Been a while. I hadn't thought about it for a while, but I came back and read some of the logs I made a while back.

It's strange, in that, even during a time of what I considered to be growth as a person, I still had so much growing to do. So much innocence. Things were still magical and fresh, and the things looming on the horizon were exciting.

Slowly those things are replaced by the stark reality of things today. Everything is contrasted against a backdrop of innocence that was once much more colorful, but as time goes on it wears away at you. The color slowly drains.

Old concerns are replaced by new ones. Seeing friends in caskets is shocking, yet more shocking is the speed at which we men move on. They knew the score, they knew what they were doing. They weren't heroes, they were just men. They've asked for nothing in return, nor do we.

I used to get mad at people for the things they say. Now I realize 99% of them have absolutely no influence in what goes on anyways. Their opinions are worth something only as long as the mortal blanket shields their life from the deep freeze of the universe, before they bleed out their essence and stair blankly into space. We are in the business of moving worlds.

Ford Bites Back

This morning found a busy shaogo, awake and out of bed rather early, leaving the house long before anyone had arisen.

Procrastination is my middle name; and for the past two Tuesdays I'd let the chores and errands pile up (my feeble excuse: total and utter exhaustion). But all excuses failed this morning because I had a lot of little things that had to be done on a deadline. Any time beginning Thursday the health department will be snooping around my place of business trying to find violations. Though nobody's going to go to the hospital over a broken refrigerator-door gasket nor a failed thermometer attached to a veritably infernal steam table; these and about a dozen other little things had been noted as violations of the health code on the last inspection and I was the guy responsible for correcting them.

About half-way through my errands, I got into my parked car outside of a vast warehouse filled with just about anything a needy restaurateur would want, cursing under my breath. You see, I was a victim of the clause 'just about.' So on I had to go, continuing my search for just what I needed. Agitated and humbled was a good way to describe my frame of mind. The people who run the wholesale operations which supply lighting equipment, chemicals, (and refrigerator-door gaskets for the commercial models) are all used to dealing with licensed professionals. Each profession has its own jargon (the electrical supply folks call a rubber gasket a 'vapor barrier' and the HVAC people call a rubber gasket an 'enclosure seal'). When someone they don't deal with regularly comes in, especially not dressed in workman's clothes, the salespeople (the 'counter men,' or salesmen to the trade), try to prove to one another just what an idiot stands before them. Sure, I'd gone to college; but I hadn't gone to the technical school that would let me into their little club, so they therefore had a duty to make me feel as uncomfortable as possible. In fact, at the chemical supply company the counter men actually had joked (regrettably within range of my hearing) about what would kill me first; the combination of my purchases with bleach, or the drugs I was gonna try to concoct with my assortment of deadly chemicals.

Oh, I ran on there. Back to me, in the car, motor running and ready to back out of my space. I'm no stranger to driving in areas abuzz with heavy industry; trucks, forklifts and the like. What I failed to look out for was the car darting in and out of the heavy vehicles, about to take the space next to mine.
 

Pay Attention When You Drive, Dammit!

Seemingly all at the same time, my eyes darted once more to the rear-view mirror, my heart stopped, my foot trounced upon the brake pedal as hard as I could, and a sickening "crunch!" could be heard. I'd backed into this man's car — just a fender bender, no doubt, but this event was the fecal-scented icing on the cake that I'd been baking for myself all morning.

The view in the rear view mirror was of the man; fumbling with his cell phone (a no-no in my state while driving — but moot because this was private property). His face was a red as Santa Claus's suit; but no 'jolly old elf' was he, no. As I got out of my car, literally shaking with anxiety; he swung out of his, howling about how he'd tried to honk the horn but he hadn't the time. This fellow was loaded for bear, so I did my foolish best to diffuse the situation.

"It's my fault, sir; I'm terribly sorry!" I had both hands raised in a sign of defeat before he could even wage his battle.

It turned out that he was paying a call on the owner of the business I'd just left. The owner and I had done business for about ten years, luckily for me. Because not only had I no drivers' license on me, I hadn't my wallet (just a credit card and some cash). The current insurance card for my car, along with the registration, wasn't in the car either (it later turned out it was in my wife's purse, for some peculiar reason known only to she).
 

A Visit From The Constabulary Avoided

I persuaded the man I'd wronged to join me inside the business, so I could be vouched for by the business owner, therefore avoiding police, tickets, and no doubt a hefty escalation in my auto insurance premium. The scratches on the man's car were so minuscule, the financial cogitation began in my head. Recalling the increase in premium the last time I'd put in a claim for a fender-bender, I thought seriously about circumventing the whole insurance thing altogether. The insurance company had paid out nothing to get the dent in my car fixed (we have 'no fault' insurance and a very high deductible) but increased my premium by $350 annually, for three years, nonetheless. No, no. I wasn't going to have that happen again. Neither one of us was hurt; there was no fodder for a lawsuit whatsoever.

So with Joe, the restaurant supply man as our witness, I swore to the man whose car I'd just dented that I'd pay for the repairs myself; at the repair shop of his choosing. I suggested that he go to the dealership where he bought the car, and that I'd have no problem paying for genuine parts for his vehicle.

The vehicle was a Jaguar. Not the little one; a full-fledged, full-sized Vanden Plas edition Jaguar. I believe (but am not sure) that these cars have twelve cylinders, six more than did my humble conveyance. Having some experience in these matters, despite the pedigree of his vehicle, I figured the most the dent to the front fender and passenger door could cost to repair would be about $1,500.

When I returned to my restaurant, I was greeted by the sight of the man with the Jaguar. Instead of going about the rest of his day's business, he'd (in his own words) "blown off" the rest of his customers and gone right to an auto body repair shop. The estimate was for $3,125. I was aghast. I made an effort to convince him to have Jaguar fix his car. He'd have no part of it. Well, now I'd done it. We had no police report, but he had witnesses to the incident, whose names he'd taken down, and the truth be told, I was indeed at fault. I asked him why on earth they wanted to put a whole new fender and door on the car; that the scratches couldn't be more than 1/4" deep. He told me that the body shop had told him that since Ford bought Jaguar, "the metal's too thin to repair; they just replace the sheet metal." Running around in my mind was the four years of my life I'd spent at Ford, extolling the superior quality of their products. I felt like an ass; yet still didn't really believe his line of malarkey. I will, however, research his statement and take action if I find that he's blatantly defrauded me.

I wrote out a check for the amount, being sure to type "in full and final payment for damages caused by (my name) to Jaguar (vehicle identification number) owned by payee" over where he'd have to endorse the check. He pouted about this a bit, and left the restaurant, not even offering to pay for his $45 meal, and failing to leave a gratuity for the woman who served him; the sign of a real creep, in my book at least.
 

Karma is as Karma Does

My wife was quite good about the whole thing. For this I'm grateful. Because for a while there, I felt so world-weary and downright stupid that I fell into quite a deep depression. I looked on the humorous side of the situation; wifey rubbed in my nose the fact that I'd been fairly stern about her failure to drive carefully (with four accidents in as many years under her belt). She attempted to "not speak to me" for awhile, but each of her attempts at being a hard-ass left us both laughing.

Finally, I'm also convinced, now, that the man whose Jaguar I'd dented will not have his door and fender replaced, but take his car to someone who'll just patch it up nice with a little Bondo, sand, paint and buff it out for under $1,000.

We'll also see if my friend Joe trades with this man again, after he looks at the estimate that was conjured up in less than an hour's time. I'm going tomorrow to talk it over with him. After all, what goes around, comes around.

Today I set up the team for our department for our company's mass-participation in the Relay for Life. This year it's being held the first weekend of June, and I'm taking my kids with me (they'll likely sleep through most of it in the tents, but I want them to see the main event).

If you've never participated, it's worth the go. The premise is your team of up to 10 people must have at least one person walking round the track they have set up for the entirety of the night - 12 hours of walking altogether. You can take turns, walk together, whatever - the point is to spend one night taking that long walk round the track and honor those who have travelled so very long and hard to battle cancer. There is fun and food and ceremonies and the lighting of the luminary bags (which is just gorgeous at night and lights up the track) and the Survivors' Walk which is just awe-inspiring.

Cancer is a bit of a big deal for me, as quite a few members of my family (on both mother and father's side) have either succeeded against it or succumbed to it at some point in their lives. Seeing those sorts of odds stacked against me inspires me to participate, but moreso I am wanting to dedicate this year's participation to a member of our department who recently beat ovarian cancer. She's such a strong woman and it's inspiring to work with someone who's lived through such a tough thing and come out on top.

I'm looking forward to this, and I'm looking forward to showing my kids what it's all about.

I used to work with this guy at one of the many, many bookstores I've lurked in over the years.

He was...well. He was a personable asshole. Like me, really, but whereas I fall rather heavily on the personable side with...tendencies...he lived on the other. He used people, women mostly, and couldn't at all control his desires for, depending on his mood, cheap vodka and hard drugs, the kind of guy who, three drinks ago and before the sun came up, was a functional alcoholic.

I didn't like him, not if I thought about it, but I worked with him, so. We were civil.

The thing is, his name was Jack, too, and his birthday was disconcertingly close to mine, off by a few days. We were a running joke.

Jack's dead. I don't have details yet, but apparently he offed himself last night, probably through some combination of the things that kept him upright, functional and sane in his waking life.

At the risk of making his sordid excuse for a life and unexpected death about me, I'm having a hard time processing this information. I've watched people far closer to me than him die much more painful and prolonged deaths than his without so much as a blink, but this time...I feel cold. I'm not surprised, not by a long shot, but something about this makes me feel conspicuously mortal.

It was his 27th birthday; it was the end of the world.

Now what the fuck.

If anticipation was dynamite, I could vapourise a few city blocks. Right now I'm about to get a copy of Vue 6 Esprit which is alternately touted as the best/most photorreal/coolest/etc 3d graphics software in the world.




However, it's now that I come to find two other such softwares lurking on my C drive. First up: Terragen, the freeware that makes terrain. It definitely has a more user-friendly interface for terrain editing than anything else I've come across. However, I hate with a vengeance the cloud editor. It is the bane of my existence. Grr.




The other one? It's Bryce 6. Bryce is great for general 3d, but is nowhere near as good at terrains as Terragen.




So, apart from all that, things are actually coming along nicely. I've got the first chapter of my novel(can't tell you the title yet) nearly nailed down. And, of course, I've heard all about that massive supernova they found. The first success of my antimatter-time machine-star detonater!


Maybe I should change my name to now_happily_crazy?




Ah well. .Back to writing...

must sleep tonight
for days, i might
just stay in bed
until i'm dead
my aching head
my battered brain
my back in pain
each step a strain
i somehow keep
upon my feet
i want to weep
lord knows i'm beat.
Come soon, deep sleep!

I'm going to say some nice things about GentlemanJim, like RoguePoet did yesterday, if only because I like a challenge.

"Why?", you ask? "Should I call the police?", you also ask. "This is clearly a hostage situation." you decide.

No, not really. No hostages exist here except the ones I've built up in my head over the course of "knowing" GJim on e2.

The fact of the matter is I decided that I knew him based on what he wrote here on this webhole, pretty much anonymously. Which, if you think of it, is patently insane. If you read what I wrote in the catbox archive, you would argue that I should be committed. Well, even moreso than before.

Also, I'm doing it more for me than for anybody else. That's my secret for writing. I'm my favorite audience. I imagine that is true of most people.

Lastly, it is just a part of my stereotypical Canadian makeup to find fault in myself for not really liking somebody. And at first, I really really didn't like Jim. Like seriously. Way back in the good old days when he was IronGoth (regardless about what he says about "not being there anymore"), me an Jimmy had some fiery knockdown dragout matches in the catbox. I started to stalk the box and wait to pummel him with absolutely absurd accusations.

It became a circus.

I've thought about why. They say a life unexamined blah blah blah.... I just wanted to understand why this Internet guy I never met, or seen, or even really cared about could make me go off like a firecracker. I also wondered about why I cared that it did happen.

Right about here, this shit is gonna get iceowlly. Geta chair.

I see alot of what I didn't, and don't, like about myself in Jim (I don't even really know his name, which I find comforting in a way). I have that conflict going between wanting attention at pretty much any cost and sealing myself off from everything I can't control.

IronGoth was Bizarro-allseeingeye.

And the fact that we grew up in pretty much the same society made me just boil. How could somebody that lived in Canada believe the things that he was saying? That was another arrogance on my part. Canadians have this strange moral superiority when in comes to societal beliefs. The ingrained liberalism of our education system makes a big deal about stereotypes and equality and immigration... it forms a idea in our heads that anybody that doesn't hang with the dogma is ignorant. It also makes us masters of subtlety when we air our dirty laundry. It's institutionalized two-facedness, but you get used to it. You expect it. And here is this guy just calling us on it, reveling in the most outrageous statements, and holding viewpoints that just curled my hair.

I hadn't even concieved that you could think the way Jimmy thought. It was anathema to me. In a way. I wanted to believe that it was. But really, I know it's possible.

I grew up kind in a lower class bluecolor place. I've seen people that stuck faithfully to their ignorance, and I've also seen people that really didn't know any better say terrible things about other races, places and countries. Is it there fault? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. It's just how things are.

In responce, I railed against him. I spewed vitriol and venom. I swore up and down that it was "him or me". I really really took it all to heart. I even left for a bit. I just couldn't take it.

Looking back, it was utterly retarded.

I took all the theatre and forethought and wit out of my "performance". Yeah yeah, ego much? Thats the kicker. The whole thing showed me what it is to lose yourself to your ego. I could just feel it, crawling up my throat, desperate to snatch the spotlight back. If you give Jim any credit, you have to say that he knows how to get attention. And I was a spoiled brat that wanted his exclusive eyes back. dannye made a comment that really raised the ugly mirror up for me, calling me on the tantrum and saying it was my revenge for taking shit in high school. I guess it sort of was. It was also not fucking working, and lo and behold, he's still here.

But in the end, thats my baggage. I'm never gonna love GJim. I know that. But I am glad, after the fact, that I've met him, because it has let me learn a bit about my self. You can take from that what you will. Do I think GJim is a nice guy? Not really, but it's not really my place to judge him for an audience other than myself. Make your own decisions. It works on anybody.

(He is soooo gonna jabber about this for days. Fuck.)

In Santa Cruz we have a boardwalk that's not actually a boardwalk. It's an amazing replica of an actual boardwalk. Actual boardwalks are in short supply these days.

There is a sign at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk which says "SANTA CRUZ BOARDWALK" in stark opposition to reality. Each time I go to the Santa Cruz boardwalk with a camera, I take a picture of the sign figuring showing it to others would yield me laughs. Each time I go to the boardwalk without a camera I can't stop the thought -- "Why are they saying this?"

I remember my first time to a boardwalk. It happened on a Wednesday. We took a drive in my grandfather's Buick and ended up at a place by the ocean Mark Knopfler sang about in later years. You could tell before you reached it that the road was going to end. The sky is different over the ocean. I could see it as we approached. And then suddenly * a mechanical city where everything shone before a sparkling ocean * Grandpa told me this place was called Asberry Park, and for several years I asked for Asberry jelly to be put on my peanut butter sandwiches.

My grandfather was a barber, and he worked doctor's hours, which meant he took off Wednesdays and Sundays. I don't know if anyone considers Wednesdays and Sundays doctor's "holidays" anymore. Most of the doctors I know have hours on Wednesdays. They take off regular weekends. So if my grandfather were alive and barbering today there’d be no "doctor's holiday" and I'd never have got to go to Asbury Park as a kindergarten pupil, because it was always too crowded on weekends.

Calling beach amusements "boardwalks" is an idea soon to follow extinction like, "Barbers have off on Wednesday." Reality just has to catch up and poof, it will be gone. One day someone will ask, "Boardwalk?" and nobody will remember why, and they'll change the sign to "SANTA CRUZ AMUSEMENT PLACE" or something.

There was an actual boardwalk at the beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey when I was a kid. It was open on Wednesday mornings in the summer. In fact, there is still an actual boardwalk at the Asbury Park beach but it is no longer possible to obtain entertainment there unless one is looking for narcotics or illicit sex. About a year ago I was there with doyle and the noder previously known as JohnnyGoodyear, who pretty much just wanted to get the hell out of there before we were shot and killed for our gold fillings by drug-crazed lunatics. He didn't realize that being from New Jersey originally, doyle and I had already scanned the area for lunatics, and having found only one barely conscious stoner who'd come to rest after being propelled from the Stone Pony, declared the beach safe for middle-aged drinkers. So he was nervous despite our assertions of security.

He's a nice guy, that JohnnyGoodyear. Too bad he doesn't quite exist anymore.

The boardwalk that greeted us three that evening differed from the boardwalk of my youth in terms of electricity and people, as there existed none of either. The Casino was still there. At one time a kid's parents would drag him into the Casino to get out of the heat of the sun. The kid would be loaded with nickels and sent to play Skeeball for red tickets which could be redeemed for prizes considered valuable by those born in the sixteenth century who'd never seen extruded Chinese plastic. These things seemed like treasure when behind the glass counter, but once taken home lost all importance and reduced to the significance of dust, wound up tossed in a corner, never to be thought about again. One presumes one's mother flipped them all into the trash on various afternoon cleaning runs. Or they were eaten by the family dog. Either is likely.

When Bruce Springsteen sang about the Asbury Park boardwalk it was still there, too, but in decline. He and some other NJ rockers bought a piece of it and tried to resurrect it. But fighting entropy was too hard and too expensive.

Entropy is still in massive supply in Asbury Park.

Before the entropy build up at the boardwalk, a kid's grandfather would relent and provide him with a chocolate-dipped custard cone and allow him to ride the "Round Up" under the proviso that upon throwing up, all fun time would be ended and a long smelly car ride home would ensue. But grandparents have a hard time remembering being a kid, and don't remember that being whipped in seven different directions under multiple-G force vectors is not horrific torture, but something akin to orgasmic fun. And throwing up would just be an excuse for another custard cone.

Kohl's. The best.

Before I was big enough to ride the "Round Up" my barber grandfather would buy me cones and let me ride the boats and the fire engines that went in a circle. He'd feed tickets to the takers, and let me ride twice sometimes. There were guns mounted on the fire engine with triggers you could pull that would cause lights on the ride to illuminate while you revolved at two or three RPM in a twenty-foot diameter circle.

See, I was little in those days and the idea was not evident to me that there was a certain non-logic to using a fire engine as a gun platform. I was viciously happy sitting in the fiberglass fire engine, slewing around in a slow speed making lights flash every time I pulled the trigger of the little gray gun mounted on the fire engine hood.

And then there were the radio controlled boats that cost a quarter to run and inevitably would become jammed in the corner for most of the duration of your turn at the helm. This happened because you were a kid and the idea of reverse on a boat was as strange as the incongruence you should have felt shooting at people from a fire truck. A grandfather's frustration would overtake him, occasionally, and he'd swat your hands from the steering wheel, back the boat from the corner, and then let you have at it again, only to ram the tiny craft nose first into the corner like an errant sperm trying to fertilize an egg the size of a medium-sized beach community.

The custard cones can make you forget splinters and homework and striking out at the plate. Half would melt and fall onto the boardwalk before you could eat it. Grandpa would never let you pick up the fallen parts, even though most of it never touched the wood.

There's the irony. Wood.

There isn't a single plank on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It's concrete.

Sure, they have a sky ride and a spook house. Sure there's a beach, even though it's the wrong ocean that's cold even in the summer. And they have deep fried Twinkies, which nobody on the east coast would ever think of. And in places, it smells sweet and greasy like an actual boardwalk.

The sign promises: "BOARDWALK!" the same way an Italian restaurant in Tokyo promises "LASAGNA!"

It's okay as long as you don't expect it to be what it says. See, I grew up with Italian people all around me, and I've eaten "LASAGNA!" in Tokyo, and there's no similarity between LASAGNA! and the gray haired lady who put a square of cheesy pasta dinner that's as good as dessert on your melmac Fireball XL-5 supper plate.

I have a boardwalk in my heart. It stretches across an amber sand beach where my father makes a cast with his surf pole and my mom washes the grains from between my toes before I put on my sneakers. My grandfather speaks English with an accent so thick nobody taking ride tickets understands him. My hair is blond, yet to turn brown, yet to start graying.

Even in the heat of the sun, after a few steps, you can actually walk on the soft wood without scalding your feet.

There hasn't been one of these for a long time.







Once I took my children to a real boardwalk. They were young. Bruce had written his songs and the arcades had fallen into disrepair. The wood was gray and lined in thick grain as the softer parts had all worn away.

I bought them custard cones. The fire trucks with the gun mounts were still there, though the fire engine red had faded to dull brown, and I had to wipe something tarry from the seat before I put in my daughter.

She spun and pulled the trigger on the little gray gun.

"I rode that ride," I told her. "I was as small as you."

I might as well have been trying to teach her vector algebra in Greek.

"Daddy. You are not little."

"No, but I was little like you. My grandpa brought me here. A long time ago."

"Daddy, you too big."

"Once I was little," I said, and then pleading, "I really was. I was little."

"A long time ago you were little."

"Yes, a long time ago."

"But Daddy, now you big."

Time is irrelevant to someone who hasn't had much of it. And children deserve their childhoods to be unimpeded by their parent's past.

And the past doesn't actually exist.

And so boardwalks are a contraption of fiction, invented by feeble minds trying to reclaim something possibly remembered, something possibly dreamed.







Last Sunday a friend from Antarctica was supposed to arrive at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk after running 200 miles from Calistoga to benefit organ donation. We went to the boardwalk and waited for her to arrive. While waiting we strolled the short route and eventually came to the realization that she was not going to appear. So there we were.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is concrete. The nearest board is a continent away.

The thick sea air smelled of salt and sweet and grease. Children with mustard spotted shirts munched hot dogs on sticks. Teenagers dared each other to keep their arms raised on the first drop of the wooden coaster.

The boardwalk is celebrating its 100th year of operation.

While there's no longer a single actual board in sight, I am happy to report that men still fling baseballs at stacked milk bottles, the coaster still rattles to the apex of the big drop, and the custard still melts and drips onto your knuckles -- all as it has been for a hundred years.

And while we walked past the hawkers and ticket takers I fell into a depressive fit of gut shattering nostalgia, and I realized how a life can be punctuated by such places. In the grip of such an epiphany, a person can see his future quite clearly. I was certain I'd one day sit my grandchildren on the fire engines and watch them spin in twenty-foot circles at three RPM, feeding tickets to the takers.

It's all been a fire engine ride.

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