Typical Dream

Here's one of last night's dreams. I have no idea why I remember it.

I was on a beach, on a small cliff-like thing with a woman watching the waves and stuff. There was a large ship out in the water, impossibly close to shore. I got up to investigate, made my way down the five foot cliff, and began walking near the ocean.

The woman never followed.

I headed south along the sand and just inland the cliff rose to a height of about ten feet. I could tell that there was a solid wall inside or beneath the cliff now, that the sand was piled up against it, and I wondered what was inside. I knew it was some sort of industrial something or other, maybe sewage treatment or something like that.

I reached the end of the wall and was met by some kids, about eight to ten years old. I struggled to climb up the cliff and they laughed at my efforts and just dashed up around me. When I got to the top I was again on level land, and the kids ran off.

The structure was to my left now. The west-facing wall may have been solid, but the others were chain link and covered with a tarp. I found a door and made my way inside. It was a large, open space and in the center was a small collection of pipes. There were three teenage boys standing around it.

One of them was talking to the others, and it was evident he worked here. At one end of the pipes there were a couple brass pistons, about the size of a grapefruit, and a black rubber diaphram about three inches in diameter. The diaphram was leaking a thin stream of water, but it was coming out with a lot of force.

The boy who worked there cautioned one of the others to be careful, and showed him some proper safety techniques for examining the leaking gasket. He told them he may as well show them how it works, since it should be tested from time to time, anyway.

It turns out the pipes were some invention of FD Roosevelt, and came from that time.

He did nothing I could see, but we all knew that it was working. I hadn't spoken to anyone, but was right next to the thing, along with the rest. We walked around it, and by the time we got to front I could see the pistons slowly pushing out and back in.

There were some open pipes on one side. Two of them were caked with salt, and I knew the machine was creating water. Another pipe contained a parade of tiny trucks, tankers mostly, but with train cars and anything else that could hold water. It was like a demonstration of how water could be put in the trucks and then transported to the public.

I watched as a series of tiny trucks pulled out from the pipe, filled with clean water.

We went to an underground room near the solid wall, and there was some stuff in there, but then I had to go. They all said good-bye to me and I left the compound and was on a street next to the beach. I was walking along another chain link fence, and rats were scurrying out from the vegetation that grew at the bottom of the fence. I was wearing heavy black boots, but was unable to kick them since I was paralyzed and could only lay down.

I wanted to kick one of them, one that was coming after me. Instead, another rat came out and was attacked by a third. The one that had been menacing me, went to join in that fight. A fourth came out and bit my shoulder, and I was unable to get him off since I couldn't move. I could shrug my shoulder, but no more than that and he was stuck on me. I rolled over onto him, and hoped I'd squashed him but was afraid to look.

When I looked up, on the other side of the fence was a meeting. I couldn't see many of the attendees, but I knew there were about twenty people. A middle-aged man and woman were trying to make them dealers of Penta water.

I was yelling that it was all a scam, that it was nonsense, and the couple started getting annoyed at me as the audience began looking doubtful. The couple started talking about molecules all lined up and staying that way and I mentioned water is not a solid, it's a liquid and molecules move. The man began holding little models of molecules, and I said he should just stick to magic tricks and let these people save their money.

I rolled back over, and the rat was motionless. I was afraid to see if he was alive or not, but he was and I kept trying to get him off my shoulder, which was now soaked in blood. I had to pry all his teeth off and could only do that by wiggling my shoulder.

He fell off, ran away, and I woke up.

More Word Problems

Now that I think of it, I may have two odd complaints about homosexuals. Sometime in the seventies, before it had become the universal and exclusive property of the gay community, LA Times columnist Jack Smith expressed sorrow over the loss of the word gay. There isn't another word to replace it in English, it was a wonderful word, and while neither he nor I have anything against gays, it's a shame that the word can no longer be used except to refer to sexual choices.

While I've gotten used to not calling people gay who are just wonderfully happy and light, and never had much use for rainbows, there's another word I'd like to use but now can't. I've had friends most of my life, and family, too, some lovers and an ex-wife, and all that rot. But what if I want to have someone near me who would face things with me and share things, someone with whom I held a bond that went beyond friendship. For the same reason it sounds silly to call someone a girlfriend when you're both over thirty, friends have a connotation, too.

What is bothering me is that I can think of having someone like that, a partner in my life. But, I can't use that, either, because the PC people have grabbed partner to mean life partner, and that isn't what I mean at all.

How come they can't create new words to describe these things? If I were gay, I think I'd want a new word, if I were PC, I'd want an unsullied word to describe my new bland reality.

Aren't they worried that partners connote Western gun toters? Anyway, I should begin a list of once good words that have no been forced into postures. Gay is still a tough one to lose, and I wish they'd acknowldege the theft.

More about God

Even though I don't believe in the straw God that I created from the Bible, the wrathful, vengeful, and jealous one, I may not be a poster child for atheists, either.

I infrequently say, but occasionally out loud, that sometimes I think there is a God and sometimes he seems to be on my side. This can happen when I stumble upon an address I'm looking for or some other serendipitous event. I don't really feel that there's any sort of personal entity who's all that concerned with my well being or behavior, or who seeks to reward or punish me, but I do often sense a direction, a "grain" in the universe.

I don't believe in destiny or purpose, but I look at it this way. Suppose I'm with someone and enjoying myself. I take that as a sign that what I'm doing is right. When things become stressful or don't work out no matter how much effort I put into them, when I'm miserable and losing, I take that as a sign that what I'm occupied with is "not to be," that I'm struggling against the current.

For that reason, among others, I try lots of things. Or, maybe it's just "lots" from my limited perspective. When things go well, go easily and effortlessly, when they feel "right" I'm not likely to argue with them. I'm not so egocentric as to believe the world was created so that I can do it, but it's more like a harmony, like I'm doing something I'm fit for.

Those are the things I feel I can be successful at, that I should pursue, that I should embrace. It obviously isn't anything I'm doing that makes some things amenable to me and other, equally desirous ones frought with pain and peril, but I don't see too much of guiding or helping hand in any of it, either. There isn't any personal involvement by the universe, just an order that I can discover and attune myself with.

This isn't much of a God, I grant you. But it does fit in nicely with what I'd expect of a God. I'm sorry, but I don't see God as some sort of Santa Claus and to whom you can pray and get better or richer or laid or whatever. If you need to pass a mid-term, maybe God has arranged it so that you can study and learn, if you want to get a job, you won't get it through prayer as much as by meeting the requirements and being an excellent candidate. I think my whole prayer thing can be boiled down to two stories. In the first, someone remarked that they prayed for patience and the next day had to go to the DMV after waiting at the grocery store. I like the type of God who would do that, who would give you opportunities to practice being patient over waving a magic wand and instilling it in you.

In the second, an older man whom I treasured dearly and on whose answering machine my message was the last and first one he never heard, once told me that while he talked a lot about it, he didn't really pray any more. Everything he had to say to God was unnecessary, and not because God knows everything, but because there was no reason to ask when he already knew that God had given him the ability to fulfill these things. Anyway, he said that if he prayed it wasn't to ask favors or to tell God anything, it was only for other people and his prayers were remarkably short. They'd be little more than "Dear God, Kathy" and he'd think of Kathy, hoping her well or filling with memories and thoughts of her. He wouldn't presume to tell God how to handle her problems, which I admire, and wouldn't ask for his assistance, which was a given, he'd just remember her while asking God to do the same.

Big Bad Me

When I hurt, which is invariably my own doing, I'm proud to say that I react with all the emotional maturity of any well-adjusted third grader.

My first, and often my only, reaction is to hurt back. I'm not so uncouth and confrontational as to hurt insults, to shout and call names, I'm much better than that. I rely on hurtful responses, demeaning and cruel remarks, the ones meant to sting and bite with deep psychological damage.

One of my better tricks is to get people to question themselves, to adopt the role of the chaste and unobjectionable and cast disparaging comments on the other's behavior. Another favorite trick of mine is to act the martyr, to feign nobility and a dark, tortured soul, one made even more pitiable by the other's actions.

I think it was my counselor who pointed out to me what an excellent manipulator I am, but it was my shrink who noted that I reminded him of a jellyfish. "You're both spineless, but each of you has a nasty sting."

A good person, a healthy one, will take a blow and rub it, noting the pain and wincing. Somone like me will strike back, will try everthing in their power to make the other hurt worse than I do. This, of course, is the exact opposite of healthy behavior, and my desire to make others suffer can be seens as a worthwhile measuring stick to gauge the extent of my maturity.

It may be, I tell myself, no more than the "misery loves company" idea, but this is categorically and utterly false. I don't so much companionship in misery as I want to win the battle, to be the one suffering the leaqst.

It should go without saying that i've yet to win any of these numerous fights. Quite the contrary. While I wallow in regret my opponent goes on her merry way after a momentary awakening. I don't carry a grudge, but I remain stuck while she shuffles me into long-term memory and picks up with healthy relationships and fulfilling ones. It's always a mistake to think me an equal. I'm not, and will show you my laughable reactions when crossed. I may talk a goog game intellectually, but my emotional responses can only remind you of playground games, the ones I never outgrew and always lost.

God the First

It's hard for me to feel good about life when the only God I can see is a judgemental, non-caring one.

I never thought much about God growing up, He was just a part of life like cousins I saw on occasion but who never, really, meant much. Later, when I began hearing questioning His existence, I started wondering, considering the possibilities. As the years unspooled, I found little in the Bible to give me any sense of comfort. The God I read about there reminded me of a teenager, jealous and demanding, petty and brooding.

Sure, he was powerful and all that, He gave His son so if I chose I could stay with Him forever, but having seen what He gave me in this life, that wasn't an enticing prospect. Being all-powerful, He could certainly make things much worse for me, but I have trouble worshipping anything merely because the alternative is torture. It's like respect, something which must be earned.

I've said earlier (I think it was the rant about Heaven or Hell), that I'd most likely do anything if you held a gun to my head. That creates obedience, but not respect. I've heard many, many people speak of a loving, generous God who gives them things, but what I've received could just as easily have come from an uncaring one. I guess it's an attitude thing, and the food I eat and the wonders of nature aren't things I see as gifts, they're things I expect and struggle to get.

A God who didn't feed me, or allow me to feed myself, would be a cruel lord, indeed. Creating me just to watch me starve would be a bad thing, so feeding me is closer to necessary than an example of benevolence. There are many people on this planet who are doing very well, who have rich, full lives filled with bounty and happiness, but I think that's more because of how they react to things than because they're receiving gifts. If I were better adjusted, if my attitude was positive, I could probably do okay, too.

One argument that I like has to do with right and wrong. When God, I'm told, created the Commandments He set down our rules for living. My issue has always been that there are things outside of God, bigger than Him if you will. I cannot conceive of any universe where God had any choice about killing, for example. Killing is wrong whether God says so or not, He could not have said it was right, so even allowing everything else I can't picture Him as being all-powerful. Right and wrong, as I understand them, exist independently of Him and his choices.

It was important at one time in my life for me to have a God who loved me, who cared about me. I'd lie and say I had one, but I've never had any close, personal relationship with a diety. The universe I inhabit has some physical laws, including chaos, and random events that I sometimes see as coincidental. What I fail to see is any plan, or even any necessity for one.

People come into my life, and I sometimes entertain or amuse them. If I touch them, it's more on their terms than mine or anyone else's. I'm little more than an object, and no matter what I want or hope for, I see no necessities in any of it. I can have dreams, but they crumble or are met through what I and others do more than through the machinations of any divine hand.

If there is a God, I think his name his Randy. Random Chance.

AlphaSmart 2000

I've been pretty good about not using this as a journal to talk about what's happening (or not) in my life. I've failed a few times lately, succumbing to the overwhelming immediacy of the moment, and I regret that, but nobody's perfect.

Today another lesson in how a wonderful morning fizzles and dies, leaving me wishing I were dead.

So, I got the AlphaSmart I won on eBay and it was exactly as advertised and pictured. It came with the claimed Mac Y-Connection, but I hadn't realized the AS 2000 used a PS/2 connector instead of the UBS connector that my broken AS 3000 uses.

AlphaSmart sells the necessary connector for $30, but by this time I'm already dreading another in a long line of expensive fuck ups. I went to Fry's this morning, and bought the necessary cables for less than $10, then the fun begins!

First, I looked at the files that were still stored on my new old AlphaSmart. School things from 2001, notes from some meeting of an entertainment committee (they had $72 in the metal cash box they authorized purchase for) and were going to use leftover pretzels from one celebration for the Christmas party, to be held in January. The only other file was one student's (couldn't determine the gender) wrestling story, a touching story of his or her first match, which was a win! There were plenty of exclamation marks, so you know it was exciting! Also, he or she had managed to shed six pounds in a week to make the fighting weight of ninety pounds!

Anyway, hooked the AlphaSmart up to the computer and fired up WXP. Opened a blank Rough Draft document and hit send and all hell broke loose. Rebooted the computer in *nix, with the same result in AbiWord. Lost use of the mouse, rebooted, and the mouse was completely gone.

Got the mouse to work again (several more reboots), and felt like shit. Realized I'd used the mouse port instead of the keyboard port, and felt dumber, but hopeful. Tried again in the right port, and I can get the AlphaSmart to work, but not as I'd hoped with both the keyboard and the AS plugged in at the same time. I need to switch cables, and also discovered that at one point the 'puter refused to boot at all.

When my system cannot find the correct booting info on the hard disk, I panic. The Master Boot Record is something I screw around with way too much, typically with disastrous results.

Anyway, things are working again now, but I'm not as happy as I wanted to be. I rarely am as happy as I want to be. I'm a heat sink for desires that cannot be fulfilled, desires I create just to disappoint myself.


It's an outside job, for me.

Last night I went to bed early, around 10:30, and was feeling as miserable as I can recall. I lay in bed, planning my next blog entry, and while I think I managed to evoke the utter despair I felt, it sounded so dismal that I would have been forced to add a line at the end reassuring you all that I was not, in fact, going to kill myself. I was, however, more than willing to die without a struggle.

Around one in the morning I woke up following some funky-ass dream where I was on a hillside with some people I know (my dreams are frequently populated by strangers), and was unable to get back to sleep. I checked my 'puter and found an e-mail that brightened my life like a thousand nearby suns.

I know, I know. I should be able by now to lift myself up, to stop relying on other people's opinions of me to make me feel good about myself. That was one of the things I felt bad about before sleeping and that I try to justify by seeing it as some sort of evidence that I'm a people person. I may be, but I lack any measure of self-worth and still rely on validation from others.

That, by the way, is not a plug for good karma.

Yesterday I received some mixed news from a doctor. I think my worst fear--cancer and unaffordable operations--is a figment, but other news leaves me feeling trapped and helpless. I don't like to consider my problems are all in my head since that's not something that can be cured with a pill or two. Years of therapy have taught me to fear any more therapy. I think the depression I experienced yesterday resulted from seeing myself as my biggest, perhaps my only, problem.

While my aches and shit may be internally caused, my salvation came from outside. While I beat myself up for not being able to fix me myself, I absolutely love feeling better. Good enough, in fact, that I can look back and laugh at the wild swings of the last twelve hours.

I am so fucked up. It's absolutely wonderful.

Then and now

As wonderful as it is being sober, there are some things about drinking that I miss. No, not enough to pick it back up, but it helps me understand why I did so much of it.

There's a marvelous freedom in not having to drink all the time. When I was constantly fucked up, being fucked up was all I did. When I got clean, I could do everything, everything except getting fucked up. The choice between doing one thing and everything else was harder than you might think, but it seems so stupid now.

In addition to being fucked up and not doing anything, I was also shielded from feeling anything. Emotions were pretty much things I read about in books, and my own experience was shallow and meager, like seeing the world using the eight colors in an old version of Paintbrush. I was unprepared for the rush of feelings clean people have, but had pretty much been a happy drunk and never got into fights or any of that.

What I'm learning now is that I was also sheltered from the more subtle painful emotions. They're still new to me, even all this time later, and I have no idea how to deal with longing or wanting. Rejection was something I felt soon after getting sober, and it hurt me so bad I don't want to experience it ever again. But these insidious, nagging, discomforts hurt me every bit as much as a sharp blow. Being homesick would be a challenge for me, reigning in my desires so that they can be realistic is a constant effort, and if anyone used the word any more, I think being lovesick would torment me.

The joys of life are indescribable, but you've all felt them much more and much deeper than I have. I love how good I can feel, even if it's momentary, and the thrill of a shiver of delight up my spine just makes me want to burst with joy. The uglier, blacker emotions are ones I'm feeling, too, and while I still don't immediately recognize them for what they are, and am still pretty much a stranger to anger, most everything like that will make me incredibly depressed.

But the slow, tortuous dwindling of hopes, the replacement of wishes with realities, the recognition of impossibilities is something I've never had to deal with, and I don't know how much of a deal to make of them. They hurt in their own way, a much more real one than shock or a stinging slap. I intensely dislike being subject to such feelings, but I'm learning they're part of life.


I was somewhat startled the other day when I read someone complaining about the needless words in English. It's true that English has a ton of words, and even more true that I recognize many more of them than I use.

I think it's been decided that the old saying about Eskimos (now Inuits, I believe) having twnety-seven words for snow is a myth, but some group has many. I know that the Greeks had a few different words for love, and I've heard the Indians have over fifty. This, I thnk, is a good thing. It would keep lovers on their toes and could possibly help keep those less literate from breeding.

The first girl I ever dated got sick right after she dumped me. I think we were still on speaking terms, and I remember mailing her (through the US Mail) some sort of funtime sheet of puzzles, silly games, and things like that for her to mess with while she was ill. Although I'm pretty sure it must have contained a connect the dots thing, the only thing I can vouch for is a "complete the poem / fill in the blank" type of thing. I don't remember it all, but it ended like this"

blah blah blah
....something above
I know now that the one is you
The person that I really _____

She wrote back (she completed the page and sent it back, and I guess I'd asked her to do that) "Isn't that leading the witness?" and filled in the blank with the word wuv.

I don't know if teenagers use the word wuv anymore, and I certainly never heard it again in my life. It's a good one, though, and probably better describes the advanced nature of my most intense feelings than any other word. There's an innocent, playful quality to wuv that distinguishes it from the mature, responsible love most everyone around me shares with their partners. It may capture pretty well the cartoonish aspects of my attempts through the years, my copying what other people do when they're in love while having no good idea of how to do so myself. There have been some women who returned my romantic inclinations, but I have a hunch many more found them amusing.

Oh, if you want to read a dream I had, check the "more" section.



I just won an eBay bid on an AlphaSmart. Maybe I'll take better care of this one.

There were two of them so, of course, the one I bid on went for five dollars more than the other. I've really missed mine, which works but the keys have gotten all sticky and I use a lot of Fs and Gs and Zs.

No, they didn't get sticky that way. Porn is horrible on AlfphaSmarts.

Here's a great review about them, and why I like them so much.

Now I need to remember all my PayPal crap. I hate PayPal. Most confusing site ever. I always get trapped deep in the bowels of some weird-ass area I can't navigate out of.


As much as I like Bowie's song, my single favorite reference comes from a Dilbert cartoon. "Change is good," Dilbert tells Wally. "You first."

I've been doing lots of thinking lately, and some of it's been about changes in my life and the way others affect me and, presumably, me them. I'm not interested in obvious changes, drastic ones or the ones I plan, but in the more subtle ones, the ones that happen without my being aware of them.

I mean, it's one thing to change my plans and go somewhere when I'd planned on going somewhere else or nowhere at all, but I thnk it's more interesting to try to track the changes I make to fit better with whomever I'm with. That whole "social chamelion" thing, the language and mannerisms I use when I'm with different people.

When I was a teenager I wrote on my ceiling, "What, of what I am, am I?" cause I was one of those heavy thinkkers, you know. I was deep, man.

Now, I'm just too intellectual for my own good so I think about changing in terms of quantum physics, and how it's impossible for anyone to know me without changing me. The closer we get to each other, the more we change each other, and the person to whom I was attracted is a little different than the one I get, and vice versa. I think that's kind of neat.

I changed dramatically when I got married. My ex introduced me to worlds I never considered, and I happyily tagged after her like a faithful puppy, doing what I could to please her. I think I'm a bit mroe firm now, but I still have a host of beliefs and notions I'll drop on a moment's notice, or discount entirely, if they get between me and somebody. Other parts of me, and maybe they're the essential ones, I hold onto more firmly. I don't do a lot of this consciously, but I think I do it.

And sometimes I change myself. I see how other people, better people, act or do things and make an effort to emulate them, or I'm hurting so much from doing things my way that I'm forced into admitting that I'm fucking things up and have to do them a different way.

The worst is when I change to meet someone's hopes, and then lose them entirely in the process.


My hunch is the number of people who look at this site and have an interest in my fantasies approaches zero. The number of those who can even conceive of me as a sexual being equals zero. Nonetheless, I get a kick out of seeing how twisted I am when it comes to thinking about sex. And, with the robots grabbing all my blogs, maybe someone will stumble on this and let me know I'm not alone.

No, the sad thing is, my fantasies aren't very kinky. As time's gone on, they've become downright pedestrian. I'm not going to divulge graphic details, but I realized how different I was from most guys about fifteen years ago. There was a group of us sitting around, watching a football game and shooting the shit, when some commercial came on. There was some super model or other walking down the beach, probably in high heels, and a couple of the guys started making the typical lewd comments.

She was pretty hot, I'll give you that, but before I could picture myself rolling around the sand with her my intellect kicked in. Or, my mental illness, depending on your point of view. There was no way on God's Green Earth that this girl would ever have anyting to do with me. I couldn't buy her jewels, which I figured she would demand, I couldn't imagine any situation in which I'd even be in the same room with her, I couldn't see us getting together at all. And, if by some chance I *did* meet her, I knew without thinking that I'd be unable to talk to her. There was no way I could impress her, no way that we would ever be rolling around on that beach.

So, I couldn't fantasize about her. It was too unrealistic. I couldn't get past my doubting mind long enough to picture her naked, imagine what it would be like to have her in my arms, any of that.

After noticing this, several times in fact, I had to give up fantasizing about actresses, super-models, and all the fodder that typical American males obsess over. The problem was, there wasn't much to replace it . If I began thinking about women I'd see on the street or at a club, I knew I couldn't bring them home. Once they saw how I lived, I'd get nowhere with them, and without getting them in the door the rest of the fantasy just couldn't happen.

I had to solve that problem, and did so by ammending my fantasies to consist of me being some sort of super hypnotist. I could implant ideas and suggestions in her mind, keep her from seeing the real me, and then I could proceed. This lasted a little while, but I soon grew bored with it. Also, I was becoming even more fussy, now inclined to doubt what I would picture.

I had no idea, of course, what these women looked like under their clothes, and I began to worry if I had the correct mental picture. I felt I was doing a disservice if I pictured her wrong, that it wasn't her, and I pretty much gave up altogether. My thinking mind was ruining my flights of fancy, talking me out of everything I could invent, and I still find it damned hard to dream about people the way I did when I was younger.

My Name

I'm often asked, especially when meeting people, what my name is. I usually tell them one, but I have a couple. My full name, my legal one, is Russell, but I often go by Russ, because it's shorter and we Americans are like that.

When I was growing up I was always Rusty, not a bad name for a kid. My family would call me Rusty Dusty because it rhymed, or maybe I was always dirty. When I was around twelve or so I stopped having a crew cut and began growing my hair long enough to need a comb. I had to keep it neat, over the ears and off the collar was the school's dress code, and about that same time I started calling myself Russ.

I always signed my name Russell, but never called myself that. One of the clerks at one of the liquor stores I worked at, and older man named Mort who'd known me all my life, would call me Russell the Muscle, because I'd often carry the bags home for mom. Later on, in my late twenties when I had a group of friends who all had nicknames, mine was Muscleman. They called me that because after seeing Rocky I started doing one arm pushups.

My arms were never particularly muscular, but I had a nice chest there for awhile. And, good legs from all the bike riding. Now I have man boobs and chicken legs, the same legs I had when I was a youngster.

When I got married my wife called me Russell. She was the first person in my life to use that name for me all the time. As she put it one night when I asked her why, "It's your name." My name, Russell, always sounded beautiful when she said it aloud. We don't often hear other people speaking our names, and rarely do it ourselves.

After that marriage fall apart I was Russ again. The people at work and whatnot were never introduced to me by that name, but they'd see it all the time written down. I kept Russell away from them because I was convinced that if everyone started using it that it would lose the special qualities with which she'd imbued it.

Now, I'm not so strict. I still associate Russell with love or legality and usually use Russ as a common, friendly name. When people ask me for my name they always ask which to use. I tell them I don't care, but only use Russ when I'm introduced. If they discover or choose Russell, although I have no reason to, I associate it with love or business.

I leave it up to them, even though they don't know there are rules.

Distance Learning

I'm most comfortable when I'm lecturing, when I'm in some real or imagined position of authority, and can impress others with what I know.

I routinely carry on inner monologues, informing some non-existant listener about what I'm perceiving and my take on it, how important it is, what it relates to, how it fits into the scheme of things I've settled on. In real life I was quite good at explaining the computer shit that was my job, helping others (something I always enjoy doing), and hosting the show. I'm far less comfortable with small talk and often disastrous at any sort of meaningful conversations with another human being.

I'm good when people are listening to me, comfortable, even. But if I'm in a conversation, they have the opportunity and inclination to talk back, to question things, to ask me difficult questions. Not only does that interrupt my flow, it takes me from the scripted world and into the chaotic one where anything can happen.

There are risks in talking to people, but magnificient rewards. If I could wish for one thing, it would be to be comfortable dropping the lecture mode and dealing with someone as a human. I've been lucky sometimes, and have been able to relate to people as equals. Since I normally look up to everyone, I like being their equal. Since I rarely feel that way, I distance myself and recite old stories and anecdotes, hiding safely behind any real human interaction.

I know I'm doing it when I'm doing it, and I dislike it. In a perfect world I could just say, "Here I am, take me or not" and not worry about the outcome. But what I get is scarecely ever enough, because I give so little back.


Nothing much to say right now, or too much, depending. I just wanted to see what it looked like with the Russ-O-Meter pegged out at max.

It hasn't been there in 1.5 years. It looks good up there.


Now, the other half of the equation.

When I was younger I thought that in its own way this life was pretty close to heaven. Not only could you pick what you wanted to do, anything from being a professional golfer to an interim file clerk, but the world was full of people who kept me entertained. I loved the thought of all the possibilities stretching out before me, the endless opportunities, and all that rot. I'm sure they're still there, but I no longer feel that way. Things now feel more proscribed, narrower.

I suppose any being superior enough to create the universe could dash off a lake of fire in a minute. Were he as powerful as claimed, he could also easily stick me in it. Without so much as a second thought, I could be there forever. I'm certain I'd dislike that, or any of the other hells I've read about from Dante to Rod Serling.

While I could be thrust into hell and forced to reflect on my sins and transgressions for eternity, I'm not sure I'd have much respect for whomever put me there.

I'm sorry. I was doing fine on my own before I was born, something that wasn't my choice, I might add. You summoned me into existence for a scant seventy years and then decided to torment me for eternity because I didn't worship you? That, to me, smacks of insecurity on a level I can't imagine (and I'm one of the more insecure people on this planet).

The physical hells, the burning and brimstone shit, seems to me pretty trite and unimaginitive. The more psychological tortures, the getting whatever you want, the frustration of rolling huge boulders wearing hair shirts, would be far more painful and humbling for me. Actually, this life which seemed so heavenly when I was young feels somewhat hellish now on occasion. I'm required to do things I don't care for over and over, I get glimpses of things I can't have, and the worst thing is this is the life I've picked for myself.

I know. I talk a lot about unfullfilled desires. I rarely mention the things I acquire, my little successes or accomplishments, which are every bit as meaningful. Sometimes I can sit and reflect on how lucky I am and other times I compare them to my wants and wonder why past wants came out better than my current ones.

All in all, I think too much. A form of hell built just for me could be just like this: I'm obsessed and precoccupied with figuring something out that exists solely for pleasure and has no deep, dark meaning.


It might be no more than the limitations of the human mind (mine), but one thing keeping me away from religion is I can't believe in heaven.

For one, I don't like the whole idea of this life as being a test. That doesn't mean it isn't, and my liking or disliking it would have nothing to do if some God has decided it is, but that kind of thinking doesn't draw me in. It's a reasurring notion, this good people get rewarded even though they're shat on here, and bad people get punished even though they seem to succeed, but I just can't imagine anything that I'd consider heaven. I can't imagine unending happiness and delight, always increasing, with no worries or problems. I'd get used to it, and then it wouldn't be heaven it would be boring.

I know me. I get used to things.

I was born and raised Lutheran. I went to the necessary classes to be confirmed in the Lutheran faith. In fact, the Sunday of my confirmation was the last day I went to church for services for twenty-five years. I'd go to weddings, baptisms, and funerals, but never returned to church. There was supposed to be a confirmation gift, probably a hymnal or something like that, waiting for me in the foyer the next week. It may still be there.

When I was around forty, I attended a church service once, after having been told it was a good way to meet people.

I still have this idea of heaven, the one with the angels on the clouds and the old white man with the beard, and, I'm sorry, but sitting around singing hymns all day, for eternity, isn't anything I want. I'd like to see my parents again, and some close friends I've lost, but how could that be? Suppose my dad wants to be in his twenties?

The Jehovah's Witnesses have people coming back and living on earth (along with the lion and sheep lying down together), and I can think of nothing worse than spending eternity on this planet. How many fruits can you pluck from the trees before it's old hat? Oh, I hear, God will work it out so that it's always incredible. Well, if He has to change my makeup that much, I don't think it would be me that's in heaven.

I'd much rather consider this life for just what it is. If someone does something nice for me, I can't enjoy it if they're doing it for any reason other than they want to. I'm not interested in people being kind because they want a reward: I could force people to do all kinds of things at the point of a gun. This proves nothing.

Human Pieces

I've often said that I feel as I was made up from the pieces left over after God made everyone else, kind of like the scraps of dough you reform after making a batch of gingerbread men.

But those aren't the "human pieces" I want to talk about. I have a bunch of history, a lot of things that I've done or that have happened to me, and I don't think there's anything special about that. What may make it different, though, is that I have this notion that somewhere in there are buried the important things that make me unique, that make me me.

Some philosophers have considered the self to be nothing other than the unbroken string of memories possessed by an individual. I'm in no mood to delve into that, but when I meet someone and we start talking I'm aware that I hold a hand full of cards, each one containing my recollection of an event in my past. I can tell him about the hiking trip on Mammoth Mountain or I can relate the camping trip in Happy Valley. I have tons to choose from, and I sometimes choose what to say with care.

Because I have this theory.

I have an obsession with being understood. It borders on the maniac. I've never sat down and done it, and never will, but I sometimes think that if I could work it out I could create a Russell Cliff Notes. It would be an abbreviated version of my life, one that contained the essential events that shaped and formed me, and upon hearing it anyone would understand why I am the way I am. They could hear these stories and know me.

As it stands now, I often divulge things from my past that I'm not sure if they're meaningful or not. I'm not sure anyone needs to hear them, or even if I need to say them. I suppose my take on what happened may give a clue to how I perceive things, but I'm sure there's a better example I could have used (most things that happen to me happen often. I'm a slow learner).

I'd like the efficiency of having a small handful of events that will reveal me, that would explain why I have this "factory irregular" label.

Details, Devil in

This may come as a shock, but I'm not perfect and have, in fact, plenty of room for improvement. A host of people, some more kindly than others, have pointed out a number of my failings, and sometimes I choose to do something about it and sometimes I don't.

I have quirks, habits, and indiosyncrasies that drive some people nuts. I sometimes care a lot about these things and keep doing them because of that effect, or some other reason. It may be something as simple as "I like it," or it may be more involved. For a spell, I would write notes on the back of my hand, and I would do this when employed as a Director and it was thought that I should use my Palm for that purpose. No one else had a Palm back then, and I imagine they wondered why I did that.

I did it because I liked people who wrote on their hands. I thought it unassuming.

When I first met my future ex-wife I owned one pair of shoes. I was working in an office then, as I always have, and they were a pair of black steel-toed work shoes. I wanted, but didn't get, the model with the ripple sole for work on concrete. By the time she met me I'd had them for a good time, had never polished them, and they looked like a pair of work boots should look.
It didn't even require a special event, like a birthday, for her to give me a few gifts. I liked that about her, since I was constantly buying gifts for no reason, too. She bought me some clothes, a sweater and some polo shirt, and with them a pair of white loafers.
As our relationship and my sartorial knowledge increased, she would frown at my shoelaces, which I'd never bothered to keep straight in my life. She'd wince looking at the twisted ribbons running between my eyelets, and eventually told me that I had to keep my laces straight.
It had never occurred to me--honestly!--that anyone would go through the bother of straightening their shoe laces. I'd never noticed, not conciously, if anyone's laces were neat, but it was a lesson I learned. The other lesson about shoelaces I may write about another day, but it's an emotional one for me.

Yesterday I felt I should look good, or, at least more presentable than I usually do. I slipped into my green Chucks and noticed the shoelaces were a disaster. Old, streaked, and twisted like a licorice. I loved it.

The Boy Next Door

I had one neighbor all through my formative years, an only child who was about seven years older than I was. His name is Alan, and he spent a lot of time playing with a boy his own age, Ricky, who lived across the street. Ricky is dead, died quite young (maybe in Vietnam).

I remember only a few things about Alan. At an early age, and this is what I was told, he set a small blaze in the backyard. When my mother complained or got worried, instead of putting it out he sassed her (I think that's what they called it back then). My mom called the fire dept on him and they extinguished the fire. I believe he got in trouble.

For Christmas one year, when I was about twelve, my "big present" was his old bicycle. It was an English Racer, with the swept down handlebars and derailer gears. It was blue. One other year, my present was a train my dad built for me. It was housed in Alan's garage, was a simple oval tacked onto plywood, and was suspended in Alan's garage. It wouldn't fit in our garage because of the boat my dad was building, and it was unfinished at Christmas and I don't recall ever playing with it. I do remember being led next door to see it, though.

Alan had a wonderful car, a '65 maroon Chevy SS Malibu, I think. He would spend tons of time on it, and I learned a lot about cars from watching him work on it. He polished it all the time, and was forever tinkering with it. He once took one of my sisters out on a date in it, but she doesn't remember that.

He was probably nerdy, and like many women, my sister craved excitement. Alan was a good sort, and the only other memory I have of him is when he was in his twenties and I was in high school. I was in his front room and he had some financial thing on TV, probably on UHF back in those days. I was fascinated by the stream of ticker symbols on the bottom of the screen, and he took the trouble to explain a little of it to me.

I don't think he ever, really, liked me. We were too distant in age for that. But he'd occasionally let me hang around while he changed his clutch.

My guess is he ended up successful.


Today I'll try harder to be coherent. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.

Last night I had a dream so boring I woke up on purpose, I think. It's one thing to have a drab existence when I'm awake, but if there's nothing to be gained by sleeping I wonder why I even bother. Awhile back, I came up with my sleep <--> eating peas theory, which I still like.

I wish sleeping, instead of being a necessity, were something like eating peas, something I could do whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted, but that was it. There are times, usually when my life is on an upswing, when I hate getting tired and don't want to sleep at all. During those times, nothing would be better than being able to stay awake and get things done. I hate it when I have to give up one-third of my life to just lying around, refreshing my brain and muscles, or whatever the hell it is that sleeping does.

Other times, I wish I could sleep all day, then all night, and maybe the next day, too. This is rarely because I'm tired and most often is because I'm afraid of life and facing whatever it is that's going on. Sleep is an excellent way for me to hide from the world. The trouble with that, though, is that if I take an unnecessary, extended nap in the afternoon, then I'm up all night, when my thinking is its most dire.

I guess that's my punishment for napping, but I'd rather not have one.

Last night I dreamt I was reading. It would be hard to get any more exciting than that, I realize, but there's more. When I woke up I thought the book I'd been reading had a wonderful title, and wrote it down so that I could remember it. I sometimes do that and invariably wonder later WTF was I thinking. Things which impress me in the dream world rarely seem so hot the next day and I admit the title of the book strikes me just that way.

Try Two Times

Okay, it's alliterative, but isn't anything that would inspire any waking person to read it.


Specialist First Class

A lot of these young kids dying in Iraq are listed as SFC, or Specialist, First Class. It's not a particularly high rank, but it's a sign that our Army is planning for the future (or "looking ahead," in corporate speak).

All kinds of people are talking about how everything's becoming more specialized, and I guess it's true. If there ever was any broad fields, any unifying feelings, they're long gone. Mexican-Americans are complaining because the African-Americans have things they lack, Filipinos feel slighted because bilingual ATMs don't come in their language, and most everyone is clutching and honoring their historic cultures over their current situations. I've blogged before about tribes, and how I don't understand them, so I'm not going to go over that again.

I'm also not going to talk about people, although it looks a lot like I just did.

Today I baked some bread, which isn't all that unusual. I have a bread machine, one I received as a gift. Not much else to do with it except use it to produce bread with a weird ass hole in the bottom. But here's where we get to specificity. I used flour to make my bread, "all purpose flour." That must not be as good as "bread machine flour" since nothing that can do more than one thing is considered as wonderful as all these single-use items. I wonder if we'll continue down this track and end up with distinctive muffin flours, biscuit flours, and dredging flours for each individual vegetable and cut of meat.

I used to buy milk, and as Lewis Black has pointed out, now the milk aisle extends forever. Skim, various percents, acidophilus, soy, lactose free, and so on. It may be better now, but it was much simpler when it came in milk and chocolate milk.

Doctors specialize tremendously, as do lawyers, IT technical folk, and probably half the professions on the planet. I blame all this on overpopulation. With all the students searching for theses, and all the big, easy stuff already written about, they have to split minute hairs to find something new to study.

In my ideal world we'd concentrate more on the similarities between ourselves than the differences. The political parties would be more about having a view than a shared hatred of the other party. People would be encouraged to see the forests, to see progress and not past calamities, and seek to be generally open instead of mired in a specific rut.

To Sleep, Perchance To Be Rudely Wakened

I'm sure this happens to other people, too, but I don't remember hearing about it.

It seems most of my dreams are boring ones and usually involve me driving around somewhere in one of the cars or bikes I've owned (bicycles) which are in need of repair. Often it's the brakes that aren't working, but I know how to handle that even though no one else does. I struggle with the car (or bike), making my way around, limping to my destination.

Those dreams, from what I can recall, have a beginning, middle, and end.

But the more exciting dreams never get finished. Whether it's one of my frequent nightmares or the rare and desirable good ones, as soon as the dream gets to a big scene I wake up. I'm told that you can't die in your dreams without dying for real, but this waking up just when things get interesting bugs me. I'm not in any danger, it's simply that things are going to start happening and - wham! - I'm sitting up in bed.

It's as if I'm too excited to sleep, and that pisses me off. Last night I woke up just as I was about to get caught covering up a post-dated check at work. The acctg dept was just approaching my desk (we'd been flying around, landing on futuristic freeways earlier) and there I was, in bed with Minardi.

I guess that saved me the humiliation of being chewed out by some VP but the same thing happens if I kiss someone. I get to the point of the kiss, sometimes complete it, and I'm kicked out of the dream and back into life. Those dreams, incidentally, are never ones I can pick back up, try as I might. The ones where things are most desperate, where no one understands me or wants anything to do with me, the ones I have all the time, I pick up without a second thought. I may wake up in the middle of some frustrating encounter, but when I return to sleep I can be right in it.

This being too excited to sleep is just silly. It's as if I'm teasing myself, and I don't like that at all.

June...June! Already?

Okay. Summer's officially here. I don't expect to be going to the beach much this year, not with this body. Not only would I embarrass myself, I'd also embarrass myself. Then again, I think it would be soothing to lie around reading.

I remember making the point once that one of the enjoyable things about going to the beach was that it allowed me to lie around and do nothing, but was something to do. If I told people I went to the beach, they accepted that as being an activity. It was much better than saying I did nothing.

So maybe I will go. Come to think of it, I should give a rat's ass what anyone thinks of a middle-aged beached whale. Nobody is there for my sake, they won't even notice me. I could get some reading done, could try writing, and if nothing else can get back in the water, where I belong.

I've heard that the anti-smoking fanatics are trying to stop smoking at the beach. I'm sure they'll win, having hysteria on their side, if not any science. Since I've been around, they've banned fires, pets, and drinking, and our world is a much better place thanks to imposed morality by those who know better.

I've decided the worst phrase in the English language is any that begins "If it saves just one life..." Everytime someone utters that, I know that something else is going to be outlawed or forced on me. Yes, human lives are important, but I wouldn't want to live in a world where we had to save every one of them from every possible calamity. Back before cars were safer I used to bounce all over the back seat, even lying in rear window over the back seat. I wasn't the only one, and I'm sure many children were killed or injured in accidents. But enough of us survived that we have now have a population problem.

Car seats are great, but I wonder if the kids like sitting in them as much as I did climbing all over. Not as many people take Sunday drives any more, or ones on any other day of the week, so it may be a moot point. I guess if I had a kid I would him or her in one, but I don't like being told I have to.

I guess I don't like authority much. I like options and choices that I can make myself.