Friday, July 29, 2011

Stealing, but not the good kind.

This morning I was feeling good. I finally got a good nights sleep. I'm usually a pretty light sleeper. When I have a good sleep rhythm going, I might get up once in the middle of the night and check on things outside. Just to keep an eye on the neighborhood. I don't live in a bad neighborhood, but since I moved in a couple of years ago there have been a couple of instances where some neighbors had some things stolen. Over the past week or so my sleep hasn't been great. A couple of nights I would sleep 3 or 4 hours in the early morning and be back up by 8 or 9 o'clock.

But last night I was lights out by 2ish and slept like a log. And that's when the thief made his (or her) move.

I have an old car I've named "The Blue Whale" that I keep around for days when I may have car trouble or if I have to put my daily driver in for repairs. The Whale is just an old Grand Marquis, but it serves it's purpose and is reliable when needed.

So this morning, I walk out and the driver's door is wide open.
"That's not right," I thought.
So I went inside, opened the gun safe and removed the .357 that I keep loaded for "when the shit hits the fan" type of scenarios. I slipped it into my pocket and approached the car with caution, just in case a deranged meth freak was in there.

All that was stolen was the factory radio/tape deck. I walked around the house to make sure my lawn tractor, canoe and push mower were still locked up under the car port. They were. I checked my shed to make sure it was still locked. It was. I opened the storm cellar door to make sure my camping gear and emergency supplies were accounted for. They were. Then I called the police and filed a report.

As I went about my business today, I was thinking about the nature of stealing. Why would someone want to steal a radio of no value? Had I caught the thief, he very likely would have sustained a trip to the hospital before jail. Why risk it?

Then I thought about how as a musician and writer, there have been times that I have "stolen" things. Maybe a technique or idea that helps me better understand my craft.

What I'm saying is that even an act that reeks of negativity, like stealing, isn't always black and white. There's a gray area where stealing, can actually help us. The duality of stealing is summed up by this quote:

"All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal?"-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt and Poetry

I read a poem earlier today that I thought reflected a lot of the fears that people felt about the "Debt Crisis" and thought I would share a few bits from it. It's a poem titled "America Was Promises" by Archibald Macleish and can be found in its entirety HERE. So here are a few lines that I thought sounded very good after hearing a few worried senior citizens converse about the future of social security and Medicare. It starts:

Who is the voyager in these leaves?
Who is the traveler in this journey
deciphers the revolving night: receives
The signal from the light returning?

America was promises to whom?

                                                   East were the
Dead kings and the remembered sepulchres:
West was the grass.
                               The groves of the oaks were at evening.

Eastward are the nights where we have slept.

And we move on: we move down:
With the first light we push forward:
We descend from the past as a wandering people from the mountains.

(It goes on...)

America was promises-to whom?

Jefferson knew:
Declared it before God and before history:

(...he delves into a rambling yet insightful flow that glues me to the music of the words)

And the Aristocracy of politic selfishness
Bought the land up: bought the towns: the sites:
The goods: the government: the people. Bled them.
Sold them. Kept the profit. Lost itself.

(down a bit...)

The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Turned its talents into wealth and lost them.
Turned enlightened selfishness to wealth.
Turned self-intrest into bankbooks: balanced them.


The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Moved out: settled on the Continent:
Sat beside the water at Rapallo:
Died in a rent house: unwept: unhonored.

(and the last passage I really like)

We do not ask for Truth now from John Adams.
We do not ask for Tongues from Thomas Jefferson.
We do not ask for Justice from Tom Paine.
We ask for answers.

And there is an answer.

There is Spain Austria Poland China Bohemia.
There are dead men in the pits in all those countries.
Their mouths are silent but they speak. They say
"The promises are theirs who take them."

I spoke for a while with an older lady this evening and we both shared stories that told me we have nothing to worry about if the US can't reach an agreement on the debt. Humans are humans. We have been through worse and will be through worse. We will continue to eat food, drink water and breathe air.

I think something will work out so that all this fear is eased. If something isn't done, there will be many riots and people jumping off the Golden Gate so fast that it will look like a wall of concrete being poured into the Bay. That won't happen. No responsible head of a government would let a tragedy occur on their watch...right?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway: The Other End of the Extremism Spectrum

In the wake of the attacks in Norway there was much speculation as to who would carry out something so brutal and senseless. Of course the usual list of suspects came up in conversations. In a document generated by STRATFORentitled "What the Norway Attack Could Mean for Europe" (22 July 2011) the scenarios included the usual suspects. Jihadist groups based in Europe, far-right or neo-Nazis based in Norway, or even a retaliation sponsored or carried out by Libya.

The scenario that is closest to the facts (and, so far, looks to hit the nail mostly on the head) was limited to these few lines:

"There is also the possibility that the attacks are the work of a skilled but disturbed individual with grievances against the Labor Party. This possibility would have few long-ranging repercussions beyond a reworking of domestic security procedures in Norway."

We live in times where it pays to keep your head on a swivel. Unfortunately, it seems that too often we get tunnel vision looking out on the horizon and forget to glimpse over our own shoulder from time to time. Our world seems to get more and more polarized every day. These polarizations, compounded with fear, lure irrational people out of the dark.

The headlines have been calling this "Norway's 'Oklahoma City.'" I think it looks more like a combination of Oklahoma City and Tuscon.

The worst part is that this guy in Norway thinks that this is justified. That he is saving Norway from the spread of Islam. I think we would all agree that there are better ways to enact change on your society than by taking innocent lives.

Back to my point. The point is that the threat of violence doesn't always come from the usual suspect. It isn't always a jihadist with a suicide vest. It's not always a tattooed up neo-Nazi. Sometimes it's the blonde guy with a sick mind and some guns. The "Lone Wolf" style terrorists are the hardest to defend against.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A nice thought about writers...

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
-Ernest Hemingway

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Connie!! You Know Where the Bathroom Is!!!"

So, I returned from a trip from Colorado this morning carrying a Holy Fire in my guts. It was a late night with a nearly full moon when a glowing Spirit emerged from the cold river. She ascended the river bank with a message for the Chosen Few that sat starring at the campfire in the rain.

"Go forth!" she said with a voice that sounded like a mix between a Didgeridoo and a chain smoking goose that had been clipped by a speeding Fed Ex truck, "You chosen few shall embark on the task of bringing back the curtsey!"

It was an epic trip. The camping was awesome. The fishing was great. The friendships that have been solidified will be long lasting. I would recommend a trip like this to anyone looking to take a break from the 9-5. Like Hamid Karzai.