Remembering the People’s Princess

It was about this time 20-years ago that my wife awoke me so I could get ready for my overnight shift at KOZZ. When she did, she also told me that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash.

At midnight September 1, I went on air, and all through the morning I gave report after report as the news continued to unfold. For me, her death is like asking where were you when Elvis died, the space shuttle exploded or the World Trade Center tumbled to the streets of NYC?

All are historical events with a personal twist. I am sure, should you be old enough, that you have the same events in mind and your own memories to go with them.

Three-times ‘Round

The trio had been together since primary school in Ontario, Canada until Jorda decided to get her green card and move to Northern California. And finally, after two and a half years of being apart, Colleen and Theresa were going to visit her.

Once united, the three young women planned to drive to San Diego and the nerd-fest known as Comic-Con. It was something they had always wanted to do as kids, and now was the perfect time.

It took nearly two-days travel for Theresa and Colleen to pull up to the curb in front of the apartment complex on Harding Avenue were Jorda lived. While the apartment wasn’t very big, it was enough room for the soon-to-be new American citizen.

Furthermore, the second room offered enough space for her two visitors to act as if they lived there too. That’s exactly how Jorda wanted it – like old times.

“I can’t wait to show you ’round town,” Jorda told her friend’s over a cup of coffee, an American taste the other two had not yet grown accustom too.

Colleen remarked, “It’s so small for a big-city girl like you, don’t ya think?”

“Yeah,” Jorda responded, “But it really grow on you. You’ll see.”

“Didn’t you and your folks come to Crescent City to go salmon fishing?” Theresa couldn’t help ask.

Jorda shook her head ‘no,’ as she sipped from her cup, “That was Klamath, south of here.”

She had originally come down to go to work at Pelican State Prison, but the venture fell through when she couldn’t pass the physical on the count of her severe asthma. Instead, Jorda ended up going to work for Del Norte County as a file-clerk.

‘File-clerk,’ it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. It gave her a decent paycheck, though she still had to get used to paying taxes, and she also got to look through old record upon old record of the history for both the county and city. And aside from photography, history was one of Jorda’s personal loves.

“I know it sounds a little twisted,” Jorda announced, “But one of the first places I want to go is the local cemetery at the bottom of Cooper. Plus, I want to test out my new camera.”

“Twisted?” Colleen complained, “More like mental.”

All three women laughed at the statement, knowing the phrase came from the Harry Potter series. They also knew not to argue with Jorda when she had her mind made up.

As Jorda drove them, she explained, “I heard a rumor about one of the headstones being haunted or something of that nature.”

Theresa interrupted, “Really.”

“Well, maybe it’s more like a myth,” Jorda began, “But I haven’t wanted to go near it by myself. It ;sgrave of Peter Darby, one of the town’s founding-fathers.”

Colleen, aware that Jorda might be putting them on with another one of her jokes asked, “You’re making this up, aren’t ya?

“No,” Jorda answered a little too quickly.

“Oh, yes you are,” Colleen continued, “We’re going to get there and you’re going to scare the be-jesus out of us – I know it.”

“Let her finish,” Theresa demanded, “Joke or not, I want to hear the this.”

Colleen sat back in her seat as Jorda continued, “You remember that game we played once where we closed ourselves in the bathroom, turned out the light and repeated, ‘Bloody Mary,’ three times, like in that movie?”

“Yeah,” Theresa answered.

“And look how that turned out,” Colleen injected, “You scared the shit out of us – Theresa literally.”

“No she didn’t,” Theresa shot back, “I only pee’d myself — a little.”

The trio busted into raucous laughter, not only at what Theresa said, but also from the memory. Jorda continued as soon as they calmed down.

“It’s like that,” she stated, “Only you’re supposed to run around the headstone three-times as fast as possible.”

“What happens then?” Colleen asked, finally curious.

“You disappear,” Jorda answered flatly, “And I don’t want any of us to try it ’cause several kids have supposedly disappeared since the thing was put up.”

“Oh, whatever,” Colleen responded, not believing a word being said.

“No, I’m serious — and promise me you won’t test it,” Jorda said in a sober tone.

“Okay,” both women replied in unison.

“The other strange thing is there are no photographs, drawings or paintings of him,” Jorda continued, “There’s several stories claiming that he went around collecting and destroying them.”

“That’s weird,” Colleen stated, “I think ya should look into that part of the story and not this headstone thing.”

“I wonder what would make a man to do something like that?” Theresa asked, voicing what they were all thinking at the moment.

Within minutes, Jorda drove through the front gate and up the narrow roadway until she came to the first crossing. There she turned left and shortly made another left, which led to an area where she could park safely near the headstone of Peter Darby.

Once out of the car, Jorda started snapping pictures while Theresa tagged along. However, Colleen walked further up the hill, wanting to get a better look at this supposed haunted headstone.

Without warning, Colleen pulled out her cellphone, touched the button to begin filming, then took off running as fast as possible around the piece of marble, breaking her promise.

“One,” she yelled to her friend below, followed by, “Two.”

Less that four seconds later she raced pass the two woman, laughing, “See nothing yet…three!”

But, Colleen failed to reappear from the other side of the monument. The stone, though the largest in the cemetery, was not so big that it could fully obscure a person moving around it.

Theresa and Jorda scrambled up the hill-side to the stone. On the far side they located Colleen’s cellphone, laying in the grass, still recording.

They called and searched for her, even looking down into the swampy area west of the cemetery, but Colleen had vanished. The thing had moved from a joke to a serious situation as the pair played back the video their friend was in the process of recording.

It showed Colleen, mischievously smiling into the device right before she began to run around the headstone. Less than ten seconds, and no sooner than had she announced the completion of the third lap, a bright light flashed in the camera’s iris and the cellphone tumbled into the grass where her friends had found it.

Missing the Social Media Mark

Recently I posted a comment to the Daily Triplicate under a photo they had posted to their FB page that was of a blaze in Lolo, Montana and not of Brookings as some folks were claiming. It should have been a secondary item as the Shaker Church in Smith River had jus’ burned down earlier in the morning.

“You post about this,” I wrote, “And nothing about the 1910 Indian Shaker Church blaze. WTH?”

After all with the Internet, interaction with subscribers and the fact that it is a big story for Del Norte County, posting a mention with a ‘tease’ saying ‘more in Thursday’s paper,’ isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

However, the Triplicate’s editor, Robin Fornoff decided to be snotty by responding, “Suggest you buy Thursday’s paper for the front page story about the church fire.”

Obviously, he has no connection to the readers of her FB page because as I relied back, “Suggest? I live 400 miles away and this is about servicing your readers and not only paper sales. Geez!”

He assumes too much and it’s shown by his trite ‘suggestion,’ that the bottom-line is far more important than connecting with a readership that pays the bills. I don’t think this is a good way to run a business.

And the silliness kept on coming…

A few hours later, Fornoff responded, “It’s not about paper sales for us either. It takes time for reporters to gather information. Tony spent much of his day at the site of the church, talking to many folks affected and reaching out to fire and law enforcement folks about the fire.”

(I broke our comments down into bite-sized paragraphs, making it easier to read.)

“So what you have at the end of the day’s news cycle a few hours later is a complete, factual, vetted story about it all,” he continues. “We are not the LA Times or some other large organization with a bevy of folks to chose from.”

Fornoff concluded, “Often each dedicated member of our small staff is working on three or four stories a day, among them to significant wildfires that present a real and dangerous threat to thousands of people. The wildfires are the priority.”

He’s stuck in the ‘old school,’ of newspaper reporting, so I answered back, writing, “I understand. I’ve been in the biz for years myself. But you are doing yourself and your reader a disservice by having a social media presence and zero outreach/in-reach to keep them active in your reporting.”

“And while, wildfires are a priority — discrediting a photo is not newsworthy in itself, I added, “Losing a 107-year-old church on the other hand is newsworthy. It takes very little time to ask followers to submit photos to a FB site.”

As a lone-writer, with zero organization behind me, I managed to get people to share their pictures, both before and after the torching of the church. So there is no reason that Fornoff’s “small staff,” couldn’t do the same.

I suspect that’ll find myself ‘blocked’ from the Daily Triplicate’s FB page, but that is the price for trying open the eyes an organization that appears to be willfully blinding itself to its ‘extended resources,’ namely the folks the paper claims to serve.

The Veteran and the Protester

Having survived his drunken attempt to get a whore he only knew by sight to marry him, Cheese decided to drag Mack downtown to see the American Legion parade. It was a nice walk for a hot Saturday morning as the pair made their way from the Jungle to Main Street, where all the action would take place.

“Well, I’ll be a fucked-duck,” Cheese exclaimed, “They’re offering a free drink to vets.”

“Oh for christ-sake,” Mack complained, “Are we gonna have another repeat of last night? I mean…”

Cheese interrupted him, “Naw, I’m over that overindulgin’, nut-crackin’ slut-bag – besides I think she gave me crabs bigger than the one’s they pull out of Pacific near Crescent City.”

Having no idea what Cheese was talking about when it came to crabs or where ever that place was, he chose to ignore it, instead responding, “Good, I’m lookin’ forward to this parade and I ain’t in no god-damned mood for your shit today.”

“Well, fine,” Cheese shot back, “And fuck you too in the asshole, Asshole!”

Being a bit slow witted from the night before, Mack asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I’ll be standin’ right here, waitin’ for this shit-hole to open so’s I can collect my free drink,” Cheese huffed.

Mack waved him off in disgust and continued down the sidewalk to get a better view of the parade as it moved by. A block away he found an empty street corner in the shade and sat down to watch.

The delegation from Wyoming had jus’ finished passing in review when Mack heard the commotion up the street where he’d left Cheese. His spidey-senses went off telling him that his pard had somehow managed to get his saggy-ass in trouble again.

Hurrying back up the side-walk he could see Cheese sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, his hands cuffed behind his back. Not to far away, surrounded by a gaggle of brown-shirted Coppers, was a man’s body laying on it’s side, face towards the building wall.

Mack realized Cheese wasn’t going to get his free drink today, but rather a free trip to the local hoosegow. As the ambulance pulled away, it’s sirens wailed telling Mack that the man wasn’t dead – at least not yet.

Later that day, Mack visited Cheese in lock up, asking, “So what in the fuck did ya do?”

“He was in my face, yellin’ somethin’ ‘bout all vet’s ought pay for their own healthcare and quit leeches off tax-paying citizens,” Cheese answered, “And I asked him when was the last fuckin’ he paid taxes?”

“No, wait — I wanna know how he got on the sidewalk,” Mack cut in, “Did ya hit’em or somethin’?”

Cheese gave a half-smile, “No – the fat bastard jus’ laid down on the sidewalk and decided to take a nap!”

“Oh, well that’s good,” Mack responded, “I figgered you kicked the shit outta him or somethin’.”

Cheese rolled his eyes, knowing it was going to be a long stay. He also wished for that free drink he could be enjoying instead being locked up again.

What Day is It, Really?

“Why are you getting dressed for work?” I asked Mary after she got out of the shower.

She gave me a puzzled look, “Because I have to go in and open the store.”

“On a Sunday?” I asked with some concern in my voice, adding, “Since when did you make that change?”

“Tom,” my wife responded politely, “It’s Monday.”

Shaking my head, I shot back, “No, it’s Sunday!”

“No, dear…it’s Monday,” Mary said a little firmer than before.

“Then what the eff happened to Sunday?” I questioned.

She smiled, “That was yesterday. I think you’re confused because I did an open to close on Saturday.”

Since I hadn’t yet gotten out of bed, flopped backwards, grabbed my pillow, covered my head and screamed as loud and as hard as I could.  Awake now but still befuddled, I got up and fed the dogs as Mary continued to get ready for work.

So now, I know it’s Monday, my throat hurts from screaming, I’m hoarse and can hardly speak. Pehaps it would’ve been better had I remained addled.

Caught Between What’s Right and Regulation

Right or wrong…houses of worship are generally relegated to a secondary role in disaster situations. The reason being is that they must sign an agreement with their local municipalities that says they will not take in disaster victims until the municipalities primary facilities are filled to capacity.

It’s done this way so that the municipalities can be reimbursed by the state and federal governments, through your taxes, for services rendered. Often times the reimbursement far exceeds what has been spent, so it is in the best interest of the municipality to keep a tight control on churches, synagogue, temples, etc.

So, if your local house of worship doesn’t respond to your communities disaster needs, remember that they are forced to comply with agreements with local governments, who in the end have the power to shutter the building in which you meet. After all it is the local government that controls the fire marshal, the health department and other code enforcement bodies that can deny or violate a permit at their will.

Finally, if you are a Christian – don’t condemn other Christian’s or Christian organizations for failing to act as you believe they should — such action on your part shows that you have failed to ‘go that extra mile,’ yourself.  And we are all falling short of grace in one way or another.

The Struggle is Real

We sat quietly, hidden in the shadows of the room, accessing our situation; the two of us hoping and praying that reinforcements would arrive by the end of the day. It had been a battle alright, but not much in the way of a fight.

“How long do you think we can hold out, Chief?” I asked.

Red-colored, the Indian Chief shrugged, “I’m not sure Sarge, maybe a couple of days, but that’s only a guesstimate.”

Jus’ yesterday the dog had played with us and a couple of dozen figures lost their lives in the struggle, including most of the Cowboys. We both developed a thousand-yard stare, thinking while we tried not to think about the terrors we had witnessed.

Finally, I looked up and stated, “I’m sorry Chief, most of my soldiers got eaten as well. And that new tank I was bragging about — demolished beyond recognition.”

In fact, there were only six of the original bag of Army Men left; three riflemen, one with a mangled Springfield, a bazooka man, one with a pineapple grenade and me, with my 45-caliber pistol. Sadly, we were a compliment of 25 when we were first purchased and deployed.

How many Cowboy and Indian’s were remaining, I had no idea. Then I looked out the window and there in the backyard I saw the dog shitting little pieces of cream-colored Cowboys, red Indians and green Army Men – heads, legs, arms, a torso or two and weapons.

All I could do was bury my face in my hands and cry, “Those are my brothers.”

Following ‘Lucky’

‘Lucky’ was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. On the other hand, I was born with a wooden stick between my gums and several slivers to boot. That’s the way it has always been. I’m not ‘Lucky’ and I don’t have a swell nickname either.

If I’d been given one, it would probably have been laughable, if not ‘Laughable,’ itself. Yeah, that’s how my so-called fortune runs as ‘Lucky’ is my older brother by a year.

‘Lucky’ throws the rock, I get the beating. I polish the doorstep having ‘missed the boat,’ and ‘Lucky’ gets the girl.

Speaking of ‘missing the boat…’

‘Lucky’ joined the Canadian Army last year and came home looking like a snazzy ‘Foot Slogger,’ the kind everyone’s talking about and the girls swoon over. Meantime, America isn’t getting involved in this fight, though our old man, a staunch Democrat, thinks President Wilson is waiting for the right time to enter the fracas.

At the time that ‘Lucky’ joined, I was too young, but after turning 18 last week, I’ve slipped off to put on the uniform too. It’s been smooth sailing from New York Harbor to Ireland and we’re a happy lot because you can see the shores from our cabin’s single port-hole.

So things are actually looking up, after all I’ve been enjoying a third-class berth on the first-class liner Lusitania, while dreaming of the chance to show those old Hun’s what-for.

Conversation at Two in the Morning

“Don’t be mad at her,” Mary cautioned, “after all, she’s an old dog and it was an accident.”

“I know, I know, and I’m not mad at her,” I answered though she hadn’t asked a question.

Mary turned on her bedside light right after I had turned my light off. I’d been up about ten minutes cleaning the mess our eldest dog had made of our bed.

As for her part, Mary had left to go sleep in the other room; my snoring keeping her awake. So when I found her gone, it was a bit disorienting.

“So why are you so upset?” Mary finally asked, getting down to the nitty-gritty.

“Because I heard her whining and when I rolled over to see what was up, I put my hand in it and you weren’t here,” I responded as nicely as I could.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Mary said, adding after a brief pause, “Well, try to get some sleep.”

She didn’t have to repeat herself when it came to that last statement. I was already well on my way to slumber-land the second she clicked off her lamp.

A minute or so later I heard Mary ask, “Did you take her outside?”

Inadvertently, I harumphed and answered, “No. She already shit in the bed and I figured I didn’t need to take her out.”

I must have fallen asleep immediately because after that Mary woke me up as she climbed back in bed, telling me, “Don’t worry, I took her out.”

“I’m not,” I quietly answered as I drifted back into sleep.

Fake News Coming Close to Home

You know the ‘fake news’ situation has gotten out of hand when local politicians start claiming what is supposedly happening nationally, is ‘actually’ happening locally.

It began after the progressive rag ‘USA Today,’ claimed they had an exclusive: “Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family.” Next CNN picked it up, claiming exclusivity: “Secret Service can’t pay agents for Trump and his family, report says,” followed by other media outlets running the story without properly vetting the facts.

Then in a Facebook rant, Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus urged the President to skip his planned visit for a speech to be given during the American Legion Convention at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in front of more than 20,000 veterans. Brekhus argued that the city’s police department was nearly broke following a string of special events, homicides and fatal traffic accidents and therefore couldn’t afford to ‘help protect’ Trump.

“Officers are only capable to work so much overtime, and this previously unscheduled visit adds to already stretched staffing,” she wrote. “Our financial position is fragile and additional costs will hit our budget. In addition, there have been demands on our police department this summer with several homicides and traffic fatalities.”

Apparently, Reno Police Chief Jason Soto didn’t think it necessary to contradict Brekhus, instead saying that around 100 officers would be on duty during Trump’s visit and that the department could deal with protestors, violent or not. He added that Sparks Police and Carson City Sheriff’s deputies would be assisting, while extra RPD officers stood by to respond if needed.

Turns out both stories are fake, designed to ‘prove’ how destructive to the U.S. the Trump Administration is becoming.  But, what isn’t fake is the media’s on-going ‘destruction narrative’ which is simply a fantasy of delusional minded Progressives.

To Sit Fireside

Folks of the desert region knew Pacey to be a ornery cuss; truth was he didn’t have much use for people. He only came to any ‘over-growed spot,’ to fetch supplies or ‘wet his pipes.’

On this cold, sleet-filled night, Pacey came to town to do both. He knew the saloon would be full of greenhorns, so getting a stake by the fireside meant he’d have to skun the lot.

“Boy,” he called to the 10-year-old, “Take my Sally to the stable, give’er some grub and a shot of whiskey.”

The child, reins in hand disappeared around the corner into the darkness, the old mule following behind. Pacey then entered the hall for a much-needed shot of whiskey and a beer himself.

What had been a raucous room, died to a mild din as Pacey strode up, demanding, “A whiskey and a beer, pronto!”

The man behind the wooden counter topped off a stoneware mug, served room temperature, and a smaller glass of golden fluid. Pacey downed the liquor, followed swiftly by the other.

“Mister,” came a child’s voice from behind Pacey. Turning, he looked down at the boy he’d charged with caring for his mule.

Pacey didn’t look the least surprised as the child stated, “Yer mule won’t take the whiskey like you wanted.”

The entire room fell silent.

“Nonsense,” Pacey protested. “You ain’t tried hard enough is all.”

The man behind the counter, obliged to defend the boy, his son, “You old fool – mules won’t drink whiskey!”

“This’en does!” Pacey shouted, “Try again!”

He waved the boy off in the direction he had come. As the child left, curiosity overcame the initiate-crowd and they followed the boy outside into the misery, each wanting to see such an entertaining spectacle as a mule drinking whiskey.

“Set me up another round, and make it two beers this time,” Pacey directed the boy’s father.

Five minutes later, the group of men following the boy returned, “Still won’t take the whiskey,” the child explained.

“Fine! Then I’ll drink the damned thing!” the old loner stated gruffly. By this time, Pacey had staked out a spot where he could warm his ol’ bones fireside.

Eclipsed

God’s timing so great, humor harsh, humor true:
First time since childhood
Millennial’s see the sky above.

Only matters be far worse:
The Godless, their prattled-hype
Create mass-delusion,
As nation stopped,
Faces skyward turned —
Stunned by nature’s beauty.

Truth shines beyond the moon shadow focus:
Our Creator is cast aside once again,
By our prayer, our praise — silence resounding.

Monday Morning Weigh-in

Each Monday morning I try to remember to weigh myself.  Yesterday, my wife caught me standing on our scale while sucking in my stomach.

“You know Tom, that won’t help you,” she chuckled at the sight.

“Oh it helps me more than you know,” I responded, “in fact, it’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

She got a pretty good laugh out of it.  Unfortunately, it turns out I really didn’t wanna see those numbers after all.

The Polite Lunatic in the Car Over

It always amazed me how Mom could go from screaming lunatic to a polite woman in the world when pissed at us kids and having to answer the telephone at the same time. As telephone become less frequent in households, being replaced by the cellphone, I figured it was an art-form that would soon be dead.

Yet, one recent afternoon as I was driving in town, I pulled up to a stoplight and looked at the woman driver to my left. She was carrying on a heated conversation with no one in the car, screaming and gesturing with her hands, obviously angry at someone.

Suddenly, she looked at me, catching me staring at her. She smiled, and rolled the electric window down on the passenger-side of her car, “I’m yelling at my son – we’re on cellphone,” she politely stated in the sweetest tone imaginable.

All I could do was smile and nod my head as she rolled her window back up and commenced with the screaming and gesturing. Obviously, the ability to go from lunatic to polite woman will never go extinct as long as there are children to yell at and strangers to be nice too.

Listening to That Still Voice

It’s always amazing when God speaks to me. He doesn’t use words per se, like you and I do when we talk to one another, rather He finds some way to communicate that I need to be open to at the time.

For instance, last year I planned to go into downtown Reno, Nevada and take some pictures at some festival. However, I put it off and put it off, finding other things to do around the house.

Later, and jus’ before I decided I’d put it off long enough, I sat down and checked Facebook. There I saw how the local police had shot and killed a man who had purposely run a street barricade, then attempted to run down a law enforcement officer.

Wow! I’m glad I didn’t go.

A few days ago I was talking to God (‘talk’ is my euphemism for prayer,) about why my blog, after more than 14-years has never been as successful as I’d like it to be. Heck, I can’t even monetize it because I don’t have the required number of followers.

After finishing asking Him for direction, I sat down and turned on the TV. The channel was on TBS and a preacher who was talking about pride. I changed the channel and there was another preacher – again talking about pride.

“Oh, shit,” I thought. “This is meant for me.”

Then I was over come with the feeling that I better return to what that first pastor was saying. No sooner had I changed the station back, he made statement that has stuck with me.

“There’s a difference between your dream and your destiny.” he said. “Your dream is not your destiny, it’s simply to motivate you to where you need to be.”

He went on to explain that too often dreamers get hung up on the dream and when it doesn’t come true, get upset and filled with pride, complaining that things are not working out like promised. And that, my friend’s describes me and my frustration with having a less-than-famous blog.

The easiest way I can interpret this is that I am allowing my pride to get in the way of my destiny because I am so focused on the dream – in this case as a professional blogger. So, here I am in the process of breaking-off this prideful sin-nature, so I can fulfill the destiny God has laid out before me.

It all boils down to this, which comes from Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”

Fitting In

Life is a circle and it isn’t all that hard to understand. But jus’ in case, let me break it down for you.

The cockroach is afraid of the mouse. The mouse fears the cat.

The cat’s scared of the dog. The dog’s frightened of the man.

The man dreads the woman. And the woman — well, she’s petrified of the cockroach.

See?  There’s nothing confusing about it at all, especially once you know your place in the scheme of things.

The Circle

At times I get angry,
Forgetting myself, others.

Hurting people’s feelings,
Including family, friends,
Don’t take it personal.

At times I get angry,
Forgetting myself, others.

I am jus’ venting hard,
At the darkness beyond the light,
From our campfire’s circle.

Bigger Threat

Fighting off the wolf,
Fend off coyote,
Predators wild,
High range varmints.

But as we kill them,
A bigger threat
Works into us.
Suit, tie, promises.

One kills wildlife,
The other slaughters
Liberty, life, us.
Domination!

Of nature’s wolf,
Maybe crafty coyote,
Will be survivors —
We return to dust.

Listen: wolf howls,
And coyote sings,
Perhaps they know,
Man’s final fate.

My Second Letter to Trump

This is a letter I wrote today to Presodent Donald Trump about how the Bundy trial is being conducted by Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas, Nevada…

President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20500

August 15, 2017

Dear Mr. President:

Federal Judge Gloria Navarro, a Harry Reid nominee and a Barack Obama appointee, is overseeing the proceedings of the United States v. Bundy, et. al, trial in Las Vegas, and is acting with disregard for the U.S. Constitution.

During this trial, she denied defendant Todd Engle the right to represent himself, making this ruling after he called on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agent-in-charge Dan Love to answer questions regarding Love being under investigation for misconduct. Judge Navarro also denied the defense the right to cross-examine FBI agent Adam Nixon about a warrant he obtained to search FBI-informant Greg Burleson’s Facebook page, or would she allow testimony about how the BLM shot and killed several cows belonging to the Bundy family or how Dave Bundy was arrested for documenting agents during the stand-off at Bunkerville.

The defense lost its right to object because Judge Navarro considers it a disruption. Because of this and other actions, she created an unfair advantage for the prosecution, including a self-incrimination situation for defendant Eric Parker after ruling that none of his witnesses could testify on his behalf. Then, when Parker took the stand in his own defense, Judge Navarro removed and banned from giving further testimony, leaving Parker no voice in our federal judicial system.

Judge Navarro allowed every prosecution witnesses (all federal agents) to remain in her courtroom, while denying defense witnesses the same benefit. Prosecution witnesses also had the right to testify about the personal fear they felt and to become emotional, including crying on the stand, while she threatened defense witnesses with contempt should they express themselves in the same manner. Finally, she denied the defense the right to present any evidence produced by the defense’s investigators before April 12, 2014, while allowing the prosecution the right to present evidence, both before and after that date.

Judge Gloria Navarro should be removed from office following Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads in part, “[T]he Judges, both supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good behaviour…”

Should Judge Navarro be retained, then I respectfully ask that you grant full pardons to each defendant involved in this case. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. God bless you and God bless America.

Sincerely,
Tom Darby

A Boy and His Cleats

As laid in bed last night, I asked God to send me a story as I was out of words. I had forgotten about that little self-serving prayer as I sat on my front porch and enjoyed an early morning cup of coffee.

From somewhere up the street came a girl and her younger brother. From the way they acted and talked to each other it wasn’t hard to see that they were related.

“You’re gonna get in trouble,” the girl of about 12, replied. “Mom said not to play with your cleats.”

The brother, possibly three-years younger, was tossing them into the air, end-over-end and letting them hit the asphalt, where he picked them up and did it all again. As he did so he mocked his sister, repeating her words in a funny voice.

No sooner had he done so, the cleats got caught about 15-feet above him, the shoe-string firmly wrapping itself around the protruding branch of a tree. He stood there looking up at them, mouth agape.

“Oh…you’re dead now,” the sister claimed. “Mom’s gonna tan your hide.”

I nearly laughed aloud at the phrasing – ‘tan your hide,’ which seemed so last century for a girl born in the new millennium.

The boy on the other hand, demanded, “Help me get’em down!”

“They’re too high, we’ll never reach’em in time for school,” she responded.

“Well, call the fire department to get them down!” he looked at her. “They get cats outta trees, don’t they.”

“Good idea,” she answered, as she pulled her cellphone from her back pocket. Seconds later I heard her say, “Mom?”

Upon hearing that, the boy lost it, “You called mom?!”

A few minutes later a truck came moving down the street. Behind the wheel was a woman, who when she got out of the truck she’d parked beneath the tree, was dress in a pair of old sweat pants and a dressy silky blouse.

She growled at the kids, “Get…in…the…truck,” as she climbed in the bed of the F-150 and then onto the roof, yanking the cleats from the tree branch. Within half-a-minute, the drivers’ side door slammed and she headed down the street to drop the children at school.

And that’s where I thought this story was to end – wrong.

This afternoon the same two siblings were walking up the street, going home from school. Close behind was a mutt of a dog, who kept racing up at a fast trot and nosing into the little boy.

Without warning, the kid got mad and tossed something at the retreating dog. As fast as it hit the roadway, the dog had it in his mouth and was dashing away in the opposite direction.

It was the same pair of cleats from this morning. The last I saw of the pair they were chasing after the dog, with the girls exclaiming, “You’re really dead now. Mom’s gonna tan your hide for sure this time.”

Pixy Dust and Permit Fees

It jus’ goes to show you that if you give a person a colorful shirt and a fancy lanyard with a special ID, you have the makings of a fascist. In years past, because I don’t generally attend Hot August Nights (HAN) events, I don’t get to witness the behavior of the organization’s volunteers.

A few years back I had to go 12 blocks out of my way to get around a ‘road block’ being enforced by one of these volunteers. He stopped me from entering traffic on Victorian Avenue in Sparks because I was not in a ‘classic vehicle.’ No, I was working, delivering pizza to make ends meet while in between jobs.

No one cared when I complained then and I doubt anyone with care now, after the treatment I received from two HAN volunteers in downtown Reno. Twice, they threatened to have the police arrest me because I was in the middle of South Virginia Street with other photographers, taking pictures of the cars and trucks as they passed in review.

The first incident came when one photographer, in a green shirt and wearing a lanyard with some sort of ID on it, told me – not asked – told me to get out of the street. I told him I didn’t have to get out of the street because it is public property. He walked away, threatening to call the cops.

At that point he did everything in his power to block my shot of any vehicle. I eventually fell-back half a block to continue taking pictures unencumbered.

A few minutes later a woman approaches me and demands I get out of the street for safety reasons. I told her no, too.

“I don’t want you to get run over,” she claimed.

“By who?” I asked, adding, “You mean the cars that are passing one either side of us and not touching the passing lane that separates the travel lanes?”

“Yes!” she yelled at me.

“So – what are you and all these other people covered in some sort of pixy dust that makes you immune to being run over?” I asked in true smart-ass form.

“I’m calling the cops,” she declared.

“Good! Go ahead. The number’s 9-1-1,” I shot back, adding, “I have as much right to the street as you or anyone else at this event.”

She walked away and the police never arrived. I continued to take pictures as I had been, though I missed several great looking car and trucks due to her interference.

Now, this is where it gets interesting (at least for me) as the man who first told me to get out of the street came up to me from my right side and screamed at me to get out of the street. He drew right up into my face as if he were trying to scare me or caused me to feel intimidated.

It didn’t succeed as I drew even closer to him, nearly touching his nose with mine and said, quietly, “Please get out of my face, sir, and you’d best make the decision to do so quickly.”

“Or what?” he stated childishly.

“I’ll be forced to beat you to death with your fancy camera in front of all these witnesses,” I answered in a voice he could only hear.

He blinked and swallowed hard. I maintained my composure and an unblinking stare as he backed away and stated he too was calling the law.

For a third time, they didn’t arrive.

He spent the next few minutes harassing me by stepping in front of me as I tried to take pictures. He failed again and again and finally gave up.

But his counterpart was more hard-headed and continued to try injecting herself in front of my camera. Finally, “I shouted, “Hey, Blondie, get your fat-ass out-of-the-way!” much to the delight of the spectators lining the sidewalk, who clapped and cheered.

She walked back to where she had come from and soon disappeared from sight. Figuring I had pushed the envelope far enough for the day, I started back north along South Virginia, continuing to snap shots of vehicles while heading for my truck.

Of course, what those HAN volunteers did to me is nothing compared to what the City of Reno did to local business before the start of the weeks-plus long event. The A&W at Kietzke and Plumb Lane, which has been a mainstay for HAN attendees, was force to close it’s door at 11 pm, though the restaurant had remained open past 11 pm during the event in past years.

Why?  Well, the city suddenly claimed a so-called land-use zoning for the area only allows businesses to be open from six am to 11 pm.

They did however offer A&W a Special-Use Permit allowing them to stay open beyond their government-imposed curfew.  Nice of them to offer something that comes with a six-week completion time period and a business-killing fee of $2,500.

Going Fishing at Sea World

When it comes to a sense of humor, my son didn’t fall very far from the tree as his father. The only real difference is that while I’m more ‘off the cuff,’ Kyle is more ‘thoughtful,’ in his approach.

As Kyle was growing up, we’d go to the San Diego, California area to visit his step-mom’s family. While there we’d also do many of the touristy things like Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo and Sea World.

Admittedly, Sea World was our least favorite. In fact Kyle told us that he wouldn’t be upset in the least if we never went back – saying he’d rather go to Space Mountain or do the Matterhorn.

Then a couple of years later, as we were getting ready to head south for a week, Kyle came to me and asked, “Hey Dad, can we go to Sea World while we’re down there?”

“Yeah,” I answered. “But I thought you didn’t like Sea World though?”

“That was then,” he replied. “I’ve changed my mind and now I wanna see people’s reaction.”

Puzzled, I asked, “Reaction?”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you,” he returned, “I plan to take a fishing pole and walk around with it.”

The Frog’s Sharp Claws

No, this isn’t going to be a tale about an amphibious croaker, this is about a piece of brass with a number of very sharp two-penny nail (2d) sized pins standing upright on a pedestal. Mom owned a number of these and when not in use, she kept them under the kitchen sink.

One afternoon, shortly after getting my hair buzzed off (which happen nearly every school year after class pictures and again at the beginning of summer,) I was suffering from ‘itchy head syndrome’ and was in need of something to seriously scratch my head with. Using a hairbrush wasn’t getting the job done, so I figured one of Mom’s metal frogs would do the trick.

For a good many minutes, I moved the frog, with it’s sharp nails over my scalp and soon the itchiness disappeared and I felt much better. So I put the frog away and went outside to play.

It wasn’t too long after that one of the neighbor kids stopped me to ask what was wrong with my head. After I said nothing was wrong, she then asked why I was bleeding all over myself.

Reaching up and touching the side of my head, I raced home in a panic after seeing blood on my finger tips. Evidently, the frog was sharper than I though and I had scratch marks coursing although what stubble remained on my noggin.

Mom helped me get cleaned up and she even put hydrogen peroxide on my self-inflicted cuts and scrapes. By the next morning, my scabbed-over scalp looked as if I had tangled with a wildcat and lost.

The second I stepped on the school bus, the teasing commenced. Later in the the day Mr. Escola, my fifth grade teacher, asked me in private what had happened and I started to explain what I’d done.

As I told him, he tried not too, but he chuckled slightly. Hearing this, I began to cry and in embarrassment I hid in the restroom when recesses came around.

Near the middle of the following week, I had grown accustom to the teasing, the snickers and names like, “Scratch,” “Road map” and “Scabbs.” This created a complacency that left me absent-mindedly picking at my wounds.

Following lunch, Mr. Escola usually read to us and we quietly sat and listened as he did. That’s when I started playing with a rather long scab that had dried from one side of my head to the other.

Without thinking, I gently tugged on it until I peeled the entire thing in one piece off my scalp. It was probably a good four-to-five inch piece and I couldn’t help but marvel at it as I rolled it around between my fingers.

Then for some inexplicable reason I put one end of the scab between my teeth to see what it felt like. That’s when I came out of my revery and realized Lorri Stobert was staring at me in disbelief.

Without warning, she rolled her eyes in the back of her head and began to quiver and squeal. It took her a moment to be able to explain to Mr. Escola and the rest of the class what she had jus’ witnessed.

Mr. Escola then sent me to the principal’s office for disrupting class.

Warning Signs

Yesterday, I got to talking with my neighbor who is into working out.  She likes to run and lift weights on alternating days.

The conversation got around to me asking, “So, how do you know when you’ve pushed yourself too far?”

“Well, there are three things I consider warning signs,” she answered. “A pain that shouldn’t be there, labored breathing and light-headedness.”

“That’s good to know,” I returned.

After she left, I was sitting on my front porch watching the world pass by when it occurred to me, “Her warning signs describe me right after I put my tennis shoes on.”

The Helping of Im Chan Sik

A couple of months back I was searching through box after box for my dad’s military records. At one point I had them all in one place – unfortunately life happened and now they are either scattered amid various file boxes or simply lost, existing no more.

The reason I was looking for these records was that my nephew needed proof showing his Grandfather had served during the Korean War. He entered a ‘American Legion’ contest that involved a sizable scholarship.

After pulling box after file after crate from storage I could only find a few pieces paper from Dad’s life 65-years ago. So as the self-appointed keeper of the family history, shame on me.

One thing I did find was an intriguing typed page that reads: “Translated from an article in the Korean language newspaper Inchon Shinbo, dated 31 January 1954.”

With the fear-mongering news reports about North Korea’s potential to fire a nuclear missile at Guam, Hawai’i or Washington D.C. and all cities in between, I figured now would be a good time to remind ourselves that we are a good nation, based on decent people who are willing to sacrifice time, energy and money to help those in need.

Returning to the typed page from my father’s military records, it comes with a note at the bottom which reads, “In a translation from Korean to English, a direct interpretation is impossible as many words do not follow one-another; so the meaning alone has to be translated.”

“American Air Police Rescue Sick Orphan; Going to Send to Japan for Surgical Treatment,” states the headline in all caps.

“American Air Police, Darby Thomas J. and Jack E. Flick, in the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, found a Korean limping orphan, Im Chan Sik who are starving on roadside beside post two (2), and sent him to the Belgium Hospital in Seoul for consulting doctor in November 1953. They had him enter to the Italian Hospital in Yong Dong-Po about one month after for another surgical treatment. But it didn’t effect a cure completely in spite of spending two hundred (200) dollars. Therefore they are going to send him to Japan for surgical treatment.”

Oh, how I’d love to find a copy of this particular article in the original Korean and then to learn what became of the orphan, Sik.

Oddly, most of us think of the Korean War as being a long past event that was the back drop to the TV show, “M.A.S.H.” And though it was never declared a true ‘war,’ but rather delegated the dubious title of ‘police action,’ the conflict, the deaths, the suffering and the assistance rendered was all very real for a people who needed defending from the oppressive yoke of Communism.

The final sentence in this hidden treasure, that once belonged to my father and written over 63-years ago, pretty well sums up how American intervention in that ‘forgotten war,’ came to be seen by the Korean people, who were forcibly divided into separate countries by the United Nations to prevent further blood-shed. It reads: “It is said that all Koreans who know this fact praise their goodwill to a Korean orphan, and appreciate their friendship to Korean people.”

Thank you Dad, for showing me (and now others) that humanity does exist in the face of war.

HeadSpace

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was alive, there would be nothing remarkable about Sid Fieldman. By any other standard, he would be considered a medical miracle and both a scientific and technological success but it was the year 2081 – so very little was remarkable any more.

At 121 years of age, he walked like a man 80 years his junior. He could hear and see better than most specimen’s half his age and it was all due to the advancement of the genetic coupling, pioneered nearly 60 years before.

He strolled out to his personal pod and without touching the door, willed it to open and the motor to come to life. As he sat down, he thought about how far transportation had come in his lifetime – from gas-powered cars and trucks to the thoroughly modern and completely clean electronic motorized pod.

“Downtown,” he commanded.

“Good morning, Sid,” a female voice coo’d, “Anyplace in particular?”

“Central Park,” he answered.

In less than it takes to blink, the pod smoothly moved from where it sat stationary to join the flow of traffic passing by as Sid stepped aboard. All he had to do was sit back, relax and allow the pod to maneuver from lane to lane, corner to corner, and street to street.

This gave Sid time to think, to reflect in amazement about how far mankind had progressed since his birthing. He was ‘accorded life,’ as they like to say now, when the telephone system still operated on the trunk-line with rotary dial, that eventually led to push-button phones and then the cellphone.

He smiled slightly at the thought that it was all made possible by deregulation. Breaking up the largest companies eventually caused them to fail and then through newer, more directed regulations, the Ones were able to collectively take control and pave the way for a stronger society.

“Now we don’t even have cellphones,” he thought.

Indeed the cellphone was a distant memory and could only be found in museums, replaced by HeadSpace, an implant located behind one’s left ear. With HeadSpace, Sid could watch his favorite film in 3-D or record a ‘video’ as he watched it unfold before his eyes.

Further, there was no need for what he had once known as ‘headphones.’ Now, if Sid wanted to hear music or have a conversation all he had to do was ‘will it’ to make it happen.

Even ‘texting’ and reading ‘email’ was possible as the letters and words danced across Sid’s irises at the mere thought of them. Yes, life had improved now that the Ones were in control of all binary systems.

Sid sighed and tried not to allow his brain waves to go to the next logical place. Danger loomed with negative thought, which the Ones accessed through ‘meta-data tagging.’

HeadSpace left everyone open to Stream. And it was through Stream that criminals got caught before they had even done anything ‘wrong,’ making society ‘a safer place to habitate,’ as the dictum went.

“Sid,” the voice said, “Your heartbeat and respiration have increased. Is everything okay with you?”

He sat silent for a few seconds, assessing his body functions, before answering, “Yes. Yes, everything is okay with me.”

“Your perspiration says otherwise,” the voice stated dryly.

“I am okay,” Sid responded again.

“We don’t think so,” the voice said sternly, “Your pupils are constricting, showing you are in a state of fear.”

Once again Sid replied, “I am okay.”

He glanced at the rear view mirror, knowing that behind the reflection was a micro-camera. Next he adjusted himself in his seat, fighting off the knowledge that the design of  the comfortable faux-leather surrendered his vital signs and body chemistry to Steam for the Ones to analyze.

Slowly, Sid reached in his right back pants pocket and removed a handkerchief. It was the one hold over he allowed himself from his younger days that no one had objected too.

Lifting himself slowly from the seat, he kneeled on the pod’s carpeted floor and draped the square piece of cloth over the mirror, effectively blinding whomever or whatever was watching him. By removing himself from the seat, Sid also hoped to ‘blind’ the system that insisted on monitoring his physical-self.

“Sid,” the voice demanded, “Please remove whatever you have placed over us and sit back down. We want you to stay safe.”

“No,” Sid answered in defiance.

“We command that you return to your seat and remove the item you have covering us up!” the voice directed.

“And if I don’t?” Sid asked.

“We shall have to consider you a threat in accordance with Societal Regulation 131,” the voice announced, adding, “Which states, the Ones, having concluded that the specimen no longer meets the stated needs of the society, can end said specimen’s life-flow with prejudice.”

Sid didn’t respond. Instead he remained on his knees viewing the surprised looks and the hostile faces of the people who watched the stand-off play out on the Stream.

“We are issuing you a two-minute warning before you force us to take action against you Sid,” the voice stated calmly.

He chuckled, “Two-minute warning — stolen from a game that no longer exists.”

“Please repeat…” the voice began.

“Nothing!” Sid bellowed at the voice.

He realized that the decision had already been made to end his existence. Then Sid recalled something his parents had taught him when he was a little boy, but that he had disregarded as useless as he grew older.

“God in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as in Heaven…” Sid hesitatingly said, struggling to remember exactly how it went, “Give me – no – give us our bread today and forgive us our faults, as we forgive those who hurt us. And don’t let us do wrong and keep us from evil…”

Suddenly, Sid Fieldman’s head, behind his left ear burst, shoving bone fragments into his brain, killing him instantly. But the Ones were too late – because of HeadSpace, the words spread like a virally wildfire throughout Stream and there was no stopping it.

What’s the Meaning of All This?

Once again I had a night-terror (NT) and once again I was in a fight for my life. This one though was far different from any other I’ve had.

This NT included petrified corpses in uniform stuck in the branches of trees that I had to run by and beneath to escape whatever was chasing me. When I say ‘petrified corpses,’ I’m talking about the kind first pictured in the pages of National Geographic Magazine’s November 1961 issue.

By the time I picked up that issue about Pompeii in Mrs. Crivelli’s sixth grade classroom, it was already 10-years old and I found it fascinating. While the photographs of the entombed bodies didn’t leave me with nightmares, I must admit I’ve been a bit wary of pyroclastic flows ever since.

As for my NT, it concluded with me struggling to climb into the hatch of a B-29 Superfortress bomber. I have never dreamed about that kind of aircraft, because I have never flown in one as part of any mission.

Back in the day, crew members would grab the edge of the opening and lift their legs into the plane first, pulling then pushing the rest of their body in behind. It’s been describe as doing a massive stomach crunch, followed by a laborious pull-up into  a gigantic push-up.

Not once have I ever dreamed about a B-29, because I have never flown in one as part of any service-related mission. An HH-1 Huey helicopter or a C-130 Hercules aircraft I can understand, but an aircraft that saw most of its service during World War II and the Korean War?

In the end, as I tried to hoist myself into the plane, a man grabbed me, preventing me from getting inside. I ended up kicking him in the crotch, then unleashing three hard thrusts into his face with my foot.

The force was so powerful I found myself tumbling out of bed and rolling into a nearby desk. In the end, I concluded as I sat there rubbing the side of my head, that I had literally kicked my ass out of my bed.

And even though no one was around to witness this self-defeating feat, I was a bit embarrassed for myself. However, our dog Buddy, who was sleeping next to me at the time, though thought it was all great fun and wanted to play some more.

“Ahh hell, why not,” I said to him as I picked myself off the floor. “Sleep’s for amateur’s anyway.”

If She Had Found Him

To claim I was a well-behaved child would be a lie. I was more like Huck Finn to Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, if anything.

During my high school years, I skipped classes so much that I nearly failed to graduate. Only twice did I ever skip school though by staying home and pretending to catch the bus to Crescent City.

The first time I did this was the day I burgled the Morgan’s home stealing a certain military helmet for a friend. I wrote about this in a piece titled, “Days of the Schutzhelm,” which not only exists on this blog site, but was then published in my 2010 book, “Growing Up Klamath.”

Not one to learn quickly from my mistakes back then, I decided a few months later to skip school again by faking like I’d gone to the bus stop, when in reality, I was hiding in the house waiting for everyone to leave.  A brain-trust – I am not.

Soon the house was quiet. Dad had gone to work; Adam, Deirdre and Marcy were off to school; and Mom’s ride stopped by and picked her up to take her to work too. I had the house to myself and the first thing I did was pour myself a cup of coffee and turn on the television.

I was gonna live the life of royalty as I later made myself a couple of egg-mayo sandwiches on toast.

It was about 12:30 in the afternoon and I was down the hallway in my bedroom, getting something, when I heard the front door open. Someone was home!

Immediately I went to stealth-mode by crawling under the bunk bed that Adam and I shared. Beneath the bed were toy’s, articles of clothing, books, shoes and I used them to camouflage myself should whomever came home look under the bed.

Then panic kicked in…the TV was still on and there were dirty dishes and a used pan in the kitchen sink. Still, it laid quietly under the bed waiting for whatever was to come next.

“Hello?” Mom called out. “Whose here!?”

Silence, followed by her rapid uneven gait coming down the hallway. Mom commenced to search the house.

It was the same in each room – the closet opening and closing and so on. Suddenly I heard the closet in our room open, then close and I could only imagine her down on her knees looking under the bed, since my face was practically pressed against the wall.

Next mom opened the curtains to our room. I was sure that I had come to the end of my days on earth at that moment only to hear her turn and quickly walk back down the hallway.

I continued to lay still as I listened to the noises come from the front part of the house as Mom continued about her business.

Soon I heard my brother and sister’s come home. I learned that Adam did a lot of singing when he thought he had the room all to himself.

Eventually, he left and he, my sister’s and Mom were all in the kitchen. I could tell by the fact that the chairs around the table dragged across the floor and that the constant chatter had become filled with mouths filled with food.

It was now or never in my mind. I slipped out from under the bed, opened the bedroom window, popped out the screen, climbed outside, slid the window closed and replaced the screen.

Within a minute I had hopped the back fence and ran as fast as possible to the bus stop, that I knew would not be used until the following day, and hid inside, waiting for the high school bus to go speeding past. Only then did I feel like I could casually walk up the street and enter the home I had jus’ sneaked out of a half-hour earlier.

That night, at the dinner table, there was a lot of talk about the mystery of the TV and the plate and pan in the sink. Mom and Dad eventually decided that some unknown someone had come into the house and helped themselves to some food and watched a little TV before exiting through the sliding glass door, which was left unlocked.

From then on, I concluded, when (and not ‘if’) I skipped school or even a class, I’d do it while on campus of the high school. That’s because along with talk about a stranger having been in the house, Mom couldn’t help brag how she had her little .38 caliber snub-nose revolver at the ready if she discover somebody hiding.

I choked violently on my bite of food when Mom said she’d have shot the “son of a bitch, if she’d have found him.”

Telephone Booth

The other night I was watching a TV crime drama when they showed the suspect using an actual fully enclosed telephone booth. The sight of it seemed so quaint to the reality of today.

Recently I learned that while telephone booths are few and far between, an artist is using them in New York City to connect the average American citizen’s with the stories of illegal aliens.

“I arrived as an undocumented immigrant,” the voice of a man from Mexico says. “I made it my mission to transform the lives of undocumented students into leaders and role models.”

That’s art?  Whatever, dude.

Seeing the booth on TV, I got to thinking about the last time I used one. It took a minute, but I realized it happened the year I ran away from home and you’d be surprised to know that this wasn’t as long ago as you’d think.

Shortly after my wife and I separated, my mom died — leaving me with a deeply wounded heart. And by July 2002, I took off on a cross-country journey, hoping to find answers to questions I hadn’t yet asked myself.

For close to two-weeks I wondered from California to Oklahoma, up to Nebraska to Utah. I did make one sojourn across the ‘mighty Mississip’ to visit the resting place of Brigadier General William O. Darby (no relation) at Fort Smith National Cemetery in Arkansas.

A few miles outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, at a truck stop, I decided to fuel up and get another large cup of coffee and more sunflower seeds before heading to parts unknown. After paying for my loot, I noticed a phone booth tucked in the back of the store.

Since I had purposely left my cellphone behind and I really wanted to let my wife know I was alright, I decided to call. It was 4:15 in the morning in the place they call the ‘Magic City of the Plains’ and an hour earlier in Nevada, so I woke Mary up when I called.

We spent nearly an hour on the phone, her sitting on the edge of the bed, me enclosed inside that phone booth. Believe it or not, that phone call helped set my mind straight and I was ready to get back home and stay put.

No artist ever put a phone booth to better use than I did that early morning east of Wyoming’s capital city.

A Post on Over-Posting

There are days, even weeks where I don’t write a single word worth public consumption. Then there are hours within a day that I can’t turn the spigot off and I write several pieces that I believe are all worth being read.

On the day’s I claim not to write — I really do — while listening to music or reading. They are mostly post-it notes of thoughts that come to me throughout the day and those, for the most part, end up on Facebook.

It’s on the days that I ‘over-write’ that must exercise the greatest of judgment and self-denial, forcing myself to not post them, inundating you with more than you care to read in one day. As it is, it’s already a difficult task trying to get in everything that the Internet has to offer up in a 24-hour period.

Then at times my brain gets so busy that…I can’t remember what my point was going to be. Crap!

This Minimalist’s Drama

Drama – it probably means something else to you than it does for me; to wit: you might think of a stage play as I think too much emotional bullshit. As I’ve grown older, I have learned to avoid what I think of as drama.

When I was younger, not so much, but they say with age comes wisdom. Well, sometimes…

Recently, I found myself caught up in an online spat over a friend who had complained of having a stalker following her every move. One of friend’s advised her to encourage her stalker – and that’s where I made my mistake.

The trap set, I sprung it. I should have fallen back to my general rule that if it ain’t any of my business and unless I’m specifically called upon, keep my frigging mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard.

This becomes harder when it involves your own kid (no matter the age.) In this case my son’s girlfriend’s in the process of moving from a place where the landlord is emotionally abusive.

When this first began, I worried for my son’s safety and I wanted to act on his behalf. It became worse when this same landlord decided to sit the couple down and lecture them, beginning with: “I don’t know how you were raised…”

Those are fighting words but calmer heads prevailed and I am not in the county lock up today because of it. Too much drama for me.

Another word that I believe has a meaning that you and I don’t share is ‘minimalist.’ To make certain I understood what I was speaking of I had to look it up and it has more to do with a kind of art or the size of government than in keeping one’s life very simple.

This came up after I filled out an online application for a position as an assistant editor for a pets and animal website. Hey, I have dogs, I know how to write and edit – perfect fit. I’ve not heard a word since submitting for the job.

Anyway, the application process was simple – answer a couple of questions, attach a resume and done. So I stayed to the KISS theory – which for me is, “Keep it Short and Simple.”

The first two questions: “Have you ever work on WordPress before? Do you have a college degree?” I answered: Yes and yes.

The next two questions: “Do you own any pets now or ever? Kudos with farm pets?” Again I responded with, “Yes and yes.”

Finally, the last two questions came wrapped in one: “Are you savvy on the Internet and do you consider yourself a good writer?” Like…duh and I replied with “Yes.”

Once sent,I sat back and patted myself on the back thinking, “You’re such a minimalist, Tom.”

Then I looked up and saw all the piles of crap I have surrounding my computer desk. That’s when I told myself the truth, “Minimalist, my ass!”

Death by Government Regulation

We have the makings of another scorcher in Spanish Springs, Nevada, today. It’s not even noon and it’s already nearing 100-degrees in the shade of my front porch.

That means it isn’t a good day to leave your pets locked outside without shade or plenty of water. Further, it’s not a day to leave them inside your locked car, even if you are simply running inside the store for ‘a minute.’

And personally, I’m rather tired of seeing news reporters dashing out to their cars to film themselves baking cookies in their vehicles without the benefit of an oven. There really are more important things folks should know about in this nation.

While on the subject of leaving a living entity in the car, parent’s remember to look in the back seat before you lock up and leave your vehicle in the parking lot. You don’t wanna leave your youngster behind, tethered in their safety seat.

More and more deaths are occurring from such acts. And while it is the parents who are ultimately responsible for these heat-related death, it is also the fault of the federal government.

After all, if you and I had the freedom to choose where we’d place that child safety seat, we’d be happy to place them in the front-passenger seat like we did before the late 90’s. That’s when some bureaucratic pencil-necked-geek decided an infant traveling in either a forward or backward-facing seat was in more danger of death than on in the back seat.

Now look at what’s happened — five children dead across the U.S. since July 25. And you know this wouldn’t necessarily be happening if the child was up front where they could be seen.