Thursday, September 17, 2009

An idea for getting humans to Mars faster.

Ok, it takes an unmanned spacecraft, what, at least 9 months. To carry that all that the people on board will need, like water, food and air, would mean a big ship. Then there's the 9 months of boredom for all the folks on board. It seems to be a real problem, carrying enough fuel to get up to speed, and then decelerate at Mars too.
I have an idea.
We have a space drive system called Ion drive, but it is really weak. It has been used on a few satellites as a test that I know of, and given enough time, can archive high speeds. In theory, faster than any chemical propulsion that we now have.
Soooo... what we do is build a big ship in orbit around Earth, equipping it with room for 10 people, enough food, water and air for 2 years (maybe more). It would also have attached to it landing craft plus a small ship or two that would remain in orbit that wouldn't have much but speed. The Mother ship would be big, and have any redundant systems and heavy shielding that would protect it's systems for decades. This Mother ship would have an ion drive. Yep.. ion. The
thing is, the Mother ship would be launched on a long orbit to mars and back, and here's the new idea, WITHOUT people on board. As I've covered, on drive is weak, but given enough time, it can get the Mother ship up to very high speeds. When it returns from its long trip to Mars and back, it will be going very fast indeed. All we need then is a much smaller ship that carries just enough supplies and speed to catch up with the Mother ship, with the people on board the smaller ship. They then dock with the bigger ship with all its supplies. In theory, the Mother ship will be going fast enough to get them back to Mars in much less time, where they then separate on the landing craft to visit Mars. The smaller ships, lets call them Interceptors, stay in orbit around Mars till the Mother ship returns in its eternal orbit between Earth and Mars. While the group on Mars sets up camp, another crew catches the Mother ship as it again passes Earth by then at an even higher speed.
I'm not a scientist, but I believe that the initial journey to Mars will be closer to just a month if done right, the second trip even faster. We might even have a fleet of these Mother ships being built to keep a constant 'conveyor' of explorers coming and going from Mars.
Hey, I know there are a ton of things to be worked out with this concept. The basic orbit might have to be a lot bigger to achieve the required speeds.
What do you think?

Monday, August 24, 2009

A note on this... um, thing here.

TL 4 22 09

It's a work in progress in an un-progressive style. I tend to jump from thing to thing, digress, ramble and at times even contradict myself. I consider it a reverse diary of my life, with stream of thought things thrown in from time to time. I started it a while back when a few things converged; I moved back into my condo and couldn't afford the internet or TV (after years of having both, it's like someone has cut off one of your senses you didn't know you had... you kind of go stir crazy, I needed an outlet), and the other thing was a frustration of forgetting when things had happened in my life. It's like when you rent 3 videos for a night, and the next day you remember bits and parts of each, but not being able to separate the vids from each other (Hey, wait a minuet, there where no robots on Captain Jacks ship!). I just started writing memories, adding TLs (Time Lines) to the beginning to show as close as I can remember when they happened. One of the backbones to recalling when they happened is recalling what car I or a friend had at the time. When you buy a car new, you always remember the year of it. Another way I've been able to stitch together more recent stuff is from note pads on the 'puter I have saved of e-mails, message board things and chats I have had and copied and pasted if I thought they where cool. Cool movies can be time line points, if you saw them when they first came out, Google them for that date. For instance, the movie Pulp Fiction (One of my top three all time favorite movies (I don't know my absolute fave, but I know it has to be in the top three)) came out in 1994 (Wow, I have to write my thoughts on that movie like how I can quote whole scenes and how it should have beat Forest Gump by a mile and, and ... augh, get back to the main theme of this paragraph Zac!). I also know I bought my Ford Ranger pick up that year. Now I know when I wrote the diary of the trip I took out west for 3 weeks called 'White mans walk about'. I also know it is in this period that I started really going to JES Exotics in Wisconsin every weekend (JES is an exotic animal sanctuary that takes in abused and unwanted big cats such as tigers, cougars and lions (An amazing time of my life, wait till you read that part!). From there, I recall going up to the farm once in my 2001 PT Cruiser that I bought in 2002. I hadn't been up there in a while at that time, so I know my time at JES was between 1993 or so and 2002ish.
It has been great to relive these stories and I hope others will be able to live vicariously through them. Really though, as they say, we all have a book in us, but the only difference between writers and the rest is that we find the time to type them out. I recently met one guy that must have some really cool stories (He once dated Barbra Eden (I dream of genie TV show) When he was 17! (so he says)) but while he spins a good yarn, he hasn't put it down on paper.
I try my best to tell these stories as close to the truth as I can, but like a Photo-shopped picture, some of the bad stuff may not be in the end product. If we didn't have the ability to ignore bad times, we'd go nuts! I will tell you I am NOT embellishing anything, I cut out the lows, not add any highs. I have witnesses dang it!

NOTE on 5 5 09... I keep finding myself thinking of other stories from my life, they keep bouncing around. Damn it, I don't have time for work, I want to keep writing.

5 7 09... I was thinking about the above statement at work, and it occurred to me that maybe I need work, or I'd get really fat. Given my choice, I'd be sitting in front of this old laptop all the time, drinking beer, taking swigs off various boozes ( Jameson right now ( A guy down at work turned me onto to it... smooth)) and smoking way too many cigarettes. I have an addiction to this way of life... work keeps me from going over the edge into a puterpotatoe. Heh, I just coined a word.

NOTE 5 12 09
Some of these stories I am now realizing might not sound like fun to some people out there, and well, some weren't. That’s not to say they haven't enriched my life in some way. I like experiences. I like living through things that many only see on TV or in a movie. Sure, at the
time, they might have been harrowing, but to live through them rather unscathed is a reaffirmation. For most of Homo Erectus term here on Earth, we lived in constant fear of something that might like us. It's only in the last 100 years maybe that we have been living softer lives, at least in the, um, 1st world countries. It's like getting back to the roots of life lived in the last 40,000 years. I fought off the equivalent of a saber tooth tiger and lived. Ok... not quite THAT extreme... unless you count the time I kneeled on a tigers head while someone
else cut his balls off... (True story, I'll write about it later). But when a group of guys get together, like the Fryars, and drink themselves silly, telling jokes and stories, then drive home and make it safe, you feel as if you've gone through something together, a survival of an occasion with a killer hang over to prove it. Heh, I've always said, hang overs are really funny, unless it's happening to you ~grins~. Much of this is the kind of things that guys talk about, telling each other stories and things that happened to them One guy will talk about an accident he was in, then another guy will say, YEAH, there was this time... and tell of his experience. Many of those stories you
learn to take with a grain of salt on just how true it might be. Well, I'm here to tell ya that what I write about in this here thing is true and as close to how they happened as I can remember. Maybe I'll have some of the people involved read it and sign it at the end that they too where there, and yes, it's true. That is if I can track them down. Funny at how many people you get to know over the years almost like family, then 10 years later you’re with a new circle of friends, the old ones scattered to the winds for some unknown reason. Even with the Internet of today (2009), you cannot find people. Maybe it will be easier in the future as more and more people come on-line to this electronic group conciseness.

One final piece of advice, you'll thank me years later. Take occasional snap shots of your life. BE in the moment from time to time. Just stop the flow of what should be, or what was, and bam... look around and remember your situation, your surroundings, and the people. It's almost an out of body experience and it becomes a marker on the time line of your life! Done right and they can be re-lived with amazing clarity, the precious gemstone in the pendant on a chain looped around your neck.
These markers, these Gems are what you pull out of your minds drawers later in life and are the essence of what make a full life. I'm trying to come up with a name for this, but they all sound corny and unworthy. Maybe 'life Marker Gem', or 'Life Memory Greats''... LMG's? That might work... explains it all specifically, yet sounds cool as an abbreviation. LMG.
May you all have a pirate’s chest brimming with LMGs!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The universal life church of beer kegs and bands

TL... I'm not really sure... 80- 84??

I seem to find myself over the years becoming a part of a 'thing', then drifting off after a while. The Universal life church wasn't a church really, that is unless you consider that almost everyone drinks, the universal part, and this is where you came to do it. It was out by Elgin somewhere, a big house someone had built. It was a Ranch style place, with a basement and a built in pool room that was an open area from the basement up to the roof. The walls of the pools came right on down, there was no walk way around it, dark bricks at that. The house was laid out in kind of a square around the pool, with many rooms... you could walk around it visiting each room and group that happened to be in there for a long time. There was no free standing furniture, except for the occasional table. There was plenty of stuff to sit on made out of plywood benches attached to the walls covered with a kind of short carpet. These benches conformed to the walls shapes everywhere.
Maybe I should start at the beginning. I got told by someone that there was a huge party happening somewhere, and they had the directions on how to get there. I think I was driving the GEX at the time. The directions turned out to be wrong... on purpose. They misspelled all the road names by a bit, I think so they'd be able to deny that the invites led to their house if they had to. So, we pull up finally to this low slung, big house whose front yard was a gravel parking lot, filling up with cars. You paid $20 to get in, and drank from the provided kegs all you wanted. They even had bands playing there. The house was set well off from any other house by a quarter mile at least... it was the boonies for sure.
There where many bathrooms, big ones, but not styled like a public bathroom, more like they had built this big place as a regular house and then converted it. The bathrooms had locking doors and could have anything going on inside once locked, heh. I recall many times having at least 10 people in one with room to spare as we all got stoned.
The basement had this one room that was set up like a disco from the movie "Staying alive". The floor even had the lights that moved around in it. There was another room down there that had a table with a mirrored top that everyone did their coke on. I have no idea how the place didn't get closed down, except for maybe the clause about it being a church of some kind, and the owner that I got to know, had gotten his 'pastor' papers through a magazine add. I enjoyed that first trip so much, I asked if I could once again the next weekend, which they where more than happy to oblige. After my 5th time, they started letting me in for free as I had become a bit of a bouncer. I didn't actually have to bounce anyone, but I was always alert for things going wrong and they appreciated having me there to back them up.
From all the time I spent there, I can only relate a couple of memories. One was while sitting in a living room pit, hard carpeted plywood. The pool had one window to the rest of the place, and it had a small ledge on the inside of it. As we sat in the pit area, one of the girls started laughing and pointed up at the window. There was a naked guy clinging to the ledges, looking back at the pool, but spread eagle to us! Everyone stated to laugh... then one girl said 'That’s disgusting', stood up and smacked the glass right where his privates where. The guy freaked... I recall him spinning his head around as he fell away, eye wide, down into the pool below.
The bands where always pretty good rock bands, and the room they played in was perfect and LOUD! Everyone had their plastic cups from when they came in and all you had to do was walk up to one of the half doors openings that functioned as a bar and ask for a refill.
I got to know the owners pretty well, and their son and his wife. The son had an apartment you might call it downstairs. I didn't even know it was there till one day they took me in. The door was along one hallway and was well hidden. I must have walked past it dozens of times. They had a magnetic key that they put up against a panel that unlocked it. This was a nice sized place too.
Then came the weekend that I found out that someone from my home town had rented it for the Saturday night party. Being that I had become kind of a regular there, I was looking forward to showing people I knew around. Well... seems I drank too much somehow. I made it to one of the bathrooms in time, and drove the porcelain bus for a bit. I cleaned up myself and went back into the thick of the party, grabbing another beer along the way. Big mistake. I hit various bathrooms around the place for the next few hours, each time thinking I'd be ok afterwards. Now that was a terrible night, heh.

As an after story to the above, I got invited by a buddy to another house out that way, so I took my Girlfriend there. It was eerily familiar. Turns out the guy that designed the Universal life church had started out with a small one, then built this one, to latter build the even bigger church. This one had a pool also, but smaller, and it was located right off the main bedroom, how cool! You could wake up in the morning, get off the bed, walk forward to a set of stairs that led down about 4 feet to the pool! If I ever hit the lotto... Ya know?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mauhaffers and one crazy 4th of July.

Mauhaffers is a bar in Florida on the intercostal islands of Tampa's west edge. Indian Shores is the mailing address, at least for my parents condo down there, and Mauhaffers was a 5 minuet walk from there. The place is wild. How do I even begin to explain? For one, when you walk in, you cannot see the other end due to all the things... things hanging from the ceiling, things sprouting from poles, a 'bra tree', bows of boats made into tables. The main bar is shaped like the bow of a boat, and has strange lights and buoys hanging down. People have stapled their business cards in all kinds of places. The juke box has the dirtiest songs ever written. They have people come in to play music that is often funny or raunchy to the right of the main bar, and beyond that is an outdoor area with an entire sail boat that you can sit in to drink. I once made out with a school teacher from Virginia in that boat, lol. Strange things are everywhere, like the front end of a Cadillac from the grill to the back of the front seats, complete with the steering wheel. When you walk into the front entrance, it's hard to believe it's really a bar, and not just someone's, well, I hate to say junk yard, but you walk past a toilet just sitting there and on the other side is a motorcycle that's story is a guy rode it there years ago, got drunk, and never came back for it. The other end of the bar has a hidden door to get into at times... if the weather is nice, it's open, if not, it's fun to watch people try to find their way to the bathrooms back there! Just inside of that first room is a bar on your right that has still more odd objects and things like fans that are kinda dangerous to fingers, beer can artwork, it's kind of overwhelming in a way. The juke box is on your left... further on you see a open type fireplace that you can sit around. Across the other side from this is a TV that is always on that has a HUGE pair of panties hooked on like a skirt on the bottom of it. Moving on (I don't think there is any place on the walls that doesn't have something) you step up to the pool table room... the walls have thousands of photos. Heck, there are cardboard panels hanging that have photos on both sides. Up in the netting that is everywhere is a part of an Air force drone that crashed near by. Heh... the netting. If you have a sunburned head, duck... allot.
Another thing that makes Mauhaffers so unusual is the animals. About 5 to 7 cats come and go and a dog is always around. John Mauhaffer lives in the center of the bar and these are his pets. I get a sense of joy when a cat jumps up onto the bar, walks along, getting petting from everyone, and heads to the end bar where a bowl of dry cat food sits. I still can't help but laugh at the time I was talking to someone on my left, when I slowly turned my head to take in things, and saw the guy on my right reaching to the cat food bowl and grab a hand full, bringing it up to his mouth about to eat it, when I told him, Dude, that’s cat food! He stopped, crossed his eyes to look down at his hand, opened his hand up as he held it up to some of the spare light and then he said, wow, and I thought they where just stale peanuts! I once found a cat sleeping in a ball up in the netting, like his own hammock. I couldn't help but reach up and scratch him a bit and then see him stretch out and look at me, then roll over as to have met pet his belly... silly cat, there is a fishing net in my way, heh. If you go to the bar often enough, the cats get to know you and seek you out for petting, which always made my soul happy. Unfortunately, I was never down there for more than two weeks in a row, as where most of the patrons. It never seemed crowed in the bar, much, but then again, I liked to go down when it was hot, the summer months. I always said, who goes to ski slopes in the off season and there is no snow? Sure, it's nice to get away from the snow in the winter, but being in Florida when it was in the 50' just seemed silly. I wanted to be able to walk out in just a bathing suit, maybe a ragged Hawaiian shirt on, and feel the golden sun at it's strongest. I recall one night of not seeing anyone but the bartender, a cute perky blonde that ever looked you in the eye much, but always seemed to have a happy feeling about her, sometimes dancing to a song and a sprightly step to her. I'll remember her name one of these days. So, I'm sitting there after my 4th beer alone in my thoughts, when I decided to just head back to the condo, nothing is happening here. The it occurred to me, I came down to Florida to get away from it all, and this bar, this dirty, confusing, mind numbingly cluttered, wonderfully real place, was about as far as you can get from everything. So, with a grin, I stayed for another few hours, drinking beers and doing the occasional shot of Jack Daniels ( back before they lowered the proof from 90 to 80... wimps). Mauhaffers is more than a bar... it's a place you read about in books. It is an experience. John, the owner, is yet another part of the experience. Grey haired and beard, a bit of a pot belly, always looking around and you could tell he was always thinking. He was rough and gruff, he never suffered fools, kicking people out at times for various reasons, fearlessly, no matter the size of the person or group. He had been married many times (at least 8 that I now of), and fired many bartenders. Everyone wanted to talk with him, he was the places celebrity. As I've said, it's a tourist area (not that he made the place touristy, it was an organic growth of years of being there), so being that most people that came in, only come in maybe once a year for a week or two. Once he'd listen to you for a while, in his mind, he would decide if you fit, or where just a goof. Once accepted though, he was great, especially to pretty women... ok, any women. He would have them sit on his lap for a picture, hugging them. I once was sitting at the bar, my normal spot on the starboard side of the bow, when a guy and some friends came in. After a while, John walked out and the guy yelled his name and waved him over. The started talking, the guy introduced him to his friends, and you could see the gears turning in his head, looking through the thousands of people that had been trough the bar in the last year since he saw this guy, and then called him by name. You wouldn't think at first glance that a man that had such a maze of a place would have such a good memory.
Then there was the night when the girl that was to be tending the bar quit with no notice, so John started tending the bar for the first time in what he said was 20 years. There where only 4 other people at the time, so it was easy and relaxed, talking with us like we where a buddies house (which in truth, we where). A group of young, drunken, rowdies came in, and you could tell John didn't like them by the slight scowl on his face. One particularly sexy, sloppy drunk blonde began to demand that she wanted a mixed drink of some sort, slurring her words and barely staying up on her feet by holding her boyfriends shoulder. John, without missing a beat, said back, what you want, and what you'll get, might not be the same thing." lol. That night, no one else came in after that, and the ones remaining, trickled out one by one, till I was the only one left. We talked in a casual way about life. When I started to get up to leave, he put another beer on the bar, no charge, so we kept talking. I at last had enough after several hours, and it was late, so I helped him close the place down. I feel a great gift was given to me that night.
Many of the people in my parents condo building didn't really like him, or the place... bunch of stuffed shirts! My parents on the other hand, where good friends with him. My sister Tracey went to the bar one day to ask him to make a dinner for them as it was their anniversary. He surprised Tracey by not only making the dinner, but delivering it himself! He stayed for a few hours just to chat. He was that kind of guy. A character, an institution.
I sent them an e-mail once a few weeks before I was going down on vacation, saying that they had so many kinds of booze, but no Knob Creek. When I got down there, he admonished me in a friendly way that he bought a case of it, and no one was drinking it! I drank much of the first bottle of the case in my two weeks I tell ya! If you ever make it to Mauhaffers, now you know who's name was on that case of Knob Creek, lol.
HMMMM... I just realized I had started this with the idea of that insane 4th of July in mind. It was a Saturday night, which always the best night to have it on, so I wandered on down to Mauhaffers an hour before sunset. being the west coast of Florida, you got some of the greatest sunsets! I sat at the bar and drank about 4 Long Island ice teas. How can a drink with so many different boozes taste like it doesn't have any at all, yet hit you so hard? So about an hour after the sun had gone down and it was dark enough, I grabbed another long island to go, and stumbled across the two lane road, hooked a left at the sidewalk, and went the 70 feet to the beach access. I could see fireworks going up already, but it wasn't till I got to the beach proper that I got the full extent of what was going on. Think about it... all these families coming for vacation, driving through states that sold fireworks, and they hadn't spent much of the vacation money yet, so why not stop and get a pile of stuff? On the beach, separated by an average 10 feet, stood men and boys with bags of fireworks, in two rows deep... for miles! You couldn't see the end of them either way you looked! I wonder if the entire coast of Florida was like that? These guys and kids where randomly firing off bottle rockets, Roman candles, screamers, shreeckers, buzz bombs, big rockets, cone sparkler fountains, multi tube flare shooting things, you name it, they where being fired off towards the Gulf like we where fighting off some kind of invasion force! Look to your right, it was a steady arcing of bright colors, look to your left and you'd see a similar site till you couldn't see the end. At any one time, there must have been 700 hundred streaks spreading out over the water! And it didn't stop. I wandered on down the beach, taking it all in with amazement, thinking out loud, 'someone’s gonna get hurt!' The clouds of smoke rose skyward, glowing in every color, lit up by the barrage. It was one of the most astounding sites I have ever seen. It was hard to comprehend the enormity of it. At 2 in the morning, there where still some groups shooting things off.

If you want to see pictures of Mauhaffers, I've posted some at my Facebook page,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hair of the dog morning.

It was the sound of yelling, muffled by the floor, that woke me one Saturday morning.. An argument between a man and a woman that I figured would peter out soon enough, so I could sleep my hang over off. It didn’t. After a half hour, I sighed and got out of bed. Looking into the living room, I could see Jim not sleeping either due to the couple downstairs. I looked down at the floor, rolled my eyes, and looked back at Jim, still on his side. We had an odd connection when it came to smoking pot. He would pick up a bowl and open his hand just in time, and without having to move it, to catch the lighter I had just thrown to him.
With all the yelling going on adding to the pounding in my head, what else would we do but smoke up? After we had each taken a few big hits and the buzz set in, we heard a slam of a bedroom door. We thought that it was over, but the guy locked out of the room started yelling even louder. The woman in the bedroom tried to drown out his voice by turning up a stereo… rap music, and loud. Bad had gotten worse. Rap just isn’t what I’d call music. In retaliation, I walked over to our beat up stereo that we had already blown out 3 sets of speakers, put in a cassette tape by Nazareth and cranked up the song ‘Hair of the dog’. The main lines of that song are, ‘Now you’re messing… with a son of a bitch!’ Jim grinned as I got into the riffs, yelling out the choir’s, SON OF A BITCH!
The song ended and we could still hear him yelling at her, so I rewound the tape and played the song again. Taking a hit on the bowl and walking over to see what the weather was going t6o be for the day, I saw 3 police cars come flying into the parking lot, right up to our building. My eyes went wide for a second, and I spun around and jumped to the stereo to turn it off. Jim was wondering what I was doing, so I told him about the cops. Sure enough, the combined sounds of the 2 stereos and the yelling had brought the police in for a disturbance of the peace. The thing is, they only heard the rap music playing loudly! As we sat silently, we could hear the cops banging on the door downstairs. The guy, not knowing who it was opened the door yelling ‘WHAT?’ Not the right thing to yell at 6 cops early in the morning, lol.
Soon the music had stopped too and we watched as the cops took the guy away in handcuffs. Ahhhh…

Those folks moved out not to long after that. The girl that moved in next I never met, but I got to know her in a special way. She must have had a well hung boyfriend; you could hear her getting into it loudly at times. You always knew when he was done by a moment of quietness, followed by her good natured laughing; you just knew she was smiling at him in appreciation.
Well, during yet another party we where having (dam, we had a ton of them there!), I happened to go into my room for something, and I could hear them going at it. I ran into our main room and waved everybody into the bedroom, putting my finger up to my mouth in the sussshhhh signal. The 20 of us listened, girls giggling at her exuberance. Then came the bit of quiet, followed by her laughter. We all let out a cheer, saying things like, ‘Dam that must have been good’, ‘Bravo dude!’ and ‘Wooo Hooo, now I need a cigarette!’
For some reason, I never heard her get that loud anymore… but the laughter was always there, and it always made me grin.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hunting birds with darts on a fishing rod… not a great idea.

My dad had shown me years ago how to use a lead weight to practice fishing casts, whipping the pole over your head and releasing at the right time. I though, was never much of a fisherman. For one, I don’t like to eat fish, long story. But once an idea gets into my head, my mind will chew on it till one day I’ll find a new way of using it.
We had a dart board in our basement, and I’ve sometimes been good at playing the game. Sometimes. It occurred to me one day, to combine the two, the darts and the fishing rod and reel. I unscrewed the metal end of the dart just a little from the plastic fins to tie the fishing line onto it. I went out into our back yard which was rather large. We had 3 quarters of an acre that backed up to a gas line right of way, so it added up to a long way to try the idea on.
Holding the pole in the direction I was going to cast, which was just open area, I pulled back then let fly with the dart. It went fast, straight into the ground about 10 feet from me. I should have realized the inherit problem and danger when I couldn’t just pull it out of its hole. I had to practically dig it the dart out. I did a few more casts and not only got more distance, but I could aim it pretty well. I was soon slinging the dart a good 200 feet. Then I saw a bird in a tree and the thousands of years of human instinct kicked in to try and hit it with the dart. My first cast missed, I hadn’t practiced aiming high. My second cast missed again, missing about 15 feet to the right, the line dropping over a branch. I reeled it in smoothly till it hit the branch, but a tug got it over that and soon I had it ready again. The next time I hit very close to the bird, sticking it into the branch it was sitting on. The bird, hearing the sound of the impact, flew off. As it flapped away I watched it and started reeling in the line. The line went taunt as the dart refused to come free from the branch. Without thinking, I pulled back on the pole really hard to pull it out. The next part seemed to happen in slow motion… As I looked back to where the dart had hit, I saw it coming straight back at me! I ducked just in time to see it zip right past where my head had just been! Dam I thought, that was close. Most people would quit the project at that point, but me, I’m stubborn. I thought I had found a new way of hunting, a new sport combining two older sports in a new way. I saw another bird in yet another tree. I thought that if it got stuck this time, I’d be more alert to its return. I made a powerful cast at the crow, hitting the main trunk instead. Disappointed, I held the pole out to the side and yanked hard on the pole. The dart didn’t budge. I had to try three more times, each time I let my guard down. When the dart came screaming back at me this time, I almost got it in the gut!
Ok… that’s when I gave up on my latest bad idea. Kids, don’t try this at home, or at all! Like I’ve said before, I think I used up all my good luck when I was a kid.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Funny puke stories

TL Feb. 18th, 1984

My 21st birthday. I don't recall much about that night except that it was at Phil’s apartment on river road. He had a set of couches arranged around the TV, and there was only one way in and out from them. I had been drinking beer from a giant glass, I think someone said it was a brandy snifter and it held 2 1/2 cans of beer. Oh, wait, it was the 17th... I know because I made a beer run and bought beer legally for the first time in Illinois at 12:01!
Anyways, I'm slugging down huge gulps out of this thing, feeling really good. I must have been on my fourth one when suddenly, I didn't feel too good, heh. I got up from the couch, which wasn't easy, and headed for the only way out of the living room pit set up. I had my hand over my mouth as I felt the 8 something beers worth coming back up on me and was heading to the bathroom as fast as I could, only to be blocked by Phil. He had his hand out to stop me, saying, "Oh no, you've got to keep on drinking", to which I replied simply by using my left hand to push him out of my way, as my right hand was trying to hold it all back. I could feel puke coming through my fingers and I saw his eyes go wide as he realized what was going on! Luckily, I made it to the toilet in time... whew.

TL must have been in 1984

While on the idea of puking, ( I don't know why I find this so funny... puking. Most guys do... lol) there was this party. I was seeing this girl, Kriss (I've been with a few Chrisses... heh) and her parents let us use the basement as almost are own apartment. It was a nice basement, all finished out with a big TV, a fridge, 2 huge fish tanks and a bathroom. Kriss invited a bunch of her friends over, most of which I didn't know, but her parents where cool with us having the party as long as we didn't go upstairs and bother them. I started out drinking Carlsberg elephant beer... wow, strong stuff! At some point, I had to use the bathroom, but I found 2 girls and a guy in there. The girls where comforting the guy who had his head in the toilet, but he wasn't puking. I said, "Hey, um... when ya gonna be done in there, I need to use it." One of the girls looked up at me and said, "He dropped some acid and he's having a bad trip." Well... I really had to go, and I couldn't go upstairs, and so I was like "Is it really that bad, come on now". I could see the guy look up sideways a bit at me, then look back down quickly. The girls where all huffy about it, and that ticked me off a bit, so I reached over to the toilet... and flushed it! I almost feel sorry for the kid... all of the sudden his whole world began to swirl in front of his eyes... he freaked out, and ran from the room, straight up the stairs with one of the girls following him. The other girl got mad at me as I gently brushed her aside, closing the door on her as she said some nasty whatever’s... lol.

TL 1979ish

I'm going to not reveal this girls name as it is a bit embarrassing for her I bet, but I do remember her very well. She had been helping her mom make cherry pies by pitting the cherries for her, and eating allot of them along the way. I came over to take her out for Ice cream at a place in Woodfield. There, she ate this huge Sunday, I mean, she wasn't a big girl... I couldn't believe she ate it all! We had a good time, and I knew we where going to end up somewhere to do what teens do. So, I'm driving the GEX down Woodfield drive to Higgins where I'd have to make a left hand turn. The light turned red just as we got there, and she said she wasn't feeling too good. The traffic was heavy... I didn't know what to do about it. Then, the light for the cross traffic turned red, and many backed up behind it to our left. I started to drive as she began to puke out the right window... all the way through the intersection. I glanced over to see if she was ok, when I noticed all the cars... the people had a front row seat to see this cute lil girl hoarking ice cream and cherries into the road in front of them... dam, but I had a hard time not laughing! Needless to say... I didn't get lucky that day.


TL... not sure... trailer park days.

Phil started dating a girl form the Oasis Trailer park, and we had a few adventures there. It seemed like every weekend there was an ambulance or police cars doing something there back then. There was one girl that was a knock out! Blonde, built and always had a nice smile, though she never showed me any signs... dam. That is... till the day she had a birthday party. These kids could party! They always seemed to have good connections for drugs. Being that she was beautiful and popular, everyone was giving her stuff... drug wise I mean. On my way to the john, I saw her brothers bedroom, where the music for the party was coming from. It was loud, and he had a strobe light on in there. I was like, "COOL!" and went in, looking at his posters on the wall. No one else was there, so I kicked back on the edge of the bed, may back against the wall and my right foot on the ground. Then, in the doorway, a vision appeared... it was her, silhouetted in the light, her hand up on the doorway edge, looking at me. I'd only see her in flashes, it was kind of surreal. She walked in towards me, a grin on her face, stopping next to me and looking right into my eyes... it was like a dream come true. I kept thinking, no way, this is too good... then she reached out and put her hand on my leg and knelt down next to me, still smiling and looking fantastic! Dam... here we go I'm thinking, and sure enough, she tilts her head towards me, leaning in, she starts looking down... I'm getting excited as hell! Then... her back goes up, her head jerks down and I realize she is going to puke big time on my shoe! I yank my foot up just in time as this gusher comes out of her, splattering all over the floor! Man! Talk about a buzz kill! With the strobe light, it all seemed to happen in slow motion too. The last thing I remember was seeing all the pills in the puddle as I called out for help, the she had puked in here.
No, wait... I do recall the next day, waking up in a water bed... that had leaked all it's water out some time in the night. UGH... I was laying across the cross members of the bed with a terrible hang over. I couldn't straighten out for ever it seemed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

THE best music

5 6 09

It's funny... most people think they know what the best music ever is... and that would be the music they heard in their teens. Heck... I love the stuff from the mid 70's to around 1980. Rock mainly, heavy metal too. There is one song though, that I cannot play... it has to come to me. It has such a deep meaning to me, that to select it on my iPod or a CD would be in a way, rude to it. I feel I'd be molesting it to force it to caress my soul’s ears. The song is "Wish you where here" by Pink Floyd. If ever a song had a soul, this one does. It starts with the sounds of a guitar playing a simple rift, distorted as if you where in the middle of no where and the only radio station you could get was 100 miles away. Then, another guitar joins in, accompanying it. I always get this vision of a well worn, wooden back porch deck, in the early evening. The wind has died down with the sun hid just behind the trees, giving the whole world a soft gloaming... not yet night, but dimming. The chores are done, and the relaxing has begun, strumming the beat up but well tuned guitar, with the only other person for a long ways.
It's a gentle song. A song of deep yearning, all the while knowing it's a wisp of a dream to ever come true. Still... the heart cannot help, wish you where here.

I never play that song, it has to come to me. Be it at a party, someone else selecting it, or on the radio at just the right time, it comes, filling me with a valleys worth of mountains.

Friday, August 14, 2009

When I was 13, I made an elevator in our weeping willow.

TL 1976

I know, at first glance, this seems, well, a made up thing, but I have plenty of witnesses. My dad loved to go antiquing. Many where the times that we'd end up in some old building with that same moldy smell and tons of old stuff. One time, it was a different situation. He had heard of a barn that was going to be torn down and he was welcome to anything in it. Most of the movable stuff was already gone, but he spotted two big wooden hoist pulleys hanging from a beam a good 25 foot off the ground. He got someone to climb up and cut them down, and he put them in our basement, unused, for a few years. They where wood, thick and strongly built to lift heavy loads of hay bales and stuff. All rounded edges and a nice smooth surface with a patina from the years of who knows how long, wonderful craftsmanship went into them. They probably where hand made. Like many things people have then loose track of, I wish I still had them. Ah well, that's why we have memories, to keep the cool things from our past alive.
One day I was reading an encyclopedia, (Ah yes, the Google of it's day, 20 books, from A to Z, explaining everything we knew about the world. I have always been one of those people to read in the bathroom, I mean, it's quiet there, and I seem to have this compulsion to always be working my mind on something, anything. I'm even that way about my computers. They are either rendering an image, de-fragmenting the drives, or scanning the system for viruses of male-ware. I almost feel bad for my puter that I get... it almost never sleeps. Amazing how long this laptop has lasted! I think I got it in 03 or so, and it hasn't had more than a week of sleep. Getting back to the Encyclopedias... they where old, from 1963, but they still knew more than I did. I would grab one each day and read sections in the John, soaking in tons of information. I loved it... I've always had questions, and here where the answers!) So one day I'm reading what must have been 'E' when I ran across how elevators work. At first I had always thought they where simple devices, a winch of some sort would just pull the car up or let it down. There is more to it than that... they showed a picture of a cutaway view, and it had this thing called a counter weight. I recall thinking, why do they have all this extra stuff? Well, in simple terms, imagine a teeter totter with one person sitting on the far end ( the elevator car) and you holding the other end of the board. Trying to push down on the board would be hard, unless you had a person of similar weight sitting on your end, the counter weight. In an elevator, the counter weight is on a set of pulleys, sliding up and down next to the car, and has enough weight to just balance out the car itself, thus the motor lifting the car only had to lift the weight of the people in it, not the extra thousand pounds of the car. What an interesting concept to me, like a riddle figured out.
Then it occurred to me... we have pulleys... but where do we hang them? Ah yes, my Weeping willow! Counter weights? I had some weights from a work out set we could use for the basic weight, and hang a bucket under that to add or subtract weight to match the person using it. The car... well, I figured we didn't need to build some big box to stand in, just a chair to sit in, so we grabbed one of the back patio, aluminum chairs. These chairs had two tubes as arm rests on each side that I took the end caps off of, then using thick electrical wire (brown), I threaded it through the arm rests and up about 4 feet to join in a big knot... it form a pyramid of cable above your head. We soon found out that we need something to hold it down when there was no one in it, so we used this 6 foot long bar, pointed at one end, a loop at the other end that was designed for a dog stake. I'm not sure where we got the rope, but we had two different sizes, and only enough of the bigger stuff to hold all the weight.
So, we had all the parts, and when I say we, my next door neighbor Jense Bogenhine helped out, we set out to make it. The pulleys where different from each other, one having one pulley, the other had 3. I climbed way up in the tree, (maybe 20 feet) to a place that had an open area under it, yet the branch was big enough I thought to hold it all up safely. At that place I tied up the 3 pulley block. Then, about 10 feet over, we found another big branch to which the single pulley was tied up to. We pounded he stake in a few different places till we found one spot that didn't have big roots in the way. Then we tied the big rope to the top of the support wires on the chair, led it up to the middle pulley of the 3 pulley block, then over to the single pulley, then down to the weights. We then tied the smaller of two ropes to the top of the chair cables, up to the 3 pulley block, then back down to hang near the chair. We put enough weight in the bucket to counterbalance me in a way that I only had to lift maybe 30 pounds. I sat in the chair, Jence unhooked it from the stake, and I grabbed the smaller rope, and began to pull down on it. It worked! I was soon 15 feet off the ground, in the midst of the tree, calmly sitting, slowly turning, and taking in the view. I lowered myself back down to the ground, feeling pretty good about it all. We had it like this for maybe a week till we realized the Jence had a much bigger weeping willow in their yard, within view of the road. This time we where able to go about 27 feet in the air.
Now, I have to give Jence the credit for the next innovation. He removed the chair and smaller rope, attaching a 2 inch dowel rod about 1 1/2' long instead. By grabbing the rod with both hands, we could jump high. Really high. I'm talking Steve Austin, the 6 million dollar man high! We felt like we had Bionic strength! We spent many hours jumping and swinging around on this set up. What a cool feeling!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beer can castles and the creature in the freezer

TL during the 86 mustang period at the colony

After one of the parties that my room mate Jim and I had, I noticed that someone had made a beer can pyramid. We weren’t much into cleaning up back then, so it stayed there till the next party, and grew bigger. The next day, I tried to add another row to it and found that after a certain height, the cans would tilt in a zig zag kind of way and fall. Instead of giving up on building a huge pyramid, I looked at it and thought; why not make it three dimensional? This was the start of the beer can castles.
In the ‘dinning’ room area, that we never dinned in, there was a desk thing that my dad had built for my sister Tracey. It was made of two metal red shelving towers holding up an inch and a half thick particle board top that was the size of a sheet of plywood. It had a natural stain on it that made it smooth. It’s was very solid in its construction so I wasn’t worried about anyone bumping into it and knocking my planned castle.
Within a month, the castles where getting big and we started naming them. Soon the whole table was being used to make them upwards of 3 feet high. Then at one party, right at midnight, I turned and threw something at it, knocking cans over. Everyone looked at me for a second; Jim
grinned and threw something else at it. Soon everyone from all over the room where throwing small objects knocking cans all over the place. It was a bunch of fun destroying it! The next day I built a new one and it became a tradition of ‘destroy the castle at midnight’. Heck one night I ran and dove into it, smashing cans all over the place! We had at least 1,200 cans by then and I can’t help but wonder what our neighbors thought about all the crashing at midnight, lol.
It all came to a screeching halt one day when I got home and Jim had smashed all the cans and had them in plastic garbage bags. I was like, what the hell? Jim said the place was starting to stink like stale beer, so he was going to recycle them.
It’s been a pattern in my life, I build up something cool, acquire some interesting things, then one day, it always comes, it all gets cut down. I hate starting over, but I’ve come to expect it now.
During that period with Jim, we where slobs I guess. There where two paths from each couch that we used, that joined into one on the way to the kitchen, and it had a branch off to the bathroom. You name it, the bachelor cliché’s where all over the floor… pizza boxes, wadded up
napkins, empty beer cases and cans. On the balcony we had two of the gator back tires from my 86 Mustang that where worn out, but great for chairs! They stood up on like they where still on the car, and when you sat on it, it would sag just enough to be comfortable. You could rest your feet on the bottom of the inner ring of rubber and lean back against the sliding windows. If a car pulled in, all you had to do was lean forward and roll it just far enough to be able to look over the railing. The apartment was located in one of the landing lanes for O’Hare airport and at night we’d watch the huge jets coming in slowly and quietly so close you felt like you could throw a rock and hit it. No, we never did that… LOL.
At the time, I wasn’t an artist yet. I never even gave it a thought, but Jim was. He had bought some gray modeling clay to try his hand at, but for the life of me I cannot remember if he ever made anything really. He hadn’t touched it for a week, so I grabbed it and started making a
lizard man with big claws, horns on its head and a tail with spikes. It stood about 7 inches tall, and it looked pretty cool. I put it in the freezer that had nothing but big globs of frost building up in it. I faced it towards the front, its mouth gaping with big teeth and an outreached clawed hand towards the front. Jim never even noticed it was missing. Then one night, during another party, a girl opened the fridge for ice. She saw the lizard man and was like, what the heck is that? I quickly slammed the door shut and said with a straight face, ‘Don’t let that lil bastard thaw out, it tore the place up last time.’ I then calmy walked away, leaving them to wonder...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smoking out the English wing

TL… about 1980
I was taking a communications class in my junior year of high school and our latest project was to make a TV commercial. They where all going to be video taped, and in those days the machine for doing this was big and the tapes expensive. It’s a shame, but the tapes where reused after being graded, so no copy remains.
I got paired up with a guy by the name of Russ Orlowitz. He was a definite character, always wearing some kind of camouflage pants, a head full of wild and wiry hair and a personality that would be more country than suburban. A lot of the other kids tended to stay away from him, but I though he was cool with his quirks.
I came up with the idea of doing a commercial about a new product, Industrial strength Raid. Not only did it come in a big bottle, according to the commercial script, it also contained DDT and agent Orange, the first being outlawed in the early 70’s, the second was a spray they used in Vietnam to kill vast areas of jungle off and thought to have caused cancer in many people later on.
The ‘can’ of the ISR (Industrial strength Raid) was one of my dads antique brass cylindrical fire extinguishers. I wasn’t really clear on how we’d simulate the spray coming out as the extinguisher shot water in a tight stream and not a wider spray you’d expect from a bug killer can. I thought that we could use a small smoke bomb by lighting it and putting it inside the tank so you could shut it off. We then made some big fake flies and attached them to two broom sticks by fishing line that would be held by 2 people on chairs, just out of view of the camera. The idea was that I would do my best impression of a fast talking salesman, saying how in these days you need more than regular Raid, that you should get the new Industrial strength Raid to kill our bigger bugs fast and you’d never have to worry about them coming back to your yard. I would then hand the tank to Russ, off screen, for him to toss the smoke bomb inside and close the lid, handing it back to me. I would then spray the smoke around, killing the flies as the people on the chairs cut the lines simulating them dropping dead instantly. I didn’t count of Russ’s go for broke ways of doing things.
I should have sensed something the day of the filming. We figured it would be more interesting to have some tree branches behind me to add realism. Bussie woods is right across Arlington Heights road from the school and in my mind, we’d just go over there and grab some stuff for the set. Our teacher allowed us to go out and get the stuff we needed and shifted our filming time to the end of the class so we could get prepared. We had only told her the basic outline of the commercial but no specifics.
So, Russ and I headed down the hall towards the door that led to the woods when Russ had me stop at his locker. From inside it he produced a rather large hatchet and a machete! Now a days you’d be arrested and suspended for months for having weapons like that. I was a bit taken aback, but to Russ, it wasn’t anything strange, so I went along with it. He handed me the hatchet and we walked down the hall of Elk Grove High school, Russ having a shitfaced smile the whole way. (Alarms should have been going off in my head by then, but I was along for the ride, like sky diving, once you jump, there is no going back).
Arlington Heights Road was a busy 4 lane thoroughfare with a raised island divider in the middle. My adrenaline was flowing now as I saw people in cars look at these two guys with long hair and edged weapons walking towards the edge of the road. We ran across at an opening in traffic and walked into the woods. While I was chopping small sized branches, Russ was hacking 7 foot long chunks at a practiced rate. I started laughing at the size of what he cut down as we emerged from the forest and looking up at the cars going by, my adrenalin was shooting out my ears. This time, we didn’t wait for a clear spot in the traffic; we just headed right on across, stopping traffic in both directions. The hatchet gave me a feeling of bravado, daring the cars to come closer. Imagine your in one of those cars and two seeming crazy teens go dragging some big branches across this 4 lane road with a machete and a hatchet in their hands!
Just getting the stuff through the doors to the school was difficult; they kept jamming in the door till one of us held it open while the other dragged them in. The teachers eyes went wide when we came back into the room, she was as surprised as I was a while ago at the extent we where going for this production. The other kids in the room amazed too. While had left when they where done with their commercial, the ones that where still there stayed to see what we where up to. It was no problem getting people to help out holding the broom sticks up with the fake flies.
After we had arranged all the branches as the background, the rest of it went smooth for a while. We only had one shot at doing it, again, the tape back then was expensive. I gathered my breath and got ready. I was in a few plays in my freshman year, so I had a little experience with acting. The camera started recording and I went into my barely rehearsed shtick. That part wasn’t hard because to me it was like telling a joke, which I know hundreds of them, and always enjoy telling them to make people smile. What I didn’t know, again, was the Russ had brought a more powerful smoke bomb that I had thought we would need. He decided instead of trying to throw it into the extinguisher, he would just tape it to the end and light it when I handed it to him.
I have to say it worked rather well. I talked about the new improved industrial strength raid for a bit, handed it to Russ, and smoke came spewing out. Lots of smoke. Too much smoke, and we didn’t have a plan on putting it out! I swung the hose around, shooting it all over thinking it would go out soon, but it didn’t. On cue, the flies began to fall, then the guys holding the brooms abandoned their spots as the smoke filled the room.
The rest of it is kind of a blur. I recall opening windows and someone closed the door so it wouldn’t get into the hallway.
We all ran out of the room, Russ holding the machete and stuff, grinning his ass off. The teacher told him to put them back in his locker as she headed up front to let them know there was no fire.
We somehow didn’t get into trouble, and for the first time in a long time, I got a grade above a C… LOL.
All day long I would hear kids saying that the English wing smelled funny, and I would just smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chunk 1 of 'Remembrances '

The map room and the cat house.

I’ve always be fascinated by maps. It’s strange how you can look at a globe and not really see all that’s there. It’s like when you see video from a space station, all those strange shapes going by, you’d think you’d know what they are, but the scale is off. Google Earth is cool and all, so is GPS, but there is nothing like a good old fashioned map.
The apartment that I lived in with Sharon had two bedrooms. During the summer, we kept most of the place we kept air conditioned, but the second room was open to the weathers heat. It looked out onto St Charles road, and many where the nights that I would get home late from work and I would have a drink or two, listen to Larry King on the radio and watch the traffic go by. In the middle of the room was a poker table I bought from a second hand store 3 blocks away. I recall carrying that heavy thing over my back, one leg extended to rest on my shoulder. It had a green center section surrounded in a octagon of cup holders and wooden places for your chips. They where many poker games held on that old table.
The walls of the room where the coolest part. I had collected maps from national Geographic magazine for years. I had also come across maps from other places; one was from an antique shop with my dad that was a map of the known solar system from the 60’s. I thumb tacked them to the walls of the room, after a while there where no empty places at all. As you entered the room, immediately to your right where two big maps of Chicago. In truth, it was the same map, but it had two sides showing Chicago in different ways, so I bought two copies to show both sides. There was also a smaller map near the light switch that I had cut out of a newspaper that showed the crime rates for all the various neighborhoods. I had outlined the bad areas on the small map, and then outlined them on one of the bigger maps. If we ever got invited to a party in the city, I would first check to see what the dangers where first.
I had maps of all kinds of places, up close, like Manhattan Island and London, to maps of the USA and the whole world. I had maps of the middle east, Africa, the Mediterranean and one that showed through several stages, our solar system, then the nearest stars, followed by the local cluster to the Milky way galaxy and where we where in it. While you can see all of this online, it’s small, and nothing like just moving your eyes over a wall to explore even the Vatican. One of these days, when I can afford it, I’d love to have a room like that again.
There was another cool thing in that room, well, in the closet really. It all started small, just a couple of stacked boxes taped together with holes cut into it for the cats to climb into or look out through. Then, naturally, I got carried away. I read a bit on plaster of Paris, but I’m not sure if I got the ingredients right. The article I read had several recipes, and I chose the simplest. Taking a big bowl, filling it with water and flour, I ripped strips of newspaper to dip into the mixture. I would then apply the strips to the boxes at odd angles and let it dry. It was really pretty strong, such simple materials. I don’t know how long it took me, but sooner or later I had pulled the doors off the closet and had filled it with this adobe like stacks of different sized boxes, from floor to the shelf near the top. I had made all kind of connecting holes through it with openings between boxes and peep holes that cats love to look through. Six feet wide and up to three feet deep at places, it took up the whole closet. I placed remnants of carpet in many of the rooms and smeared the entire thing with flour soaked newspaper till it was all white. I almost felt bad that I only had two cats to enjoy it all.
I explored the cat hose one day with a video camera and a light beamed in from the outside. I’ll have to dig up the tape some day.
After a year or so, I thought I should pull the carpet out and vacuum it out of all the cat hair. Well, as I said earlier, I don’t think I got all the ingredients right. They must have listed something to seal it that I hadn’t used. Why do I think this? Well, after pulling a few pieces of carpet, I noticed something moving. Looking closer, there where a lot of things moving. Seems there is some kind of tiny white worm maggoty thing that loved the flour. AYIIIIEEEE. That was nasty! I was torn… maybe I could vaccume them all out… but there where too many nooks and crannies. Maybe I could exterminate them, but no, that might hurt the cats. Crap. I faced the reality that I had to get rid of it. I felt bad that the cats where going to loose their favorite place to escape to and relax. It’s part of the great pattern of my life, build up an ‘Empire’ of something cool, only to loose it again.
I pried it out in two big sections and dragged it down the stairs from the third floor and across the street where there was a big dumpster. I left the parts sitting in front of it rather then trying to get it inside the dumpster. There is a funny twist to it all… within hours of me abandoning the bug infested thing, someone had seen it and grabbed it for themselves! I wondered how long they kept it before they found its many inhabitants? Ewwww…. LOL.