December 9, 2021

I Began Walking At Age Six

After years of standing upright and moving my legs, I began walking at the age of six. Of course I could crawl with the best of them. My pratfalls were legendary, once falling down a concrete stairwell and losing my front baby tooth. Later at age eight, I zigged when I should have zagged, and Brie off half of the same adult front tooth, resulting with a silver cap.  This led to much teasing from older brothers, who when I go braces, nicknamed me Metal Mouth.   Careful! Don’t go out in the lightning storm.  Lightning  will surely strike you in the metal mouth electrocuting you.  But I digress, as we were speaking of walking. 

But when I say I began walking, I mean this in much more than a physical sense.  I embraced the full meaning of walking, where a walk is not just an exercise of the legs and feet, but an escape, offering a directionless expansion of the mind.  When we walk, truly walk, we are open to the senses around us. But we also open to the senses within. 

I have always thought that I was ruminating, which I thought meant luxuriating in thought.  Lost in that room of my own, my own mind.  In reality, the meaning of the word ruminate is to obsess or brood on repetitive negative thoughts.  I had walks like that too, but more often, the walking was a process of letting my thoughts wash over me. Kinda like raining on your own parade.   

I remember at age six, trudging down a steep snowy hill, the snow as high as half my body. I was bundled up and pushed out the door, alone, in the general direction of the school.  As I walked, my mind wandered. Ideas came to me, and I made up songs in my head.   I have no memory today of any of these songs or what they were about. I would think about home, about my older brothers, my younger sisters, the horrible black cat we had inherited from family friends who moved away. They had  left him with us for safekeeping.  I never asked for a cat, in fact like my mother and her intense dislike of all things melon, cats were anathema to me.  

Besides walking, I would visit friends, go to birthday parties, and compete for playground popularity by bringing Miss May, from a Playboy calendar belonging to one of older brothers.  I got into much trouble for disseminating this blonde beauty, bringing shame to my mother from my third grade battle axe teacher.  Somehow that fact that so had stolen this from my older brother was never a consideration.  

I had a friend name Kevin, whose family was Catholic.  They had more kids that even our family, as we had seven, and they had over ten.  Due to all the kids, their house which was next door, smelled like urine and honey.  

I also had a friend named Alan, a weird kid who chewed pencils, and ate the paste that the janitors supposedly made from horses.  Alan had a collection of giant gallon glass jars under his bed filled with, you guessed it, more urine.  There were over 10 large jars under his bed, which was one of the earliest examples of bizarre collector mentality.  

I remember one birthday party that resulted in a fire in the kitchen, flames rising up the walls, before my friends parents managed to put it out.  Another birthday party was my friend Johnny Mercer, who sported a jacket and turtle neck, and was the first boy/ girl birthday party.  He played The Beatles Rubber Soul, and kids danced.  

Montana was a strange place of snow, blue skies, a trip in a land rover that resulted in turning around on a mountain road that had ended somewhere up the mountain. I remember looking out the window at the cliff below us, thinking that today ai would die.  

I also remember great violence, as one brother joined the Air Force to avoid the draft, one brother was assaulted in a parking lot at the mill he worked at, his back slashed with a razor requiring hundreds of stitches, my Father assaulted in the same parking by a guy he had fired, who holding a piece of metal in his fist proceeded to break my Father’s jaw, causing his to earth from a straw for months with his jaw wired shut.  Another brother had bought a beautiful sky blue Chevy Malibu SS, and drove off a cliff, totalling the car.  He was banged up but thankfully survived.  

From the snowy hills of Montana, one day I learned we were moving to the wet, grey and always dying small town of Aberdeen in Washington, or Warshington as we called it.   Aberdeen was the future home of Kurt Cobain, and at one time in the 1920's was a logging boom town with 5 times the population that lived there when we arrived.  Aberdeen is also famous as the home of the Grays Harbor Ghoul, Billy Gohl, aka Billy Montana, who supposedly killed between 2 and 100 people.  I say supposedly as he was a Union official, who may have been framed by influential local businessmen in the docks and timber industry.  

How small was the town? If I walked from our house to the right, it would take me across a bridge, and through a section of town where there were large houses.  My friend Jeffrey lived there.  His dad was a DJ on the radio, which meant that even though the house was large, they were relatively poor.   Another friend named Guy Morton lived there.  Guy was an overweight kid, who was bullied by other kids, who would grab his boy tits, and twist them for laughs and humiliation.  This maneuver became known in this town as a Purple Morton.  

At some point in an easterly direction, you would come to a  Chinese owned grocery store, where my next younger sister spent my prized buffalo Indian head nickel. I had not given it to her to spend, as it was part of my paltry collection of coins of little distinction.  Then one came to another  hill with an easy grade that went to the downtown area of shops and the theatre.  In the summer, young boys would race their family made creations in the Boy Scouts Soapbox Derby.  

I remember one summer, my mother bought me a pass of ten movies.  I could lie and say it was all about my early film education, but really, she probably owanted some time to herself.  I walked to movies like The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, That Darn Cat, Herbie the Love Bug, The Parent Trap, and every movie ever made by Hayley Mills.  As Mills was also my last name, I dreamed that she was my distant cousin, but I don’t think we  were related in any way. 

I remember one day crossing the bridge and an older kid stopped me. He pulled a knife and told me to give him my money.  "My money" in those days was usually just some coins I had in my pocket to buy candy, and was definitely less than a couple dollars.  I was terrified, but could also see that the older kid was scared as well.  Even though he was the one who was threatening me.  Somehow I felt both pity, sympathy and fear.  

My daily walk to school was down Scammel Street, a very steep hill. Unlike Montana, it was paved, and had a sidewalk. But it was incredibly steep. The school was at the bottom of the hill.  For most of the year, it would rain, massive amounts of rain, and the rain would flow down and often flood the Flats where the school was.  Houses down there were little smaller, and more rundown than our neighbourhood, which was higher up on the hill. 

In Aberdeen, wealth was distributed according to the altitude of where your house was.  The higher on the hill, the richer the family. Down lower on the flats, the houses were more rundown.  Up near the top of the hill was where the streets ended and the forest began.  We spent many a day in those woods, coming home only as dusk approached. My mother would send us out saying only to be home for dinner.  With seven kids, just getting a few out of the house was probably essential for her sanity.  

As I grew up, walking became more than a solitary endeavour. It became something I would do with my best friends.  In junior high school, we moved to Portland, and my friend Doug and I would walk all over the  suburb, past the boundaries of our subdivision to the very edges of civilization and on to the big pond.

Doug would say Wanna go down to the pond? Wanna? 

There were ducks, and giant bullfrogs, snakes and mud.  Lots of mud.  Doug had guns.  His Dad was military.  My mother never allowed us to have guns, although my older brothers did have a rusty air pumped BB gun rifle.  My mother hated it, and forbid me to play with it, which only made it more attractive. 

But Doug had real guns, and we would take his gun to the Pond, and shoot the bullfrogs.  That probably sounds horrible in the context of today, but as teens growing up in the suburbs, we had very few rules, other than don’t get caught. 

And we would set off with his shaggy dog, Harry for our walks.  Harry was a great dog, always getting into things.  We would see a garter snake on Doug’s front lawn, and go Harry! Snake!  Harry! Snake! Get the snake. 

And he would grab the snake in his mouth and shake it until the poor snake became two halves, each crawling in opposite directions, until it died. 

Later, a few years later, we would take girls with us down to the pond. When I say we, I mainly meant my friend Mark, whose Italian mother warned him to be careful with that “thing”.  You could hurt someone with that, she said.  That “ thing” had porn star potential, and Mark knew it, and used it religiously.  The rest of us were in awe, but were content to live vicariously through Mark’s “Big” adventures. 

In grade ten, we moved back to Canada, and I spent a year as an outcast in the conservative town of West Vancouver.  My self-esteem was so low, that when a kid called me Derek all year long, I never corrected him.  After all, at least he was talking to me!  

One of my favourite stories came from this year.  I was in an English class, taught by a German lady. She was writing on the blackboard the intricacies of grammar, and the boys next to me picked up a small desk, and were able to throw it out the window, where it crashed 5 stories below in a courtyard. The teacher didn’t even notice it.  

But the teacher in the room below ours noticed.  He was not so affectionately called Mr. Bonehead.  He burst into our classroom and demanded that the teacher explain to him what had just happened and who was responsible.  

The teacher turned to the class and said to me, Dennis, did you see a desk go out the window?  

I was not going to snitch on my classmates, because if I had, the ostracism would have been unbearable.

I said to her, No, I didn’t see a desk go out the window.

Well, there you have it, she said to Mr. Bonehead.  Obviously no desk went out the window.  

You could almost see the smoke coming out of his ears. 

He turned and furiously slammed the door behind him.  

I always loved the simplicity of the argument.  Desk? Did you see a desk fly out the window? No! 

Well then, since he did not see this desk fly out the window, obviously there was no desk that flew out the window. 

I have to give Mr. Bonehead credit for teaching us that the story of history is told by those with the money.  Follow the money, he wisely instructed.  Years later he was fired for incompetence.  I kind of felt bad about that. 

Pandora's Box Wine

After coming home from a sumptuous meal and having my first glass of wine in 6 weeks, I slipped into bed, pulling the covers close to my head, and remarked to my wife, "I could have drunk the whole bottle or nothing at all." 

I don’t remember the exact question that prompted my response. 

Unfortunately, and I suppose predictably, this response opened up a Pandora’s Box Wine, uncorked a Pandora’s Bottle of Questions. It was an offhand response made with assistance of slight inebriation, but it begged a further elaboration.  

As this conversation began just before sleep, I tried to defer the conversation, tried to table it until morning.  

My comment was purposefully open and honest. I intentionally left myself open to over-interpretation, as well as open to criticism, confusion and judgement.  I didn't say that I wanted to drink the whole bottle, or that my body, mind, soul or inner demons demanded a full bottle.   

After not drinking anything for 6 weeks, I wanted a drink, if for no other reason than to test myself.  

Was my thirst unquenchable, or did I even desire the effect anymore?

Still, with my subconscious response, I had left an opening for a quick spousal drive-by.  
Had I spilled out a sucker punchbowl of further grilling?  

In the poster to the left for Pabst's Pandora's Box, we see clearly that the German title would more accurately be called The Bush of Pandora.  

This crude translation calls for another box of Pandora's Wine.  

November 28, 2021

The Big Stupid


“Since then, TV and the malls and the drugs have annually compounded the Big Stupid we live with now.”

Donald Fagen

Last night I had a strange dream where I was riding in a Cadillac with my friend Darryl, and my friend Steve Taylor.  Darryl wanted a beer, so we stopped near the casino in Richmond.  Instead of going into the casino, Steve started running in the opposite direction.  Now Steve and I have been friends since the Eighties, but I have never seen him run before.  We were now on a trail, and Steve was far ahead.  I called to Darryl, who was also ahead of me, to slow down.  

Then I came upon a large hole in the ground, barely covered with sticks and branches, a hole that was more like a trap.  Darrell called to warn me to watch out for the trap.  We then made it through a couple narrow passages where there were large rectangular blocks of stone, and a baby black bear emerged.  It was small, and cute, but I knew that Mama or Papa bear was not far away.  

I realized then that the previous trap was for the Mama bear.  At that point I awoke, and remarked on the dream, where the discovery of the bear put foreshadowed the revelation of the baby bear. 

I did my exercises and made some breakfast, avocado on toasted spelt bread with some Boursin, and another piece of toast with Michelle’s grapefruit marmalade with Bourbon.  

I was reading an article on Steely Dan, and Donald Fagen’s memoir, Eminent Hipsters.  He talked about his influence of a radio DJ named Mort Fega. 

Fagen recalls “pulling the radio under the covers, in order to escape my parents’ wrath. […] I’d usually drift off before the closing theme.”

This prompted a memory of mine of living in Aberdeen Washington in the Sixties, listening on my transistor radio under the covers to late night talk radio KGO with Ira Blue. 

He had an unusual voice for a radio broadcaster, nasal and with a New York City accent similar to that of Howard Cosell. Like Cosell's, Blue's unconventional voice had a riveting quality to it.

KGO was from San Francisco, and I marveled at how I could listen to them two states away in sleepy little Aberdeen.  

Probably because of the dream earlier with the black bears, I started thinking about the polar bears that used to live in the Stanley Park Zoo.  

These beautiful wild animals always looked so sad and out of place.  They were slow, lethargic, and aroused more pity than fear. 

Scout Magazine notes “The story of the zoo dates back to 1888, the year Stanley Park officially opened. Henry Avison, the city’s first Park Superintendent, captured a baby black bear on the grounds and chained it to a stump, thus beginning a 108-year tradition of the park’s display of wild animals. 

The large concrete polar bear grotto was built in 1962 and quickly became the main attraction for park-goers. The four bears – Nootka, Jubilee II, Prince Rupert, and Princess Rupert – were born on Southampton Island in Hudson’s Bay, and were donated to the zoo by the Hudson’s Bay Company. 1962 also saw the arrival of Tuk, the bear who is fondly remembered for once “rescuing” a kitten that had been thrown into the exhibit. “

The zoo closed in 1996, when my daughter was three.  The last animal to leave was Tuk, the polar bear.  Due to its poor health, they kept him there until he died.  

On our last visit to the zoo, all we saw was a very mangy squirrel with a half eaten tail. 

Music listened to this morning: 

Cat Stevens Foreigner Suite

Camper Van Beethoven  Joe Stalin’s Cadillac 

Can   Vitamin C

Stephen Malkmus  Vitamin C

Steely Dan  Black Friday

Donald Fagen The Nightfly 



November 27, 2021

My new red Hunter boots

Today is on of those miserable wet days that Vancouver is so famous for.  Grey and gloomy.  There are rivers in the atmosphere that want to rain on our parades.  Yet I am happy, which might seem strange. 

I have new red Hunter boots. Today is the first rain day since I got them.  I am so excited to walk in the rain and not have my feet get wet.  The new red Hunter boots have bestowed upon me a new power.  

I literally can kick the sodden leaves that dam up the catchment, and suddenly there is a small stream flowing down the hill. This is freedom. As the rivers flow from the sky, I am making my own little rivers here on Earth. 

My new red Hunter boots are now covered in leaf debris.  This will not do. I find a nearby puddle large enough to wade through. I swirl my new boots in the puddle, and they are new and red again. 

Across the street there is a new sinkhole.  You can look down and under and see that the earth has been eaten away for about ten feet in all directions.  Clearly this little hole is wanting to be a bigger hole.  The warning tape only covers the actual entrance to the sinkhole, and not the impending larger disaster waiting to happen. 

I walk to the bakery and I buy some decaf coffee, half a loaf of bread and a maple pecan swirl. As any self respecting man over 60, I ask the person behind the till if I can offer a suggestion.  Of course she says with a forced enthusiasm. 

 “ You used to make a pastry with raisins.  

An escargot she says.  

That is because of the snail shape, not because it includes snails , or slugs. 

Raisin aux pain.  

She confesses that she loves them, but alas, us poor raisin lovers are few and far between.   I commiserate of the tragedy of the shriveled grape,  and speak of the travesty that is a butter tart without raisins.  It is really a sugar pie!  

We laugh and I leave. 

A woman is walking a wiener dog.  They are always male wiener dogs, have you noticed?  How can you not notice. The wiener almost as big as the dog itself.  I tell her of my joy in splashing in puddles today.  Her dog sharply barks.

It’s always the little ones who make the most noise, I say.   I have a cross terrier who frightens small children.  They always want to pet the cute little doggy.  The woman, who has an English accent, says enjoy your new red Wellies.   

Yes I will, I reply.  

Yesterday I received the boots in the mail, which is always a delight, receiving things in the mail.  It was a dry day yesterday, and I had to go to the local library branch to get my card updated. The one I have is a strange shape, with the corners broken off from time and disuse. 

The librarian is from the Maritimes, evidenced by her use of the hard R. 

You have fines owing from 2006.  $3.  

Is there interest, as that would probably be onerous. 

No.  No interest is charged at the library.   You don’t have to pay now, just after you accumulate fines more than $10. 

I say, I would  prefer to pay now, clear the slate.  

I wander the shelves and see a mother towering over her small child who is sitting in the floor, looking at a picture book.  I remember all the great times as a child, going to libraries.  Wandering through the shelves, no aim in my mind, but wandering. Let’s just see what fate would provide.  I could spend so many hours in a library, or later on, bookstores, something my daughter loves as well. Although it is fun to read on tablets, there is nothing is like actually going to the library.  

It has been almost 14 years since I was last at the library, out in South Surrey.  

There are many young mothers here today with their children, and even babies in strollers.  Did I say this was Black Friday?  For me it wasn’t Black Friday.   It was Red Friday, for my new red boots, and my three dollar fine. 

I check out a book, the new James Ellroy, Widespread Panic, which came out this past year.  Ellroy created a new shorthand for crime writing in the last 20 years, but recent novels have seemed like rewrites or paler imitations of previous masterworks.  Hopefully, this will be a ‘good one’.  One thing I do know, is that there is little risk, as the book isn’t costing me anything. 


I got it at the LIBRARY.  

November 20, 2021

Code White!


In the hospital after my triple bypass surgery. my journey began under the influence of anaesthesia, and I awoke in a narcotic dream state.  As I lay in the bed, the nurses, the kind angelic nurses, kept me sedated with more drugs.  As Rowland S Howard calls it, my narcotic lollipop lasted for about 5 days before they started to wean me. 

After a few days I was able to get up out of bed, and with the support of a walker, make it as far a the bathroom.  In the bathroom, I would attempt to “return to normal”; but for a few more days, it was wishful thinking and waiting.  

Back to bed I went, and the world went on without me. Voices, sounds, smells swirled around me, my only control and response was to receive.  The clock was a measure of the incremental day, now split into 12 to 24 micro days, broken up only by new medications, measurements of blood pressure, and needles in my stomach which left little bruises resembling moles.

Throughout the day and night, I would hear them announcing Code White.  As the chart explains, Code White is the code for a situation where a patient, or guest or complete stranger exhibits violent or aggressive behaviour.   Code white on level two, code white in emergency.  So many Code Whites.  

One of the by-products of the pandemic has been an increase in violent or aggressive responses to situations. We feel thei pain, these weak links….we see the stress that is causing fractures in the social construct….we hear the mental timebombs exploding on the sidewalks, just like the young Dense Milt warned us about back in 1979.   Look at all the angry people, protesters,  Christians acting unchristian like, people taking their fears and paranoias out on others, living their lives and drama on the street, and in the grocery aisles, and the lineups for gas, and in the hospitals where we come to heal. 

I tried to find current data on what I believe is a dramatic increase of violent and aggressive behaviours since the pandemic, but reporting has been replaced with emojis and memes.  We have so many platforms and so many ways to communicate. We are inundated  with too much sharing of information.  And yet, it’s not the kind information I was looking for, which is statistics on the increase in Code Whites in a hospital setting.   

Have you experienced unnatural reactions from friends, been in situations with strangers that would lead you to believe that violent and aggressive behaviour are on the rise?   Life is stressed to the limits; look at the cracks in the dykes. There are leaks and water everywhere, rivers rising, more rain on the way, highways washed out,  drained lakes returning to the lake status of a hundred years earlier.

Drowning in natural disasters is a part of the scenery. Heat domes, cyclone bombs, atmospheric rivers.   But while these dramatic changes, events, disasters rain down on us, people are also suffering inside. We can see the effects of the psychological tsunami which is the pandemic.   Dear Mr. Cohen, cracks are not only where the light gets in.  Cracks are where the darkness is secreted.   

Code White.  Cleanup on aisle four.  

Shooter situation in the schoolyard.  

White male, white male, white male. 

Code White is washing over us. We lie helpless in a metaphoric hospital bed, unable to move, unable to help , unable to understand what is going on around us, 

Code White! I see a teenager with an automatic rifle on the roof.   It’s his birthday. 

Code white! Customers fighting over gasoline and ground round. 

Are we witnessing the collapse of society and the end of civility?  Is this the end of the world? 

Do you feel fine? 

Has the constant friction, the incessant scratching and the repetitive dark thoughts finally caused the already inflamed social stomach to violently heave the remnants of our poor diet choices?

As the acidity in the air increases, and the storm waters rise, and the gas runs out, and the food on the shelves disappears, will we have the strength to still be kind to one another? 

When the safety nets, which have so many holes in them that they resemble sieves, start leaching microfibres along with micro aggressions, will we hold open the door for ladies, will we give up our seats on the bus for the pregnant mother, the disabled veteran, the weak, the sick, the poor? 

Code White!  You can legally open carry assault rifles in some states, the same states where you can’t get an abortion, the same states where your white supremacist neighbour is held in higher regard than the honor roll black student gunned down for having the audacity of jogging? 

Code White.  Is it no wonder that I can’t sleep?  Nurse! More painkillers!

November 16, 2021

At the crumbling edge

At the crumbling edge, where the earth gives way to the sky, the birds in the air seem to stop mid-flight, as if someone is holding them in place by the wind. Someone built a wall of decomposing leaves,  deciduous rot. It is waiting to be pushed into the abyss below.   

I could see a small black dog burrowing her nose in the fragrant duff.  Did she know just how close she was to the edge? 

Overlooking the small black dog is a girl. Her hair is black, like her heart, and long like the river below the crumbling edge.  She has an anger inside her that only she can satisfy.  She looks into her heart and wonders if dogs can fly. 

November 13, 2021

Oops! No Internet. Try Again.

We are living in a Land of Loneliness.  We are living in a time of Isolation.  We are living in a time where we have many tools of Communication, yet we are afraid to simply talk to each other. 

The community we have built includes the families that we are born into,  as well as the friendships we have personally chosen over time.  But what is a community when we are not talking to each other? 

Oh, there is plenty of talk going on, just like there are plenty of fish in the ocean, or plenty of possible dates, or mates - SWIPE RIGHT, SWIPE LEFT, DO THE HOKEY POKEY! 

But in this race to make our point, are we actually listening to what others say?

Social media tends to herd us with Like Minds together.  That is because the purpose of social media is not to enhance our social ability, but to create more exact market segments who can then be targeted for maximizing advertising revenue. 

Social Media reinforces our opinions, and weaves a web of Like Minded strangers. But does it create a platform to better communicate?  It is another tool of communication, just like a hammer is a tool.  And sometimes you need a hammer.  But sometimes you need a screwdriver.  

Who are these friends anyway?  Do you know these people?  Do you really know them?  One thing that the pandemic brought us is a narrowed palate with only primary colours.  We can call this palate our pod, or our core bubble, or core cohorts.  

What do we do when a cohort’s clumsy thumbs mistype and mangle their messages?  CANCEL. If they leave out words in their rush to respond, or if their spelling is so atrocious that it is nigh impossible to understand what their incomplete thought might have been?  CANCEL. Is it any wonder that their ability to communicate is impaired? 

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  Like they said in Cool Hand Luke.  And right there I have segmented the reading audience into those who still remember and romance over Paul's blue eyes, and those who just bought his salad dressing. 

Various political factions have created some shorthand to help you find the right advertising segment. Does the term Let’s Go Brandon have any meaning to you? It does if you identify as a Fox Friend.  You know that Let's Go Brandon is the conservative version of OK Boomer. There is a tone of derision, and condescension, but also familiarity, and contempt.  Are hashtags helpful in your daily life? #hashtaghelper #boomerburgersurprise #emojisRus

Do you speak emoji?  I never would have thought that understanding emojis was necessary for success in business, but there you have it.  When in doubt, add a smiley face.  This is part of our modern shorthand.  Even though it is an infantile addition, it is effective.  Why let your poor business letter writing skills ruin a relationship, especially when the helpful insertion of a colon and parentheses can create an impromptu emoji :)  Voila! Smiley Face.  Perhaps a pyramid of communication like Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is necessary.  

On the bottom would be your typical social media meme- don't share, but cut and paste blah blah blah - wide distribution and self-identifying. But be careful if you are not fluent in memes.   This may be data mining.

Next rung is a social media post.  What is your friend trying to say?   Are there any code words or dog whistles?  Posts are open to misinterpretation, so remember the words of your mother.  If you don't have anything nice to say, ...... Anyone can become a troll.  And if you have been drinking or taking any reality warping influencers, best to stay off the old social sharing circle. 

The next rung is email.  This form of communication replaced faxing.  Were you pro-Fax or anti-Fax?  Do you remember the annoying sound of faxes?  I remember getting a fax at work, which looked like it had a post-it note attached that said, " Check this out!  D."   So you thought this was from someone you knew who wanted you to look at the fax.  This was one of the first Fax spammers.  Emails are usually confined to business, they offer more words, and in the right hands can be a modern form of letter writing.  But beware of the Reply All.  Many times in business I get lists of contacts when someone in accounting or a recent college graduate with no work experience think copying everybody is more efficient.   Yeah, but now everybody knows everybody you know.  Any competitive advantage just went out the window. 

The next higher rung is picking up the damn phone, and using it as God intended, as a phone.  Call someone.  Hear their voice.  You can add their face with Facetime or Zoom or one of those communication tools, but remember where you are, and what you are wearing. Pants are not optional on the Zoom.  Don't be like Jeffrey.   Phone calls are much more direct.  Hopefully you can tell by the tone of voice whether the call is welcome.  What to do with the phone call that goes on forever?  How do you politely disengage?  Sometimes there is no polite way to disengage.   OH MY GOD! The cat just jumped on the table and knocked over my coffee!!!  Sorry, I'll have to call you back.  Ghost......

The highest rung is talking to someone the real old fashioned way- in person.   Face to Face.  There is still some danger of miscommunication, but there is also the possibility of hugs.   Look into my eyes.  You are getting sleepy.   So sleepy.  In person communication also brought us ghosting and gaslighting, so nothing is perfect.   And as with social media posts, if drinking or taking mind altering substances, best to make sure you are on the same page.   

Still, there is the possibility of hugs, which is close to the top rung.  And hugs really help with Loneliness.  Hugs can cure isolation.  But hugs can be welcome or unwelcome, so watch for clues before getting all huggy, especially with someone who clearly doesn't want one.     

You might notice I left out postcards, letters, telegrams, and pigeons.   Try cancelling a pigeon.  Can I recall this pigeon?  Nope.  Once the bird is in flight, you will have to live with what was written.  Unless you have a gun or a bow and arrow.  You can cancel the message, but you also kill the messenger. :)  


November 7, 2021

Does anybody really know what time it is?

 So it is 5 something on this Sunday, after the clocks were turned back to Standard Time, from Daylight Savings Time. This arbitrary changing of time feels so wrong.  

Many people and their governments have different ideas about this annual change. Two years ago Washington state passed a law to keep Daylight Savings time on an annual basis, with no changes in Fall or Spring.  Our province of BC in Canada looked at a similar law.  

But this state law was never enacted,  as it requires Federal Congressional approval.  As we know, getting Congress to agree on anything beside raising their own pay is near impossible.  And BC would never make a change unless Washington, Oregon and California all made the same change, as that would cause nothing but chaos.  

Personally, I have always had challenges with sleeping, but especially since this past month after my surgery. Truth be told I have always had sleep issues.  From a young age, I tried to stay up late and get up early.  What is it about night and sleep that bothers me?   

Is is a fear of the dark, or a fear of missing out?  Is there a relationship between my reading encyclopedias under the covers with a flashlight and waking at 3 in the morning on Christmas?  

I remember a time in my teens, I was leaving a house party around 4 in the morning.  I was surprisingly loud, and woke one of the neighbours. 

“ Do you know what time it is?”

I replied at top volume, singing Chicago’s hit,  “ Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really know …..about time?”  

Needless to say my drunken existential humour was lost on the sleepy homeowner.   Being serenaded by an asshole singing Chicago at 4 am is not on most people’s bucket list.  

I grew up in the Sixties, which was a very different time. In the Sixties, we had crazy TV shows like The Time Tunnel, with former Beach Blanket star James Darren, where these two young scientists who invented the time tunnel accidentally become trapped and travel through time into different historical events and the future.

We also had My Mother, The Car, where someone’s mother is brought back to life as a ….car. 

Then there was It’s About Time, where time travelling astronauts are sent back to the caveman age. 

This sitcom nonsense went hand in hand with race riots, assassinations, War in our living rooms, the Sexual Revolution and The Beatles. 

Seriously, time and lack of sleep can really mess with your health, reducing your …ahem…time on this planet. Lack of sleep is a major cause of heart issues, as you might expect, as your heart is the body’s timekeeper.  Nobody fucks the drummer and gets away with it. 

Drummers are the first to arrive and the last to leave. They have the most gear to set up and tear down. It is not uncommon for drummers to play other instruments as well.  Drummers are the original multitaskers.   

To summarize,  we’ve gone from clocks, to TV to drummers. Is is any wonder that I can’t sleep?   Actually, I have spent about 90 minutes ruminating and either have to make coffee or go back to bed. 

Don’t get too excited.  I only drink decaf. 

November 6, 2021

Building a new monster, by popular demand.

You might think this is the finest pearl
But it's only cardboard balls
Seamed in glue
Overwhelming technique
Done t' diligence
It's all happening from the inside, you say?
Done from the inside
Where it barely shows on the outside
It's remarkable
I think this is the best batch yet
We don't have to suffer, we're the best batch yet
Baked in special, we're the best batch yet
White flesh waves to black”. 
Don van Vliet, Doc at the Radar Station
In this long process of recovery and rebirth, there is work going on that can be seen from the outside. There is also an interior work and life changes that are also happening.  A metamorphosis of methodologies.  
What we have here is an opportunity, dare I say, a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a better monster. I know….many of you liked the old monster, as did I. But that clogged creature is gone, replaced with spare parts. “Cardboard balls seamed in glue…” 
But the sky is blue ( in my dreams) and the road goes beyond the horizon, over the ice wall, past the double rainbows to a land I can only imagine. We have the keys to the convertible. The top is down, and the hood is up and open.  Tools out.  
Some minor tinkering after the major overhaul. I am informed in a very real and physical way that changes must be made to prolong this show. As such, we have been making alterations to the script. Some cuts are deep and you may need a program to familiarize yourself with the changes, but many of you will hardly notice. And if the results are positive, then notice you will, as the run will be more than the measured walk that I currently am engaged in.  I am committed to the character, as I understand this character as if he were myself. I long to be kissed by fortune and held over due to popular demand. “

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” 
― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Please allow me to confess, and get this off my bifurcated chest. There was a cookie, a small cookie, with a silly name, slathered in dulce de Leche. I dreamed of this cookie for two days, it being the last cookie.  Dare I break my self imposed hiatus from these temptations or simply misplace the manual for a short time?  “There seems to an edit in the tape, an 18 minute gap. He said it was his secretary Miss Woods, who through no maliciousness, accidentally turned off the machine for about 18 minutes.  This brief interlude provided sufficient time to consume the said snickerdoodle, so none’s the wiser.  Keep this on the hush-hush. 

OK. Nobody is perfect. I will own that one.  But for the sake of the long program, the small temptation has been removed, as I removed it. Truth be told I shared it with my sister, who made said cookie and Dulce de Leche.  It was delicious and the memory haunts me to this day.

 “It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.” 

 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

It is amazing just how much closer I have become to my darling love. How fortunate I have been to enjoy her nutritious meals and love and encouragement. 

I recall the early days back from the hospital when she hand washed me in the shower, me sitting on a chair so I did not fall down.  

There is less of me to love, as I am about 20 lbs lighter.  The bags under my eyes must have weighed a few lbs, but they are disappearing too.  

And everyday, a few more steps.  Now the muscles and skin and other secondary concerns are undergoing changes, with some pains and difficulty as expected, but all of this is acceptable as part of the process to build this new monster. 

Please note, I am accepting friend requests, ( except the Soviet porn girls that Zuckerberg keeps suggesting) real calls, texts, bowls of soup, money, NFTs, bitcoin.

If I am tired, I will simply tell you, and you can come back another time.  

New slogan: Scars before Bars.  

Fun fact: New monster doesn’t drink.  

If you owe me $, now is a good time (living on 50%). 

In the beginning was desire

“There was a merciless gnawing in my chest, a queer silent labor was going on in there. I pictured a score of nice teeny-weeny animals that cocked their heads to one side and gnawed a bit, then cocked their heads to the other side and gnawed a bit, lay perfectly still for a moment, then began anew and bored their way in without a sound and without haste, leaving empty stretches behind them wherever they went.” 

 Knut Hamsun, Hunger 

In the beginning was Desire

An eternal wanting 

A craving that comes wrapped in a God- shaped hole

A coming together of egg and sperms

Shooting sparks from embers of creation into Obsession

A flaming drive combusts, 

Desires more, must burn more,  has unquenchable wants. 

That frontier drive when 

God sent destiny to take more than was needed

A drive to where, to what end, 

We must get somewhere fast

Or burrow down, and the push to escape, to hide, to cover up these raw truths.

A revelation of unbridled ambitions, 

Births an embarrassment of riches, and

Herds of wild horses are shamed by their unbound privilege 

Running free when loss is all around us

The shame drives the want inside. 

So we hide behind the masks we make

Masks that cover the faces that we wear just to get through a day

Masks that dampen the sounds of the gnawing inside 

Our hidden beast that we feed scraps 

is a manifestation of our extreme hunger

Even the very idea of hunger

is vast and mewling.

It becomes worse in what seems like 

The endless night

You can’t sleep - sleep is denied tonight.

Is your mind overcome with visions that disturb your slumber?

No, just a download of useless details

You are Literally drowning in yourself

Crawling with this infestation of memory and observation

At the core, the Queen is still. 

Is she still alive? Is she sleeping? 

The worker bees, ants, wings and legs

Moving together as one, now in the throws of death

Their craving of nectar is killing them

They were programmed to collect, to build, 

to serve and protect the monarch who will survive for another day.

But the drones are doomed to be echoes of their former zeal

They have reached their end

There are no second acts for this group

Their parts have been played and slowly,

Slowly, one by one, they stop moving.

Time doesn’t stop


Time is infinite and unknowable 

When we are young there is so much time 

And we grow

Expand our minds

Push further to the Horizons

We play in the glow of 

The double rainbow. 

But sooner than we can imagine, there comes the day 

when more becomes too much.

And there is a reckoning

And through great efforts, 

Even Heroic efforts, 

Change happens even when unwanted

Change is forced

Not through revolution 

but witness the building of a better monster

This time the creature will listen and learn. 

Inside the creature, there are all the same old parts

Just shuffled and juggled, and glued in different ways 

There is a desire to create 

or is it an act of salvage?

Now what?

You have your damned restart

You get the best makeover money can buy

You are expected to build a better person

Expected to take the disparate parts

And heal and mold them into a new golem. 

So you reflect, and review and slowly you become the new you

The better you

And while the transformation is fresh and not yet complete, 

you can feel your bones growing back together

You can see the wounds are healing, 

and you are learning to recognize a new person in the mirror

You have changed

On the surface

You have changed

And now you think about what needs to change on the inside

To make these outward changes take effect

To makes the changes reflective of more than just another healing phase.

And you think about what and who you want to be

And once again 

You are back at the beginning 

You are back to want

And desire. 

October 31, 2021

The Wink of a Hummingbird


Hummingbirds have forgotten the words……

On Friday, I saw a hummingbird hovering near my sliding glass door window.   I took this as a good omen, as it is said that when a hummingbird visits you, it brings good news. 

When passing through difficult times, the hummingbird tells us that the difficult times are over. Also, if they visit after someone's death, it means that you will heal. The hummingbird represents a reminder to follow your dreams without letting obstacles stop you.

Hummingbirds are magical creatures, rarely seen, with the ability to hover and almost stop in mid flight, then dart away, never to be seen again. Their little hearts are some of the hardest working hearts in the great show that is life.

How fast does a hummingbird's heart beat? Their hearts can beat as fast as 1,260 beats per minute. For example, my heart is beating about 69-79 beats per minute.  For reference, average disco song is about 120 bpm.  

After bypass surgery, it is important to reduce the possible strain to the patient’s heart.  Generally, this goal is accomplished through two drugs, a beta blocker, and an ACE inhibitor. 

One of the drugs they use to accomplish this is metoprolol, the beta blocker, which works by blocking catecholamine-induced increases in heart rate, in velocity and extent of myocardial contraction, and in blood pressure. Metoprolol reduces the oxygen requirements of the heart at any given level of effort.   In short, it slows everything down. 

Another is ramipril,  which is an ACE inhibitor, (Angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor.   This medications helps relax the veins and arteries to lower blood pressure.

The end result is the system slows down, giving it time to heal.  A side effect of these two medications is low blood pressure, which makes you feel dizzy and unbalanced when you stand too quickly.  

After my operation, many friends wished me a speedy recovery. But the reality of the healing could not not be further than that truth.  It is a long recovery, not one with speed, but with time and focus. 

Many years ago, I had an interesting man who was my boss. He considered himself an entrepreneur.  His favourite saying was a definition of success that goes like this:


 He would stress two aspects of this saying.  Progressive- meaning incremental progress, not overnight success, and is the way to build something sustainable.  Worthy ideal- meaning something you personally feel is important.   

He said for him that a worthy ideal was the accumulation of money ( no hidden agenda).  But for me, he related, a worthy ideal might be something more altruistic, and for him, that was ok too, as long as his goal of making more money was accomplished.  From the days we met, I would see him buy many companies, and often he would keep the existing management team, just refocusing them on his short and long term goals. It was always a considered expansion aiming to create a larger company or companies, working toward similar goals. And twenty years down the line, his strategy has been very successful.   All because of his focus on Progressive and Worthy.  

As much as I appreciate calls for a speedy recovery, please don’t expect me to have a speedy recovery.  My goal is to have a progressive recovery toward the worthy ideal of creating a better person, who ideally, will be here for many more years.  

Perhaps, I will be more like the hummingbird, who hangs in the air, and gives you wink, then whooosh, is gone to search for more nectar.