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Four or Five Moments

Working with a live wire is similar to being a superhero. As Colossus tells Deadpool, “Four or five moments—that’s all it takes to be a hero,” or becoming a tinder-ash figure standing with a wire in your hand.

Electricity flows around and through us ever charging our psyches and firing our synapses. However, a 120-volt jolt of sudden electricity will toss you across the room. In the corner, you whimper and think about your near brush with death.

As a child, I shoved the bare wire ends of a 12-volt lamp into a 120-volt outlet. The wires fit into the holes, so why not?

Aside from the pop of the bulb, the smell of an electrical arc splitting oxygen atoms into ozone, and the rapid flight across the room, I learned alternating and direct current are very different.

This was moment four of at least five other moments of learning and results near death. I am surprised I lived to be 54.


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Scribbles, March 14, 2018

I forgot it was pie day.

When I was 8, we visited my grandmother’s ranch for a big reunion. All of the cousins were there. In the middle of a table a huge strawberry pie took center stage surrounded by apple, cherry, and pumpkin pies. The strawberry one made my mouth water. My cousin wanted me to eat the pumpkin and suggested a pact. We could eat the pumpkin first, then the strawberry. I relented and took a slice of pumpkin. It was good but I still imagined biting into one of those big strawberries. I finished my pumpkin slice and went back to the pie table. The strawberry pie was gone! Everyone else had taken a slice. To this day, strawberry pie seems magical.

~

You usta could

I never failed to find the most unusual item at the dollar store. Walking the isles would always display something I needed. And I always seemed to find what I needed.

No more.

Now when you go to the store, you find rows of the same stuff sold by different people. Variety stores no longer showcase variety.

Take this item.

You’d think it would be with the combs. Nope. Or the hair products. Nope. The only place I found it without walking miles was Amazon. The new variety store is located in Seattle and two clicks from my desk.

~

Old Children

Ever notice how the old childhood dynamic returns when you meet up with your family? If you spent your childhood tormented by your brother, likely the torment will continue at the family picnic. Memories of the sibling squables return, then the resentment, then the strange outburst about how he always finds a way to torment you whenever he is around. Then the silence as mom and dad try to put everyone back into a happy state.

No matter what the 50-year-old becomes 5 again and the old patterns return. Old children become babies lashing out, screaming, and pouting. Then the picnic ends and the memories tucked away to be brought out again another time. Everyone warmly hugs each other; tormentor and tormented. All is forgiven until the next picnic.


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A Day of Rest

Day 131: 5 Minute Freewrite: Tuesday – Prompt: solitude

Prompt by @mariannewest. Words by @wordymouth.

She walked passing only a few other couples on their way down.

She smiled, waved, and appropriately nodded. Not too bad for a Tuesday. There could be more people on the trail.

In the canopy, the limbs bustled together in a shallow breeze. At her level, the ground, rocks, and ferns stayed perfectly still. Everything was so green. She listened for a sound. Hearing none, she made some noise grinding off a rock with her boot.

Off trail, a large Douglas Pine lay on its side covering the last melt of snow and ice. A Carpenter ant wandered the bare surface climbing over the beetle tracks exposed in the wood by erosion. It carried a bit of seed over the pine. She waited for it to pass over the side, then sat down on the wood.

She looked across the forest floor to the far side of the canyon where a waterfall fell into a green pool. She breathed in slowly. Then she breathed out. The cathedral of solitude gave her rest.

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I Wonder

At the moment, only my light switch in the bathroom comes to mind. Did I turn it off?

Which leads me to think about Switch, a super secret data farm in the desert hosting all the knowledge saved by some of the biggest data companies in the world. So big, Switch needs its own power grid.

Which leads my back to the light switch. Boy, I hope I turned that off. However, it powers LED lights so the cost of electricity should be nill.

Which leads my back to Switch and all the power those computers must need to keep cool and running. A friend took a tour inside and he said it was cleaner than my bathroom.

Which takes me back to the bathroom switch and, it’s no use thinking about it.

My friend said Switch is guarded by former Israeli Mossad officers who treat you like some sort of spy and make you submit to a hand search before you can go inside.

Which makes me wonder if they use switches to punish bad actors.

Which leads me to another story better told away from the kids.

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Iron Skillet Chicken

We traveled to Lakeview, Oregon to look at a car auction when I was nine-years-old. I remember being told not to raise my hand during the action because my dad didn’t really want to buy an antique car. And of course, I raised my hand causing all sorts of commotion. I was outbid and everything went back to normal. I still see my mom’s surprised face and feeling sheepish.

After the auction, we went by the Chinese restaurant by mom liked. However, for some reason they must have been crowded because we drove by without going in. I was very hungry and figured we weren’t going to eat for another hour. I was worried!

I used to try and use my thoughts from the back seat to get my dad do things. I would scrunch up my face and think about they thing I wanted him do. I was so busy projecting my mind, I don’t know if others noticed. Mom’s been dead for a long time, so I have no way to ask her and dad, was too busy driving to notice.

Anyway, my mind power must have worked because we stopped at a diner with a hung skillet on the roof. It looked like a promising place. Inside, they were all eating fried chicken, biscuits, corn cobs, and mashed potatoes. What a sight! We ordered and I waited for the chicken to cook. The kitchen became dark; a cook had let the iron skillet get too hot and the oil burned. When he dropped the chicken down, it popped in the oil, and quickly seared the juices inside.

I was over the top excited about this meal. And it didn’t disappoint. We left the restaurant and barely a mile down the road I was sleeping and dreaming about that meal.


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Regret: Scribble, Feb. 9, 2018

Sometimes you look back and realize that things were not too bad back when you had hair and weighed 100 pounds less. Of course, there was less to worry about too. More time to relax.

There are the might have beens to consider too. Like, what might have been if I had just saved money instead of spending it on records? Or what might have been if I had turned down my second job and just stayed in Idaho? Of course, what might have been if I had not taken the job?

I regret not being a better son or brother. I regret some of the things I said. I regret not saying some things.

Doubt doesn’t really creep up in these thoughts. Honestly, I would change only a few things. I would like to get back the wasted years between 2008 and 2015 when the economy tanked and my plans were tossed out the window. I regret that investment at the top instead of the bottom. I regret the struggles, the confusion, and the worry. At the time they seemed like good decisions. So, there’s no doubt.

I still want to have it all. I regret that not everyone agrees.

Mostly, I regret nothing.

 


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Dallas 3 a.m.

On Oct 1, I woke in Dallas at 3 a.m. before my flight back to Las Vegas. Picking the morning flight over the red eye became a battle of trying to sleep in a too soft bed with a thin pillow. I might have slept better on the overnight. I should have just stayed awake and pretended I was 20 again.

I hit stop on the phone alarm and saw a long line of alerts. In the dark, the light of the phone let me know, “20 dead in Las Vegas. More than 200 wounded.”

It was 1 a.m. in Vegas; it had just happened.

For years, I feared hearing a mass shooting in my city. Too many tourists; too many opportunities. It seemed very real.

I spent the weekend with Katie in north Texas. A fan of country, she would have been at the concert. Thankfully, she was in bed in Denton.

Matthew tried to get tickets to the Route 91 Concert on Saturday. He texted to say he had couldn’t get tickets. That left my son Albert. My phone showed he walked into the house at 10:06 p.m.; two minutes before the mass murder.

I sat in the dark and thought how lucky we were. None of our kids were there. Relief and then horror as an alert put the death toll over 50.

We landed in Las Vegas after 7 a.m. Curtains flowed out of two windows at the Mandalay Bay. The Strip was closed so we took Maryland Parkway to work. It felt like the wind had taken the heart out of Las Vegas.

A Justice tried to give blood but the line was 3 hours deep and she had to come back to hear oral arguments. She never was able to give blood.

Albert woke up confused. He read my text, “Are you okay?” He looked out the window. A bus went by so he figured everything was okay. Then he Googled Las Vegas and saw the news. “Oh, that’s why they texted.”

He went out and bought six cases of water to take to the first responders. It seemed like all he could do. He talked to a few of them. Everyone was feeling grief. Not too many people wanted to talk about what had happened.

He kept pausing the news to ask us questions. “Why did he do it?” “I can’t believe he did it.” “Do you think he cared?”

I didn’t know what to say. I had the same questions.

I donated some money to the Vegas Shooting Fund. By the end of the week, it totaled more than $10 million.

Most of the victims were from California. Of my friends, at least 12 knew somebody shot or killed. A large number of people were from my hometown of Bishop. One little town of 4,000 people and so many people were at the concert.

Las Vegas gets a bad reputation as a place no one calls home. Nearly 50 million people visit every year.

But on the first day, United Blood Services collected more than 600 pints of blood; they are lucky to collect 100 pints a day. As people stood in line, businesses brought sandwiches, water, pizza, cake, umbrellas, and chairs. Everyone wanted to help. Our community showed through.

By the end of the week, you could find #VegasStrong on most of social media accounts and billboards around the city.

The mass murder stung us. But it didn’t stop us from being people who care.

I’m still numb to the whole event. I would give anything to wake up in Dallas at 3 a.m. to see nothing on my phone.

 

 


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Scribble, June 19, 2017

Finished a walk at 7:30 this morning and the temperature already reached 93 and will reach 114 this evening. Already hot and oppressive. A Raver asked me for some change; I wore new pants. The Electric Daisy Concert ended with girls dropped off in front of the courthouse wearing satin exercise shorts or bikinis. A few went straight to the ATM by the Palm Stars. One asked me for change.

***

I nearly passed out in the garden Sunday. I think it was already 105 by that point. Sitting in the shade, the sun seemed so bright. I wonder if miners crossing Death Valley just saw a bright light, and then, poop dead?

***

A serious funk obviously brought on by summer. The only thing to do in this heat is siesta.

***

Reality check: At least I’m not 6,000 miles from home wearing 100 pounds of gear and laced up boots in 120-degree heat. I’ll just sit here in the air conditioning and get over myself.

***

Read this weekend my favorite song off the Joshua Tree album tells the story of a couple on heroin planning a big score. I just saw it as a woman realizing she had to move on from an abusive relationship. The heroin story seems more authentic. There is always two sides to a story.

***

Everyone forgets the big picture. A van plows over people walking across the London Bridge. It is Extremist Islamic terrorism. A van plows over Muslims exiting a mosque. It is Islamophobia. Could it be a sick mind exacting revenge for the terrorism the month before? Even I’m doing it; no one wants to call Extremist Islamic Terrorism a reason to fuel hate. The two events are not isolated. The whole thing is a systemic wound.

***

The cream tastes sweet on my tongue and I long for the days of warm cookies from the oven and naps.

 

 


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Scribble, June 07, 2017

Been off taking care of other things and not writing. I missed the keyboard! I thought it would be a good idea to sit down and type. Fair warning: none of this may interest you.

***

We take the idea of completing our chores, interests, obligations, and everyday tasks for granted. Like they will never end. And then they do. What have we accomplished? And does it matter? Just some of my thoughts this week.

***

The temperature reached 102 Tuesday, yet the weatherman said it only felt like 96. Meanwhile in west Texas, it reached 89 but felt like 91. A balance of humidity, I guess. It really can be a dry heat in Las Vegas.

***

Somehow through incompetence or brain death I managed to let one of my domains expire. I probably intended to walk away from it. So now, the new owner wants $5,000 to start the bidding on getting it back to me. I think I’ll pass. Hopefully, someone will find it useful.

***

By the airport someone has put up a billboard with only clouds on it. I wonder what the metaphor means? Cloud services? It’s better up here? Fly the cloudy skies? I suppose more information is forthcoming. And since I don’t plan a trip anytime soon, I probably will never know the answer.

***

The ancestry.com app works like a dream. I’ve been adding information like a wild man. Of course, just when you are on a roll, the company tries to sell you something it gave you minutes ago for a different ancestor. Pretty clever. I, of course, am not paying. I have ways of getting the information out of the app for free. I know nothing!

***

It’s easy to get sucked into ancestry.com and not write.

***

What would you do if all of the knowledge you needed to complete a complex task was on a flash drive, but you had no way to retrieve the files? Let’s assume you’re in space floating toward a new planet and there is no other way to fix the problem. Would you fix the flash drive or just sit around frustrated? I think this is how Daniels must have felt when David/Walter locked her in the hyperbolic chamber to sleep while he hatched the new aliens.

***

A BLT with avocado and and egg. Different.

 


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