Category Archives: Fear

Terror

Plains Indian horse raid

We live in an age of terrorism.  Maybe humanity has always fostered terrorism.  One Plains Indian tribe stealing horses from another tribe is an act of terror.  The Indians needed horses to hunt bison.  No horses, no eat.

Today, a single act of terror, such as running people down on the London Bridge, can have worldwide impact.  The reason?  Worldwide communication.  Media outlets compete for readers and viewers to sell advertising time.  People are fascinated by violence, probably wired in from tribalism days.  Survival depended on awareness of the bad guys in order to be able to respond to them.

The response of people in Peoria to mayhem in London is fear.  There is no rational reason for a Peoria sales clerk to be afraid because of some violence on another continent. But the violence elicits a fear response.  We are wired for it.  We tend to respond in two ways when afraid.  Flight or fight.

The fight response is to go after ISIS in Syria.  The warfare escalates, people are killed or they flee to Europe, sowing the seeds for more terror and increasing the alienation of the Islamic world.  The flight response is to pull out of the Middle East.  Let them have the place and maybe they will leave us alone.   Wait, what about Israel?  What about the oil?  Can we let them get away with it?

Yom Kippur War 1973

Regarding Israel, there is no good answer.  As long as the State of Israel is there, violence will ensue, probably for many generations.   The oil?  Alternate energy sources are already having an impact that will only increase, leaving the Paris Accords notwithstanding.  Due to fracking technology, First World dependence on Middle East oil is  decreasing daily.  Oil and the Holy Land are the main reasons the First World is interested in the place.

We can continue to fortify Israel, keeping their enemies at bay,  and the oil issue is taking care of itself, so let’s leave.  As a result, terrorism wins.  It’s an exaggeration, but the alternative seems to be nuke and pave.

There it is, the rationale for terrorism.  The Middle East Muslim world lacks the resources to drive the imperialists out by conventional means, but terror is effective.  In addition, all those virgins in heaven get to have some martyrs to attend to.

As for the issue of the Russians involved in the Middle East, why not let them have it?  History has repeatedly proven that the people there may fight between themselves, but they will always resist invaders until they leave.  Imperialism always fails when there are enough indigenous people to resist.

In North America, there was resistance, but the Indians were hopelessly outnumbered.  In Latin America, the Spanish and Portuguese had to leave.  The English lost their empire.  Japan got whipped by picking on the wrong country.  Germany made the same mistake.

Empires can expand, but history shows they almost inevitably shrink.  The lesson seems to be to not try to build an empire.  “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Change

Where We Started

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson points out, we are made from stardust.  It takes a supernova to generate the energy to create the heavier elements.  That stuff diffuses, then gravity slowly congeals into new bodies.  Now this takes time, many millions up to billions of years.  Even geologic time is somewhat inconsequential compared to galactic time.

That’s a reason why we are so deluded with respect to time.  For children, the weeks leading up to Christmas can seem like forever.  It’s no time at all.  However, sometimes when I sit in meditation, time seems to stand still and I get jumpy.  In truth, our lifetimes are meaningless when viewed from even the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way.

The message in this?  Chill, already.  The therapist I saw for my ADD had me put a sticker saying NBD on the dash of my pickup.  No Big Deal.  Universes come and go in the blink of Kali’s eye, and we are obsessed with He Who Must Not Be Named’s tweets.

What is important is what we do with this tiny minute we are here.  I am attempting to connect with that eternal universe I tend to ignore most of the time.  Going back to the roots.  Well, the roots are made from stardust.

My brain gets oxygen and food these days, so it goes into action, what it evolved to do.  The action is thinking.  Thoughts arise, mull around, and pass to something else.  We are physically safe most of the time, so it isn’t really necessary to be on alert all the time.  The saber-toothed tigers are gone.

So, my task is to stop thinking so much, and just be space and stardust.  It’s where we came from and where we are going, so why not just be with that?  When I am able to let the clutter go,  I am more in harmony with the changing universe, not my nearly ceaseless churning of the noise I absorbed yesterday.  What arises, fleetingly, is equanimity and serenity.

In the long run we are all dead, so what’s the big deal?  Maybe we need catacombs, ossuaries we visit regularly to remind ourselves of the impermanence of it all.  I would like ho hold Nietzsche’s skull in my hands.  So much for the Ubermensch.

Can’t we all just get along?  If I remember something, I wand to remember yesterday’s sunset and look forward to the breeze in my face as I walk out of the coffee shop.  Oops, there I am thinking about the future, not enjoying the nice people in the coffee shop.

 

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Skin Cancer

Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

When I noticed a little place on my cheek not healing, I made the appointment, but I thought, no big deal.  When I got home from the dermatologist’s and took the band-aid off, it suddenly became a big deal.  She gave me the choice of having a some stitches or just letting it heal with a scar.  The stitches meant another trip to have them out, so I said leave it alone.  I have lots of zit scars, so another scar was, again, no big deal. 

I have a hole in my face.  It is almost the size of a dime and is a deep sucker.  Seeing the crater was a shock.  I saw all the scars on my coworker’s face and didn’t make much of them, but they were on him, not me.  This is a big deal. 

My reaction to having cancer, even though it is relatively less dangerous, is colored by my experience with cancer in my circle of people.  My mother died of mis-diagnosed cancer and took a long time to die.  Other family members have had cancer.  My sister-in-law has just recovered from stage four abdominal cancer with the help of chemo and medical marijuana.  It’s pretty well documented that marijuana kills cancer cells. 

I have lost some high school classmates to cancer.  I was best man for one of them, and another died just a few weeks ago.  The scar on my psyche is from my mother’s death.  I was young, she was just in her late forties, and was an ordeal filled with denial.   

In recent years trips to the dermatologist are regular, every six months or year, depending on those scaly patches on my face.  My own denial is never taking enough precautions in the sun.    I grew up when we didn’t really know better, and sunburn was an annual event.  I drove an open sports car in the mountains, making my face red.  I always had sunscreen around, but hardly ever put it on.  Most of my hats cover my bald head and shade my eyes, but the rest of my face is out there.  No longer. 

Sunscreen and hats with a wide brim are the new cool.  Well, not really, I have never viewed myself as cool.  One of my rationales for not wearing good hats is because I am always losing the damn things.  I take it off and walk away.  Also, what am I supposed to do in winter?  The sun shines here and reflects off snow, but a wide brim hat?  Do I have to start wearing Stetsons? 

Here I am rambling on about hats.  The reality is, I’m scared.  I know squamous cell cancer properly treated is seldom dangerous, but I am still dealing with my mother’s cancer fifty years later, and this little event has triggered it once more.  One of my maxims is to not worry about things I have no control over.  The question is, can I have control over this?  I have a lot of letting go to do.

Cops and Repression

Cops are a constant presence in our lives.  When I was a young kid, the town marshal in Fruita drove a red Ford pickup with no lights or siren.  It wasn’t long before there were real police with a cruiser.  I have a lot of interactions with police officers because I am a lousy driver.  
Cops

Cops

The first really negative interaction was during all the demonstrations following the invasion of Cambodia in 1968.  We peace creeps stood across the barrier from helmeted Fort Collins police officers who could hardly restrain themselves from bashing heads.  They were putting up with a lot of verbal abuse.  The cop across from me was hyperventilating.  Fortunately, nothing happened. 

Cops today are shooting people and getting shot.  Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore showed the nation how the police are an instrument of repression in some cities.  Fortunately this is not always the case.  After 9-11, Denver Water placed armed guards at the gates to the water treatment plants.  Most of the guards were retired or off duty Denver Police Officers moonlighting.  They usually worked one shift per week, and I got to know many of them at the plant where I worked. 

It was a shock to me to discover that most of them were really nice guys.  That did not fit my stereotype of cops.  A couple of them, however, were not nice guys.  They were right wing bullies filled with fear and anger.  The hate they projected was almost physically tangible.  They did not make eye contact and their speech was formal with an undercurrent of menace. 

I am sure every police department of any size in the land has a contingent of those fellows.  They are the enforcers, using violence to deal with undesirables.  They are relatively safe form reprisal because of the need for police to provide mutual support to one another.  There is a code of silence and even lying to cover for a fellow officer.  This is more common in some departments than others. 

These men serve as instruments of repression, usually to minorities.  Their self-appointed job is to keep undesirables in line, using any method they think they can get away with, including murder.in the USA, their targets are usually black, with Latinos and other minorities as alternate targets.  

Ferguson Riot

Ferguson Riot

At one time, most of the racial repression came from groups like the Ku Klux Klan, with their cross burnings, beatings, and lynchings.  Today, those groups have waned, and another means of repression has replaced them-rogue cops and rogue police departments.  Cops and police departments have always been part of the system of racial repression, but now they are the default lynchers.  There are no cross burnings on South Table Mountain in Golden these days. 

This system has run into trouble because almost anyone with a smartphone can record police violence and get the recordings to the media.  The code of silence is broken.  In times of unrest like today, the violent incidents are on the television screen every evening, just like the atrocities in Vietnam were in the 1960s.  Change in technology has made those conducting the new lynchings vulnerable.  The old system of other cops and prosecutors allowing the lynchers to get away with their brutality is not gone, as  Baltimore has recently shown, but it’s days are numbered. 

It may be that one factor creating the Trump phenomenon is the breakdown of repression.  The white working class, already hit by the loss of industrial jobs, is facing competition from people who were once sentenced to remain at the bottom.  White working class men once had those minorities to look down on.  Now the minorities are on the City Council and the police department.   

 

At the Crossroads in 2016

This is a guest post by my wife, Carol Leavenworth.

At the Crossroads in 2016

By Carol Leavenworth, LPC

Most of the time I try to ignore politics.  But this year the presidential campaign has become so bizarre that I’ve been watching with a kind of morbid fascination.  How did we get here?  How could a man like Donald Trump possibly have become a serious candidate for President of our country?

 As a Jungian therapist, I have to ask myself how I and other politically liberal people may have unconsciously contributed to Trump’s success.  Observing the contrast that emerged from last month’s political conventions between the Democrats’ positive vision for the future and Republicans’ negative and pessimistic view, I think I have begun to understand why these two wildly disparate standpoints appeal to such vast numbers of Americans.

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

As a psychotherapist I know that the loss of the fundamental safety and comfort that we enjoyed while we were held in our mothers’ wombs is a universal human experience.  At birth we are thrust into a world of uncertainty and fear where our needs will never again be met instantaneously and our very survival is not necessarily assured.  And life continues to become ever more precarious from there. The story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden reflects this experience. 

Life outside The Garden is filled with danger and risk.  Growth is impossible unless we embrace this reality.  We must leave our mother’s side and venture out into the world – to school, to work, to new homes that we create for ourselves.  That most of us do this pretty well doesn’t mean we are always comfortable with our lives or that we necessary feel all that safe. 

But we want to be.  A primary motive driving us throughout adulthood is to find the lost wholeness, safety and comfort that some small part of each of us vaguely remembers from the far distant past.

In tough scary times like these, this drive is even stronger.  To allay our fears and satisfy deep needs to feel safe and whole we are inevitably drawn to leaders who  encourage us to lay down our burdens and give over our struggle to a strong parent figure who will make it better for us.  This is a profoundly human impulse, and today Donald Trump is the man who is appealing to that impulse.

 Well good, you might say.  Why not let him do it?  The difficulty here is that it won’t work.  We can’t resolve life’s important challenges by giving in to shadowy fears and returning to old dependencies.  Going back will not help.  In fact whenever we act on these regressive impulses, we risk ending up worse off than before.  Think back on your own life.  Most if not all of us can find instances in our own personal histories when we’ve chosen what we thought was the safe road only to find ourselves with more problems than ever.

But if we can’t go back, what will work? 

It was First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at the Democratic Convention who reminded me of the viable and healing way through dark times.  Her remarks swept away the negative and pessimistic mindset that I had fallen into as I watched the nightly news reports throughout the winter and spring.  Hearing her, I recalled to myself the truths that I try to impart to others in my work as a psychotherapist.  It is the choices we make from our best selves that are the ones that enable us to move forward in resolving life problems, big and small. Even more importantly these are the choices that build the inner capacities and strengths that will ultimately bring each of us to a new experience of the abiding wholeness and safety that can arise only from within.  We heal ourselves and the world in the process of creating, developing and expressing our best selves.

Crossroads

Crossroads

The enormous divide that we see between the two major candidates for President tells us that we have arrived at a great crossroads.  Eight years ago we made a courageous decision to elect the first African American man to the Presidency.  He pulled us back from the brink of worldwide economic ruin and brought us here to the time when we are asked to make the even more courageous decision to elect a smart, politically savvy, seasoned and progressive woman to be our President. 

Hillary Clinton points us to a future where we face the challenges that confront us head on rather than building walls and hiding behind them.  She invites us all to work together to secure our futures.   She affirms that none of the tasks before us can be solved by one person or one group.   She does not promise to take care of us.  She promises to lead us.  And she asks us to dig deep once again and act from our best selves.

When we do, we help the world and we help ourselves.  Acting on our best selves out in the world feeds our souls and contributes to the long and difficult task of rebuilding the inner wholeness that is the true goal of our searching hearts.

 

 

 

What’s Going On?

His Yellowness

His Yellowness

Here we are in one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns in a land marked by bizarre politics.  In many cases, the underlying reason for the periodic upheavals is race.  Yankee slavers hauled terrified captives to a strange land where they were put to work on plantations.  The plantation-owning Southern aristocracy dominated the agrarian south.  Farming in the north was mostly small family farms.  Industrial cities grew and a diverse economy grew in contrast to southern agrarianism.   

Black people were looked on as inferior and deserved their servitude.  The divided country compromised and made a black person worth 3/5th of a white in the Constitution, that standard of democracy.  The race problem became the dominant issue in the nineteenth century and remains so today.  

The split has always been marked by violence.  The tragedy of the Civil War continued after the war with Jim Crow making his mark across the country.  Some change came with the great migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north.  Race turmoil came with the migration.  The civil rights era focused on the south, but the racial divide is as deep in the north as in the north.  Race violence seems to be nationwide.   

I was stationed in Alabama when I was in the Army in the early 1960s.  I was shocked by the segregation.  I was more shocked by the segregation in Chicago.  The African-Americans moved north to find opportunity.  Some found opportunity, but Jim Crow moved north with them.  Things are now changing.  We have an African-American President who made his home in Chicago.  Black people have more opportunity now than at any other time, but it is not enough.   

The divides remain.  White cops shooting blacks, blacks shooting cops.  Rioting comes in cycles, mostly when the weather is hot.  Poor people don’t have air conditioning.  Much of the hysteria around race violence is fueled by television news.  “If it bleeds, it leads”.  People watch these relatively isolated incidents and feel it is happening just down the street.  Chicago’s south side is something of an aberration; gang violence reinforced by a corrupt police department.  After all, we are talking about Cook County with its rich history of corruption and crime. 

The black neighborhoods are a different place.  Being stopped for driving while black is no joke.  It is a means of race-based repression.  The lynchings have not really stopped; the racist bully cops who are a small part of every police department have assumed the role.  No longer is it a rope, it’s a nine millimeter handgun in the hands of a rogue police officer. 

All this brings me to the Republicans.  Our national economy is changing.  Many working class people are politically conservative, wanting more stability in a changing economy that is leaving them behind.  Good paying industrial jobs are drying up.   

A good example is here in Denver.  Gates Rubber is gone, the production moved out of the country.  The former Gates factory which used to dominate South Denver is being replaced with expensive apartment complexes.  Today, the jobs are in offices and restaurants.  The office people move into the apartments, the poorly paid workers move to decaying suburbs or cram themselves into tiny apartments on Capitol Hill. 

There is one growing industry here, marijuana.  Jobs are being created and rents for warehouses for grow operations are going up.  The warehouses were built for thriving small businesses doing light manufacturing and supporting the construction industry.  The Great Recession created by our friends who run things from lower Manhattan killed many of those small businesses.  The working class lost out again. 

The white working class is angry.  Many of the jobs are gone, the opportunity for small businesses has shrunk, and immigrants seem to be taking the jobs at the bottom.  Until this year, the Republican Party has failed to capitalize on this growing disaffection.  The party’s emphasis has been to enrich the wealthy, ignore the poor, take their safety nets away, and keep the minimum wage at poverty level.  Uh, oh, here comes Mr. Trump.  It is hard to tell what he really believes, but his rhetoric has focused on returning to some past that was better for those angry people than the present.  He mocks the liberal ideals of social progress and seems to advocate a return to a dominant, imperialistic America returning to the industrial prosperity of post-World War II America when white people were firmly in control.  He also wants to remove all constraints on free-wheeling development without regard to social or environmental consequences.  More jobs. 

His own record doesn’t support his rhetoric, but the discontent he is exploiting overrules his inconsistencies.  Democrats want a well-regulated welfare state, and Republicans want to make rich people richer.  Disaffected workers are turning to a man who advocates strength, control, and more jobs by rebuilding the industrial economy that has moved to China.  No more free trade, the USA will regain former worker’s prosperity with protectionism.   

The rich will get richer, but the workers will regain what was lost in the shift to a global economy. Trump and Putin will share the spoils of the new nationalism.  Europe can muddle along, but the rest of the world is there to be shared by the U.S. and Russia. 

The voting bloc Trump tapped into was enough to get him nominated, but he will probably lose to Ms. Clinton.  Her problem is much the same as the old Republicans.   She is a reformer who has always worked for those at the margins, however working class economic problems persist.  Those problems created the Trump phenomenon, and solutions are hard to come by.  The Obamas promote college for everyone, but who is going to do the work?   There needs to be some way to build a good life for the workers.  How?  This is the twenty first century dilemma.

 

Shaking and Baking

As you are aware if you are a regular reader of my ravings, I am a geology buff.  I like the Big Picture, mid-ocean rifts and rises, tectonic plates shoving one another around, places where the hot insides spout out of the ground, mountains rising and being worn away, and the oceans becoming ever more salty.  Most of the time, all this is a slow process, but sometimes all hell breaks loose.   

San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault

Just look at that photo of the San Andreas Fault.  Things are clearly on the move and the land is being torn apart.  The Pacific Plate is sliding northward along the North American Plate.  Pasadena will one day be next to Anchorage.  Don’t wait up for it, though.  The Pacific coast of North America is one of the most seismically active regions on the Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific Ocean.  It shakes, it blows, it smokes, it flows.   

Places like that make nice places to live.  Most of the time.  There is the ocean, lots of pretty landscapes with beautiful mountains nearby,  and places to grow things.  Just look at the Seattle-Tacoma area.  Bays, inlets, rivers, islands, and a big old mountain to look at.  It is easy to forget that mountain is a large volcano just biding it’s time until it lets loose again.  

Mount Rainier. Close to Town

Mount Rainier. Close to Town

If Rainier resembles Mt. St. Helens in the way it erupts, there might be some warning.  What we won’t know is how big, exactly when, and for how long.  There is a lot going on in that area.  Boeing, Microsoft, REI, millions of people, and Starbucks are a few examples.  If a swarm of magnitude four earthquakes begin, what to do?  Shut everything down and evacuate?  Where will everyone go?  What about looting and plundering?  What if it doesn’t erupt for months, if ever?   

Pyroclastic flows of very hot, wet, chunky stuff have flowed off that mountain all the way to the ocean.  The old cliche says “It is not if, but when.”  We just do not know when.  So, life along the Pacific Rim is always something of a gamble.  I have felt small earthquakes and looked into the crater of a Volcano in Costa Rica, a lovely, green, paradise.  Earthquakes destroy roads and railroads, volcanos bury villages, and life goes on.   

Irazu, Costa Rica

Irazu, Costa Rica

Small, poor Costa Rica is one thing, the Seattle-Tacoma area, or Los Angeles, or Portland, or Eugene, or San Francisco are entirely different matters.  No amount of preparation can take into account all the things which might happen.  Prediction is in its infancy.  Mt. St. Helens in hindsight gave lots of warning, but the disaster was huge in a relatively isolated area.  When Rainier or Mt. Hood let go the disaster will be in a heavily populated area with just a few ways out. 

Currently there are lots of earthquakes in the oil field regions of Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding areas.  I wouldn’t worry too much if I lived there, the odds of a Big One are fairly small.  St. Louis and Salt Lake are at more risk.  The West Coast is the big danger zone.  The earth will keep moving, the plates will continue to slide.  Eruptions and quakes will continue to happen.  My solution?  Don’t live there.  What is your plan?

The Summer Of Our Discontent

What a time!  It’s hot about two weeks early for this area.  I got a replacement toolbox for my Toyota Tacoma’s toolbox.  The old one failed because I haul so much stuff around.  Fortunately it had a lifetime guarantee.  We seem to be spending entirely too much time in doctor’s offices; me getting pre-cancerous patches frozen on my head, Carol with eye trouble, and her son with a broken wrist and atrial fibrillation.

On the positive side, our garden is looking great, no hail this year so far.   We are going to have a big raspberry crop, the flowers are beautiful, and all the veggies are growing away.  Things seem to be going fairly well for an old couple.

There is tragedy in the land.  Murdering large groups of innocent people just trying to have a good time is terrible.  There has to be some means in place to restrict weapons solely designed for killing large numbers of people.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganThe reason I am writing this, however, is about the current political situation.  The U.S. Has a long tradition of sending poorly qualified people to the White House, but this is getting ridiculous. This guy the Republicans have chosen to run has managed to combine all the worst qualities of American politicians in one outrageous package.  The man has no qualifications to lead the nation in any direction other than backward, and possibly into chaos.  Just his hair should be a cue.  What are those people thinking?

I understand the discontent.  A lot of people are not liberal and want leadership addressing their problems.  Stagnant wages, a lack of good skilled industrial jobs, and rapid change rather than a safe, stable, comfortable life like Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav lived.  They forget that the Cleavers didn’t exist, they were just a TV show.

They sit in front of the TV watching pretty people having a crisis which always has a happy ending.  Their lives aren’t so happy, and they are angry about it.  So here comes a TV show host who says he can fix everything.  He will get rid of “those people”, give them good jobs, make the country safe, and put steak on the plate and a nice diesel Super Duty pickup in every driveway.  If there is trouble, the Marines can stop it.  The country will regress or else.

The mainstream Republican approach is to make rich people richer, take away benefits, and cut schools, highways, parks, sell the government land off. and send their sons off to endless wars.  Congress is paralyzed.  That plan has run its course.  The only reason it worked at all is the rich ones spent lots of money fooling people and buying politicians.

The result is Donald Trump.  He says he can fix it.  Well, no.  The man seems to have no idea how our government works.  He thinks he can issue commands on impulse and get an immediate response, whether his commands are legal or not.  The only things he really wants are adulation and a chance to get rid of those who ask the wrong questions.

Hillary has done a lot of things well, but she has a past.  Trump will sling as much dirt as he can, hoping enough will stick to her to get him elected.  It worked with the primaries,  let’s hope it won’t work for the Big One.

Motorcycles

Kawasaki KLR 650

Kawasaki KLR 650

I have owned and ridden three motorcycles.  I like motorcycles. They are as close to flying as one can get on land.  There are challenges, such as trying to stay upright on two wheels. I know people who have never been down on their bikes.  I once fell over right by the front door of the biggest motorcycle accessory shop in Denver.  It trapped my leg and some guy had to lift it off me.  I bet he is still telling that story.

I have crashed on city streets, on a paved canyon road (sand), in parking lots, and an uncountable number of times in the dirt.  Two of my motorcycles were what is now called dual sport; they are able to be used on the street and in the dirt.  They aren’t top notch in either role, but some riders do things most people can’t imagine.  80 mph on the highway, and some challenging back country roads and trails.  Lots of good dual sport roads in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming, where I traveled.

One of the best grew up riding on the streets of Mexico City, where you have to be good to survive.  I could keep up with him on the highway because we had the same bikes.  In the dirt, he could go places with that fairly heavy thing that I didn’t even dream of.  He and quite a few others have done 50 mountain passes in Colorado in 50 hours.  I am good for about six in a day, and hurt for two days. He also did a lot of single track trails, something I never attempted.

I liked road trips with some gravel or dirt roads thrown in.  Forest Service roads were about as gnarly as I wanted. On the asphalt, it was curves in canyons.  Fortunately, Colorado’s Front Range has lots of canyons.  There was a geological event that bumped the long bench from Conifer to its Estes Park.  That bench was once at Denver’s elevation, but got pooched up to where it is now.  We call the road the Peak to Peak Highway.

Golden Gate Canyon

Golden Gate Canyon

Go up any of the canyons from Deer Creek to the Big Thompson, ride those fast sweeping curves a ways, then down another canyon.  My favorite was Golden Gate Canyon, where I tore my posterior cruciate ligament when I hit some sand on the road.

It’s the lean, folks.  Go around a curve on two wheels and you lean.  Go faster, lean more.  Go faster, and crash.  I went fairly slow for a motorcyclist.  I still got some lean, and was able to look at the geology.  A low side crash is when the bike slides out from under you and goes off the road ahead of you.

High Side Crash

High Side Crash

A high side crash is the bad one.  The front wheel starts to slide, then gets traction.  You are flipped off and into the air, while the bike bounces along behind until it lands on you.  Both are bad, but you really do not want to high side.  Some riders get flipped into the guardrail.  Ouch.

My knee wrecking crash was a low side.  My knee was bent, the tibia-fibula stopped on the pavement while the femur went a little farther.  It really hurt.  Hurt bad. I picked the bike up and rode on until I couldn’t stand the pain and called for help.

Aside from the crashes, I loved motorcycling.  Yes, it is dangerous.  Other drivers don’t see you and turn in front of you.  You crash all by yourself.  There is a famous twisty road in North Carolina where a biker went into the bushes. Just in front of him was another motorcycle with the remains of the rider.  He went into the bushes and nobody saw a thing.

Yamaha SR 400

Yamaha SR 400

I always wore all the protective gear.  Those Harley riders who won’t wear a helmet because their balls will protect them are nuts.  Mass delusion, those Harley people.

This spring I got the itch again.  Yamaha makes a single cylinder bike that looks a lot like the classic British thumpers from the 1950s.  It isn’t fast, but sure would be a good canyon bike.  Nah.  Too old and slow myself.  I guess I will stick to four wheeling.

 

The Dentist Part Two

 

Dentistry

Dentistry

I wrote in March about my dental phobia.  I home with a temporary crown.  The last three months has been a dental black hole.  I haven’t flossed, hardly brushed, and stuck with mouthwash.  My cleaning last month wasn’t too bad, but only because Barb, my hygienist, is the best.  I made an appointment for the crown after stalling for five months.

Thursday was the day and I have been something  of a mess for a week.  Worse, I was scheduled to have it done two weeks ago and came down with a bad cold and had to reschedule.  That prolonged my agony.  In defense of the dental office, everyone there is just great.  They are nice, competent, and do their best to make every visit as painless as possible.  I have been a patient there for over twenty years.

Steve Law is the dentist.  A Minnesota boy, he went to St. Olaf College in the same town as Carleton College, that Susan, my stepdaughter,attended.  He is a nice guy and a musician as well.  Today he had trouble getting the old crown off.   He drilled, pried, pulled, drilled, pried, and drilled some more.  After he got all the gear out of my mouth I asked him why he didn’t use Channel Lock pliers instead.  He said something about making it more comfortable.  I do not equate the dentist’s office with comfort, despite their apologetics.

The assistant was also good, and funny as well.  I just do not remember her name.  I should remember, she has worked there as long as my tenure as a patient.  I have a temporary crown she installed which will fall out before the next appointment.

I have lived with dental post-traumatic stress disorder for almost sixty years.  Carol is a therapist and has offered to help, but I just cannot face dealing with the anxiety of reliving dental agony.  At least the suffering is a good contrast with the good times I usually have.  How can we know the good without experiencing the bad?  Why does it have

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