Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Never gobble at a turkey!

I went on a little road trip with one of my older sisters when I was a teenager. I don't remember exactly what the trip was about. I think it was Christmas and my sister didn't want to travel alone. What I do remember is we stopped at a little house in the middle of nowhere. Next to the middle of nowhere sat a turkey farm.
Turkey farms tend to loose turkeys sometime so it is normal to see one wandering around anytime you happen to be close to a turkey farm. My sister and I were walking out to the car when I spotted one.
Needless to say I was excited to see the turkey. I'd never seen a turkey up close least not without involving mashed potatoes and gravy. Forget about stuffing.

No, I don't eat stuffing. I have enough issues with wet bread. Must be some childhood trauma. The bread puffing as it absorbs water like a sponge, except it isn't a sponge and doesn't hold its shape, squishing to paste when you touch it.

Why would you put that in your mouth? What is wrong with you people? Eeeeeeeeww!! Let's not even get into the depths of wrongitude once you decide to stick this crime against nature into the innards of a massive bird. Just not right.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah. Turkey up close. I got excited. You know, when it tickles deep down in your stomach and then ripples out in waves. I jumped up and down and waved at the turkey and then I started to gobble.

Something you should know about me is I make animal noises. Not the usual "a cow says moo, a dog says woof" noises. I confuse dogs when I bark. I have made a goat's tail wag with my goat impression. I have scared the snot out of many a person with my velociraptor (you have to see it to truly understand). When I gobbled, it was pretty close to a real turkey.

The face I make in order to do the gobble justice is a little embarrassing, but it is the only way to make the sound right.

Problem is I don't really speak turkey. So I tried very hard to be happy and nice and say something along the lines of this:

Now, I don't know if I got the words wrong or if, since it was Christmas, the turkey was extra sensitive, but the stupid bird reacted as though I had said something more along the lines of this:

The turkey had been casually strolling along the side of the road, but as soon as I started gobbling it turned to look at me and a transformation took place. The cute little turkey I had initially seen...

Turned into a monstrous turkey demon. It stood up tall and I swear it was almost as tall as I was. My gobbling ceased abruptly as the nightmare stomped its way toward us, gobbling like no turkey has ever gobbled before. The sound still haunts me.

My sister started yelling, "What did you do?! Get in the car! Go! Oh crap! Get in the car!"

It was like something from a horror movie. The handle slippery and sticking in the cold air, my hand shaking. Time slowed down and you could hear the gobble deepen and stretch out like when lovers run towards each other in movies, except this was no romantic comedy. Death spoke to us in that gobble.

Finally I pried the door open and we both got in, but the beast kept coming. My sister got the car running and we sped away, kicking up snow and leaving the red eyes of the grim reaper behind. I still gobble and I still gobble at turkeys, but only if they are more than 30 yards away.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The joy that is bum warmers

My blog has lost its way. I'm terribly sorry about that. I created it in an attempt to include everyone in on my way of seeing the world. Little random moments of intrigue in the sounds that the mustard bottle makes. The way light glints off the oil slick pooling under my garbage can. The hum of a real copper penny when you flip it in the air. I have been sidetracked by my incessant complaints about work. That's not what this blog is about. It is about me dang it, not my job. It is supposed to be funny and inspirational...mostly funny. It also needs more pictures.

One of my favorite blogs uses pictures from paint and I got to thinking, "Hey. I don't have any of that fancy computer software. I used paint to make my business logo which ain't half bad. I should try my hand at that."

I don't expect my blog to be nearly as popular, amazing, or beartastic as hers, but I want it to be a little goofier. It's time to take myself and my job a little less seriously. It's time to talk about bum warmers.

There are many inventions I care deeply about. Toilet paper is one. The alternatives were not pretty.
Insulation is another great invention. I love being warm. I do not like the cold. I am thankful that there are things that keep the cold out. Nasty, icky, worthless cold. That is why I live in St George. We rarely see the Devil's Dandruff (snow) here and I like it that way.

But, whoever invented the car seat bum warmer is my hero. My bum warmers heat up faster than my regular heater which likes to blow frosty air at me for several minutes before coming close to warm. My seat starts radiating heat within a minute or two, like someone just swung the summer sun around to my backside, beach air rolling across my seat, the ocean waves crashing in the background. I love my bum warmers. They make me warm and happy. They are like little hugs from my car.
My dog likes to ride in the car. He is also somewhat obsessed with me and wants to be on my lap the whole time. I don't allow him to, so he hovers right next to my lap. This happens to be right on the bum warmer buttons. Not a big deal in Fall, Winter, or even Spring, but in the middle of Summer it becomes a nightmare. St George turns into an fiery oven full of hair dryers during the summer. It gets hot, very hot. My dog sets off the bum warmer without me noticing and ten minutes later I realize something is wrong. By then, it is too late. The hugs are replaced with mauling fire lemurs of death.
I am on fire, melting with the onslaught of flame. My body tries desperately to stop the heat. Let's look at the physical reaction:
Sweat breaks out and begins to pour down my back in growing rivers and streams in a fruitless attempt to put out the flames that have erupted below.
Why is this fruitless? Because, despite the feeling of heat, there is no actual flame.
So the sweat converges and collects until you have a nice amount of warm water pooling where warm water should not pool unless you are here:
So, even the best inventions have their flaws. With such a wonderful thing as bum warmers we must all be responsible and remain vigilant against their misuse. There are few things worse than bum sweat.

I hope you like where my blog is headed. Sorry for the bum cracks, but I'm a thirteen year old inside and can't help it. Thanks for reading. Love you all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raptor Bark LLC Refinishing, Art, and Design

My new business is getting more official. My sister and brother in law are going to work on creating two websites for me, one for the biz and one for me as an author. I don't have much money to spend on websites right now, so this is how I paid them.

My sister had this old, beat up dresser thing, stained and cracked white paint slathered on all sides. I spent several days getting the seven layers of paint off. White, yellow, pink, blue, white, blue, and a dark stain. Sad thing was, the first layer of paint was to cover up a water stain that would have been an easy repair. I'm also pretty sure the last two layers of paint were lead based. They didn't react right to the stripping agent. I may die now. A little scraping and sanding later and this is what the dresser looked like.

Some glue, wood filler, stain and polyurethane later and the final product is done. I think it is worth a little website or two, but I am biased like that. Let me know what you think.

Oh, this is my logo for the biz, by the way. Raptor Bark is so going to be awesome. Thanks for reading and supporting my crazy idea to make money without enervating (look it up) my soul.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Warming up my novel fingers...

I have no great purpose to my blog this morning. I'm really just trying to wake up the writing part of my brain. I have found no better means of kickstarting my writing than typing away. It's like jumping on a bike after a long while of walking and driving. Yes, the old adage is correct. You will not forget. But, you may be wobbly for a bit as you work muscles that have let memory slide. This means the first bit of my wordsmithing comes out slow and boring. I can't do that to my novel. I do that to you all instead. You are welcome.

I've been babbling a lot about quitting my job lately. I will try to focus more in the future on how the act of quitting affects me and my life instead of ranting away. Not much to report at the moment. I gave a very large notice so not much is changing. I can say that I am still happier. Our guest satisfaction scores have skyrocketed since I gave notice. Just more proof that an employee's mood can drastically shift customer's perceptions. My good mood has been contagious. Front desk agents smile more, are more productive, and whine less. Thank you all for following my lead. The hotel needs happy workers. That is why I am leaving. I can no longer be happy doing this and I feel terrible that my unhappiness drags down the rest of you. Sorry about that. I will do my best to keep you all going strong until I leave in three and a half months. After that, you are on your own...for the most part. I will still be blogging and on facebook.

My novel is doing well. Yes, it is still stalled out around the middle, but the writing up to that is in good shape. My seminar was helpful and I was called professional by a man who has published many many books. I rewrote my outline the other day and I think the novel will take off from there. It looks good. I know my opinion is biased, but I like my book more than a little. Kaden, Aren, and James are in for the ride of their imaginary lives. Kaden is growing up as he attempts to find lost Aren in another world. Aren is discovering her own power and finding she doesn't need to be rescued. James is having some issues with nanochips in his head, a computer AI that is falling in love with him, holograms coming to life, his flirty but distant boss, and genetically constructed dragons. He'll figure it all out though. I hope to have it finished within the next four months. Then I am off to find an agent on the yellow brick road of publishing. Not looking forward to the flying monkey attacks, but some of the scenery should be nice and I do enjoy skipping.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oh The Lemurs Will Fly

People keep trying to keep me from quitting. I understand their good intentions. I know they are trying to protect me, save me from myself perhaps. I want them to stop. The decision is somewhat out of my hands. Yes, I could backtrack with my RVP, make nice and manage to salvage my place with this company. Yes, I could ignore the things I dislike about my job and join the land of the gruntled.

I keep hearing this from my friends, family, people I know, and people I don't know:

"In this economy, you should be happy to have a job at all."
"You don't want to be out of a job right now."
"You really think its wise to quit your job right now?"
"At least you have a job."
"Do whatever it takes. Now is not the time to walk away from a steady paycheck."
"Being unemployed is not a good option."

Really? Thank you all for the words of wisdom, but please stop. I love you all (except those I don't know), but you are wrong.

What is steady? Could my hotel be sold tomorrow? Yes. Could I be laid off by the new company? Yes. Most new owners let the entire previous management team go. Could I snap and throw a lemur at a guest's face tomorrow resulting in a pink slip? Most likely not, but if a guest pushed the right buttons and a lemur was handy...well, yes. Could a crazy employee slap the company with an even crazier lawsuit that puts my job in jeopardy? Oh yeah. Some of you know that story. How stable really are any of our jobs?

Let's go through some of the reasons for me to stay:

"Steady" Income I agree. That is nice to have. I have bills to pay, a wife and puppy to feed, car, home, insurance, student loans, credit card, utilities, and maintenance costs (for home, cars, and ourselves).

Loyalty I like my direct boss as a person (though not always as a boss). I like some of my employees very much. They have been a joy to work with.

...hmmm...yeah, I got nothing else.

Now, the reasons to leave:

Finances Most people get weird about discussing their money. I don't understand this. We all have money. We all work towards having more. Most of our life is spent amassing it, paying bills with it, spending it on kids, homes, cars, pets, jewelry, art, projects, entertainment, food, and other random needs or wants. Yet, when someone asks details of money, people clam up. I will be honest with you. I make just over $38,000. I am salaried. It is more than my last job, but not by much. My last job was based on a 40-45 hour work week. My current job is based on a 50-55 hour work week. That means, on a typical week, I make about $13.50 an hour. On a busy week, like this one where I was called in for 14 hours on my day off, I make around $11.40 an hour. That is a lot of work for not much pay, especially once you take account for all the extras I do for my job and the treatment I've received lately. I made more an hour working at a health food store ten years ago, before I had a degree.

Physical Health I work long hours, weekends, and holidays. I am under great stress, do not eat well, and sit a lot. I weigh more than I ever have. My cholesterol is dangerously high. I have heart palpitations. People say I should make time to exercise. Thank you. Let me make time from my special time making machine. It is hard enough to eat with my schedule. Eleven hour day where I get home at 7pm, need to make dinner, spend some time with my wife, and get some rest before doing it again. Let's not forget that I am also renovating my condo, refinishing furniture, painting my light boxes, and have a novel to write.

Mental Health My job doesn't fulfill any of me dreams. It is a job, nothing more. Should I turn something I don't enjoy doing into a career? I find myself growing less patient, forgiving, and kind. I don't like it, but I am under a lot of stress and guests are more demanding and entitled each day. I need to unwind, but I don't have many chances to do so.

Social Health I got about five texts this week that read, "You working?" Not, "Hey man. What's up?" or "You wanna go to a movie?" or "Annie and I are going to dinner. Want to come?" That is often the first thing people think to ask me when they call or text. Why? Because I am always working. Some of my friends don't even bother to pick up the phone and call me anymore. They know I won't make it. Hotels never close. I work weekends. I miss birthday parties, dinners, nights out, church functions, road trips, and holiday get togethers. I miss my friends. I miss being able to visit family members who live far away or across town.

Spiritual Health It doesn't matter if you are atheist or a devote Christian, people need something that feeds them on a deep level. This isn't just church for me. It is camping, hiking, spending time outdoors. Half my weekends are spent pushing papers and dealing with guests. I would like to go to church more. I would also like to go camping. No, I need to go camping. I find myself growing more cynical. I have always been a practical optimist. I am very pragmatic, but I believe in the best of people and myself. Lately, I have been losing the optimist part. I can't blame all of this on my job, but it is a contributing factor.

Overall Happiness Just thinking I am down to my last few months at this job has made me happier than I've been in a year. I can make money doing other things. If my business ventures do not work out, I will take a job. Maybe it will make less overall than I make now, but poverty is not the worst thing in the world. It is tough and stressful in its own right, true. But, this job is killing me in more ways than one. I will be happier earning a little less if I am also working a little less. So...long story short, stop trying to talk me out of it. I am making the leap. Don't call me egotistical; I am too smart and talented to be wasting myself on this job and this company.

This is not directed at any one person. I have had a lot of support about my decision from many of you, even employees that I will be abandoning. The support has been great. I just want those of you who are still clinging to the cliched "at least you have a job" mentality to know that I am annoyed. By saying these things to me you show doubt in me as a writer, artist, and entrepreneur. Stop that!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Boss' Job

Sorry to my little gang of followers for not working on this more. Life if busy and writing takes time I rarely have. The good news is that you will start to see more writing from me in the future. That's right, folks. I am on the edge of no longer being employed.

The prospect of losing a job in this economic market is daunting. I admit I am a little scared, but, at the same time, I am excited. Possibilities open up all around me. We will be poor...really poor. Crack open the ramen and cry in your soup poor. Yet, with poverty comes the opportunity to write, paint, carve, refinish furniture, and hopefully sell my first novel. I welcome poverty if the payoff will be time and happiness.

Here is the skinny on the job situation. I'm sure you are all dying to know what happened. I have worked for the same company for over three years now. I was promised a new title and raise months after I started. Three years later...nothing. My direct boss has been trying the whole time to get his boss to look at my situation and fix this oversight. He has been ignored.

Let me fill you in on my job really quick. Sorry, but it will help you understand. I work fifty plus hours a week. I work in the Hotel Industry. That means I also work weekends, holidays, never have a set schedule, and get phone calls on my days off or in the middle of the night. I deal with angry guests, sometimes slacker employees, a micro-managing boss, and a lot of financial headaches. Its a tough job, but I have enjoyed the work for years now.

This started to change with my current employers. They dump more and more workload on me and my boss. They ask for more hours. They offer no incentives. They squeeze every cent they can out of the hotel and give very little back. My work/life balance does not exist. I started to edge closer toward sixty hours a week there for a while. If you break down how much I truly make an hour, I made more ten years ago. Still they ask for more. I finally had enough.

I sent an email to my boss' boss voicing my frustrations and asking for her to look at the promised promotion. She came to talk to me. It did not go well.

She pretty much told me I needed to make a passionate commitment to the company. How can I commit to a company that has not kept its commitments to me? She set aside all talk of my promotion and raise and never returned to it. She instead focused on the possibility of my boss leaving sometime in the next two years. She wants me to prove I can do his job. This is where it gets good, people.

She told me I needed to do his job to show her I was ready to take over in 18 months to two years. So, she wants me to do my job and the job of someone who makes 26 thousand more than me for two years without compensation in order to prove I can do a job that I am already lined up for and ready to do. Crazy, huh? She gave me two weeks to think about her proposal and my commitment. Commit or start thinking about my "exit strategy." That's what she called it.

I don't need two weeks. My answer is no. I have put up with a lot from this company, but this is too much. I am done. Funny thing...I am happier than I have been in months. Just knowing light exists at the end of this corporate tunnel has made me near giddy. Yes, scared too. We don't have savings to cover a job loss, but we will make do. Don't tell me otherwise. My soul already feels less starved and compressed at the thought of being free.

I have never really been unemployed. Don't worry. I am not the kind of person to sit in front of the tv, eating nachos and playing xbox. My beard growing shaggier while my wife cleans around me and pays the bills. I have plans. My refinishing business made me a whole 1,000 dollars this year and that was with me barely doing anything. I have paintings to sell, light-boxes to build, refinishing to do, and a novel to write. If worse comes to worse, I will get a part time job while supplementing my income with my random endeavors. Weird, I felt so trapped a month ago. Now, thanks to a ridiculous ultimatum from my boss' boss, I can let the invisible bands loosen and make my escape.

Thank you for reading. Wish me luck, but expect great things from me too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's that grinding sound? Is that my soul?

I've complained a lot about my job lately. I know its getting old. You are all sick of my whining. Sorry. I need one more little rant and then I think I am good to move on to other matters. I read something the other day that made me think about why I hate my job. Why does it feel like my soul is being crushed? Why do I itch to move on?

I've had jobs that were more demeaning, paid less, and required more labor. I've had bosses I couldn't stand. My current boss is actually quite pleasant. I work fifty or more hours a week, but I held a full time job while taking a full load at school, so it isn't just about the time either. I thought about it quite a bit yesterday and this morning and I have come to a decision.

The real reason I am unhappy with my job is because it does not align with any of my personal ideals. I love to do multiple things. You should have noticed by now that I jump around when it comes to hobbies. I carve, draw, write, paint, refinish furniture, am building a teardrop trailer, and delve into science. I love to learn and create. I love to make abstract things in my head into real tangible objects. I love progress, new cutting edge technologies. I love to see something old and broken become beautiful and useful once more. These things feed my soul and engender joy in the deepest part of who I am.

My career in Hotel Management does not. It ultimately serves little purpose, creates nothing, and does not push any envelope of progression. I have read many blogs lately about great epiphanies where people have successfully quit their jobs to start something new and exciting. They became entrepreneurs, started their own businesses, explored their artistic sides, or just moved on to a better career. I didn't buy it. They fell flat on my internal ears. I'm a creative pragmatist. I haven't had a great life altering epiphany nor am I looking for one. I do not need to reinvent myself. I don't think quitting a job will suddenly bring me all the happiness I could ever want. In truth, I am happy with who I am. I just wish I could be myself more often.

So, I was wrong about the soul crushing. I understand that now. My soul is not being pulped under the weight of my work or ground down by the mind numbing monotony of the piled on hours. I thought a lack of recognition, raises, or promotions added extra pounds to the soul squishing. These descriptions are inaccurate. My soul is not being crushed. Starved is closer to the truth. My job crowds out the things that I love, the things that make me happy at the deepest level. I'm going to try not to complain about my job as much. I will find ways to feed my malnourished soul until I find a job that makes doing so easier.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unicorn Poop

I remember being lied to as a child. I was told I could be anything, do anything. Work hard and get an education and life will reward you with all your dreams and wishes. I was also promised a flying car. Lies.

Somewhere above us is a dream factory. Unicorns are working hard squeezing out our marshmello dreams. These dreams roll down the rainbow conveyor belts and drop magically down upon us. Somewhere along the line my conveyor belt has slipped. Somewhere up there rainbow belts are falling to the cloud floor, dreams are crashing into one another, fires are igniting, alarms are sounding, and unicorns are running around crazy with hard hats and marmalade extinguishers.

In all honesty, I do believe in education and hard work. I don't believe that all your dreams can come true, but some can. You can't wait for the rainbows to drop them on you though. You have to have a plan.

I had a plan once. Get a degree in English Literature, get a Masters, teach college, get a PhD, write and teach. I got sucked into the hotel industry while I went to school and was perfectly content to do so for a while. Then the plan slipped. Now, I am working 50 to 60 hours a week, my cholesterol is out of control, I never get weekends or holidays off, and my soul hurts. I barely write and I never get to teach. I am looking for the exit. My soul cannot take the crushing much longer.

My dream is to write, draw, carve, paint, design, teach, and refinish furniture. Random, I know, but it could work. I would also like to be fabulously wealthy. Like I said, you can't have all your dreams. I am letting the wealthy thing go...and the flying car, though begrudgingly.

My wife and I have implemented our plan to break me out of the hotel industry. We are dropping to basic cable and will no longer eat out. Sacrifice is painful, but chafes your soul much less than self compromise. This should save us anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a year. This money will go towards debt and savings. Once we have our credit cards gone and about $7,000 in savings, I am safe to take some risk and jump into making money on my own through my random talents. I have the business license already set up to refinish furniture. I can write and paint all I want once I have the time as long as I actually sell my stuff. This is the plan and we will stick to it this time. No allowing for distracti...ooooohhh...look at that shiny...No! No distractions. We will make these dreams a reality if I have to climb up there and wrestle them from those sticky dream-master's hooves.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What is wrong with me?

Seriously. I bought a trailer a couple days ago. It is a little 4 foot by 8 foot that I got for $125. It really was a great deal even if I had to drive 2 hours to get it...and 2 hours back. It is my latest project. I am going to build a teardrop camper. I am crazy.

Besides the teardrop, I am in the process of writing a novel, refinishing furniture, working more than full time, and fixing up my home. Shelves to build, artwork to paint, electrical to run, furniture to refinish. Too much stuff Charlie. I know. You have got to calm down. Yeah, I know. You are a nut. Yep. Knew that too.

I will post some pictures shortly of my back patio. The benches are done and the fireplace is almost finished. I will build the bed soon and post pics of that too. I will also post some pictures of the trailer. In other words, get ready for some pics people! I am a madman with overly productive ADD. It is who I am.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Crystal Bridge

My novel is very slowly taking shape, but the process is more painful than I had anticipated. I knew it would be hard work. I mean, if it wasn't everyone would have a novel floating around. Wealthy celebrities wouldn't have to pay people to write books for them. Every wannabe author would have a manuscript under their bed. The market would be flooded with book after book and it would be even more impossible to get published. It is difficult enough to get published, so I guess its a good thing writing is hard work.

My biggest problem is lack of time. I work 50 to 60 hours a week and that eats the biggest piece of my time pie. Television eats a large chunk too. I am picky about what I watch, but I have my favorite shows that I want to see. Most of them fuel my writing. I lean towards the fantastic, the scientific, and the well written. Fringe, Lost, Better Off Ted, Community, Bones, and Glee fill up my DVR. Netflix brings me the joys of Dresden Files, Buffy, Angel, and other long lost series. My wife collects others. Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Stargate, Firefly, and WonderFalls fill shelves and make their way to the dvd player regularly. I have a hard time cutting them all out. I know. I am weak.

My other problem is that writing uses completely different parts of my brain than my usual day to day living. I have to tap into memory, science, and creativity at the same time. Most of my day is spent dealing with angry guests, filling out spreadsheets, answering phones, and email. It takes time to shift out of that mindset and into the proper frame of mind to write. Time that is already short. This blog helps. Writing is the fastest way I have found to make the switch. You start and your brain begins to lean in the write direction. I can't start right in on my novel though. The shift makes my first couple paragraphs...well...makes them garbage. They don't work. My blog lets me babble for a little while and ya'll don't seem to mind too much if my first paragraph or two are not beautifully crafted. Thank you for that.

Another problem with writing a novel is keeping everything straight. "Keep it simple stupid" has never been my motto. My first attempt at tiling, I took on the entire bath surround using 4 types of tile and putting in two niches. Let's put a giant orange stripe down my living room wall. Let's refinish all the cupboards in my kitchen. Let's rewire all the lights in the kitchen and run speaker and ethernet throughout the house while I crawl around in the attic. I don't go for simple. I do things the way I want to. My novel follows suit. It is going to be large, complex, and follow many characters back and forth between two worlds. It is going to include an interesting take on magic that includes some scientific explanations. It will bridge two genres as it explores genetics, theoretical physics, magic, subatomic particles, dragons, holograms, elves, quantum computing, and dwarves. I have to create a world where these things can exist, making up names as I go. My brain may very well explode soon and you will all cry. I am sure you would.

These are my roadblocks. Like it or not, most of them are my own fault. I chose to go into the hotel business. I chose to watch too much television. I chose to create my debt that chains me to my job. I chose my characters and the worlds they live in. I chose to redesign my home. I chose to write. I choose to keep writing. My story is good, my characters are real and believable, my novel is fricken fantastic. In truth, I don't have much choice. I will write. I have to.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Scars on The Mountain

Saint George, Utah is one of the most beautiful pieces of country you will see anywhere. The city nestles in the valley surrounded by red and black hills with the grey-blue mountains towering over the north, the white and red cliffs of Zion peaking out of the distant east, and rolling hills in every other direction. It is stunning in any season at any time.

What makes me sad is that we have permanently scarred the face of mother nature. I am not talking about normal development. We need homes and businesses. I am not talking about the massive "D" or the painted "Dixie" even though I could go off for a while about how stupid those are as well. I am talking about the deep, blood red gashes in the mountains around us. It bugs me every time I drive home from work. I drive right along the edge of the mesa and it hurts my little heart to see those marks that will never heal.

How greedy and arrogant do you have to be? Do you really need to be higher up than everyone else? I know people will say that it's about the view, but that's a partial truth. It's about looking down on others, feeling superior. It's about pride. It's disgusting, mean, and a violation of the natural beauty.

Fine. You want to be on a hill, build on a hill. Build where there are natural ledges and shelves. Do not cut into the side of the mountain until nothing remains. I might add that the mountain I am talking about is made up almost entirely of sand, sandstone, clay, and ash. It is covered in a thin veneer of volcanic stone. By stripping away the outer layer, we weaken the structure. We are chipping away at the shell of a very large egg. That egg is going to crack and spill down on the homes below. We will one day see landslides as a consequence.

Build where it is practical. I say make your backyard, your family, and your home beautiful so you will always be surrounded by "the view" that matters. You do not have to look down on me to feel good about yourself. Look around at ground level. Look up at the mountains, trees, and sky. Look at the inherent beauty of our world and be content with what you have. Do not waste your wealth and influence in order to destroy and elevate yourself. Please, remember the lessons of Babel.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to be Clever

I am a moderately intelligent person. Oh, who are we kidding? I'm a freaking genius.

I learn quickly and I know how to apply knowledge. I seek solutions that others don't see. I can learn how to do almost anything by research and experience. I am good at everything I decide to attempt to be good at. I can remember bits and pieces of my life from when I was two. I paint, carve, write, draw, build, design, know computers in and out, tile, refinish, restore, and beautify. You can call me egotistical if you want. I am and I'm not.

The problem is...anyone can do this. I'm not that special when you boil it down. I just do things that naturally exercise your brain. I've always done them and didn't know till recently that they were part of why I learn quickly. I am going to share a few of my tricks with you. I want you all to be geniuses. I think the world would be better off if there were more people who think and are aware.

Trick One: Smell things. The first time I went to the doctor after I learned to speak, I told him that his stethoscope smelled funny. I remember when I was three and my sister spilled kerosene in the basement. I could taste it and I can still picture the high backed wicker chair next to the puddle.

I catch myself sniffing things sometimes. I apparently do it without thought. I sniff my sandwich at the deli before I take a bite. I sniff a brand new pen, blue tooth head set, leather strap of my watch, the herb I just picked from the garden, or a chunk of sandstone I found on the trail.

Your sense of smell is directly tied to your memory. It also forms connections to places. Your brain creates maps constantly. You can visualize your home in detail, but can you smell your home? Your brain creates maps around all your senses. We use sight so much that we forget that our other senses do this too. You have a scent map, a texture map, and a sound map in that melon too. They are interconnected, but we lean on our sight too much. Use all your senses and your brain makes more pathways, more connections, makes you smarter.

Trick Two: Close your eyes. Visualize the world around you without using sight. This forces you to lean on your other senses. Once again, more pathways, more connections, smarter. Many of us do this briefly when we shut off the lights at night and make our way to bed by touch. Try more. Close your eyes in the shower. Work your way through the routine by touch alone. Close your eyes as you unlock your front door. Choose the right key, put it in the lock, turn it, open the door, make your way inside. Close your eyes while you eat breakfast. This reaffirms the neural map in your head and improves your spacial awareness.

When I was a kid I used to lay on my bed and spiral my mind outwards. I would imagine the bed, the bedroom, the trunk in the corner, the dresser, the house, the neighborhood, the state, the county, the world, space, the solar system, the universe. It is good to know where you are. You will find your spatial memory improves. Someone will mention an object and you will picture it in your mind and know exactly where it is, even if you saw it only for a moment days ago. You will also be less likely to run your cart into someone at the grocery store. This will make me very happy. I always get annoyed at everyone's lack of spacial awareness at the grocery store.

Trick Three: Laugh. I'm not sure if there is documented science linking laughter and intelligence, but there should be. My brain just feels better when I laugh...less squishy and mushy. Humorous jokes last longer in your memory. You will always remember the look on someone's face that made you crack up. Laugh more and you will learn more. Look for things to laugh about. Don't mope. I laugh at myself a lot.

Trick Four: Never stop learning. We have this glorious thing called the internet. It is not all goofy cartoons about unicorns, light saber weirdos, and porn. It is a gateway to knowledge. Don't know how to tile...look it up. Don't know why ants walk in lines...look it up. Don't know why space time is curved, why the sky is blue but sunsets are red, how skin heals, how fusion works, why solar panels make electricity, how chocolate is made, why raindrops are shaped that way, how many licks does it take to get to the center...look it freaking up! Never stop. Ever. Learning is a part of the human experience. When we stop learning we die.

That is about it. I could offer more tricks, but most of them you know. Read. Do puzzles. Brush your teeth with your other hand now and again. Mix it up. Have fun. Learn. Grow. Be. I expect you all to be geniuses by tomorrow. Get to work already.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Igor's Girlfriend

My little black book in my pocket doesn't have past girlfriends' numbers. It is full of notes and thoughts, random bits of conversation, an image here, a chunk of nerdy science here. Enjoy my madness...

The snow had frozen into glimmering crystals on each blade of tall grass.

A thin layer of snow had slid off the roof of the car and curled when it touched the hood. It billowed and curved into delicate spirals like the fragile icing on a wedding cake.

Mark the Fish Doctor.

If you pee in the right spot it turns the water into a yellow heart.

Belly button lint is full of magical potential.

Desert of a Thousand Fingerprints. Lines that were drawn in the sand have long ago turned to stone.

You know the girl. Built like me. I bet she could charge up Igor...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Soulless with Spaghetti Friends

I have strange dreams. Let me share a few with you this fine morning.

Last night I had a dream that my soul had been stolen from me. I was being hunted by the soul police, a special unit that could identify the soulless and lock them away. Many people sell their souls for drugs, alcohol, or pleasures. Some lose them gambling. They become leeches on society, prone to violence and criminal behavior without their souls to guide them. Some even give them up to be free of pain, sorrow, and guilt. Mine had been taken from me by force. I was running from the police while searching for it. I ended up finding help in a latin neighborhood from a boy with black eyes. He told me that my soul was mine and could not be taken. Call for it and it will come. I woke up as the police found me and I was yelling to the empty sky for my lost soul. Weird huh?

A while ago I dreamed of an old lady in a B&B who used illusion to ensnare her prey. She would lure young couples to the romantic B&B and then separate them from one another in the maze-like house. She would then devour them and stack the skeletons in the cellar. Her true form was something like a giant spider.

Another night I dreamed that there was a TechnoWizard on the corner of Holland and Ash who helped people out for a price. He used technology and magic to do PI work.

A few months back I dreamed that I was an archeologist and while digging up an ancient village we found two men perfectly preserved under a layer of dirt and a netting that looked like it was made from spider silk. When we removed the spider nets the men awoke, fought with us, and escaped. We learned that they were terrible criminals who had been forced to endure thousands of years awake, but unable to move as punishment for their crimes.

A young girl was being hunted by the government. She had special powers and they were eager to find her and exploit these powers. She hid in the sewers and subway tunnels, constantly afraid for her life. If the government could not capture and control her, they would destroy her to keep her out of enemy hands. She made a companion out of spaghetti noodles, who was her only friend. She was cornered near the end of my dream and her spaghetti friend was injured. She destroyed tanks with just a thought.

That is just a taste. My current book is from two separate dreams. One was about a boy who could travel to different universes in his head. The other was about a company doing computer simulations. These simulations began reaching into other dimensions and causing side effects.

Keep a dream journal. You never know what your mind will come up with. I have several novel ideas from dreams and dozens of short story ideas. Yes, I'm odd, but what did you expect?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tinfoil Unicorns on Bicycles

About a month ago I was driving down my street and a kid sped by on his bike. Nothing too unusual about that...except he had a tinfoil hat on with one pointy tinfoil horn sticking straight up. He must have been about 11 or 12. I was struck by the vision of some unicorn loving, UFO nut, but it was just a little boy being silly. It was awesome! Seriously, made my day, my week. That I can still picture it now, a month later, is a tribute to this little boy's greatness and imagination.

So...what happened to us? I was a goofy kid once too. Some may argue that I still am, but I am nothing when compared to this. Yes, I bark, I gobble, I paint, I carve, I sing to myself, and I do a velociraptor impression that has sent people screaming in terror. I am weird. But, I am not tinfoil horn weird...not anymore. I would feel embarrassed to ride down the street with a tinfoil horn on my head and that makes me sad. I have lost something by complying with this rule. Tomorrow, lets all break a little rule, go outside the norm. Keep that child inside you alive a little longer.

What can I do with saran wrap?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Put on Notice

I am a little near sighted. I wear glasses to drive. It doesn't mean much more than that. I have to take my glasses off to read, eat, or deal with anything close up. I can hold a piece of coconut shell up and see the tiniest lines, cracks, and patterns. I think it makes me a better artist.

It also means I notice things...random things, little things. This blog will be a near sighted writer's perspective on the world. I intend to make you see things in new ways and experience the world in all its tiny majesty and wonder. Yes, I may occasionally mention large scale things of note. I wear glasses after all and can see into the distance just fine with augmentation.

Today's World Notice is grain. Not those chunks in your sandwich bread or what your doctor told you to eat more of whole. I'm talking wood people. Next time you sit down at your kitchen table, sit in your passed down rocking chair, or find yourself in a job interview across from an intimidating woman in a pinstripe suit sitting at some ancient desk...look at the grain.

That is life etched into the surface of that chunk of lumber. Years of growth as minerals and water were pulled from the earth. It is dry seasons and wet seasons, fire, wind, the migration of birds, the relentless movement of the sun. Run your hand across it. Feel the minute ridges and grooves. Feel the warmth of the wood, the smooth gloss from polish and use. It is more than just a pretty stain. The grain of the wood is there to remind us that time marches on. Time leaves its marks.

We can see the ridges and lines on our exterior surface as we age, but we cannot see the marks left within ourselves. As time flows away into the past behind us, marks are left inside each one of us. My soul is lined and knotted with my past mistakes, golden with my triumphs. Oh, what a pretty desk I would make...
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