get some photos & ideas for new blogs.

It was a very short walk -- only about 2 feet.

Greeting me as I walked out of my door, were several bright, pink petals that had fallen from a nearby tree, onto my wooden steps. The contrast between the vibrant little marvels of nature, and the lifeless, colorless steps, immediately made me think:

No matter how plain the path ahead, remember to take the time to look down & appreciate the unexpected gifts that line your steps.

Part Two: Carrying The Load

As I came back inside, and started to transfer the pics from my camera onto my laptop, I turned on an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', which I had recorded a few weeks ago. One scene came up, where Chief Engineer O'Brien is reminiscing with an old Captain of his. They are remembering past battles in which they served, and a song that one of their fallen comrades used to sing. Together, they start to quietly sing this old, Irish ballad. The words were:

"The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone,
in the ranks of death you will find him.
His father's sword he hath girded on,
and his wild harp slung behind him.
'Land of Song!', said the warrior bard.
'Tho all the world betrays thee --
one sword, at least, thy rights shall guard;
one faithful harp shall praise thee!'"

I was reminded of a photo that I rec'd in an email last wk. It shows an American soldier -- truly the one sword who guards our Rights. Look at the patches and wording on the soldier's arm. (As with all pictures in any of my blogs, click on the pictures to enlarge). The only thing that needs to be added to the photo, is a simple: 'Thank you!' to all those serving in our military, who to the war is gone.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Without A Wind, We'll Lose Him!!...

In the classic, 1956 film by John Huston -- "Moby Dick" -- Capt. Ahab (superbly played by Gregory Peck) is in a relentless pursuit of the Great White Whale. At one pivotal point in the movie, Ahab and the crew of the Pequod have rowed out to give chase to Moby Dick. The great ocean beast has surfaced just beyond their little boats, and is slipping away from Ahab's grasp. Ahab looks up to Heaven with disdain and anger, and yells out: "Without a wind, we'll lose him!!"

There have been many more times than I care to admit, when I've cried out to Heaven, and offered my own, rather insistant 'advice' as to what I think I needed in order to get 'somewhere', or obtain 'something'. In my own pursuits of various Great White Whales, I've often let myself become so blinded by the intense Want of 'It' (whatever 'It' was, at the time), that I didn't realize where 'It' was leading me.

Ahab chased Moby Dick to his own demise, and ended up engulfed as much by his blind passion, as by the ocean itself. Here's hoping that I'll finally be smarter than Ahab, and recognize when it's time to lay down my oars, and silently accept Heaven's decisons for me, as I watch some of my Great White Whales just majestically swim away...

"Without a wind, we'll lose him!!"

... I need to be better at realizing that calm winds are more likely to make for smooth sailing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bigfoot: We Hardly Knew Ye (The Myths And Controversies Blog)...

It was one of my most terrifying nights. We had been to the movie theatre, and had watched a new 'documentary' movie about the great, hairy terror of the Pacific Northwest: Bigfoot! This movie featured the famous Bob Patterson film, which allegedly caught the elusive, large beast walking across a wooded clearing. Of course, it had interviews w/eye witnesses, and scientists, and assorted friends of friends of friends who knew someone who knew someone who saw the Yeti. And at key moments throughout the movie, the stereo speakers of the movie house (yes, only stereo back then) rumbled with a shrill, authentic re-creation of what a Bigfoot would sound like.

It sent secret shivers up my spine.

And that night, every shadow in the quiet bedroom seemed to move. There seemed to be a beastly presence, which I knew was
somehow just outside of the bedroom window... watching me. I remember being very afraid, and absolutely certain that the hairy brute had trekked his way from Oregon, to our front yard. And I knew that at any moment, I'd hear the awful, shrill scream from that nasty beast.

Through the yrs, I watched many other television 'documentaries' on Bigfoot, that would come out from time to time. It became all too familiar: the Plaster of Paris molds of incredibly large, apeman feet. The endless line of experts telling me why everything in the casting was anthropologically correct, and therefore true. And of course, the friends of friends of friends...

As it turned out, the night of fear & dread that I experienced after watching that movie, was a waste of adrenalin. In 2004, one of the men associated w/the famous Patterson film, confessed that the Bigfoot who was casually strolling across the wooded clearing, was really a retired Pepsi salesman from Yakima, Washington, dressed-up in a kind-of ape suit.


I swallowed 'whole' the other great urban myths that every kid growing up in the late 60's/early 70's became exposed to: UFOs, Bermuda Triangle, Loch Ness Monster, JFK Conspiracy, etc... It even got to the point where me and the neighbor kid, barely in our early teens, were planning out how we'd somehow save our money (what money?), rent a boat, and sail into the dreaded Bermuda Triangle, & solve the mystery -- once & for all! Nevermind that neither of us even had a Learner's Permit for a car. We hunched over maps and charts of the Caribbean, and spent an entire summer afternoon laying out our route, and what provisions we'd need. We were really gonna do this!

P.T. Barnum must've been laughing at us, somewhere.

Let me get some things off of my chest. Take a seat -- this might take a few minutes:

- There never was, is, or shall be a large, elusive, hairy Apeman, Bigfoot, Yeti, Abominable Snow Creature, Missing-Link Ancestor, etc... roaming the American Pacific Northwest, the Himalayas, Siberia, or anywhere else. Retired Pepsi salesman, maybe. Bigfoot? Yeh, right.

-- The Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured fantasy. Planes crash. Ships sink. People get drunk & stupid and try to play Commodore Nelson. It's always awful when lives are lost. They are someone's brother, or sister, or son, or daughter, or parent. But don't look for the cause as being some vortex planted by the Lost Inhabitants of Atlantis, or a Time-Rift Beacon for Spaceships from Alpha Centauri, or even Beelzubul himself, rowing in a raft. I don't buy it.

-- JFK was killed, terribly, by Lee Harvey Oswald. Not by the mafia. Or by the Reds. Or Castro. Or the CIA. Or disgruntled Generals. Or anyone else. Nut-cases with rifles can do awful things. But a government conspiracy to kill JFK and cover it up? Gimme a break. A conspiracy afterwards to hide the ineptness at the autopsy, and the general screw-ups that bureaucrats & politicians make when the government really isn't filled with 'the best & the brightest' -- perhaps. But, as hard as it is to think that one man, acting alone, can cause such tragedy -- believe it. Oswald acted alone. The only 'patsy' was the public's ability to ignore the unavoidable facts, and to swallow fables & chase shadows in the Grassy Knoll.

-- There is no Loch Ness Monster. Unless you count the cute, little stuffed animals & pendants & t-shirts which tourists spend big bucks on, after a visit to that part of Scotland. The Loch is an enclosed area, and has been swept by modern sonar, radar, acoustics, and infrared/heat seeking instruments -- inch by inch -- & no sea monster was discovered hiding on the bottom depths, holding it's breath. Nada for Nessie.

And while I'm at it, can we as individuals please stop blaming everyone but ourselves for actions that we, ourselves, take? Life has no guarantees of smooth sailing -- but when things go wrong (and they will), it doesn't make us a 'victim'.

For example, if any of us go into McDonald's (or any such fast food place), and Super Size our Big Mac, Fries, Chicken McNuggets, Strawberry Shake, and (Diet!) Coke, then we shouldn't be too surprised when we start to put on the pounds. And I'm sorry, but it isn't Ronald McDonald's fault. Neither he, nor the Hamburgler, kidnapped us off of the street, with loaded ketchup dispensers in hand, and forced us to go in there, and order what we did. So, please, enough of the 'Ima Victim' lawsuits against the fast food joints for our weight increases, and related medical problems. And btw, we should all have enough sense to know that when we order Hot Coffee or Hot Chocolate, it's gonna be HOT! Well, duh!! Blows me away that some juries actually awarded some McIdiots millions of $$ because they burned themselves drinking/or spilling hot coffee (evidently thinking it was gonna be McGulpable Coffee??). Chaps my hide knowing that some of these people are now set for life, financially, because oooo!, oooo!, the coffee was too hot! Next time, please try ordering from Baby Bear #3, maybe then it will be jussst right! Meanwhile, you & I must work our butts off, and will probably never be as well set up as some of these dufuses are.

So, please! I need to use common sense the next time someone goes on TV or the internet, and spouts off about being held in a cave by a clan of Yeti. Or when
someone claims to know where Elvis is 'hiding'.

A little common sense can go a long way. It might not make our life stress free; but I can think of at least one night, long ago, when one scared, little kid would've gotten a peaceful nite's rest. Maybe I can sue the producers of that 'documentary'? Truly, it must've somehow scarred me for life, & caused me mental suffering and damage (as proof, try re-reading some of my earlier blogs). Yes, I can blame it all on bigfoot, or a retired Pepsi salesman.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Let It Rain...

After enduring many months of winter's cold n snow, being awoken by the actual sound of rain on the roof was a welcome change. As the rain came down, I layed there for almost an hour... just listening.

I remembered once, when I was a kid, how I hid out in the perfect 'fort' during one of those sudden, summer rain bursts. Of course, I was riding my fast-as-the-wind green bike, & was quite a distance away from the house when it first started to sprinkle. I hadn't turned back, and headed for home fo
r even a minute, when it started to pour. With no hope of pedalling it home without looking like a drowned rat, I spied a group of lilac bushes snuggled-up against a tall, wooden fence. It's amazing how resourceful a twelve yr old can be, using just a little imagination.
I made my way to the lilacs. Between the very large, full bushes was a natural arch. It was just wide & tall enough for me to be able to sit down quite comfortably under it's fragrant protection, & onto a convenient patch of dry grass. Beneath this refuge from the storm, I listened to the rumbling thunder, the strong wind, the incessant sound of rain pelloting everything around me, & I watched the free display of wicked lightning. I even played the 'what shape does that cloud make?' game (which is just as fun when you are by yourself). But mostly, I remember that I sat there... and just listened.

So, when I was awoken by the sounds of the first, real rainstorm of the yr, I fluffed-up my pillow, & resisted the urge to roll-over in bed, & fire-up the neaby laptop. No -- not even the lure of technology, with it's back-lit, bright blue buttons & it's colorful browsing tabs, was strong enough to draw me away from that cove of royal purple lilacs, & the sights, sounds, and fragrances of that rainy day, so many yrs ago. There are few things as lastingly memorable as the combined scent of moist lilacs, and fresh, summer rain. Even laying there in bed, I swear that I could almost make out the slight aroma of blooming, wet lilacs...

When the last pitter-pats of rain had ceased falling onto the roof, I got up, and opened the drapes. I grabbed my digital camera, and snapped a few pics of the clouds (shown here, in this blog). Had I gotten out of bed earlier, I probably could've taken some really good pictures of the clouds, while it was still raining -- capturing their wispyness, & washed-out, water-color shapes... but I'm glad I didn't. This was only the first, real rainstorm of the
entire yr, and there will be other opportunities to capture images of rain-swollen clouds. Maybe then, I will grab my digital camera, and fire-off a few shots...

... but on this day, it was far better to lay there...
and just listen.