Friday, November 10, 2006

Picture Post

This post serves two purposes. Actually three. First is to display some photographs of Colfax and its most prominent feature, the railroad. Second, to show off what my new camera is capable of. Although I can't be sure if I can do it yet, my plan is to upload these photos in all their high-resolution glory. If successful, you should be able to click them and be able to download an extremely high-resolution image.

Lastly, I just merged all of my blogs over to Blogger Beta. The technical difficulties that Blogger has been experiencing lately are mysteriously absent on the beta version... plus it is noticeably faster. Is it a leap of faith… or foolishness? Neither is beyond my purview, we'll see what the future holds.

And now, autumn in Colfax…

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Eager to have a say on this coming Election Day

One vote can make a difference.

"Of course," you say. "Colfax is a small town."

True enough, but I mean even in an election of national proportions ... One vote can make a difference. Now you might be expecting me to point some of the close races in the historical record. Garfield vs. Hancock, Nixon vs. Kennedy or even Bush vs. Gore, but that's not the kind of difference I'm talking about.

It's much more personal than that.

I can trace almost to the day the awakening of my political awareness. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified in July 1971. It is as simple in its language as it is in its deed:

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Rep. Jennings Randolph, D-West Virginia, first introduced it in Congress in 1941. His argument was simple enough: If people were old enough to fight and die for this country, they should have the right to vote. Simple as it is, Randolph had to sponsor it 11 times over 30 years as both a congressman and later a senator before it was finally ratified.

The 26th Amendment meant that I would be able to vote three full years sooner! Or so I thought. My birthday was just about one month too late to vote in the 1980 presidential election. Jimmy Carter was running for re-election against a former California governor and actor named Ronald Reagan.

Just 32 days short of turning 18 and I was nothing but a bystander. Even though I had done the math years in advance - this was no surprise - I was still bummed out. Not that my participation would have affected the outcome. Reagan didn't need me and Carter needed several million more but it would have put me in a participatory role and I could have made a statement.

I was so close I could taste it. ...

The first big election I voted in was the 1982 midterm. It wasn't the presidential election, but I was excited all the same. And it's been like that ever since. With less than a week to go for the upcoming midterm, I'm excited again - really excited.

Colfax has three-fifths of a City Council to elect - it's at least as important as the Doolittle vs. Brown race, maybe more so. Other local governing bodies have seats up for grabs as well.

Voting connects the community to its leadership and it is even more crucial in small, local elections. I don't think I can affect the final outcome; in most cases, just my one lone vote can't. However, by taking the time to vote, I show our elected officials that I am here, paying attention, and I connect myself to the process. I become vested. I am a participant, an owner.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

I'm excited because next Tuesday, I will again participate in expressing my part of the collective will of the people, doing my part to keep our democratic republic alive. I've heard it said over and over again, "If you don't vote, you can't complain."

Hogwash! There will always be plenty of complaining going on. It would be better characterized by saying, "If you don't vote, why would you care?" For me, it's a circular phenomenon - I vote because I care and because I vote, I care.

One vote does make a huge difference - to me.

Michael Althouse can be reached at

Friday, October 06, 2006

If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand...

This slogan is most often associated with motorcycles - Harley Davidsons to be specific. The enamel pin on the right is a Wm Spear Designs take-off of another popular motorcycle phrase, "Ride hard, die free." Both have had an eerie resonance with me for most of my life – certainly all of my adult life.

Am I naturally rebellious? Perhaps I possess some kind of “pioneer” spirit. Whatever the case, it would appear that I have come across a socially acceptable, productive and harmless yet still exciting and risky outlet for this maverick streak I have been blessed, or cursed with. It is embodied in William Spear’s adaptation of the motorcyclist’s manifesto “Write hard, die free.”

Are the two sides of the equation related? Does riding or writing hard equate freedom? Does doing anything with conviction, commitment or enthusiasm garner one some sense of freedom? Has it got anything to do with work; with sacrifice; with blood, sweat and tears? Indeed, freedom of any approximation seems to require some scale upon which its value can be measured – work.

And perhaps that is part of the problem in our nation today. Too many are out for the quick fix, the fast buck… for instant gratification. The paradox of instant gratification is that it only lasts for an instant. The rewards of hard work are lasting, they’re deep and they are mine.

I no longer desire instant riches – hitting the lottery appeals to me only inasmuch as how much more I could do with that kind of money – how much more work I could produce. And that’s what it’s really all about; I mean, what else are we here for? To only consume; to take and take and take?

I have found through the trials of life, by the good, the bad and the ugly, that freedom cannot be given away, sold or purchased. It is not a birthright, here or anywhere else. It is gained only through work – hard work. It could result in something tangible, but often it is the unspoken, unwritten and the indescribable that means more than anything that could be held in one's hand. It could be riding or writing, but one way or another, freedom is earned and should never be taken for granted.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Still Crazy After All These Years

I am a writer.
I… am a writer.
I am… a writer.
I’m a writer.

It still feels odd to say. I’m not sure I believe it sometimes. Then I start going into this “I’m not worthy” self-deprecating dialogue, usually internally, and then I start to second-guess even that. I feel like I’m singing the “poor me, nobody understands” song while questioning my motives for doing so. Am I seeking validation or am I sorting through something that touches others as well? Does it really need to be said?

Am I profound… or just pathetic?

Perhaps I just think way too much. That’s a fair characterization. Since this is the case, let us further dissect the premise. Come along, the rabbit hole is right over here…

First, some facts: For whatever reason, I find it difficult to attribute credit to myself, but only under some rather inconsistent circumstances. Don’t know why, I just do. It would probably take years of therapy and untold thousands of dollars to find out – I’ll pass. The fact is that I am a writer. There is abundant evidence. In fact, it’s not hard to be a writer – most everyone is at some time or another. If you write, you’re a writer – by definition.

Ok, ok, I know that is a rather broad interpretation and in most contexts it is not a sufficient one. We’re talking about a more concrete identification. Many would say that to be called a writer, it must be a much larger part of who we are than just jotting down a memo or a letter to a friend. It probably should occupy a significant amount of time on a daily, or at least semi-regular basis. For me, it does. I write often, I write daily and I write a lot.

Maybe to be a writer, one must have a writing career. Journalists, playwrights, novelists, and technical writers are but a very few examples of professional writers. Careers are jobs and jobs are paid. A professional writer is compensated for his or her written work. Done and done. I have been drawing a regular paycheck for putting words and punctuation in a specific order that someone is willing to pay for. Oddly enough, I find it marginally easier to say I am a professional writer. Don’t ask – I don’t know why.

Here’s the tricky part. I am a good writer. I don’t even like seeing that in front of me, but the empirical evidence is there. I receive high grades on my written work. Since entering Sac State, I have yet to receive anything lower than an A- on any prepared written work (on in-class writing like essay tests, I have only slightly lower marks). I get paid to write and I have won cash awards for my writing. I continually receive positive feedback – some from sources I greatly respect and are not known for giving false praise. Despite all that, I resist accepting it.

So what am I after? Is it validation and reassurance that I am indeed talented? Perhaps the desired result is one of sympathy or empathy. It can be very confusing when the manipulator and the manipulated are one and the same. I don’t know if these reflective, motive-checking moments are mine alone to endure, or if it is universally human. I’m not looking for validation, but I quite obviously am. I’m not seeking approval, but it’s approval that I desire. I don’t want praise, but can I ever get enough?

I try to finish everything I start, literarily anyway. I used to write the majority of my stuff in a single sitting. Sometimes it would take hours, sometimes minutes but I don’t like letting it go until it’s perfect. It never is and I always know it won’t be – it can’t be. The point is that the nature of the “professional” writing I do demands me to be far more flexible – sometimes writing even when I am not necessarily “inspired.” As a result, my collection of unfinished work is growing. It is becoming quite a load to carry.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense. The point of it all? None. Don’t have one. I’m just thinking aloud; enjoying a little excursion to the lunatic fringe.

So… do you think I think too much?

Friday, June 30, 2006

Magic Words

Staring at a blank page… it’s begging to be filled. Words and punctuation are only symbols. They mean nothing until they’re translated into something more. Not just another code – spoken words… or sounds - but into pure energy. Words are transformed by decomposition, decompression and decoding into flows of energy manifested in thoughts and ideas. Feelings and emotions can be created as well, as the never-ending cycle of energy transformation continues.

Backwards as forwards, energy flowing from thought into word is transferred into stored energy. Spoken words, or symbols of sounds, may be transmitted to one, to thousands, to millions. Indeed, this energy storage and transmission is not “renewable,” it’s inexhaustible. As the symbols and codes exist, so too does the power – readily available to be converted again. And again. The collected wisdom of mankind is available and ready; be it via known languages or long forgotten tongues, the energy is there, waiting to be released.

With the new age of technology and the pace of development in today’s world, the accumulated energy is so great that no one person is able to release it all. But imagine if one could… to have all that collected wisdom – the discoveries, the inventions, the creations – it boggles the mind. However, what if... what if technology could release that power? What if the power in those words and works were available, in an instant, to all who sought it? Could it be that the questions of all time, the riddles and the puzzles are already solved if one only had all the known information?

I have often wondered about magic. Fairytale magic, witchcraft, sorcery, incantations, natural, spiritual, scientific or physical – I don’t care – just magic. Why? To get “there” faster? Yes, there was once a time. To solve unsolvable problems? Sure, mine as well as yours. To make the world a better place? I’m not sure even magic alone could do that. To accomplish the impossible? To travel to the ends of the universe or… to travel to another one? Would magic be able to produce answers? Could it be an aide to finding the solution, or would it render the solution moot?

So, I have come to some conclusions that are, of course, subject to change without notice. First, there is no “Harry Potter,” magic wand brand of magic. That leads to several other conclusions that are similar regarding witches, warlocks, vampires, alchemy and a host of the other “classical” views of magic. I could be wrong, but the evidence as I see it is overwhelmingly lacking. However, the term “magic” is subject to interpretation and with a sufficiently accommodating definition, magic is very real indeed. It operates continually and forever. It cannot be extinguished or exhausted.

It is pure power. The energy that goes into and flows from words, coded from thought, born of magic. Pure magic. Whether it is defined by the electro-chemical nerve impulses firing from one nerve to next one ad infinitum or the vastness of all we have yet to learn or the miraculous progress we have made in the last ten, 20, 50, 100 years, magic is present. And it all stems from a means of translating the energy from one to another – of conveying the power that we as humans possess alone – the transmission and storage of unlimited, unbridled and unimaginable power.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Emotional Responsibility

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that my life has historically never resembled routine. Maybe it was because I always ran fast and loose; never having much more than short-term goals and not much in the way of dreams or aspirations, I never really noticed. Indeed, up until quite recently, my life did not even remotely resemble anything like what many would call routine, predictable or stable. Since coming of age when the ownership for these responsibilities are magically transferred, I never really had anything planned; except for periods of time lasting a few weeks or maybe months at the most, some kind of upheaval was always possible and often imminent.

I have experienced depression, jubilation, hopelessness, anticipation, grief, honor, fear and even death, though only very briefly. There would seem to always be an external reason for whatever I was feeling – something that life dished out elicited the appropriate and sometimes inappropriate responses I experienced. I was always able to peg my emotional state – good or bad – on some person, circumstance or situation. In other words, it was not my responsibility how I felt. My response was never my fault.

I remember once while in the hospital recovering from a near fatal auto wreck (that brief encounter with death…), at about the two month mark with no end in sight, I was quietly sobbing in my room. It had been a tough day; they all were, but this one was particularly tough. My recovery had suffered a slight setback that triggered all these built-up emotions to come out at once. I am not a whiner and I knew who got me into this mess, however, everyone has their limit. Much to my chagrin, the night nurse heard my sobs. Suffice it to say, I was not in the mood to “talk” about it.

She wanted to know what was wrong. I thought it was patently obvious and therefore a rather stupid question and… I didn’t hesitate to tell her so. She was just doing her job and limiting the institution’s liability – they don’t need a suicide on their hands. I was not, nor have I ever been suicidal, but they had no way of knowing that. She persisted. She wanted to know if I was “depressed.” I replied incredulously, “Of course I’m depressed! Look where I am! Who wouldn’t be?” I left out some choice explicatives, but I think I’ve made my point.

Little did I know that the term she suggested and I readily seized upon, “depressed,” carries with it institutional meanings far beyond what I meant. Indeed, I was suffering from depression - situational depression. It would go away when the situation improved, which it did the very next day. However, because I expressed that I was “depressed,” I received the obligatory visit from the resident shrink. Although I had moved out of the depression, I was still plenty pissed off for a variety of reasons – and now one more got added to the list. To make a long and entirely tangential story short, I eventually got better, in all respects.

Ironically enough, that three month hospital stay was among the more predictable periods of my adult life and coincidentally enough, it was a period that I was not controlling. I had no place in the planning of my day; every aspect of it was dictated by circumstance, my doctors and/or the hospital. Everything, right down to when I ate and the quality of the food (or lack thereof) was taken care of. When it came time to take back control of my life, it found the same path as before, which was, of course, no path at all.

Today and for the past two years or so, I have been working towards a long-term goal and beyond that I have very specific dreams and aspirations. I am not locked into a routine so rigid that my every waking moment is planned, but at the same time there are certain constants that I can count on. Regular intervals are taking a prominent place in my life and instead of “tying me down,” it grants me freedom. Furthermore, it gives life purpose and that was a quality my life seriously lacked. Surprises are not less surprising, but I am better situated – better prepared to deal with them.

What this predictability has revealed is that my emotional strength is dependant on being in touch with what I feel and why. This is not as easy as it may sound, but like anything else, it takes practice and after a couple of years, I think I may actually be getting it. Lately, I have been experiencing a lack of motivation… it’s a little like being in the doldrums, but not quite. It’s just a little blah. I am not, however, depressed – experience tells me that I need to make that perfectly clear.

I surmised that perhaps this was a cycle – one that I surely must have missed in the whirlwind that was my life. However, although my intent when starting this piece was to argue for that hypothesis, I must change my tack here and perhaps delve a little deeper. Indeed, the practice of getting in touch with myself through writing has once again proven that my head tends to be somewhat blind to second opinion. It is, in a word – lazy. Why pursue a new line of analysis when I already had it all figured out? And how convenient that I just naturally settled on a theory that represents no responsibility for my own emotional state. “It’s just a cycle.” Perfect!

Without the practiced skill of thinking via the written word, thinking out loud as it were, I would have come to the same conclusion that damned near killed me – a convoluted idea that it’s not my fault. Not that everything that happens in life is my fault or responsibility (really, I’m not that important!), but my reactions to these events are. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with any feeling. It is the behavior driven by these emotions that I hold responsibility for. Vigilance is important – my head almost took me there one more time, but introspection and a willingness to go deeper shut that door – this time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Insight. Rationalization... Procrastination

Not done yet. After writing almost 500 words (and discarding perhaps more) for my main blog, I’ve got more to write. What I need to write, however, is what I am avoiding by writing this. And, now that I think about it, I was probably doing the same when I wrote that other piece. Indeed, I am substituting the kind of writing I know so well for the kind that is still foreign to me: Fiction.

My new blog, “This is Fiction,” is both a blessing and a curse – as much pain as it is pleasure. It represents risk but takes no responsibility. I am venturing into as yet uncharted territory but have no requirement to do so – no external pressure to do it at all, let alone to do it “right.” Furthermore, fiction is not dependant on getting the facts straight. Although the story in question relies heavily on actual experience, it is not dictated by it.

There is no structure, no rules and no rigidity whatsoever. I am allowing myself the freedom to go wherever I want – whatever direction “it” chooses to take. The pressure is self-imposed and therefore can be self-relieved. I could, if I so desired, just throw in the towel, or let it sit and die. I could, but I can’t. It has become a part of me – the motivation has existed long before the first word was ever written. Alas, it’s been residing in the back of my mind for well over five years, watching, waiting patiently for the opportunity to be told.

I believe it was Michelangelo that refered to his sculpting not as creating, but uncovering. The form is already in the marble; he just chipped away the excess. Writing for me is similar; I am not so much creating the story, just uncovering it. Michelangelo could “see” the figure in a solid block of marble. By altering the block, he enabled others to see what he saw. My hope is to be able to do the same.

I believe that in certain forms of writing, such as first-person introspection, I am able to accomplish this goal with regularity. It’s relatively easy for me. There are not, anymore, many wasted words. Usually I can take a fleeting thought and mold it into a complex idea just by writing. It is a sort of literary long division – I don’t or can’t do it in my head. Metaphors come to me as the words flow, descriptors I may have never used myself all of a sudden become the perfect placeholder.

Fiction is different and I have not worked out all the nuances that make that so. Sure, there is the quick and easy reasoning – I’m an analytical person trying to operate in an abstract world – but there is much more to it than that. I am using a non-fictional approach to writing fiction but it feels lacking. It is, in fact, lacking. There is necessarily a need to step out of the logic box to make it work. And I have necessarily done so – but I don’t like it. It is uncomfortable and I know it is a discomfort that is bred of unfamiliarity. There is only one way to eliminate this fear, for that is what it is: Practice.

Maybe later!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tomorrow -

It’s late. After posting on “The 25 Year Plan” and responding to all my outstanding comments – I’m tired. I have a lot to catch up on. Tomorrow will be pretty busy, but my goal (and now that it’s in writing, it’s a commitment) is to catch up on my sidebar links – comment and (don’t hold me to this) put up a new installment on “This is Fiction.” It is also my plan NOT to publish anything new here or on “The 25 Year Plan.” Hope all had a good weekend and that everyone has a wonderful week.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sweet N' Saur

It is not uncommon for me to get so wrapped up in someone else's post or (in this case) blog that I'll make a comment that is a post in its own right. There is a blog that deals with kid's issues in Pinellas County, Florida that has attracted my attention. Although the following comment-turned-post elaborates on why I care about a local matter taking place clear across the nation, it captures far greater issues related to community involvement, public service and trust and how the people can have not only a voice in their government, but also dictate its behavior. This little local issue oriented blog is but a microcosm of what needs to happen nationwide: a grass roots, common sense and cooperative effort to force the government to return to its one and only purpose: serve its citizens.

This link will go to the specific post and, of course, since what follows is a comment there, it will be repeated in the comments section. These comments, for the most part are intelligent and well reasoned. Those that are posting here do not have desire to be right - they have a desire to solve a problem on the behalf of those who can not fight for themselves - the children. Clicking on the title will link to the blog's main page. As important as being an informed voter is, this sort of activism is at least as important.

I must admit, I am strangely drawn to this conflict and I have mixed feelings as to why this is so. I mean, I really shouldn’t care that much. I only have one kid left in school, I live several states and several thousand miles away and any efficacy I may have for bringing about change is negligible. Despite all these rationalizations, I do care and find myself frequently outraged over what passes for public service these days.

I have always been drawn to the good fight. Often, it means pulling for the underdog. When the underdog consists of the public, the “we” in “We the people… ,” it makes the battle all the more sacred. It never ceases to amaze me how so many of our public servants serve us. It’s almost as though we are just in the way, we don’t know what we’re doing or talking about and that anything that happens under their watch is our fault, or at least it’s not theirs.

Your dear superintendent (bless his heart) had a perfectly reasonable explanation for his low numbers. "I think it's a lot of other stuff," he said. Of course it is; it couldn’t possibly be him or anything he did or didn’t do. The article goes on to state that:
Chairwoman Carol Cook said tough decisions that resulted in $19-million in budget cuts in April {and that] could have contributed to teachers' perceptions about the board's leadership.
I’ll go out on a limb here – those budget cuts came out of the teacher’s salaries? The article did not mention the cause of the $19 million shortfall, but one thing is for sure, it’s not the board or superintendent’s fault – it never is.

This story has all the elements that grab my attention. Incompetent, smug and blameless public servants, an informed, angry and mobilized public that won’t take it lying down, innocent victims (the children), a troll and just for good measure – a sock puppet. I can’t put it down! The people of Pinellas County are showing public “officials” that they are not royalty – they may not act with impunity and they will be held accountable. Like it or not.

~Mike Althouse

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Introducing "This Is Fiction"

I have never considered myself to be all that creative. I can’t sing or play music; can’t draw or paint; don’t really have any artistic talent. At least that was how I used to think. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t posses those afore mentioned talents – it’s just that I have expanded my view of what qualifies as a “talent” and what defines art. Many things, actually, pretty much everything can fall under that umbrella. Writing, therefore, can easily be a talent that can be developed into an art.

I have taken my fair share of “assessment” tests over the years. Many measured such things as right-brained/left-brained dominances, the artistic versus the logical, mechanical against intuitive and other variances of the same psychobabble. Although there is no intrinsic harm in measuring these factors, there is considerable potential for harm in how the results may be used.

Suffice it to say, I have never been labeled as “creative.” I think it is still true in some respects, but when the criteria and definitions are opened sufficiently wide enough, we all create. My talent… my art does not appeal to the visual or the auditory, but uses those senses to create or recreate the same magic as a personalized experience for each individual mind. Writing is an art form that leaves the final rendition for the reader to define and redefine at will. My freshman comp professor always used to say, “don’t tell me, show me.”

My job is to arrange simple symbols in such a way that they convey meaning. It matters not how beautifully the words flow if the meaning of the sum is lost. It has always been relatively easy for me to be clear with the precision placement of these symbols. I have a “talent” for painting a picture with words. I could not appreciate how important, how satisfying… indeed how beautiful and powerful word placement could be until relatively recently.

I have often confused creativity with fiction when it comes to writing. “Creative writing” tries to tap into resources that I don’t posses. I find it near impossible to weave a tale out of thin air, though I could re-tell one with eloquence. Then there’s “creative non-fiction,” whatever that means. If it refers to epiphany, revelation or introspection – then I don’t know if I’d call it creative. It is still the transmission of reality through the meaning conveyed by the symbols used to form words and sentences. It is what I am writing at this very moment.

I’ve said all that to get to this. I have added a new blog to my stable. It’s called “This Is Fiction” and that is exactly what it is. Everything found there didn’t really happen, not as told anyway. However, like all fiction, mine is based on real life and real events – some are my own and some are others’. Some may, in reality, contain more fact than fiction, but it is fiction all the same. I put a disclaimer in the blog’s subtitle that says as much. This is not so much to protect myself or anyone else necessarily, but to remind me.

The first entry is a cliffhanger. It leaves more unanswered than it reveals. I know what happened, but I don’t know yet what is going to happen. That is the freedom I’ll get from this page. One needs only ask disgraced “memoir” author James Frey how much better the facts can sound if only things didn’t occur that way. In fiction, I need not stick with the facts - I can create them. This is all brand new for me – we’ll see together where it goes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Throwing Stones

Picture a bright blue ball, just spinning, spinnin free,
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky,
Brush in some clouds and sea,
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space,
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace
Is the human face,
But afraid we may lay our home to waste.

There's a fear down here we can't forget.
Hasn't got a name just yet.
Always awake, always around,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Now watch as the ball revolves
And the nighttime falls.
Again the hunt begins,
Again the bloodwind calls.
By and by, the morning sun will rise,
But the darkness never goes
From some men's eyes.
It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets,
Staking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat,
It's you and me.
You and me.

Click flash blade in ghetto night,
Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley, roll them bones.
Need that cash to feed that jones.
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Commissars and pin-stripe bosses
Roll the dice.
Any way they fall,
Guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray,
Selling guns 'stead of food today.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Heartless powers try to tell us
What to think.
If the spirit's sleeping,
Then the flesh is ink
History's page will thus be carved in stone.
And we are here, and we are on our own
On our own.
On our own.
On our own.

If the game is lost,
Then we're all the same.
No one left to place or take the blame.
We can leave this place and empty stone
Or that shinin' ball we used to call our home.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Shipping powders back and forth
Singing black goes south and white comes north.
In a whole world full of petty wars
Singing I got mine and you got yours.
And the current fashion sets the pace,
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical, he rant and rage,
Singing someone's got to turn the page.
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing just leave well enough alone.
But his pants are down, his cover's blown...

And the politicians throwin' stones,
So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And it's all too clear we're on our own.
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Picture a bright blue ball,
Just spinnin', spinnin, free.
Dizzy with the possibilities.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Written by John Perry Barlow
Music by Bob Weir

Friday, May 26, 2006

Check this out!

Here's a crazy little thing I found on my classmate Lacey's blog. What a perfectly wonderful way to while away the hours!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

It's Too Damned Early!

6:40 a.m. - I woke up over an hour ago with a million story lines rolling through my head. I wasn’t ready to wake up yet; in fact my alarm is set for 8:00. It’s Sunday morning, dammit! Oh well, time to put some coffee on and write something… we’ll see what it is just as soon as I get my caffeine.

It’s brewing… Ohhh ya! That’s good coffee!

I never really considered myself a prolific writer. Hell, until recently I never really considered myself a writer period - and on some level still don’t. Writing has always been a chore for me. I never wanted to write anything, being good at it has nothing to do with it. In some respects I still don’t, I mean let’s face it; I really wanted to be sleeping right now. But no, I have this drive, this motivation to write and I don’t even know what.

That’s a lie, I know what. I know of several “whats.” I awoke to thinking about the first chapter in my as yet unwritten book. It went on to other ideas, the “prolificness” (not a word, spell-checker is having fits) of my writing being the one I seized upon this morning. It then wandered off to things like the nature of the universe. Yup, I think about those things! So… am I a prolific writer?

No. Not yet anyway. Most of what I have is still abstract thought. There are times such as this morning where these thoughts are crystallizing, precipitating out in the form of the written word, but more often than not I’ll resist. I don’t want to like this, but I’m only fooling myself. Old habits, however, die hard – I’m not supposed to like “the arts.”

From grade school all the way through high school, math was my forte. I excelled in other “hard” sciences too. It seemed natural enough; I grew up in the Silicon Valley during the technology boom – everyone was some kind of engineer, except the kind that drove trains. My father has a PhD in chemistry – from Stanford no less. The cast was set. Combined with the fact that I had always struggled – a little bit – in English, it appeared that I was destined to follow the same path.

I never really considered any other alternative. I would, for a very long time, assume that this was the course expected of me; that I really had no encouragement or option to explore other avenues. It was a creation of my imagination. I had simply put one and one together and came up with three, math genius that I am. There were numerous other factors that I failed to consider because I had already figured it out. I knew it all. It is therefore stuck in my now much more enlightened mind that I am no good at this. English and writing are my “off” subjects. I’m not supposed to like it.

In most every respect, I have grown very fond of writing. The resistance is more background noise than anything else. It can be, however, very inconvenient. I did not want to be inspired at five o’clock this morning. I would have preferred it come at about noon – or maybe tomorrow. In reality, all I’m doing right now is stalling; I have not satisfied the curiosity that had awakened me. It was about the book – a project that I know all too well could have me planted here all freakin’ day. Today, this will have to do.