Category Archives: Stories

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?”

Medical Miracle

Transplant

A man woke up in a hospital room.  He didn’t know how he got there, but one leg was in a cast and he had some bandages.  He felt weak and disoriented. A nurse came in.  “Oh, Mr. Thomas, you’re awake.  You have been in a coma for three weeks.  You were in a terrible traffic accident.  How are you feeling?”

“I hurt all over and feel weak, but otherwise I’m OK.”   “I will have the doctor come in to see you.”

Later, the doctor came in and examined him.  “Well, you had quite an ordeal, but you are on the mend.  We had to keep you in a coma for your head injury to heal, and you are doing fine.  There is one thing, though.  Your penis was severed in the car crash and the crew onsite was unable to find it.”

The man looked down, nothing but a bandage with a tube coming out and his testicles.  “Oh, No!  Is this permanent?”

“Well, yes but there is a new transplant procedure that is very successful.  Insurance won’t pay, and the charge for the transplant is five thousand dollars per inch.”

“I have fifty thousand in savings.  When can we do this?”   “You need to talk it over with your wife.  This is a major step and both of you need to sign off on it.”  “She will be in later.  We can let you know tomorrow.”

Next day the doctor came in.  “What have you decided?”

“We are going to remodel the kitchen.”

Reading

Rainy

As I sit here in the coffee shop it is raining hard outside.  Almost everyone has their hood up.  We are truly in Colorado, however as no one has an umbrella.  My wife has umbrellas, but much of her childhood was in the Puget Sound area.

I am going to give you a little series about writing.  Writing is my most important retirement activity.  If I don’t get to write in any given week, I feel a little hole forming in my being.  So, here I am in the coffee shop with my trusty iPad.

To write, one must read.  I am a lifelong reader.  It wasn’t Dick and Jane, it was Scrooge McDuck with his three cubic acres of cash and his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.  In the living room there was a big round oak coffee table cut down from a dining table with stacks of magazines.  I read them all, including my dad’s Cosmopolitan and Redbook he subscribed to for the romance short stories in every issue.

Time, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Outdoor Life, Lady’s Home Journal, Argosy, Popular Science, Sports Illustrated, and my Boy’s Life.  My comic books dwelt there as well.  My mother belonged to a local book club and the Book of the Month Club.  I read them all.

Other books were there as well.  My father’s railroad books and Utah and Colorado photography   books, all well thumbed to the point of loose bindings sat in the bookcase.  I had a bookcase in my room with lots of stuff to read.  My favorite books were Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels, and Parade of the Animal Kingdom by Jane and Robert Hegner.  I still have them.

In school, I read everything we were assigned.  I even used the library.

Now I subscribe to High Country News, Scientific American, The New Yorker, the Disabled American Veterans Journal, and the Environmental Defense Fund journal.  Carol is regularly after me to get rid of some books.  She doesn’t seem to understand that books are sacred objects.  I must admit, however, some of them remain unread.

My favorite subjects are history, geology, spirituality, mythology, and nature books about the Colorado Plateau.  I have some fiction and do read fiction, but most of my stuff is non-fiction.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat

Carol and I have a bedtime ritual.  I read to her.  Mostly it is mystery novels written by women, but we sometimes range afield.  Lately it was The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring. By David Michie.   They are fun books told in the first person by Little Snow Lion, Rinpoche,  HHC (His Holiness’ Cat), and Meow Tse Tongue, all names acquired by that singular small feline.  They also contain good stuff about Tibetan Buddhism.  We got lots of good laughs.  Carol picks the books, so we seldom get bad writing.

One of the things the books bother me about is the popular market genre books suffer from poor editing and proofreading.  It looks to me publishers increasingly rely on authors to do their own editing.   Unfortunately, authors’ mistakes are often a function of ignorance about a subject.  For example, we recently read a couple of mysteries where the crimes occurred on rural gravel roads.  When those roads are built, the road itself is crowned so water will run off to the side rather than making ruts down the center.  The dirt for that crown comes from the side of the road, forming a borrow ditch.  The dirt is borrowed from the side.  I have seen barrow and burrow, but never borrow.  Those woman mystery writers just don’t know road construction.  Why don’t they ask me?  Why doesn’t their editor call me?

Let it Be

Let it Be.  “When in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it  be.”  Lennon-McCartney.   

I recently experienced a minor time of trouble.  Call it depression, a post-retreat counterattack, call it what you will, I was not in a good place for a while.  All my old bad habits and thoughts came roaring back.  Usually I keep that stuff at bay with prayer and meditation.  In the past I used alcohol and marijuana, but they only postpone things. 

During the bad period my meditations were all about the unhealthy stuff and I did not pray.  A spiral into depression ensued.  I have enough things to do in my daily life to keep myself from slipping into a major depression.  I just don’t have the time.  In a major depression all I want to do is lie in bed or the bathtub. 

This go-round I watched a lot of car, motorcycle, and airplane crashes on You Tube.  I also watched a lot of the violence scenes from Sons of Anarchy and boxing knockouts.   Fun, huh? 

The weekend went pretty well, we went to a good modern dance concert after dinner Friday evening, did some gardening Saturday, and the Sunday Insight Meditation dharma talk was a good one.  

Monday morning I woke up to a new world.  I felt good, the weather was fine, and I found myself praying and my meditations went where they should.  Why the change?  I have no idea. Maybe my meditation and prayer practice is working.  I am again able to let it be. 

I tend to have some obsessive thoughts about sex or violence. They arise, and if I pray a short prayer, they pass away.  Over time, they have diminished a great deal.  However, during my down periods, they come roaring back.  If I entertain them at all, they stick around.  A sort of feedback loop is generated.  The thought arises, I entertain it, it gets stronger, and I slip into unwise actions.  

What to do when the thought arises?  Let it be.  It, like all phenomena, will pass away.  Prayer helps.  I know people who hold on to unhealthy thinking most of the time.  They suffer.  The more they suffer, the more the unhealthy thinking stays with them.   

To live like this is a decision.  Unhealthy thoughts may arise from the labyrinth of the brain, but holding on to them is a choice.  The choice is self-reinforcing, so breaking the habit is tough.  We can, however, choose to break the pattern.  Not all days are bad days, even for someone in the depths of depression.  We have opportunities to break out. Almost everyone has opportunities to end their suffering.  Still, at times, the choice is to suffer. 

Insects

Japanese Beetle

Insects are part of life.  I mostly ignore them unless they are deer flies or horseflies.  I get swollen welts the size of a cupcake when they sneak up and get me.  Denver is pretty dry, so mosquitos aren’t much of a problem.  Bees and wasps won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  Flies in the house are a nuisance but they are easy to control.   

Insects in the garden can be a problem, but they can be controlled as well.  There is one huge exception, however.  Japanese beetles are evil, vile, nasty creatures masterminded by Darth Vader, the Empire, and the Borg.  They eat, kill, and destroy.   

Four years ago Denver had no Japanese beetles.  Then, someone in one of the upscale neighborhoods brought in some plantings with beetle larvae in the soil.  They are rapidly spreading northward.  Two years we had a few, last year they were a plague.   

Damage

What do they do?  The beetles themselves eat leaves.  They love rose blossoms, but leave those leaves alone.  They like linden tree leaves, grape leaves, raspberry leaves, and peach tree leaves.  A rosebud opens in the morning and by noon the flower is gone.  They work on grape leaves to the extent that any new growth stops.  That is no good when you are trying to grow a grape arbor.  Lots of linden leaves get honeycombed, but the tree seems to be able to cope.  Our peach tree and the raspberries get attacked, but so far, not a lot of damage.   

In Palisade, over on the Western Slope, peaches and vineyards are the mainstay of the economy.  Unchecked, the beetles would have wiped them out, so they took the nuclear option.  They sprayed.  Spraying stopped the beetles, but it killed the beneficial insects as well.   

Japanese Beetle Grubs in a Lawn

The other part of the Japanese beetle life cycle is when the beetles fly down and lay their eggs in the lawn.  The eggs hatch, and the grubs start eating the grass roots.   Lots of eggs, lots of grubs.  They can be so dense as to form a living mat of grubs.  The lawn develops spreading dead spots.  Uncontrolled, no lawn. 

What to do?  In the morning go out and flick the beetles into soapy water.  Nematodes and milky  spore help with the grubs.  There is a grub poison called GrubEx, but it isn’t selective in what it poisons.   

Trap

A popular control is traps.  The kind where the beetles fly into the jug, attracted by some bait.  They drown, and give off a scent that attracts more beetles.  Soon, it is a beetle feeding frenzy with beetles coming from the entire neighborhood.  They look around for another snack and eat all your plants.  You can’t have the trap near your vulnerable plants, not easy on a small urban lot.  I think I will do it anyway, just to watch the evil creatures die. 

I don’t think we will have a grape arbor.  The linden, peach tree, and the raspberries will cope.  We will cut off all the rose buds in June and July.  We may have to eliminate what lawn we have left after years of reducing its size.  

My task is to give up on my beetle obsession.

 Japanese Beetle

Cycles

The Universe

The universe cycles.  Things arise, then pass away.  It may take a while, a few billion years or so, but the only constant is change.  So it is with my life, change is the constant, it is just that the cycles are shorter.  The big cycle is of course, life itself.  Born, live, decline, and die.  After that, who knows for sure?

Today, it is about my spiritual cycles.  Those cycles can run from weeks to years.  Lately it is weeks.  I am a seeker, and was drawn to Buddhism in college.  I read, thought, but couldn’t meditate.  Now I meditate and after a number of false starts, I can call myself a beginner Buddhist.   Well, a Bhuddapalian, because Jesus is still in my life, but that’s another story and other cycles.

I have made quite a bit of progress, and have experienced varying times when I am actually living in the moment, not thinking about the past or future.  After all, the past or the future don’t exist except in our heads.  A few weeks I went on a retreat of enormous benefit.  18 people at the Y of the Rockies in Estes Park where we formed a bond during a silent retreat.

Cycles.  After the high comes the low.  From being in the moment, I found myself trapped in my past.  Now, for the purpose of survival I  need the past.  I learned things and apply the knowledge for the sake of survival in a fairly hostile world.  I don’t need all the old traumas and mistakes filling my head, however.  I use that stuff to fuel addictions in order to block what is gone anyway.  That’s how the brain works sometimes.  I block with food, various drugs, sex, and depression.

The problem, those strategies wear off and I am back simmering in the cauldron of despair.  Old pains lead to compulsive behavior leading to despair and addiction.  The Buddhist strategy is to devote oneself to serving all beings, clean living, loving kindness, and letting go-detachment.  Lately, not working.  I watch violence on You Tube, eat, fantasize, and avoid drugs.  Letting go?  Hmph.

I had this dream.  I was back at work after a vacation and there was new stuff I didn’t know how to work with.  There weren’t any instructions, of course.  When are there ever instructions about what to do?  So, I just had to cope, even though the boss and an engineer were running around talking about the future.  They weren’t going to be any help.

That’s where we are, isn’t it?  New tasks and no owners manual.  I just have to sit with the situation until a strategy presents itself.  Oh, wait, I just laid out the strategy, didn’t

Weather? What Weather?

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The arguments about climate change continue.  Those who point to the changes on our planet use science to support their arguments.  Retreating glaciers and ice sheets. Thawing tundra.  The worldwide atmospheric temperature is rising.local climates are changing, and severe weather events are increasing.  It makes sense, doesn’t it that if the temperature rises there is more energy for hurricanes and tornadoes.  The wind will blow as well, although you might not notice much difference in Wyoming.

The deniers usually have one of two reasons.  First, it is money.  If a business or individual has to spend money to reduce their carbon footprint, they tend to object.  The other reason, which I am going to explore, is religious.  These days in our country, the religious arguments come out of biblical prophesy.

Biblical prophesy:  abandon all hope if you venture to study prophesy.  Prophets abound in all human cultures.  As humans, we don’t know what the future will bring and we would really like to know.  The stars, tea leaves, the oracles at Delphi, Jeremiah, Nostradamus, and a host of others.  The unknown is a source of fear, and people want their fears assuaged.  Myself, I prefer fortune cookies.  At least I get something sweet for my effort.

Most religions rely on fear to some to gain adherents.  The right corn dance will bring rain and a good harvest.  No dance, no rain.  Money sent to an evangelist will get the right kind of prayers said for you.  No confession, it’s hell for you.

Let’s go into Christian prophesy.  Much of the Old Testament is about God railing against his people do do right by him.  In some places God’s own words are recorded.  In most instances it is a prophet.  The prophets were doing God’s work : “Straighten up or else.”.  Most people don’t straighten up.  They don’t get the word, they don’t give a damn, or they aren’t going to listen to some raving madman.  And then, bad things happen.  The prophets say “See? This is all your fault.  Straighten up or it will get worse.”

Well, it gets bad all the time.  It also gets good some of the time.  All that bad weather and fire we get in the prophesies?  Plagues, pestilence?  Happens all the time.  Last summer at our house it was Japanese Beetles eating our roses and grapevine leaves. That was a pestilence.   No grapes, no wine, if it happened in ancient times.  Ever since the New Testament canon was settled on with its prophesies, especially the book of Revelation, the prophets have been crying doom regarding the Second Coming.

About that book of

Revelation, take some time and read the thing.  Powerful imagery, wild predictions, fiery rhetoric.  What is it about?  Rome.  The Beast is Rome and its Legions conquering and ruling by the sword and crucifixion.  Prophesy is aimed at a specific target, in this case the Roman Empire.

It seems to me to be quite a stretch to fast forward a couple of centuries to today.  Prophets of doom said before the first millennium those were the last days, and the year 1000 would bring Armageddon and the second coming.  Lots of nineteenth century and twentieth century prophets sat down with their pencils and predicted the end of the world was at hand.  Didn’t happen, folks.

The Second Coming of Jesus

Now many of the believers in the last days and impending doom are in positions of influence.  Our Vice President is an example.  Much of the so-called conservative rhetoric and congressional action is designed by prophesy believers to hasten Armageddon.  I encourage you to look around the internet for the multitude of websites saying the same thing.  We’re in the last days, Jesus is coming, the righteous will be raptured to heaven and the rest of us are in big trouble.  Don’t you believe it.  There is another scripture in Thessalonians saying nobody knows the date, He will come as a thief in the night.  That one seems to be ignored these days.

My take on it, live the life that is best for you.  Find the answers for yourself.  If someone says he knows the answers, the odds are he does not.  If you don’t find the answers yourself, you are in good company.  No one knows for sure.

I am an Evangelical

Augustine

Well, not really.  But I was one.  I was raised a Methodist, and had a profound conversion experience into a Pentecostal denomination.

Yes, they were evangelical.  Evangelicals tend to take the Bible literally and have traditional beliefs about sexuality, marriage, abortion, and politics.  I hold none of those views.  I’m a liberal of the kind vilified on Fox News.  I retain some Christian beliefs, but am a practicing Buddhist.

I have an extensive library on Christianity.  Most of the books are about the relatively new thinking about Jesus and the Bible, most of them anathema to an evangelical.  I do accept the historical reality of Jesus, but that is about as far as it goes.  I tend to view it all from an historical perspective.

Regarding God, nobody knows for sure.  Most every culture deals with God in some fashion, but my view is he was extrapolated from the spirit world, entities who exist, but in my view are no more deities than we are.  Like us they would like to be gods, but only Donald Trump has made it.

I am from a milieu steeped in the old time religion.  It is ironic that the concept of original sin came from Augustine, a Catholic Scholastic.  His idea about the event in the garden leading to human depravity rather than free will leads directly to the idea Jesus assumed our sinful nature to release us from God’s curse.  John said God loved us and freed us from sin on the cross, but Augustine said God let Jesus atone for our depravity.

John Calvin

American evangelical Protestantism adopted Augustine.  Conservatives: we’re bad.   Liberals: we’re good, but need help because the event in the Garden gave us free will.  We can choose, a coyote can’t.  But, we sometimes make bad choices.

For several reasons, deep down I believe I’m bad.  I am engaged in overcoming that belief, with limited and intermittent success.  Sometimes I feel good about myself, sometimes I don’t.

I really don’t like Augustine, Calvin, and their wrathful God.  My father and grandfather had that Scots Presbyterian Calvinist outlook even though they were not religious.  I caught it from them.  The underlying attitude was nobody could ever measure up, including me and them.  There, ladies, and gentlemen, is a prescription for an unhappy life.  My mother was raised Congregationalist, another Calvinist denomination (no longer, however).

Grandfather, Father, and Mother were pretty nice people, which revealed their true natures, but under it all they thought they were lost souls.  As our current self-appointed deity would say, “Sad.”.   I’m afraid some part of me will always believe I am really a bad dude, which I caught from them.

Our culture remains contaminated with the evangelical attitude.  I sit here in the coffee shop next to Denver University, started in 1864 as a Methodist school.  The Methodists have never been quite as infected by Calvinism, coming from Anglican roots, but that need for redemption is still there.  The idea behind DU was to bring the gospel to the wilderness.  That was fine, but there was an underlying belief those naked heathen Indians were beyond redemption.  John Evans, the Methodist territorial governor in 1864 and a co-founder of DU, and John Chivington, a Methodist minister and Colonel of the Third Volunteer Cavalry Regiment decided those murdering heathens had to go.  Thus, the Sand Creek Massacre.

The streets at DU are Methodist, starting with Wesley, the Anglican who founded Methodism.  Looking west from Evans Avenue one sees Mt. Evans, both named after an Indian killer.  I live between Evans and Asbury Avenues.  Asbury is named for the first Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop in the United States.  I don’t seem to be able to get away from it.  The current DU students, however, don’t seem to be as infected with that stuff as I am.  The architects designing buildings at DU don’t seem to have gotten the message.  Even the big athletic field House has a bell tower. The old part of the campus has several spires and bell towers.

The University of Denver has, to its credit, recognized the tragedy of Sand Creek and the role of the Methodist founder of DU in the act of genocide.  DU is no longer evangelical, but has the history.  I am no longer evangelical, but I carry the history.

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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Getting Older

Really Old

I am 74.  I retired in 2011 at age 68 when I started noticing I wasn’t as sharp in responding to problems.  I also noticed my co-workers giving me the easier jobs when on a project,I was used to wading right in, sometimes literally.  It was a water plant, after all.

Now, other things have manifested. If it doesn’t hurt, it itches. I have arthritis and allergies.  My balance problems keep me off the third step of the ladder.  I was falling off.  I fell on the stairs, broke two ribs.  I gave up motorcycling, given my desire to stay alive (Just go to motorcycle crashes on YouTube.).

People are dying.  Yes, they have  doing it all my life, but now it’s old friends, classmates, a guy I was Best Man for.  Not people I viewed as Old People, but my contemporaries.  Does that mean I am an Old Person?  Yep.  Old people see their friends dying.  You can also tell if you are old by falling down in a public place.  People laugh if you are young.  You are old if they rush over to help.

Then there is CRS.  I have always had a poor memory, but this is getting ridiculous.  When I hear someone’s name on meeting them I tell them I will forget it.  I head downstairs to get something, do two or three things I see need doing, and go up without I went after.  Also, people my age tend to be terrified when they start forgetting.  Is it Alzheimer’s?  Am I going to be a drooling vegetable?  I try to stick to my rule about not worrying about things I have no control over, but it doesn’t always work.

A good thing: after my ADD diagnosis at age 59 with the therapy and medication I have more focus.  I can even manage to focus on stuff I don’t like to do.  I used to put off paying bills until my anxiety level forces me to sit down.  Now, I can plan the time and actually follow the plan some of the time.  I can write.  I don’t have to go to work.  I just spend my four pensions and watch our investments slowly diminish.

Writing is a good thing for an old dude to do.  I can do it most any time, usually mornings.  I go to a coffee shop where I am something of a regular and do some extroverting along with the writing.  I always wanted to write, but could not maintain the focus to write for myself.  With a deadline, the anxiety level activated my prefrontal cortex enough to allow me to get the words down.  In college I wrote papers for Forestry majors and the like for $10.00 per page (long time ago).

Now I write for myself.  I almost always write nonfiction, like most of my reading.  As you can see from this website, I have a wide range of interests.  That’s  probably a function of an ADD shifting his attention all the time.  I need to know.  They say ADD’s occupy an evolutionary niche because their shifting attention enabled them to spot those brutes from the neighboring tribe or the saber-toothed tiger.  Sentinels.  Of course, we are also smart and charming.  Someone has to keep the place stirred up.

I have written a little fiction, some very short stories and a longer short story when taking a class at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop here in Denver.   Good people there, students and faculty.  Naturally, some English majors, more interesting than engineers, although impoverished.

For me fiction is hard work. You have to create the world of the story and invent the characters.  Good fiction also uses lots of metaphor.  I am not very good in that area, mostly because it takes lots of practice.  I usually write about shifting tectonic plates; not so much need for metaphor there.

I have taken to reading novels aloud to Carol just before bedtime.  She likes mysteries written by women, she calls them novels of manners.  Much of their focus is on character development and scene setting, so they are a good light reading genre.  The reading is fostering an interest in fiction again.  Can I produce a story about geologists?  Maybe a story about 19th Century naturalists and biblical literalists.  Have I mentioned I like history?

I will have to work on producing pieces longer than 550 words, however. I can do the short essays in one coffee shop session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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