The ghost in the attic

Since it is nearing Halloween, I guess I better tell this one.

This was the house that I lived in as a child, and only until my parents divorced. It was not particularly old, 30-40 years just really isn’t old when you are looking at architecture. The house that I am currently living in (and buying) has been here since at least 1896, the insurance adjuster that looked at the house had to fudge the number to 1986 to get us insured though. Why, I got no idea. This house has been standing in exactly the same place for more than a hundred years. No storm has been able to move it, no amount of flooding has relocated it, it is pretty solid. So solid, in fact, that all of the exterioir walls are 18″ thick, and made of brick, mortar and adobe. No wolf will blow this place down. (though the 18″ thick walls really do suck when you have to replace pipes and the such, as I learned last year at Christmas.)

The house of my childhood lacked at least a couple of things. A foundation would be the most notable. The house was built on sticks that just stuck up out of the ground, there was no concrete involved. Dad paid, to believe the story I heard, $5,000 in cash for that little house. It was really a great little house (here I must emphasize the word little.)

Some time after Dad bought the house, he realized that he would need to find a way to add sleeping quarters for all of his children (technically, it would have been his lack of condom use that led to this situation) . There were actually only two bedrooms in the house at that point, the parents and the kids. Each of those rooms was tiny. Like, you could fit a bed and a dresser but that was about it. In fact we kids actually had the larger bedroom since they still haven’t invented the triple-decker bunkbed. My brothers got to sleep on the bunkbeds, I got to sleep on a mattress on the floor (to dad’s credit, he did actually nail some boards together around the mattress, but it was hardly a bed).

So it was out of necessity that dad finally decided to add on to the house. Well, not really add on per se, since there was never anything added to the exterior, let’s call it a redneck renovation. There were two major changes made to the house out of necessity (in which order they came I really can’t remember, but they were around the same time), one was to turn the attached garage into a living room. This freed up the previous living room to be the new master bedroom. That change should have meant that there was another bedroom for the kids, alas that bedroom was turned into dad’s den. Well, he called it a den but the fact is that all he kept in there was guns and all of the equipment that he used to reload all of his shell casings. It did have a desk in it, but I doubt there was a single paper in the thing. Oddly, the new living room (old garage) was the only part of the house that had an actual concrete slab as a subfloor. That conversion was pretty easy when compared to the next. It was time to build second story sleeping quarters.

If I haven’t yet mentioned that my father was cheap, now would be a very opportune time to do it. He left the garage door mounted to the new living room since he thought, and I don’t know if it is true, that it couldn’t be considered “livable space” (by the assessor) if it still had the garage door. So when he decided to turn the disused attic space into bedrooms it was a very covert operation. The water heater (no, not a “hot water heater”, if the water was already hot why in the hell would it need to be heated) was located in a small closest just across from the bathroom, the remaining space between the water heater and outside wall was a closet in the bedroom. Dad thought that he could turn that space (the closet behind the water heater), which I am guessing was roughly twenty inches wide (probably closer to two feet), into a staircase. Which he did. Much construction ensued.

The former disused attic was taking on the shape of livable space, to a point. The apex of the ceiling up there must have been five feet or less, near the walls the ceiling would have been more like 2.5 feet. A couple of closets went in, if you can call a galvanized pipe that goes between a couple of pieces of lumber a closet, that is. He did enclose the closet like spaces with some faux knotty pine veneer, it didn’t look that bad really. A family of four foot tall people would have loved this house. I never realized just how short that ceiling was, nor how small the house was in general, since I was only five or six years old at the time.

Dad expertly left the closet door in place, that being the access to the newly christened upstairs. That way the county assessor would not know that he had increased the square footage of the house without increasing its size. Problem is, my oldest brother happened to ask the assessor if he/she (I don’t remember, probably a man though) had seen the new upstairs. So dad ended up with a house that was worth quite a bit more, had to pay way more in taxes on it, but, it also had a staircase so narrow that I would probably have to climb it sideways at this point. What the hell, I got my own room out of the deal. Actually, no, I don’t think I did. I remember having a bed opposite my middle brother’s bed in the one half of the new attic/bedroom, but I think the eldest brother might have gotten the other half of it all to himself.

–In the interest of journalistic integrity I have just fact-checked this portion of my story. My mother could not confirm the actual chronology of the home construction project, nor the living arrangements after the new upstairs. Thankfully, my middle brother was able to corroborate the aforementioned timeline, and tell me that the room that used to be the kids room was now the room with a brand new Bumper Pool table in it. Later it also had a pinball machine in it, though only briefly. We (myself and my middle brother) did share the one upstairs room while the oldest brother had the other. After this conversation it all came flowing back to me.–

I can clearly remember the living arrangements. I know that the new living room predated the new upstairs. The eldest brother got the new room closer to the railroad tracks. My middle brother and I got the one nearest our neighbors. The old “master bedroom” was converted to dad’s den. The old “kids bedroom” was converted to a game room. This is exactly why they should use cubic footage when determining living space: The upstairs shares the “square footage” of the lower level, but there is no way that anyone over the height of about 50 inches could actually live there.

Enough about the house though. Now comes the oddity.

For reasons that science can not explain, we ended up with a ghost in the attic. I am a pretty rational person (at least I have become one since then) and I can’t figure out what logic would have placed that ghost there. The house had never been haunted when it was a single story dwelling, the alleged ghost was never seen anywhere except in the upstairs (which didn’t exist until 1980 or so), the house was only 30-40 years old at best, yet, there was a ghost in there. Why. Why was the ghost there?

While I was on the phone with my brother today I asked him about the ghost, he remembers it just as vividly as I do. It was a guy who looked a lot like Abe Lincoln, wore the stove-pipe hat as well, wore a red and black plaid shirt, and just sat there on a stump. Sitting on the ethereal stump, on the second floor of a house that was relatively new, this guy would either clean the barrel of his rifle, or just have an axe leaning against his leg. What I didn’t know at the time was that the way dad used a rod to clean his rifle was exactly the same way that they packed powder into them in the old days. Was he cleaning his rifle or loading it? Why did he appear to be sitting on the stump (he wouldn’t have fit in the room if he was standing)? Why did he look like Abe Lincoln (the only character that young minds can identify with from the civil war era.)? Ditto for the stove-pipe hat.

I would love to say that I saw this apparition a few times in my youth and then grew out of it, but the fact is that I never did. When I moved back into that house when I was about twelve years old, that guy was a pretty constant presence. He was never vicious, never did anything that could be construed as harmful, yet I was still horribly afraid of him. Of course he has yet to kill me, knock on wood. There was one night, as I was climbing the narrow stairs, that I saw the guy just at the landing, I was so freaked out that I left my dad a note on his door saying that I could not turn off my light because I feared the guy would kill me if I did. That note still existed shortly before dad’s death, I know that because he showed it to my two best friends, only months before his death. I was the only one that wasn’t laughing.

I have never been one to put a lot of stock into the “paranormal” things that happen. Hell, even real believers in UFO’s have to admit that 90-95% of them are easily explained away. That is all well and good. But I saw this guy either cleaning or loading a civil war era rifle right in front of my eyes, wearing a stove-pipe hat, no less. It was not a cloud that might have resembled a hat, it was an actual guy, sitting there performing the action. My brothers both saw him as well, as such we were all scared to go up the stairs alone.

The guy that I saw was actually there. Whether it was due to lights in the background making it look like he was there when he really wasn’t, that is something that I will never know. I do know that all of us brothers saw the guy, in exactly the same place, for years. He never tried to injure anyone, but that didn’t seem to sate us. It is hard to sleep when you know there is someone in the room next to you with a loaded civil war rifle, after all.

The only thing I really wonder about is why the guy/ghost only showed up when we got a second level to the house. Is that the same height that he was at when he was eventually hanged? Who knows.

I hate that freaky house.

Big oil laughs at customers

I saw the news on the internet yesterday, then on the front page of the Arizona Republic paper today, it turns out that the big oil companies really are making a mint off of the oil shortage. That is all well and good, that it to be expected, they are in business to turn a profit, but $10,000,000,000 in profit, for a single oil company, in a single quarter, seems a bit excessive. (that number was later revised to just over $9,000,000,000)

I am no financial analyst, but it seems to me that the oil companies may have been getting a bit too rich off of the oil shortage. Their profit margins seem to indicate that it really wasn’t costing them any more, why did it cost all of the customers more? Stupid supply and demand.

My main beef with this situation is that many commuters can no longer afford to buy other things. We are coming up on the holiday season and your average, middle class family is going to have to spend most of their disposable income on gas and increased heating costs, as opposed to throwing it away on petty crap in the malls. I am betting that this Christmas shopping season is going to hit with a resounding thud. But, the oil companies will have record profits for the quarter, yet again!

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some sort of system whereby the oil companies were forced to follow strict guidelines when gouging their customers? Of course that would have to be a federal act and even I laugh at the thought of the current administration approving any form of regulation for big oil. That would be a serious conflict of interests.

I hope that at the very least, this “oil crisis” will force some staunch republican voters to think that maybe we need to look into funding for alternative energy sources. While there is no way that can truly matter for at least a couple of years, it would at least be something. If, once the current administration is out, the legislation were to pass immediately, wouldn’t that be a nice legacy for Mr. Bush. The President who refused to pass legislation that could possibly take away from his massive oil empire. That has to be right up there with “The Great Emancipator” as far as single phrase summations go.

Finally a lawsuit for The DaVinci Code

When I saw the headline that read Date set for Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial. I just had to click through to read it. I figured it could only be one of two things. The first that Dan Brown had somehow filed suit against himself for plagiarising his first novel Angels and Demons, which didn’t seem likely, the second being that Dan Brown and his publishers had finally gotten around to suing the people who made the movie National Treasure. It turns out it was neither. It is actually Dan Brown and his publisher being sued (it is short so I will quote it all):

LONDON (Reuters) – Two historians are suing the publishers of Dan Brown’s best-selling religious thriller “The Da Vinci Code” in a case which lawyers said Thursday was due to start early next year. Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent are suing Random House for lifting “the whole architecture” of the research that went into their 1982 non-fiction book “The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail.”

Lawyers on both sides of the case met Thursday to thrash out technical details, and said a trial date had been set for February 27.

They would not comment on how the trial might affect sales of the hugely successful novel or the distribution of a major Hollywood adaptation which Sony Pictures plans to release in May next year.

Random House said a “substantial” part of the claim by Baigent and Leigh had been dropped as a result of Thursday’s discussions, and added in a statement:
“Random House is delighted with this result, which reinforces its long-held contention that this is a claim without merit.”

A spokeswoman for Leigh said he still intended to pursue his claim against the publishers of Brown’s book, which has 36 million copies in print worldwide and has upset Catholics for suggesting Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child by her.

The same theory is put forward in The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail.
Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown’s book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. A third author of the 1982 book, Henry Lincoln, has decided to stay out of the action.

Ironically, a special hardback, illustrated version of their book, called Holy Blood, Holy Grail has just been reissued by none other than Random House.

In August, Brown won a court ruling against another writer, Lewis Perdue, who claimed The Da Vinci Code copied elements of two of his novels, “Daughter of God” and “The Da Vinci Legacy.”

Perdue had sought $150 million in damages and asked the court to block distribution of the book and the movie adaptation, which features Tom Hanks alongside French actress Audrey Tautou.

That is hardly how I thought this was all going to come down. Of course the fact that I found it in the Odd News section might be an indicator of just how seriously the allegations are being taken. The allegations are pretty ridiculous when it comes right down to it. I don’t know if Brown ever looked at the particular book that they are suing him for plagiarising, but I am damn sure that Brown did a lot of homework on the book to make sure he had everything else (location, pictures, etc.) covered. I bet he referenced tons of non-fiction while he was researching aspects of the plot of the novel. That is what you do if you want people to take this type of a novel seriously.

Trying to sue someone for researching a subject before writing about it is a bit suspect anyway. That would necessarily mean that every college thesis is basically plagiarism. You have to reference dictionaries and reference books to build a base for the project, not to mention newspapers and magazines, yep, you plagiarised them all. Nevermind the fact that you are only looking for actual facts. Hell, I have been plagiarizing math my entire life: at some point I read that 1+1=2, I have written that very statement many times over the years.

What I really loved about the article, though, was this quote: Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown’s book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. First off, the characters name is Sir Leigh Teabing, which is in no way an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. If you were to leave the “Sir” off of his name you could spell Leigh, you could spell Baigent, but where the hell would you get the and? Second, if you were really plagiarising someone’s work, would you make an anagram of their name that only required moving a letter or two? Personally I would at least mix the letters together rather than using the exact name for the first name then barely mixing up the last. I would never use a name like Mark Waint if I happened to be ripping off Samuel Langhorne Clemens Mark Twain. Tim Warnak is the first name that I can quickly anagram from Mark Twain, and, as an added bonus, it doesn’t seem to make it glaringly obvious that it is an anagram.

The lawsuit seems to be claiming that when those two guys wrote a book in 1982, they were the only ones in the entire world that had ever thought that maybe Jesus had actually married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child or children, which is completely untrue. There are even some religious scholars that admit it is a possibility, since the biblical texts are far from a complete and accurate historical document. However, religious scholars are not Priests (or the pope for that matter), therefore the church refuses to accept any possibility the Jesus ever fornicated with a woman (or man. Had to throw that in just to piss off religious zealots). I can see their logic. The bible doesn’t say that Jesus ever married anyone, sex out of wedlock is a sin, Jesus never sinned, therefore he died a virgin.

Thing is that the bible leaves out a lot of important details. Like why God hid a bunch of huge dinosaur bones under the ground, forced them to fossilize, then let modern man find them. Were you to take the bible literally, you would simply have to believe that Noah loaded two of every dinosaur onto his boat, along with two of every other species on the planet (many of which eat wood, which must have sucked. Imagine trying to save all of the species only to find that on your fifth day, out of forty, the insects have eaten the majority of your boat. Sucks to be Noah). That must have been a damn big boat, and a monumental undertaking. I would probably be more inclined to believe the story had the bible started out, “In the beginning, God created a Huge ass boat, knowing he would need it later. Then he created the Heavens and the Earth, which was easy stuff after that boat. God realized that the boat would not actually fit on the face of the earth so, rather than scrapping the boat (he spent some time on that thing, it was all pimped out), he killed all of his pet dinosaurs and hid them way under the ground. God then used his power to shrink the boat to such a point as it would fit on the earth (sail the earth? not so much, it was still big enough that, stern to bow, it was roughly the diameter of the earth). God then killed off many other large species of animals, in the hopes that he would be able to get his boat small enough to actually be able to move around the earth using its waterways. Once God had destroyed hundreds of thousands of species, he got angry and said God Damn It. God ordered Noah to load onto the boat whatever would fit, which was roughly 300 species. Now God had to atone for the sin of using his own name in vain. It took him millennia to figure it out, but he eventually decided on the “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” scam: Pretend to have a son, make the people crucify him (as his son), boom, instant atonement for his sin.”

Makes more sense than the bible.

This has gone a bit off topic though (can you say understatement?). I am gonna call it a post.

Texas Hold ‘Em

I’m relatively sure that this post is going to bore the hell out of any potential readers (not that I am sure I have any potential readers, mind you), but I am going to post it anyway.

I have been playing Texas Hold ’em for several months now, with limited success. I have tried to avoid reading any strategy guides for the game since learning it myself, with no preconceived notions, seems so much more enjoyable than it would be if I was thinking back on what someone else told me I should do in a given situation. It is probably a really bad idea to play the game with no instruction, however I have limited my gaming to (mostly) games that are just for fun, as opposed to the games where you use real money (though I have played a few of those as well and I am still in the positive -of course the only money I have wagered on the game so far has been change).

I have learned a great deal about the game while playing with fake money. Honestly, I think I have learned a lot more about myself than the game, but I think that is the biggest part of getting better. It took me a hell of a long time to figure out that some of my decisions were just plain foolish. I am still making some pretty foolish decisions which, more often than not, lead to me losing the hand and smacking myself on the forehead. However, some of the bad decisions work out in my favor and make me think that if I make the same bad decision later it will work out for me again. It never does.

Do you remember that old Kenny Rogers song The Gambler? I approached Texas Hold ’em with that song in mind (poker training through sappy country songs, it is a marvel that it didn’t work out, eh?). That mantra might work for five card draw, but it certainly doesn’t work in Hold ’em. Hold ’em gives you only two cards, while there are another five that belong to everyone at the table. That is a completely different animal. The song was partially right, but, it turns out that in Texas Hold ’em, you don’t need to “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” All you really need to know is when to fold ’em. Which is most of the time.

It took me a damn long time to wrap my mind around Hold ’em. I was used to playing the five card draw games where I knew that whatever I had no one else did. If you get dealt a pair of aces in draw poker there is no way that anyone else can have three (if they aren’t cheating). If you get dealt the pair of aces in Hold ’em it is entirely possible (however unlikely) that someone else as the same hand. Once I finally got my mind wrapped around that, I started playing a hell of a lot better.

The unfortunate part of Hold ’em, at least for me, is that it requires a hell of a lot of patience. I have had times where I folded before the flop more than ten consecutive times; I even folded from the big blind when I had a shit hand (3-8 off suit) when someone raised. I would guess that I have to fold 80% or more of the time because the cards just aren’t likely to fall my way. Even when I have something that could be good, however unlikely, I usually end up folding it. The 2 and 5 of hearts could be a straight flush, maybe a full house, maybe a three of a kind, maybe a flush, maybe a straight, maybe two pair, maybe one pair, but someone else may have a pair of aces and flop the four of a kind (I must confess that I have yet to actually fold before the flop on any hand where I could possibly get a straight flush. Though I usually do fold immediately after the flop, since it has never gone my way.). It gets tedious and boring at times.

Folding on damn near every hand has its advantages though. When I am in a game and fold five or six consecutive hands, people seem to take notice. So when I get a decent hand and call the bet I am taken more seriously than the guy who tries to bluff every hand (not that he is bluffing per se, just that he figures his 2-7 off suit can turn into a full house with the flop). Usually by time I actually get into a hand there will be a couple of good players with most of the chips, while there will be a couple with virtually no chips. I will have very near what I started with, since I am playing to not lose most of the time, playing to win only when I have a really good hand. The other players at the table seem to figure out that if I am in, while not a blind, I have something. Which is basically the only way that you can bluff in this game.

Now the reason I wrote the post:

So it was that I was dealt The Hammer (2-7), after a half a dozen pre-flop folds, and I decided I would try to bluff. I bet 3x the big blind, expecting no takers, but there were two who called. Shit, it was game over. But, and miraculously, the flop brought up 7,7,2. A betting war ensued. I had the boat, albeit a low boat, I figured the hand was mine. Tons of chips later, we were on to the turn. The turn was a Queen, the betting war continued; I went all in. One of the others walked away ran folded. The other buy called. By this point I was a bit nervous, what did the other guy have?

I will tell you what he had. He had a pair of Queens. Thus, he got two pair from the flop. He also got the boat from the turn, but his boat was way better than mine. While it is not possible to see the other player’s cards (at least on the service I use, even on all in), I figured I was still in good shape. I had my 7-2 boat going for ages now, what could he possibly have? Queens, that is what he could, and did, have. I didn’t realize how close I came to losing until well after the river dropped the final seven. My four of a kind beat his full house. But I came dangerously close to losing that hand.

That was when I decided that I really needed to tighten up a bit and assume that whatever the best possible hand was, someone other than me actually had it, and I was betting against him/her. I end up folding the majority of the time, but I don’t lose nearly as much when I fold as I do when I play through with a really shitty hand.

It was a lesson learned.

Tin foil hat time!

Like most educated people I believe absolutely everything that I read. As a result of that I try to make sure that I don’t read anything that I might disagree with. Keeps me from having to change my thoughts and views on key subjects. That might not all be entirely true, but it is to a point. I probably believe a lot more of what I read than I really should. That is why I am now sporting this aluminum sailor’s hat, I don’t want the government to be reading my thoughts while I type this post (though I guess they could just read the post anyway, maybe I just like the damn aluminum hat. What is so wrong with that?!).

The radio station that I listen to all the time was talking about A JFK Conspiracy Website. Most notably, they were talking about a particular little video clip that was on that particular website. I had to go take look.

image courtesy of The image that they were talking about is over there on the right. All that I can say is that there must have been an expert in Photoshop that was able to pull that little thing off. To be fair, it has probably been a few years since I saw the actual footage of the event, this might not look anything at all like the way it actually went down. I mean I know that the driver didn’t do it, but I don’t remember if he turned to look back at Kennedy or other such nuances. Still, I say, that is some damn good Photoshop work.

Since I was already on the aforementioned website, I figured I would just look around a little bit. They have tons of stuff on there. I only clicked through about three of the pages, they go into way more (possible) detail than I care to look at. But damn are they ever thorough. One of the links is (from a different site) an hour and a half presentation of the case for conspiracy, which points directly to former president George Herbert Walker Bush. Incidentally, if you watch that whole video let me know and I will send you my tin foil hat. I skimmed through a couple of other pages, including one page that was an alleged confession from the guy that actually shot Kennedy from the front. Fascinating stuff.

Let me set aside the foil hat for a moment (maybe). I have always found it pretty odd that JFK’s murder was so quickly put onto Lee Oswald. The position that he was supposedly in (you know the one, the book depository) was well behind the car, didn’t have a very good view and would be the least likely spot for a sniper to set up (of course that is exactly why it is assumed that he did it from that position). The thing is, had the sniper been in the book depository, he would have had a much better shot as the car was coming directly at him than he had while it was driving away. If your goal is to make sure that you kill someone, wouldn’t you take your best shot? Why wait until the car turns the corner, which forces a more difficult shot? Just going for skill points?

I don’t believe that the assassination was masterminded by anyone in the government, but I also don’t think that just one guy was responsible for it. The official “Warren Report” seems pretty bogus, but so do most of the government conspiracy things that I read on this website. I am sure that the truth has to fall somewhere between the two. Just where the truth lies (interesting wordplay, that) may never be known.

Now I will put aside my foil hat until I decide to talk about UFOs.

No hand basket for you!

When I left off, after a very long aside about car wrecks, I made the statement that Hell was now looking to me for pointers. I still consider that to be true. The fact is that I am going to really have to sugar coat this next section to make it possible to post it at all. The people involved are all still alive, all have their livelihoods to think about, and probably wouldn’t want to recount the experience anyway. If I ever get around to writing a story about my life I might be able to recount this all factually, for now I am going to have to settle on vague details and no names.

I was on the lam at this point. I would have honestly been arrested if I happened across the path of any law enforcement officer. It is not that I am proud of the fact that I fled the state to avoid my just due, no, it was more about being young and stupid. Of course the last thing that I wanted in my new home was to come into contact with any sort of police officer. Much to my horror, I found that the little trailer park my mother lived in was basically ‘Crack Central’ in the town. Frequented by junkies and the cops alike. Just fucking perfect.

I have never been in law enforcement, but I can tell you that if it takes them months to identify and bring down drug dealers they simply aren’t trying. All you really have to do to find the dealer is find out which houses still have lights on at 3am, have cars coming and going every five minutes around that time, and a couple of guys deciding that this is the perfect time to paint the house. This is likely, at the very least, a distribution center of small amounts of the substance.

So I had gone from the hell I was in in Oregon, where it was easy to simply blend in and not be noticed, to being in the middle of ‘Crack Central’ in a brand new state. A place where the cops looked at everybody with a suspicious eye. I didn’t want to be any part of it, but the truth is I really didn’t have a choice.

…Scene Deleted…

I had been working there for only a few months when the owner began to feel a bit of pity for me. Especially since my Mom was now planning on returning to Oregon, the state I really needed to avoid for a while. The owner gave me quite a deal on a little studio apartment, so good that I won’t even go into detail here. It was at exactly this point that my life started to suck just a bit less.

I was able to pay off all of my outstanding court fees in Oregon, as well as almost 10,000 dollars in debt in that state in only a couple of years. All, that is, except for one outstanding DUI conviction that I had agreed to go through a diversion course to strike from my record. I made many attempts to resolve that issue. The problem is that the judge in Oregon wanted me to actually appear in his courtroom to talk to him. I was in no position to make a jaunt across a few states to talk to the judge, I needed to be able to resolve this over the phone. No go.

It seems that when I fled the state I had not left a forwarding address (well, duh! That was why I fled the state.), therefore I had failed to appear in court a few times, since I had never received the summons. The judge thought that I might be a “flight risk”. Which I think is wonderful. I fled the state, lived in a different state for a couple of years, then I contacted the court to try to take care of the matter, then they thought that I might be a “flight risk”. Way to mind your records.

I had exactly two options. The first was to go back to Oregon to face my day in court. This option would only suck because they would likely add on failure to appear charges for every summons they sent, yet which I never received. The second option was just to wait for the statue of limitations to run out. It is only seven years, after all. That is what I did.

Over the years I befriended a woman who works at the local court (the small town that I live in is actually the county seat), she gave me a couple of ideas about how I could try to remedy the situation. One of them was that I could ask them if they would let a judge in the State and County I was in rule on it, still the judge would not allow it; he wanted to see me in his courtroom. I was never able to resolve that whole situation, well not in the way I would have liked to, but it eventually went beyond the number of years where they would have been able to prosecute. Biggest wimp out of all time.

Once the time frame for prosecution had expired, I called the courts in Oregon to see if I had any outstanding fines. I did, to the tune of only 700 dollars. I wrote a check out and put it in the mail. A couple of weeks later I called back and asked the same question. No outstanding fines or warrants, sweet. I then called the DMV in Oregon to check on my driver’s license status. It was listed as expired. Not suspended (which it had been), not revoked (which it had been), simply expired. It would cost me 138 dollars to get it back since it had been expired for so long. Unfortunately they would not be able to send me a copy of the license, but they could send me a paper that stated that I had a valid driver’s license in that state, with no driving infractions in the past seven years. They did exactly that.

When I went to the DMV here in Arizona I was expecting to have to take a driving test. I had really only had my license for six months or so, over a decade ago, before it got taken away. I was really surprised when they simply looked at the documentation, checked it out on the computer, then asked me to pose for my license photo. I was trying to look stoic, but to anyone who knows me, that photo came out to look a bit mischievous, maybe more than a bit. When I look at the photo I think that I look like the guy that ate the dog, that ate the cat, that ate the canary.

The reason that I was trying to make sure everything was resolved at that point had little to do with me. I was to be married only a month and a few days after I finally got my driver’s license back. I wanted to make sure that my future wife wasn’t going to be marrying a felon. I am quite happy that it worked out the way it did. Even happier to find that having paid off all of that debt (from Oregon) had actually improved my credit rating. To the point that the wife and I were living in our very own house (well the bank’s house for thirty years) only eight months after the wedding.

Suddenly, as sudden as it can be after years of toiling to make amends, my life was sucking less and less. I now have a wife who truly loves me, a home that is ours (outright in a mere 27 years). In lieu of the 2.7 children, we have 2 dogs, 7 cockatiels, tons of fish, & (the wife has) several horses.

I would have to say that I am pretty happy and content with my home life. I am living my own version of the American Dream and it is wonderful. I couldn’t rightly ask for anything more. Nor could I want anything more. Happiness is very subjective, I have found exactly the amount of happiness that I had always hoped for, but if that Powerball ticket ever hits I won’t bitch about that either.

Post Script: I really doubt that I will ever take the time to go over this portion of my life again (though I will probably try to lump the five or six stories together on a single page for ease of navigation. No promises). I do, however, feel an urgent need to answer a question that no one has ever asked of me. That question is: “If you had it all to do over again, knowing what you know now, would you have made the call to keep your father alive? Knowing that the decision would have made it so you never would meet your wife, as well as one of your best friends?”

That is a question that I ask myself A lot. If I had it all to do again I would certainly want my father to live, however, I am still unsure about dad’s desire to live or die. Yet, were it not for his death, I would not have met my wife, my friends would be different people, my Mother and Brother might not be who/where they are today (hell, they might not be at all)…

Just now the wife came into the “computer room” to give me a hug and tell me that she loves me.

While I would love to have both a wife and a father, I would not have this wife were it not for the death of my father. That pretty much seals it. Sorry dad.

…Still worse…

My arrival in Arizona was not what I had expected. First of all, the people at Greyhound had neglected to take the difference of time zones into account when they made my bus ticket. That meant that I had arrived in Phoenix just about a half an hour after the bus to Casa Grande had departed, no problem, I could just catch the next one. Problem was that the next one wasn’t until the same time the following day. Call me crazy, I didn’t want to spend the next twenty-four hours in a bus station in Metro Phoenix. I called my mommy.

It took them a while to get there to pick me up. While the drive is only about sixty miles, it is over some of the busiest streets I have ever seen. When they did arrive, and I saw the chariot that was supposed to carry me from the depths of hell to my brand new life, I was really, really scared. The thing could only be called a “car” since it had the requisite number of wheels. Nothing else about it seemed to be car like, at least not in my eyes. Dune buggy perhaps, car, no. I figured I had ridden in worse (where that might have been I really don’t know) so I just threw all of my belongings (being a small duffel bag holding a bunch of cassette tapes and an overnight bag holding what clothing I owned) into the back seat. Then I got in, sat down, and prayed. I am not one that is normally into prayer, mind you.

Now imagine playing some old Atari game, Night Driver for instance. Further imagine that you are actually in the car, feeling all of the bumps along the way. But there has been an old dirt road substituted for the track. The car’s exhaust system isn’t working properly, thus pumping the fumes into the car. The car is traveling way faster than it should be (I mean that car in specific; some cars can do eighty or ninety with no ill effects, this car shouldn’t have crested twenty-five, ever.), like probably about fifty or so. I thought to cry out for my mommy, but she was in the car as well. That ride was one of the most frightening things that has ever happened to me, more frightening than many of the car wrecks I have been in.

Now a quick aside about said car wrecks. The first (that I remember) happened in southern Arizona somewhere around 1982. Mom, was driving an old Ford LTD that completely lost control for some reason or another. I don’t really know exactly what happened to make us spin out and careen off of the road, but I do know that as Mom was sitting there, completely white-knuckled, and breathing really heavy, I said something very close to “that makes it really hard to read.” Which, oddly, wasn’t meant as sarcasm, I was honestly trying to read a book in the back seat. Hard to do when your Mom is throwing the car into a horrible spin and flying off of the road (if you are reading this, Mom, and if my recollection isn’t completely accurate, just click that little thing at the bottom that says “comments”. It will give you a place where you can write a message and post it, that way you will straighten me, and the rest of the internet out at the same time).

The next wreck I was involved in was in about, 1996 or so. Mom and her friend Angie had decided to move to Arizona, which required a car trip. We had a lot of crap to haul, but only two very small cars to haul it in. I ended up in a 70’s era Honda civic with Angie, a couple of cats, and about three metric tons of our belongings. Now the 70’s era Honda Civic was noted for many things, gas mileage, being ugly, gas mileage, cheap maintenance and most of all gas mileage. What it was not noted for was its hauling ability. Thus, piling tons of books, clothing and other various stuff into the back of it had a noted effect on the handling. Meaning that the ass end of the car was touching the ground while the front end almost wasn’t. A corner was subsequently missed. We smacked into a huge dirt embankment. I, being ever so mindful of others needs, not to mention a huge fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, had the wind knocked out of me, but was not about to stay in that car until it blew up. I screamed “we have to get out before it blows!” and ran like hell. Nothing actually blew up. I did eventually get my wind back, and a small sense of how stupid I was for running from the burning wreckage minor accident.

The next wreck that I was in was self induced. I have mentioned it here previously, thus I am not going to write it again. If you care to read about it, yet can’t find it, let me know. I can’t seem to find it myself right now, once I do it will be at your disposal.

The next one was not actually a wreck, it was a near wreck. Were it not for my ability to think on my feet, act on a fraction of a second’s warning and basically just save the world in general, it would have been a wreck. Thanks to my heroic actions it was only a near wreck, that is something that you should all be proud of me for. Unfortunately it didn’t shake down quite like that. It was ultimately me that averted the disaster, the rest is just a lot of ego fluff. Here’s how that one went down…

Dad and me were going to go to some yard sales that morning. It was a nice day for it. Clear skies, moderate temperature, we could spend hours at it. We wanted to eat a bit of breakfast first though. Dad was a bit of a Breakfast snob, he would really only eat breakfast if it was at “the Owl” which was a restaurant that he was buddies with the owner of. This restaurant was also a good forty miles from the house, it took an hour to get there on a good day. Today would not be a good day.

We were actually on I-5 when dad started to lose it. It was, once again, a result of his taking an insulin shot without eating anything (that is why I always assumed that he did them like clockwork). Pretty suddenly, the van bounced off of the meridian (and thank the forces it was there), dad said, “stay in your own lane, buddy.” That was just about the point that I knew that he was not coherent. I had a hunch that he might have horribly low blood sugar, unfortunately the only thing in the van that could possibly have any sugar in it was a single cinnamon flavored tooth-pick. That was SO not going to work. I yelled “dad, pull off of the road” several times. Each time I did that he would pull off of the road, only to realize that he was no longer on the road, then he would steer back into traffic. I was only 15 at this time, and I really thought I was going to die that day. The thing is I really didn’t want to.

I continued to scream at him to pull off of the road, and he would, only to pull back on once he realized he was no longer in the lane. Sometimes pulling way too hard and causing us to hit the meridian again. I finally jumped into action. I sat in the passenger seat and buckled the safety belt. It was really only grassy fields that were were rolling past, we were only going forty or so by now, every car behind us was afraid to pass, it could work out on its own. Then I remembered the bridges. If dad decided to pull off the road just before one of the bridges that would have led to a lengthy fall, it would certainly have been most unpleasant. Then I really jumped into action.

The van was a 78 Chevy, it had those two “captain’s seats” with a void between them. Dad had built a small seat out of wood that he had placed between them (it was all padded and upholstered to match the van), why, I don’t know. I threw that mess out of the way. Now came the hard part. I had to somehow wrestle him out of the driver’s seat while maintaining control of the van. It is certainly true that his mind was not working at this point, his muscles however, never seemed to show any ill effect from low blood sugar. He outweighed me by quite a bit, I was extremely uneasy about how I was going to try to handle it. Suddenly it hit me. I stood right next to his seat and screamed “Dad, pull over!”. Once the van was off of the freeway I made my move.

The van had power steering and an automatic transmission, two facts that I was going to use to my advantage. The second the car was on the paved shoulder of the road I reached forward and turned off the ignition, then I pushed the shifter from drive to neutral, to my dad’s plea, which seems funny to me now, “don’t do that, you’ll ruin the transmission!” If you have ever tried to steer a car that had power steering while the engine was off, you would know that it takes a lot of upper body strength, my hope was that me trying to keep the car on the shoulder, combined with the inherent difficulty of steering it anyway, would let us roll to a stop before he was able to steer us back out into traffic. It took, and I am not kidding in any way, every ounce of strength in me to hold the van on the shoulder as dad was trying to get back on the road. Since he couldn’t understand what was going on, he just kept saying “what are you doing”, over and over again, each time trying to yank it back on the road. I tried to reach the brake pedal but dad’s legs were in the way, one of his legs was actively pressing down on the gas pedal. This went on for about two minutes I would guess, yet they seemed to each last a good hour or so. When the van was finally traveling less than five miles an hour I decided it was time, grabbed the shift, pulled it back and pulled it up with all my might.

It was a delayed reaction of sorts. It took a couple of seconds, well probably only fractions of a single second but my reference to time was pretty suspect at this point, of holding the shift near park before it actually went into park. The van was going less than five miles an hour, but it still threw me forward a bit when it finally engaged, dad actually bumped the steering wheel during the process, but his body was sort of acting like a bowl of jello at this point. Needless to say, no one was hurt. I swiftly pulled the keys from the ignition and threw them towards the back of the van. It was at about this point that dad said “Why did we stop?” I reminded him that he had promised to let me drive into town, which seemed to answer his question well enough. “Let me help you into the other seat” I suggested. He did let me help him into the other seat, where I promptly fastened him in with the safety belt. There was no way he could figure that device out in his condition. Then there were a couple of things that I had to take care of before we continued.

I needed to retrieve the keys from the back of the van, but that would have to wait for a moment. It seems that a couple of motorists, those who had been behind us as we had been playing bumper cars with the guard rails, were concerned and had stopped behind us. I jumped out of the van, ran to the concerned people, explained the situation, and asked if any of them happened to have a candy bar, of course none of them did. One mentioned that he was going to get to town and phone the police if I left the scene, now, I really didn’t know if low blood sugar could be fatal, but I wasn’t about to wait here until the police arrived. I offered to give him my dad’s information, which was housed in the van, if he really wanted to call the police. I even told him what restaurant we were going to be at. This seemed to sate the man, so we walked back to the van (where I figure I would just take a check out of his checkbook, write VOID across it, then add any other information the guy wanted).

When I opened the door of the van, there was dad, sitting proudly in the driver’s seat. He was merrily driving along, foot on the gas, hands on the wheel, all despite the fact that there were no keys in the ignition. I looked to the guy that wanted the information for a second, then back to dad. “Dad, you said you were going to let me drive us to the restaurant.” Dad didn’t say anything, just got back into the passenger seat. I jumped in, went to the back and grabbed the keys. I got back out again only long enough to tell the man who wanted all of the information to just follow me to the restaurant if he really didn’t believe my story. It was at that point that dad popped his head out the door and said “are you coming to breakfast with us too?” (wonderful timing, that.) The guy agreed to follow me to the restaurant, but took down the license plate just in case.

The guy really did follow me all the way to the restaurant. When I finally parked and got out of the car, the guy ran up to me asking if he (dad) was okay. “He will be as soon as I get a little sugar into him.” was my response. The guy helped me help dad into the restaurant. I didn’t wait for a waitress, I ran behind the counter and got him a cup of Coke, no ice. “Here’s a cup of coffee, Dad.” I said, as I gave it to him. The results were almost instant. Dad looked at me, then looked at the other guy at the table and said, to me, “Who is he?” A question that, thankfully, I didn’t have to answer.

“I’m just an acquaintance of your son’s,” Mystery man said, “He just wanted me to make sure the two of you got here alright.”

Dad looked at him for a second, then looked at me for a second, then said, in a vast understatement, “We got here just fine.”

Thankfully, just then, Jerry, the owner of the restaurant and a good friend of my dad happened to pop around the corner. While dad was talking to Jerry, I asked the guy if he really needed the information, turns out he didn’t. He just thought I was lying about everything the whole damn time.

Funny thing though, as mystery man got up to leave, Jerry yelled, “sure you don’t want breakfast? We have some great specials today.” Mystery man looked at his watch and said, “I am a half an hour late for work as it is, but thanks.” Dad looked at me and said, in no uncertain terms, “I don’t know who that guy was, but I don’t want you hanging out with people that can’t get work on time.”

After a shot of warm coke and a bit of breakfast, Dad was just fine. Until he actually left the restaurant, that is.

“What in the fuck happened to the van?!” You see all of the bouncing off of concrete dividers has a way to leave a mark on a vehicle. The van now had those marks in droves.

I tried to tell dad the whole story, much as it is written here. He stopped me short, “Well, we made it. That is all that matters.”

I am not entirely sure if dad was even coherent enough to have seen the mystery man, whether the mystery man was actually concerned or just thought someone was driving drunk, there are a lot of things that I am not sure of. This story, however, is something that I am completely sure of.

Now, that extremely long digression aside, I had been talking about arriving in Arizona. I got to mom’s house with only one extremely scary car ride as a consequence.

By this point, Hell was looking to me for pointers…

And then it got worse

To start, I just want to make sure and mention that my driver’s license was actually suspended while I was still sixteen years old, as alluded to in the last entry. I was not able to get my driver’s license back until I was twenty-seven years old (long story). I do hate “the man”.

I am going to skip, yet again, the story of the behavior of friends and family after dad’s death. I will touch on a couple of things that happened while my brother was my legal guardian, but basically this is going to be the part where I made horrible decisions that forced me to flee the state.

After the last ticket that I got I was no longer able to get insurance at all; the insurance companies all told me that I had too many tickets on my record. The thing is that the majority of the tickets were for not having insurance. It is one of those circles, like when I wanted to get a car. I needed a job to get the money to buy a car, but a needed a car to get a job to get the money to buy a car. Some problems really just can’t be solved. So I was now, quite knowingly, driving around with no insurance, and on a suspended license.

My brother and I had moved into a small house in Winston, it was much closer to work and school, and, frankly, it was all that we could afford, and just barely at that. I managed to finish off my Junior year in High School while we were living there. I think I failed a class, but that was fine since I only needed four classes in my Senior year to graduate, so just one extra class. Unfortunately my two best friends graduated the year before I was supposed to, and they might have had a negative influence on me over the next couple of years.

During the summer break, after my Junior year, I was working pretty much full time. It may have only been 32 or 34 hours a week, but full time. There were bills that needed to be paid and I had to contribute to the paying of said bills. The unfortunate side effect of that was that now that my “full time” paycheck was rolling in (that 600 dollars a month or so) it was being consumed by the household. We actually needed that money just to get by. I continued working full time when Senior year started up. I was only taking five classes, I figured I could just work the 3-11 shift, get to bed by midnight, then be back to school all bright and chipper at 7a.m. Let’s just say it didn’t work as well as planned and leave it at that.

Since my planned graduation, the one that would have happened before my 18th birthday, didn’t work out as planned (there is a wonderful story about that, one that is too long to get into right now), I was no longer getting Social security checks. Once you are 18 they are done, much like child support. Now I really had to work full time, there was no money coming in other than the wages that my brother and I made. There was, however, a small insurance policy of some sort that paid out when I turned 18. My brother convinced me to use it as a down payment on the dumpiest little trailer I have ever seen. But the price was right, so that is what we did.

I had to actually saw part of the frame off of my swanky waterbed off to fit it into my little room in that trailer (no shit). It was only the part that supported the headboard though, so no big loss. At some point though, while living in that little trailer, myself and my brother just really began to hate each other. Not the sort of hatred where you actually hate each other, this was the hatred that can only come from not having any money to pay the rent. We didn’t even have such luxuries as a phone at the time (that is an even longer story, yet not the fault of myself or brother), we were barely surviving at all. It was about this point that my brother and I parted ways, and on the worst of terms. Each of us blaming the other for everything that has ever happened in the history of mankind.

It was at about this point that the girl I had been dating all of those years decided it wasn’t going to work out between us. It was death to me at the time, damn near literally (committing to suicide is far different than trying it; turns out you have to really, really mean it if your goal is to die). So, without a house, without my girl, all that was left was my friend Dave (and not that type of friend, thank you). We became gold prospectors (it would be so funny if it wasn’t true). Cow Creek, in Oregon, has some pretty rich placer deposits and we figured we could cash in on it. We had a dredge, a sluice box, and a lot of free time.

I would be lying if I said that it was a horrible experience. It was pretty disappointing, to be sure, but not horrible. We would just wake up in the morning, throw all the gear into the van (though they call those old Volkswagen vans buses for some reason) and roll to the next place. We did find a lot of gold flakes, even several small nuggets, but hardly enough to endure the toil of it all. Yet, the sleeping in the middle of nowhere, waking up whenever you felt like it, cooking everything over an open fire, that was great. Just being alone in the wilderness, using only your hands and a few simple tools to survive, man, I would love it if everyone had to do that. Even if they only had to do it for a week or so.

The windfall of gold that we were expecting was pretty slow in coming. In fact it never came. We cashed in a few vials of gold at the local gun shop (of all places) but it was pretty obvious that we needed to think bigger. Like The lost Dutchman’s mine. We were obviously smarter than anyone that had ever tried to search out this mythological wealth. We were going to go to Arizona to find it.

The story took a completely different turn late one night. That was precisely when some jackass (all signs point to me) decided to drive all the way to Roseburg for some supplies. Roseburg was about thirty miles away, over some of the most winding roads I have ever seen, at least until Winston when it straightened back out. I had imbibed a bit of the nectar (a bit is quite the understatement), but wanted to acquire food and supplies for the trip. I was horribly drunk (there is no use in lying), yet I was able to drive the car over all of the winding backroads to end up at a particular intersection (if you have ever lived in the area, it is where the road from Green intersects with the road that leads to Roseburg. There is a huge building on the other side, it is a trading post called “Libby’s”.) I stopped, looked both ways, then got rear-ended by a big black truck.

The hit was solid enough that I slid through the intersection, just in time to see the big black truck speed away. Just fucking great. My car is in a ditch, the guy who hit me just sped away (ain’t no one gonna buy that story, especially since I was a bit, um, happy). What could my excuse possibly be? I started walking down the road. Once I saw another car I flagged him down and asked him if he could help me pull my car out of the ditch. He, it turns out, radioed both the police and the local tow truck, then just drove off. Bad, to worse, to hell.

Now, as drunk as I was, I realized that I was in a pretty good position. No one actually saw me behind the wheel of the car, unfortunately I was the only witness to the guy actually rear-ending me and sending me into the opposite ditch. That might not have been good. Bring on the consequences.

No one ever saw me in the driver’s seat of the car. No one ever came forward to say that they were driving the big, black truck on the night of the accident. It was concluded, though not factually accurate, that I just missed the brakes and crashed into that wall. My lawyer (court appointed) said that I should just do a little thing called “diversion” (whereby you can strike the first DUI from your record completely if you finish a simple class). I figured that the truth was something that only I knew, no one was going to listen to my story. What I didn’t realize was that you had to pay for the class.

I would soon be living in my friend’s garage, very soon. I got a job right away. I went to my first “diversion” class and found it totally underwhelming. I continued to work that job for only about six months. Why was I let go? Some of the other employees were buying beer for me. Horrible habit, I know. The owner of the store read that as selling alcohol to minors, which it never was. Once I, and all of my friends, were fired from that job, I simply gave up.

I could no longer pay for my “diversion” classes. I couldn’t even pay to put a fairly warm meal on my table, truth be told, I didn’t even have a table. “Dear God, please grant me a handbasket, I know where I am going to end up, I just want to take a few trinkets with me”.

There were no trinkets to be had. In all honesty, I arrived in Arizona with only two changes of clothes and a bunch of cassette tapes. Then, it got worse.

And then the man started holding me back

This one will also skip past the details about everyone else’s reaction to my father’s death. It is all about me dammit!

It turns out that my knuckles weren’t really hurt all that bad, just horribly bloody. Also the entire problem with my car turned out to be that the alternator worked while the car was running, but it didn’t do anything towards charging the battery (some diode was bad). I was also barely on the upside of the E mark on the gas gauge when I jumped out of the car and ran down to the bottom of the amphitheatre. Lucky the car didn’t roll away, I never set the emergency brake. That was all in the past though.

I was now a man. I had come to terms with everything, or so I thought, and I was ready to move on. What better way to prove that you are now a responsible adult than to buy a motorcycle? I started off slow, I got one of those “enduro” bikes that are both street legal and capable of mountain climbing. Problem was that it was only a 250cc thing, and I was riding it on the I-5 on my way to work. If a Big Rig passed me it would nearly knock me over. I needed an upgrade. I settled on something that looked much like this. Mine was a tad more beat up, other than that, the color is only slightly off, mine was more orange. The rest looks just like I remember.

I don’t remember the precise amount that I paid for that little bike, I do know that it was somewhere between $200 and $600. I didn’t buy it because I really liked it, I bought it because it was what was in my price range and it got a hell of a lot better gas mileage than the car I was driving. That thing ran like a champ.

Have you ever been a boy in his late teens burdened by the fact that you recently killed your father? Add to that a shiny new (quite used) motorcycle and see what zaniness ensues. Good times.

It was probably about the fourth day that I had the motorcycle when I decided to see if it could actually reach the max speed on the dial. I was actually wearing a helmet (possibly the wisest choice I had made in months). I hit the straight stretch right in front of my school and gunned the engine. The straight stretch ran only about a half a mile, and the speedometer went to either 105 or 115 (can’t remember), but I never reached max speed. I had to slow for the upcoming corner. I had it down to only 90 or so as I flew around the corner, noticing that there was a cop car pulling out of the disused weigh station to follow me. Just fucking great.

I could have run, probably should have, but I didn’t want this whole thing to end in tragedy, so I just slowed down to the 55MPH speed limit and hoped beyond hope that he wasn’t going to pull me over. The cop’s lights came on and all I could think was “fuck”, seemed such a fitting word at the time. In addition to not having any insurance on the motorcycle, I also didn’t have a license to be on it in the first place. This was certainly not going to go well.

The first words that came out of the cop’s mouth were, “do you know how fast you were going?” I may be stupid, but I was not about to let on, I wanted to know how fast he thought I was going, I just stared at him blankly. “I clocked you at 79 coming out of that corner!” He screamed.

My first thought was, Sweet, he didn’t catch me on the straight stretch. My first words were, “I’m sorry.”

I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish when I said it, but it doesn’t really matter. He took my license, expired insurance card (which didn’t cover motorcycles anyway), and went back to his car. The tickets that he issued me were: Operating a vehicle without a license, Operating a vehicle without insurance, speeding, and reckless endangerment ( the last one was not actually heard by the court since no one could figure out who I was recklessly endangering, since it was only me on the road). Those tickets were a hefty fine, but I never stopped riding the motorcycle, never got the motorcycle license either. Yes, I was a bit stubborn.

From bad to, well, more bad.

I was driving the corvette along one day, getting more and more nervous about why the cop behind me hadn’t pulled off onto one of the side roads. Of course the lights came on, of course I got pulled over. What was the offense this time? It had nothing to do with my driving, it did, however, feature the same cop that questioned me after my father’s death. For reasons that I don’t even want to know, the cop knew that I was only sixteen years old, yet the registration for the corvette said that I was 18 (why did he remember me so clearly?). He just wanted me to straighten it all out with the DMV, so he said, yet he gave me another ticket for not having insurance (it would have cost me $277 a month to insure that corvette in 1990, of course I was only 16).

When you are a teen, if you happen to live 15 miles or so out of town, you don’t really follow all of the rules. I got insurance only long enough to show the paper to the court, then quickly cancelled it. Got me out of the ticket, kept my license from being suspended. Yet, that cop seemed to have an eye out for me, and not in a good way.

All I wanted to do was go to school, then to work, then back home. I didn’t need any of the crap that mr. uniform was throwing at me. Mr. uniform was pretty good at finding me though. A couple of weeks later I was dropping off my middle brother at the bus station, in a car that no cop had ever seen. It was on a deserted street, it was the middle of the night, I got pulled over for having a dim license plate light. The light wasn’t burnt out, it was just “dim”. Guess who tapped on the window.

If you guessed it was that same cop you would be wrong. It was a totally different cop, though I think they shared the same brain. Result: driving without insurance ticket. If I would have had even a dollar to my name I would have fought that charge. A “dim license plate light” is not enough to warrant pulling someone over. Had I mowed down a street full of children that would have been something, but, seriously, a dim license plate light? That was when my driver’s license was suspended.

Not surprisingly, that is also about the point that I started to really hate cops (what a bizarre coincidence).

Shortly after that point my life picked up the handbasket, then started looking for things to ad to it on my trip to hell.

What year is it again?

I saw this fascinating article today. Yeah! Intelligent Design. It boggles my mind to think that this type of thing is actually being litigated in the year 2005. People are certainly free to their own opinions, but must they try to force them onto completely rational, yet impressionable, kids? I guess we will only know once they rule on the case. For now I will just simply have to laugh at the absurdity of one “scholar’s” quotes:

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of “intelligent design” testified Monday that evolution alone can’t explain complex biological processes and he believes God is behind them.

Behe, whose work includes a 1996 best-seller called “Darwin’s Black Box,” said students should be taught evolution because it’s widely used in science and that “any well-educated student should understand it.”

Behe, however, argues that evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force.

Behe contributed to “Of Pandas and People,” writing a section about blood-clotting. He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting “is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design.”

This is just to rich to pass up. Major props to the guy for trying to at least make it sound like he is not some anti-evolution nutjob. But doesn’t his statement about evolution come across as more of a back-handed insult to science? As if he thinks that evolution is complete crap, but we might as well let the kids learn it since all of those kooky scientists seem to base a lot of stuff on it.

My biggest beef with the whole article is in the last paragraph that I quoted, the part where it says, He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting “is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design.” Now see, in order for him to make that scientific argument, wouldn’t it be necessary to present actual facts that support Intelligent Design? Just saying that evolution doesn’t explain it therefore it was God is hardly a scientific argument. A delusional argument yes, certainly not scientific.

Also, wasn’t the whole point of Intelligent Design supposed to take God’s name out of it? Wasn’t it supposed to appease the people who were bitching about their children being taught religion in schools? If it was then he totally lost the ball when he testified that anything that Darwin couldn’t explain was therefore an act of God -to paraphrase-.

Since he brought up God, the gloves are off.

I am going to dismiss the bible outright here, for the sake of religion. The bible is a bunch of folklore that had been handed down in verbal tradition for millennia before anyone got around to putting pen to paper. Once someone did put pen to paper the next transcriber didn’t like it, thus he changed a bunch of stuff, and so on, for all of history. I do find it pretty odd that they left things in there like the story of Noah though. In order to believe that story you must believe that 1) the entire earth was flooded. 2) Someone built a boat large enough to carry two of every living animal species (they didn’t make mention of the species that reproduce asexually). Yeah, picking the bible apart is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel a slut on prom night. So I won’t do that.

What I really want to know is where this Intelligent Designer happens to live. The entity can’t reside on the earth or any other celestial body, since he created all of that. Where’s his pad? Does he have a split-level joint (nice place, has a pool and everything) in in some suburban area in the recesses of a black hole where all of the other Intelligent Designers live?

Who created the Intelligent Designer? It is stone solid fact that life can’t appear spontaneously, intelligence is not something that can be divined from natural means, else evolution would make absolute sense. Then the question would be who created the entity that created the Intelligent Designer, and this would obviously go on to infinity, I don’t have the time to type that all out. I think you will see my point.

Intelligent Designer must not have a lot of friends (perhaps he won’t let them watch the game on his Big Screen, hogs all the beer, who knows), ’cause he seems to have entirely too much free time. What a workload the guy has. In the beginning all he had to do was to set down some genetic codes and DNA for a couple of million species (that is only known species. And only on the earth. Mind you, his design covers the everything in the cosmos). Now he must have to toil away endlessly creating new DNA for every new being, making sure that no two fingerprints are ever the same, making sure that the blood clots, etc.

That was fun.

The argument for Intelligent Design only attacks evolution. They find a hole in the evolution of a species and say “where’s your proof?” They are attacking lines of beings that, when viewed side by side, look like they are slowly changing form. Yet, were you to ask someone who supports Intelligent Design what their proof is they would simply say that evolution can not explain everything. Quite an argument.

What is going to be really sad is that, in the future, we will have found enough fossilized remains to definitively link every bipedal mammal to one another, and there will still be some religious idiots claiming that they (all the bipedal mammals) were on the boat with Noah. Delusion Intelligent Design will probably never go away, but, in a strange irony, I have no doubt that it will evolve. Just as Christians used to believe that God lived in the clouds, then swiftly changed gears once we visited the clouds.