Sessions

Abby and I smile in amazing autumn sunshine at our house last week. I hope this image expresses the intimacy and love we share every day.
Abby and I smile in amazing autumn sunshine at our house last week. I hope this image expresses the intimacy and love we share every day.
The last time we had a photo session with Robert, my hair was much shorter, and Abby and I were both heavier. Neither of us was ever overweight, but, as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin.
The last time we had a photo session with Robert, my hair was much shorter, and Abby and I were both heavier. Neither of us was ever overweight, but, as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin.

There is an ale house in downtown Ada not far from my workplace, run by some musician friends of mine, called Sessions. I know they have some great sounds, and I would love to go, but their main gigs are always on Monday, when I am either teaching or attending Open Mic Nyte just down the street.

I know it sounds ludicrous to complain about too much culture, but it’s stretching me thin.

Last Monday I attended some sessions of my own, including a over-the-top great portrait session of my wife Abby and me here at home, thanks to a visit from Robert, our very-long-time friend, with whom I have been taking pictures since college. From the day he told us he was coming for a visit, I wanted him to photograph us, particularly since, as a photographer, I don’t get as many chances to be in pictures as other people.

Compare this image with the one from 2016 and the differences are obvious. I really like the way we look, and our relationship, these days, and we are both grateful that Robert was able to capture these moments.
Compare this image with the one from 2016 and the differences are obvious. I really like the way we look, and our relationship, these days, and we are both grateful that Robert was able to capture these moments.
After our photo session, Robert and I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a long walk in the woods.
After our photo session, Robert and I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a long walk in the woods.
Robert chews on a piece of straw on our long walk in the woods far behind our house.
Robert chews on a piece of straw on our long walk in the woods far behind our house.
These are pages from my journal in 1998. As you can see, I was writing a lot then, most of it angsty and chaotic.
These are pages from my journal in 1998. As you can see, I was writing a lot then, most of it angsty and chaotic.

Later that night, I attended Open Mic Nyte, and, at my urging, was joined by long-time friend Jamie. Entire coincidentally, I brought the journal from 1998 when she and I first met, and we had tons of laughs about it.

The night was full of talent, but the biggest hit was when Mackenzee (Mac) Crosby played her guitar and sang. She is a charming musician, and a great soul who has endured too much tragedy in her young life. She’s always looked up to me as a mentor, which is very flattering.

Mackenzee Crosby plays and sings at Open Mic Nyte last week. She told me she's thinking of driving to Oregon soon, which sounds amazing.
Mackenzee Crosby plays and sings at Open Mic Nyte last week. She told me she’s thinking of driving to Oregon soon, which sounds amazing.
Your host waxes poetic at Open Mic Nyte last week about the demise of our wonderful friend Ann Kelley.
Your host waxes poetic at Open Mic Nyte last week about the demise of our wonderful friend Ann Kelley.

At Open Mic, I read at length about the death of one of my best friends, Ann Kelley, on the anniversary of her passing in 2012 at the age of 41. I have been thinking about her a lot the last few days, and I miss her. Jamie does too.

FInally, Christmas is coming, and later today I’ll set up the tree and get some lights on it. Thursday is the Parade of Lights, and the kids, Abby’s daughter Chele and her husband Tom with our grandson Paul, are coming for Christmas. I hope it will be as good a session as I’ve had recently.

We love it when Robert is able to photograph us, and he loves doing it. Compared to our last session in January 2016, my hair is much longer, and Abby and I have both lost some weight. I think we look great.
We love it when Robert is able to photograph us, and he loves doing it. Compared to our last session in January 2016, my hair is much longer, and Abby and I have both lost some weight. I think we look great.
0

Sore Arms and Unfriending Jerks

This is written on the back cover of the journal of a high school friend of mine. I won't dispute its veracity.
This is written on the back cover of the journal of a high school friend of mine. I won’t dispute its veracity.

I recently “unfriended” someone on one of the popular social media platforms.  I knew him in college from our mutual darkroom use in Copeland Hall at Oklahoma University. I didn’t like him all that much then. Among other things, he suffered from the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

On this occasion I ended our social media relationship because he is one of those people who try to score off of your mistakes in the comments section of your posts, smarting off and trying to make you look foolish in the process. They think it makes them look smart and cool, but it actually just makes them look like insecure assholes.

Unfriending them won’t educate them in any way, but it will end their constant parade of smart-assery. It’s my social media page, after all.

Also of note, I reconnected with a high school acquaintance, a former cheerleader named Stacey, who I like and respect, and who opened up to me. It’s nice to talk to people like her; she is the polar opposite of the people I unfriended.

In other, less annoying news, Abby and I got our flu shots this week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: influenza vaccinations can’t give you the flu, and if you get sick after one, you were either unlucky, or, in most cases, don’t really have flu. What most people don’t seem to understand is that influenza is only one of the constellation of wintertime illnesses you can get, and most of those diseases aren’t flu. The true giveaways for flu are sudden onset, fever of at least 101º, and a dry cough that becomes productive accompanied by back pain. Flu is not “stomach flu,” and it’s not a head cold or a strep infection. Sometimes doctors tell people they have the flu so they can get them out of their offices. Influenza is very dangerous, and if you have it, you will be very sick. Stop saying you have the flu.

I am thinking about this today because this year’s vaccine packs a punch, such that it made my arm very sore at the injection site. I kind of like this, as it reminds me that the vaccine is prompting an immune response.

I posted this photo Tuesday night. My friend Jeanie shot it for me. Lots of people saw it and liked it, but one jerkoff had to make yet another smart-ass comment at my expense, and it was the last strike for him.
I posted this photo Tuesday night. My friend Jeanie shot it for me. Lots of people saw it and liked it, but one jerkoff had to make yet another smart-ass comment at my expense, and it was the last strike for him.
2+

Hawken’s Man Cave, and a Happy Place

Hawken the epic Irish Wolfhound and I walk through the west pasture last night. When it's warm out, this patch of land is full of ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy, but now, after the first freeze, it is our playground.
Hawken the epic Irish Wolfhound and I walk through the west pasture last night. When it’s warm out, this patch of land is full of ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy, but now, after the first freeze, it is our playground.
The summer of peppers is over, as shown in this image of the garden after our hard freeze this week.
The summer of peppers is over, as shown in this image of the garden after our hard freeze this week.

November came early this year. It wasn’t just a first freeze, which we expect around this time, but a hard freeze, and several days of it.

One significant responsibility is to our outdoor dog, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. Though he wears a thick winter coat and is a hearty, robust animal, we hate the idea of him being uncomfortable.

Earlier this week as the cold rolled in, I collected what I could from the shed, mostly unused doors, and enclosed the area under the back deck where he lives. He has a dog house and a chicken pen, but from the day we got him as a puppy, he has made his home under the deck.

Using old doors and shelves, I mostly enclosed the area under the back deck to help shelter Hawken, our backyard wolfhound, from the cold. Also noted: when it warms back up, it's time to repaint that deck.
Using old doors and shelves, I mostly enclosed the area under the back deck to help shelter Hawken, our backyard wolfhound, from the cold. Also noted: when it warms back up, it’s time to repaint that deck.
I placed this propane heater in the space under the back, being careful that it wasn't a fire hazard.
I placed this propane heater in the space under the back, being careful that it wasn’t a fire hazard.

I also lit a propane heater under there, carefully placed so it wouldn’t be a fire hazard. Several times this week, I ducked under there with him to find it tolerably warm. In the mornings, I find him curled up right there, and he feels warm to the touch, so this scheme works well.

I’ve been looking forward to the first freeze. Though it marks the end of the garden, it also marks the beginning of the season during which I can walk Hawken on very long walks far back into the woods, since after the first freeze the ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, and poison ivy are gone. He and I have a great time on those long walks, exploring and escaping, and I look forward to every one of them.

This view looks west from the corner of the west pasture toward the "new" highway. You can see a green metal gate at the end of the easement, which marks how far west we can walk. From there we often turn south and walk the oil well road for half a mile. We have never seen anyone else out there.
This view looks west from the corner of the west pasture toward the “new” highway. You can see a green metal gate at the end of the easement, which marks how far west we can walk. From there we often turn south and walk the oil well road for half a mile. We have never seen anyone else out there.
I photographed these leaves on our walk last night. Though our woods have a Blair Witchiness to them, we have never been stalked by anything supernatural.
I photographed these leaves on our walk last night. Though our woods have a Blair Witchiness to them, we have never been stalked by anything supernatural.
1+

A Dark Result

The sun goes down behind our house after a beautiful day Saturday.
The sun goes down behind our house after a beautiful day Saturday.

“Well don’t you know the sound of anger brings a dark result
And every insult is like a lightning bolt…” ~Third Eye Blind, Dao of St. Paul

Readers in many states across America set their clocks back a hour this weekend to be part of Standard Time. There are a lot of opinions about the nature and necessity of Daylight Saving Time, but I adapt to it pretty well. I just have to dial my brain back an hour for catching last light and having enough time to walk Hawken.

Hawken drinks from the pond a couple of days ago. I know it's not good for him, so I only let him taste, not get his fill.
Hawken drinks from the pond a couple of days ago. I know it’s not good for him, so I only let him taste, not get his fill.
Bell peppers sit in my basket two nights ago. They are good to eat alone, as a salad, or as an ingredient in burritos, soups, beans and more, and they are very nutritious.
Bell peppers sit in my basket two nights ago. They are good to eat alone, as a salad, or as an ingredient in burritos, soups, beans and more, and they are very nutritious.

Tomorrow is a mid-term election day, and I hope to be encouraged and am prepared to be disappointed. In an interesting turn, I have known and photographed the three Oklahoma House District 25 candidates for most of my life. I rented an airplane from one of them for a while in the 1990s. They’re all good guys and they all have our best interests in mind.

I don’t see a freeze in the immediate forecast, but there are some 30s later in the week. I only have green peppers left, but plenty of those. Others who garden agree that 2018 was the year of the green pepper. I’ve never had this many. Just two night ago, I picked another 15. I never get tired of eating them.

With ample rain and mild days, this autumn is really showing off. I hope I am leading the way to it photographically. I have a beginning digital photography class tonight, and we can talk about it.

A photography student named Danielle made this image of me last month. I thought it was fun.
A photography student named Danielle made this image of me last month. I thought it was fun.

Readers might recall that Max the Chihuahua is old and ill lately. He seems to be a little better with daily medication. We still worry when he wheezes, and you can feel his heart murmur in his chest when you pick him up.

Summer and Max the Chihuahuas boop noses on the living room floor recently.
Summer and Max the Chihuahuas boop noses on the living room floor recently.
I try to keep my cooking simple. I throw out the stupid phony ham pouch that comes in the bag with the 15-bean soup, and cook it all night with an onion.
I try to keep my cooking simple. I throw out the stupid phony ham pouch that comes in the bag with the 15-bean soup, and cook it all night with an onion.

The coffee tastes extra good this morning. In addition to teaching tonight, I need to run to town to get a new eyepiece screw for Abby’s glasses, which fell out and disappeared sometime last night.

I got some black beans and some 15-bean soup at the store not long ago, and when I asked Abby which one I should make, she said, “Surprise me.” So it’s 15-bean soup for lunch today.

The maple in our yard is a volunteer of unspecific variety, so it doesn't put on the "Tour of Maine's Lighthouses" show. Still, it's a beautiful tree.
The maple in our yard is a volunteer of unspecific variety, so it doesn’t put on the “Tour of Maine’s Lighthouses” show. Still, it’s a beautiful tree.

As I was writing this, a package arrived from Amazon Prime, a filter for my Shop-Vac ordered just Saturday night. It was much cheaper than retail as well, and very much points to the future of consumerism.

The setting sun shines through fading morning glory vines on the arbor in the front yard. I've been photographing this feature since before we were married.
The setting sun shines through fading morning glory vines on the arbor in the front yard. I’ve been photographing this feature since before we were married.
I trimmed a bunch of limbs and threw them on the brush pile with my expired tomato vines, and burned them. Is is just me, or does this combination smell a little bit like dope smoke?
I trimmed a bunch of limbs and threw them on the brush pile with my expired tomato vines, and burned them. Is is just me, or does this combination smell a little bit like dope smoke?

I’ve been running the string trimmer a bunch the last few days, in an effort to reduce the clutter around the house and along the fences, which will hopefully give less quarter to spiders, snakes, rodents and ants this winter.

At the start of spring, I threw out an old pair of work shoes and started working in my least comfortable pair of Keens. Yesterday was their last day. I had glued the soles back on, and the elastic laces were starting to strip.

I trimmed Abby’s photinia and collected that and threw them on the brush pile with the various collected limbs and brush around the patch, and burned it. It was super-smokey.

Working outdoors, from walking the Wolfhound to running the chain saw, wears out shoes faster than anything else I do.
Working outdoors, from walking the Wolfhound to running the chain saw, wears out shoes faster than anything else I do.

“And I tell myself what we’re living for.
And say, rejoice, evermore.” ~3EB

The sun sets on the west pasture a few nights ago. After the first freeze, I can talk Hawken on much longer walks, which we both love.
The sun sets on the west pasture a few nights ago. After the first freeze, I can talk Hawken on much longer walks, which we both love.
3+

A Little Life Left in You Yet

"Max keeps looking at me with those sad eyes." ~Abby
“Max keeps looking at me with those sad eyes.” ~Abby
Max and Summer sit on our bed yesterday. You can tell from the way he stands that Max is no longer a young dog, but we still love him, and will keep him as long as he isn't suffering.
Max and Summer sit on our bed yesterday. You can tell from the way he stands that Max is no longer a young dog, but we still love him, and will keep him as long as he isn’t suffering.

Abby and I have been feeling a fair amount of mutual anxiety about Maximum Speed Boulevard, our 14-year-old smooth coat Chihuahua. He’s old: he’s not getting around well, he doesn’t see well, he can’t hear at all, he has terrible breath from bad teeth, and he wheezes uncomfortably all the time. We felt it possible we would need to have him euthanized, and it weighed upon us.

I took him to our vet yesterday, fully prepared to do that, but the ride to town alone seemed to cheer him up, and our vet gave him a couple of different meds, including one for his heart murmur.

So, with our oldest beloved pet still above ground, Abby and I settled into a normal Monday, though Abby’s stress manifests very physically, so she needed a nap, so we enjoyed one.

Among other activities this week, I pulled up the garden except for the grape tomato plant and the bell peppers, which are still bearing. It has been the Summer of the Bell Pepper.
Among other activities this week, I pulled up the garden except for the grape tomato plant and the bell peppers, which are still bearing. It has been the Summer of the Bell Pepper.
The weather has been textbook beautiful autumn this month, inspiring more than a few photographic jaunts around the patch.
The weather has been textbook beautiful autumn this month, inspiring more than a few photographic jaunts around the patch.
I brought Hawken the Irish Wolfhound's big food bowl in to wash, and fed him with this normal-sized dog bowl, which he thought was a toy and destroyed. We thought this was super funny.
I brought Hawken the Irish Wolfhound’s big food bowl in to wash, and fed him with this normal-sized dog bowl, which he thought was a toy and destroyed. We thought this was super funny.
I recently added an exemption to my vegetarianism, uneaten fish I buy or make for my wife. I feel that in moderation, occasionally adding low-mercury seafood to my diet isn't bad for me, and prevents such products from going to waste. This is tilapia, which I bought for Abby, but which she didn't like. If I didn't eat it, it would go in the trash.
I recently added an exemption to my vegetarianism, uneaten fish I buy or make for my wife. I feel that in moderation, occasionally adding low-mercury seafood to my diet isn’t bad for me, and prevents such products from going to waste. This is tilapia, which I bought for Abby, but which she didn’t like. If I didn’t eat it, it would go in the trash.
The Grandview Event Center is the new home to Ada's Open Mic Nyte.
The Grandview Event Center is the new home to Ada’s Open Mic Nyte.

Last night I attended Open Mic Nyte at its new location, The Grandview. There’s plenty of room there, but for some reason a lot of the regulars didn’t or couldn’t make it. Still, I love café culture, and will continue to go, and if I can find time, I’ll try to find more of those kinds of events.

Darice Strickland and Sterling Jacobs share a moment Open Mic Nyte October 29, 2018 at The Grandview. Sterling and Darice have been friends for decades.
Darice Strickland and Sterling Jacobs share a moment Open Mic Nyte October 29, 2018 at The Grandview. Sterling and Darice have been friends for decades.
0

1988

I photographed this Ada football player at ECU's Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
I photographed this Ada football player at ECU’s Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.

I came to The Ada Evening News (The Ada News since 2012) 30 years ago today, October 24, 1988. I documented the news photography angle on my teaching site (link), if you want to read it.

From a far more personal perspective, 1988 was a very dark, very lost, very complicated time for me.

I did a very poor job of recording the events of 1988 in my journal. It was an important time in my life, yet I committed very little real information to paper. I mostly couched everything in poetic terms, presuming I would remember the newsy details. I wish I have noted tangible events with bullet points, or even in the margins.

This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I'd lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can't eat or sleep.
This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I’d lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can’t eat or sleep.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.

Fortunately, I actually did remember a number of details about that time, and have since committed it to paper.

This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.

I moved to Illinois to be with my girlfriend at the time, but within a month, she broke up (over the phone), and I realized I didn’t belong there, so I made an effort to move back to Oklahoma. I got a tip from Ed Blochowiak, the photographer with whom I partnered at the Shawnee News-Star (and who recently died) that Ada was looking for a photographer. I was hired over the phone by then-publisher Ron Vodenichar, and moved back to Oklahoma a week before I started in Ada.

Ron later told me I was one of the best hires he ever made.

1988 was probably the worst year of my life. Despite being grimly lonely, I did a good job as a news photographer from the very start. In some ways, doing the work of photojournalism saved me through giving me a purpose.

I spent most of my days and years alone, dating off and on without much success.

Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.
Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.

Amazingly, looking back on the entire 30 years, I realize that slightly more than half of that time was spent with Abby; we started dating in January 2003.

I have never ceased to appreciate everything our relationship gives me: esteem, confidence, companionship, purpose, and, of course, physical gratification. I am so very grateful she is my wife.

At one point, my sister Nicole asked me what my all-time favorite photo is, and though it is no simple task to sift the literally tens of thousands of images I have made during the last 30 years, I have to say it is this one of my wife Abby…

Abby's beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.
Abby’s beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.
3+

Global Wetting Is Real

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound stops on the driveway as he and I walk this evening. Later, he helped me solder some connectors for a 2-meter ham radio in the garage.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound stops on the driveway as he and I walk this evening. Later, he helped me solder some connectors for a 2-meter ham radio in the garage.

Funniest porn title ever: My Best Friend’s Wetting.

There is a lot of invalid denial about climate change. Fine. Be a child. Pretend.

It has been a spookily cool and wet fall here in on the patch in southeastern Oklahoma. You could certainly point to climate change as a possible cause.

Our pond is as full, or maybe fuller, than I've ever seen it. 11 months ago, it was so dry I was able to build a bonfire on it.
Our pond is as full, or maybe fuller, than I’ve ever seen it. 11 months ago, it was so dry I was able to build a bonfire on it.
Almost every step Hawken and I took tonight involved a puddle. I've never seen it this wet.
Almost every step Hawken and I took tonight involved a puddle. I’ve never seen it this wet.

My biggest problem with the whole climate change scene is a) the sky has been falling for 30 years, and Venice and New Orleans are still above sea level, and b) not acting on climate change is implied support for big corporations and their profits, which supporters generally never see, while at the same time, no one will ever say, “The Grand Canyon is full of gas wells, but I sure am glad Moneyco had a great third quarter report in 2018.”

Also as I write this, Megamillions just rolled up to “$1.0 Billion.” Yes, I have a ticket, but we all know that I’ve never been struck by lightning, never drowned in a river rescue, never been diagnosed with a brain tumor, all of which are much more likely than winning a billion dollar lottery. Still, the ticket in my billfold changes my odds of winning from zero to non-zero.

Autumn mimosa is less colorful than in the summer, but is really beautiful in the rain.
Autumn mimosa is less colorful than in the summer, but is really beautiful in the rain.
3+

The Next 14 Years

Abby smiles as she talks on the phone with my parents as I make video just minutes after she and I exchanged vows at Utah's iconic Delicate Arch October 12, 2004.
Abby smiles as she talks on the phone with my parents as I make video just minutes after she and I exchanged vows at Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch October 12, 2004.
It's a chilly, rainy day. I don't consider it gloomy, because Abby and I both look great dressed for this weather.
It’s a chilly, rainy day. I don’t consider it gloomy, because Abby and I both look great dressed for this weather.

Today marks the 14th anniversary of my marriage to Abby. To say that we are happily married is accurate. As I told a friend last year, I am well-constituted to marriage.

Abby and I pose under Delicate Arch shortly after exchanging vows. I like this image because it provides a good perspective on the size of the feature.
Abby and I pose under Delicate Arch shortly after exchanging vows. I like this image because it provides a good perspective on the size of the feature.
Fun fact: our marriage license has a picture of the place we got married on it!
Fun fact: our marriage license has a picture of the place we got married on it!

Today is my first day this fall to wear long sleeves, and the first day this fall to put Abby’s handmade sweaters on the Chihuahuas.

We don’t have any special plans for the anniversary, except that today is the start of the next 14 years.

Summer the Chihuahua wears her handmade sweater for the first time this season.
Summer the Chihuahua wears her handmade sweater for the first time this season.
2+

Summer Is Over; Now Is the Autumn of Our Discontent

My breakfast burritos for lunch were made with my own garden tomatoes and bell peppers.
My breakfast burritos for lunch were made with my own garden tomatoes and bell peppers.
Herbert and I spent some of today cleaning the carpets.
Herbert and I spent some of today cleaning the carpets.

With Abby still recovering from an illness and wanting to rest, I turned to housekeeping chores to keep me occupied. Normally I am a “keep it clean” person rather than a “get it clean over and over” person, but I work full time, and we have two stubborn Chihuahuas in the house. Summer, the young one, is particularly found of shredding anything, including the plastic lids from Abby’s applesauce.

Today I vacuumed, then shampooed the carpet in the office, where the Chihuahuas sneak and poo when it’s wet or stormy outside. I also moved a few items around, then scrubbed on the floor some. Hands-and-knees scrubbing gets the floor cleaner than mopping, and, oddly, doesn’t hurt my back like mopping does.

You might be surprised at the level of mess tiny dogs can create.
You might be surprised at the level of mess tiny dogs can create.

In grimmer news, The Oklahoman, who laid off two of my friends last year, was bought by Gatehouse Media, regarded as one of the worst entities in newspaper, and immediately laid off 37 people. My newspaper and I are hoping Gatehouse, which at least one social medianite called “Hatehouse” today, isn’t interested in us.

A former boss, who we regard as one of the best, turned in her resignation this week. She penned a letter expressing dismay and frustration, but not regret.

I hate to think of not being a part of my newspaper after all these years, and I hate even more to think of the world without real news entities, but if it happens, I’ll land on my feet, though maybe not as a photographer. I know Abby will support me whatever happens.

Our sports editor and I participated in another cornhole tournament this week, at the Ada Elks Lodge. We didn't play well, but we had fun.
Our sports editor and I participated in another cornhole tournament this week, at the Ada Elks Lodge. We didn’t play well, but we had fun.
2+

A Plant-Based Diet

With a coworker recently, we ate at his suggestion at El Chico Cafe, one of his favorites. I made my way through the menu and discovered an indulgent but genuinely nutritious meal called their avocado enchilada. Aside from a bit of decoration with sour cream, the meal was mostly healthy. I recently learned, however, that avocados, despite being very healthy for you, are too resource-intensive, and are not a great choice if your diet is based partially on its effects on nature.
With a coworker recently, we ate at his suggestion at El Chico Cafe, one of his favorites. I made my way through the menu and discovered an indulgent but genuinely nutritious meal called their avocado enchilada. Aside from a bit of decoration with sour cream, the meal was mostly healthy. I recently learned, however, that avocados, despite being very healthy for you, are too resource-intensive, and are not a great choice if your diet is based partially on its effects on nature.
This beautiful, healthy salad came straight out of my garden.
This beautiful, healthy salad came straight out of my garden.

I hate to seem preachy or lectury, but I am actually right about many things. I have decent grammer, I know how to be good to my wife, and I can fly without crashing. I’ve never driven drunk even once. It’s true that my attitude could be adjusted about a few things, and I hope I can keep my eyes open and keep perceptions evolving.

One thing I have been right about for 30 years is a plant-based diet.

How We See the World...

In my office recently, I was approached by a close friend who asked, “Are you okay?” I thought she was asking about my wife having a stomach bug, but she couldn’t have known about it. In fact, she was concerned for my weight loss over the past few years. Her concern was a very kind gesture, but also a commentary on a society that perceives weight loss as so uncommon it is only seen as an indication of illness.

How much weight did I lose and how did I do it?

I was never overweight, but I can see myself looking decidedly heavier in photos from 2012, when I weighed about 188 pounds. I presently tip the scales at 165, almost exactly the same weight as our Irish Wolfhound Hawken. I am 73 inches tall,  so 165 is a great weight for me.

1. I walk the Wolfhound every day. 2. I turn down sugar when offered and don’t bring it home. 3. I stop eating when I’m full.

I know too many people who see weight control as a goal, whereas I see it as a lifelong process.

What is a plant-based diet? Foods we eat are grown in the ground.

What isn’t a plant-based diet?

  • Adding single servings of foods to an unhealthy diet like a dose of medicine. Lettuce and tomatoes on a Whopper doesn’t un-junk a Whopper.
  • Adding vitamins or supplements to diet like magic potions.
  • Following trends that don’t have much research or make much sense, like adopting a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free has been a thing for years now, but look around; are we all thin and healthy?
  • Blaming the wrong foods for your health problems; the main one is carbohydrates, which get almost all the blame in recent years, which they don’t reserve. The truth is that the culprit is a deadly combination of simple carbohydrates like refined sugar, eating too much in general, and not moving much. Low carb diets and their ilk are how we got here, not how we’ll get out.
  • Gluten-free and low-carb are sales tools, not real components of a healthy diet. Why do I think this? I recently bought some beans that were proudly labeled “Gluten Free!”  No beans contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found it wheat. What a brilliant scam.
  • The only diet you should ever try is one you can eat for the rest of your life. Anything else is a recipe for failure, pun intended.

Too often, in fact most of the time, the main excuse for not adopting a plant-based diet is, “I don’t care, I like (insert unhealthy food).” It’s the argument of a four-year-old. I’ve said this before one way or another, but I’ll say it again: meat, dairy and eggs are only moral choices when they are necessary. “But Richard, I need meat for (insert empty argument about protein or other nutrient.)” This is too easy: look around. Look at the meat eaters. Look at the doughnut eaters. Then look at me and my friends who have committed themselves to a long-term plant-based diet. Who looks healthy?

This is a burrito dinner I prepared for myself not long ago. If you look at this an whine about its lack of meat, or try to convince me it has "too many carbs," you and I should stand next to each other in front of a mirror.
This is a burrito dinner I prepared for myself not long ago. If you look at this an whine about its lack of meat, or try to convince me it has “too many carbs,” you and I should stand next to each other in front of a mirror.
3+

An Unsettling Incident

I walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound last night as I always  do. As we went down the driveway toward Main Street (yes, we live on Main Street in small town), I saw another large dog on the road. Abby and I are always mindful of other dogs, particularly large dogs who approach our Chihuahuas. I quickly reeled in Hawken’s leash and told him to heel, which he did.

Hawken follows me around the back yard last week. We love our dogs to pieces, and we are responsible for taking care of them.
Hawken follows me around the back yard last week. We love our dogs to pieces, and we are responsible for taking care of them.

What happened next was mostly obscured behind the trees that line the road by our neighbor’s, the Nipps, house, but I was an earwitness to it. I heard the chatter of anti-lock brakes, skidding, and a thump, though not a loud thump. This was immediately followed by the terrified screaming and crying of a child.

When Max was young, he dug out of the front yard in the spring, presumably to chase rabbits.
When Max was young, he dug out of the front yard in the spring, presumably to chase rabbits.

Hawken and I walked on around to the Nipps’ driveway to see a white SUV pull into the driveway across the street. A woman got out and knocked on the door. A shirtless man and a child responded, and the woman seemed to comfort the child.

I didn’t see the dog anywhere.

I didn’t know why it was so unsettling until I walked a little farther with Hawken and made the mistake of imagining him getting hit by a car. At that moment, I told him to sit, then petted and praised him as much as I could.

My sister is fond of saying that anything our dogs to wrong – bite, growl, pee on the rug – is our fault. She’s right. It’s important to care for our pets, and keeping them in the yard and on a leash is at the top of that list.

Summer looks over at Abby in our living room last weekend. Like Max, we rescued her from the animal shelter, and we are as grateful to have her as she is to have us.
Summer looks over at Abby in our living room last weekend. Like Max, we rescued her from the animal shelter, and we are as grateful to have her as she is to have us.
1+

The Winter of Odessa; My Journal Turns Forty

I already had my first camera, a Yashica GSN Electro 35, and this Fuji ST-605n before I started my journal in tenth grade. Despite a lifelong motivation to write, I am a better photographer than write by a wide margin.
I already had my first camera, a Yashica GSN Electro 35, and this Fuji ST-605n before I started my journal in tenth grade. Despite a lifelong motivation to write, I am a better photographer than write by a wide margin.

…tell him to pray that I won’t melt away
And I’ll see your face again
Odessa, how strong am I?
Odessa, how time goes by…” ~Odessa, The Bee Gees

Picture me at my desk in our house on 52nd Street, in Lawton, Oklahoma. I’m wearing my bulletproof Plain Pockets jeans, an untucked plaid shirt, and Earth Shoes. My desk is arranged so carefully that Otto Rank* himself would have bought me dinner just for the chance to analyze it.

In my eight track player is Odessa, and the song playing is Odessa: City on the Black Sea.

I write in my journal, a college-rule Mead spiral notebook, as an assignment for English II class in tenth grade. I write slowly, with a script similar to the popular balloon fonts of the 1970s.

The first thing I write is, “Tuesday, September 5, 1978.”

With the date at the top of the page, so began my lifelong relationship with written self-expression.
With the date at the top of the page, so began my lifelong relationship with written self-expression.

What I write is even less palatable than how I write: derivative, sometimes even plagiarized, drivel that comes across as pretentious self-pity. The only recourse for the words on my page is that as I write them, I have just turned 15, and for someone that age, it is relatively sophisticated. In some ways, it is almost embryonic.

As the year wore on, things got darker. By January, it was The Winter of Odessa. I talked some about it in a previous entry (link).

Many of my best friends today haven’t been around for 40 years. But my journal, in one form or another, has.

Most of the people I considered writers back in high school were dilettantes and dabblers, and only wrote to fulfill an assignment. Only a couple of them, Michael, for instance, curate actual words to this day.

Every family has an unspoken rule of conduct. Some scream and fight. Some drink or do drugs into unconsciousness. Our rule was silence. For as much passion and pain as I was expressing in my journal in the early days, I feel sure none of my family had much idea I was doing this. I probably knew even less about what they were experiencing.
Every family has an unspoken rule of conduct. Some scream and fight. Some drink or do drugs into unconsciousness. Our rule was silence. For as much passion and pain as I was expressing in my journal in the early days, I feel sure none of my family had much idea I was doing this. I probably knew even less about what they were experiencing.

There were times in my life when I felt certain I would never turn 40, let alone a sub-set of me, my journal.

20 years ago, I switched to smaller, hardbound notebooks. It resulted in writing less, but being more to the point.

As this web site became more and more my focus for expression, I wrote less on paper, and have been stuck in the same notebook for some years, though I write something in it often. Lately I’ve been putting my Open Mic Nyte notes in it, and a few things I don’t want to share with anyone.

So, after 40 years, the journal is alive and well.

The journals themselves fill 54 volumes so far. That doesn't count at least a dozen short stories, a dozen or more miscellaneous notebooks, and this 14-year endeavor on the internet.
The journals themselves fill 54 volumes so far. That doesn’t count at least a dozen short stories, a dozen or more miscellaneous notebooks, and this 14-year endeavor on the internet.
*I mention Rank instead of Freud because he slept with Anaîs Nin, one of the most prolific journal-keepers in the 20th century, and something of a role model of mine.
2+

Oklahoma Grass Burrs, Sunsets, and Fires

I love the look of a fire - camp fire, brush pile, fireplace fire - when it begins to go to coals and takes on deep red and blue tones, like in this image from last night's fire at my brush pile.
I love the look of a fire – camp fire, brush pile, fireplace fire – when it begins to go to coals and takes on deep red and blue tones, like in this image from last night’s fire at my brush pile.

With school back in session everywhere, my job, as usual, has gone from the pokey days of summer to the crazy “be everywhere” days of autumn.

Ada Cougar football fans raise their hands in anticipation of the opening kickoff Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 against Ardmore at Noble Stadium. The Cougars lost the season-opener 33-7.
Ada Cougar football fans raise their hands in anticipation of the opening kickoff Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 against Ardmore at Noble Stadium. The Cougars lost the season-opener 33-7.
All the Rose-of-Sharon bushes have died except this one in the back yard, which seems to be flourishing.
All the Rose-of-Sharon bushes have died except this one in the back yard, which seems to be flourishing.

One consequence of this is that working in the yard and the garden is less consistent. Some days I work until dark, but some days, like yesterday, my last assignment was at 3 pm, so I was able to mow, garden, burn the brush pile that was the mimosa that blew down in a storm, and my favorite thing, pull the razor-sharp Oklahoma grass burrs out of Hawken’s eyebrows.

Oklahoma grass burrs are universally reviled at painful to touch and difficult to remove.
Oklahoma grass burrs are universally reviled at painful to touch and difficult to remove.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound follows me around when I work just outside the fence.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound follows me around when I work just outside the fence.

Hawken is as curious as any dog (initially mistyped as “god”), has a lush coat, and is huge, so when he pokes his head into corners of the yard where the grass burrs grow, often far faster than I can weed-whack them, he sometimes collects them on his forehead, beard, and eyebrows. He is amazingly patient when I pull them out, which is not easy because they are deeply embedded, and razor sharp. I think it’s more painful for me than him.

Easily the funniest thing I’ve mowed this year is a can of blue spray paint I ran over last night on the riding mower. I kept it on the gun bench for painting targets, but when I moved the bench to mow the grass on that spot, I guess I knocked it off into the grass. When I hit it, there was giant “poof,” and a great splatter of blue, accompanied by the unmistakable smell of spray paint.

I heard and felt a "poof," followed by the unmistakable smell of spray paint. I laughed out loud.
I heard and felt a “poof,” followed by the unmistakable smell of spray paint. I laughed out loud.
The heat waves of July, though short, resulted in a lull in my garden. I dug weeds out of it the last couple of days, and am enthusiastic about good fall crops. I picked this cantaloupe this morning and cut it up and added some black grapes, and it was fantastic.
The heat waves of July, though short, resulted in a lull in my garden. I dug weeds out of it the last couple of days, and am enthusiastic about good fall crops. I picked this cantaloupe this morning and cut it up and added some black grapes, and it was fantastic.

The sunset was beautiful last night.

The fire goes to coals and the sky catches fire last night near the garden.
The fire goes to coals and the sky catches fire last night near the garden.
1+

Am I a Racist and/or a Sexist?

“I don’t want my daughter living next door to niggers.” ~Racist guy I knew in the 1990s

We hear it all the time: if you don’t support this cause or that cause, if you don’t admit to this violation or that, if you don’t confess to the correct line of thinking, that you are evil, you are the enemy. It is the Social Justice Warrior (SJW) mantra.

In this context, in recent years, I am increasingly being told that I am a racist, a sexist, and sexual harasser.

Am I these things? First and very much foremost, you and your group, no matter who you are, don’t get to define me.

  • #blacklivesmatter. For some reason, lots of non-blacks are threatened by this hashtag, but I certainly am not. I take it at its face value, as an assertion of value to a group of people who identify as black. But…
  • You are not black. I am not white. Those are long-embedded stereotypes that are scientifically and culturally vacant. In the literal sense, we are all shades of melanin, the pigment that colors our skin. Even the whitest parts of me are not white, and all I have to do is hold a piece of paper up next to me to prove it. The darkest parts of my darkest friends are not black, and all I have to do it put my arm brace (which is true black) on them to prove it.
  • “African-American” is the latest racist fallback label used to describe a group of people once called negroes. Its use is deeply flawed. It describes my friend Abe Ekal about as well as “Welsh-American” describes me, meaning not at all. In an enlightened culture, he’s just Abe and I’m just Richard.
  • The “you’re a racist” crowd loves to gloss over facts the same way the creationists do. They cling to examples from dramatic instance, mostly television headlines and social media memes, and froth at the mouth for justice, no matter how unjust it is.
  • Let’s analyze one of the videos in question, “Another person lying about the police on the internet.” A police officer is polite and professional, and doing his duty, while the person who got the traffic citation makes a video claiming racism. Watch the video, and tell me the timestamp where the cop was racist. That’s it. Easy, right?
  • The media, of which I am a member, can play into this view. A news story by Joe Robertson of The Kansas City Star recently claimed, “Ciara Howard’s last act of defiance was slamming closed the door (in the police officer’s faces).” I watched the video. Her actual last act of defiance was to point a loaded .45 at the police repeatedly. Way to go, Robertson. (The article now seems to have been redacted.)
  • Many of my most adherent #blacklivesmatter friends are so far to the end of the line they simply hate me for just being white. Is that right? I’d love to know how.
  • Those same people are mostly white, well-off, and inclined to be socially self-righteous. They make a point to redefine “racist” every time someone is able to successfully defend themselves against their accusations, so that eventually everyone they hope to accuse fits their definition.
What will we do? For me, the answer is simple: learn right from wrong for myself and don't let angry groups tell me what to do or think.
What will we do? For me, the answer is simple: learn right from wrong for myself and don’t let angry groups tell me what to do or think.
  • I was astonished and mystified by the “#metoo” movement, not because of its premise (that sexual harassment and sexual abuse happens), but because lives were ruined and reputations trashed without due process. It’s a form of lynching that is beyond the pale of civilized behavior. And it only took one generation to forget why it was wrong.
  • I witnessed mountains of this shit in the early 1990s, in what could only be called mass hysteria. If you didn’t accept their assertion that ritual sexual sexual abuse was widespread and absolutely unchallengeable, you were worse than the alleged abusers themselves. It was a tall tower of obscene lies, and millions of people bought into it. Thousands of lives were ruined.

What’s the point in pretending to live in a world of open discourse, recourse to the law, and open-mindedness? I’m sick to death of the SJW scene. If a large enough and self-righteous enough group decides you are something, you are that thing, whether you are or not. Sometimes it seems like the only way they will accept that you are not a racist is to admit you are a racist.

If you think this entry is an advocacy of racism, you aren’t paying attention, and if you think I am a racist, you have been brainwashed.

The comment at the start of this entry was really uttered by someone who is truly, demonstrable, and self-admittedly, a racist. When you call me a racist, you are equating me with him.

0

Bigots for the Left

Sigh.
Sigh.

From Woody Allen’s brilliant 1977 Picture of the Year Annie Hall

Allison: No, that was wonderful. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.
Alvy: Right, I’m a bigot, I know, but for the left.

I am so tempted to buy and wear this t-shirt.
I am so tempted to buy and wear this t-shirt.

An unassailable life truth is that we are all very much married to our world views, and those marriages are hard to break up. Even in the face of facts, or just potential facts, that contradict the intellectual world we build, we hesitate, or stop entirely.

I witnessed this recently when I tweeted links to two videos about police-involved shootings.

Twitter mined the titles of the videos, not me, but based on that, my most liberal friends presumed that I had stated, “Police don’t shoot people for being black.” I also linked to the same vlogger’s, “Another person lying about the police on the internet.”

I hoped my friends, especially my liberal friends, would watch the whole video and render an opinion or two to shed some light on this issue. Sadly, it was not to be.

I'm not cock-blocking anyone here, but I am cock-tagging.
I’m not cock-blocking anyone here, but I am cock-tagging.

One friend said, “Are you saying, ‘Police don’t shoot people for being black’?” She added that she didn’t “have time” to watch the videos. In fact, I had only posted a link, and said nothing about the nature of police shootings.

Another told me he’d watched about a minute of the video and stopped. “I’ve seen enough,” he said. He also accused me of using a rhetorical tactic called JAQing Off. I was not.

This is the kind of dismissal is what I’ve come to expect from pulpit, not from my supposedly enlightened, open minded friends.

My opinion of these videos is contextual: they are made by a vlogger calling himself Donut Operator, and his perspective is very practical and very law-enforcement oriented. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but I can begin to form an opinion based on the growing number of videos he published. If you refuse to watch any of them, your opinion of him = 0.

Along those same lines, I have a friend, whose opinions I value, who once declined to listen to a song I recommended because the lyrics stated a different religious point of view than his own. The song didn’t tell him to leave his religion or even that his religion was wrong, but simply stated another set of beliefs. But this friend of mine shoved his fingers in his ears, almost literally.

This one is from the "so very yes" file.
This one is from the “so very yes” file.

The deepest, darkest, most frustrating aspect of these disconcerting dialog is that it means that we all live in fear, in darkness, in slavery. Is there anyone out there who actually watches debates with an open mind, listens to podcasts with an open mind, reads news article to the end with an open mind? Or are all our minds made up?

An AR-15 with a 40-round magazine? No. This is an automatic assault rifle machine gun with a huge clip. Thanks, media.
An AR-15 with a 40-round magazine? No. This is an automatic assault rifle machine gun with a huge clip. Thanks, media.
0

The Hazy, Late-Summer Sun

My one remaining Rose-of-Sharon bush shows off its blossoms last night. I shot this with my 15-year-old Minolta Dimage 7i digital camera because I love the way it renders colors, and I love its 14-point sunstars.
My one remaining Rose-of-Sharon bush shows off its blossoms last night. I shot this with my 15-year-old Minolta Dimage 7i digital camera because I love the way it renders colors, and I love its 14-point sunstars.

It has been graciously cooler this summer than in global warming warmed previous summers. We had two short heat waves, which disrupted the tomatoes in my garden, but not the bell peppers, which apparently love the heat.

I cut these up and ate them as a salad last night, all fresh from the garden. I was reminded of why I eat a plant-based diet recently when a Facebook friend had a heart attack on a road trip to Santa Fe, and thankfully got a stent inserted, saving his life.
I cut these up and ate them as a salad last night, all fresh from the garden. I was reminded of why I eat a plant-based diet recently when a Facebook friend had a heart attack on a road trip to Santa Fe, and thankfully got a stent inserted, saving his life.

It’s been hazy the last week, possibly because of wildfires out west. My friend Dan, however, reported that in his home in nearby southern Arkansas, it is very clear and very hot.

Summer the Chihuahua, who we adopted in April, is full of energy and loves us. She zooms around the house, then naps on Abby's lap, or, as in this photo, on the big turquoise couch.
Summer the Chihuahua, who we adopted in April, is full of energy and loves us. She zooms around the house, then naps on Abby’s lap, or, as in this photo, on the big turquoise couch.

I’ve been sharp, though. I am shooting and writing well. Abby is good. All three dogs are happy. I wrote this just to tag in.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound actually weighs in at about 165 pounds, just a little more than I do. He is the kindest, gentlest animal I have ever known. He walks me every night.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound actually weighs in at about 165 pounds, just a little more than I do. He is the kindest, gentlest animal I have ever known. He walks me every night.
2+

Runaways and Heat Waves

The sky broods above our back yard last week as a weather system prepares to deliver four and a half inches of rain.
The sky broods above our back yard last week as a weather system prepares to deliver four and a half inches of rain.

Abby and I started our day dramatically when, just as I was about to step out the door, the dogs went nuts, including Hawken in the back yard. Abby looked out the front window to see a Pontotoc County Sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle in the driveway. She got to her .38 Special, and I grabbed one of my Rugers, because when the police are present, they’re usually chasing TUDs (a term I learned in the 1980s when I was working at The Shawnee News-Star; TUD = Totally UnDesirable), and we have no desire to be at the mercy of a TUD.

These are the "tracks" the deputy left in the grass by the driveway, which are barely noticeable.
These are the “tracks” the deputy left in the grass by the driveway, which are barely noticeable.

I stepped outside to see the vehicle was empty, but soon a deputy, out of breath, approached from the north pasture. “Hey,” he said, catching his breath.

“Do you have a suspect?” I asked. He told me it was a kid from juvie who was supposed to be in school, but had run off. Those who know Abby and me know know that we had some experience in that realm years ago.

To close the distance to his subject, the deputy drove a short distance across the “golf course,” a patch of green the size of a softball field that I keep mowed, leaving tire tracks. He apologized and even offered to fix it, but my message to him was that you never need to apologize for doing things in service of protecting our lives and property.

For the middle part of my day, I faced one of the hottest, most humid, least windy football media day gatherings. It’s not hard work either physically or intellectually, but my body seemed to understand immediately that the weather combination was rather suffocatios. In the 15 minutes it took to complete, I sweated more than in the last 10 days combined.

This is my shirt after just 15 minutes at Allen High School's football media day.
This is my shirt after just 15 minutes at Allen High School’s football media day.

Later, at home, while walking Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, I noticed that the oldest mimosa in the back yard had partially broken in half, a result of the thunderstorms that rolled through this week, drenching everything. I grabbed the eclectic chain saw and cut it to pieces and threw them over the fence so I could later drag them to the brush pile to burn. The air was still and thick with humidity, and although it was sunset, I can’t remember an activity that made me sweat so much.

We live in a symbiont circle in our neighborhood. When I was mowing Saturday in anticipation of the forecast heavy rain, neighbor Stevie appeared with two water bottles, and waved one at me, which I gratefully accepted. We talked for a bit and he discussed power washing his house, though he didn’t have a power washer. I offered ours, and he gratefully accepted. Just a couple of hours later, I looked out the window to see other neighbor Mike brush-hogging our pasture. I was grateful.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound supervises my removal of the broken mimosa last night.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound supervises my removal of the broken mimosa last night.
1+

Staycation Moments and Ideas

Abby hangs out with our current gaggle of canines, Hawken, Summer, and Max.
Abby hangs out with our current gaggle of canines, Hawken, Summer, and Max.
My last assignment before leaving for this short staycation was photographing Ada softball media day, a chance, as usual, to photobomb some of them. It was very fun.
My last assignment before leaving for this short staycation was photographing Ada softball media day, a chance, as usual, to photobomb some of them. It was very fun.

With the weekend, my vacation included five days, Wednesday through Sunday.

Every day this summer, there has been something to harvest, and my tomatoes prove that no grocery store tomato can compare.
Every day this summer, there has been something to harvest, and my tomatoes prove that no grocery store tomato can compare.

The garden suffered through a couple of heat waves, but remains alive. Gardeners know that plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can’t set blossoms when the high is above 93ºF or so, so at the moment there’s not a lot of fruits on the vines.

The plumbers had to cut off our cleanup valve and install a new one. The old one was rusted beyond salvation.
The plumbers had to cut off our cleanup valve and install a new one. The old one was rusted beyond salvation.

We had plumbers come out and unclog our system. The kitchen sink, dishwasher, and the water softener were upstream of the clog, so when the softener ran or I did enough dishes, it backed up. Luckily enough, it drained through the “terrible room” into the garage, then into the yard with no damage.

The plumbers unclogged our clog, and in the process had to replace our cleanout valve, which was rusted shut.

While plumbing was in the air, I repaired Abby’s commode. 1000 husband points. It wasn’t difficult.

Once things had stabilized, I relaxed. Abby and I started to think about what to do with my time off. I opened my mouth to say something, then immediately heard Abby say, “Star Wars marathon?” My wife’s aways been uncanny that way, snatching thoughts from me before I get the chance to iterate them. Good marriages are like that.

In watching the various ups and downs of the Star Wars franchise, I ended up thinking that Rogue One is the best of the bunch.

I cooked out on our propane grill, which was fun and satisfying. It was this year’s first for the appliance, so I had to fill our propane tanks, then scrub the garage off it. She shined up nicely.

Fish and shrimp for Abby; veggie burgers and roasted potatoes for me.
Fish and shrimp for Abby; veggie burgers and roasted potatoes for me.

Among other things, I detailed my car, which involved Armor-All-ing all the plastic surfaces, leather-Armour-Alling all the leather, cleaning the rocker panels, and finally scrubbing the car’s outer surface, including the semi-permanent bug stains on the front. My car looks better than the day I bought it. I am thinking that tonight I will wax it (do people still wax cars?), and Rain-X the windows.

My Nissan Juke didn't look this good on the day I brought it. It was fun getting it perfectly clean. *Ding!*
My Nissan Juke didn’t look this good on the day I brought it. It was fun getting it perfectly clean. *Ding!*
1+

Anatomy of a Breakdown

Author’s note: this entry has been heavily redacted to protect identities.

This is a page from the blog in question, which periodically disappears or is marked private.
This is a page from the blog in question, which periodically disappears or is marked private.

Most of us understand basic reality. We know that grass grows slowly, that dogs are pets, that the sky is blue because of Rayleigh scattering. Well, many people actually don’t know that.

But there are people in the world whose reality is broken.

In the 1980s, a friend of mine was hospitalized after a significant break. When he returned and we talked again, he told me that when he was at the bottom, he genuinely believed that he was the only person left in the world who was sane.

In January 2016, I noticed that “Cynthia” (a pseudonym), who had lent me a cabin in 2008 near a national park, changed her Facebook name and and started posting to a WordPress site.

I messaged a mutual friend about her, and here’s what he had to say…

“She has disassociative disorder, and claims that she has several thousand identities. I know that she created a website and claims to have rewritten various Einstein theories or some such? When I came home one evening after work when she was staying here at my home I couldn’t find her. After about an hour I heard noises coming from my walk-in closet and I found her buried in all of my camping and climbing gear in the corner of my closet. Her son told me that her husband was acting strange so I really didn’t want to call him. Very awkward situation, and I only hope that her son is getting help for her?”

Cynthia’s web site (blue text)…

we call it WON, 1 and ONE

ONE, 1 and WON

We name this all-encompassing theorem as GuT, BUT CHANGE THE MEANING TO BE GOOD UNIFIED THOUGHT, AND IT MEANS THAT IF THE WORLD WILL RID ITSELF OF RELIGION, FEAR OF ABORTION FOR ABNORMALITY AND ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE TESTED, ALL DISEASE KNOWN TO MANKIND CAN BE ELIMINATED WITH THIS REDEFINED FORMULA NOW KNOW TO MANKIND AS SAVANT.  Within the framework of this formula is all physics, all repairable disease, the origin of mankind, the effect of genetic disease and discontinuation and the monopoly of satisfaction that mankind will no longer abuse, hurt or otherwise injure children, which I raise the age of to 30, because prior to that time all brains are susceptible to influence of bad, harmful and dangerous programs that they would not otherwise enjoy. Therefore, pornography and other like, same & disgusting things are to be refrained from until the age of 30, upon the threat of imprisonment by both the participant and the employer. While this latter part might be a fools dream, it would rid our world of everything that does harm to humanity. Think hard about it all. Cynthia, as copywritten on January 1, 2016. The acronym will remain as GuT to mean Gentle unification Toward a free mankind.

Refined by COPYRIGHT NOTICE January 1, 2016 © Cynthia as Psi bfr = frac – Hbar2 2mu naBla2 + V bf r Psi Bf = TIME as refined by Cynthia to be known as Time per SAVANT©

Refined again; Psi bfr = frac – Hbar2 2mu naBla2 + V bf r Psi Bf and if Psi bf2 = fractal reference – ba2 muC02 naB2 + V bf Psi Bf as V with sublime reference of time, space and continuum and the universe is without edge and equal 1.

We begin by presenting anatomical time with all the errors erased.

Hyperbolic paraboloid
Fermat’s Theorem
Anatomical Time
String; thru space & TIME
Time Theorem; as new is mine
Refined Theorem of nu; Refine is mine
Theory of Everything (TOE)
Grand UNIFIED Theorem (GUT)
COPYRIGHT NOTICE as of January 1, 2016
This website and all content is the intellectual property of its author including intellectual information, theorem, idea, thought and reason. ©Cynthia.

We were taught to think, listen and obey by our biological father and grandfather and they taught us to win. We present the reality of all mental and brain disease and childhood damage and beyond that is the theory of all living things, the earth, complex disease, mathematics, physics, control of life and universe and all as a unity of self, of time, of release and pure animalistic tow, as there is not god, nor master or slave, but only man, mammal, creature of all below.

Facebook message from Cynthia (red text)…

How are you, my friend?
MON 11:23PM
Alive. You?
TUE 7:53AM

i am alone and scared. Do you remember Candy for the Brain Evolving Thought? Darwinsdog@yahoo.com Thinkers Tavern?

TUE 2:47PM Remember monsempron who joined shortly after the group was made on October 6, 2001 and he joined Oct 24, 2001 and never left and debates with Darwinsdog and Professor Smartypants and Snark here? You came later than those 3, and equation doc would post with them often too and of course me, as I owned the group, and the other two are now for Zion and Grand Canyon as I kept the membership and changed it to promote my business after Joe left, as there was no more interest for me.

wut wuz dat emai gain? Have you met me in person before or know who I really am? What is your name? I am not Cynthia. At least not the Bogley and ZNP Cynthia. As far as I know she died last year. Are you “Joe” If so I need you! And I am the one you are really looking for and not her. Richard Barron is from Candy in the Brain and never was on Bogley and that Cynthia never met him. Talk to me please. I need help. I need YOU! A storm is brewing. Are you close to me? Help me! I am YOUR Cynthia! Come get me!

I am looking for Darwinsdog. Do you know him?

11:20PM

Tell me about you please. Cynthia who woke up and is being hunted to be murdered by X and so hides in Cedar City, Utah. Help me!

Iza Savant as Cynthia

http://SAVANT.Live

Where are my friends! Rescue me! I am hiding in Cedar City Utah from those who hunt me to murder me! Please come get me! I spend my idle time making this website. For the man who needs the NY $ from me in cash, know I have it and will starve to death before I spend it, and for the man who just needs a simple cash dollar I save that too. Come get me! This id is also just me. https://www.facebook.com/black.is.blu

More from Cynthia‘s web page…

4. Brain

Reference us as we offer little in any of our work that is not new and use SAVANT or Cynthia as all authors here other than stated are blood sisters that share the same birth name of Cynthia only.

  1. GENETIC BRAIN DISEASE (GBD)
    One anthropological genetic line permeates the human race and it alone is responsible for all genetic disease, including the large category of genetic brain disease (GBD) that makes up almost most of the DSM. Unless this line is eliminated with full-birth control to stop cross breeding immediately, the entire human race will cease to exist prior to 2080.
  • GBD is the following: psychopath, sociopath,  Intellectual Disability, Communication Disorder, Autism Spectrum, Learning Disorder (except learned behavior), Motor Disorder, Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Schizophrenia Spectrum, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Feeding and Eating Disorder (except learned behavior), Elimination Disorder, Sleep-Wake Disorder, Gender Dysphoria, Bisexuality (except learned behavior), Gayness (except learned behavior), Neurocognitive Disorder, Paraphilic Disorder and repetitive substance abusers, plus all addiction to chemical, drug and insane behavior. GBD is often enhanced by abuse, as that is inherent to this genetic line of humanity.

The popularized terms sociopath and psychopath lack definition in the DSM and so are defined here.

  • Sociopath is GBD of autism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in either male or transvestite subjects, and on rare occasion in a true female who has an abundant variety of male testosterone and combined neural activity. These subjects are devious, calculating and control, abuse and otherwise hurt those around them, but rarely kill. If the male or transvestite subject is raised by their genetic father then their abuse follows a specific pattern and if it is throughout the pre-pubescent years of eight to twelve, then the subjects maturing brain will not be able to  finalize attachment and  will follow behavior patterns of all other like-sociopaths. They choose a female (which one does not follow a pattern) and then kill anyone they feel is attacking that female.
  • Psychopath is GBD of autism plus borderline personality disorder (BPD) in both male and females. These subjects are unable to realize emotions (not feelings) and due to this are able to control, manipulate and then kill their victims. Who they kill is dependent upon their upbringing. There are three directions the psychopaths brain takes. 1) Those abused by an adult male during the pre-pubescent years of eight to twelve always kill their abusing parent as their first kill. 2) Those abused by an adult outside of the home will kill that abuser or someone that represents them if they are not available and in this case, the psychopath keeps killing a representative over and over again as they cannot otherwise end their own suffering. 3) Those not abused (which is rare as their genetic parents do abuse) use their lack of emotion to manipulate others, but never seem to kill.
  • 2. BRAIN DAMAGE; not disease, not genetic, not dissociative and cause is early childhood abuse causing enough brain damage to result in DDos, DID or A & E.BRAIN DAMAGE originally described as multiple personality disorder (MPD) and as mental illness is now just BRAIN DAMAGE and called and aCEP and eCEP (A & E) and is medical and not mental illness at all, and the same is true for dissociative identity disorder(DID) and dissociative disorder, other specified (DDos), but females with DDos can benefit from therapy as their “personality” is affected by their level of BRAIN DAMAGE.None are genetic or can appear in those with genetic brain disease (GBD). GBD is all in the DSM-5 other than DID, DDos,posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and learned behavior confused with GBD. A & E, DID and DDos are not genetic, mental illness or anything other than severe BRAIN DAMAGE caused by insane child abuse in infancy and throughout childhood.DDos is common  and probably exceeds 18% of the U.S. population as evidenced by scans, imaging, therapeutic references, internet chat and more, while DID is only in females of advanced intellect (IQ beyond 185), and A & E is unique to one isolated familial line of female savants, which is not to be confused with prodigy which is advanced thinking in just one area, as savants when the term is used correctly, are advanced in every way intellectually. No human with yellow hair, and or blue eyes can form A & E, DID or DDos as it is not inherent to their genetics. Anyone can have PTSD as it is not BRAIN DAMAGE or GBD, but instead is a reordering of cranial nerve response (CNR)A & E is what Cornelia Burwell Wilbur described in Shirley Mason only, and referred to as multiple personality disorder (MPD).[Note: anencephaly is GBD only and cannot form in individuals with A & E, DID or DDos.]A & E is mortal pain always due to collapsed brain features pressing on bone, and is physically evident in childhood as an alternation of swollen and collapsed head, with body size changing in reference; with deafness, mutism and blindness the result. All but savants die in infancy, and no male can survive puberty. Death is called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), not to be confused with accidental suffocation.DID is BRAIN DAMAGE resting between A & E and DDos, as evidenced on fmri, PET scans, and other forms of magnetic imaging. Only females survive childhood, as puberty is too abusive to the male brain resulting in stroke, heart attack and vegetative states.DDos is less severe BRAIN DAMAGE than previously described, leaving males kind, caring and protective, and are never gay, transvestites or feminine in any way. Their BRAIN DAMAGE is slight and they can and often to overcome their childhood indoctrination of bad parenting.Females with DDos are almost opposite of their male counterparts because their BRAIN DAMAGE is far more severe  due to innate infantile influx of male hormones into the female brain. Adrenaline is secured by CNR that is reorganized in the female brain and confused, leaving them with unfixable personality dysfunction that portray borderline disease of males.Females with DDos are controlling, mean, rude, adhesive, crass, and not good mates.[Note: Borderline is a Personality Disorder and GBD and cannot form in those with A & E, DID or DDos.]
  • 3. Cranial Nerve Reordering; not disease and not genetic and cause is unresolved childhood fear and can be caused by child abuse 
    • Posttraumatic stress disorder, which is caused by extreme fear during the phase of childhood referred to as the developmental age as that is the only time the brain would be able to respond by mixing up the cranial nerve responses. This age in males is eight to ten, and in females is six to eleven. The problem goes unrecognized until an adult is in a stressful situation and their nervous system misfires, and at that point symptoms begin. Medication makes PTSD worse, and therapy should be directed only at reestablishing correct cranial nerve response and not be confused with talk therapy.

    Note: A & E, PTSD and Dissociative Disorders encompass all that would be considered child abuse by today’s social services.


    ♥♥♥♥

    Copyright Information as all evidenced on this site is new, renewed or brand new and only the property of the daughters of X now referred to as the SAVANTS.
    We provide accurate science to the theory of EVERYTHING as now called 1, as well as all other science needed to save humankind and it is new, profound and never yet rewound. This website & all content including intellectual information, theorem, idea, thought & reason is the intellectual property of all sisters-born-as-Cynthia.
    Know all here, and all to be added was agreed upon on by us on or before January 1, 2016. ©SAVANT

Another Facebook message from Cynthia

07-31-16

Are your my referee? If so, then send HUSBAND to me in person in Cedar City, Utah please as I need him and together we fix the entire world forever. See me here at http://SAVANT.Live Okay?

Elizabeth Katherine Black VIII who is also one of the many Cynthia and I are awake, and I took her place as she would have died already because she was not awake enough to survive being murdered by X, but I should have been, and still he almost killed too.

This affidavit is only a small section of the story as my BRAIN is too terrified as of yet, to tell the rest. I am trying to calm, but cannot with a GOOD MAN on my arm! I stress being in Cedar City as Summer might see me and begin to worry more, and if anyone that knows the kids and tells them they see me then all stress will come full bored and so I say little and only to J as he is a full grown man and great father to 3 of his OWN boys and as such they will spread their genes and raised SAVANT females and J has yet to have a girl. T was born before he met his only wife.

The murder of Cynthia by X
Written July 6, 2016

I leave these notes to save all of mankind, in the event, I am murdered by X, who hunts me to finish his started murder of me. http://SAVANT.Live

X, during the night of what I believe was February 8, 2016, injected my body with the poisonous venom of a southwestern rattlesnake. He was also putting toilet bowl cleaner in my coffee cup, which I knew because I grabbed IT when I ran from the house and it sat in the heat of the 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan I drive with license plate X that X transferred from my old red Pickup Truck I bought in 1991/1992 when I first moved to X, to help run the X that I know am an owner/partner of.

In the middle of the night on February 14, 2016 – X’s birthday, I was woke by X, who forced a rag filled with chloroform over my face. I woke confused, but I did wake up.

There were two large holes in my wrist that look like a rattlesnake bit me, but it was X who was trying to kill me and make it look like a snake had bit me. I left the house that day and hid, but was still confused as to what he did, so I would go back and forth from my house and hide until I figured it out and he is what happened, and I am positive of it.

X injected southwestern rattlesnake venom into my wrist, leaving two holes for me to evidence it, and that morning I woke smelling chloroform, and knew he did something to me, and so I looked for it and found two syringes in his shed, under the apple tree of HIS bedroom, as I slept in the other side of the house.

I then watched the symptoms and treated them as they appeared, and that was February 14, 2016, and I have suffered every stage of rattlesnake poison, but the truth is that the western U.S. variety of rattler is simply less potent than most, and the injection went into my wrist and missed my blood stream, as he was just stupid, and here I remain.

The last day I saw him was Mother’s Day 2016, on a Sunday and I had been hiding next door in X’s house, and other places prior, and I went in the house I own – ([address], that he had taken from me) that day, and saw he had a sledgehammer out sitting still in the front room. I went upstairs and grabbed my already packed suitcase as I was running farther away. As I was about to leave X’s and X’s room, where I slept most – with it, and via the balcony attached to it, when X pulled up in my red Kia – plate: XXX – which is what he said to me when he saw me:

“B876by,” and I knew what that meant as I had heard him from under his door because he talks in his sleep and that’s what he says as he references each of the teen boys and the females that are either their mothers or act like their mothers as he talks about HOW HE MURDERED THEM!

Then he said more quietly: “You just won’t die! B876by to you today as I am cutting you up like a deer and putting you out in Thursday’s trash.” Then he laughed.

It was said quiet to the boy, and I hear well when I want to listen. Finally, he grinned and made a joke out of it, and he did not think I heard, but I heard it all. Then he said loud to me:

“Go call N, as she called you today. The boy and I are going SHIT hunting today.”

They left, and I assume to drop the boy off, who is the youngest C boy, of X and A. He was happy and dressed in Sunday clothes and from X’s remarks he said

“Do you mean we are going shed hunting again?”

X laughed and said, “My wife is the SHIT.”

Then they left, and I ran down the balcony stairs with my suitcase in my hand, leaving my go-kit under the bed of J’s where I slept my last night there. I have hidden well from him since but prior was in and out. He never cancels my credit card’s as he uses them to track me, Cynthia.

As I fully reject [last name] and refuse to endanger kids by bringing them into this other than how X self injected himself in and I try and limit that as much as I can.

Cynthia is waking up & wants audience with the JUDGE who is MY M! I am Cynthia right now. Please rescue me!

This is a page from the blog in question, which periodically disappears or is marked private.
This is a page from the blog in question, which periodically disappears or is marked private.

I know that fear of insanity will resonate with at least one friend of mine, Wil C. Fry. I think this fear is common to those who reside on the edge of genius. Nietzsche. Mozart. That brilliant but crazy ex girlfriend of mine. That coach who went crazy in 2001 and staged her own kidnapping. Brilliance takes us places others might not understand. I know this sounds like a conceit, but I know I am in an intellectual category above and beyond somehow. I can make a sentence. I know why the sky is blue. I read Chomsky and Camus.

So what is the solution? Rebuild it? Physical health? Healthy diet? Avoid lead paint and radon gas? Breathe?

As I wrote this, I got so swept away in thinking about insanity and intellectual complexity that I actually lost a cup of coffee, searched the house to find it, then sat down at my computer to see it right there on its coaster.

0

Natural Foods and Another Lottery Win

My own home-grown bell peppers and grape tomatoes sit on my cutting board at lunch time yesterday. Nothing in the world pays off more than taking care of your body.
My own home-grown bell peppers and grape tomatoes sit on my cutting board at lunch time yesterday. Nothing in the world pays off more than taking care of your body.

Readers might recall that earlier this year I won the lottery. A coworker and I were talking about people who win big money in casino gambling or lotteries and manage to be broke within a year, or on at least a few occasions spend it all, win again, and spend all of that, too.

The contradiction of this product is obvious: vegans don't love meat.
The contradiction of this product is obvious: vegans don’t love meat.

Apparently I am the that guy, because when I won in February, I spent all $34, and now I have won again, $500 from Lotto America ($100 x5 because I bought to “bonus”). I doubt I will be able to hold on to it, either, as, and I quote Wall Street, “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”

Also in a conversation recently, I mentioned that I tried a new “Meat Lovers Vegan Burger,” which I thought was inherently contradictory. The product was very tasty, but a friend mentioned that it was full of artificial this and that. I pointed out that veggie burgers didn’t make up the bulk of my diet. That’s reserved for foods like grains, beans, fruit, and garden vegetables.

So What Am I Eating?
Water, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), wheat gluten, soy protein isolate, soy flour. contains 2% or less of natural flavor, methylcellulose, cornstarch, salt, cooked onion and carrot juice concentrate, sunflower oil, spices, garlic powder, onion powder, yeast extract, tomato paste (tomatoes), xanthan gum.
Not only was I able to fix the washer, I got to make this cool knob selfie!
Not only was I able to fix the washer, I got to make this cool knob selfie!

A short but harsh heat wave has broken. Mowing last night was a particularly dusty affair, especially after I accidentally mowed over part of the ash pile behind the garden. Poof! This morning, despite a big dose of antihistamines at bedtime, I was all snotty.

Finally, a negative note turned positive: our Kenmore Elite front loading washer gave me a “LOC” message over the weekend, and Abby and I assumed it would need to be repaired. Not only were we out of clothes, we had just paid to have the air conditioner repaired. Thankfully, the internet gave up a solution: push hard and hold the “Drum Lock” button for five seconds. Boop!

I made this view a couple of nights ago while walking back to the house after bringing some garden fruits and vegetables to the next door neighbors, the Nipps.
I made this view a couple of nights ago while walking back to the house after bringing some garden fruits and vegetables to the next door neighbors, the Nipps.

 

1+

Wild and Wooly Photography

I hadn't played with the spinning/burning steel wool trick in a couple of years, so Robert and I made it happen.
I hadn’t played with the spinning/burning steel wool trick in a couple of years, so Robert and I made it happen.
Robert gets tangles in a web of leashes and camera straps as we walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound.
Robert gets tangles in a web of leashes and camera straps as we walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound.

Abby and I hadn’t seen Robert Stinson in a while, so we were glad to hear that while he was visiting his family in the Tulsa area, he was able to make time to come down to our little green patch, catch up, and, of course, do some photography.

We ran to town to get lunch for Abby, and stopped on the way to photograph a puddle, because that’s who we are when we hang out.

Robert photographs a puddle on Dog House Road.
Robert photographs a puddle on Dog House Road.

Robert hadn’t met either Summer the new Chihuahua or Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. I let Robert walk Hawken for some of our walking route, and Hawken seemed perfectly happy to be with us and mind Robert. Robert made some very nice photos of me with the Wolfhound.

At one point, Hawken decided to bowl me over and slobber all over me, which was hysterical fun. Robert captured this moment nicely.
At one point, Hawken decided to bowl me over and slobber all over me, which was hysterical fun. Robert captured this moment nicely.
Hawken and I pose for Robert's camera.
Hawken and I pose for Robert’s camera.
Hawken and I pose in a spot of late afternoon light above the pond. I have to say, he is a damn gorgeous animal, and a great pet and friend.
Hawken and I pose in a spot of late afternoon light above the pond. I have to say, he is a damn gorgeous animal, and a great pet and friend.
When photographers get together, there will always be cameras. This is Robert's Nikon D300.
When photographers get together, there will always be cameras. This is Robert’s Nikon D300.

By nightfall we decided to photograph either fireworks or burning steel wool, and ended up trying both, with more impressive results with the steel wool method. I described it on my teaching site two years ago (link), but the short version is to put fine-gauge steel wool in a whisk, set it on fire, and spin it so it throws off sparks. With the shutter open and with some finessing of settings, it’s possible to get some very fun images.

Just at dusk we saw Mars and the moon in conjunction, and I lent Robert my 200mm f/2.0 to photograph it.
Just at dusk we saw Mars and the moon in conjunction, and I lent Robert my 200mm f/2.0 to photograph it.
Fine-enough steel wool burns fiercely, especially when you fan it by spinning its container, in this case a kitchen whisk, at a high speed.
Fine-enough steel wool burns fiercely, especially when you fan it by spinning its container, in this case a kitchen whisk, at a high speed.
This is the second successful steel wool attempt. In addition to being beautiful and fun, it is an opportunity to get burning metal in your hair.
This is the second successful steel wool attempt. In addition to being beautiful and fun, it is an opportunity to get burning metal in your hair.

 

3+

A Bright Spot in a Dark Week

My marigolds glow in the setting sun earlier this week.
My marigolds glow in the setting sun earlier this week.

I was walking the Irish Wolfhound tonight with a thousand dark thoughts between my ears. In addition to my dire concerns about my newspaper and its uncertain future (link), I was thinking about a friend and community member who took his own life over the weekend. We weren’t buddies, but we always talked when we ran into each other, and I am friends with several of his family members. I don’t want to say who it is, but those in our town know.

He was my age, 55. He seemed like a regular guy. He seemed fine.

All this was buzzing around in my head as the Wolfhound dragged me around the patch, past each tree he wanted to mark, taking a break in the shade of the old walnut, around the pond, up toward the garden, when… something beautiful

My first cantaloupe of the season was delicious.
My first cantaloupe of the season was delicious.

My first ripe cantaloupe of the season fell from the vine; real garden cantaloupes pick themselves by falling off when they are ready. I felt so happy that all the nurture I put in my vines all spring and into summer were producing. Vine-ripened cantaloupes might be the most nutritious food I grow in the garden. In the past, the vines didn’t thrive well, and I only got a few fruit, but presently I have quite a few little ones on the vine. It was the last item to ripen in the garden.

It wasn’t a big fruit, so I ate the whole thing, and it was everything I wanted.

Grape tomatoes cling to their vines in my garden. They are easy to grow, and fun to eat while I pick them.
Grape tomatoes cling to their vines in my garden. They are easy to grow, and fun to eat while I pick them.
2+

Three Fires and a Cornhole Tournament

Friday was a comp day off from July 4, so I mostly slagged off. After my evening walk with Hawken, our Irish Wolfhound, however, I found the winds calm, so it presented an opportunity to burn my remaining brush piles.

On the left is the original, bigger brush pile I built over the past year. On the right is the smaller brush pile.
On the left is the original, bigger brush pile I built over the past year. On the right is the smaller brush pile.

The last time I burned, I only got a fraction done because the main pile I’d built last summer, fall, and winter was too large to set off safely… nobody wants to be that guy we hear in the scanner all the time in fire department dispatches who let his controlled burn get out of control.

I kept an eye on my fires until well after dark, when they were just smoldering. The next morning, there was still a trace of smoke coming out of the big one.
I kept an eye on my fires until well after dark, when they were just smoldering. The next morning, there was still a trace of smoke coming out of the big one.
Our cornhole tournament happened at the same time as the Stonewall Fourth of July parade and car show.
Our cornhole tournament happened at the same time as the Stonewall Fourth of July parade and car show.

So I lit up the smaller of the two and moved brush from the bigger pile onto it until the bigger pile was small enough, then set it ablaze. In the middle if this, the next door neighbors, either coincidentally or following my example, built and burned a big brush pile as well. So we we had three fairly impressive fires going at ones. It was fun.

Coworker Jeff Cali and I participated in a cornhole tournament Saturday. Despite the typical Oklahoma summer heat, we had an amazing amount of fun, and were able to finish sixth in the field of 24 teams.

Wes Edens posted this image of me playing in Saturday's cornhole tournament on social media.
Wes Edens posted this image of me playing in Saturday’s cornhole tournament on social media.
Coworker Jeff Cali, right, sports a "Cali" hat and "Cali" short as he and I compete in yesterday's cornhole tournament in Stonewall, Oklahoma. The double-elimination affair lasted more than four hours.
Coworker Jeff Cali, right, sports a “Cali” hat and “Cali” short as he and I compete in yesterday’s cornhole tournament in Stonewall, Oklahoma. The double-elimination affair lasted more than four hours.
1+

The Missing Piece of 9/11

Pittsburg County Health Department Registered Nurse Rosemary King instructs Nick Bailey on the use of medication to treat anthrax exposure during a multi-agency terrorism-related disaster preparedness exercise at the Pontotoc County Health Department Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006.
Pittsburg County Health Department Registered Nurse Rosemary King instructs Nick Bailey on the use of medication to treat anthrax exposure during a multi-agency terrorism-related disaster preparedness exercise at the Pontotoc County Health Department Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006.

YouTube has recently suggested a lot of 9/11 conspiracy videos to me. If I click on one of them and watch it, YouTube mines that and suggests more. As I watch them, one thing is pretty clear: few people buy all the way in to the “official” story of the day, which says that 19 Islamists simultaneously hijacked four airliners on the east coast, flew them for some distance without effective official countermeasure, then successfully flew three of them into symbolic structures. Two of those structures, very tall skyscrapers, then collapsed in an identical fashion, and later that day a similar nearby skyscraper also collapsed in a nearly identical fashion.

The problem with the conspiracy theories is this: as implausible as the events of 9/11 seem, no one seems to be able to suggest either a more passable scenario or explain why powers that be would create scenarios that seem so inconsistent.

So, let’s break it down 9/11’s most implausible items…

  • Steel skyscrapers collapse due to impact plus fires. I’ll grant you that this is a pretty hinky occurrence, and what the theorists say most often, that no modern high-rise has ever collapsed in its footprint after being damaged or destroyed by fire, is true.
  • Airliner wings and engines “melt” into the side of a steel structure like the WTC towers or the side of the Pentagon. I suspect this one is related to speed; bullets go into stuff all the time and seem to melt, despite being much softer than the materials they strike.
  • Airliners flying near the ground at very high airspeeds. A lot of conspiracy videos assert, and even cartoonishly illustrate, that wings of airliners would be torn off at 500 knots at sea level. As a pilot, I know a few things about speeds, and they are talking about Vne, or Velocity Never Exceed, the bug on the airspeed dial the represents sound advice from the engineers who designed and built the aircraft: if you go faster than this, we can’t guarantee the airplane will fly a like it should or even hold together. While it’s true that on the flight decks of the jets that struck the WTC, there were probably audible and visual warnings going off, and that flying a jet at these speeds would mean taking it out of service for inspection, it is not a guarantee that the wings and empennage would fly off.
  • No black boxes found/black boxes found by the FBI and/or not released. This is probably a consequence of the FBI being in charge of the investigation. Only the NTSB knows how to collect and interpret such devices. A more marginal explanation might be the desire to “spare” the families the horror of reenactments.
  • The planes were actually missiles that were switched for the actual planes that ended up somewhere else. Even if this were the case and for some reason you needed to shoot the WTC with a missile, why not just put it onto a 767?
  • That airliners would be able to shut off transponders at a certain time of day. Actually, Occam’s Razor favors this one, as a bunch of teenage boys with walkie-talkies could have done it.

One way to measure the logic of a scenario is to examine what it accomplishes.

Certainly if you wanted to commit 9/11 from the inside, the hijacking scheme is one way to do it, but why would you? If you wanted to burn records or destroy specific buildings, a far simpler way would be to stage a fire or explosion. Or a more straightforward terror attack, like a successful version of the failed 1993 WTC attack.

Or turn it around: what did 9/11 accomplish for the U.S. government? Specifically? That’s really the biggest hole in the 9/11 conspiracy scene: what did 9/11 accomplish for the insiders?

Somebody please talk some sense to me. I certainly can’t find it from the internet’s so-called Truthers.

This is the empty sky on the morning of September 12, 2001. Grounding all aircraft in the United States for days after 9/11 was a very immature response to what actually happened: strongarm attacks on a small number of commercial aircraft.
This is the empty sky on the morning of September 12, 2001. Grounding all aircraft in the United States for days after 9/11 was a very immature response to what actually happened: strongarm attacks on a small number of commercial aircraft.
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Oblique Strategies

The Oblique Strategies interface is as simple as possible.
The Oblique Strategies interface is as simple as possible.

In 1989, Richard Linklater made Slacker, an independent comedy/drama set and filmed in Austin, Texas for just $23,000. The film is fun, weird, funny, and extensively quotable…

  • Hitchhiker: Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!
  • Hitchhiker: I may live badly, but at least I don’t have to “work” to do it.
  • Dostoyevsky Wannabe: Who’s ever written a great work about the immense effort required in order not to create?
  • Guy Who Tosses Typewriter: Because! The typewriter isn’t the point. The point is, it symbolizes the bitch that just fucked him over. It symbolizes the bitch that fucked me over six months ago. And it symbolizes the bitch that’s GONNA fuck you over!
  • Old Man: When young, we mourn for one woman… as we grow old, for women in general.
  • Video Backpacker: To me, my thing is, a video image is much more powerful and useful than an actual event. Like back when I used to go out, when I was last out, I was walking down the street and this guy, that came barreling out of a bar, fell right in front of me, and he had a knife right in his back, landed right on the ground and… Well, I have no reference to it now. I can’t put it on pause. I can’t put it on slow mo and see all the little details. And the blood, it was all wrong. It didn’t look like blood. The hue was off. I couldn’t adjust the hue. I was seeing it for real, but it just wasn’t right. And I didn’t even see the knife impact on the body. I missed that part.
  • Breakthrough Day: The underlying order is chaos.

I highly recommend it.

About two thirds of the way through the film, we come across a a woman building her menstrual cycle with large cups in a circle on the ground, and a woman who offers a man a card. On the cards, she explains, are Oblique Strategies, ideas created to help artists break through creative blocks.

“I told you I was having a breakthrough day. Shewy, howdy, shucks,” the card woman exclaims. To this day, I still use and love the expression, “breakthrough day.”

Here is that scene…

The Oblique Strategies concept was originally created by musician Brian Eno (who later went on to produce for musicians like U2 and David Bowie) as a means of breaking through writer’s block and seeing things in a different creative light or from a different angle.

I thought of this recently, and in the process, found an iPhone app (link) for 99¢ that functioned like the deck of cards. You can also shuffle and read the cards on an antiquated web page (link).

If you are finding yourself in a rut or blocked in your creative endeavors, Oblique Strategies might be for you.

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Why Does This Guy Always Blog When He Builds a Fire?

The smaller of my two brush piles burns near the garden and the orchard last night. In November, I burned the one on the pond.
The smaller of my two brush piles burns near the garden and the orchard last night. In November, I burned the one on the pond.

There are few things that can summon our true nature better than fire, particularly fire that serves the human purpose, survival. Fire can keep us warm, cook our food, mark our territory, and help us defend our village.

Great news! I have a field of cantaloupes! In years past, I found these impossible to grow, but this year might be "that' year. In this image, I am holding a green cantaloupe about the size of a tennis ball.
Great news! I have a field of cantaloupes! In years past, I found these impossible to grow, but this year might be “that’ year. In this image, I am holding a green cantaloupe about the size of a tennis ball.
Fun fact about this image: I made it with the HP Photosmart M407, one of the 22 cameras I recently bought for $10 on Ebay. The image is surprisingly sharp for a 2004 vintage four megapixel camera.
Fun fact about this image: I made it with the HP Photosmart M407, one of the 22 cameras I recently bought for $10 on Ebay. The image is surprisingly sharp for a 2004 vintage four megapixel camera.

We live far enough into the country that I am expected to burn my brush pile. A lot of us do it. There is no brush service. I made the mistake of missing a few windows of opportunity to burn last winter, and my main brush pile behind the orchard is too big, in my opinion, to burn in a single sitting safely.

Thus, I piled the second brush pile next to the big one, and have burned it twice.

My next door neighbors make a small fire three or more times a week.

I watered the garden while I kept an eye on the fire, and spotted this solitary ripe tomato, the first full-size tomato I've picked this season. I ate it when I came inside.
I watered the garden while I kept an eye on the fire, and spotted this solitary ripe tomato, the first full-size tomato I’ve picked this season. I ate it when I came inside.

So, why do I blog every time I burn? I’ll ponder.

Fire dying to embers is very beautiful to me, especially when the coals take on a bluish tone.
Fire dying to embers is very beautiful to me, especially when the coals take on a bluish tone.
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The Sentence Every Day Project

Straight out of the garden, this mix of bell peppers, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes is once of my favorite things about summer. That is a sentence.
Straight out of the garden, this mix of bell peppers, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes is once of my favorite things about summer. That is a sentence.

I am a writer of many things: this site, my teaching site, our travel site, and so on, and have been since I was about 15. As much as I like creating content for the my web site, I often prefer, and get more from, putting pen to paper.

With this in mind, I was thinking recently about a couple of friends of mine. One has talked for years about writing a book, but hasn’t, as of this day, started on it. The other writes all the time, and I read every word. These two people aren’t all that different intellectually or artistically, but one of them writes, and one of them doesn’t.

My idea for the one who doesn’t, or anyone who wants to build a cadre of written expression, is this: write a sentence every day.

Just one sentence, Richard? Yes. If non-writing guy had written a sentence every day since the day he expressed a desire to write this book (January 1985) he would have written roughly 12,000 sentences. As it happens, that is quite close to an estimate for a mid-length book I found, as I wrote this, on Quora.

It takes a huge amount of effort, time, and devotion to sit down for ten days and come up with your novel, but it only takes a minute to write a sentence. A minute every day. Write it.

Something for Everyone Every Day...
There are a lot of “every day” projects out there, some more valuable than others. I remember several years ago everyone was churning out a photo every day with far out-of-focus backgrounds, the so-called “Bokeh 365 Project.” It got old fast, and I don’t know anyone who bothered to get through an entire year. There was also my friend David’s brilliant Poem Every Day project, when he wrote 100 poems in 100 days, for which I generated 100 images. 

And face this fact: some day it will be 33 years from now. Will you have your novel?

My wife’s new couch arrived today.

There, see? Maybe tomorrow I will share a funny sentence about how Summer the Chihuahua loves the new couch.

It's true that Abby's new couch arrived today. It's bluer than she expected, but we both agree that it is magnificent.
It’s true that Abby’s new couch arrived today. It’s bluer than she expected, but we both agree that it is magnificent.
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“Proof of God”… Really?

I absolutely LOVE that creationists and theists claim DNA came from god. I also love the glassy-eyed look they give when they call it "the mystery" of "the glory" of god's creation. They literally never mention the 20th-century research that found it, or the fact that the Bible never mentions anything even remotely related to it.
I absolutely LOVE that creationists and theists claim DNA came from god. I also love the glassy-eyed look they give when they call it “the mystery” of “the glory” of god’s creation. They literally never mention the 20th-century research that found it, or the fact that the Bible never mentions anything even remotely related to it.
The Christian narrative: a mysterious incarnation of god was tortured to death by an obscure tribe in a primitive area of earth less than 2100 years ago, remained that way for two days, and has resided in paradise to this day, and these circumstances form the central core of salvation. (No, I am not kidding and I am not mistaken.)
The Christian narrative: a mysterious incarnation of god was tortured to death by an obscure tribe in a primitive area of earth less than 2100 years ago, remained that way for two days, and has resided in paradise to this day, and these circumstances form the central core of salvation. (No, I am not kidding and I am not mistaken.)

I am often surprised and frustrated by willful ignorance, and the worst of all these offenses is the willingness to believe in god. These instances are the awfulest, silliest, most damaging beliefs because they distort reality, create an environment in which we are inclined to believe lies, and lead us to debate whether or not we should teach our children things we should know aren’t true.

The only people who tell me there is a god are people, never god.

A strident Christian angrily told me once, “I believe the Holy Spirit will found you somehow.” Despite this, most Muslims stay Muslim, Hindus stay Hindu, Jews stay Jewish.

Somebody commented on my social media note “I am an Atheist” that atheism is an “epistemological nightmare,” but did not explain why, and I’d like to hear why.

“Yeah! Atheism is bullspit! Whoo! USA!”

“You reject fact based evidence that proves what you believe is erroneous, you refuse to use an objective lens, and you choose to believe false data because it confirms your bias.” ~Social media friend who believes in god and miracles.

Some of this entry stems from another “proof of god” link floating around the webbernets, “Seven Things that Prove God is Real.” Here is the list…

  • Babies
  • Thunderstorms
  • Flowers
  • The Bible
  • The Global Spread of Christianity
  • Jesus
  • Personal Relationship with God

With claims like this, I know the faithful will be inspired by this image…

Crepuscular rays: it's easy for simple minds to think this is a sign of the glory of god. It is, in fact, the direct, concrete, measurable result of me mowing a gopher mound, then stopping to photograph it. Your "glory of god" nonsense makes you look childish.
Crepuscular rays: it’s easy for simple minds to think this is a sign of the glory of god. It is, in fact, the direct, concrete, measurable result of me mowing a gopher mound, then stopping to photograph it. Your “glory of god” nonsense makes you look childish.

It shows the beautiful light of god drawing a saved soul into heaven.

Or.

I made it by mowing a gopher mound. Oops.

It is both generous and blameful to call all this reasoning childish, but it is not false.

Okay, if you insist, point by point…

  • Babies. Sure, we all think babies are beautiful, particularly when they are our own. To me, that speaks very directly toward evolution, not god. We are wired by evolution to love, protect, and nurture babies because that’s how evolution works. Safe, loved, nurtured babies grow up to successfully reproduce, the goal of evolution.
  • Thunderstorms. Aside from their obvious meteorological causes, what about the ones that spawn tornadoes and kill people? (Note: if it was not you, kneel and thank god for his mercy.) Thunderstorms are well-understood, and arise from demonstrable forces, not magic.
  • Flowers. This is another splendid, and very well-studied and well-proven, example of evolution in action. You appreciation of their beauty is, by the way, also a direct result of evolution.
  • The Bible. This one is always thrown out there as evidence, but the Bible is best-dismissed due to its circular reasoning: the Bible is the word of god. How do we know?  Because the Bible says it is so. But why believe the Bible? Because it is infallible. But how do we know that? Because the Bible is the  word of god. Also, the Bible is intensely self-contradictory and historically inaccurate, so much so that it’s insulting to an educated person. Read an in-depth review of the Bible here (link), unless you are offended by truth.
  • The global spread of Christianity. This is a logical fallacy argumentum ad popular, or “appeal to popularity.” This is also, by the way, an argument in favor of Islam, which is also spreading globally.
  • Jesus. This argument is married to the Bible argument, because it is a self-affirming myth. “Love our messiah or go to hell” is one of the least compelling reasons to believe something.
  • Personal relationship with god. This one is the least “proof” argument of the bunch, because by definition it can’t be demonstrated or falsified.

Sometimes the argument comes down to “There is something we cannot prove, and we can prove it.” Faith itself is fundamentally flawed. This is embarrassing, people. You don’t even know what the word “proof” means. The only people who tell me there is a god are people.

I happen to think the “lean not upon your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) isn’t just dismissible, it’s a brilliantly evil form of mind control. Don’t think. Don’t question. Just obey. You are a four year old. You are a puppy.

In the middle of all of this, I happened to watch a YouTube video by popular sceptic/devbunker Thunderf00t called, “Why do people laugh at Creationists (Part 44)“, calling out Ken Hamm’s $100M Ark Encounter not only as the fraud and tax cheat that it is, but for the ridiculous tale it espouses.

The basic Christian salvation narrative goes like this: Jesus was made man, died a brief, terrible death, was dead for about two days, then came back to life and has been in heaven from that day to this one, and will be forever. I talked about this before, but I am still waiting for anyone to explain to me how this is a sacrifice of any kind. Bottom line: god gave his only son so he could be in heaven forever.

Another dude seemed trivially concerned for me, saying, “So sorry Richard! Better hope your [sic] right! Jesus is the only way!”, which several readers dismissed as “arrogant and rude,” which it is. But to address his point, if Jesus is the “only way” (to be saved, I guess), does that mean that every American Jew who died storming the beaches of Normandy in 1944 is in hell now and forever? Every Jewish cop and firefighter who died trying to save lives on 9/11 is in hell now and forever?

I got this next pearl of wishful thinking from Beliefnet…

Truly Remarkable
Truly Remarkable

The web site claims, as it should, to have found “shocking proof of god’s existence.” Do I even need to debunk this for my adult readers? Children believe anything with shove down their tiny throats.

Sometimes I think sites like this must surely be false flag argument secretly designed to debunk the deity myth. I mean, they can’t be serious, right?

Yet another Christian troll tried to tell me that atheism is a religion, which I have heard my entire adult life. Though widely and thoroughly debunked, the willfully ignorant still hide behind it. Atheism is a religion the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

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No-Screen Summer?

Of all the cool things you can do with smart device technology, maybe the coolest thing you can do with it is turn it off.
Of all the cool things you can do with smart device technology, maybe the coolest thing you can do with it is turn it off.

Last night in class, one of my students gave me a couple of pearls of wisdom that might have the potential to improve my web presence.

  1. Use Twitter only for very local stuff. I have to admit that I try Twitter intermittently, and find myself unengaged. I don’t care about politics or opinions on Twitter, or the short-message paradigm. The idea my student gave me was to only follow entities like the City of Ada, Byng Schools, Pontotoc County Emergency Management, and so on.
  2. Spend the summer with fewer screens, including deactivating your social media accounts like Facebook. This one isn’t an option for me since my work requires me to use Facebook, and since I have cultivated Facebook as my home for feeding my audience content from this web site, but it’s a compelling idea for a family. Imagine walking the dog instead of playing with a dog-walking app!

It may be a conceit, but I believe I am capable of nurturing my craft and my intellect using screens – computers, tablets, phones, even the television – and I arrogantly look down on those I feel let themselves be led by the nose ring of technology. Maybe I’m fooling myself, and am just another fidget spinner spinner.

I think it is inherently unfair to create something fun and engaging, only to have it be crassly commercialized the way the Pet Rock was.
I think it is inherently unfair to create something fun and engaging, only to have it be crassly commercialized the way the Pet Rock was.
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