Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Galactica Actual

For those of us who were kids when “Battlestar Galactica” came on in the 1970’s, the new and improved version was more than just tempting. But I was already tied up with something else, and I missed the first part of the first season so I didn’t watch it. My friend Elbow got me interested in it, and then I got hooked.

The humans invented a robot race called “Cylons”. In a bow to the 70’s show, the new Battlestar references the war between the two races, and also references how the Cylons rebelled against their human masters. The 70’s show ended with a truce between the two races, and now the new show picks up as the Cylons attack and almost wipe out all of humanity. The Battlestar named Galactica is the last military battleship left to protect a ragtag fleet of human spaceship under constant threat of Cylon attack.

The story of survival found in Galactica is not a pretty one. The aftermath of the Cylon attack has not only left the survivors shell-shocked, but they discover almost by accident there are Cylons, “skin jobs” they call them, who look exactly like humans. Anyone could be a Cylon, and the ever present fear of attack is not laced with the never ending fear of betrayal. The water supply is sabotaged by a Cylon agent. No one can be trusted.
The military commander, Admiral Odama, faces many more dilemmas than he needs. The first decision is whether or not he will allow the civilian successor to the government, who happens to be the Secretary of Education, to act as president. Roslin is a capable and competent woman but she is also forty-second in the line of succession, in a government that no longer truly exists.
As the series progresses the decisions do not get easier for either. The world of right and wrong is plagued with grey area. The fate of human beings, as a species, hangs in the balance of every mistake. There are less than fifty thousand people left. With resources severely limited, Odama, Roslin, and a very well put together cast has to pull, push, and prod the survivors forward. If there are sick people who gets medication? If there is a food shortage who gets fed? If there is a fuel shortage, where might fuel be found? If there are riots, are troops to be used to quell the unrest? With the death of each person the species loses a fraction of its genetic diversity. With each Cylon attack, the ability of the humans to fight back lessens. With each new discovery of who is a skin job, the fear grows the next betrayal might be mortal.
This is a dark and desperate tale punctuated by hardship and death. Wounds are left open to fester, not heal, and no one remains pure and good. Yet there are questions asked that demand answers. Who gets to make the hard decisions? At what point does Democracy take a backseat to military action? Who is a person and who decides this? Is the ship carrying a thousand people to be destroyed if it refuses to answer the hail from Galactica? It is. The order is given, the ships is destroyed, and everyone lives with what they have done.

The moral mess which is the tale of human beings from the very beginning of recorded history is the tale of Battlestar Galactica. No stone is left unturned, from religion, murder, birth, humanity, and politics. It even has some side stories, one of which, “Razor” gives some back story information on one of the episodes.

All in all, I would have to recommend Battlestar Galatica for anyone who enjoys good solid sci-fi, with a truly great plot.

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life As Fiction

There has to be a sense of multiple personality disorder if a writer is going to write about fictional people. The person has to be created from bits and pieces of real life, and cobbled together from conversation and relations. To really be effective, a writer has to breathe life into the golem and bring forth from the primordial text pool someone readers can love, or hate, or loathe, or lust for within. Fictional characters can be, for those of us who write, and for those of us who are readers, every bit as real as some of the humans who inhabit this world.

Friday night I dreamed I was in front of a group of people speaking to them about what I was writing, and where some of my ideas are derived. I was on a stage, and the bright lights kept me from seeing the audience clearly, but I could tell there were a few hundred people out there somewhere, and some of the questions were totally off the wall.

“What do you eat before you write?”

“Is there any particular brand of light bulb you use?”

“How to you regulate your breathing?”

“How often do you have to use the bathroom?”

But someone asked me about an essay I had written on Sea Pond, which is Elbow’s home, and as I described the land around the house, I realized that I had made it all up, that Sea Pond didn’t exist. Worse, they followed up with a question about Elbow, and as I talked about her I realized she too was fictional. As I spoke about her house, her family, her friends, her cats and dogs and horse, all of it became a figment of my imagination, and everything in Elbow’s life was suddenly totally gone, except what I had written about her. I felt terribly sad, and I wanted to tell the people it was a lie, because Elbow did exist, and Sea Pond was there, but none of it was there anymore. I had made it all up. It was part of a story I had written, and Elbow was someone I had invented.

I woke up to discover it was two in the morning, and when I woke up the dogs woke up too, which meant I had to get up and let them out. I sat down and wrote part of this then, and I had this strong urge to call Elbow, and ask her if she were real or not. I tried to call her Saturday and couldn’t reach her, which was freaky, but Sunday she answered the phone, and the dream seemed far less real.

The weird thing, if only one part of this might be considered real, is when I woke up, just for a moment, maybe a handful of seconds, I knew Elbow, Sea Pond, the animals and family, were all fiction. There for a breathe, maybe two or three, everything I had known about a person, and how she lived, became something I had written. The overpowering sense of relief when reality came flooding back was, and still is, indescribable, but even for that brief period of time, my sense of reality had changed.

We who write live in two worlds, it seems. In one, we interact with other people and in the other, well, therein lies the problem. Most of how we feel about other people is in our heads, or hearts, and so it does not matter if these people exist anywhere else. We care about them, we want to know more about them, we miss them, and when it is all said and done, can we truly say anyone is more or less fictional than someone else?

Take Care,

Mike

Monday, September 28, 2009

Georgia Releases Sex Criminals Back Into the Wild!

In a rare move of compassion for their kind, the Georgia Department of Justice has decided to release sex offenders back into the wild.

MARIETTA, Ga. — A small group of homeless sex offenders have set up camp in a densely wooded area behind a suburban Atlanta office park, directed there by probation officers who say it's a place of last resort for those with nowhere else to go.

“None of them have been arrested for bestiality so we guess it’s as good as place as any around here” said an official who refused to be identified. “Who knows? With the Black Bear population rising this could be a win-win for everyone.

"It's kind of like a mind-game, it's like 'Survivor,'" said William Hawkins, a 34-year-old who said he was directed to the campsite two weeks ago after being released from prison for violating probation by failing to register as a sex offender in Georgia.

“The way we figure it”, added an official who refused to be named, “if they ever come out for a hunting season on these critters we’ve already got the best sites staked out.

He said probation officers direct them to the outpost if other options fail, such as transferring to another county or state or sending them to a relative's place that meets the requirements. Homeless shelters and halfway houses are often not an option, he said, because of the restrictions that bar them from being near children.

“Besides,” said an anonymous source, “having them camped out in the woods like this kinda gives us an idea when the next flood is coming. When we see them floating down the ‘Hooch we know we’ve got a ton a water coming down.

"The state needs to find a responsible way to deal with this problem," said Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights who represents another man living in the camp. "Requiring people to live like animals in the woods is both inhumane and a terrible idea for public safety."

There is always execution. I said that . Quote me.

Some of the homeless sex offenders living in the woods say the rugged conditions make life seem hopeless.
"I'm living like an animal. It's just bad," said Johnson, who was convicted in 2002 of child molestation. "You can't clean up, you can't clean yourself, you can't do nothing. I'd rather be dead. I'm serious. I'd rather be dead."

Even they like the idea.

"You just live for the day, you live for the moment," said Hawkins. "It's not living, though. It's surviving."

Did it occur to you there might be consequences for committing a sex crime in Georgia?

Nothing wrong with that camp a napalm strike couldn’t cure.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cancer

BJ was already a dinosaur when I met him back in 1997. He had been promoted out of the field and into management, and a lot of people thought it was long overdue. This was a man who started out at the dead bottom of the food chain in Transportation Construction and worked his way up the hard way, never skipping a step, never being helped because he was related to someone, or because he knew someone, never taking any shortcuts, and along the way, he never dropped anything he learned. Before his thirty-four years was up and he retired, BJ could have singled handedly supervised a major highway project from the ground up, without any sort of computers, college degrees, or for that matter, even so much as a pocket calculator. That was the way it was once done, when humans used their brains to think with, not merely as reference files to locate where the knowledge might be.

BJ came back as a consultant but it didn’t suit him really. He knew far too much to work for someone else, even though he did the job well. Back in 1999 he had a stint with TB, and lost a lung to it. A few months ago they found cancer in his colon, and before anything might have been done, they discovered it had spread to his lung. They did what surgery they could, and they took out what they could without an old man dying from it, but there was too much disease and not nearly enough years left. Today, he lies in a bed waiting for what will be, still determined not to lose the last fight of his life.

The few times I worked with BJ he was full of those old twenty-miles-uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow stories that we younger people roll our eyes at, but now in the end, when I see how hard it is to do the things he has done, I wonder how we will do without men such as he. When he came up through the ranks there were few laws protecting workers and sometimes they worked long hot hours with no breaks, and very little water. There was no air conditioning. There were nothing but the people you were with, hand tools, and damn little else. They carved survey lines through the woods with bush hooks. They surveyed creeks in the winter in neck deep water. They did the math for highway curves, elevations, and quantities with a pencil and a notebook, and usually they did it right the first time. They had trig charts for angles, they had levels for elevations, and they did quite well without a single piece of computerized equipment, or GPS settings.
BJ is the last of the dinosaurs. His generation could, and did, raise their own food, both produce and meat. They did their own thinking, they did their own canning, their own work, and very rarely did they ever consider there might be a better way. They’ve watched a generation come up behind they that knew less about the earth and more about the world, and they watched another come up behind that one without any idea how to figure math in their heads. All this learning the younger generations have so coveted cannot save an old dying man. The practical knowledge in his head cannot be recorded in time. There is no mechanism to reproduce what he knows, nor is there one to train anyone in such knowledge. Some would argue we have computers now, to tell us what answer is right, but I will simply say there are times a number isn’t the answer. We cannot get beans to grow from pushing a button. We cannot tell if concrete is good by looking at a computer. We cannot tell if the answer we have in front of us is correct because he have no idea of the context of the problem, or the solution. We do not live our work, we do not live the lives of our food plants, we do not breathe in the air that is shared with our farm animals, we do not understand why this is important, and we may never know.

A man lies dying in a hospital bed with his family around him, and his mind as clear and crisp as the last time I saw him upright. He proclaims himself ready and able to fight this thing off and for the first time since I met him in 1997 I know that he is dead wrong. It is an immeasurable loss to his family they lose such a dedicated and hardworking man, but for the rest of us it is an equal catastrophe , though not nearly as personal.

What will we do if our electronic world fails us? How will we tell the earth to release the lives of plants to feed us? How will we train ourselves to use tools that have no batteries? How can we know there are equations and calculation to be done if we are to built a shed, if we are used to all of that being done for us? What world will we have, if the one we have relied on for so long simply begins to shrivel and die, from if nothing else, the lack of practical learning?

BJ will die of a cancer that kills him from within, and I fear all those years we failed to learn from him will push us all towards a very similar fate.

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blakely, Again

I very rarely go back to Blakely Georgia intentionally. There isn’t any reason for me to ever be in that place again, even though my father and my youngest sister live there. She lives with my father now, after a hard landing after a hard divorce, and since my father is seventy-seven now, it is likely she will remain there for a while. Seventy-seven is old, but my father is a young seventy-seven. He still runs every day, still keep his mind active, and he’s in great shape.

A rare visit to Blakely due to work happened Tuesday, and I’ve traveled the road to that house on South Main Street thousands of times. They’ve built a by-pass around Blakely now, and some of the road names slip by me, because now they’re out of context. Arlington Avenue, South Boulevard, and Damascus Road seem familiar to me but since I’m on the by-pass it takes me a while to reckon where I am. There are new roads, new businesses, new houses, and even though there are not many of any of these, there is still enough newness for me to feel the old town slipping away from people like me. After my father dies it is very likely I will never set foot in Blakely again, unless my sister stays, and I doubt she will.



The house where my father lives is where we moved back in 1972. I hated the house then, and I hated it every day I lived there, and I still feel uneasy there. This isn’t home. If I did the math, I very likely have lived in this house for more of my life than any other but I always felt as if I did not belong there. Right now, even as I write this, I seek something in my past, my favorite memory of this place, some time of great happiness and joy, and it will not come. A kaleidoscope of images rushes through my head, but it’s hard for me to transcribe them. It is difficult for me to translate to you what this house means, what this property holds in the ground. Spike died here, and forever separated my life into two very different and distinct timelines. He’s just a bookmark in my heart, my soul, and I know if he had not been killed I would have still found that defining event in some misery, but there you have it; something would define this place, and it would not be good.

My father is outside but he doesn’t see or hear me pull up, and he goes inside. He has a cat now, the chimney is gone, the cedar tree is grown, and so much of what was is no more. I knock on the door, and one of the things I could never understand about my father is he doesn’t knock. He ploughs on ahead into my older sister’s house, or mine, as if he lives there, and truth be told, one of the habits he had when I was growing up was he never knocked before entering a bedroom. I have often wondered if my constant need for privacy stems from the fact I grew up without any.

It’s a good visit. We do have good conversations sometimes. He’s surprised to see me, and that helps, I think. I saw him just August, but my father looks older. The economic downturn has worried him more than a little. The stock he has owned for years and years is now worth less than what it was when he bought it cheap. His retirement plan cut his health benefits citing some contractual mistake. A daughter he put through college is now working as a receptionist. His oldest daughter’s children, his grandchildren, are no longer interested in weekend visits, so his world is getting smaller. His friends are all dead, or dying. This is the first time I’ve seen him as this old, and it’s disconcerting.

There is still a lot of who I once knew in him, however. He insists I got visit my sister at work, but I cannot, really. Oh, then you have to call her, you have to tell her you’re in town! As if I cannot call her when she is off work tonight? He picks up the phone to call her, speaks with her employer, and then hands the phone to me. Old habits die hard, and he just cannot accept the idea of any of his kids telling him no. I hang the phone up while he isn’t looking and I tell him she will call him back later. It’s the way too many of my visits here have ended, with my father insisting to do something, just before I leave, as if there is no way to simply say good-bye and that be that. “What’s your rush?” he said for years anytime anyone began to leave, and it always sounded like an accusation. The drive back has always been a long drive.

I’m sitting at a table at the Y watching people. A solider comes in, in combat uniform, that weird computer generated urban warfare battle dress. He’s from Moody Air force base, just outside Valdosta and I can tell he puts a lot of effort into his uniform. “Buckley” reads his nametag, and he’s a grim looking guy, hardened by years in the service. I wonder why he’s there, and why he’s waiting, when a little boy comes out of the pool area and Buckley immediately softens. The change in the man’s face is truly dramatic. This is his son, and Buckley has missed him, even if it was for just a day. A younger daughter shows up a moment later and Buckley has his family back. “Mom’s waiting for us, let’s go!” he encourages them. He holds hands with each of them, and leads them out of the building.

It strikes me my father had that same look on his face when he saw me this morning, and I have to leave the building. I haven’t seen that look in decades, and I know it’s because he’s finally run out of other people to rely on. His friends, those people who were always so much better and more important than me, are dead. His grandchildren are growing up and do not want to visit. All those years, all those decades of feeling as if I was some sort of strange growth he couldn’t quite cut out of his life entirely are gone now that there is no one else left. My father is a tired and lonely old man, who is finally happy to see me again.

Take Care,

Mike

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Freight Trains, Fire Ants, and Yoga

The Yoga Instructor at the Y is this slim and smiling young woman who has that inner serenity thing going. She glides through moves that for me to be in that sort of position it’s going to involve me driving a VW Bug that gets hit by a log truck at high speed. I suspect she has no solid bones in her body, just rubber bands and whatever they used to construct Gumby, dammit.

Usually we do Yoga inside where there are mirrors and I can pretty much tell what I supposed to be doing, even if I can’t do it. But the Yoga Mistresses is a calm being, and she doesn’t rush us, doesn’t point out I have the flexibility of an anvil, and she has that soothing voice thing going so even if I’m not doing anything at all right, I can at least try without worrying that the instructor is thinking, “Geez, is that guy rusty as hell or what?” I’m not the worst of the lot in the class, mind you. There are some folks there who aren’t going to get much better until they do a lot of work, but there are people there who seem to be able to tie themselves in knots I never knew existed. The young women, who I would be admiring greatly were I knot in pain, seem to be made of some ethereal fluid. Pay attention, American girls, the women from India have got a very big jump on you. They discovered Yoga a very long time ago.
But the Yoga Mistress wanted to try doing the class outside, by the pool, and it seemed to be a wonderful plan. Then again, any young woman in great shape who can tie herself into a double knot, and still sound serene isn’t going to have a hard time talking me into anything. Oh, let’s go do the class in the middle of I-75 at midnight dressed in black while covered in napalm. YEAH! Sounds great to me! Any guy who tells you he isn’t affected at all by an attractive young woman tying herself into a double knot while carrying on a conversation is someone you need to speak with about interior design.
My downfall yesterday began in spinning class, though I didn’t realize it. Spinning is being in what is actually a large closet with a dozen other people on stationary bikes. Fifty minutes of that, particularly with the Spinning Instructor we’ve come to know and love as “Fifty Minutes of Pure Hell Stoked By Loud Music and Hard Seats”, wait, that’s rather long, but the class is brutal. I think it ought to be. Why bother to work out if you’re not going to feel it? Pain is change entering your body, and the Biker Chick is all about work and pain and change. You have to admire someone who can push people that hard every class, every day, given she’s working out in what is essentially a closet.
So after fifty minutes of spinning the Yoga class outside seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of distractions outside, but I brought them all inside of me to use them to focus on what was. The clouds, the sky, and a crescent moon overhead were the classroom. My body no more, or no less a part of the Universe as all this, and my breathing was the rhythm that defined it all. Breathe, and let muscles relax into the breath. Breathe, and teach your body, and you mind it can let go. Breathe, and suddenly there was no train. There were no kids in the pool. There were no taxes, no flu, no war, no misery on earth at all, just a moment in time, this moment in time, this very moment in time, and breathe. My body becomes one with my breath, and time stops, and the pain stops, and all there is in the Universe can be defined by the motion of my body in time. There are no more hours or days or years. Time is breath. The Universe is rhythm. The Yoga Mistresses is a soft voice, a metronome of instruction, and I seem to hear her just after I begin a move.

That is, until the first fireant bit me. Unknown to me, there was, and likely still is, a great shortage of salt within the local fireant hives. Having had the sweat rung out of me by the biker chick, the fireants quickly concluded anything that moved as poorly as myself must be dying, and after all I was already seasoned with salt, so bon app├ętit! I tried to ignore them, and become one with the Universe again, but they were relentless, and legion. For every one I managed to mangle during the latest Down Dog, a dozen more appeared for the funeral, and for more salt. During cool down I could hear them marching, endless streams of living stingers, all of them coming for me, and…

Wait, isn’t Yoga supposed to relax me?

This morning I could only find three bites so the rest of that was pure paranoia. I did manage most of the class without distraction, so maybe I can will the fireants away next time, or not be so sweaty. Maybe if I get into the pool right before class, they’ll fear the Chlorine. Either way, the freight train that came through did disappear into my mind, as part of the Universe, as did most everything else. The fireants, as painful as they are, play their part also. Yoga isn’t about comfort, or perfection, or being able to tie yourself in a double knot, but it’s more about getting your mind and your body to accept what they can do together, and acceptance of the human world as irrelevant to that.

Namaste,
Mike

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Relation Too.

When I was nineteen I met a couple whose favorite pastime was fist fighting. I’m serious. They fought like cats and dogs on meth. There wasn’t a single unbroken window in their apartment, and they didn’t own a glass ashtray. They key was to know when they were about to erupt, and to get the hell out of the apartment before they exploded. A newcomer waded into the fray once to save her from him and they both jumped on him. There is a reason the cops rather pull duty on a bank robbery with crazed zombies leaping out of spaceships than domestic disturbance.

A friend of mine works for a vet’s office and one of the people who patronize their business is a couple famous for the fight where she shot him in the chest with a gun. Rightfully fearing the law might not understand this was something just between the two of them they didn’t report the crime for a couple of day and then they realized being shot in the chest was not the same as throwing a shoe at someone. Accidental discharge was the final word on it, and the two are still happily crazy in love, apparently.

I really miss my friend who was a public defender because not only did he get the very best stories of the very worst people but he was also a divorce lawyer. Man, you gotta love that combo. There was the man who was arrested for rape for having sex with his sister in law while she was passed out in his bed. His defense was he thought it was his wife. Understandable, except the part where having sex with your wife while she is passed out is also rape, except she testified that was how they had sex mostly, in as much as she could remember it. But then the sister in law suddenly claims it was all a set up anyway, and she and her sister were looking for a way to get rid of the guy, except she kinda like the sex and wanted to keep him if her sister didn’t want him. These two lovebirds would pop up on the radar screen again, when the new wife who was once the sister in law wound up in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder when he tried to flip her over as she was handcuffed to the bed. Yes, once again, alcohol was involved.



There is a guy we know here at the office who is a registered sex offender and still married to the woman who he was accused of molesting when she was thirteen. He was eighteen and a senior in High School, she was in the eighth grade, and they were neighbors. They liked each other, started having sex got caught, he went to jail, and after he got out, they started dating again and got married. Now he’s thirty-one, she’s twenty-six, and they have three kids. He’s still a registered sex offender, by the way.

We also have a married guy who is dating his ex-wife and his current wife knows about it. We think they ought to move to Utah and get it over with, but like the elephant in the room, no one talks about it.



None of this beats the woman from my hometown who held up her handcuffed hands to the pizza delivery man and mouthed the words “Call 911!”. She was partially hidden behind a sofa, and when the cops burst into the cabin, they arrested the rapist who had held her captive for the weekend. Except the two were dating, had planned the trip for a while, and she had done this to two other guys in the past. The real killer was the video feed from a gas station that showed her in the car alone, slinking down to hide from someone walking by. That her telling her friend she was going off for a weekend of kinky sex with her married boyfriend, who by the way, isn’t so married anymore.



The real award for the oddest of couples is the man who backed over his girlfriend with a motor grader during a spat. A motor grader isn’t exactly the weapon of choice for angered men, but it was the one he used at this time. Oddly enough, once he flattened the poor woman out like so much road kill, he immediately realized the error of his ways and called an ambulance. He also left out the part where he did it on purpose. Once she came out of the coma, he proposed, and we can only assume the meds were talking when she said yes. Incredibly, this was over twenty years ago and the two are still happily married, even if she is a little slower on the uptake now.



As someone who was married for 989 days, I find it hard to believe the stuff will go through and still stay together. There was no shooting, handcuff injuries or heavy equipment assaults in my ill-fated relationship, yet those 989 days seemed like seventeen dog years to me, and likely even longer to her as far as I know. Yet here these people are, well, not the woman who cried rape when she was just crazy and kinky, but the others are all still together. It may be all of this, other than the crazed and kinky pathological liar, is a testament to the overwhelmingly strong bond love can form between two people. It could be all of this is evidence that love truly conquers all, except pathologically lying about being kidnapped and raped. Or it could be there are people who are so terribly flawed they have to find someone just as flawed to be happy. That’s the one I’m banking on, by the way, because the idea I have to find someone as weird as myself means I’ve got a lot more looking to do, and I have to hope she doesn’t have a pair of handcuffs and 911 on her speed dial.



Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Slow Ahead

Tallokas Road winds northward through Brooks County towards Colquitt County like a paved yoga master. It twists and turns, bends and curves its way through field country and lowlands alike. This is the road I take to Moultrie every morning from Quitman, or at least eight miles out of Quitman where Tallokas is born from the Barwick Road. I’ve heard it’s actually a left over from the old native trails that were used long before the Europeans invaded this land, but there is no way to know if this is true. People tend to assign those in the past with similar motives as those in the present day, but we cannot guess as to why the former inhabitants of this land would chose to go from one place to another. We are members of a linear and driven society, a nation of readers and writers, and of keepers, while they were rememberers and storytellers, and a people who lived within the land.
I think about these things on Tallokas Road, and sometimes I wonder if something will happen and this road might one revert back to wilderness, or be transformed in some unexpected way. It’s not a well maintained road, with farming equipment and trucks nibbling at the edges and rutting the shoulders. It’s the farming equipment that causes this conversation, because there is a massive tractor pulling a peanut trailer, and I slow down to take stock of the situation. Because it’s foggy, and because I have no desire to die in traffic, however light, I drive slow on Tallokas Road. There are few places with sight distance enough to pass to begin with. It’s early, foggy, and I realize I might make the rest of the trip at forty miles an hour. It’s a good five or six miles before the intersection of Tallokas and US 122, so I settle down to watch the twin flashing red lights of the truck behind the trailer, being pulled by the tractor, and wonder what might happen to this civilization, to affect it as we affected the natives here. As unexpected as we were them, what will happen to us might be equally unprepared for, and the results may well be the same.

I’m pathologically punctual so I’m not worried about losing time behind the tractor. I have fifteen minutes to spare, I have coffee, and I have my MP3 player loaded with classical music. Another truck pulls up behind me, passes me, and now he’s stuck behind the truck that is behind the trailer being pulled by the tractor. I drop back a hundred yards r so because if these people wreck I want to be as far away as I can be and still be moving. Just as I am beginning to zone out a car falls in behind me, and this guy gets so close I can smell his breath.

I call it “The Anti-Pass”. I pull over into the other land and simply brake until the person riding on my bumper passes me. I then pull back behind the jerk and drift back a few car lengths. Meanwhile, he’s trapped behind the truck that is trapped behind the truck that is behind the trailer being pulled by the tractor. Because the trailer is wide, and the tractor is even wider, anyone wanting to pass has to pop out into the other lane to see oncoming traffic. I watch as they ride the centerline trying to get a glimpse of the future. Tallokas is bendy and curvy and you shall not pass!
Two more vehicles get behind me and I pull over to let them join the circus. If the guy in the tractor had any good will towards men he would pull over but he doesn’t. US 122 is only a mile away, and anyone traveling this road has to know this, but everyone is dying to get that one car length ahead. One guy pulls out and actually passes the truck that is behind the trailer. Now he’s really screwed. If this trip lasted another ten miles I’m certain there would be gunfire involved.

At 122 the tractor and the truck with the flashing lights who is no longer behind it pulls over into the parking lot of a store, if for no other reason than to save lives. Like sprinters hearing the sound of starting gun, the no longer trapped trucks and two cars dash ahead, as if they were carrying wounded to the hospital. It’s fifteen miles to Moultrie from here, and it’s still foggy. I settle down to a fifty-five mile an hour pace, and drift back into the comfort of the music. There is one good spot to pass, about five miles ahead, a place I refer to as Sleepy Hollow, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to look like the exodus of the Clampetts from Egypt. All these guys trapped behind the trailer are going to all try to get ahead of one another, and only the fact I have no true cruel streak in me prevents me from call the Sheriff’s Office and getting them to set up a speed trap.

Of all the horror on the road this time of year, a school bus is the most wicked, and sure enough, a couple of miles past Sleepy Hollow the same line of trucks and two cars are once again trapped like rats, albeit rats moving at fifty miles an hour minus stops for children who seem to take real joy in slow motion bus boarding. I catch up with the circus about five miles out from Moultrie and it isn’t until they reach the intersection of Veteran’s Parkway and Tallokas Road they are finally free at last. And me? I poke along at the speed limit, catching up to the desperate travelers at almost every light.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rainbow Over Hickory Head

Hurricane Season...going....going.....

Whenever there is a flood or a tornado or something like that, I get drafted to help FEMA sort through the mess so I keep an eye on what’s going on in the tropics. The National Hurricane Center and I are good friends, or at least I give them more than my share of website hits. It’s been a very slow, abnormally slow season this year, and I for one am happy with this. The peak of the season was a week ago, and now, even though Hurricane Season technically lasts until November, the environmental conditions for hurricanes are becoming hostile to the development of the big storms and unfavorable for the smaller ones.
Before I sell myself off as being some sort of expert let me tell you my favorite hurricane story. In early August of 2006, Tropical Storm Chris was churning its way towards Hispaniola and everyone who was anyone in weather was saying if this thing gets into the Gulf of Mexico, it’s going to be another Katrina. Everyone who was anyone in weather was saying on Friday this thing would be a monster by Monday and no one in the Northern Hemisphere was safe from it. Georgia, Florida, the Gulf Coast states and New Mexico made plans to evacuate, and I was told to get ready to go wherever Chris led. Well, on Monday the National Hurricane Center seemed to have misplaced Chris. They looked for Chris everywhere even under the cushions of the couch, but the Tropical storm had not sprung into a hurricane but rather dissipated into a remnant low. The experts then proceeded to explain how they had totally fumbled this one, but I was laughing too hard to listen.

I was also relieved.

Whatever the experts have, I have next to nothing in comparison, but I do keep up with where the tropical waves pop up, where they are headed, and what they are doing on the way there. One factor that makes a big difference in how big a storm gets is sea surface temperatures. The Weather Channel sows a new map each day for the Gulf Of Mexico seas surface temperatures and I save the map to my hard drive. I have a few hundred of them now. It’s about this time each season the Gulf waters begin to cool, and environmentally speaking, the odds of a Killer Hurricane begin to diminish.

Watch the low temperatures for the day in the northern states where the Mississippi River begins and you’ll see cooler weather beginning then start a slow march South. The heat holds during the day, and doesn’t dip at much at night in Memphis and everywhere downstream from there, but the Mississippi is still going to dump a trillion gallons of cooler water into the Gulf each day. The Gulf absorbs this easily, as long as the high temperatures stay up, and they do stay up until late August, but this year the heat never got that hot, and the rain clouds blocked out the sun for the latter part of the month. The last part of August and the first two weeks of September saw a steady flat line forecast of upper eighties as a high and upper sixties as a low. The Gulf waters were not going to cool down at this rate, but they also were not going to warm up. Slowly, but undeniably, the days began to shorten. The daytime blast of heat that last fourteen hours in June began to even out towards September and now the day rules for less than a quarter of an hour longer than the night. The earth tilts away from the sun’s radiation and the heat is less intense. Down go the temperatures in the north. Down comes the cooler water in the Mississippi. Down come the lows in the South. Down come the highs. The map that once was color coded with a deep dark blood red indicated temperatures in the middle and upper eighties now begin to pale just a bit. The dead center of the Gulf is still very warm but the coolness from the fresh water tributaries are beginning to push towards the sea. Even if a hurricane forms it must deal with this stumbling block of cooler water, and that is a death sentence for tropical storms.

Since June, I’ve watched the maps and watched as the odds began to slowly stack against me, but each low that form was torn apart by shearing winds, or was blown back into the middle of the Atlantic. I’ve watched the Gulf get warmer and warmer and warmer day by day yet no storms came to life there, and none made it into the Gulf, to be transformed into a Monster. July came and went. August has been gone for seventeen days now. Less than two weeks are left in September and it seems as if this Hurricane Season will pass without so much as a strong wind in my general direction. It’s not impossible for a hurricane, and a strong one, to form, and then charge dead center into my life, but it’s now becoming less likely with each passing day. The high temperatures are getting lower as are the lows. The days are about to be shorter than the nights. The Mighty Mississippi is dumping tons and tons of cooler water into a Gulf that is being fed no more warm water and less sunlight each day.
For the first time since June, I actually feel hope.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, September 18, 2009

Low Places

Musical taste is subjective to a degree most do not understand. A finger painting by your kid on the refrigerator door may be your favorite painting in all the world, but at some level you realize it isn’t great art. On the other hand, people seem to believe there is something special and holy about the music they like, and conversely, they thing some types of music they do not like is an example of pure trash.
People, on the other hand, are not likeable animals as a group, and I find some individuals totally in comparison with rap music or the latest top hit by the latest big busted silicone singer. I had a neighbor in Valdosta who lived across the vacant lot in back of my apartment named Mike Jennings, and we hated each other. I have no idea where animosity came from but from the time we met until the last time I saw him, in handcuffs and being led to jail, we flat didn’t like each other.
Some of this stemmed from Mike’s dog being stolen, and he accused me of doing it. I didn’t steal the dog. Where would I put a hundred pound Rott? People in apartments ought not to own large dogs, and when I expressed this opinion to him, in his mind, it was a confession I had something to do with it. SO when Mike called me on a Thursday and invited me to a kegger, I was suspicious. He told me there would be women there, and food, and oh by the way, did I know anyone with any pot? It kinda pissed me off he was just inviting me because he knew I knew someone who smoked pot, and I told him I really didn’t. He seemed a little pissed at that, and by the end of the conversation we hated each other a little more.

I didn’t go to the party, and when I got home that night it was still in full bloom. This is where the music part comes in. There was a country song that went viral at that time, and the name of the song was “Low Places”. The people at the party were singing this song, poorly. The first few times it was funny, because there was one guy, and I’ll go to my grave thinking it was Mike Jennings, singing so far off key it hurt. But they kept singing. And singing. And singing. They must have sang that song two dozen times, and they could not be stopped. Finally, someone called the cops to them, and still they sang. The second time the cops showed up that put a stop to it, but by then it was three in the morning, and I had gotten quite sick of hearing that song.

The next morning I got up early, as I always do, and I was pissed about having to stay up late and listen to their low places song, so I went over to Mike’s place. He had pulled his car, which was actually his girl friend’s car up into the alley, and behind it was the car of a woman named Easy Mel, for reasons that are perfectly clear. That meant that Mike’s girlfriend was out of town. I eased into the back door of the apartment and there wasn’t a soul upright. There were people sleeping on the floor, on chairs, and three or four on the sofas. I picked up the phone, dialed 911 and said in my best drunken voice, “%$#@ you, my house is on fire, get your @$$ over here, I can’t get the damn thing to go out.” And then I left the phone lying there. I went over to where the breaker box was and flipped all the breakers down and walked out the back door. On the way down the alley I discovered the keys were still in Easy Mel’s car so I took them out and threw them on top of Mike’s apartment. Then I went home to watch the show.

The police and fire trucks got there at the same time and they had a hell of a time getting anyone to answer the door, and when Mike finally did get up, he discovered there were firemen and police wanting to get into his apartment, and they were not happy men. With the electricity off, they assumed there was something wrong. Mike was still very drunk, as were most of the people there, and the police was shouting and screaming for the cars to be moved so they would get the fire truck closet to the house. Mike’s girlfriend’s car was blocking the alley, as was Easy Mel’s car, and no one could find the keys.

A thing or two bout cops: Law enforcement officers like things to go smoothly. They dislike disorder. They dislike things going wrong and generally speaking, when things do go wrong, they look for someone to blame. Whatever else you do, you are not going to tell them they’ve made a mistake and they need to go away. Apparently, Mike tried this, and it turned out very poorly. Mike spun off when he was moving his car, and when he came back the cops gave him a field sobriety test. Oops! The other party goers who had to move their cars also were harassed as well. Easy Mel’s car got towed and she was screaming pissed about it.

The next night all was quiet in my part of the world. Mike got bailed out but he wasn’t in the mood for music so it seemed. The aftermath of the party was someone there had accused Mike of trying to get the party goers out before his girlfriend got back, and he had called the fire in. The cops believed it was him, and he was charged with making a false alarm. It did come from his phone, and who else would have done it?

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Going Green

If you wish to see green then a good place to start would be Hickory Head, and a good time to be here would be the middle of July. Let there be frequent showers in the first part of July and what follows will be an exhibition of green as if the color has been rocketed into a state of advanced evolution with a million new species spawned each time the sunlight reflects off another raindrop. The green of the somber Oak is not the same green as found living within the underrated Chinaberry Tree. The green of the anole is not the green of the invisible green snake. The thick and bramble of the fence rows compliments but does not blend in with the green of the field. Green is the lifeblood of all living plants, but each and every species reinvents green and makes it its very own.

I have recently decided, after much inner debate, and more than a few stiff Scotch on the rocks, South Georgia is heavily populated with people who believe my Green Theory applies not only to vegetation of all sorts, but also to inanimate objects in general, and in particular the ubiquitous traffic signal. Why just this morning there was a woman on her cell phone, and apparently she had called someone to ask if the light was the correct shade of green for her to advance. Did Cedar Green mean the same as, let’s say, Magnolia Green? Were the various shades of green that exists out in the wild somehow indicative of whether or not a car might pass through an intersection without harm? Obviously, this is a subject that many, many, many, many, people must have.

As someone who enjoys nature, works in traffic, and who must share the highways with people whose misinterpretation of traffic devices and traffic laws are legendary and the subject of many essays, I would like to share a small bit of instruction with everyone.

Green means go.

Kelly Green, Hunter Green, Lily Pad Green, yes, were you trapped in the Amazon River basin, nearly any color green seen would suffice to prompt a driver to move forward. Let there be no ambiguity. Let doubt be erased. Let the cell phone conference calls cease. For the love of Henry Ford, let the cell phone calls cease.

Green means go.



Take Care,
Mike

Monday, September 14, 2009

Spider in the rain, two

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Spider in the Rain

Pack Dynamics....don't forget your toothbrush!

Bert and Sam have always been a good mix. Sam was in such horrible shape when Bert found him there was a good month or so before he even started acting like a puppy. Bert was an only dog, eighteen months old and still very much a puppy himself. Sam was as much a threat to Bert as a heavy dewfall, or a formation of attack butterflies. It was a few months before they had any serious fights. Sam didn’t have the mass to fight Bert, and Bert wasn’t inclined to take on a dog who was that near death. Both were so young they accepted my position as pack leader, and they accepted other humans as social superiors.

When Sam bit me a few weeks ago it was an accident, but it was an accident with serious consequences and very serious implications. Sam is flawed. Sam’s world is still shaped by the deprivation he suffered as a puppy, and his personality is cast in iron by what he’s been through. Happy go lucky Sam, the dog who adores women and loves everyone, is the same dog that bit my thumb to the bone when he was trying to kill Lucas. The dynamics of Sam’s world has been changed, by me, and it’s my responsibility to address this change, and understand it for what it means.
I was going spend Saturday night off, and come back Sunday, then I realized it would mean either leaving Lucas alone with Sam overnight, which I thought would be okay, or it would mean having someone to come look in on the dogs, which made me stop and think about what would happen next. Bert and Sam have an extended family of sorts with Elbow, but how is Sam going to react when Elbow and Lucas meet for the first time? I really do not think Sam would attack Elbow, but I didn’t think I was going to get bit. If Sam attacked Lucas, and Elbow tried to intervene, what would Bert do? Bert truly and honestly believes he is in charge when I’m gone and so far it’s worked out very well for everyone. The fact he sat it out when Sam and I was having an intense discussion on pack hierarchy and manned canine flight tells me he isn’t at all interested in getting into that argument with me. Now I have to figure out where he stands when I’m not there. And I have to know what Sam is going to do.
Elbow has a larger pack than I do, and she’s got dogs with as much mass as mine. Still, she’s raised her dogs differently than mine, and I actually got zapped by Frank, her Border Collie, when I was trying to break up a fight between him and Theo, the ancient black Lab. It was an incidental wound, not a true bite, and Frank didn’t mean it. But you see, that’s the thing; the blood is real no matter the intent.
The pack dynamics have changed in my very own home and I have to sort this thing out. Firmly, but fairly and gently, I’ve got to let everyone know there will not be any more bloodshed. Fighting is not allowed. Snarling and snapping has to stop. However it is to be decided, nothing else is going to be decided by violence, and I am going to kill the next dog that does something like that. Oops. That sends the wrong message.

That’s the real problem. I’ve got to make sure everyone knows what I want without letting them think hitting and shouting is the answer. When I set out to get a new puppy I wanted to shake everyone out of their comfort zone.

Be careful for what you wish.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Elliptical Orbits

The accusation that I’m a exhaustion junkie has been tossed my way more than once. I would like to think at the end of the day a person ought to be tired. It has to be a good tired, a sort of weariness that is earned through working hard, not stress. I went to the Y today and rode the elliptical machine for an hour, and found some sense of clarity.

The elliptical is sometimes referred to as the cross country ski machine because that’s what it looks like you’re doing, and as far as low impact cardio it doesn’t get much better than this. I can set it up high, and after about fifteen minutes my mind begins to wind down a bit. The images of most traveling are lost to us on a day to day basis, and we never stop to think the houses we pass have people in them, and those people have lives, and those lives are as personal to those people as our own is to us. As we pass they may see the vehicles, or hear the traffic noises, but do they ever stop to think there are real people passing by, and there are lives being lived, as traffic passes?

The Mower Woman lives about five miles from me on US 221, and she mows the yards for herself, and about three other people. She’s not a young woman, but there she is each Spring, Summer, and Autumn, riding her mower close to the road to get the edge cut, and pushing a push mower around in the ditch where her riding mower cannot go. She had a dog at one time, a medium sized brown mutt with white feet, but I haven’t seen him in at least two years. She’s still mowing, and was today. I have no idea who she might be. Closer to home, just a couple of miles away there was a man mowing grass where there is usually a woman in the mower. I’ve often wondered why overweight people do not get a push mower, and this woman fills the seat of her grass cutter something fierce. Is the man her new husband or boyfriend? Is she dead? Did she move? Is she in the hospital?

I have my earbuds in but I’m not really tuned into the football game. The old man on the machine beside me is into it, and he’s one of those people who talk to the television while he’s watching a game. “Come on!” “Oh god no!” “You idiot!” Go! Go! Go!” There’s an endless monologue as his team does well, doesn’t do well, or if it’s just a game. Who is this guy? He looks to be seventy but he’s working pretty good. He leaves and a little blonde woman with a cell phone takes his place. She works out just long enough to irritate me. She’s one of those people who see going to the gym as a social function. She puts on make, wears perfume, takes her cell phone with her, and when she’s actually on a machine it’s on the lowest setting. She lasts every bit of ten minutes and then tells her cell buddy she’ll be there as soon as she takes a shower.
There are three elliptical machine, and I’ve got t6he one in the middle. Two women come in, both more than a little pudgy, and they’ve got the look of two friends who joined the gym together as some sort of mutual moral support. Both are wearing new sweats and new shoes, and they are totally lost as what to do next. They play on the rowing machine but can’t seem to get the hang of it. I think they both made a pact not to get near the treadmills because they never got near the treadmills. I was zoning when one of them came over to me and said, “Will you move over?”
“Do you know how to operate this machine?” I asked.
“No.” She didn’t look like she cared much for me not moving.
“I’ve got this one set on distance.” I tell her. “If I move I lose my distance, my pace, and my rhythm. If you don’t know how to operate it, then me moving isn’t going to help you.” None of this is true. I just do not feel like moving and she wasn’t polite. “But if you’ll get on the machine I will teach you how to use it.”
They giggle too much to be serious about this. They choose the lowest setting and then go very fast until they burn out. That takes a full minute. One of them watches me, sets the resistance up a bit, and hits a stride. “Breathe” I tell her. “Let your breathing and the exercise complement one another. Find a good steady pace and let your body go with the flow, but first you’ve got to regulate your breathing.”
“Okay.” She’s already panting but slows down and catches her breath. Her friend is watching this and she’s trying to start a conversation across the machines. Great. A talker. The Talker is the one who wanted me to move, and now that her friend is actually exercising, she feels left out. The Talker feels slighted and gets off the machine and suggests to her friend they try something else. The woman agrees, but I can tell she wants to stay. I’ll see her here again, and I’m betting her friend won’t be with her.

An hour slowly ebbs away and I walk a mile just to cool off. Now I’m tired. The weekend is almost over, but all I have to do now is rest a while, and write. More people have passed in and out of my life today, and maybe I’ll get to meet one or two of them later. But on the drive home I realize I’m just passing through their lives, much like I’m just passing through my own.

Take Care,
Mike

What do you mean it isn't a chew toy? It fits in my mouth!

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

World, Lucas, Lucas, World.

An unschooled Weimaraner is trouble. Everyone I’ve spoken to about the breed has repeated this like a mantra, so I’ve been leash training Lucas almost every day. Come with me. Sit. Stop. No pulling. Puppy on the left. Stop. Sit. Come with me. Hurry. Stop. Sit. Come with me. Sit. I’ve very intentionally left the older dogs out with us when I’m walking Luke so he will realize there isn’t any other governing authority or outside influence on what he’s supposed to be doing. If Bert and Sam take off after a squirrel it changes nothing as to what he’s supposed to be doing. I had to add a choke collar because Lucas would gladly dance at the end of a leash with a normal collar. I’ve grabbed him by the throat and forced him to lie down when he got weird with me on walks. Come with me. Sit. Stop. No pulling. Puppy on the left. Stop. Sit. Come with me. Hurry. Stop. Sit. Come with me. Sit.



I’m lavish with my praise for Lucas when he does well, and he’s come to realize these walks in the woods are going to go the way I’ve told him they’re going. He’s stopped pulling, learned to sit when we stop, and learned to run with me when I say “Hurry!” So today I took him to the big pet market at the Mall to see exactly how I’ve done with Lucas. I choose that store because they let dogs in, and the place is always full of mutt people. I’ve never actually shopped there but I do go there to met new dogs. Yeah, I am weird like that, thanks!



There seem to be two kinds of dogs; those who travel well and those who travel hell. Short of using a tranquilizer gun you will not put Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound into a vehicle, or a crate. Not. No. Negative. Not going to happen. You think it’s a problem trying to get him into a vehicle, try getting him to settle down if you do get him in. A seventy pound dog who ricochets off the windshield from the inside of a truck moving at sixty miles an hour is predominately a bad thing. The last time Sam was in a vehicle he was dumped and left to die. Sam aims to go down swinging this time.



Lucas settles down on his towel and dozes while we travel down the road. He tried to get into my lap once, I told him no, and that was that. Once we got to Valdosta, I put the leash on him, but not the choke collar. I am not about to have Lucas go off the deep end on me at the damn Mall and people think I treat him poorly. If he acts up I’ll just scoop him up and walk out with him. The sight of a dog pulling against a choke collar is never pretty, and I’ve always wondered what kind of owner couldn’t communicate any better with their dog than that. I got Lucas out of the truck and he sat in awe of the world.



We parked near a grass island so I could do just this, sit with Lucas until he settled down a bit, and he watched all the cars and people with great curiosity. When I told him, “Come with me” the training kicked in and he walked with me just as we did back home. “Stop” and he stopped at the edge of the parking lot. “Hurry!” and we ran across the traffic lanes. “Stay with me” and Lucas stopped pulling to get to the first dog he saw. Into the store we went, and Lucas passed into Nirvana.



Lucas wasn’t perfect and I didn’t expect him to be. He pulled towards new dogs and friendly people. I had to reel him in close and hold him until he calmed down, but honestly, things went much better than I could have ever hoped. Luke stayed at my side most of the time, was very receptive to people getting close and socializing with him, and he didn’t react when a little Yorkie tried to attack him. He was really good with children, and I liked that. Lucas met his first Great Dane, and you should have seen the look on his face. I bought him a new collar because he’s already begun to outgrow the little dead dog collar from Fargo. Luke was really good at the checkout, and when we left the store I was totally and completely thrilled at how well be behaved.



We went to Elbow’s house for more socialization, and things were a little weird with Elbow’s little rat dog, but in the end they played together well, and Lucy, the one hundred pound Great Pyrenees seemed to like him. The horses, on the other hand, reacted poorly to a new puppy so I had to take Lucas back home though no fault of his own.



All in all, I give my little puppy an A+ for his first field trip into civilization. I was very proud of how he conducted himself around strangers. He didn’t jump up on anyone, and he didn’t bite playfully as he does with me. The kids loved him, and he didn’t act with aggression towards other dogs. Whatever else might be said about Weimaraners once they do get some training they are truly great dogs to travel with!



Take Care,

Mike

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Day Is It?




http://www.fdnylodd.com/9-11-Never-Forget/Memorials/Blood-Of-Heroes.html

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lucas Swallowed an Entire Paper Towel!

I wiped down the stove because I had spilt some chicken grease on it and then I was going to throw the paper towel into the little trash can where I keep the biodegradable stuff. It’s a neat littler trash can, the type you can step on a lever with your foot and the top opens up. There has to be a name for this sort of trash can but I have no idea what it might be, mind you. Anyway, so I toss the paper towel into the trash can, and take my foot off the lever and it occurs to me something did not go as planned.

Okay, I first check for the paper towel on the floor, but it isn’t there. I thought maybe I had released the lever too soon, but there wasn’t anything on the floor but Lucas, who was licking his lips. Huh. Okay, check left hand…empty. Check right hand…empty. Check trash can…empty. Not on floor, not in hand, not in can, well, that leaves but one place in can be, and Lucas is licking his lips.



The last time Lucas and I had to have some sort of intense but needed conflict Sam for involved and there was serious bloodshed. The blood was mine, of course, but things got ugly quick and I didn’t much like it. I called a friend of mine who works with a vet and she wasn’t in. I called my vet and she didn’t answer. Screw it. I straddle Lucas and stuck my fingers down his throat, and then reached over and popped Sam for coming in to see what was going on. Bert sits this out. Whenever there is human- to- canine conflict Bert looks for the geographic location which will put as much distance between himself and the conflict. Bert is neither a puppy nor is he a fool. The last conflict ended very poorly for everyone involved. Bert alone remained unscathed. Bert goes two for two.



I didn’t hit Sam hard because I didn’t think it was necessary. After Sam’s flying lesson when he bit me while he was attacking Lucas, I know damn well a repeat performance isn’t needed. Still, I cannot have Sam getting close enough to Lucas that I have to worry what will happen next. Everyone! Into the next area code, please! Sam backs off and woofs at me. Great. Now, suddenly, Sam is an advocate for Lucas. Sam is coming in to protect Lucas from me, and by the way, Lucas doesn’t like me trying to extract a paper towel from him. Oh, wipes and it leaves, yes, that joke occurred to me, but intestinal blockage also came to mind. I get thepaper towel out and once again, Sam is woofing at me. Sam likes order. Sam craves order. Sam considers lack of order to be a threat. Sam looks at the playbook and there are few options as to how to handle disorder. Violence, apparently, has been ruled out due to the utter failure of the last attempt. Noise is being tried now, and it is also failing.



Just a little short of three weeks ago Sam nearly killed Lucas. Had my thumb not been in the way, who knows what would have happened? Now, as soon as I get the paper towel out of Lucas, he goes straight to Sam, and Sam snuffles him as if he’s making sure Lucas is okay.



Just short of three weeks ago I was ready to trade Lucas off just to keep him alive, and now, the very dog I was worried might kill him, has become his protector, and Lucas has become Sam’s shadow.



Each new dog is a lesson to be learned.



Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fog Over Hickory Head

Night Spider

The Sky Above My Head, In the back Yard, at Sunset

The End Of A Season

Last night was the first night since the last part of May the windows were opened to the night air. For over one hundred days I’ve been boxed in, with no frog sounds, no cricket sounds, and no night breeze to help me sleep. The humidity began to wan at sunset, and by ten it was down close to seventy-five degrees, which is five degrees lower than I keep the AC thermostat. With the humidity gone, if felt almost cool. Not quite cool, mind you, but not muggy warm and sticky.

It’s been a remarkably mild Summer. We had one week of triple digit weather and since then it’s been mid to upper nineties up until the last part of August. It’s 93 right now, but it won’t hold for very long, and this may very well be the last hot day we have this year. Solstice is just two weeks away, and that usually is a good time to start looking for some truly cool weather, at least at night. The big spiders who show up about this time every year are already weaving their webs on the porch. The autumn vines are snaking their way onto everything standing still and upwards. The corn is gone, and only the peanuts and cotton remain.

I mowed the yard today and that was after not mowing it for over two weeks. That’s a sign right there things green are going. Usually two weeks means I have to plan on at least thirty more minutes of cutting time but today there was less grass than the last time. The earth’s angle in relationship to the sun is changing, and we’re getting less sunlight, and less directly are we getting it. The blast furnace of light and heat has ended and now we’re at the end of the growing season. Leaves are beginning to migrate down. The air, no longer burdened with so much moisture, can now carry a little more sound, a little more better. It’s easier to stand on the porch at sunset and listen to the world now.

The flying insects accustomed to feeding on me unabated are now fighting a little harder to stay aloft. The air is thinning out and it’s getting cooler. We human fail to realize it’s all connected, and when I see fewer mosquitoes, and fewer yellow flies, and more spiders I know what’s going on. This is an odd time of year for a lot of species. This is the spring of the year for the vines and the broom sage, and it’s the end of the year for a lot of bugs. The bugs feed on the plants, and the plants aren’t growing as much. That means fewer bugs, which means those who eat bugs are now lacking for food. It’s an odd time for rats and mice, too. The corn and peanuts will make their lives rich and full, but their cover is dwindling. They’ll head towards human houses to find safe haven about this time of year.
In South Georgia, September is historically speaking, the driest year. It will stay dry until the middle of November, and then it will be cold, dark, and wet for about three months. Even as things dry out, the cooler air will make it seem even drier, and that will make for those crisp cool mornings everyone has been wanting since May. The coolness that comes about ten at night will hang around a little after sunrise, and that will be coming just a little later each day. The subtle signs of the changing of the seasons are becoming less subtle now.

Oddly enough, this is the time of year sunburn is more likely than not if you’re working outside. The sun’s rays are not filtered by the humidity, nor is it hampered by the leaves for the trees as it once was. People tend to view cool weather with less radiation from the sun, but it’s still very warm in direct sunlight, and it is still very active. It’s not over yet, not for a couple more weeks, and maybe longer, but the danger is less intense. Heat stroke isn’t looming over us like it was there for the last one hundred days or so.

The snakes will go to ground soon and I’ll miss them. I’ve seen fewer this year than I have in a while, and I wonder how many species out there will still be around when I finally leave this earth. I haven’t seen a Hognose snake in years. I cannot remember the last time I saw a wild King snake. The green snakes are no longer as plentiful, and even the water snakes seem fewer. I wander what this change will herald for our kind, and I cannot help but think we will not like it. We cannot change the world to the point we can totally extinguish life, I suspect, but we can make it a place where we no longer are able to live.

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Today was the first day both older dogs played with Lucas at the same time. They spent the better part of thirty minutes having a free for all that never got one sided as I feared it might. When Bert pinned Lucas Sam would jump Bert, and if Bert was tossing Lucas around Sam would ambush him, and when Bert and Sam were playing Lucas would try to hamstring one or the other. I held my breath for a while, wondering if Lucas went too far with his playing if the older dogs might hurt him but a good time was had by all. Bert and Sam haven’t has a puppy in years and they’re finally warming up to the idea Luke is here to stay. ( right now, even as I type this Lucas is tormenting Bert on the porch, and this isn’t going to end well) There will still be some rough spots but if Lucas can get another ten or fifteen pounds on him he’ll be able to fend for himself a good deal better.

I went into Valdosta today because I haven’t been to the used book store in a while. They were closed, but the Big Chain Book Store was open and I wandered there for a while after lunch. I’m eating a lot more green stuff than I ever have before, and I think I may be turning into a vegan. More on that later, I’m sure. The Big Chain Bookstore has changed their layout and where I used to find history books there are kids books and where there was once computer stuff now there are fashion books. Do they do this just to screw with my head?

I was stunned to find the Y open but it was mostly deserted. I did some weights and then ran five miles. It was a slow five miles, but I still managed to do it in less than forty-five minutes. I haven’t been sleeping well lately and I hope this will help. Last night I could not get to sleep at all, and spent most of the night trying to figure it out. I worked the elbow I threw out when I threw Sam, and it occurs to me the level of violence has dropped almost to nothing since that morning. I hate to think I cannot find a way to resolve the mutt issues with anything but brute force. Can’t we all just get along?

Shopping for groceries found the overwhelming majority of foodstuff being fruits and veggies with just one pound of meat. I didn’t plan it this way, but this is more or less where I am right now. The customers in the store today were more aimless than usual and I’m thinking if most of the people seen in public turned into zombies there wouldn’t be a discernable difference. The store has an inside pay phone and there was a massive woman crying while trying to talk her boyfriend ( or girlfriend) out of breaking up with her. I examined a can of tomatoes for a few moments listening to her heart break and I wondered why she just didn’t hang up on the jerk. If someone is telling you it’s over chances are it’s over and the only thing you can do is move on. Yeah, it’s easy when I’m not the one getting the pink slip, true enough. The woman was interesting looking because she was wearing a totally white schoolgirl dress that was a foot too short. Wherever her ex is, he or she better hope that woman does take those thighs over there and squeeze the life out of someone. For some reason that scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” kept going through my mind. Has she seen it lately?

Of course, I could totally be misinterpreting the conversation. I hear rather poorly, which by and large makes human language more interesting, not less. Someone asked me how much lager drank could free, and I thought for a second they were offering to go drinking with me but they were actually asking how much larger Luke would be. Okay, I do have a tendency not to listen to some people, and I zone out quickly, I admit that too. But when there two people at the same table with me speaking I can keep up with what they’re talking about by just keeping up. The couple at the table behind us, who keep whispering about “IT” are infinitely more interesting.

I didn’t get as much done this three day weekend as I had hoped. I got sidelined by people, and didn’t write as much as I wanted, even though I did get some things fleshed out. People have a desire to be weird around me. As the full moon is for werewolves, I’m the orbiting body for anyone who is losing their mind or losing their way.

It’s pretty close to a full moon right now. That explains a few things. Okay, I’m going to lock the next one down. Something happened the other night and if you rather not get freaked out over my lack of judgment then when you see it coming duck out. I do not always do what is right, and there are times I do what seems to be the right thing, only later to discover I should have opted out of the whole damn mess. Yes, alcohol was involved, no, I was sober. Everything came out okay in the end, and no one got hurt.

Take Care,

Mike