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You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Some time back I watched a television program in which the idea of happiness was examined. There was some argument for an inherited aptitude for happiness in humans. It was an interesting idea, somewhat supported by my own experiences in an impromptu laboratory. I have been in jail for almost twenty years now, an officer with the opportunity to observe.

I tend to have a significant degree of circumspection in my life. I examine it constantly, assessing and evaluating and contemplating. Perhaps even obsessively. While I can point to many periods and even more moments of contentment, I cannot point to extended periods of happiness. I can point to even fewer periods (and even moments) of ecstasy, but I don't think that very many of us expect to be ecstatic most of the time.

Having observed humans for quite some time, many of whom were going through some of the lower periods in their lives, I can informally conclude that happiness is an occasional experience, at best. This is not a bad thing. Those who framed the Constitution recognized that the pursuit of happiness framed our lives, not the realization. It is a state to which we aspire, and as a consequence of our efforts many good things happen.

Today I experienced happiness. I was shopping at Safeway, receiving periodic messages from the family visiting Disneyland. I observed a number of big, burly daddies with their daughters, and then stepped outside into the sunshine. I loaded my groceries into the truck, responded to a message on my phone, looked around, and realized that I was happy.

For some reason I was just happy. I cannot say why. I know I was not ecstatic. I know I was more than content. I was happy. I was happy that my family was having a good experience. I was happy to be alive. I was just happy. It was nice, and it has lasted through the afternoon. I am delighted by that.

I have reviewed some blogs, edited some photos and albums. I have been content, and even happy. I have realized (fortunately not for the first time) that I have a very good life. I also realized that, should my life end soon, it has been disproportionately good.

In the context of the world, I have been lucky. In the context of my Christian faith, I have been blessed. Perhaps other contexts might give me another word or two, but the essence of my observations today is that I am happy.

I cannot discount my recent decision to retire from Corrections. I get out of jail on February 5, 2010. This decision may well have opened my capacity for happiness. Jail is a hard place to live, and I can easily see forces contrary to happiness working there. Yes, that decision may well have liberated my psyche to be happy.

My hope is that my days may be long on the Earth. I am content in the belief that I have done some good in my life, and that I have executed my responsibilities with honor. I have known love and have loved others.

Today I declare that life is good, and that I have attained (at least for a time) a state of happiness. In this moment I can thank God and my fellow humans for all of the good I have known, and cast behind me all of the evil I have known.

Will this last? Of course not. Life and all of its elements are transient.

That is what makes moments like these precious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cell Phones after 50-

My wife would probably be upset if I stated her age. The times of our respective births were rather near to one another, and I am 56 years old. Since I would not, in any way, wish to imply that my wife is old, or not young, or whatever state it is she finds offensive to point out or mention in any way, I shall simply say that she feels that the cell phone is probably the most significant invention in this century.

Granted, the cell phone was invented in the previous century. It has, however, become a very significant part of modern life during these early years of the 21st. century. She perceives the connectedness as a positive thing.

I tend to agree with her.

I carry an LG Vu at present. I just upgraded to that phone last week. I sought a few features in particular in the upgrade. The most important, of course, was free. Next to that was a better camera. In this case, a 2 megapixel camera to provide a reasonable quality photo. I did not think I would use the camera much in my prior phone, and so did not procure a good one. Then I went on to take a surprising number of photos. This time around I planned on using the phone as a camera, and research indicated that a 2 meg was adequate.

Texting. Early on in my cell phone career I did not understand the texting explosion in this country. I understood it overseas, where the cost of texting was significantly lower than voice communication. Here, however, it did not make sense. So many people texting, texting, texting.

Over time my opinion of texting changed. I found that a quick text can require less time than a phone call. A voice call requires certain polite interchanges that don't seem to be required in texting. Now that I have an easier to use keyboard on my touch screen phone I can text easily enough to dash off notes faster than the same communication by voice. Not only that, I can actually blog from my phone.

I don't Tweet, at least not yet. I just don't have the fan base that would require me to advise them every time I went to the bathroom, how it went, and how much paper it required. However, I have learned my lesson in phone cameras and texting. I may yet find it needful to Tweet on Twitter, or do whatever the next thing to come along might require.

My present phone takes videos. I have discovered that these videos are not particularly good unless viewed on the tiny screen of a phone. In fact, the look best on a small part of my phone screen. They are particularly bad if blown up to fit a full computer screen. That part of this cell phone thing is still developing. I won't say, "I don't see the need for cell phone video. I can do fine without it." Somehow, I think that my next phone will have to have some kick-ass video capability.

That's just the way these things go.

I value having my calendar in my phone. If it could coordinate with Google calendars it would be very nice, indeed. Come to think of it, I haven't explored that. I wonder if they can be made to work together. Hmmm.

What might the future of the cell phone be? I have a vision of breaking a capsule and inhaling the contents through the nose. The nano-tech phone takes up residence somewhere in there, and you are in constant communication. Just snort your periodic upgrades to stay current.

Comfort Food-

I had a very nice childhood. I often wish I had been aware of just how nice it was, but the anxiety and trauma of every childhood is immediate and fills the entire universe with its awfulness. Those of us who were so blessed still had to find ways to manage the rough passages.

For me it was books and barbecue potato chips. I would often stop by the library on the way home from school and pick up a volume of science fiction. Further along my way I would stop by the store and get a box of barbecue potato chips. Three bags in the box, all for $.79.

It was another time.

So, I would take my treasures home and go to my room. I would open a bag of chips and prop it up in the box and set it next to the bed. I would then sprawl on the bed, propping up the book on my pillow. I would read and munch, often for hours.

I had my own room. My own room! I really didn't know how great a gift that was for my parents to provide for me. A space all my own, a space larger than what some entire families might live in. A warm, dry, well lighted space in which to read and enjoy a snack.

Now, decades and many pounds later, I still love reading and I still love barbecue potato chips. Even knowing how bad they are for me I often indulge in way too many chips. I love them.

As a child I also really liked spaghetti. It was only an occasional meal in our household, but when it was on the table I would eat until it hurt. Literally.

Eventually growing up I learned that one of the real treats of being your own boss was being free to eat whatever you might want. Needless to say, I have eaten a lot of spaghetti in my adult years. Inexpensive, easy to make (if you so wished), and not particularly demanding.

I never established a meaningful relationship with brocolli. That is unfortunate. Indeed, most vegetables only become my friend if they are encorporated into a sauce you can pour over a big pile of noodles. I have gotten better about this by small increments, but probably will not live long enough to build a bond in which brocolli brings me comfort.

For some people it might be pot roast, or some particular kind of soup. It might be a chowder, or a particularly good bread. Whatever it is, it is likely that the sight and smell and flavor of that comfort food is associated with some pleasant emotions. The love of a mother, or a grandmother, or someone equally special. The security of family and friends, of home and community. Perhaps a special place.

We all have to eat. It is nice that sometimes eating can be more than just eating. It can be comforting. That's very nice, indeed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

When Sunday is Monday-

Sunday night begins my work week. This week I have a dorm in our medium security facility. The maturity level of inmates tends to be between seven and ten years of age. So, tonight I am locked in with thirty one large and dangerous seven year olds.

They tend to be loud, and often self centered. Like seven to ten year olds. Tonight they were reasonably well behaved, until I sent them to bed. In jail parlance it is called "rack down." This refers to days past when jail cell doors were opened and closed by a mechanical racking device. Whatever the name, they went to bed just as well as you might expect thirty one seven year olds to go to bed.

So, I now have their microwave, hot water pot, tv controllers, and a number of other items locked up. They won't get them until after I go home.

One might conclude that parenting had been less than successful on this lot. Here I am, continuing that effort with little hope of any real success.

The good news? I am alive, and I go home in a few minutes. Not bad at all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Patch-

Our journey today took the whole family north along Highway 1 to Pescadero. A little farm that sells pumpkins, and has turned the Halloween Holiday into an event and their farm into an event destination. Hay Rides, Pony Rides, Petting Zoo, Hay Maze, and even some pumpkins. Arata's Farm.

It was a very nice day. A bit foggy, but that is not unusual along this part of the California coast. Four generations, our whole household with the exception of our youngest son, Jon. Apparently pumpkins were not his thing.

Arata's Farm has evolved in recent years, expanding their entertainment menu. We partook of a bit, but elected to dine in Pescadero. We traveled the few miles to the little town, which proved not to particularly sleepy. Droves of people lined the few streets, procuring meals or visiting the shops.

We procured sandwiches at Norm's Market and dined at a nice little picnic area they had out back of the store. The bread was fresh and delicious, the sandwiches generous and tasty. We picked up a couple of loaves of their Artichoke bread to take home for dinner. (I just had some. Delicious!)

On the way home we passed a patch of ocean in which there were dozens of kite surfers, sail surfers, and sky surfers. We paused to enjoy the spectacle, and continued south. We drove in to have a closer look at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and again were headed south.

Home, and soon it was time to address dressing the pumpkins. The kids did great, creating some very unique Jack-O-Lanterns to adorn the front steps.

A late dinner, (those sandwiches were filling), of pasta and the artichoke bread.

Now, just a bit of blogging, and soon to bed.

I will try and get some photos of the finished pumpkins tomorrow.

New phone

I was due for an upgrade, and settled on a LG Vu. It was free, had a 2.0 meg camera, video capability, expandable memory, music capability, decent touch screen texting, and a lot of features I don't think I will use (but will probably find that I do.) ; )

The previous entry was just a test. It worked fine. So, I schlep into mobile blogging.

Now, off to the Pumpkin Patch up the coast from Santa Cruz, California.

Having grandkids is soo coool!

This mobile text message is brought to you by AT&T

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some semi-related thoughts-

I entered into blogging largely as a means to reach out and "network" to promote my writing. My short stories blog was intended to showcase some of my very short fiction, hoping that in time I might get something out there that would bring me revenue as well as providing an outlet.

Then I started blogging my adventures in barbecue, and tried to get serious about my personal philosophy in blog form. Lastly I created this blog to catch "Everything Else."

Needless to say, this blog has probably been my most active. Part online diary, part sandbox for ideas, this blog became the central blog of my little blog universe. Changes in my life and work schedule distanced me from the short story writing. Oh, there will be more. At present there is little compulsion to sit down and write.

As to philosophy, I just don't seem to have the need to sound profound, to work diligently to build a system of thought that captures my world view. The blog will remain, a place to put such works as I ultimately am driven to produce that fit into the context of "philosophy." However, I just am not driven to philosophy as I was in my youth.

Barbecue. Now that is an area I have not abandoned. Changes in the household, however, have altered the process. I need to regroup and focus on the barbecue adventure. Perhaps I should expand the scope of the blog, since there have been some recent explorations in cooking that were not related to the barbecue. We shall see.

So, back to Everything Else. I have given some thought to the idea of being more diligent in the journal/diary aspect of blogging. Recording every day, a record of the doings of the day. The sameness of most days tends to wash away such a compulsion, but I think that the discipline to find something in each day to record might compel me to think about each day.

I am somewhat restricted in that recording too much detail of my work days could cause issues with the Sheriff's Office for which I work. I am sure that our tech crime people frequently scan the works of employees as part of their duties. I cannot state that as a fact, of course, since I have nothing to substantiate such a claim. However, it is difficult to imagine that they do not.

Indeed, the Internet is full of tales of blogs and social sites adversely affecting individual people as far as employment goes. So, my work news will be general at best. A jail is a great source of interesting stories, but sharing them could prove problematic.

What of other aspects of my life? Well, over the course of the last year I have resided in the jail parking lot during my work week. I have sheltered in a tent that fits in the back of my truck. A surprisingly comfortable way of living, at least for me.

Recently, we were directed to cease residing in the parking lot. Though I was just sleeping days there, being on the night shift, some issues came up and I and the other camper were directed to stop sleeping here. I now day sleep in a state park, using a seasonal day use pass.

To be quite honest, it is not bad at all. I sleep near the sea, and the park I use has little traffic at this time of year. Having to set up camp every day, rather than once each week, is a little bit of extra work. Having an ocean view every day is a pretty good compensation.

Will there be sufficient details to share? I shall look for them, and we shall see.

Now, life with the family. We have nine people living in the house. Four generations. Are there family issues? Of course. Is this the place to air them? I don't think so. That aspect of the diary certainly won't take place here. However, I think I can watch for things that can be shared.

Perhaps I will take a page or two from the blogs of some other bloggers I follow and blog the household and family activities. That will have some very positive consequences. We will have a record of our lives together. I will be compelled to watch for blogable events, and record them. I may also be compelled to follow through on some projects so that I can share them.

More pictures, of course. I know that I seldom take the time, and I need to do better. There are plenty of fine blogs I follow that provide the example. I need to follow through.

So, let's see.

Expand My Barbecue Adventures to include other foody explorations.

Keep open to expressing philosophical thoughts in Philosophy on Purpose. Perhaps try to give it a monthly essay or something.

Discipline myself to create at least one story each month for my short story blog.

Strive to come up with a daily entry to Everything Else. Look at my life and write it down.

Sounds good. If nothing else, the road to Hell will be a little less bumpy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dream Incompatability-

Dreams are one of the major victims of depression. Previously held dreams fade and die. The capacity to dream grows weak and eventually seems to no longer exist. The difficult path back from a depressive episode can be made easier if the capacity to dream is revived and encouraged.

During my own healing I sought to give wings to my dreams, finding old ones under dust and debris and also trying to create new ones. Some were fantastic and impractical, but I embraced them and made them mine in spite of that. I needed to dream.

I embraced dreams of travel, of seeing what lies over the horizon. I used maps and atlas' and Internet tools. I brought back a hunger that had died within me, and I wanted to travel.

Unfortunately, my realized dreams of having a home and family have put fetters on my traveling feet. The funds and freedom are just not there.

I have dream incompatibility.

One option is to let this frustration spiral me into a new depression. After the struggle to climb out of that pit it seems a poor option.

Another is to recognize the realized dream of home and family. Just as I reached down and found those old, dusty dreams of the vagabond life, I must embrace the life that I have. Home. Family.

Easy to take for granted. Easy to focus on the frustrations and limitations those realized dreams can bring. Easy to forget that they are dreams, and dreams realized.

There are big changes coming soon in my life. Big changes for my family. Changes that can be enhanced if I remember the dreams of home and family. Some of those changes I am not quite ready to make public. Necessary changes. They shall certainly be interesting.

I have no intention of abandoning my dreams of travel, of being a sometimes vagabond. I have learned skills and acquired tools over the past year that will allow for at least a taste of that life, now and then.

It is time, however, to focus on those dreams of home and family. I need to actively cultivate those dreams, and make more of them a reality.