Friday, May 29, 2009

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time

There, in the lonely Florida scrub, I met The Wanderer. A wise bug, indeed, on the path to enlightenment and rust.
No, seriously, what a cool old tree.
Soloman's Castle in the background, The Boat in the Moat in the foreground. It was there, at that boat, where I was to prove my tough guyness.
Yeah! Tough guy. You know you know it. You know you want him. But you just don't mess with a tough guy. Or his homemade banana milkshake.
On the Hillsborough River doing, apparently, my best Jabba the Hutt impersonation. You know you know him. You know you want...... oh, nevermind.
After a short week (Tues-Thurs) I am off. Florida is warm and green and thoroughly doused with much needed rain. So, with that said, looks like I'm headed back to Massachusetts. Damn! Another week on the road. Well, bright side, may morph into a Friday road trip. Got wise and booked a Saturday morning flight home.
Up there again because we're still trying to sell that machine to TSA and still doing it, as I so undelicately put it Wednesday, with one brain tied behind our back. Other than telling you that, when it comes to my work and the equipment, you neither get to, nor want to, hear anything more.
Today's pictures are from a road trip we took a few weeks ago. I just got the pictures in. So I will share them now. Just don't want you to think I'm repeating my repeating myself.

Got a friend headed up from St. Pete tomorrow. I was gonna barbecue out and visit with him and the family. Low key. The wife, God love her, started calling in a bunch of other folks because me saying "it's just us and the Johnny FN family. No need to call a bunch of other people because it's not a neighborhood party. It's just them and us.", translated, somewhat suspiciously (as do most things) as, "Hey, why don't you go ahead and do whatever you want." So now we got burgers, dogs, hot links, satay, a Thai dish that I will not even attempt to spell, gyoza, and lumpia. Mad Jack is bringing a cooler full of Yuengling. Apparently, we're having a party. Yay us!!

From the redneck bottom of the corporate ladder, out
Ramblin' Ed
-------- More old stuff from the 80s ---------
For Reuben Walker (His Family & Friends)

There's a ragged young man
who's been lost in the shuffle
of daydreams, and nightmares, and newspaper scenes
But he knows for sure
what he wants out of dying
And all he can say is life is not what it seems

There's a woman with blue eyes
that rain every day
she knows she's wasting her whole life away
Sitting and crying,
forever it seems
for a man that she knows only lives in her dreams

Hey, Rueben, now I've gotta turn out the lights
Sure hope you're not tossing and turning all night
What crazy thoughts could have run through your head
To wake you up screaming, alone in your bed?

Rueben Walker
his family and friends
walked all night towards the chessboard's end
there an awesome silence
relentless as rain
was played on the jukebox, again and again

Wandering Child

long ago in an olden land
where lovers walked by hand in hand
and candy canes and wishing wells
were mine to be commanded

I took a journey, took a trip
on a long forgotten sailing ship
only to discover that
my mind had been expanded

It's there that I met Misery
I smiled at her and she at me
we shared a scotch and water
and I could not let her pay

She took me to her house in town
she hung me up, I laid her down
seems we were only puppets
in some left unkiltered play

She disappeared into my head
left me lying on that bed
that two had shared
but now held only one

I cried out, "Please! Don't go away
I really don't know what to say
Don't think we need our last words
to be spoken by a gun

'Cause you left me broken hearted here
all alone and feeling scared
you know, a manufactured dream
it's just a sugar coated nightmare."

Then men that are more wise than I
with cotton shirts and sullen eyes
they told me that
I did not want to stay there

(they said:)
"Take that ship back home again
you find a lover or love a friend
or pass along these words
that all have heard but few have spoken

Misery, she's a heartless bitch
she'll leave you all a nervous wreck
then just drop you on the sidewalk
like a child's toy that's been broken."

Those men were much more wise than I
So I opened up and closed my eyes
And I caught that last train leaving
for a place called coming home

And all along the railroad tracks
ex-lovers waited, holding back
the fears and things that make a town
a place called coming home

Misery, that wandering child
born of spirits running wild
spoke of candy canes
and wishing wells to be commanded

Misery, that wandering child
playful eyes and deadly wiles
touched me in my dreams, you know
my mind has been expanded.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It never hurts to ask. Unless you ask for hurt.

Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata provided the great title quote. Plus, it is so thoroughly zen. And, since we seem to be paying homage to Japanese wisdom, try this one on for size: The reverse side also has a reverse side. - Japanese Proverb

I wound up with about 10 hours to kill on Friday. I was in Boston, but didn't have to be. So I asked my buddy who lived there where a cool little beach town might be. I had thought maybe Saugus, but after he described it to me, it sounded like the Soprano's opening credits scenery. He suggested Newbury and/or Salisbury. Sounded good to me and, he continued, it was only 30 minutes or so up I-95 to get there. So I programmed "Newbury, town of - city center" in the Hertz SELDOM-LOST GPS system. Then I chose the "least use of freeways" option. I mean, hey, I took his advice on where to go. Just not on how to get there. Because if I have learned nothing else in life, I have learned that for me, it is less about the being there and more about the getting there. All the good stories are found along the road.

I took Route 133 and Route something else (remembering stuff, especially numbers, is not my forte) until I got to Newburyport and Plum Island. Plum Island was pretty boring, and by that I mean really, really boring. But Newburyport, which is different from Newbury in a way that was not readily apparent to me, was pretty much what I was looking for. Quaint and New Englandy by design (it was established in 1971, as opposed to 1671 like a lot of the surroundings), you could park and walk. It had quirky shops, and neighborhood drug stores; high tone and studiously casual dining; and watering holes for every stripe. I had a burger and fries, with a yellow curry dip for the fries that I never would have expected, and a cold Hoegarten draft. I sat there eating and watching tourists walk by on the sidewalk. I was stoked.

The ride through Massachusetts, a state I can only spell with great concentration, was beautiful. Forests and fields and even, dare I say it?, swamps! They looked like actual swamps to me, albiet probably sans alligators, although there may be a different local word for them. Anyhow, the ride certianly had it going on. The weather was a nice mid-80s and there was no humidity to speak of. I had the windows down and a station out of Waltham that would stick a country song, maybe two, between each endless string of commercials.

I want to go to Maine. Of course, it will be a summer trip. But I think I will drive.

Life limped along at subsonic speeds, out
Ramblin' Ed
The Hull River from the bank. Or actually, from out on the trunk of a horizontally growing tree whilst thinking how suckful it would be to fall in.
Newburyport walking market. Or whatever they called it. It was a decent place to kill an afternoon.
Gotta love a city limits that looks like this. It was a very beautiful and relaxing drive to crank the rented generic white Chevy Impala up to 50mph, set the cruise control, and stick to the backroads. Word.
A what, driftwood boat-igator? Gator clipper? Don't know. It was the only interesting thing on Plum Island. It was in somebody's yard.
"How can you not stop and have yourself some grog when the opportunity presents itself?", I thought. I found out how. When the joint is closed you get no grog.
My initial reaction: "Huh??"

Thin Man 16OCT82

Thin Man you've lived a melodious tune
A life very much like my own
Your fingers they dance on a guitar so worn
You mesmerized me with your story

Brother, I've followed those stars in my eyes
call your patience a virtue, I'm sure
As you sail the breeze, set your course as you please
laying visions, like treasures, before me

I've seen your eyes swelling with tears, for you love
a passion burns deep in your heart
You share it with others, can't hold it within
It crashes like waves on the shoreline

I cherish that piece of your soul that you gave me
though I'd rather you called it a loan
I'll be bringing it back in a brown paper sack
for a man has a need for his soul

Thin Man you've given me pleasures I've taken
As far as Siam, as they say
It's a magical thing that you do with your strings
You mesmerize me with your story

Remember, our paths intersect at a point
When they do, then I'll see you again
Call it our fate, call it damnable breaks
or just coming to terms with our glory


I used to want to be able to write obliquely like the Beatles when they did things like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (LSD). I have a few like that, but this next one made the best song. Perhaps it's not as clever as I thought it was back in '82. That happens a lot.

The Prince of Paper Promises

Can you hear it stalking
dancing up and down your spine
the fear is so exciting, but
the guilt is solely mine
the words I know by heart
but the tune is just a ghost
I'm the prince of paper promises
the king has been dethroned

Did you hear the sixguns blazing
deep within the night?
Did you hide the evening's sorrow
in the haze behind your eyes?
'Cause even as you run away
the lonely bandit smiles
you know its just a sixgun
and he knows you're just a child

And did you read the papers?
Two young lovers bit the dust
such unholy desperados
one more notch is born of lust
the sun is setting slowly
wild, young sons are rising fast
the first step is the longest
and it just may be your last

It gets so hard to smile
when you're only 21
when you know that it's all over
though it seems you've just begun
the laugh tracks cannot cover
those last tracks that you laid
not the life you asked for
but the one you made

You were a knight in shining armor
as the rust ate through your heart
you went tripping through the windowpane
and finished at the start
the orange sunshine begged you
to come worship on the coast
then forgot to bring along the dreams
and that's what hurt the most

Ed San Diego/Ocean Beach

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things

I am off to Boston tomorrow. Will be up there all week. I am a little sad about it. My boss, who I also considered a pretty good friend, was let go. It was just business. And I took the news harder than he did. But now, when I go in to work, there will be one of my peers sitting in for him. Not even a popular peer.

I love my job. I look forward to coming in to the office knowing that for two weeks I will be building CT technicians. I love the camaraderie of that. I love, as I always have, bringing in an apprehensive new guy and sending out a confident maintenance technician. In fact, except that the courses were not two but twenty something weeks long, I did the same thing in the navy for years.

And I think that's what I have the hardest time grasping. In my brain I understand, but overall, in practice I just cannot grasp the "it's just business" concept. I suppose it's because for my whole adult life teamwork, team dynamics, and loyalty were the ideals that we were taught to demonstrate. They were non-negotiable. They were the holy grail of shipboard life. Friendships made were friendships for life. Some of you out there know what I mean. So even though the concept is understandable, I have a hard time with "we're letting you go so we can save your salary."

And another man, someone very close to me was also let go. Sure, there was a blunder on his part, and that's why, to a large extent he caused his own fate. But it was an honest mistake of a blunder and he lost his job not because it was as good a reason as any to see him off, but because in life some rules are just black and white. No wiggle room. His boss went to bat for him and his boss' boss apologized for what he was about to do. But he had to pull the trigger and he did.

One good thing that came from it was that there was a resignation allowed. Even though I am pretty sure that, if not the letter of the law then certianly at least the intent of the law, was for a firing to take place. While that rules out a shot at unemployment benefits, it at least avoids the awkardness at a job interview of having to say that you were fired.

They guy across the street is probably the most Christ-like Christian I have ever met. He's rough and tough, gets mad and gets over it, makes no compromises in his faith, reaches out to share his faith and yet manages to be not only tolerant of, but friends with, those with different views than his. I really think Jesus would have hung out with him since, as a carpenter, he must have been more like my friend than not.

My neighbor loves his Harley. He has been riding since before birth, or at least from soon after. Now it sits in his drive with a FOR SALE sign on it. He's still employed, but is sent home on days there'sno work to do. He's home a lot more these day. He's selling his bike because a man does what it takes to care for his family. Everywhere I look, the bad economy is picking off my by one.

Anyway, I have had these guys on my mind a lot and have been doing what I can for them. But I have not felt much like blogging because of it.

The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past. - Robertson Davies
Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power - Eric Hoffer

This is for AI, whenever he next wanders over this way. As he pointed out, he blogs a lot more than I do now. I am far removed from the daily musings I used to offer. Are they gone forever? Who knows. But they are gone for now. Anyway.....

Booker T., of And The MGs fame, has a new disk out. It's called Potato Hole (2009). AI, when you read the review, you'll know why it's for you. Rolling Stone's review follows:

It's fitting that Patterson Hood, son of Muscle Shoals bassist David Hood, should record with his dad's Southern-soul peer, 64-year-old Stax-session kingpin Booker T. Jones. Add Neil Young and Hood's bandmates in Drive-By Truckers, and what might've been a generic awards-show jam turns out to be a badass set of MG's-style instrumentals. Jones' sweet, thick Hammond B-3 riffs are spiked with Truckers' roughneck (and surprisingly funky) Southern rock and some exceptionally lyrical, focused Young guitar leads. The originals feel like old standards. But the cover of OutKast's "Hey Ya" is the zinger: It's Southern race-mixing party music come full circle.

The purpose of life is to fight maturity, out
Ramblin' Ed

Highway Song 12 November, 1981

You don't know my name
I'm in between towns and I sure would like a friend
I'd like to share my time

I've never been old standard
Never been held accountable,
not once,
for anyone I may have known

Time it flies, like melting ice
Like sweat beads on a glass
I stare out the window
As the countryside goes past

What a hedonistic plan
for such a sacreligious man
I don't let one dark day slip on past

How would you like romance
that jumped right up and bit you in the hand?
That was not my plan

Midnight found me creeping
Yeah, midnight found me creeping
just the same
to that girl with no last name

Time it flies, like alabis
made up on the spot
Some were halfway true
and some were not

I didn't mind the playing games
got me a handful just the same
some would sure agree and some would not

I don't need a name now
I'm in between friends and it sure does make me smile
Think I might stay here a while

Hell, it might be the music
you may call it just
a highway song
I've been singing all along

Time sure flies, like them white lines
that lead the highway where it goes
Those same white lines
that led me far from home

And like a drifter, like a wind
don't seem to matter where I've been
when everybody tells me where to go

Time it flies, like melting ice

Like sweat beads on a glass
I stare out the window
As the countryside goes past

What a hedonistic plan

for such a sacreligious man
I don't let one dark day slip on past

Now you've heard my story
And still I need someone to be my friend
like a movie near its end

All this living technicolor
Don't you know it makes me feel
a movie scar
got no money. Got no car

Time it flies, like drugs supplied
to live inside our heads
my thoughts come off much like an unmade bed

Don't leave me when I'm gonna crash
don't let the conscienceness attack
Can't let this highway song
go to my head
Can't let this highway song
go to my head
Can't let this highway song
go to my head


Sunday, May 03, 2009

It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over

I have always considered myself to be a little on the lazy side. My two favorite quotes are from Calvin (to Hobbes: "I don't know, but I refuse to find out") and from some long forgotten stand-up comic ("I start out kind of slow, then taper off").

A while back I figured aloud as how you can't proclaim that you are "complicated", since if you really were you'd probably not know it because your mind would be all wrapped around other things besides navel gazing and impressing peers. I mean, that's just a fact. And not a complicated one, either.

Now just a second ago, or "pre-deletion" as it were, there was a long, rambling rumination on my bona fides to back up my ultimate claim to unaffected cool and laid backness. Nevermind. It was drivel. Suffice to say here that other than a random lapse here and there, I got the mellow thing down.

Lazy... not so sure. But you'll get even less pontification on the reasons, becsause my DELETE button/index finger interaction went even further on that. Basically, to summarize what I had written earlier, I feel like I'm lazy, but I am probaby not and I can more or less prove it. So mellow...yes, lazy.... edifying, but ultimately incorrect, self-characterization.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome. -Isaac Asimov

We are stomping around Ottawa during the day and crossing the river to stomp around Quebec at night. Never before been to Canada and I am finding it to be fun filled and inexpensive. However, we had to get by most of yesterday morning on "smile credit". We did not think to change any money at the airport upon arrival on Monday. As we headed in to work on Tuesday, in the shadow of the TOTALLY AWESOME government buildings downtown, we kept running into problems paying for things. Everybody wanted cash. And not greenbacks, but the plastic stuff with the Queen on it. We were working in a hotel conference room, but since we were not guests, we could not get money exchanged, even just $20, to pay them for our parking. We could not pay for coffee and bagels because a) we had no Canadian dollars, b) they would take our credit cards as payment...or would have if their network wasn't down, something we discovered too late to abort the coffee and bagel getting operation and c) the ATMs we tried all had negative feelings towards processing our transactions to withdraw some of the local plasticized currency. In both cases we just smiled while I drawled, "We don't want to cheat you. We'll come back later to pay you back if you'll let us just go now." Surprisingly, in both cases there was no hesitation at all in allowing us to walk out with that verbal IOU as collateral. And, I am proud to report, bagel lady has already been repaid and the parking lady will be as soon as we hit the bank again. We had her money, but a too cute waitress got it all last night as a tip. She had the good sense to at least give the impression that she found us amusing.

Last night was a great adventure. Tonight will be an even greater one as we don't have to work tomorrow. Like they say, it's only money.
Never eat more than you can lift, out
Ramblin' Ed