Federal Alphabet Agencies Have Never Been On Your Side

“You wouldn’t know a fact from your ass,” she responded to my latest post. I ignored her.

Here are some facts: What happened at Mar-A-Lago isn’t a one-off. It has been an ongoing pattern since 1913 when the FBI went by another name.

No one seems to recall the 1993 “peaceful” issuance of a search warrant on the Branch Davidians in Waco. Nor do they seem to remember the sniper death of a mother and her newborn at a place called Ruby Ridge.

Nor do they recall the 2016 federal shooting death of a Utah man on an Oregon highway outside of Burns, as he ran from his truck to save the people inside it from being killed, only to die himself with his hands up in surrender.

It is not limited to one side of the political aisle but both as they work to keep us from knowing the truth. Nothing more than lying, offuscating assholes.

Let us visit other alphabet agencies of our federal bureaucracy, like the Internal Revenue Service. They recently cleaned up their official webpage, scrubbing their advertising the need for their 87,000 potential hirelings to be able to use a weapon and have the willingness to take a life.

In 2015, a couple’s dress-making business in Garland, Tex., was closed down by the IRS after being accused but never charged or convicted of evading “federal bank reporting requirements by making cash deposits just under the $10,000 limit.” The Dallas police assisted the IRS during the raid, which led to an auction to recover a supposed $31,400 debt, netting the IRS about $17,000.

Then there is the Environment Protection Agency, which in 2011 sued a Priest Lake, Ida., couple for unplugging a drainage ditch that was flooding their home. The EPA claimed that the flooding, though caused by a faulty culvert system, was part of a “marshland,” costing the couple $32,500 per day until they complied.

Closer to home, in Bunkerville, Nev., in 2014, the Bureau of Land Management claimed the Bundy family owed over a million bucks in grazing fees because the ranch was using federally owned land to feed their livestock. In 2018, the dispute became an armed standoff between U.S. citizens and federal agents as the agency attempted to remove Bundy’s cattle from the site.

Once forced to retreat, BLM officers began destroying the livestock and burying the carcasses. Though pictures and videos surfaced online, they no longer exist.

Quit sucking the teet of pablum being offered by the politicos, the media, and entertainment and start gathering facts, dammit!

Angry, Tired and Alone

Since Lion’s Gate, I’ve done my best to hold my tongue. My anger is such that I could alienate everyone I know in person and online.

And this goes for writing what I know, what I think, and how I feel. We are in a world of betrayal, and less than half of us realize it.

Many of us live in a ‘polite society,’ having learned ‘to turn the other cheek.’ Being victimized and not retaliating is ineffective and exhausting.

When will the time come that we shall push back? Where is the breaking point — when it is too late? Death?

We are a failed society, broken by those who do not fear being violent, who do not think twice when it comes to destruction, animated by propaganda, and those who willingly propagate it. Are you not flagged by the dishonesty, the rhetoric, the partisanship?

I am, and I feel alone in this.

Where’s Wilford?

Wilford Green had three things that caused him to stand out, and one of those things he only recently acquired.

Better known as Willy, he was born with a tuft of bright red hair. And as he grew into adulthood, he became known for his love of practical jokes and being a smart ass.

Half a year ago, Willy began wearing a charcoal gray-fedora style hat he’d found one afternoon. The beaten and battered cover called closer attention to his bushy red mop-top.

Three weeks ago, he mouthed off to Mrs. Pembroke. She was in her yard, on her knees, working in her flower garden.

“While down there…” Willy laughed.

Mrs. Pembroke, a widow of twenty years, did not find humor in his innuendo and made sure Willy knew it.

“Yeah, what ever lady,” he replied.

“I’ll bury you, Wilford Green,” she yelled as he walked away, laughing.

Yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. Breckley were walking their black lab, Tippy, in the park when the dog darted off. Quick to follow, the couple raced after him only to find Tippy sniffing at a gray hat on the ground.

Tippy took it in his teeth, exposing a shock of red hair that jutted from the hard-packed earth.

Sea-to-Lake

There are many things I could write about yesterday’s events at Mar-a-Lago. But none of it would be effective or worthwhile.

Pointing out errors, correcting inerudite, unfounded statements, and replacing them with facts and knowledge does no good. Being canceled, doxxed, and attacked are all the rewards one gets for such straightforward activity.

No, I think I shall hold my tongue, keep my peace (despite my anger,) and instead write what I need to say in my notebooks. Call it paranoia or what have you, but I have little trust held in reserve for our federal government as I watch our nation wiped ‘peacefully’ away as we sat back, failing to act.

The enemy is at the gate, and the enemy is us with our misdirected desire to avoid what needs confronting. As the Bible reads, “Sell your shirt for a sword.”

But no one is hearing.

Bread and Circuses

Let’s cut to the chase about the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” which the U.S. Senate passed today after a debate occurred at night and in the wee hours of the morning.

Here are the numbers.

  • 97.2 percent earning between $100K-$200K will see a tax increase
  • 91.3 percent earning between $75K-$100K will see a tax increase
  • 61.7 percent earning between $40K-$50K will see a tax increase
  • 24.6 percent earning between $10K and $20K will see a tax increase
  • $389B on energy and climate efforts
  • $300B-plus in ‘green’ load guarantees
  • $80B to increase IRS staffing
  • $60B for environmental justice initiatives
  • $9B for wealthier* families to buy electric vehicles
  • $2.6B to protect coastal habitats
  • $1.5B to plant trees

*Based on an average of .32 cents a minute to charges or $19.20 an hour. A full charge at eight hours is $153.60.

Next year, taxes will increase by $16.7 billion on taxpayers earning less than $200,000, a nearly $17 billion tax targeted directly at low-and middle-income earners next year. The proposal would raise another $14.1 billion from taxpayers earning between $200,000 and $500,000. Over half of all new tax revenue raised next year will come from those earning under $400,000. 

By 2031, when the “new green energy” credits and subsidies take effect, those earning below $400,000 will bear as much as two-thirds of the additional tax revenue collected.

Meanwhile, we have a compliant propaganda machine in the media that is pushing stories about monkeypox, Brittney Griner and the J6 hearings.

 

The Hidden Staircase

The noon-time siren had already sounded when I found my way to C Street, delivering the last of the Comstock Chronicles. I was on foot that Friday afternoon as Hot August Nights was in Virginia City for the weekend, and the street was full of classic cars and trucks.

Leaving the Ponderosa Saloon, I paused to check for traffic that might be coming down Taylor Street. It is a habit as I have nearly had unsuspecting motorists hit me, and I have almost hit unattentive visitors.

The only thing on Taylor Street between the Ponderosa and the Crystal Saloon, now the Virginia City Tourism Commission, was town folk dressed in period attire. As I passed, a woman in a colorful period dress tumbled from the top of the street where it intersects with B Street.

She had a wild-eyed expression and looked more puzzled than hurt.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.”

“That was quite the fall.”

“It was.”

That’s when it occurred to me that she had dropped from a height, but there was nothing tall near where she’d landed.

“How did you…” I started to say as I turned to the woman.

She was gone.

“Did anyone see where the woman in the fancy gown went?” I shouted.

No one had. I raced to the boardwalk to look, but with no fancy gown to be seen, I returned to Taylor.

“What’s wrong?” one of the old-timers asked.

“I’m trying to figure out how that woman fell from about here,” I said, pointing to the side of the building. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Yes, it does when you know there were wooden stairs against the building back in the 1990s when it was still called the Sharon House.”

Sun Mountain (a Haibun)

Thank you to my friend, Paul Vincent Cannon, for the inspiration

watching Sun Mountain
witnessing a burning bush
coffee has gone cold

Noon had just passed, and a wind was blowing down the slopes of Sun Mountain.
“Lets go have a cup of coffee,” Trevallions suggested, “we’ve got some talking to do.”
“Seems to me all you do is drink coffee,” Will complained…

Comstock Lode, Pg. 185
Louis L’amour, 1981

The Better You Exists, But…

“This can’t be all there is to my fucking life,” I think.
“This is it?” I add. “A few more colorless years spent working, consuming media, doing hobbies that will never find a place in the sun.”
“There is no ‘third act,’ no starring in a fantasy adventure, no gaining ‘Superpowers, no happily everafter,” I continue. “I’m an incomplete package sitting on life’s doorstep expecting the kid next door to kick me or some damned dog to piss on my wrappings.”
“I’m trying to be happy, be better, stay focused, get upset, overreact, overthink and be emotional,” I whine with finality. “I’m broken, imperfect, so don’t expect me not to be.”
Then I remember: No one owes me anything. Life is a series of choices that become habits, decisions made by no one else.
Damaged, we tend to see ourselves as the product of what happened to us, but we are not that. That was only our starting point — not the destination.
Want to heal? Figure out what hurts, where it hurts, how it hurts, and who, if not yourself, hurt you.
Want a healthier relationship? Learn how to communicate what you need.
Want a better you? Remake yourself every day by using what happened to you to your advantage.
For growth, do the fucking work. A shitty thing to say as advice goes, but it is supposed to be hard, so stop whining.
Instead of waiting for others to give you gifts, be the gift. As for “superpowers,” you were born with them.
Your secret identity is borne in life’s multitude of pains, hurt, unfairness, and disadvantages. Those powers are for you to use on yourself before attempting to use them for others.
Above all, be extremely honest with yourself as you work life out.
Happily, no one told me this when I was a kid because soft children only become soft adults. Fight for yourself, damn it!

Failed Advisement

One afternoon shortly before my seventh-grade school year, I was helping my Dad with a dump run. We were by ourselves, a good time to talk.

He was trying to explain some of the ‘other’ facts of life to me as we rumbled south on Highway 101 and over the Klamath River.

“Question everything,” I recall him instructing me.

“Why?” I asked.

“Don’t be a smart-ass,” he returned.

Yeah, even then. And now you know why I am the way that I am.

The Wisdom of Solomon

Before his traffic accident, my son was training to be a fixed-route bus driver. It ended when he was struck from behind while driving his vehicle, resulting in a prolonged case of whiplash.

One morning two women got on at the same time. Both headed straight for the last available seat, and when neither got there first, they began arguing.

My son did his best to break up the squabbling before it led to all-out fist-cuffs. He eventually had to stop the bus and separate the two women from each other.

As he returned to his seat, the pair started in again. This time, he didn’t stop the bus but instead announced calmly over the public address system, “Let the ugly one have the seat.”

Both women stood for the remainder of the route.

My Cousin Elmo says, “Bragging about a twenty-five cent decrease in the price of gas is like Hannibal Lecter cutting off your arm and then giving you back a finger.”

A Little Old-fashioned Internet Humor

A little boy goes to his father and asks, “Dad, how was I born?”

The father answers, ” Well son,I guess one day you will need to find out anyway.

Your Mom and I first got together in an online chat-room. Then I set up a date via E-mail with your Mom, and we met at a Cyber cafe.

We sneaked into a secluded room, and googled each other. There your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive.

As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, nine months later a little Pop-Up appeared that said, ‘You’ve got male!'”

The Two Gifts

After God created Adam and Eve, He said, “I have two gifts, one is so you can pee standing up and the other is…”

Adam interrupted, “I want it, Lord. It would make life easier.”

So God gave Adam that gift. Adam screamed for joy and began running through the Garden of Eden, peeing on every tree.

Shaking her head at the man and his antics, Eve asked, “What is the other one?”

“A brain, Eve,” God answered. “I have a brain, and it is yours.”

The Barbecue Feast

From a church sermon that I heard as a child many moons ago.

A son slaughtered a cow, fired up the barbecue pit, then said to his father, “Call our loved ones and neighbors to eat with us. Let us feast!”

The father took to the street and started shouting, “Please help us put out a fire at my son’s home!”

After a minute or two, a small group of people came out; the rest acted like they did not hear the older man’s cries for help. Those who did respond ate and drank until they were satisfied.

“I don’t know any of the people,” the son said. “I’ve never seen some of these people before. Where are our family and our friends?”

“These people came to help us put out a fire in your house, not for the party,” the father answered. “These are the ones who deserve your hospitality.”

Irregularities from 2020 Election Mounting

Immediately after the November 2020 elections, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) declared it found no hacking or machine vulnerabilities. The Department of Homeland Security admitted in a new report that the Dominion Democracy Suite ImageCast X voting system has nine vulnerabilities, including the ability to “install malicious code” on the machines.

CISA continues claiming that no Dominion voting machines were exploited in 2020, though two Iranian nationals hacked into a state computer election system and stole 100,000 voter registrations. The pair used the data to carry out a cyber-intimidation campaign targeting Congress, Trump campaign officials, and Democratic voters in the November 2020 election.

More than 50 national security experts, countless news organizations, and social media firms falsely claimed in the fall of 2020 that Hunter Biden’s laptop containing information about Biden family corruption was Russian disinformation.

In Nevada, Joey Gilbert has filed an election contest lawsuit after a recount showed he lost the Republican governor primary by about 26,000 votes to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

Robert Beadles, a cryptocurrency millionaire who funded the recount, wrote on his website that the lawsuit filed in Carson City District Court will prove that “Joey Gilbert rightfully won the primary with 100% certainty.”

“It’s simple; we prove with mathematical certainty Joey Gilbert is the winner of the primary gubernatorial race and that he had over 55,000 votes taken from him,” Beadles wrote. “It’s a slam dunk case. We’ll post the suit, the exhibits, opinions, etc., as soon as the State publishes them.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the lawsuit alleges an “illegal geometric formula” affected the vote-counting process. A copy of the suit was not immediately available.

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign unsuccessfully filed an election contest lawsuit in the 2020 election, but the court ruled insufficient evidence existed to overturn the outcome,

The Clark County Republican Party issued an emergency alert to Republican voters on June 14 to beware of a group offering to help deliver your mail-in ballots.

According to an email from CCRP Chairman Jesse Law:

“I’ve also recently become aware of a major ballot harvesting effort by a Democrat dark money group called the “Institute for a Progressive Nevada.” They are calling around to Republicans to try to turn over your ballots to them. Please be aware of this effort and make sure the people in your network are aware and that it is recommended that they turn in their ballot in person when they vote at the polls or mail their ballot themselves.”

The Institute for Progressive Nevada, run by Nevada Attorney Bradley Schrager, has a mailbox at a UPS store in Las Vegas, Nev., registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.

His employer, Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, represented Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

In Arizona, a half dozen people face charges of illegal ballot harvesting in an expanding probe. The investigation comes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments, concluding Arizona’s ban on harvesting was constitutional.

A review of Maricopa County’s mail-in ballots 2020 presidential election shows that more than 200,000 ballots had signatures that did not match voter files, counted without being reviewed, and were more than eight times what the county acknowledged. The Arizona Senate officially called into question more than 50,000 votes made by people no longer living at the addresses listed on ballots.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion states that the 570 drop boxes used during the 2020 election were approved unlawfully by the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC.) The Wisconsin Supreme Court found that as many as 200,000 voters were allowed to illegally skip voter ID for absentee ballots by claiming they were indefinitely confined by COVID when there was no such legal authority.

The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau identified more than 30 problems with the administration of elections in 2020, including unlawful orders and uneven enforcement of those laws.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars in donations to election administrators in five municipalities from the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life violated state anti-bribery laws and corrupted election practices by turning public election authorities into liberal get-out-the-vote activists.

The WEC also failed to record non-citizens in the WisVote voter database, thereby permitting non-citizens to vote, even though Wisconsin law requires U.S. citizenship to vote, violating the Help America Vote Act.

Still in Wisconsin, Illegal ballot harvesting happened in nursing homes where third-party activists illegally collected the ballots of vulnerable residents, some of who lacked the mental or physical capacity to vote or were forbidden from voting by guardianship agreements. Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling secured evidence that eight out of 42 residents at a local nursing home had cast absentee ballots while not possessing the cognitive ability to vote.

The True the Vote election integrity group says in a complaint that a whistleblower, identified as John Doe, admitted his role and identified nonprofits that funded a “$10 per ballot delivered program.” The same group has assembled cell phone location records pinpointing the alleged harvesting by as many as 240 activists.

Michigan’s official state auditor found that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson failed to adhere to state election law by properly updating and reconciling qualified voter rolls, increasing the risk of ineligible voters casting ballots. Three women face election fraud charges after investigators found they had harvested ballots from residents of nursing homes.

An audit of Texas voter rolls identified nearly 12,000 non-citizens illegally registering to vote and 600 ballots cast in the name of a dead resident or who voted in another state.

Georgia’s Secretary of State identified more than 2,000 foreigners who tried to register to vote though none reached the point of casting ballots. Georgia Secretary of State has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that activists engaged in illegal ballot harvesting, collecting ballots from voters, and delivering them in violation of state law.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has opened an investigation into the handling of dropbox ballots last November in one of the state’s Democratic strongholds following a media report that there were problems with the chain of custody documentation in DeKalb County.

Georgia’s handpicked election monitor for Fulton County, the state’s largest voting district, documented two dozen pages of mismanagement and irregularities during vote counting in Atlanta in November 2020, including double-scanning of ballots, insecure transport of ballots, and violations of voter privacy. The revelations prompted the state to take steps to possibly put Fulton County in receivership, empowering state officials to run the elections.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp referred the audited November 2020 election results in Fulton County to the State Election Board after multiple reviews found three dozen significant problems with absentee ballot counting, including duplicate tallies, math errors, and transposed data. Kemp’s referral calls into question hundreds of ballots in the official count.

Decisions, decisions

For the last couple of days, I have been moving from news stories for the papers and a news article for my website, and as I approach the final touches to it, I am finding myself unwilling to publish it.

Fear is an emotion I generally lack in these late days of life, and it has always served me well.

However, I must ask myself, do I want to be criticized for my reporting? Do I want to risk being canceled or doxxed?

It has happened before, and it was sheer torture. I spent weeks — no– months trying to recover.

I vowed never to let it happen again.

Yet, here I sit, struggling between the truth and my self-destruction should what I anticipate happen after I push the ‘post’ button.

The world is full of haters, non-thinkers, stuck in their self-made paradigm of “I’m right, you’re wrong.” They haven’t the capacity to see beyond what has been dictated to them.

Tonight, I sleep on it. Tomorrow I will decide.

Asshat Meets Another Asshat

“You’re an ass, aren’t you?” The armed security officer asked.

“Yes,” I answered. And pugnacious, too.”

“I don’t know what that means, but go through the door, to you left and get in the line.”

“Thank you.”

Behind me, I heard him call out, “Anyone with an appointment, come see me.”

I was at the new Department of Motor Vehicle building in South Reno to get my driving license renewed.

It was less the ten minutes before when I parked and walked to the back of the line that had cued at the front doors of the state agency. I let an older man and a woman with two children go ahead of me.

About a minute into our wait, the officer exited the building asking brusquely, “Again, anyone here with an appointment?”

The three of us at the rear of the line raise our hands.

“Well get over here,” he demanded.

That struck me wrong, and I opened my mouth, “First, what is this ‘again’ crap? We jus’ got here. and you ought to have a politer tone with the public.”

“Who are you talking to?

“You.”

“Mind your business and get in line.”

“Say the Ass with a uniform and gun.”

“I don’t don’t have to take your crap.”

“No, and we shouldn’t have to take your crap. I was nt here when you first asked ‘Again, if anyone here had anppointment. Exact words have meaning when you are in a public position, and second, don’t talk to me or anyone with that uncivil tone. You are in uniform and should act professionally.”

He stood there, gobsmack, as the other people, still in line, started clapping.

After getting my renewal, I walked outside and noticed he was being polite and talking to people rather than shouting at them. He saw me but said nothing, which was fine by me.

The Little Thing

As a recent born-again cynic, it delighted my heart to see a fellow human helping another in the only way he could.

En route home, I saw a U.S. Army veteran in his wheelchair holding a handmade sign. I have seen this man at the VA Hospital in Reno.

As I sat three vehicle lengths from the traffic light, I watched as another man, much younger than the vet, limp his way across the street. He stopped and talked to the veteran before doing something extraordinary — he gave the wheelchair-bound man his ball cap to cover his sunburning head.

No, it does not seem like much, but its tiny kindnesses and gestures like a freely given hat to a man needing it, making us real human beings.

I honked at the gift-giving man and gave him a thumbs up, and I got a beaming smile in return.

An Appointment with Anointment

It is one of the best interviews I have ever conducted. However, I forgot to ask permission to record her voice before we started.

It is one of the best interviews I have ever conducted. However, no one will ever get to hear it because I forgot to push the record button.

It is one of the best interviews I have ever conducted. However, it did not go as planned — at least to my plan.

It is one of the best interviews I have ever conducted. However, many people could not or would not appreciate the subject matter.

It was such an anointed conversation. And we are staving to hear your latest offering when it comes out, so thank you for singing it to me.

And since you can’t disagree with our dear, late friend, Holly Dunn, and her opinion, she was right about you. You broke the ceiling by being one of the Outlaws of country music, and you continued to break ground with your Americana sound.

Preach it, Lacy J. Dalton.

Sleepless Memory

Well, I stayed up till the wee hours because my mind refused to allow me to sleep. It happens more these days, and I believe it is a by-product of age.

While reading, then later listening to music on my cellphone, I recalled a bit of a song I heard many times as a five and six-year-old child. As I remember, it is bluesy, sung by a man with a deep froggish voice.

What song it is, where it comes from, who sang it, and whether recalling it right or bastardizing the lyrics are questions I took to searching for until after 3 a.m.

I know a woman, but she, she don’t like me
I know a woman, but she, she don’t like me
I know a woman, o how I wish she loved me

I never found an answer to those questions, and those words remain locked in my head like a treasured memory.

Mistake…Ha!

The California Department of Justice made public the personal information of California’s Citizen Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holders, including names, date of birth, gender, race, driver’s license number, addresses, and criminal history.

But it will be okay — they are offering free “credit monitoring services” because of the “mistake.”

My Cousin Elmo says, “Not too long ago nearly everyone was wearing a mask because of COVID, now if seen wearing a mask, you’re a Proud Boy says to the media.”

Thirty-nine Hours

It began Thursday morning and came to a close this morning. What was supposed to be a simple news assignment turned into a several-hour event, throwing everything else off track.

“Can you cover the Nevada Women’s Foundation this morning? Shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours.”

“Yes, if you can start the printer.”

“Will do and thank you.”

By three p.m., I knew I was way behind, and even with CC printing underway, I was still in for a long night. At the shop, I discovered the printer had jammed at five out of 415 papers scheduled for production.

After seven more jams, I finally got the printer kicking out newspapers. Then it stopped for no reason, so I called the boss.

As she told me there was nothing to do other than go home, the damned thing started printing again. A few dozen more prints rolled off the press when it stopped again.

This time, I waited thirty minutes before making the call.

“Turn it on and turn it off. See if that gets it going.”

I did, and it did.

But after a few copies of the CC, it began spitting out the DVD. I tried to get it to switch back, but it refused.

It would shut off and on for the next several hours.

Finally, I completed the needed 160 copies of the DVD. It was after 3 a.m., and I left a text message asking the boss to print the last 200 copies of the CC that I still needed.

Next, I hauled ass down the hill to the radio station. After fixing myself a STRONG cup of coffee, I did my show prep before my 6 a.m. air time.

After finishing my shift, I rushed back up the hill to learn the CC was still not done because the printer was still misbehaving. By noon, everything was ready to go. It took me nearly four hours to finish my route.

Once home, I visited for a couple of hours with my wife before she had to leave as she was house-sitting for a friend. When she closed the front door at 7 p.m., I was relaxing in our over-stuffed chair, ottoman under foot, with Buddy-dog by my side.

I awoke this morning, having slept 15 hours where I lounged.

Wah

My son was about four years old when we went on a campout with a group of friends for the weekend. It was a hot summer day, we were on vacation, and someone handed me a cold beer.

He kept asking for a drink, so I gulped the remainder of the can down, went to the water container, and filled the can up. The next time he asked, I gave him the can, where he promptly took a slug.

He screwed his face up and fairly shouted, “Tastes like wah!”

Everyone laughed as he sat down and continued to take sips from the can. In the meantime, I helped myself to a second beer.

In an unguarded moment, he snatched my can of beer from the cup holder built into the chair I was sitting in and took a gulp. The look on his face said it all.

After he stopped gagging, he exclaimed, “That’s shitty!”

At least three of the seven people gathered around the still cold hearth blew beer suds from their noses.

A Conversation in Heaven

What are you doing here?
I don’t know.
How long have you known Jesus?
Not long.
What were some of the changes Jesus made in your life?
None that I was aware of.
What do you know about justification by faith?
Nothing, I have no idea what that is.
Can you tell us about imputed righteousness?
I don’t even know what that means.
Well, then, when were you baptized?
Never.
Did you attend church?
No.
What did you do for a living?
I was a thief.
Then, how did you get in here?
(Pointing to Jesus) He said I could.

Twenty-by-Twenty

Before taking off from Lindbergh Airfield in San Diego, ten Marines hurriedly boarded the commercial aircraft, filling empty seats around me.

“Where are you heading?”

“Camp Lejeune, then to Afghanistan.”

About half an hour into the flight, an announcement came, saying lunch would be available for five dollars.

“You going to buy lunch?” one Marine asked the other.

“No, I’ll wait.”

Looking around, I saw that none were buying lunch, so I walked aft and handed the flight attendant a fifty-dollar bill.

“Please make sure each Marine gets fed.”

Her eyes went wet with tears as she thanked me.

After eating, I went again to the back of the plane to use the restroom, where a man stopped me.

“Here, take this.”

He handed me twenty dollars.

Returning to my seat, the plane’s Captain came down the aisle.

“I want to shake your hand. I was an Air Force pilot, and once, someone bought me lunch, an act of kindness I never forgot.”

I felt embarrassed as passengers applauded.

Later, a passing man reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He secreted another twenty-dollar bill in my palm.

After landing, waiting inside the plane’s door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without a word. Forty bucks!

Inside the terminal, I saw a Marine Sergeant accounting for his nine charges. I walked over and handed him the 80 dollars.

“It’s going be a while before you reach the east coast. Your guys will be hungry before that.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“No need to call me, ‘sir.’ I was enlisted like you.”

“Yeah? What branch?”

“Marine Corps.”

How’s That Again?

When it comes to being a smart-ass to my wife, I continue to find myself on her shortlist. But at least I will never go hungry, even when I manage to piss her off.

She was in the kitchen busying herself with meal prep. She had a ham hock and a pot roast on the counter.

“Should I make a roast or pea soup?”

“Anyone can cook a roast.”

I had a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of water for dinner.

It was worth it.

From the Sky

The difficulty hasn’t been the writing but finding the time to sleep while writing. Therefore, I have been posting only “Cousin Elmo” jokes, if one can call any of them funny.

As I was finishing up my paper route in Virginia City, I had parked, crossed the street, dropped off some newspapers, and returned to my truck. That’s when I saw the light blue faux leather grain bible in the bed of my vehicle.

My first thought was, “How long has that been there?” followed by, “When did someone put that in there?”

To neither question do I have an answer. Then maybe, it simply fell from the sky.

So, I picked it up, and while sitting in my truck, I thumbed through it. No names, no highlighting, jus’ an off-white ribbon from Santa Rosa, Calif., and the Salvation Army on Pierce Street, that city.

That did not tell me much, so I decided to look over the pages where the ribbon had been place-marking: 1 Corinthians 13, which speaks to “spiritual gifts” and “agape-love.” I looked about the wooden boardwalks and saw no one that could have put it there.

Never one of my favorite letters in the New Testament, I am planning to re-study this scripture. Maybe it holds a message I’ve never known was there.

Perhaps, like the murder of ravens that screamed and followed me earlier in the morning, there could be meaning in this.

Sissy La-la

Bill must have thought I had lost my mind as I jumped up and screamed.

Working by myself, printing newspapers, and folding them demands focus, or I’d find something else to distract me and fall behind in my work. While some foot traffic and vehicles pass by the shop, there are times when it is quiet.

During these quiet times, amid the thump-thump of the printer, strange noises and shadows can be heard and seen. I generally ignore them.

However, this day as I worked, I was looking at a computer on my left. I had turned it on to see the time.

It went to “sleep” a few seconds later. When the screen goes off, it becomes dark and refective.

In that reflection, behind me, standing in the doorway, I saw a figure of a bearded man wearing a miner’s fedora.

As I stood and screamed, Bill backed up and out the door where the bearded man had been standing. I didn’t recognize him with facial hair.

He’ll probably never come by to say hello to me ever again.

Bully Pulpit Bully

Heading into town, I saw three people standing on a corner waving signs, campaigning for their favorite candidate. Generally, I pay sign-wavers, spinners, and holders no mind.

However, I couldn’t help but pay attention to these three — children between 12 and 15. It wasn’t they who stood out, but the man waving his arms, shaking his fists, half-kicking at them, yelling, swearing, and threatening to do physical harm to the trio.

“I’m going to kick your little asses since your dumb bitch of momma didn’t do it when you were younger,” the man shouted as I got out of my truck and approached.

He didn’t see me coming up behind him, but he must have read the middle child’s eyes as the girl looked at me, pleading with her eyes. Suddenly, he spun around, fists up.

“You get away from them right now,” I demanded.

“Yeah, watch’ya gonna do if I don’t?”

“Filet you, like a fish,” I quietly stated. “Now go away and don’t come back.”

“Let’s see you do it.”

I opened my knife with a click.

“Oh, your one of those, gonna pick on an old disabled man.”

“Don’t pull that with me. You’re standing on your own two feet.”

“Well, I have a right to give them a piece of my mind.”

“But not threaten them. Again — move along.”

Still mouthing off, he walked back to his wheelchair that he left in the middle of the crosswalk and started down the sidewalk. I watched him till I felt he was far enough away that he didn’t appear threatening.

“Where are your folks?” I asked, “And do they know you’re out here?”

“Mom’s at home,” the eldest said, pointing to a nearby apartment complex.

“I think you ought to go home because it’s dangerous for you to be out here without any supervision. And it could be worse next time.”

“Okay. Come on guys, let’s go,” she said to the younger pair.

I watched them disappear into the complex before getting back in my truck.

Jus’ Another Self-serving Politician

Ever since New York City Mayor Eric Adams demanded the federal government close down Polymer80 in Dayton, Nev., I have been trying to get current Congressman Mark Amodei or congressman-wannabe Danny Tarkanian to comment on the situation. Nothing from either man.

Getting no response from Amodei has become the norm, as he has never returned an email, a tweet, a FB post, or telephone call in the years he’s been our so-called congressional representative. And because that will never change, and because he has time and again voted to raise our taxes through Democrat-sponsored bills, I refuse to vote for him.

Tarkanian, who wants the job, is heading in the same direction. It is unfortunate.

While willing to bucket-mouth some anti-2A, showboating actor but not say a single word about the jobs and incomes of Northern Nevadans, being threatened by the Cities of Los Angeles and New York, he is not the man for the job: “If Matthew McConaughey thinks he’s going to smile into the camera and get the Second Amendment repealed, he’s completely wrong.” (Danny Tarkanian, Wed., Jun. 6, 2022, Twitter.)

Polymer80 has been in the news for the last couple of years because they manufacture gun kits that do not have registration numbers embossed on those parts. Thus they have been the scary name “ghost guns,” by the propaganda media. The business is within its legal right to do business within Nevada, including selling the sale of gun kits and individual parts outside of the state.

Nevada is being sold down the river again to the UNIPARTY: a coterie of Leftist Democrats and Republicans in Name Only, anti-Constitutional, bought and paid for bunch of backroom deal-making, champagne swilling, cigar-puffing, European-governance loving, Washington D.C. elitist politicos.

Play with His WHAT?!

Recently, my son took up playing the cahóne, a box-shaped percussion instrument from Peru. He has enjoyed it so much that he purchased a second one.

That is where this tale goes sideways.

First, you must know that his wife is of Mexican descent. And though she does speak some Spanish, she doe not speak the language fluently.

While visiting their pastor, my son got out his newest drum and let his wife and the pastor play on it. Afterward, the three of them arrived at the church for worship, where she told church members, “The pastor and I were playing with my husband’s cajones before coming here.”

Creep Factor

Here is a photograph of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak wearing a Mickey Mouse watch and showing it off to a little girl from his Instagram account. It is in line with American Broadcasting Company and its subsidiary, The Walt Disney Company’s wokeness.

I’m just pointing it out because members of the UNIPARTY cannot see their gaffs and lack total self-awareness.

Blowing Smoke

On Wed., Apr. 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation officially banning cigarette ads on the radio. The last advertisement aired on TV on Thu., July 1, 1971, and on the radio long before that.

Why is this being brought up now? Marijuana dispenseries.

First off, if you smoke tobacco or weed, I don’t care. I subscribe to the Thomas Jefferson quote, “If it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my bone, what matter is it to me?”

That said, more and more, I am hearing advertising on the radio for “head shops,” “CBD dispensaries,” and “herbal lounges.” Further, some commercials even describe their “green,” “leafy,” products as “bud” with funky names.

It is only an observation on my part, but I must ask, where is the line drawn between the two?

Pressurized

Shortly after getting home, my wife called, “Can you go down to the drug store and pick up the prescription I just phoned in?”

“Sure,” I said as I grabbed my keys and beat feet out the door.

Once there, I had to wait around for them to get filled. Bored with walking around the store, I sat down to wait.

That’s when I saw the blood pressure machine.

“What the hell,” I thought as I sat down to get myself a reading.

One-fifty-five over 81 read the screen. Once again, I took it, but the numbers weren’t much better.

“Well,” I thought, “these store machines are notoriously miscalibrated. I’ll go home and take it the old-fashioned way.”

Once home, I pulled out my old stethoscope and pressure cuff and took my B/P a third time. The numbers were worse than ever, 171 over 90.

One-forty-four over 77 is normal for a man of my age. So, yes, dangerously high, and I immediately called the VA and scheduled an appointment.

The irony of ironies — I was at the drug store to pick up my wife’s blood pressure medication, which she’s been on for the last decade.

Rented Danger versus my Dented Ranger

Because she needed her car as she didn’t have a ride home from work, and I didn’t have a way to deliver newspapers, my wife did the deed, renting a vehicle for me. Since I usually drive a 1998 Ford Ranger, she got a 2022 Ford Ranger.

While they call it a mid-sized truck, the newer beast is a giant compared to my old truck. I found this out the hard way as I exited the vehicle only to discover I was like 12-stories off the ground.

Thankfully, I grabbed the door frame, preventing myself from falling. I would do this twice more, plus catch my foot on the step under the door, something my truck does not have.

Aside from all of that, this new Ford is all electronic, meaning the damned thing is more intelligent than me. It has a backup camera built into the dashboard, flashing lights in the side-view mirrors to warn of cars caught the blind spot, and a noisy whine that lets the driver know when they are too close to something with the front bumper.

Unfortunately, I still have yet to figure out how to preset the radio or figure out what all the buttons with their neato graphics do. And I will never get the chance to learn either as it goes back to the rental lot on the sixth day.

While delivering papers and parked in a casino lot, a man drove by and yelled at me: “Go back to California!” That’s because it’s registered to that state and the license plate reflects this.

I laughed at him and his 1970s orange VW Bug with his Oregon license plate and expired registration tags.

Seeing Yellow

Since the sun rises earlier during these days, it has become easy to see the many large-sized skidmarks left on the asphalt from semi-trucks, most loaded with rock, gravel, or dirt, as the drivers of these trucks must brake hard to prevent running a red light. I’m not talking about one or two, but several showing that the truck’s operator, who was traveling over 55 miles per hour, had to bring their vehicle to a stand-still or end up in a crash.

Of course, no one at NDOT would listen to the public, which warned the agency about the danger. After all, no one is a better engineer than a planner seated behind their desk in a comfortable chair.

Hopefully, the pencil-necked lughead who formalized the decision is happy with themselves and will remain so even after someone gets killed when one of these big rigs fails to stop in time. And I hope it isn’t me that gets killed.

Unelected decision-making bureaucrats are nothing but a menace to society, no matter at what level of government they work.

Podcast Update

“Guilty as charged, your Honor,” I said as I pointed an accusing finger at myself.

For this, I am the Judge, jury, executioner, and defendant. Okay, so I’m blowing everything out of proportion, but what is a little exaggeration amongst friends?

Since mid-April, I have not recorded a podcast. But I do have my reason for not having done so, and here it is in a nutshell: audience indifference.

No, I am not blaming you. Audience indifference means I have not found a subject interesting enough to cause you to want to listen.

For some reason, I thought podcasting would come easy to me than it has. Sure, I could go the talk-radio route and piss you off with political rants, but that would leave me with one less listener, and that’s not a good business practice.

In the end, I stare at my microphone, and it stares back at me, and together we get nothing done.

Keycarded

It finally happened. And I was not only mad at myself for it, but I felt pretty stupid for having done it.

I drove thirty minutes from home to the radio station and forgot my key card to gain entry to the building.

What makes this so bad is I raced home to get the card, which I have attached to a red and yellow “1-800-Marines” lanyard, and then could not find it. Talk about being in a panic.

As I stood in the front room, wondering where I might have left it, the thought came to me: the car’s center console. And that’s where I found the damned thing, but still, I was fifteen minutes late to work.

Now I wear it even when I sleep.

The Day Long

Work, eat and sleep. Those are the three ingredients that make up my life at present.

It’s not a complaint but a statement of fact. I’m up by 4 a.m. and out of the house thirty minutes later, heading for the radio station.

Two stops an hour to present, first the traffic report and then the weather report is not a hard job.

My wife and I have been carpooling out of necessity since my truck remains in the shop. It isn’t anyone’s fault, just an unfortunate run of “bad luck.”

I don’t believe in luck, so you know it’s grim when I resort to using it to describe that situation.

The truck is nearly a quarter of a century old. It has become hard to find parts when it needs repairing.

By 8 a.m., I finished, and not a minute later, I am out the door and heading home as I have two newspapers that need written articles. That entails about 4,000 words per edition.

Tuesdays are my deadline for the papers.

Thursdays and Fridays, I drive 45 miles to print the newspapers I write for and then deliver them, driving around 160 miles, in addition to my morning air shift. They are my long days.

By 7 p.m., my bedtime, I am as worn out as a Marine recruits toothbrush after being used to clean the head.

Bogged

Something tells me that I might best return to writing fiction stories rather than churning out little diatribes about daily life. Not even poetry, or what supposedly passes for poetry in my mind, seems to be attractive to you.

It is a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. I thought it would be easier to write as if I were doing a newspaper column, but my creativity has run into a mud-flat, where it has become bogged down and hard to move forward.

If you have ever ridden a bicycle along a riverbank or a lagoon or lake that is dependent on an outside source to keep it full, you know what I mean.

Until I figure out what next to do, I’ll keep pedaling like hell.

Broken Arm

Whose arm is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite sad, though.
It is a tale of woe,
They watch him frown. She cries hello.
He gives his arm a shake,
And sobs until the tears make.
The only other sound’s the break,
Distant cars and birds awake.
The arm is broken, swollen, and deep,
But he has promises to keep,
Until then, he shall not sleep.
He lies in bed with ducts that weep.
He rises from his bitter bed,
With thoughts of sadness in his head,
He rejoices at not being dead.
Facing the day with very little said.

Diner

The empty passenger cars
joined by the rotting diner.
It too is empty, bare
and abandoned, desiccating
In hot summer sun.
It is of that one greater generation gone,
How I mourned the awful sight.
Down, down, down into the darkness of memory’s tunnel,
Quickly it goes by, obscured, forgotten, a shadow.
Pay attention to these rolling ruins,
They shall never come ’round again.
How soon we forget the one-time living.

Comme Ci, Comme Ça

Update on my arm — upper left radial and lower humorous adjacent to the elbow. Damn, it hurts!

Since I cannot type with one hand, I thought it would be okay to remove my sling and the forearm supported by my desk and set to work banging out four-thousand words in various news stories.

It worked very well, thank you. I will say that my arm was slightly sore once done, but other than that, Comme ci, comme ça.

Then my wife asked me to bring a 24-can case of Pepsi into the kitchen. Without thinking, I lifted it with my left hand, attached to my left arm, and yee-ow-za!

The pain was blinding. After getting the case to the kitchen counter, I quickly sat down and let the sweat drip from me.

An hour later, my son and daughter-in-law came over for a visit. With them, they brought Honey, their dog.

With it being 80 degrees and the dog wearing a sweater put on her to battle the morning chill, I decided to remove it. That is when my left arm, still in the sling and yet in use, made an audible pop, and I nearly passed out from the pain.

Yup — I broke the effing thing. It is one more thing on a list of many things that have not gone well this year.

Glitch

Recently, I encountered a mountain lion as I was leaving the print shop one late night. Then the fed’s trapped one near Genoa, some 30 miles southwest of Virginia City.

While we don’t know if it is that cat, we did do some speculating that it could be. A news story about the capture and how I had seen one made the Comstock Chronicle, one of the papers I write for and print.

Bringing an extra copy home, one leftover from my delivery route, my wife took note of the story.

“You never told me about this,” she said.

“No, I didn’t,” I said. “I’m stupid, but not dumb. I figured it was better that you didn’t know since I had to be up there after dark the next week.”

“Oh,” she said. “Thank you, and I love you for that.”

I’m still wondering if there was a glitch in the matrix.

Friggatriskaideka

Yes, Friggatriskaidekaphobia is real.

For me, the date and day usually hold good things. The last Friggatriskaideka was no exception, but my good fortune did not come to me in the usual way.

While delivering newspapers, it is often hard to find a parking spot. Visitors and business owners tend to take up the available spaces.

There are five kinds of parking spaces — curbs without markings, curbs with red, yellow, or green paint, paid parking lots, and far-away parking spots.

The plain ones are the hardest to find. The red ones mark fire hydrants, the yellow is for deliveries, and the green, 15-minute parking.

Unfortunately, I pulled into a green spot the wrong way as a shop owner’s car and an antique bicycle blocked the use of the closest yellow zone. After delivering to a nearby saloon, I saw law enforcement roll up with flashing lights.

I let the pair in the car know I was delivering papers and I would be moving along in a minute.

That was not satisfactory as one got out of the unit and said, “I’m going to cite you for driving the wrong way.”

“You can’t do that,” I said. “It’s a misdemeanor and you have to witness me doing it to write me a ticket. I am parked in the wrong direction though, so you have every right to ticket me for that.”

“We have ourselves a lawyer,” the other said.

“Let me drop these off and then you can cite me,” I asked. “But when you do, will you please print both of your names and rank on it so I can write an article about how you are protecting the citizens of this town?”

“A threat?” the one with the ticket book asked.

“No,” I said, “I jus’ wanna explain how you two overlooked the two violations across the street since nine this morning only to ticket me while working.”

Both looked at where I pointed, “I’m sure it’s on surveillance somewhere, including how you’ve managed to ignore both since beginning your shift.”

The one with the citation book snapped it shut, saying, “Make it quick, then move on.”

Yup, Friggatriskaideka has always been good to me.

The Power of the Christian Hypocrite

Weeks back, I attended church with my son and daughter-in-law. It was a ‘Share Your Testimony’ Sunday, and being moved by the Holy Spirit, I did.

Unbeknownst to me, the entire service was video recorded for later Internet streaming. Anyway, I expressed how God talks to me like a drill sergeant would a Marine recruit, meaning he cusses and can be harsh when I fail to heed his direction.

My testimony offended many people attending through the superhighway, telling the preacher that God does not talk like that. So the powers that be edited me from the stream to quell the outrage.

It was easy to see the hypocrisy.

Then I learned the preacher also addressed the issue with the congregation, agreeing with the complainants. If I see this so-called preacher, I will ask about the old saw, “God meets sinners where they’re at” and how can anyone righteously judge my relationship with God, speaking for Him?

Actions like these are why I do not like organized religion and stopped attending church years ago.

Shifting Places

While I survived changing a tire without hurting my back, I did manage to trip over our front porch steps with both feet and fall. Fortunately, I did not break the arm I extended during the tumble.

And I’m unashamed to say that I lay on the cement for a few minutes than needed, enjoying its coolness. This evening though, I’m sorting an ice pack and sling.

Being a quick study, I’m learning how to type with one hand, finding it serious business but feasible. Drinking whiskey to deaden the throbbing of my heartbeat as it pounds through my arm is also doable and every bit as earnest.

My opinion is that I am no longer simply adulting but have taken up the more significant mantle of senioring.

Pliers

It is nice when I can find some humor in a situation I don’t particularly like.

Namely, I had to help my daughter-in-law change a flat tire on her already wrecked car. And as usual, it did not go smoothly for me.

First, I have to take care not to hurt my already fragile back any further than what sitting, standing, and laying do for it. Secondly, being rear-ended, the compartment holding the spare was crumpled.

On top of that, the screw securing the spare in the tire well was bent, and I could not get the fly-nut off. After pounding at it with that thing claiming to be a jack-handle, I asked my daughter-in-law if they had a pair of pliers.

She looked at me puzzled, “What do they look like.”

I suppressed a chuckle as I sent her to their apartment to find one.

She soon returned without the pliers, but by then, I had used the jack handle as a lever to loosen the fly-nut and pry the tire out of place. Within minutes I had the flat off and the donut on, and I did it without hurting myself.

Robert ‘Robby’ Van Dusen, 1962-2022

His last words to me were, “Very. Fung. Shway.”

It was a comment from Robby on a painting I had finished and posted to my social media site. Like everyone else, I had no idea it would be the final time I’d hear from him.

Before I get there, let me go here.

Fifty years before, we thought we had lost him. I say “we” because it was a small town, and our school was even smaller, so when tragedy struck, it felt like the world had crumbled on everyone.

Robby Van Dusen had drowned, was revived, and on life support. Reports were that he’d been in the water for over 20 minutes and that doctors had called time-of-death and were walking away when he coughed himself back to life.

It wasn’t his time back in the day, but that changed on Thu., May 5, when, for a second time, when doctors removed his life support. On that day, Robby returned home again.

Once he returned to school, Robby seemed slower than the other kids. He had to relearn to eat, walk, and talk before being released from the hospital.

While it seemed unfair and hard to watch Robby struggle, he was at peace with it all. He would later say that he had seen Heaven, a claim that elicited snickers and unmerciful teasing.

A few days ago, Robby fell off a ladder, breaking his pedicle, or partes interarticulares, of his axis vertebra, or the second cervical vertebra. The process is colloquially known as a ‘hangman’s fracture.’

At times like this, I tend to question God’s judgment, asking Him, what is the effing point?

Jus’ the Fax, Ma’am

It was another late night of printing the newspaper. It took about seven hours to finish up, meaning it was about 11 p.m. as I headed to the car and home.

Yes, I am still having my truck worked on. Once the price tag had reached the five thousand dollar mark, I decided I may as well break the bank and have the repair go through the aging beast with a fine-toothed comb.

At any rate, operating on only four hours of sleep, I managed to do my radio show, which I can’t find on the Internet and now feel compelled to ask about, and I delivered all of my papers. Then I did my best, and without breaking the law, to beat feet back to the radio station for a staff meeting.

Five minutes late, I arrived to learn of its cancellation, and an email dispatched telling me so. An email — I never thought once to check my email when a text is so much more common these days.

I’m surprised no one sent me a fax.

You Can’t Debride Some Memories

While in the Air Force, before the Marine Corps, I was called up by my squadron commander, Capt. Smith to help out at Brooke Army Medical Center because I had paramedic training. They had received a fight from Okinawa of 20 or 25 Marines severely burned in a JP4 fuel fire. Between studies and drills, I reported to the Army’s premier burn center to assist in debriding the dead or necrotic skin from these injuries.

The duty left me mentally scarred but gave me the desire to become a Jarhead myself, though I had no idea of this then. Odd, I know.

Then my wife came home from work with a deep burn to her left upper arm. She refused to go to the hospital, leaving it up to me to clean and dress.

While I did my best for her, she will have one hell of a scar once it heals. Third-degree burns are like that.

It was hard not to think about how those Marines sang the Marine Corps Hymn at the top of their lungs and shouted encouragement to one another as they endured the scrubbing and picking until raw, healthy flesh was all that showed.

Root Word

Ever since moving to Nevada and learning who Alfred Doten is, I have been an admirer of his. Known for his diary, Doten chronicles life in Nevada in general and the Comstock in particular from when he arrived around 1849 till his death in 1903.

With all that said, I have kept a journal since 1969. I say “journal,” because a friend of mine teased me severely once — “Diaries are for girls and sissies, which are you?”

It is only today, being this many days and years, and decades-old, that it dawned on me that journal is the root word for journalist. Duh!

Morning Show

Since beginning my so-called radio career in 1976, I’ve never been “good enough” to do a morning show. Sadly, my ego has always been at odds with that.

Finally, after 46-years, I am doing a morning show and doing it solo, meaning I have no one else in the studio with me. All I am doing is fulfilling the technical aspects of a radio jock.

Technical aspects? Yes, call letters or imager in and out of all spots-sets, where commercials play. I back-announce the song jus’ played, maybe say my name, tease two or three artists and then provide the weather or traffic.

It is a simple, music-oriented show and not personality-driven. It suits me fine as I don’t have a rapid-fire speech pattern, and I do not enjoy providing small talk unless I am face to face with another person.

Gaslit: Match is Struck

Having come home, I found the chip bag and the dip container on the kitchen counter and the missus with her arms folded beside them in the most menacing style.

Thankfully, she does not own a rolling pin.

Our next-door neighbor saw me put trash in her garbage can sitting at the curb in the street when I walked by it. She removed it from the can, presenting it to my wife unceremoniously, and told her that “he better not do it again, or I’ll call the cops.”

Not only is my wife unhappy that I gaslighted her, but it also left her embarrassed that I involved our shitty neighbor. I have whatever she’s got in store coming to me.

In practical jokes terms, this is called a bomb. And it has dropped on me.

BOOM!

From Dead to Killed

Decided that I needed a new electric razor. You know your razor has turned to the dark side when it begins nicking you to the point you bleed.

“I am your razor, Tom!”

“Nooooo!”

Okay, enough with the Star Wars-like dialogue.

Spent twenty bucks on one that I believed would last me at least a couple of years. Once home, I plugged it in and let it charge.

Twenty-four hours later, I unplugged it, flipped the tab to the on position, and nothing. Plugging it back in didn’t help it either.

Again nothing.

So I put everything back in the bag, including the hardened plastic that took me fifteen minutes to cut through, and took it back to the store. Finally, I get to the return counter and explain how it does not work.

The woman looked at the hardened plastic, back at me, then back to the plastic casing it was packaged in, and said, “We can’t take this back the container is too damaged.”

“Say what?” I shouted.

The assistant manager heard and asked, “What’s the trouble?”

The returns woman explained, I explained, and the assistant manager explained, “I’m sorry, but she’s new here. Come down here, and I’ll get you your money back.”

I felt suddenly killed with kindness.

Gaslit

To say that I overate today would be the most honest statement I’ve made all this week. The worst thing I did was polishing off an entire bag of potato chips and a whole container of onion dip.

Burp

Because of this, and knowing the wrath I would incur once my wife found out, I set out to hide the evidence of my ‘misdeed.’ It took her a day and a half to realize neither the dip nor the chips were where she put them.

Her focus turned to me.

“What chips?” I innocently asked. “What dip?”

She didn’t buy the doe-eyes I made at her but instead went to the kitchen garbage to look for the bag and the plastic container. Not finding either, she pulled all the trash from our large bin in the garage.

“I thought we had a bag of chips and some dip in the fridge,” she said. “I sorry I got mad at you.”

“It’s not a problem,” I smiled, knowing the evidence hides in our neighbor’s garbage bin.

Out of F Street

It’s a story you cannot share with my wife. She already worries about me when I’m out after dark and in Virginia City.

Because we had a massive number of ‘legal publishings’ inside our newspapers, I was at the shop until about 11 p.m. Once finished, I began loading the boxes full of print into the vehicle as I had to deliver them the following day.

As I opened the door, it became abundantly clear that there wasn’t a single light along F Street, save for the heavenly stars above. However, the single bulb from the office cast itself into the street right before me.

The first thing I saw in the light was my shadow, followed by a movement. That same movement stopped and looked at me as surprised to see me as I was it.

Without blinking, it darted off into the inky darkness. It happened so quickly that I had no time to react, and had it wanted to attack me, I would have been dead in my tracks.

A mountain lion.

My Cousin Elmo says, “My old age is gonna be rough. I spent ten minutes chasing a house fly with the swatter only to realize it was an eye floater.”

Sodded

My son and I were sitting outside on my front porch, enjoying the warming weather and a beer. We like to do this because, well — we like to.

We watched a semi-truck as it drove by, dragging a flatbed of rolled-up sod.

“That’s the first one I’ve seen this season,” I announced.

My comment met only silence, which is not unusual as my grown child has never been much of a talker. Instead, he took another draw from his beer bottle.

As I took a swig, he turned to me and said, “When I get rich, I want to do the same thing.”

Puzzled, I asked, “What same thing?”

“Have my grass taken out, mowed then brought back,” he said in his best dead-pan voice.

I snotted beer all over the two of us.

Busiest Man in Media

“I swear,” my wife said. “He’s the busiest man in media.”

She was talking to her sister or perhaps a friend. My heart swelled with pride that she found my work ethic worthy of a brag.

I was in bed, half-asleep, knowing 3 a.m. would come too soon.

“Oh, he’s not only a newspaper reporter, he also prints and delivers the papers,” she explained. “On top of that, he’s doing the morning show for a radio station in town. Not only that, but he writes a post to his blog nearly every day, takes pictures, draws, and paints.”

“Oh, I almost forgot,” my wife said, interrupting the person she was talking with, “He also writes and produces a podcast.”

Smiling, I snuggled deeper into my blankets, secure knowing that — the thought was cut-off as I realized I had forgotten to do my podcast for the week. Crap!

So much for a worthy brag.

Double Parked

Running two days late because of more printer issues, I finally delivered the week’s news throughout the two counties of Lyon and Storey.

On this occasion, I took the Missus, who is not used to being in the passenger seat. She is also not a fan of my driving, which depending upon her mood, can run from either “you’re such a grandpa” to “slowdown before you get us both killed.”

During our half-hour jaunt through Virginia City, my wife learned how crowded C Street can get in the early afternoon and how hard parking is when making a delivery. To wit: I double park when unable to find a yellow-painted delivery zone available because non-delivery vehicles are lawfully allowed to park in them on the weekends and at night.

Safety was not her prime concern in this case. It was the people ‘staring’ at her when I turned the flashers on and exited the car.

She later admitted, “I slunk down in my seat the second time, so no one could see me.”

TGIF and I Mean IT!

It is amazing what sleep can do for the brain and a person’s attitude. While I’ll admit that I am too lazy to get up out of my comfy studio chair to walk across the hall to get another cup of coffee, at least I can laugh at my silliness this morning.

Sleep came quickly last night after I laid down. I recall waking once because the wind slammed against the house and rattled the man-gate outside my bedroom window.

But I fell back into a solid slumber once I recognized the sound.

Anyway, I needed to prep my first ‘stop set’ for this morning’s radio show. A stop set is that point where the announcer speaks on air.

Thank goodness it’s Friday!

Early to Bed

So tired, I completely blanked out what day and date today was. That is not a good thing for a person trying to live a scheduled lifestyle because of their many facets of employment.

I had to check three sources before I was sure it was Thursday, the 21st. Then I had to go back and double-check another two or three times to be sure I had my first belief correct.

Ah-ha! You are as confused now as I was this morning. I finally got smart, wrote it down, and typed the piece of paper onto the computer screen.

I’m going to bed…early!

Ride Share

Oy Vey! As if I needed one more thing added to my plate.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove up to Virginia City because I had some work to finish at the print shop. I didn’t notice anything wrong with my truck other than the “check engine” light lit up again.

By the time I completed my air shift the following morning, I had gone over a hundred miles when the thing nearly refused to move. I nursed it to the repair shop.

So, I’m without a vehicle, and my wife and I will be sharing her car for the foreseeable future. She’s less than thrilled.

Practicing?

With my new schedule taking full effect, I have found myself on the short end of the blogging spectrum. It is here where micro-blogging comes in — if I can remember it.

Having an air shift in the smaller hours of the morning has left me very tired. I knew it would affect me, but I had no idea how fatiguing it could be.

Slowly, I will get used to it, but because of my age, it will be so much slower than it once was. I need to practice, HA!

Does anyone practice getting up at three or four in the morning? I didn’t think so.

Catch a Rabbit by Its Tail

It’s the day after Easter, and I’m finally finding time to sit down and chat with Buddy, our dog. He has been eager to tell me something since yesterday morning.

“So what’s going on?” I ask him as he curled up next to me on the bed.

“I talked to the Easter Bunny yesterday as he used our backyard as a shortcut to the neighbors house.”

“How exciting for you.”

“Yeah, first time I ever seen him, and I had to ask what he was carrying.”

“What was he carrying?”

“A big basket of colored eggs?”

“Did you ask him for one?”

“Yeah, but he said I couldn’t have any because they were for the kids.”

“I see.”

“I asked him where the eggs came from, and he said he doesn’t know.”

“I’ve always wondered about that myself.”

“I also asked why he delivers them.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t know that either.”

“That’s weird.”

“Not really.

“Why’s that?”

“Like you always say, most famous people don’t know all that much. I think it’s the same for famous animals. And he doesn’t speak German Shorthair very well either.”

The Duke of the Bluestone

My dear friend, Alexia Sober ascribes to the saying, “You have one mouth but two ears.” So do I, but I call it the “Louis L’Amour method.”

In his autobiography, L’Amour said he’d often go into a saloon or cafe and simply sit and listen to the “old timers” as they told their life histories. Though I am known for talking more than I ought to, I have learned to sit quietly and absorb the tales being told.

That’s what I was doing at the Delta Saloon one late afternoon and where I heard this piece of “forgotten” history.

The east side of the Singatse Ranch became a hive of activity following the discovery of copper in 1883. The claim became the Bluestone Mine, one of the oldest mineral patents in the U.S.

The blue rock from the mine became a component of the amalgamation process in extracting silver on the Comstock. The Mason Valley-Yerington Mining District formed shortly afterward.

He appeared in Lyon County at the end of the War to End All Wars. The caretaker of the mine, he was often in the valley helping on the ranches.

No one knew his name, so they called him “The Duke of the Bluestone.”

He was an old gentleman, unkempt and dirty, except for his hands which were always spotless. His hair was filthy and matted, and he swore not to cut it until the Bluestone opened up again. And every once in a while, the townspeople of Yerington would catch him and crop his hair.

Not much for socializing, he remained a mysterious personality.

Some believed “The Duke” escaped from Russia following the assassination of Tzar Nicholas. Others thought he had been a Russian ship captain and that this is how he had come to this country. And most believed that “The Duke” had a large sum of money buried near his hovel, a wooden shack near the Bluestone Mine.

After being in the hospital, “The Duke” died.

Shortly afterward, a group of high school students went to the Bluestone to look for his treasure. According to some, they found thousands of dollars. Others went up to the shack to search, tearing the building asunder.

Soon there was nothing left to remind people that “The Duke” had ever been alive.

Flier

There must have been something in the air as I lost my coffee cup full of coffee only to find it a short time later in my left hand.

About an hour and a half later, a neighbor knocked at the front door. She had in her hands a flier of her Calico cat named Stanley.

It had been three days since she’d last seen her feline, and she wanted to know if I’d accompany her on a trek around the neighborhood to hand out the homemade lost and found posters. I harnessed Buddy, and we spent the next hour knocking at doors and slipping fliers under windshield wipers.

Finally, out of fliers, we turned back to her home, where she offered me a cup of coffee. I rarely turn down coffee.

Once inside, I unhitched Buddy so he could roam around as she and I chatted about the missing Stanley.

Without warning, Buddy came flying from one of the back rooms, tail tucked and ears pinned back. Behind him was a mass of black, orange, and white, hissing.

Buddy found Stanley, and Stanley don’t like dogs.

Black and White and Red On Top

While visiting the Grass Roots book store, not only did I buy some great books, including a 188-year-old bible, but I met two people with whom I began talking.

After a few minutes, Bill said, “You’ve lived quite the life.”

Zoe had walked away by then.

I don’t think either one of them believed my stories.

That is okay, as no one understands that every moment alive is an adventure to be set down into words and shared as a story. For example, while printing, a problem developed with the magenta roller.

It began to leave a red streak across the upper portion of the newsprint, and no matter what I did to correct it, it got worse. Finally, I left it alone and finished the job with the discoloration still present.

When asked, “Why is it red?”

I answered, “Because we’re preparing for Easter, and that is our representation of the blood of Christ.”

Each time I got a good laugh from the person asking the question. Thus, I turned my frustration with the printing machine into an adventure and story.

It is how my imagination works and why I feel the desperate need to write as I do.

A Couple of Points on the Coming Elections

With Biden’s poor approval ratings, and high inflation a top concern for voters, Republicans will take control of the Senate. The GOP also has the advantage because the midterm elections are lower-turnout events and the GOP base is more fired up after the 2020 elections.

While the Senate is subject to less dramatic shifts, the party out of power during a president’s first midterm has won a net gain of two seats on average since 1950.

On the House side, Democrats now have the highest number of retirements from elected life since 1992. Add the known fact that the party in power in the White House usually loses seats in Congress in midterm elections, and the GOP will pick up enough seats to reclaim the House.

Enough about national politics. Let’s get to Nevada.

Biden won took Nevada by slightly more than two percent in 2020. Catherine Cortez-Masto won it by a similar margin in 2016 with the benefit of a presidential-year turnout. She has the money advantage over all Republican challengers, and Democrats have a strong base in Las Vegas and Clark County.

But with the passing of former Sen. Harry Reid, there is an open question of how that base will hold up.

When looking at the House races for the Silver State, the lone GOP incumbent Mark Amodei will be retired from office.

Amodei sits left of center from the Republican middle in his voting. From Sep 2011 to Apr 2022, Amodei missed 299 of 6,167 roll call votes, which is 4.8 percent, higher than the median of 2.1 percent.

He voted to renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA,) permitting the federal government to collect business records and other information during national security investigations without a warrant.

The FISA law allows a federal judge to approve such collections without notifying the target or hearing opposing arguments. The bill expands the circumstances that require FISA judges to hear from a government-appointed critic of such requests and increases the number of FISA courts.

Amodei voted for Biden’s 2,741 pages $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package with an attached $13.6 billion for aid to Ukraine. He failed to stand with the GOP against Biden’s COVID-19 federal emergency package and the vaccine mandates while doubling down on the Green New Deal.

I’ll say no more.

Big G, Little O

One morning at about six, my bedside clock/radio rudely awakened me. I had it set to one of my favorite radio stations, KFMI, which at that time broadcasted out Arcata, Calif.

I was doing a part-time gig at its AM sister station, KATA.

When the radio came to life, the punk rock band The Clash was banging one out. ♫ Sharif don’t like it 𝄞 Rockin’ the Casbah ♫ Rock the Casbah 𝄞 Sharif don’t like it ♫ Rockin’ the Casbah 𝄞 Rock the Casbah…

Immediately, I came straight up out of a dead sleep, fumbled for 10 or 15 seconds as I turned off the racket, and hit the shower. After a musical interlude like that, I was fully awake.

As I stood under the spray nozzle, I thought back to my time at KPOD in Crescent City, Calif., when the program director Greg “Big G, Little O” O’Neil called and balled me out for playing “Nothing but a Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley at 5:30 a.m. I chucked the rest of the morning, realizing O’Neil would have fired my ass if I had been scratching out “Rock the Casbah” at that hour.

Yes, we were still in the world of turntables.

Try, Try Again

This day certainly got away from me as I spent all of my time before the computer screen and keyboard, banging out news articles for the papers. I’ve been so focused that four, and maybe a fifth time, I warmed up the same cup of coffee.

It sits there still, a full cup, on the counter, by the coffee maker, undrunk. I’ll knock it back in the morning after one more nuking unless my wife finds it necessary to dump it out.

Thank goodness it wasn’t a distilled spirit, as that would be considered alcohol abuse in my world.

Pun Intended

Pranking has been a long-standing tradition on the Comstock. Sagebrush writers Dan De Quille and Mark Twain perfected the art of pulling someone’s leg, writing what are called ‘quaints.”

But a prank that runs for six weeks? I had never been the victim of such a long-running leg pull in all my living life.

Here’s the lowdown. Pun intended.

While working on creating a podcast reflecting on Nevada’s history, I wrangled my friend Tinker Moss into voicing them and then sending the recording to me for editing and publication. The first one I got blew my mind as his voice, inflection, and tone were superb.

It was great knowing I had made a sound decision. Pun intended.

Forward to the sixth week, that’s when I learned the truth. Tink was not doing the voicing.

He was using an artificial intelligence program. The AI sounded so close to his natural speaking voice that I never questioned it.

It was a prank on a grand scale. Tink laughed and laughed, and I laughed and laughed until neither one could hardly breathe.

Then — I fired him. Now I have to voice them.

Disgruntled

It was a few minutes ahead of noon when I stepped out of the printing office onto our boardwalk to be confronted by a disgruntled neighbor.

He was all hissed off, complaining how I woke him up. I gave him the respect he demanded by stopping in my tracks and paying close attention to his body language.

When he finished posturing, it became a stand-off, him looking at me and me looking at him.

He soon took himself across the street, disappearing into the brush, and I proceeded to grab my lunch from my truck, just in time to hear the noontime whistle. I remained on alert the rest of the afternoon, expecting him to return.

He didn’t. Had he come back, I might have put him to work.

In all honesty, I had no idea that rattlesnakes woke from hibernation so early in Spring.

Dust

It may only be an urban legend that a US servicemember working with a powerful military antenna array in Alaska turned to dust after walking in front of an active radar dish and his Zippo lighter was all that survived the ordeal.

Real or not, thank goodness, the lesson I learned yesterday, that the wand that comes with Swiffer wipes is there for a reason, was not half as deadly. It was so painful that I nearly named this piece “Man Nearly Killed by Swiffer Duster.”

No sense in exaggerating.

Seeing dust in and about the equipment, I began cleaning. That is what I was doing when I got one of the worst static discharges in my life.

It came in the form of a brilliant yellow-white flash, followed by a loud crackle and a jolt of painful electricity. It left me weak, trembling, and needing to sit down.

Surprisingly, I did not launch into a tirade of vituperations that would have melted the paint from the studio walls.

Worse yet, it shut down the two computers and the three screens in the office. While I had the passwords and such to restart them, one would not reboot.

Fortune smiled as our station engineer Daniel stopped by drop off some paperwork. Like most engineers, he quickly found the trouble — the keyboard — zapped to the point it froze.

A simple re-reboot of the system and the keyboard came back to life, and the computer lit up. Crisis averted.

I’ve also heard that dust particles contain cremated remains and that the urban legend is true. Either way, I ain’t dusting no more.

Cold Call

In the 1990 movie “Quigley Down Under,” there is a scene where Matthew Quigley, played by Tom Selleck, and “Crazy” Cora, played by Laura San Giacomo, get dumped from a buckboard wagon and left for dead.

“I wish people would quit hitting me on the head,” Quigley says.

“Don’t worry,” says Cora. “On a new job, it’s quite common for things not to go well at first.”

That’s how I felt on Mon., Apr. 4, 2022, the first day at my new part-time radio job at KUEZ. Don’t get me wrong, I love having this position after being out of the broadcast game since 2013, but I cannot think of a more difficult start to a post.

First, Elizabeth Rose, who had planned to spend this week showing me the ins and outs of the station operations, fell ill and was hospitalized. Thankfully, she is recovering and will be back to it soon enough.

Before going much further, during my job interview, I remember telling the station manager/owner that I had “a tendency to overstep my bounds,” acting without permission. It is not encouraged.

But by 10 a.m., I needed help.

So, I asked a former employee I had never formally met if he could assist me. It’s a helluva way to introduce myself.

Anyway, Dave Mencarelli said yes, came to the studio, worked his magic, and got things done. He had been gone just long enough from the station that he had to call someone for an assist.

Now to find a way to put my anxieties back in their Genie lamp and fast treatment for a stress-induced canker sore.

The Photo Booth

Stopping in to visit a minute or two with my friend Liza McIlwee at the Virginia City Tourism Commission, I saw that she was busy, so I took a seat to wait my turn.

Soon, a grandfather and grandson came through the door. While Grandpa gathered information about mine tours, Grandson inspected the free-standing building that adorns the south side of the former Crystal Bar.

Finished and well-informed, Grandpa joined Grandson, “Know what that is?”

“A photo booth,” the boy answered, “But I can’t find the camera.”

“A what?” a puzzled Grandpa asked.

“Yeah — it says sit down and get your picture taken,” the boy said, pointing to a sign.

Grandpa smiled, “It’s not a photo booth, that’s an outhouse, and someone else is supposed to take your picture when you sit down.”

“Oh,” the boy said, exiting the antique facility as fast as possible.

Then Grandpa added, “We had a three-holer when I was your age.”

Suddenly, a woman who had been checking out the books and tee shirts responded to the Grandfather’s comment in sweet Georgia drawl, “So you was considered the rich cousins?”

The Fool

Because I deliver the newspapers, the same ones I write for, I get up Friday mornings and immediately turn on the coffee maker that my wife sets up for me the night before. She’s nice like that.

Then I head for the shower.

By the time I get my shoes on, the coffee has finished making its choking sound, and I’m ready to pour myself a cup. But not on this day.

Since it is dark when I get up and can only vaguely see my coffee cup, I didn’t notice anything was off. But the first sip told me I had just taken a mouthful of a problem and couldn’t hurry fast enough to spit.

Then I turned on the light to discover the problem. Instead of coffee grounds, my wife had replaced them with dirt.

“Ingenious,” I think as I dumped and cleaned everything to begin the process over.

Once on the road and delivering the papers, I stopped at a place and accepted a small box of donuts. It wasn’t until I had finished the first half of my route that I opened the pastries.

A vegetable tray! I munched on the contents the remainder of the morning.

Come nighttime, and I am tired, so I climbed into bed to learn she got me again. This time my wife short-sheeted the bed.

Here’s the rub — I never got to pull even one April Fools Day prank.

I Spent a Year There, One Day

“I spent a year there, one day,” means you’ve been in a place you didn’t enjoy for far too long. That is how it seems to me, feeling like it has been forever since I last posted and realizing it has only been 11 days.

My computer crashed on Mon., Mar. 21, showing me the “blue screen of death.” It has taken that long for a new computer tower to arrive via Amazon.

During that time, I have written all of my newspaper articles using my cellphone. After a few hours and a couple of hours, my eyes hurt, my head pounded, and I had to check the mirror to make sure I wasn’t bleeding from my ears.

As the computer ordeal played out, my truck decided to have a system-wide failure, electrical to mechanical. I spent a week struggling to get anywhere while it was in the shop for repair.

But that is all behind me, and I’m happy about it. Now to figure out how to pay for it all.

My Cousin Elmo says, “I know people who have spent more time in Facebook jail for fake ‘fake news reporting’ than Jussie Smolett has done for real ‘fake hate-crime reporting.'”

An Unapologetic and Uncorrected Ramble About Mark Twain

“I am not alive. I am dead. I speak from the grave.” — Mark Twain

In his 70th year, Mark Twain would perform a show in his brownstone on Fifth Avenue in New York. He would tell stories, crack jokes, and cut the high and mighty of his time down to size.

“To-morrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get my heirs [and] assigns burnt alive if they venture to print it this side of 2006 A.D.,” he wrote a friend, before calling the Bibles portrayal of the “Lord of Creation…the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere.”

Twain planned to share the dictated record of his musings and rants, but he knew that the publication would have to wait “at least a century after his death, give or take a few years.”

His audience consisted of two people, stenographer Josephine Hobby and newly appointed biographer Albert Bigelow Paine.

“We constituted about the most select audience in the world,” Paine recalled, “enjoying what was, likely enough, its most remarkable entertainment…It was absorbingly interesting; his quaint, unhurried fashion of speech, the unconscious movements of his hands, the play of his features as his fancies and phrases passed in mental review and were accepted or waved aside.”

He also seemed ahead of his time explaining how people take their opinions from others, then herd themselves into self-protective groups.

“We are discreet sheep,” he says. “We wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.”

On the subject of political behavior: “Look at the candidates whom we loathe, one year, and are afraid to vote against, the next; whom we cover with unimaginable filth, one year, and fall down on the public platform and worship, the next, and keep on doing it until the habitual shutting of our eyes to last years evidence brings us presently to a sincere and stupid belief in this years.”

He roasted John D. Rockefeller for preaching a Sunday-school lesson full of “twaddling sentimental sillinesses,” and Theodore Roosevelt for giving a patriotic gloss to atrocities committed by American troops in the Philippines. About Roosevelt, he proclaimed, he was “the most formidable disaster that has befallen the country since the Civil War,” the vast majority of the American people loved, and even idolized, him.

Twain declared Andrew Carnegie a bore, who took “juvenile delight in trivialities that feed his vanity,” adding that Carnegie keeps his place “on top of the wave of advantage while other men as intelligent as he, but more addicted to principle and less to policy, get stranded on the reefs and bars,” and by endowing libraries, “has bought fame and paid cash for it.”

He candid about his unscrupulous publisher, Charles L. Webster, and critical of the publishing world, he opens himself and his total output to razor-sharp sarcasm. He refers to his complete works as “a pile of paralyzed old books,” and describes his 1895 lecture and book tour around the globe as a “money-grubbing raid.”

Twain detailed what led him to fire his secretary Isabel Lyons calling her a “liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded & salacious slut pining for seduction & always getting disappointed.”

Twain lost $250,000 on the Paine Typesetting Machine. Of the inventor, he stated, [“James W.] Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms, and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had his nuts in a steel-trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died.”

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in Liverpool, England, in 1907, Twain compared himself to “the little skipper” of the Mary Ann. Exchanging greetings with the captain of “a majestic Indiaman,” her decks swarming with sailors and a capacious cargo of Canton spices, the skipper identified his vessel as “Only the Mary Ann, fourteen hours out from Boston — with nothing to speak of.”

For one hour in every 24, Twain indicated, he was as meek as the Mary Ann, 14 hours out, carrying vegetables and tinware. But in the other 23, he acknowledged, “my vain self-complacency rides high…and I am the Begum of Bengal, 123 days out — and homeward bound!”

By his admission, vain and lazy, Twain was a complicated man. For example, Twain explains that he wears white clothes in both the winter and summer because he wants to be “clean in a dirty world; absolutely the only cleanly-clothed human being in all Christendom north of the Tropics.”

He expands on the importance of “the pause” in public lectures. Audiences need time to absorb the absurdity of a situation. But if the pause is off, “by the five-millionth of an inch,” Twain maintains, the audience has time “to wake up from its deep concentration in the grisly tale,” foresee the climax, and the joke falls flat.

Twain added, “there isn’t any way to libel the intelligence of the human race.”

Awarded an honorary degree by Oxford University, Twain sought to rid himself “of thirty-five years accumulation of bile and injured pride” by noting that although American institutions conferred degrees to hundreds of individuals who were certain “to drift into obscurity…I have seen our universities…overlook me every time…This neglect would have killed a less robust person than I am, but it has not killed me.”

Twain at first advised American Rhodes Scholars upset over the selection of Alain Locke, a black scholar, who subsequently received a Ph.D. from Harvard, edited the literary anthology The New Negro, and became a cultural critic, that their opposition was neither wise nor just. When he learned Locke received low scores in “popularity,” a character trait valued by Cecil Rhodes, Twain decided not to refer to the matter in his talk to the students, even though he conceded that Locke’s unpopularity was due to his color.

His dictations ended in December 1909, following the death from an epileptic seizure of Jean Clemens, his youngest daughter. Already inclined to melancholy and still mourning the death of his wife and eldest daughter, Twain was inconsolable, yet hopeful, with Clara Clemens living in Europe, he had thought he and Jean “would be close comrades — just we two.”

Twain died on Apr. 21, 1910.

Penny Dreams

As a child, I dreamed of growing up and dazzling the world. But time and disappointment chipped away at me until only the real stuff was left, and it was not all that dazzling. Tired stories, a sack of regrets, and a reverence for the pieces of me that survived.

All this ruination has stranded me in a dark place where I stare at my fingertips, realizing I cannot offer the world what I had hoped. But I still wake up each morning and draw my hopes on the sidewalk, though every time so far, they have been trampled over or hosed off, or the rain rolled them into the gutter.

I am not all I wish I were, but I am here, trying, awake, and part of the story even if no one ever hears it.

I get it now.

1985

At a certain point, daydreaming will not do it. I had spent too much time in that venture as I sat at the dock looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Penny slots, one-armed bandits, Nevada, and gambling that had been the dream and to make it rich and return triumphant. Lo! Life had another plan for me.

Rolling east across the Mohave desert, the once 19th-century farm wagon was no more, replaced by a late 20th-century Volkswagen Bug. Still hot, still dusty, less room but more efficient.

My travels came by way of my girlfriend’s family home, along the mixed-up track of several numbers roads and byways, until I sped down the ramp of Interstate 15. Because I had no firm plan other than to find lodging and seek work, I promised to call her once I got to wherever I was going.

My only company for the next few hours would be the AM radio, news/talk, classical music, and Jesus. I rotated through them as their signals weakened to a cacophony of garbled sounds or faded to a soft hiss.

Las Vegas came into view after dark. It was blinding and exciting, though still many miles away.

Housing was a series of motel rooms at first in the drearier areas of the city, not that the Strip was any better as I would soon learn. Whores and hustlers, loud noises, and even brighter lights.

All of this was before the transformation to a family-oriented village-like atmosphere. Casino guards still carried guns and would use them to defend their employer’s gambling chips without being asked.

Though November, wind blowing dust from everywhere, walking the sidewalks in search of my dream proved impossible. I took a job flipping burgers.

To work in the daytime, I saw stereotypical scenes.

A black man, a bright yellow Cadillac, a small fedora on his head, and fat stogie drooping from his oversized lips. Red Foxx onliners rang through my head.

I could hear the raucous laughter.

Chicano teens in bright white wife-beater tees and cream-colored chinos, decked out with gold chains, head bandanas, and Keds. Cheech and Chong, the Other White Album, “Dave’s not here,” skits.

This time I laughed.

Queers, Trannies, hustlers, crossdressers, the homeless, and others, avoiding or failing to find classification. They were societies jetsom and flotsam.

Nobody laughs.

From work, after dark, I would see other stereotypical scenes.
Women, women, and more dressed to the nines, standing along the boulevard they called the Strip. They stood amid the litter of handouts offering up the latest and best escort services, hoping to make some luck tourists day.

Around the dirtier corners and back alleys home to my one-room abode, the less fashionable of the trade wandering and shouting com-ons to lost the passerby and those simply trying to get home so they could do it all again.

It all fascinated me. What made these women sell their bodies, if not their souls.

One woman sees me looking out the window and waves. I return the polite gesture.

Still, she stands there looking at me. With an angry shrug of her rabbit-pelt-clad shoulders, she turns her back and steps into the gutter to talk with a “john” who has pulled up.
Abandonment, money, survival, it was always the same.

The sadness is so overwhelming I think of killing myself.

Two months, then three, and I was ready to return to the more genial life I had left along the Northcoast of California. But pride forbade me to go home, and instead, I packed my version of the Connie and headed north to the Biggest Little City.

No map, no plan, I went ‘north young man.’ No sooner had I debarked from Sin City than I came to an elevation that presented itself with snow.

Snow came from the east, from the west. It pushed at me from behind and bogged my little Bug down to crawling speed. But like the pioneers of yore, I pushed on.

Then my wipers died, and I had to reach out of the driver’s side window to remove the freezing snow as it slammed and stuck to the windshield. I cursed my rotten luck as I wheeled my way through one sleepy and darkened town, nearly striking a tree growing in the middle of the road.

Often I have wondered where that happened, but even with the advent of the Internet, I have never been able to learn its location and return to that near-fatal spot.

Then my heater followed the way of the wipers, and I cursed my misfortune even more as I now had to roll my window up after scratching out a viewpoint on my windshield.

A few months before, because it started leaking oil and blowing black smoke, the car received a rebuilt engine. It was no small task either, nor inexpensive as I had a 911 Porche mounted in the rear end.

Three years later, the same thing happened, and I ended up trading her in for a Hyundai. To this day, I still mourn for that Bug, not because of what it was, but for what it represented.

A simpler time.

As for the Hyundai, it ran like a champ for nearly 13 years. It began to overheat and blew two hoses to the radiator before it caught on fire along the Interstate, and I had to pull over and get my son and his stepbrother out of the back seat before completely being engulfed.

The fire department and police arrived about the same time, and while a friend was taking the boys to school, the cops cuffed me up for arson. It would take an act of God and the fire marshal to clear my name and prove it was not my fault.

Even though I studied to be a law enforcement officer and worked as a deputy reservist for a time, I have found myself on the wrong end a few times. I threw away $1,200, which became grand larceny-theft; nine years later, I received stolen property in the form of a video camera a manager loaned me without the proper paperwork. Finally, I called my son’s middle school principal a name, and I got busted for disturbing the peace.

There are two takeaways from the above tale: law enforcement officers will follow the law as long as they do not have to work to bring justice to a situation. And the justice system is rigged to force a person to act against their better judgment.

Unfortunately, I am not lubricated enough to make my argument sound any more uncomplicated than I have done. Maybe later.

All night I slugged my way north, through unknown towns and burgs, uphill, downhill, and sharp curves, both left and right. I saw only two other vehicles that night and into the early hours of the morn.

Both were parked on the side of the road, going no place, evidence of intelligence and self-awareness.

How I found Interstate 80, I have not a clue. I did have an idea of east and west, so I turned left. Still, I pushed on into the dark morning towards what I hoped would be Reno.

Suddenly, between two massive walls of a rocky canyon, I saw the first hint of my prize. Bright lights in an inkiness I had only experienced once before as I rolled east towards Vegas.

It would be another three or four months before I dove east on that piece of road and saw all the splendor I had missed in the dark. It is still a fascinating drive to this day.

My heart leaped for joy and my butt unpuckered. It would soon be okay, and I could find rest, relaxation, and refreshment after my long, freezing journey.

The price for a room at the MGM was far too steep for me, so I decided to sit down and toss a few quarters in a machine and hope a waitress would offer to serve me a cocktail for free.
Broke and still no waitress, still no cocktail. Only a rising ball of bile in my stomach, the ringing of bells, coins in the metal pans of the slot machines, “Cigarettes, cigars, gum,” and a dizzying world of lights and no way of registering the time.

Disappointed in myself, my weakness, my loss, I walked to the men’s room and splashed water on my face. I turned, and an old black gentleman handed me a hand towel to dry myself.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Sorry, I don’t have a tip to offer you.”

“Don’t worry, but let me offer some advice, do not gamble. The house always wins.”

“Thank you.”

As I walked by the seat where I had blown much of my cash, an older woman was beaming, having won the 100-thousand dollar jackpot and the new car sitting on the carousel, center stage of the bank of slot machines.

There is a reason they are called one-armed bandits. And there is the reason why I do not gamble.

Wandering the casino floor grew irksome, especially when told to move along by security officers. It would be a year before I understood the ‘eye-in-the-sky’ had been tracking my every movement in that cavernous room with the loud colored carpet.

Down the long walkway, I finally took to strolling. Posters of old movies, many I had seen, statuettes once owned by actors and actresses that I had watched on television, lined the walls.

Then there was the famous stairway, where at four in the morning, a lucky couple had their wedding photographs taken. Above them glimmered an opulent chandelier, beaming rainbow light streaks over the area below.

I have always wondered if their marriage succeeded, and what a shame if it didn’t.

Making an abrupt change of direction is dangerous business in a casino, especially when filled with hobnobbers seeking their next party. For me, my danger was Joe Montana, San Francisco 49er Quarterback, whom I walked into and who knocked me back on my derriere.

Not many without a jersey can claim such an embarrassing moment. I did get an autographed photo out of the ordeal.

For two weeks, I slugged it out with MGM security, moving my Bug from one lot to the next as I did my best to live from that cramped space. Finally, down to my last few bucks, I had a change in fortune and found a room at a boarding house for $50 a week.

By the way, as a side note, we went to work for the MGM in security, but only after it became the Reno Hilton. Talk about coming “full circle.”

With a place to lay my head and address to use for work, I quickly found myself employed as a writer. But do not get too excited about that queer descriptor, as I wrote keno at the Cal-Neva, not the career choice one selects when numbers look like scribbles and scratches.

“You are not dressed for work. Where are your ‘black and whites?’

“Black and whites?”

“Yeah, black pants, white shirt, black tie, black shoes.”

“I don’t own anything like that.”

“Well, go buy some or don’t come back.”

“You can get them cheap across Virginia at Woolworths,” someone offered.

As fast as possible, I rushed across the street and bought a shirt, a pair of pants, a belt, and a tie. Then I sprinted downstairs at the casino to change, so I might get a few hours in before I got fired.

The black man at the shoe-shine booth and guarding the bottom of the stairwell and restroom doors offered me a free shine.

“At least nobody gonna say you ain’t spiffy.”

Smiling, I handed him a two-dollar tip. Now, I had less than five bucks to my name, and I had to make that last through payday, still two weeks away.

Three months later, I had some more success. I landed a job doing radio overnight on the weekends.

He liked the letter I had sent to him and every other program director in the valley whose name I could learn. I also sent him an aircheck from a radio station I had worked for before I embarked on my magnificent journey.

He was less impressed with that than the fact that I had been the voice for Paul Bunyan for four years.

“I was the spieler for a tourist attraction.”

“A spieler? What’s that?”

“A P.A. announcer.”

“Oh, like a carnival barker.”

“Yeah, something like that.”

I got the job, but it did not last because I found another one, which did not last either.

Then I left the Cal-Neva for John Ascuagua’s Nugget in Sparks. Again, I was a writer, but not the kind of writer I dreamed of being.

Pitfalls to this job came daily, as I had a disability that prevented me from understanding numbers. I made many an adding error that the desk had to correct.

Further, twice in one day, I wrote a $50,000 ticket and was removed from the game to sit in a back room to ‘cool off.’ Worse still, I was not allowed to go downstairs to collect the $5,000 tip offered by one of the winners.

Blessed keno. I lasted another three years before finally landing a full-time radio gig, where at least I could rewrite some of the promotions I repeated from shift to shift.

Nightly, I returned home smelling like cigarette smoke and feeling so defeated that I could not find the emotional energy to pick up my pen. At least I had my radio show.

Before landing a full-time radio gig, I had a brief interlude where I came and went in the blink of an eye. Because I had worked in a couple of different professional photo labs, I had gone to a career placement center, and they sent me to a lab in Carson City.

I was there for only two days when the manager decided I was not a good fit for her business, leaving me unemployed for nearly three months.

Slowly, I became a night owl, sleeping during the day and working at night. It was not the penny slots that I had dreamed of all those years before. It was better because I also started writing for a radio magazine and nationally televised nighttime show host and comedian Jay Leno.

Watching someone open a secured door allowing a knife-wielding crazy man into the building, a shoe-box with electrical wiring hanging from it, coworkers found dead in an empty studio, and calls from listeners requesting to hear this song or that tune. It came with the territory, though save for the last of the list, never expected.

After bashing the knife-wielding crazy man in the head with a disused teletype machine and then having to pay for damaging it, I found myself canned. Another time I was in a recording studio when two women walked in off the street. Blamed for leaving the door unlocked, I got the ax.

Still, in our newly-wed phase, I came home one Saturday morning, stripped off my duds, and crawled in bed for a two-hour nap before having to go to my other job at the casino. I was snoring pretty hard when I was violently shaken awake by my bride.

“What is this?” she said, holding up a folded envelope I had forgotten was in my back pocket.

“Well…uh…I can explain.”

“You had better!”

“Every Saturday and Sunday morning as I start my shift, I say good night to the cowboys and truckers for the ladies working out at the ranch. And so, they sent me those free passes as a way of saying ‘thanks.'”

Never saw that envelope again.

Always wanting a touch more, I landed jobs working in the movies. It started before I left the Northcoast with a small film about an alien left behind and nearly falling into government clutches. My big break was shaking a two-by-four attached to a line of trees.

Ever struggling to make ends meet, I washed dishes, mopped floors, washed bedsheets, and then found myself on the set of the third film in a series of movies that I had never seen. Enter Mark Hamill’s stand-in and eventual stunt double.

I still have the autographed picture that reads, “To Tom (Luke II!) from a galaxy far, far away. Mark Hamill.” That and a handful of call sheets.

Carrie Fisher and I even became lovers for three weeks. Her boyfriend, singer Paul Simon wanted to fight me, he was so angry about our ongoing rendezvous.

“What would you like to do tonight after we wrap?”

“Same thing we always do, let’s fuck all night long.”

“Damn, you’re my kind of woman.”

“Hey, you, fucking asshole, you know who I am?”

“Yeah, and so what?”

“You’re screwing my future wife.”

“I doubt that.”

“Why, I’m going to kick your ass.”

Simon’s bodyguards, he had two of them, intervened by lifting him off the ground and carting him off. I had no idea he was such a short-statured man.

And I still think I could have beat him in a good old-fashioned fistfight. Hell, who knows, the two of us could have even ended up being drinking buddies afterward.

She was sweet, and I miss Carrie. And she never did marry Paul Simon.

Disappointment rolled in early the following year when neither my face nor my name appeared on film. It was hard to look my friend’s in the eye because I was sure none of them believed me.

Once settled in Reno, I found all sorts of movies to be a part of, from Starman, the T.V. show, to Pink Cadillac and Sisterhood, Cobb and The Cooler. There were others, all as an extra, and I have put them from my mind.

The Cooler is the closest I ever came to having a speaking part. As one of the two stickmen at the craps table, actor William H. Macy tosses me a casino chip, and I say ‘thanks’ before tapping the chip on the edge of the table.

The shot was so far away that not only could you not make out my face, but then the film was speeded up to show how a ‘hot’ game can ‘cool’ rapidly and then returned to standard speed as I tapped on the table’s edge.

One late night, after the set wrapped, I got on the elevator. Actor Alec Baldwin followed, moving past me to the rear of the carriage.

“Have a good night, Mr. Baldwin. Hope you get some sleep.”

Crickets and a side-eye were his response. I never spoke to him again, though we rode the elevator together several times.

Eventually, these things ran their course, and I found myself seeking work I would never have imagined doing when I was younger. Hired to drive fence posts into hardpacked earth, string barbed wire, chase cows and horses, I learned about cowboy poetry and collected ideas for a story or two.

At least once, I found myself wrapped up in my work, literally. That is to say, a rather lengthy piece of barbed wire came uncoiled and found it necessary to wrap itself about my body, head to foot.

It was a painful lesson, but not nearly as excruciating as being dragged through a cactus patch because your horse got spooked by a tumbling sage bush and decided to quit you. Days and weeks, plucking needles from places one cannot reach on their own come and go in uncomfortable ways.

But being wrapped in barbed wire happened only once. Getting knocked from a horse occurred with more frequency than my body would like to remember, and it was usually caused by my negligence, a failed tie-off on the horn, or a sudden but violent jerk down from a roped heifer or steer.

Dislocated shoulders and long, bumpy truck rides to the doctor are not fun. And it is hard to wipe your bum or even pick your nose with a handful of dislocated digits.

Other times stupidity followed where the whiskey and bottle flowed. A cowhand, recovering from the night before, was sure that the old and fragile mountain cat that was trailing us, and that I pointed out, was a danger.

It was all I could do to not laugh because I had been dropping bits of jerky for the old guy to eat since he was getting too weak to hunt anymore. I can be tender that way.

Perhaps, blowing up a privy by accident with someone seated on the hole and because he was plan ornery is not your kind of fun. Then neither will the tale of a guy getting knocked head over heels by a wild bull running through the outhouse that he is using, only to end up landing in the trench below.

Nor will I share my exploits as an emergency medical technician and the odd things I have witnessed over the years. Suffice it to say that violent death is the worse while live birth is often the best.

However, there was that one time when I was on the radio during a breech birth, and I had asked for another ambulance with specialized equipment to respond. I quickly learned that the baby was coming with or without their arrival.

“So you want her knocked her out?”

While waiting for a response, the ambulance driver clipped the mother on the chin, knocking her out. Had it not been for the headphone and mic set I was wearing, I would have murderized that man.

The headphones plugged into the overhead console prevented me from reaching him as he ran from me. I hit the end of the cord and bounce on my keester.

A poor choice of words on my part, but mom gave birth to a healthy baby girl anyway.

One afternoon a man exited his car into the street without checking what was coming up behind him. He bounced several dozen feet after a bus hit him and his car door.

Arriving, we assumed he had severe injuries, so we planned to ‘scoop and run’ instead of ‘stay and play.’ As we packaged him for transport, he asked jokingly, “Did anyone get the license plate of the bus that hit me?”

I knew at that moment that the man would survive his ordeal.

Being on an ambulance crew is fine for a while, but the burnout rate is phenomenal. I decided to save what sanity I had left and become an instructor. I even had the fortune of speaking to the legislature one Fall afternoon in an attempt to convince them that Washoe County should not have the final authority over who is qualified or not to be an EMT.

All my training came in handy as I spent four months nursing my parents back from the brink of death. It is the first and only time I returned to the Northcoast to live, and I never want to reside there again.

Writing it down makes it suddenly sad to say, but the truth is the truth. Besides, only my sister and her family live there. The rest are either dead, moved away, live elsewhere, or as in the case of my son and daughter-in-law, are less than 15 minutes from me.
It took me 20 years to finally find that sweet spot and land a cush job as a news reporter. It lasted less than a year, but what a wild ride I had in the meantime.

There is so much dirty politicking happening at the state and federal levels. I found my niche, and I rolled in it like a pig in a mud pit as I went after one bad apple after another.

Guys like the younger George Bush and Harry Reid were always in play, and I thought them fair game as they sidestepped the Constitution all the time and without a hint of remorse. I also found that I could become a target, so to speak, as Internet outliers used the web to beat me into submission.

After a local politician blamed me for his failing campaign in a letter to my editor, I lost my job. I did not help myself by having published that letter on my blog for all the world to read.
I take full responsibility for what went down.

Ah, the good old day.

That sent me packing back to radio, where I languished between swing and graveyard shifts for seven years. It was the first time in my career that I was happy to have been canned, though I did not enjoy how it happened.

Let me say this: if you call a spade a spade, do not be surprised when that spade tries to bury you.

2022.

Margaret (Babb) Martinez, 1957-2022

We all have our little superstitions, though many do not like to admit it. I have my own, including never wishing a friend a happy birthday on their Facebook page because it seems that every time I do, that person passes away.

While it isn’t true, it has happened enough times and registered so plainly in my psyche that I avoid doing it. And as I finally remove it from my mind, it happens again.

Last night I learned a childhood and lifelong friend passed away. Margaret Babb, now Margaret Martinez, had spent the last few years fighting cancer.

Happily, she was surrounded by family as she finally closed her eyes one final time on this earthly plane. I pray she is swimming with the whales that she dearly loved in the expanse of that big Pacific ocean she knew so well.

We first met in 1967 while moving into our new home, next door to the Babbs. They had four girls, and we spent the day playing more than helping pack stuff into the house.

One evening, a year or so after the family moved away following the father’s death, the girls and their mom came up for a visit. While away, she had developed into a young woman — but I did not understand this.

To me, she was jus’ Margaret, the same girl that roughhoused and played grab-ass with me for years. So, I commenced with roughhousing and grab-assery.

When she finally had enough, she spiked me in the grass, holding my arms down and over my head, and with her large breasts, that I had loosed a few moments before, began beating me in the face with them until I had a couple of fat lips and a bloody nose. When she finally got off me, I understood full well what “knock it off,” meant.

“What happened to you?” was the question when I walked inside the house.

“I hit myself in the face with the basketball.”

Hey, it’s difficult as a 12 or 13-year-old boy to admit you’ve been beaten up by a girl, let alone that her boobs left me bloodied.

She smiled at me as I disappeared to the bathroom to clean up. I learned my lesson and never played grab-ass with any girl again.

Later, she apologized, and I told her, “I’m the one who needs to apologize,” which I did.

When we reconnected a few years ago, we both had a good laugh over the incident. It is that laughter and those chats that I’m going to miss.

Ernie’s Advice is Crap!

“Write drunk, edit sober” is a maxim attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It may work well in fiction writing, but not for historical news articles.

Even though I took cold medicine before bedtime, I still could not sleep. What it did do was leave me feeling intoxicated and desirous for something to do.

I decided to write.

Within a couple of hours, I had tallied nearly seven-thousand words about mail trains. With the need for sleep finally kicking in, I saved my work, turned off the computer, and crawled between the sheets.

The following morning, I arose refreshed and ready to get back to the article. With coffee in hand, I powered up my computer, opened the document, and began to read.

“What in the…?”

There, somewhere between Neanderthal, Anglicised Cantonese in a Bavarian accent, and Washington DC idiocy was an editors nightmare. I discovered made-up words, words so poorly spelled that I could hardly make out what they were, and others made of random letters strung together.

And let us not get into the grammar of the thing.

It took me three hours of deciphering, rewriting, and deleting till I whittled the tangle down to 530 words, creating a cohesive article that even I understand now. I wish I could say I did this without cussing, but alas…

For my next news writing experiment: write drunk, and edit drunk.

Twice Shushed

So ill was I that I thought I was going to die, but it did not prevent me from dreaming or, at the very least, hallucinating. The two I recall most emphatically involved God or a being I believe is God.

I have flown in my dreams for years, sometimes high, sometimes low to the ground. I then read someplace that flying dreams are associated with God-like desires.

Try as I might, I tried to fly from the sidewalk in front of our home. The best I could do was jump a foot off the ground and maybe a foot or two forward.

Disappointed and confused, I sat on the bench on our porch next to a man. I hadn’t seen him there before I took a seat.

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked.

He looked at me, lifted his right pointed finger to his lips, and shushed me. I have not had a flying dream since.

The next is even odder.

The same being from the bench danced and twirled across my backyard, so I opened the door and shouted, “Hey, God, I command you you heal me!”

He appeared to ignore me, continuing across my yard. He then bid me be quiet, his pointer finger of his right hand to his lips, before touching the tip of a tree branch with the same finger, causing the entire tree to blossom tiny green leaves.

God shushed me — twice.

Do Your Homework Before Hand

Hired to take photographs of a Venezuelan military review earlier this century and fresh out of adventures, I took the assignment.

As the parade moved down the open court, passing the cheering crowds, I had a surreal moment of being pulled back through time. It was like watching an old Movie Tone newsreel, and I felt flushed with trepidation.

With their naturally tan skin, brown eyes, and black hair, these soldiers, some on horseback, some in tanks and other equipment, were majority goose-stepping to the steady rhythm of drums and trumpeters. Their crisp gray uniforms, bright insignias, highly polished knee-high black boots, and the traditional helmet worn by German soldiers during World War II took me complete surprise.

It was back to Nuremberg, Germany, and the 1938 Reichsparteitag, but in full color.

We Are Being Lied Too, Again

The same media that controlled the narrative of a pandemic is also using the same tactics to frighten us when it comes to Ukraine and Russia. Vladimir Putin is trying to halt a neo-Nazi movement ensconced in the Ukraine government while protecting the citizenry of two self-declared independent regions.

One sentence.

In 2008, Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two Georgia breakaway regions. Russia provided them with financial support, offered Russian citizenship, and thwarted Georgia’s NATO aspirations by denying it control of its territory.

The same applies to Ukraine.

The Donbas region of eastern Ukraine contains two provinces, Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR,) bordering Russia. Citizens from these two areas declared independence right after the 2014 Ukraine revolution.

However, Ukraine has used military and paramilitary forces to regain control of the regions, killing about 14,000 people and displacing millions of residents. Russia has since prevented Ukraine from liquidating these regions, from joining NATO or the European Union.

The US media are not reporting that:

The United States backed the violent coup in Ukraine in 2014 to justify a new NATO military mobilization against Russia. Obama administration spokespeople announced that the administration had financed and orchestrated the organizations participating in the demonstrations on the public square, the Maidan.

President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland visited rioters several times, refusing to acknowledge that in addition to peaceful demonstrators, there were openly neo-fascist gangs conducting an armed insurrection against the elected government. Nuland was also caught by wiretap instructing the US Ambassador to Ukraine who the new Prime Minister would be.

Referring to Parliament members Vitali Klitschko as “Klitsch” and Arseniy Yatsenuk as “Yats,” she stated, “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think Yats is the guy .”

Government military forces and neo-Nazi militias carried out perpetual warfare against the Donbass region of the country, which refused to submit to the illegal coup. Western media, meanwhile, continues to claim Russia caused the problem by objecting to the Kiev government, annexing Crimea, and invading the Donbass.

The coup d’état against President Victor Yanukovych succeeded on Feb. 22, 2014. His life in peril from commandoes of the so-called Maidan Self-Defense Forces, Yanukovych fled, ultimately seeking asylum in Russia.

The 2014 coup followed the example of the 2004 Orange Revolution, where maidan rioters claimed Yanukovych’s first election was fraudulent. In December 2004, they forced a revote, which Yanukovych lost.

Yanukovych ran again in 2010 and won.

However, his November 2013 decision to delay signing with the European Union became the pretext for a full-scale coup. Rioters moved into Kiev, saying they would not leave until Yanukovych left office.

As a side-note…

The color revolution method, as in Orange Revolution, is simple. “Color” refers to how a single color, symbol, slogan, or demand, promoted and repeated often enough, can inflame passion and retard reason. In its latest application, a color revolution operation was conducted in an attempted coup against the US manifesting in mob-think, mob-defiance, and mob-violence, funded by operations connected to Soros.

More than two thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ukraine, funded by the US, the UK, the EU, and Soros’ Open Society projects, continued to shape public opinion. Meanwhile, Nuland boasted that $5 billion had gone into Ukraine through State Department channels in the form of grants to develop an intellectual community of experts, oriented against the Russian Federation and directed toward shaping Russophobic attitudes in Ukrainian society.

Nuland addressed a Washington D.C. National Press Club event, stating, “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government. We have invested more than $5 billion to help Ukraine achieve these and other goals.”

While many people came to the Maidan waving EU flags, the paramilitary groups marched under the red and black flag of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), the mid-20th-century fascist movement of Stepan Bandera. The OUN had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and carried out the ethnic-cleansing mass murder of Poles and Jews on its own, as well.

These neo-Nazi groups called themselves Right Sector; their formation and build-up from 1991 to 2013 came directly out of funding to Bandera’s followers by MI6 and the Allen Dulles wing of the American CIA during the Cold War.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine in March 2014, voting to join the Russian Federation. In the Donbass, the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) and Lugansk Peoples Republic (LPR) declared their independence, leading to 14 thousand killed by Ukraine army units and the Right Sector battalions.

Negotiations held in the capital of Belarus and conducted by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine, reached the Minsk II agreement between Kiev and the Donbass republics for a ceasefire and prospective political settlement in that region in February 2015. Controversy remains over the Minsk II commitment to Constitutional changes in Ukraine and autonomy for the DPR and LPR.

The radical nationalists in the Ukrainian Parliament, with Right Sector figures among them, have refused to revise the Constitution as Ukrainian forces staged a creeping offensive to regain control over the Donbass region.

Alexander Hug, deputy chief of The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe-Special Monitoring Mission for Ukraine, reported that forces in Kiev had positioned large-caliber artillery, including howitzers, tanks, and rocket systems banned under Minsk II in the open with impunity.

Senators John McCain, Lindsey Grahan, and Amy Klobuchar spent New Year’s Eve with Kiev troops near the front line with the DPR. McCain issued a letter to Trump, ignoring Hug’s report, blaming the Donbass escalation on Russia, demanding the US supply Kiev with “defensive lethal assistance” weapons.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko then announced his intention to hold a referendum on joining NATO. Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels to meet with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller, formerly an undersecretary of state in the Obama Administration.

The media ignore this, focusing instead on Trump handing Ukraine over to Russia, as when Eurasia Daily Monitor analyst Pavel Felgenhauer complained, “If Trump hands over Ukraine, he will make Russia great again.”

Among the most aggressive in the maidan operations was the Right Sector, founded in November 2013 as a paramilitary confederation. Made of three groups, including the Tryzub or Stepan Bandera Trident, founded in 1993 by successors to the Hitler-aligned 1941 Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Bandera (OUN(b), named for Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian Hitlerite, who founded this organization in Munich during WW II.

“The newly formed Ukrainian state will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler, which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian people to free itself from Muscovite occupation,” states the OUN(b) 1941 proclamation.

National-Socialist is a Nazi.

In 1943, the military unit set up by Bandera’s OUN(b) carried out a mass extermination campaign against Poles and Jews in Ukraine, killing an estimated 70,000 civilians during the Summer of that year alone. By April 1948, Bandera was working for British intelligence, whose 1956 MI6 report described him as “a professional underground worker with a terrorist background and ruthless notions about rules of the game.”

In 1948, Bandera’s top lieutenant Mykola Lebed, who carried out the Ukraine exterminations, went to work for the CIA, heading the front company, Prolog Research Corp., controlled during the 1950s by CIA Director of Plans Frank Wisner. US Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) tried to stop Lebed from entering the US, but CIA Deputy Director Allen Dulles secured permission for him to come and go at will.

The other two constituent groups of the Right Sector were the Ukrainian Patriot (UP), and the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO).

Founded in 1991 as the neo-Nazi youth wing of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, UP became the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, whose leaders were committed to Bandera in 2004. UP members were known for their paramilitary training and deployed to the Maidan in December 2013.

Likewise, the UNA-UNSO and its youth arm, Bily Molot (White Hammer), founded in 1991, entered the Right Sector in November 2013. Members occupied positions in the post-coup government, while their neo-Nazi organizations, like the Azov Battalion, were absorbed into the military and bureaucracy.

As a young Ukrainian emigré in London in 1984, U.S.-based backer of the coup, Natalia Diuk had very close contacts with Prolog Research, whose 2008 poster glorifies the Nazi 14th Waffen SS Division. She married Adrian Karatnycky, also of Prolog headed Freedom House, and took part at the Atlantic Council.

Dmytro Yarosh became the leader in 2007 of the Stepan Bandera Trident, then head of the Right Sector in November 2013. In July 2013, he called for a national revolution in Ukraine and an end to the “Russian Empire.”

Andriy Parubiy founded the Ukrainian Patriot (UP) youth group in 1991, which became a Right Sector unit in November 2013. He was Commandant of the Maidan. Following the coup, he became Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council and later Chairman of the Ukraine Parliament.

Yuriy Lutsenko was the founder of TUR (Third Ukrainian Republic,) which cited the earlier two republics as, first, that of 1917, and second, the 1941 Hitlerite Bandera Stetsko Ukrainian State. In 2017, Lutsenko was the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

Yaroslav Stetsko was Bandera’s deputy and the declared head of the 1941 state; his widow Slava Stetsko continued his work.

Oleksandr Turchynov, a parliamentarian for the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party, was Speaker of the Rada and was unconstitutionally installed as Acting President on Feb. 26, 2014, by a coalition of the Svoboda and Fatherland parties. Turchynov was Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk, a parliamentarian for the Batkivshchyna Party, was unconstitutionally installed on Feb. 26, 2014, as Prime Minister by the Batkivshchyna/Svoboda coalition. He held the position until April 2016.

Vitali Klitschko was a parliamentarian for the Udar Party (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms,) a boxing champion, and Mayor of Kiev.

Oleh Tyanybok was a parliamentarian for the Svoboda Party.
He was Chairman of the Ukraine Parliament.

Holos Ameryky, security chief for Bandera, co-edited the Prolog-associated Soviet National Survey. She joined the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1990 as Vice President for Africa, Central Europe, and Eurasia.

Victoria Nuland was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2013 to 2017 when dismissed by the Trump Administration. Nuland was the lead liaison for the 2014 coup in Ukraine.

She was also a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2003 to 2005 and Ambassador to NATO from 2000 to 2003, advocating out-of-area deployments and similar operations.

Her husband, Robert Kagan, is the co-founder of Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which included targetting Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen to destabilize Russia, India, and China.

Nuland’s Jan. 15, 2014 assertion that the coup was a spontaneous democratic upsurge, “[T]he movement that started as a demand for a European future grew into a protest for basic human dignity and justice, clean and accountable government and economic and political independence of Ukraine,” is disproven.

It is the same story as a YouTube video causing a spontaneous attack on a US embassy, leaving four Americans dead. US media outlets pushed that claim till it was proven false.

We are being lied to again, but few are catching on this time.