Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Fortress Of Solitude

My Fortress of Solitude;

It's 1:15 AM. The summer solstice. It's going to be a long day.

10 minutes ago I was lying comfortably on my single bed. Brown, red, and orange striped top sheet askew, but comfortably draped across my naked, bony body. I was enjoying the second light sprinkle from the heavy but patchy clouds hanging over this 80 degree night. The Honey Moon is waxing, but looms large as it floats across the night sky accompanied by Jupiter and it's moons.

I was thinking about my upcoming trip down to Carmel Valley and picturing sleeping and spending my time in different surroundings. It seems ironic that a here and now kind of guy like me will get up from a comfortable situation with the compelling need to write about next weeks events. So here I sit with a cup of freshly brewed, personal blend coffee and organize my musings. Amen.

I looked up the origins of the word, "Amen", earlier this evening and found it was just as I remembered from when I researched it in 1969. The difference being then I had to visit various libraries and search through a lot of books to find results. Now I simply type what I am looking for in Google and I have access to thousands of peoples research. "Swearing to the Egyptian Sun God that what I said is true", is pretty much the meaning of Amen. That's another 1st commandment deal breaker. I think I'll stop saying amen.

The 25th of June is Crissy's birthday. If she were alive, she would be 56. We, Chris' family and I, are going to have her birthday dinner together in Chrissy's little village. Earlier in the day we will visit her memorial tree at Rippling River and affix a plaque on her memorial bench in Carmel Valley Community Park. She wont be there, but we will bring her spirit with us to enjoy the party.

I was just outside on my patio/balcony. The clouds are lit up white against a blue black sky by the brightly glowing Honey Moon. I couldn't see Jupiter so I guess it doesn't exist anymore. Self improvement is an on going process. I still smoke the occasional cigarette. Somehow, I am convinced that it assists my pain medication as well as helping me to calmly focus my thoughts. I have spoken with God about this and discussed whether or not smoking is disrespectful to this body he created for me to spend life in. I rationalize that 3 packs a day would clearly be an insult to him, but that these few that I smoke probably aren't too harmful. I at least try to smoke all natural American Spirit organic tobacco cigarettes.

God lifted my desire to drink as soon as I asked for his help. I guess He will do the same with cigarettes when it's time.

I will get to see a few of my friends on my trip and see how people in my old AA home group are doing. I feel uncomfortable about leaving my fortress of solitude for a week and it bothers me that I am even worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet. I guess I am not as firmly attached to the now as I thought. Writing this helps. Serenity has returned and I am relaxed and comfortable once more. Ahhh. Looking outside I can see Jupiter once again, all is well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Try Something New

I am trying something new.

This evening I did something just for fun. I had a half written song that has been my happy mental soundtrack for a couple of months and I thought I would try something new. I recorded just the parts I had with Audacity recording/editing software so I could listen to what I had. It was fun to discover that the program let me record and edit separate tracks. I just love discovering features that I didn't know my equipment or programs could do.

I had the chorus to the song, so I recorded guitar and a voice that just sang the chorus. It sounded good, so I added a harmony to the chorus on another track. So far so good. I had some verses I had written for the song and looked them over while I waited for the refrigerator to finish it's loud compressor cycle before recording. It was taking a long time so I looked at some words I had written for a different song and they felt like a better choice for this song. ( Thank you God.)
I sang the lead vocal, mixed the tracks, and this little tune was ready for more parts.

At this point I could put more instruments on myself, but I really like the collaboration of minds and energy when more musicians are involved so I thought I would try something new. This computer and internet stuff has made information sharing easy, so why not make an MP3 and send it in an e-mail to other musicians who could put a part on the song no matter where in the world they might be?

I owe a lot of this computer savvy to my friend, Fred Mitchell, who has been sharing his discoveries with me. Fred and I go back to 1968 when we were in radio together. We also had a little band in which he played drums. We re-established our friendship this year when we found each other on line. We had lost contact for about 20 years and here we are again exchanging ideas and stimulating our creative minds. So I sent Fred the following e-mail;

Hey Fred,
I was messing around with Audacity this evening and learned how to record and edit separate tracks. It reminded me of what we were talking about the other night. We might not be able to synchronize live recording several musicians across the country, but I think it would be fun to pass around an mp3 and add parts. Bongos, bass, guitars, kalimba, more singers, etc.

What a joyful noise! Consider this song a test, just for fun, something to try and who knows, we may start a new way for writers and musicians to develop songs.

Add a part and send it on to someone else that might want to play with it.

This could be fun,

We shall see what happens next.

Stay tuned, or send me an e-mail and I'll send you the song to play with and try something new.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Toxic waste and the 200 foot Jesus

Great publicity stunt;

Yesterdays Redding Searchlight, (local daily paper), ran a front page story about a man who, "wants", to erect a 200 foot Jesus statue on top of Iron Mountain. He owns the iron mountain mine, ( a superfund toxic cleanup site ), and said he envisions a 200 foot Jesus on the mountain top that would surpass the one in South America. The people who post comments below the stories, "on line", went crazy.

Here's the first part of the story;

Mine owner wants to erect statue of Jesus

Iron Mountain site could be home to 200-foot Jesus, mineral extraction

Water is treated Tuesday at Iron Mountain Mine. The mine’s owner said he has plans to pull minerals from the famously acidic water, as well as put the world’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ atop the mountain.

Photo by Greg Barnette / Record Searchlight

Water is treated Tuesday at Iron Mountain Mine. The mine’s owner said he has plans to pull minerals from the famously acidic water, as well as put the world’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ atop the mountain.

Ted Arman

Ted Arman

IRON MOUNTAIN MINE -- Ted Arman has big plans for his Iron Mountain Mine and the acidic water that seeps from the federal Superfund site.

They include a return to mineral mining at the site nine miles northwest of Redding and a 200-foot Italian marble statue of Jesus Christ atop the 3,500-foot mountain that Arman says would be the largest in the world. Next to the steel-framed Christ would stand a 100-foot crucifix made of a material yet to be named.

"I hope to make the property a Garden of Eden,' " Arman said.

But a federal official says that none of Arman's changes is in the works at the mine, home to what scientists have called the world's worst water and whose iron-red scar is visible from much of Redding.

"He has always had a number of plans for the mine," said Rick Sugarek, project manager for the Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup of Iron Mountain.

Sugarek said Arman hasn't made any proposals to the EPA detailing how he would extract minerals -- such as copper, zinc and cadmium -- from the mines' acidic water or for erecting the massive statue.

As long as the statue doesn't interfere with the cleanup effort at the mine, Sugarek said Arman should be free to build it -- it is his property.

This got the people talking, and writing stuff like;


Posted by Workingman on June 11, 2008 at 6:03 a.m.

I hope this doesn't happen...This guy is a nut job.

Posted by linda1005 on June 11, 2008 at 6:11 a.m.

This always gets unsafe is Iron Mtn. Mine? Growing up in Redding, we would go there on field trips with school. I think I may still have a few of the pretty rocks we got to take home. I guess I should consider myself lucky to have viewed it firsthand.

Posted by downtowner on June 11, 2008 at 6:30 a.m.

No way.

Posted by justmy2cents on June 11, 2008 at 6:38 a.m.


Posted by shsjuniorAP on June 11, 2008 at 6:43 a.m.


Posted by ConfirmedPassword on June 11, 2008 at 6:56 a.m.


Posted by Sparky on June 11, 2008 at 7 a.m.

Millions in our tax dollars over the past twenty years to clean up this mess, and he wants to spend his money on a giant Jesus (and giant accessories). If he wants to redeem himself by blowing tons of money, he should do something on behalf of the downtrodden the way Jesus supposedly would want him to do. Nobody needs another man-made thing around here to "enhance" the area's natural beauty. Nature did a pretty good job on the first try.

It gets better;

Posted by Treebones on June 11, 2008 at 7:14 a.m.

Maybe the statue can make wine out of that water?

Posted by terrydoo on June 11, 2008 at 7:15 a.m.


Posted by downtowner on June 11, 2008 at 7:16 a.m.

This is Redding, from what I see many locals would have no use for catholic symbols. Me for one. I have always considered it one of the more mixed-up religions. Cash to redeem yourself which means you can sin all you want if you are willing to pay for it.

Posted by CPeterka on June 11, 2008 at 7:21 a.m.

Freedom of Speech !!
It's just not for High School Students anymore.
I have my own version of a saviour, but I won't stop him as long as the statue does not fall on my home.

Posted by downtowner on June 11, 2008 at 7:22 a.m.

Another thing, 200 foot italian marble statue. Is Bill Gates catholic? Maybe he can get some of the oil billionaires in the middle-east to contribute.

Posted by jusdafactspls on June 11, 2008 at 7:23 a.m.

Jesus Christ!

Posted by paul52 on June 11, 2008 at 7:24 a.m.

Treebones..good line.

Posted by alvin_karpis007 on June 11, 2008 at 7:28 a.m.

Worst idea ever

This is just the warm up to two days worth of ranting and raving about statues of King Kong, Jesusland, and so forth. But wait...what's this?

Posted by HappyPhil on June 12, 2008 at 4:11 p.m.

H. P. Barnum would be proud of these guys. "Suckers never read the fine print".
These guys are trying to sell shares in a mine that they say "might" produce great riches if they are allowed to try an experimental, untested method of extraction.
That they,"want to erect a 200 foot statue of Jesus", is a monumentally brilliant publicity stunt that is working wonderfully.

Posted by Treebones on June 12, 2008 at 6:09 p.m.

I think you are on to them.

Thanks for your perspective.

I read the whole article and visited The main purpose of the "news" article was to bring the mine to the attention of possible investors. I seriously doubt that Ted Arman ever actually intends to erect the proposed statue.

What I did take away from two days of contentious religious debate was a clear definition of my belief in God.

I believe in a creator of everything from microbes to mountains.

I believe the 10 commandments are good instructions for social behavior and spiritual focus. (At the moment I don't have a servant, maidservant, ox, ass, cattle or a stranger that sojourns with me, but I would give them a day off once a week if I did.)

I believe that God created you, me, Jesus, Buddah, Mohammed, Moses, etc., and is quite capable of using evolution to do so.

Jesus did not create me so I don't pray to him, but I follow his teachings.

If I were to feel the need to pray to a life form, it would be the microbe. Life on earth cannot exist without microbes.

I don't need to sacrifice, fast, grovel, punish myself, or mumble repetitive beseechings to maintain contact with God. God is within and without me. I converse, commune with and express my thanks to God always.

God, as I know Him, doesn't need money, churches, statues or ritual to guide me and nourish my soul, I am blessed.

I love what God has bestowed upon me, I am thankful and happy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chris and I say goodbye

What a gift

Two weeks after Chrissy was killed, we were given the gift of seeing each other.

She was sitting in an easy chair, wearing a blue shift and surrounded by a sea of white. She seemed bewildered as she looked around our room, until she saw me. The instant we looked in each others eyes, I could sense her relief at seeing me. She understood what was to become, and let me know she would be alright now that she knew what was happening. She had been confused by the circumstances of her demise and needed to see me to help her understand. We normally communicated with our own form of esp in life, and so it was during this visit that we "spoke" volumes without uttering a single word.

She let me know she was alright and was glad we were having an opportunity to say goodbye. She comprehended what was happening to her and could now proceed peacefully to what ever was next. My broken heart wanted me to go to her and leave this empty world behind, but when I made a move to join her, she dissolved.

I am not the kind of person who believes in visions or apparitions. I still find it ridiculous that people will make a shrine to a tortilla with the face of Jesus toasted on it's surface. I try to be open to the idea that the emperor has new clothes, but all I ever see is the naked truth and a bunch of delusional nitwits. I have had some pretty vivid hallucinations on LSD, but my moment with Chris was not like a hallucination. When we saw each other it was as real as this moment by the river as I write with this #2 pencil. What we experienced was not drug, alcohol, or dream induced.

I was blessed to spend 16 years living with and caring for my,"other half". She was as open and loving as I was stoic and cynical. Together we radiated a powerful force of goodness that attracted people like moths to a flame. Chris was my purpose in life. She was the other half of me that I had spent my life searching for. It took me several meaningful relationships, 3 divorces, and at least a hundred one night stands to find her, but she and I knew when we were introduced and looked in each others eyes, that our search was over. We had finally found each other.

During our 16 years together, we never had an argument or an unkind thought toward each other. The only time we were unhappy was if we were apart for more than a couple of hours. One time, in our first year together, her folks took her up to Richmond for a visit. We were miserable the whole 2 or 3 days until we were back together. We would never be separated again.

The night before she was run over and killed, we made plans to go to Richmond to pick up our new van. Chrissy's mother and family had picked out and purchased a mini van with a wheelchair lift for us. We were looking forward to the good gas mileage and the lift would take some of the strain off my deteriorating back. Our present van was an 84 dodge that got 10 miles to the gallon, city or highway. I would lift Chris out of her chair and set her on the passenger seat. Then I would place ramps up to the van to drive her chair inside. When we would get to where we were going, I would pull out the ramps, roll out the chair, lift Chris out of the van and set her in her chair.

I loved doing this. She would wrap her arms around my neck and hold on tight as I carried her from one place to another. It felt so good. I never tired of holding and carrying her, and we would do this several times each day. In the year 2000 I injured my back, and it further damaged an existing problem that I didn't know I had. I became a member of the chronic back pain club. Physical therapy only caused more damage and an operation couldn't help replace the insulation that had been scraped off my sciatic nerve by bone spurs. So the new van would have a lift.

We spent our last evening planning a shake down cruise to Las Vegas, (She loved it there.), we talked about how we would spend the next 16 years, went to bed, made love and dreamed of the wonderful future awaiting us.

Sack o' woe

Sack O' Woe:

People ask me why I am happy. I will be happy to elucidate...

I live in the here and now. I have learned that dragging around a sack of unhappiness and problems, is exhausting. It impedes forward progress and does not contribute anything toward improving my inner being or worldly circumstances. I thank God every morning for giving me another day to treasure this present of life and comprehension.

I am happy because I am literate and can understand the meaning of words and their indispensable value in formulating coherent thoughts.

Here is one way I think people set themselves up for failure; They can't read above a grade school level. They skip over words they don't know or understand and think they know the subject. This leads to grave consequences if what they are reading is the Bible or a constitutional amendment! If you are operating with incomplete information and faulty logic, nothing is ever going to work out the way you want it to, and you will be unhappy. We all make mistakes, some more devastating than others, but we don't have to keep dragging those failed constructs along with us on life's path. If you have learned your, "lesson", and have made amends, you can let it go. If you feel guilty, it's because you know you will probably do it again. ( A friend said that today and I am happy to add it to my way of thinking.)

I am happy because I read the instructions before assembly. I read the manual before I use new equipment. I didn't sometimes and those things became a source of frustration and disenchantment when they didn't work like I wanted. I was driven to ranting and raving and blaming everything but my incomplete knowledge. "What a crummy piece of shit!" "What moron designed this!" and one of my favorites; After taking it apart and putting it back together still not reading the instructions, "This thing must be defective!"

I am happy that I let God wash away the pain and anguish of recent tragic circumstances so that I can give joy and comfort and hope to myself and others. I thought that having everything that I loved taken away in such a rude and brutal manner was life's ultimate insult, (I'm still not ready to write about that yet.), but destruction is natures way of creating something new.

I am in the process of putting the pieces of me back together, and, with Gods help, I am reading the instruction manuals.

Without my "Sack o' woe", I am happy.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How I spent a rainy day

How I spent this rainy day:

I have been doing some research into the origins of bible stories. I am finding the source material for the new testament and how and why Mark used Homers epics,(sometimes word for word-miracle by miracle) to tell the story of Jesus. It seems my research finds he also took freely from the,"old", testament as well.

This is no surprise when you consider that learning to write at the time required you to copy Homers works and translate them into Aramaic or simple Greek. Change a few names and places, add the trial and death of Jesus from Hector and Achilles, and presto...The gospels!

This was not enough for Mark, he wanted a big finish. The resurrection! Back to Homer's Odyssey and the Iliad and you've got it.

It gets a little dicey here. John, Luke, Matthew, Peter and company are making changes as they go about telling and re-telling the story. Peter wants to include non-Jewish believers into Christianity. John isn't hot on this idea and Matthew has been following yet a different path. What to do? They each write Marks story their own way, and leave it up to future scribes to sort out.

I believe in God and Jesus' message of hope and peace. I simply, always, seemed to find contradictions when reading the Bible. Now I know why. This does not diminish my faith in God, but strengthens my spiritual beliefs as a result of this discovery.

One basic theme in Jesus' sermon on the mount is tolerance. John's writings show little tolerance. It's not too hard to weed out the words and actions that are not in Jesus' character when reading John or Revelations.

Now, back to Mark. When he was reworking Homer, he wanted his hero to be more than Odysseus or Hector, so he gave Jesus supernatural powers. Where the Gods helped Odysseus, Mark has Jesus performing the miracles on his own. Mark takes a story of Elijah from the old testament and adds it to his story of Jesus; Instead of Elijah asking God to heal a child, Jesus heals the child himself.

Why would I do all this research? Why question the contents of the Holy Book? Because the Bible doesn't make sense.

Here's one of the things that troubled me from the time I was around 7 years old and studying for my first communion; Jesus believed strongly in the 10 commandments, particularly the second. Many times he is reported to say that he is a child of God and that one should only worship God the father. The second commandment clearly states that one should not worship, bow down to, or serve any but God. In addition, if I have been reading correctly, Jesus was very upset with priests and temples and the collecting of money. Christianity and the churches that promote it are doing exactly what God and Jesus tell us not to do. How do they bamboozle people into worshiping Jesus against His wishes? Just how wrong is it to collect money in Jesus' name? Are people really illiterate, dumb suckers that pay to hear blasphemy and corruption of God's Holy word?

Some of you may think I am oversimplifying some things, and you would be correct. If I didn't, you would not be reading this far.

So there I am, a 7 year old kid with a lot of questions. I ask nuns, teachers, preachers, doctors, other kids these kind of questions and not only do I not get answers, but they don't want anymore questions from me. Luckily, God gave me the gift of literacy and I could read and comprehend most anything ever written, even as a child. Finding books with the answers I sought was a little tough for a seven year old with a "kids" library card, so I got a card for the big peoples section. I soon found that not all libraries are equal especially when it comes to books on religion and philosophy. ( A couple of "different" libraries would be Oakland vs. Anaheim.) These days it's so much easier thanks to Google search and a curious mind. Just when I needed to find answers that could resolve the debate in my mind, God put this computer, this apartment, this time, the means, my friends and associates, all together at this moment where it becomes miraculously convenient.

The answers I wanted, I couldn't find in the catholic church. When I was 14, going to confession before my sisters wedding, I told the priest that I wasn't seeing any light or talking statues, or hearing God's thundering voice speaking to me. He suggested I look to other religions to find God. I wonder if he knew what he started?

If I were to name the most dangerous trait of religions it would be aggressive ignorance. A world of destruction has always accompanied those who slaughter each other in the name of their specific God. These unenlightened, tormented, acolytes will sanctimoniously kill you in the name of Jesus, George Bush, Bin Laden, Chairman Mao, or any, (second commandment breaking), idolatry they follow.

How can this be? How can world leaders manipulate the masses to kill one another in wars to control the worlds resources? EASY!
9 out of 10 religious people are illiterate. They might be able to read a comic book or a magazine but they sure as hell can't read the Bible or the Koran with any comprehension. If they could actually read these books, they would know what they are doing is against Gods' wishes.

Maybe we can reduce our part in this very expensive global destruction if our next president can read, and speak in complete sentences. Someone familiar with world history and customs would be a refreshing change in the white house. Someone who could ask the automakers to stop selling cars and trucks that put a strain on our limited supply of petroleum. You know, someone with intelligence.

Just one more thing: The new dollar coin does not have,"In God we trust", on it. One of my religious friends sent me an e-mail urging people to boycott this coin. They evidently didn't read their bible; "Give unto Caesar what is Caesars', give unto God what is Gods'. " We shouldn't have Gods' name on money to begin with!

The Present

Every boy wants to be a great man. I was told that Jesus was a great man, so I, like many others, aspired to be great like Jesus.

No one came along to take me to the desert where I could wander around wearing a robe and sandals to commune with God, but the concept stayed with me.

Like many others who aspired to be great like Jesus, I experienced some apprehension as I approached the age of 33. (Some of you know the feeling I am talking about.) Now that I am 63, I can be relatively assured that I will make it past 33.

Some of the people I talk with, have told me their fear of not surviving past a certain age.
They will say something like, "My (dad/mom/sister/brother/aunt/uncle) died when (he/she) was ___ years old. I will be ___ next year and I am worried that I will die then too."

I generally say, " You are here and it is now. Be happy. Enjoy this day that God has given you. Don't waste this beautiful gift of NOW. You are worrying about what may or may not happen in a time and place that doesn't even exist yet."
It is smart to plan for the future, but you don't live there.

What a glorious gift writing is. It's a form of time travel. Here I am tethered to this moment in time, writing these words to express my thoughts, and here you are in my future, presently reading what I am presently writing, in your past. What a trip!

To sum this up,
Every boy wants to be a great man.
Am I a great man?
My life is great!
It's great to be.
It's great to be alive.
It's great to be aware.
It's great to know I am a child of God.
It's great to be well read.
It's great to be a musician.
It's great to be an artist.
It's great to be a scholar.
It's great to be 63.
It's great to be literate.
It's great to comprehend.
It's great to be happy.
It's great to love and be loved.
It's great to be thankful.
It's great to help others.
It's great to know God.
It's great to be blessed.
It's great to be humble.
It's great to know humility.
It's great to see God.
It's great to touch God.
It's great to hear God.
It's great to love God.
It's great to be me.
I am a great and grateful man.
Thank God for all these glorious gifts, this miracle called; "The Present."

Tolerance and Audacity

Tolerance and Audacity;

This was to be a piece about tolerance. You know, the ability to bear pain and hardship, to endure, to allow without interfering. It was to be my atonement for rude behavior at a jam session. A brief clash of egos which I chose to win. Victory didn't taste so sweet. It seemed to tarnish an otherwise sterling exposition of the musical gifts I bear. (Bare?). After stewing over a bone of contention that left a bad taste in my craw, I felt the need to refresh my palate with a study of tolerance. That's enough.

Tonight, or more precisely, 4 AM, I am so happy to be in a place where I can sit on the patio watching the trees wave and dance in the gusting wind, and be wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. It's 70 degrees and the breeze caresses my skin like a beautiful woman.

I found a video about 2012 that explains a lot of what I have been reading and telling people about. December 21, 2012 is the day the Mayan long calendar ends. The I-ching, (mathematical calculations indicate), ends. The solar systems' 26,000 year journey through the Zodiac ends. Numerous celestial events occur, and it's the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Really.

2012 is the beginning of a new age of enlightenment. A new world order, and a life less reliant on material products. Back to nature, as if we somehow are separated from, and are not part of the natural world anyhow.

So I found a video that addresses these things and then some.
There's not a lot of comic relief in this 13 part info-mentary, but it does provoke some thought. I would rate it SE, for the semi-enlightened and further evolved intellect.

Audacity is the willingness to take bold risks. It's also the name of a recording/editing program I recently downloaded. With it I have moved beyond the loss of my recording equipment and can once again produce good quality CD's. ( During my period of grief and sorrow over chrissy's death, unscrupulous and opportunistic people relieved me of my analog and digital studio equipment.)

I found a free download of Audacity and I am thrilled with it's performance. First I experimented with recordings I had made and stored in itunes. The editing functions worked wonders. Then Marian Sauer sent me a cassette of some songs we had recorded with the LMP Trio that had never been put on CD. I no longer had the original tracks because the workstation and disks were part of the equipment that was stolen, so I looked at the cassette, and I looked at this iMac, and felt there had to be a way to get that music into the computer. Now, just a couple of weeks earlier, I had purchased some audio cables and adapters at the 99¢ store so I could play the sound from my computer through the stereo. If I could do that, then I should be able to reverse that and send sound from the stereo to the computer. I went online and looked at audio input hardware and figured I would have to buy something, but then I remembered there is a microphone input on the side of the mac. I went into system preferences, looked in sound and saw that the mic input was also a stereo line input. I had what I needed and didn't even know it! Thank you Apple.

So I played the cassette, recorded to Audacity, sliced and diced the songs, and presto...CD.

Now to record live music I am getting a little mixer and we should be back in business. Stay tuned.

Hard at work in the, "studio".
6/4/08...Okay, Got a XENYX 802 mixer and it works.I recorded a little song and now must figure out a way for you to hear it.