Archive for the ‘life’ Category

212,343.7

I decided to start documenting my memories of Farrah when she hit 212,343 miles. Not too long ago, I hit a pretty nasty dip coming out of the Waco post office. I was turning left when we hit the dip and it felt like I bottomed out my front suspension. From that point forward, every time I turned left, there was audible, palpable knock. I decided to find out what was wrong with Fairuza and treat her to a little TLC. After consulting my Chilton’s manual, I concluded that my front bearings were incredibly loose – I also changed my spark plugs.
My history of maintenance with the truck could fill up a small pamphlet… of one pages. I’ve changed my alternator, serpentine belt, spark plugs, starter, and R-134a. I’ve also paid someone else to change the fly-wheel and a different starter.
When I bought the truck in July 2002, I went out on two dates almost immediately. On the second date (with a girl whom I’ve forgotten), I went to Charleston’s, Barnes and Noble, then the movie “Road to Perdition”.  Excellent movie, horrible date.  It was one of the worst dates ever. While at Charleston’s, I asked said date if she read much and wanted to go to Barnes and Noble to look around (two of my favorite past-times). She answered, “I have to read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ for class.” and “That sounds like fuuuunnn.” She was obviously lying to the second question. I asked her if “How to Win Friends” was the famous one from Dale Carnegie and she said she didn’t know who wrote it. She wasn’t lying to that answer.  In retrospect, I should have seen this as a horrible foreshadowing of the evening to come. After the movie was over, we returned to my truck. When I turned the key, there was this horrible scrape. Inquisitively, I turned the key again; to my dismay, I heard another scrape. I tried it one more time and the engine turned over. I was so relieved by the F-bomb’s resilience so that I could end this dog-crap of a date.  I didn’t have the starter looked at. I didn’t really care either. I’ve always been passive about fixing things. People kept telling me, “you need to get that looked at” and they were right. I finally changed the starter when my truck hit 190,000 miles. It worked fantastically for 15,000 miles, until I had someone change the starter and fly-wheel. Not to sound like a commercial for Ford but I think that Ford got it right on their trucks. They got it wrong on their domestic cars but they got it very right on their trucks. I would be happy to have another Ford truck, or a foreign-inspired Ford car (see Fiesta).
These newest blog entries are a moral imperative, of sorts. Flenore is on her death bed and we owe it to her to pay our respects before her passing. I included the eulogy and many wonderful thoughts of my grandmother on my blog, so this is only right. At 212,343, she’s making a bunch of noises. She sorta shakes and farts as if she has palsy and held in too many farts. She’s old now; she doesn’t need to act like a lady anymore. She just lets it rip, as she’s earned the right. I’ve learned enough lessons from her, my only job now is to forgive her shortcomings and make her final days more comfortable.

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This little piggy went to the market

If you are a regular follower of this blog, then you’ll notice that this is the first blog I’ve written since, like, November. If you’re not a regular follower of this blog, you’ll not care but you can look at the previous blog, below, and see that it says November.

WHY?

Unlike “the market,” I’m a self-regulator. I know that too much of a good thing, can be so I cut everyone off the teat of my genius.

That’s not true… not even close.

The truth of the matter is that I was entering finals of my last semester, graduating, job searching, job interviewing, working a little on the side, working none on the side, getting turned down for some jobs, reading, looking for a new apartment, finding a new apartment, cleaning out my trailer because some hillbillies left it in bad condition and generally living life.

I found a new gig, I work for the federal government now. I won’t say specifically what I do, but George Shinseki is my boss by a few tiers.

Since I have no real reason to quit blogging, let’s talk about growing up…

By the time you read this, I’ll be officially closer to 30 than 20. I figure it’s time for some big-boy shorts so I’m ditching all my shorts with cargo pockets and holes. And if there’s a cargo short with holes in the crotch, forget about it. I went to Kohl’s because… why the hell not? They have a crap load of cargoes; too many. After some preliminary searching, I found some shorts that weren’t cargo; they were grown up shorts. They were also double-pleated; they were too grown up. If you just read that line, looked down and noticed you have double-pleated shorts, I’m not having a go at you or your shorts; If you were born prior to 1962, I don’t think there’s much of a problem with double-pleated shorts. For me, however, double pleats are a problem. It goes back to what I said earlier about “too much of a good thing”; except it’s the opposite. If too much of a good thing, is a bad thing; is too much of a bad thing, a good thing? No, two wrongs don’t make a right and two pleats don’t make a plump man cooler. I already have a hard enough time controlling the rate of expansion of my forehead as well as the growth of back hair, I don’t need double-pleated shorts to make me look any older than nature has already.

It might not be the best blog in the world, but, this is a taster and I’m rusty. Cut me some slack and I promise it’ll get better.

Cruci-cleavage

Did Christ die on the cross-

to rest at the crest of your cleavage?

Or are the wages of sin

paid for by your exposed skin?

It may be hard to lift and separate-

while those hands are nailed to a tree

I suppose I was only confused,

your “true love waits” ring threw me.

Almost Heaven, Argentina… sorry John Denver

My wife Carmen and I are from Oklahoma, and if you’ve ever been to Oklahoma you could have a ton of observations about the place but one observation would not be the mountainous scenery.  We have two claims to fame as far as geographical/geological structures:  One; the Arbuckle “mountains” (not really mountains, not even close) whose sediment runs sideways.  Two; Cavanal Hill, Poteau, Oklahoma (pronounced Poto).  It is the world’s largest hill at 1,999 ft. tall (one more foot and we’d be hosed).  So with that in mind, imagine the beauty we got to experience going into Mendoza de Argentina, and behold the magnitude of the Andes; simply amazing.

Now, I’ve been to taller places.  One time as a part-time youth minister I went to Monarch Pass, Colorado.  I’ve been to Denver for a day.  Hell, I’ve walked Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii.  But there is something about the Andes in Mendoza that the others didn’t have… wine.  Oh yeah, you know there’s a difference.  Denver was with school; Haleakala was when I was 18; and Monarch Pass was me and a bunch of Baptist youngins (You know what it’s like when a bunch of WASP’s get around each other).

To be at the base of the Andes, standing at the gates Melipal or Fincas Patagonicas, and staring out over the arid grapevines and into the snow-capped mountains is astonishing.  A trip like that really makes you appreciate the wine.  The idea that the most of the wine people drink from Argentina, would not exist if were not for these mountains.  The snow that gets caught on the mountains… melts and runs into a river… which is dammed and rushed to the fields… which grows the grapes that are smashed… and fermented for the world’s drinking pleasures.  The work, the care, nay, the love that goes into each bottle and the precision that is required to make a fantastic bottle of wine comes through with a single visit.  If nothing else, if not for the amazing beef, the remarkably nice people, or the Cuban cigars, then a trip is needed for the surroundings.  After one trip… every time you hoist a glass to your lips you realize you are tasting heaven.

darn clouds are in the way

darn clouds are in the way

The Moderate Believer

I’m sure there are some out there who think, “How is this blog about a ‘moderate revolution’ yet he mentions very little about moderation?” It’s a valid thought. The truth is that recently I’ve been blogging a lot about my time in Argentina. It seems to be what’s going on in my life and therefore… that’s what I write about. I hope that in my poems or regular writings that my centrist tendencies come through. I began thinking about recording my thoughts about moderation and how the world exists and indeed thrives from conflicting opposites. But, this is also a recognition that to have competition from opposing forces, radicals, fundamentalists, and “wing-nuts” are a necessary evil. I can’t list all my thoughts, largely because if I have one good idea out of 400, I don’t want anyone taking credit for it. I only want to keep my one out of 400.

I first began this quest for moderation at church. I’m a Baptist, don’t know if you knew that… a moderate Baptist. I know there are centrist-minded people at Southern Baptist Churches; it just so happens, however, that they aren’t in positions of power at the SBC conventions. So I go to a different church. Like I said, I was sitting in church and a guest pastor (a Lutheran pastor) read from the book of Mark, chapter 9. Verse 40 caught me when Christ says, “… for whoever is not against us is for us.” Just taking that verse, without any context, life is apparently good. Any person that has stayed away from church but hasn’t really done bad-talking about Jesus is going to be alright. I thought about this verse while I remembered that in Matthew Chapter 12, Jesus says, “if you are not with me you are against me.” There are two different contexts for these verses, presumable spoken by the same man (Jesus), that say two very different things.

One says that people in the middle are going to be okay, “as long as you don’t hate Jesus, everything’s going to be okay.” The other says, “You’re on Jesus’ side or you are hosed.” Obviously these are paraphrased but there exists an issue that needs to be dealt with. Both of these scriptures are addressed in the context of a driving out demons. In Matthew, Jesus is driving out demons, trying to make a point to the Pharisees. In Mark, some other guy is driving out demons in Jesus name, and John the Apostle is having a conniption.

Now does Jesus change his mind? He does seem to give two different statements. Does this just mean that the bible is full of contradictions and this is just one example of a confusing savior? One question is if Jesus himself is crazy or fickle? Or does part of the charge of being God, manifested in flesh, come with fact that we as humans are inherently faced with a day-to-day duality. A duality that is not always a question of good and evil but that humankind is needs to recognize that there is not one blanket answer for everything. The fact that man and woman were created in God’s image carries with it so many responsibilities, not only to us, but to God as well. There is the issue of us trying to come up with a blanket “yes” or blanket “no” for every situation; blanket answers just does work, they don’t explain everything. The scriptures, if nothing else, try to teach us to think contextually.

I’ve heard it said that God doesn’t want us to be moderate. Revelation 3:16 says we should be hot or cold, if we’re lukewarm God will “spit us out.” Moderate isn’t being lukewarm. Moderate is having the good sense to know when you should be cold or hot.

Time is an illusion

Carmen and I were out for dinner last night at this local restaurant called “Parrechio”. Pretty good stuff, I had a Bife de Chorizo and Carmen had some stir-fried chicken and vegetables. She mentioned something that surprised me. She said that if we got the money she would like to be able to go to Austin City Limits this year to see The Mars Volta. She knows I love the The Mars Volta but Austin City Limits is so much more this year, click here to see the lineup. The conversation got me to thinking about the first time I went to Austin, and then onto something deeper… Something like this…

“Well it wasn’t that long ago, But, I’ve been plenty of times sinse then.”

“We could call my buddy Ryan Shue; I played football with him in college; maybe we could crash at his.”

“Well it has been a while since I’ve seen Ryan, like 4 years… wait; no, 5 and a half years since I’ve seen Ryan, since I went to Austin for the first time, WHEN I TURNED 20!”

“Where the hell did the last 5 years go?”

I told Carmen that the entire time we’d known each other (5 years- in a month and a half) has been fun; that’s why the time has flown, and I think that’s true. But it did get me to thinking about an arbitrary period of time (5 years) and how an half a decade is viewed differently by different eyes. For example, for me, from 5 to 10 was an eternity. Kindergarten-4th grade, baseball, basketball, my brief entry into soccer, six flags, grandparents, all that. There was a lot going on and the time seemed to last a while. My birthdays couldn’t come close enough. 10-15, was the same real length but slightly shorter. Let me introduce to you football, Disney World, Junior High, Sunrise Scramblers, Sega Genesis, Music, Your big brother’s puberty, your big brother’s music, your big brother’s hair. Ryan started listening to Pearl Jam, which means I started listening to Pearl Jam, Ryan started listening to Rage Against the Machine which means I started listening to RATM, Ryan started shaving his face and dating girls which means I started … wishing I had some facial hair to shave. Instead I was left to figure out that a flat-top hair cut doesn’t work on a late-blooming adolescent. 10-15 took a while, but we got through it.

Needless to say 15-20 was much shorter and 20-25 didn’t take long to blow through at all. I might write later about what defined 15-20, and really when I think about it, quite a lot happened in that period of time but… suffice to say that hair started to finally grow, Girls noticed me, and then half-way through this period the head-hair started to slide off the backside of my noggin’… kind of like, I heard about these sheep that were jumping off of a cliff in some sort of mass suicide, that’s kind of what my hair is doing. The sheep on the top of my head aren’t going too far, however; they’re landing on my shoulders and back so… it’s okay. I’m 25 and the birthdays can’t be spaced far enough apart.

Now, I know that I’m only 25 and most people reading this are older, which may be a good thing, you can offer up some insight. But when I think about how fast the time has gone, up to this point, it’s astounding. 30 is sometime next week, 40 is in a year or two, in no time I’m going to be catching the early bird special at Luby’s wondering how long after dinner I need to take my meds… only to find out that I should have taken them on an empty stomach. When that time comes, I’m popping those meds… with milk, and by God I will operate heavy machinery if I want.

I have no words…

There has been so much that has gone on in the last week I don’t know how I can sum everything up.  Okay, Walter, Janie, and my dad all showed up in Buenos Aires last Saturday.  Anyone who knows my uncle Walter knows that when he shows up for vacation, he doesn’t vacate.  Instead he turns into a nazi, not like a “mean, semite-slaughtering” nazi, more like a “you need to be ready to go in 5 minutes… no wait, 2 minutes” kind of nazi.  Tito said of Walter that he can’t enjoy what he’s doing right now because he’s thinking about what he’ll do next.  I might joke about his behavior but the truth is that it’s nice having him here because it is a huge change of pace that I enjoy.  I have much more to say about our adventures but I want to talk about Iguazu real quick.

We went to Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, and it’s amazing.  Elenor Roosevelt, upon seeing the falls, couldn’t help but proclaim “Poor Niagra”, and how right she was.  There are over 270 individual falls and there are no amount of words in my English and Spanish lexicons combined to describe the beauty, magnitude, and fury of the falls.  I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed while I was there with an existential and theological dilemma.  I have a tendency to sympathize with religious perspectives on many things like the falls being the handiwork of God and how natural beauties (like Iguazu and pale ale) are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  At the same time, I have no problem espousing the idea that the earth is over 2 billion years old and these falls were formed over many millenia by erosion of the rocks and that they have grown in scale over at least a billion years.  When you think about it scientifically, it seems to make sense.  But to look at it scientifically, the falls aren’t impressive.  The idea that these falls just occurred as part of a natural process doesn’t really impress me; why am I supposed to be awe-struck by a random occurance, no matter how great?  However, to look at the falls from the middle, the idea that there is some kind of infinitely intelligent being that got this ball spinning a long time ago, and put it in a place like Argentina/Brazil, Zambia/Zimbabwe, US/Canada for people to marvel, study, hypothesize, and theorize over is much more impressive to me.  This is not a plug for intelligent design or the “answersingenesis” crowd.  I’m reminded of the words of British Scientist Sir John Houghton, “the phrase that both believers and scientists need to learn and not be afraid to say is, ‘I don’t know'”.  AmenJust a portion of Iguazu