Monday, November 5, 2007

11/5/07 - Adventures

Someday Andrew and I are going to co write a book about our adventures... it will be called "18 miles out of our way: Roobot and Bowensteins guide to better living"

The problem with life, as I am constantly reminded while reading Roo's blog, is that you spend most of it doing tedious stuff you don't really care about. I like what I do, but if I could do anything I wanted all the time you can be pretty sure there would not be any spreadsheets or earned income credit involved. So everyone in the universe grinds out day after day in their cubicle, rarely attaining any success or riches, barely paying for their existence in this crazy economy, enjoying time with their loved ones, but not at the appropriate level.

Life is just too boring, and pointless, so lets all drink the cool-aid! The cool-aid is the adventure. Below is a list of things that I want to do before I die, but not just all the stupid standard stuff, like sky dive blah blah blah... I also see adventure when it is in front of me, like stealing a Frenchman's berrett in the streets of France and playing keep away with it.

1. Skydive... of course, who do not want to do this.
2. Spend 3 months at sea, and I am not talking about a cruise.
3. Get in a pub fight in Ireland.
4. Be part of a soccer riot in Europe. Does anyone know where they have the best ones.
5. Play Russian Roulette with someone I hate.
6. Streak a major sporting event.
7. Climb a mountain
8. Betting on the dog fights was my idea, but I like cock fights better because I just like dogs too much.
9. Strangle a hooker. I know this costs a lot extra, but if you suprise them in an alley you can do it for free.
10. Have sex somewhere famous, like on top of the Eiffel tower... Sorry Roo you probably cannot help me with this one.
11. Plan an elaborate set of odd circumstances and pranks to play on a complete stranger in an attempt to drive them mad, and video tape the whole thing.
12. Ram a really bad driver with my car.
13. Go on safari in Africa.
14. See a sumo Basho in Japan
15. Kick an extra annoying cop in the testicles.

I could go on and on, but the idea is that I come up with adventures on the spot. It is normally not thought of as one when it happens but it is remembered as one. Live life, enjoy yourself, enjoy friendship, and love, and children, and responsibility. You can enjoy everything more if you have seen more and done more and put all of life into perspective.

More to come on this topic later. I have already started writing the Morongo Saga, but I do not plan on posting it here... you will have to wait for the book.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10/27/07 God doesn't need my help

I have been thinking about God a lot lately and faith in general. I have spent more than 1/3 of my life now, since I became a Christian, defending God and Christianity in general. Why? To bring people to the cause? To help others have a better life? I have studied the bible thoroughly, read other books from Christian authors, and read many stories from the other side, people who have lost their faith and those who never believed. In all of this I have prepared myself for apocrisis... which is the Greek word that means to give an answer. I have answered for what I thought was God on many occasions to many people.

Recently my best-friend and my wife have declared that they no longer believe in God. This brought me to a place where I had to question where I stand. It took no time at all to realize that my faith is based on no one, and no one can shake it. I know God and Christ because I have met them in my own way within the plan that they set up for me.

So why am I even writing about it? i have come to another conclusion while thinking about all of this. I have spent a lot of my life defending God and he does not even need me to. He is infinitely powerful and his creation and deeds speak for themselves. If people cannot see how wonderful the earth and human kind is, and they would rather hold to their cynical view that there is nothing supernaturally beautiful then it is not my job to change them or generate answers to their futile questions.

I have found that most people do not have a problem with God himself, they have a problem with judgmental Christians, the soul grinding/money grubbing/badly organized Christian church, and with the narrow view that belief in Christ is the only way to heaven. I cannot answer most of these questions anyway.

I refuse to defend the church in the first place because I know too much about it. I know how the church takes people in, categorize them and then plugs them into a cookie cutter program to brain wash them rather than teach them to critically think about their faith. If someone truly finds God and opens themselves to communicate with him then they will eventually realize that 90% of the believers around them, while well intentioned, are as Andrew puts it… REDNECKS! The church just fails its followers.

Andrew and Sara are pretty sure that they will eventually get me to come around to the ‘Truth’ that there is nothing, or some quasi nothing. I surround myself with intelligent successful people that I respect, and have been very blessed in that area of my life. However, they all think they are right all the time. Unfortunately, being that intelligent sometimes warps your perspective and makes it difficult for you to question your own motives for lifestyle choices. No one is complete, for every strength there is a weakness my friends.

Back to the point once again… I am not wasting my time with theoretical questions and conversations about God anymore. If someone is in pain, or is receptive to beginning or repairing a relationship with God then I will get in there and help if God wants me to. I am not wasting any more of my words defending and omnipotent being. Controversy does not mean anything to me, popular news and topics to not suck me in, and I do not care about politics. All of these things make it very easy for me to just stay out of the way of people who just want to talk. I want to talk with seekers and people who already believe. I would rather spend my time guiding people who are just getting started or trying to get to the next level, than to have hypothetical discussions with cynics. Good luck to all of my friends… I hope you have a lot of other topics up your sleeve to discuss… You are all smart I am sure you will figure it out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

10/21/07 - 30 Days of Night & Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrells

I decided that from now on I am going to try to review movies that I see, but first things first. This weekend I went to Lodi to visit my parents and also to see the Roo who took a bus down to hang out with me. The traffic on the way to get Roo from the train station was absolutely insane. Sacramento is beautiful and the air is pretty clean... but I still would not live there. I just hate lines and traffic. So after spending 30 minutes within 1 mile of the location I was trying to get to I finally arrived and me and Roo got to act crazy for almost two days. Actually I am pretty sure he is crazy all the time, but I act crazier around him.

Dad, Sara, Roo, and I went to a Chili festival
This website sucks based on the size of the event... check out my coverage.
It was great to see the Roo and we had crazy adventures, which included, but were not limited to
1. Attending Chili Festival
2. Hours of talking about crazy junk
3. Hugging Moo-Hat guy
4. Pulling a picture scam on people
5. Almost impulse buying an old Porche
6. Dancing to country music
7. Drinking milk shakes from MOMO's
8. Seeing a movie
9. Eating tons of food at my parents house
10. A whole bunch of driving

30 Days of Night
This horror flick, which is one of my favorite genres, stares Josh Hartnett, and is based in Alaska during a 30 day period where there is no sun. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of this town vampires show up and start eating everyone. The vamps were hideously scary with their celerity and incredible strength. I am always interested when going to see a vampire movie which powers the night stalkers will have. Interview with a vampire had most of them, mind control, celerity, healing, flight, blah blah blah. In this movie the vamps always had their teeth out and only spoke what sounded like Turkish. This was an interesting take, and even though the movie was disjointed in regular comic book fashion the hero of the film makes a great sacrifice to save his friends. In regular horror movie fashion they had a major showdown at the end and the good guys win. But it was left open for a sequel.

The vampires were scary. I love this aspect because that is what horror really comes down to. There were some subplots like a love story that were not very well developed. It was a comic book adaptation after all. After the sun goes down and the vampires show up there is a ton of carnage which looked really good. Blood stained snow, shot up and half dead people, Alaskans getting "turned" into vampires, and bad guys getting their heads cut off.

I give it 3.5 stars our of 5 in a normal movie line up but 4 out of 5 in the horror genre. Decent story plot, but not all fast paced actions, enough plot twists to keep you interested, but there were definitely some holes in the plot line.

The Roo fell asleep during the movie and I had to tell him the ending.

When I got home I finished watching Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. 4 English guys bumble around trying to cut out a big living in the London underground card circuit but get cheated out of 500k on loans in a crooked card game and have to find some way to pay it back in less than a week. There is something like 30 characters in the movie, and Sting plays the father of on of the unlucky young men. In usual fashion for these types of movies almost everyone ends up dead in a strange series of chance, well armed meetings throughout the movie. I was highly entertained by the dry and clever British wit.

The four main characters pool their money and send one player into a very high stakes poker game with 100 thousand quid. One player beats him for all of his money plus 500k in loans by cheating, and requires payment by the end of week but does not think he will get it. The main characters, which include the likes of Jason Statham, decide to rob some guys who are robbing a marijuana dealer. Everything seems to go right and then everything goes very wrong, but in the best way possible for our bumbling hero's.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars overall and a 5 out of 5 for its specific genre, which I am classifying as British comedy action. It is unclear at the end if the hero's get their money back in the form of two antic firearms worth 500k. This movie was filmed wonderfully, had some very surreal moments, had some well developed hardened characters, and made me laugh almost the whole way through.

Can't wait to see "We Own the Night" this week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

10/15/07 - Blog Action Day Baby!

Alright so I really wanted to talk about what was going on in my life and my new iPhone (pros and cons), but I decided to talk about the environment for blog action day ( ) since the Roobot was already doing it and it seems like it might get me a few more subscribers. BAM!

So lets talk about the environment. Look I am clearly a black hearted, evil, selfish, greedy capitalist. Anyone that knows me knows that the only thing I care about is money. However, sike! There is no however... that is true. So the problem with the environment is not human kind.... it is human nature. There are all sorts of new car designs and engines that run on corn, but alas the Ford's 2008 vehicle list includes the same old Expedition, which has been around and fuel inefficient from the day it was invented. But wait... Ford is totally doing their part to help the environment because they have released one hybrid model.... out of 16 updated and new 2008 models. Thank god for corporate responsibility.

Now like I said, I am all for companies making a buck. But come on car companies... if you just change your cars, then the oil and gas companies will have to get on board and start exploiting some other resource instead of gas. You never know... you might even stop a war! I am just saying that is all.

That is just a bit about companies... now lets talk about the government that has recently funded the studies that have caused all this hoopla. Please tell me what kind of incentives there are for me to start using solar energy instead of Gas and Electric from the local utility? em... Very little. You can't release a movie starring the incredibly debonair and charismatic Al Gore without following that scare tactic up with some incentives. For goodness sakes. The government paid millions of dollars for the the study to be done and they will not even kick down a reasonable discount for the average consumer to cut down on the cost of a solar heating and power system for their house... average cost for an average system is 13k.

So my conclusion is that companies can make money on other stuff. I think they just want to exploit what they have already been selling till the well runs dry... literally the oil wells that power their vehicles. Second, the government is a two faced bastard that wants to use scare tactics to get people in an up roar about junk melting (like our children's faces in 50 years) but not give us any reasonable incentives to make changes. Listen up useless bureaucratic machine, someone that makes 25k per year, has a family of 6, a car payment, and rents because he cannot get financing to buy a house, can only care about the environment enough to not liter. That is free! Everything above that you are gonna have to give him a big hand. There is a huge percentage of people in that situation... much more than you would think. It is called poverty level. Look it up! Someone in another department in your useless organization defined it for you.

Now lets talk about rich spoiled movie stars that show up to benefits for the environment. I hope they all drive hybrids there. Instead of giving your money to organizations that suck up at least 50% of the donation for overhead, why don't you sponsor 40 families so they can buy a hybrid car or an alternative power system for their house. Seems to me that it would be much more effective that way.

As for me. I will help the environment by driving the most cost effective car with the best gas mileage, walk to the store instead of driving, not put cigarettes out on the polar ice caps, and breath 1/3 as much as I did last year. However, I refuse to stop littering. It gives me an emotional thrill to know that I am beating a 1k ticket and putting one over on the traffic pigs that never catch me... FACE!

BTW... I would really love to have a solar system for my house, if they were more versatile with what they can power, had a better storage system for long term storage of excess solar energy. If you think about it... the sun is the best natural resource that exists and we are totally not using it. That is retarded. Now I am going to be thinking about this depressing crap all week.

Monday, October 8, 2007

10/8/07 - Sanity

So I watched the Amittyville Horror remake this weekend and it occurred to me that I really do not understand sanity. Or rather I really do not understand my own insanity. I think we all have a little insane person inside of us. All of our jealousies, crazy conspiracies, self-centeredness. It reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes from the bible. It was written by Solomon, apparently the wisest person who ever walked the planet, and in it he repeatedly says that he has explored; happiness and sadness, love and hate, wisdom and foolishness and madness. He explored it all. He had unlimited riches and could explore all things to their fullest.

I think it may be a time in my life that I will explorer madness. Of course I have to do all things in moderation. I do not have an entire kingdom at my disposal to frivolously explore things to the fullest. In the last year I have explored more of the world and selfishness than I have ever done before. I have been foolish, impetuous, selfish, wild, and undisciplined. What does the next year hold?

Being friends with Andrew has helped me quantify this desire to explore all different aspects of life and myself. He is very gung-ho about denying himself nothing, and just living in the moment, and being in contact with his unique brand of exploration has really given me a lot to think about.

So what is sanity? My current understanding is that sanity has to do with you understanding of the reality you live in. So what is insanity? Not connecting with the world around you? What is reality? Isn't it relative anyway? Isn't perception reality? Doesn't that mean that living in your own reality is sanity? If you are logical about exploring sanity does it defeat the purpose? How do you go about altering your perception and reality?

I have decided that the best way to really explore my psyche is to focus myself on some writing. If I write about some really dark or altered things, then maybe that will help me contact the dark insane parts of my own heart. So what should I write about? Maybe just talking about this is crazy. Maybe I am already insane.... Bruhahahahahah!

The funny thing is that I know who I am. I am confident, secure, and stable. Another reason I have decided that I need a really abstract project like this is because I feel like I need to expand my mind in a new way. I enjoy media, books, movies and television soooooo much, but they are really limited ways to exercise your brain and imagination. I really want my mind to continue to grow, and the best way to make that happen is to look at new things, and explore. I do not want my brain to become weak and soft like most of the people in the world around me. I want there to be limitless possibilities.

As you get older it is so easy just to fall into patterns of life and then just live out your life in a rut or on a track. I don't want that for my life. I want new ideas and possibilities on the horizon everyday. I love change. What is a bigger rush than the crazy feeling that the world that you have always known is about to drastically change? The life you have been living for years is going to be turned upside down? Gambling, drugs, booze, and competition do not have anything on the high you get from life changes. The fear, excitement, and confusion that real life brings is the bomb.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

9/30/07 - The Birthday Party

So I am now 28 years old. I do not feel old, but I do have the feeling that I lack in accomplishments. I feel like I should be making at least 200k per year, and should be involved in lots of community business circles. I know that is dumb but it is just something that I feel.

We had a party at Don Perico's. People kept buying me booze and I kept drinking it. The Mic showed up with his family and we took some video of the event. Daniel, Stoney, Sara, and Keeter also showed up. The cards that I received warmed my heart and made me laugh. I had sent out a text message telling everyone that I was challenging Derrek to our annual drunken UFC alley rematch. However, he called and said he was coming to the poker game late so I would be really drunk and never showed. I was ready to beat him down, none of that submission crap this year. I was gonna punch him in the face till he wanted to take a nap. I will get him next year.

The Mic wants to have a really complicated 6 month family competition with over 1k on the line. It involves body fat measurements, short distance running, long distance running, basketball, tennis, hockey, and something else I cannot remember. I am 90% sure it is going to happen but we are still talking about rules and scoring.

So at my birthday poker game I was really drunk and did not stop drinking for quite a while. I felt like I was playing good though. Mixing it up a lot, trying to confuse people, and making really dumb plays to get others to think the alcohol was impairing my playing ability. It worked, I got soooooo much action on my good hands. I feel like I would have taken all the chips on the table is if Sara had not had too much to drink and gotten sick.

I feel bad because the whole time I was telling her to drink and giving her shots, and just being a completely obnoxious drunkard (I only do it a couple times a year, might as well play it up.) So at about midnight, Sara calls to me from the back porch, when I get there she looks confused and the ground is covered in vomit. I sat with her for hours, and she was rambling all sorts of nursing mumbo jumbo about electrolyte balances being thrown off by the consumption of water and vomiting. She was real wasted so we had some super funny conversations. For instance, if Sara could have a mix of two animals it would be a tiger/koala, and she is almost positive she would not kill someone for any amount of money.

So my heart has been extremely saddened by the loss of Dave and Andrew. I had no idea how much I missed them till I recently saw them. I have been moping around the house for a week now trying to keep myself busy with cleaning and accounting work, but alas, it will never be enough. I am sad and I miss them. I am all about brotherly love! There is a type of bond that men have that some people will never have or understand. Not everyone gets to experience it in their lives and I have had the opportunity to experience it 3 times. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That companionship is important to me, and it make my life better for having it. Missing it now makes life less bright and shiny.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9/25/07 - Highland High School 1997 10 Year Reunion

Well the reunion was a blast. I learned a lot about myself while approaching the event. At first I was kind of nervous, because I thought it would be just like high school, and that was not a great experience. I thought David Koontz and I would be the same old outsiders that we always were. Then I realized that I really do not care what people think, and if I am not having a good time, then I will just leave instead of being stuck in PE with a bunch of jerk offs that never give me the ball for a minimum of 4 months. LOL! Did that sound bitter or what?

Then I started stressing about my body and my clothes. You have to look smoking hot when you go to a class reunion. I spent 3 hours shopping which is not normal for me. I did get some great clothes. And though I have lost about 15 lbs, I am still about 20 lbs over weight so nothing was really going to make me look great anyway. I did look good, you can see the pictures here (, but I did not look great. Sara looked amazing, and we actually had a great time.

I had forgotten about the great equalizer. I know I am good-looking, and successful, and married to a beautiful woman. But even if I just had a normal job, had a marriage that was not crumbling, and was not massively disfigured in a fire or a car accident, I would have been much better off than most of the people I went to high school with. The equalizer is life and averages. I am going off on a wild tangent here, but you have to stick with me.

I know I am totally reasonable and down to earth, even though I border on being obsessive and idealistic sometimes. I was very lucky to find a wonderful woman who is the same way. We had our hard times pre-marriage and at the beginning, but now we are set, nothing could shake us. The one thing I know for sure about my life is that Sara and I have to put up with each other till one of us dies. That is a great thing to know. Can you imaging how many people stress about their love lives. 10% of the people at the reunion were divorced. Another 25% had children and no significant other was in the picture.

I did a lot of interrogating about what people do for a living. It turns out that there are a lot of losers, who are 'still in school', and I am not talking about medical school here. I also talked to a lot of people who did not want to comment. They were just there to have a good time and catch up with old friends. Whatever, I was totally there to prove that I was superior to all of them in real life. That is rude, but that was my hearts truest desire inside. Isn't that really sad? Yes! But at least I am honest with myself enough to admit it.

Lastly, about 19% of the class had about the same super skinny beautiful body type that they had in high school. The rest of them had really let themselves go. I have gained 70lbs since high school, but when I graduated I was only 130. I am still 20 over weight, but I don't think I look horrible. So you put it all together, and I should have realized way before I even signed up to go that I had nothing to feel anxious or scared about. Most of the cool girls that wanted nothing to do with me in high school are divorced, alcoholics, that would give their right arm to be with a man like me right now. I always dreamed that is how it would turn out. That history would prove me right. But now, there really is not pleasure in it. I actually am just happy that I do not feel anything about it anymore. I honestly do not think I will spend another moment of my life thinking about how crappy high school was, and how bad people treated me.

Think about the averages though... About 20% of the people there made more money than me... SIKE! It was more like 5%, and of those I think 1 of them had a wife as beautiful as mine. Who knows if she is down to earth and cool like Sara. If she is then that guy is doing almost as good as me. Now of the people who looked as good as they did in high school about 15% had a significant other, but only a couple of them had found the loves of their lives, and I did not run the job comparison on most of them. Thank you averages. Since my life is way about average, I am blowing most people out of the water. Also, the average for 1997 graduates of Highland High, is much lower than I had expected. LOL!

Time fixes things, I just needed a little reminder.

This should be the end of this post but I have to keep going because my life has been majorly rocked.

I consumed libations with my good friend David Koontz, and he gets way less reserved when he is half in the bag. So we are sitting at a table outside drinking, chatting with people, and Dave turns to me and says, "I don't believe in God anymore! I feel like all of the guilt is gone now." He actually seemed very happy to be saying this to me. Then Sara say, "It is about time Dave... Me too!"

OMFG! That just blew my f-ing mind.

I will have to expand on this topic later this week.

BTW... The new season of Dexter starts on my birthday. FACE!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9/18/07 - The truth is the truth

I have seen this movie before, but today I was napping, woke up and it was on again... It is called 'Prime' and it is not a great movie by any means, but it just reminds me that Uma Thuman is totally hot. She is getting close to 40, and she is probably way too skinny, but I just think she is totally hot. That is that, just a little thought that I had today. And what is a blog, if it is not a collection of little thoughts.

I miss the Roobot. I saw him last weekend and we had a ton of fun; bootleg 'Balls of Fury', Flight of the Conchords marathon, laughing, slightly homo-erotic wrestling... you know, the usual stuff. He has only been at Berkley for like a month and my Thursday afternoons and some weekends are sorely laking in male companionship. Not only is he gone, but he has also stopped blogging. I am so disconnected. Why have you forsaken me?

The great news is that Sara and I have been spending a lot of extra time together and really enjoying it. We had a real lazy weekend, and she continually reminds me why I love her, and am willing to spend the rest of my life with her. She has a really great sense of humor, and I do not have any idea why she like me at all.

The business problems with the infamous Jack Balfanz continue. He has begun emailing me, asking me for documentation I have already given him, calling me incompetent and the like. I am not pleased with the situation. It is clearer than ever that he does not intend to pay my remaining invoices or to honor the rest of our contract. It is just his personality. He appears to be very unhappy with the idea that I have something he wants, and he does not have the power in this situation. I don't even think it is a matter of being a businessman. I think it is just a character flaw. I have filed with the Better Business Bureau to see if they will mediate the situation. I will keep you guys updated.

Lately Sara and I have been discussing what we would do if we could have any job in the world. Most people would think I would like to be a poker player, but that is not true. I have always waned to be an investigator of some sort. At this point in my life the only option truly open to me is private investigations. I have done some research to see what it would take to become one, and it is much harder than you would imaging. A degree in criminology, 2 years of experience under a licensed person, and state testing. It is like becoming an accountant. This option does not really appear to be something I can accomplish right now. There are only two PI's in town and neither one of them is hiring right now. I am still looking for a way to make it happen. I think it would be a great additional set of services to offer in addition to accounting and tax. Plus it would give me a reason to buy all sorts of cool gadgets.

We will see what happens.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/12/07 Businessmen... Can you trust them?

Recently I have had some business deals go extremely bad. I am soooooo not happy about it. I had an old guy that has been in business for more than 40 years cuss me out in his office because he wants to get out of a contract that he signed. He insulted me personally while I was in his office stating after he gave me the check for my services, "Why don't you use that money to buy yourself some clothes and shoes!" He thought it was really funny and started laughing at me, along with two other staff members in his office. I just want what was agreed to and I have not given him any reason to try to cancel. He is just too short-sighted to be professional. He is honestly just a crazy person. What are you gonna do.

Well after taking some abuse I did give him a reason to be real mad at me. I said some stuff back to him that I will not repeat, but it was very mean. He got so mad about it he followed me out into the hallway as I was leaving and got in my face like he was going to hit me. I kinda wish he had.

Then today in a surprising turn of events he sent me an email regarding another outstanding invoice. He wants some additional information from me, which I would be happy to provide if he would just pay me, and not try to cancel the contract anymore.

I just do not understand how adult professionals can be so short-sighted when it comes to treating their business contacts in an extremely rude manner, or trying not to pay them. I have only seen extreme cases two or three times over the course of my ten years in business. However, everytime it happens I am always surprised at the source. It is always a well established person that has been in business for a long time. Someone you should be able to trust, or that is part of the BBB. WTF? I just don't get it.

The deal with this guy has caused me to create a website using his name , where anyone can record their stories about highly unprofessional behavior, name names, and give out information about the persons business. This will allow others to look up this kind of information and avoid crazy business owners and people with bad business practices.

It is really just a small effort, but I hope it turns into something bigger.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

8/6/07 19lbs to go & How to do it.

The main goal is to be down to 180 and be beautiful for my trip to the carribean in december. Basically, if I lose an lb a week I will just destroy my goal. So far every week I have lost at least a pound. The last couple of weeks have been bad, cause I was in Vegas, and then at Morongo, but I have still lost 11 lbs. This is how I did it! As far as I am concerned this is the only way to lose weight. Lifestyle change, I reduced my caloric intake to about 1200 a day. I try to eat stuff that is good for me, but even if I don’t I still keep the intake low. Then I work out at least 2 a week. That is it people. A lb is about 3600 calories. Burn or not eat that many and you lose an lb. You have to change the calculations a little bit for the fact that muscle converted weighs more than fat, but other than that you should lose at least an lb a week. By December I should look like Brad Pitt. Shazam!!!!

8/6/07 - 4 Hour Work Week and the Itch

Wow, it has been a long time since I blogged. The original idea for this blog was just to recount stories from my life, but I figured since they take so much work to write and it is not just stream of conscienceness so when I am too lazy to write those I will tell you a little about my normal life too.

It is confirmed... I am a gambling junky. I don't even wish it were not true, in the sense that if it weren't then maybe I would not know what I feel I have known through the experience of gambling. I wrote that specifically because there is a teacher that reads my blog and I wanted to put a little bit of Richard's particular brand of bad grammar in there. That was for you 'R'.

So if I had to be addicted to something I like the idea of being a gambling junky because it has the potential to pay you back. I have been playing a lot of poker and low stakes backgammon recently, after not playing for a while, and I realized that games do not mean anything if there is nothing at stake. And screw that "pride" crap... I can't turn around and buy a new laptop after I win your pride. I want cold hard cash.

So in poker I did great in Vegas two weeks ago (+1200), got hammered at the Morongo (-700), won my prop bets with Da Mic (+200), killed in props against Roobot (+30), and made Roobot cry at Backgammon (+54), did okay in the home game (+100), did good online (+250). So overall I am a winning player for the time being. I have a learned a lot of lessons since the last time I took a run at poker. The other betting and gambling serves to keep my mind occupied so I am not always thinking about the last one outer that came to give my opponent quads on the river.

So why am I writing about all of this? Well, The Bear (my wife) got a new book called the 4 Hour Work Week and has been bringing up some really crazy ideas. Basically we work, save up a bunch of money, go on a mini retirement for a couple of years, come back and work some more, then more mini retirement. The idea is that you do not spend the best years of your life slaving away at a desk. We had a similar idea like this on our own about a year ago. The idea was that we sell everything (not the 62" tv, or the laptop) take what we get and go to Europe for a year or two. We figured we would have close to 300k. We would still have retirement accounts and stuff, so our future is still growing in the market, but the rest of it would be used as such, I would get a chunk to use for my personal bankroll, The Bear would get a chunk to take language lessons, or ride horse or whatever, I don't really remember what she wanted to do. But then we would have a shared amount for living expenses and traveling.

Worst case scenario we spend 100k living our dreams and come back in a year or two with the experiences of a lifetime and still have 2/3 or our money. In a couple of years we would have the means to do it again. All of this while still building up our retirement accounts and savings. Since I am an accountant and can get work pretty much anywhere I want, and she will soon be a nurse and can do the same it is a solid plan. 100k to live a dream? Is it worth it? Now, best case scenario I turn out to be an okay gambler and we actually come back even, ahead, or filthy rich. I give it a 50/50 risk/reward ratio and how can we say no.

The idea is that most people never know what their dream is or they never really try them. Sara wants to travel the world, and I want to try my hand at being a pro poker player. We both deserve the chance to live our dreams. Can you imagine, living together somewhere in France, spending one week a month traveling to other countries, and the rest of the month playing in a 10/25 nl game in the French Riviera, or at the Aviators club. Soaking up the atmosphere, learning to communicate with the locals, raking huge pots, seeing beautiful art, drinking the best coffee in the world?

Most people dream small, or their dreams have to do with assets or security. I believe in both assets and security, but I do not think there is anything better than living a dream.

Now for the darker side of things. When we first brought this up about a year ago, I thought I was hot stuff in the low stakes poker world. Well I was a donk, and I still kinda am. Essentially I lost my bankroll playing poker online and blowing up, and tilting. Not so bad when the worst that could happen is just losing 1k of free money that I won early that year. However, it was very hard to face the fact that I was not a good poker player. When I had to look deep into my heart and realize that I sucked at poker, and that all of the money I had won to date was luck, and not good play and discipline, it crushed me. I could not go play in a high level game because I was not even good enough to play in a low level game. I was so distraught that I would never get to live that dream. I stopped playing poker for 4 months after that. When I came back to it I had a new perspective and was better than ever.

The practical side of living a dream like participating in a big competition or being an athlete or a skilled musician is that there is skill gap that must first be overcome. I realize this, and would not be willing to take 20k of our families hard earned profit and equity and gamble it irresponsibly. Don't get me wrong... I am a gambler at heart and love all sorts of risks, but for the most part I like risk where I can have an edge.

So what does this mean for the future? Well the gamblers life is risky, all of the pros have won and lost millions of dollars. They have all been so broke that they could not eat before. Doyle Brunson said in his book Poker Wisdom, "The day I put the last dollar in my poket on the table at risk, knowing I could not eat or pay my rent if I lost, I knew I was a gambler." Scary huh?!?! I am not willing to live that lifestyle, but I am willing to do something inbetween. I want to build up my bankroll slowly again and get to the higher level games before we decide to go "walk the earth". One way or the other I will get the chance to live my dream. I will not give it up, and I will not walk away, other than for a couple of months to take a break.

Dreams are worth fighting for. The only thing I cannot get over so far is that I just am not good enough to take a run at my dream yet. However, The Bear does not finish school for another 1.5 years so hopefully that will be enough time. I got the itch.... I want to play, to gamble, to put my bankroll on the line. So we will see what I can do with my remaining 700 of bankroll. Hopefully things will go well and I will become a better player.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


This occurred in 1984 and I was either 4 or 5. Remembering the exact timeline back then is a little difficult because I was just, as Trusty the Scottish terrier from ‘Lady and the Tramp’ would say, “A wee bairn.”

For lack of a better term my family was poor white trash. We didn’t mean to be, and apparently intentions matter, because look at us now. We did not spend a lot of time at this location, but I have a lot of memories from the house on Green Haven St. Maybe it was just the age or the fact that my parents marriage fell apart while we lived there.

My mother worked for a nuts and bolts company, the one that supplied a lot of parts that were used to build Nightrider, the sassy talking super car that launched David Hasselhoff’s carrier. I remember getting to see the showroom with all 7 cars that were used to produce the series. A voice actor talked to me while I sat in the driver’s seat of car number 1. The signature red light flashing back and forth, and the slightly digitalized voice knew my name. It was so freaking cool!

I don’t remember what my dad did for money back then but both parents were gone during the day. In an effort to keep from putting a lot of extra responsibility on my great grandmother my parents left me in the care of The Millers (cue creepy music, don, don, DONNN). The Millers were the truest back hills, inbred, cousin marrying, filthy, white trash stereotypes I have ever encountered in my entire life until now.

Their house was disgusting. 3 inch brown shag carpeting that had not been vacuumed or cleaned in years, dirty dishes all over the house that never seemed to be picked up. I actually remember seeing a clear plastic cup that looked like a mixture of Pepsi, cigarette butts, mold, and chew spit that never moved… It just sat there for the year that I knew them on the edge of the living room coffee table.

Something like 9 people lived in this 1500 square foot house; Mother, father, 4 sons ranging from 21 to 6, a couple cousins, and at least one grandchild. One of the Teenage sons, about 16 years old, actually lived together in one of the bedrooms with his female first cousin, whom he coupled with. Yes! Coupled! I remember that on one Thursday afternoon, three of the older kids and the cousin/girlfriend broke down on the side of the road, and the father took me with him to pick them up in pick up truck. There were 6 of us all together in this truck that should hold a max of 4 souls uncomfortably. I was forced to squat in the floorboard next to the missing console cover with engine exhaust blowing into my face. The worst part was the two foot circle of rusted out floor that I was hovering over the whole time. Lightheaded from the exhaust, I remember being entranced by the moving parts and asphalt below me. A couple times I reached out to touch the moving shaft and the cousin/girlfriend gruffly pulled me back.

On Sundays the younger kids, and sometimes I were bathed in a 20 gallon steal bucket in the middle of the cracked linoleum kitchen floor, using soap only and a water hose brought in from the backyard. Even though I was only four years old I remember this being one of the most degrading experiences of my life. Even at this young age I knew I was better than these people, and I was like the main event when it came time for my bath. As I sat there staring up at the piles of dead cockroaches half obscuring the florescent light covers, 4 or 5 members of the family would be milling around the kitchen. I remember thinking they were all looking at me. Mrs. Miller did the bathing, and she was the worst. Her leathery hands touching me everywhere, regularly pulling me to a standing position for the world to get a look at my tiny man parts, and spraying me with frigged hose water.

Speaking of Mrs. Miller, she was something to behold indeed. About 400 lbs, always wearing a flowered muumuu, perched on the edge of a low sitting rickety couch, with a long cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth with about a ½ inch of ash dangling precariously from it. In the Miller house nothing was ever on the TV but soap operas. Maybe I was always there in the afternoon or maybe they figured out how to work a VCR with their prehensile nubs and just really liked reruns. All I know is that I do not ever remember walking into the smoke filled living room, and venturing across the crunchy shag carpet when soaps were not on the TV. Mrs. Miller had stringy salt and pepper hair, that looked like it came right off the head of the Crypt keeper. Her jiggly round face was accentuated by the mere slits of eyes that were mostly obscured by fatty hoods, which were covered in what were probably moles, but what I always thought were rice crispys that got glued to her eyelids in some unfortunate cereal related accident.

Bobby was the youngest son at age 6. He was the one that really scared me. I spent a lot of time with him in the back yard because we were the closest in age. However, there is a real big different between 4 and 6. Bobby was a serial killer in the making. I saw him kill a cat once, countless torture of bugs, and beat a dog regularly. The back yard of the Miller estate was a sprawling wasteland of chest high weeds, chicken wire, several types of animals, and miscellaneous trash and debris.

One morning Bobby took me out into the backyard and I saw something that I never knew existed. He asked me to stay at the threshold of the broken backdoor while he “got something.” When he called me, I walked around the backside of the house and turned the corner that lead into the corridor of animal cages. Bobby was standing next to the biggest cock I had ever seen. By cock of course I mean rooster, and it was gigantic. Its head must have come up to the middle of his chest, which means it would be almost face to face with me. As I would soon find out… it was not a normal rooster. I stood about 10 feet away, the sun was still behind the trees in the distance and it backlit the two ominous partners.

The rooster was, as I imagine all roosters are, real pissed off looking. Its beady black eyes darted to and fro as it bobbed it black head up and down. The red comb on the top of its head flopped vigorously back and forth. It scratched at the ground and a small puff of dust floated around him in the dim light of the morning.

Bobby had shown me a lot of animals before. I expected him to do something to it. To grab it, try to ride it, hit it or something… Well he wanted to show me something, but it was not something I had never seen before. While I was curious, like usual, I also had a bad feeling. Just before some moments in your life, you know something is going to happen. Something big, something bad, something life changing.

Bobby grinned, an evil hillbilly grin, and time seemed to freeze for a moment and then moved very slowly. I remember his mouth forming each syllable, with a bit of spittle stretching between his lips, his eye’s glowing with an excitement, his eyebrows raised with anticipation, Bobby Miller ‘Beast Master’ said, “Attack!”

The rooster was very graceful as it lowered its body then sprung into the air, wings flapping slowly. I don’t remember everything because it was so traumatic, but this is what I do remember. The rooster was hypnotic in a way as is glided into the air, covered the 10 feet between us in a split second and hovered over my head. I could only see its dark outline with the early morning light of all colors glowing around it. It’s decent to my face was like watching slow motion high resolution video of animals in the wild. Amazing, beautiful, spellbinding. After that the only thing I remember is feathers floating around me slowly, and a faint idea of the rooster jumping off my head and returning over and over again. I know I eventually fell, and I remember Bobby laughing and jumping up and down before I blacked out.

I know there was an ambulance, and I know I was at the hospital for a while. Face and head injuries bleed a lot, and I remember lots of bloody bandages. Apparently my uncle David killed the rooster and the next day we ate it. I do not remember that, but I know if anyone could or would do it, it would be Uncle David. I was his favorite nephew and he was a little crazy.

I have about 12 scars on my head to this day. You know the old story of the man that gets in a fight and his knee is broken, and then every time he takes a step after that for the rest of his life he says the name of the man that broke his knee? Well every couple of months I get my hair cut, and when I see the semi-horrified, or curious look from the barber, I think…. Bobby Miller.

I should be Writing

I have been blogging some stories from my life at I have enjoyed this soooo much. But it is way more work than you think. 2 pages worth of story takes about 3 hours to produce with no distractions. I have been listening to a podcast called IShouldBeWriting. It is so encouraging, informational, and entertaining. I have started the outline of my life till now. I want to write a collection of stories from my life for my kids and grandkids to read when I am gone. I am more about telling the story of my life than writing fiction, but I am interested in that too. We will see how it turns out.

Make a movie before I die?

Ever since the day my grandfather showed me how to hook two vcr’s together, splice segments together, and change the sound track I have loved creating all sorts of media. Before I die I want to make at least one short movie. If possible like 30 minutes or so. I know it is a lot of work. This desire has been reinforced in me lately since I started podcasting, watching ‘On The Lot’, and especially since we got our new video camera. SWEET! 30gig built in harddrive, make for computer transfer and editting. Now I just have to get on it. I cannot imagine getting to this goal till I am at least 35, just no time right now.

Week 3

The question is, if you had your choice would you eat fewer calories than you needed, and not work out, or work out and eat more calories than you needed? Which one is better? I have had a lot of trouble getting motivated to run on the treadmill. I don’t mind lifting weights, which builds muscle, and therefore burns up more calories. And I think that working out while over eating is kind of pointless. So I guess my first step is eating less, about 1200 calories a day 5 days a week, and working out once a week. I have lost 3 lbs in 3 weeks. That is something… I guess. 27 lbs to go.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gabriel Shines

In 1995 I was just beginning my friendship with David. He is, and most-likely always will be my best friend. He was a gigantic geek, and I did not know this, but I was a gigantic geek in the making. I know today after seeing the success of George Lucas, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates that super geekdom is nothing to be ashamed of, but back then I thought it was.

David was a ‘Trekkee’, sorry, ‘Trekker’ and pretty hard core. Enterprise model on his bookshelf, Romulan Warbird hanging from the ceiling as you enter his room, and countless books and posters. I was already a huge Star Wars fan, but I never got into Star Trek because it did not have enough blasters and lighsabers to keep me interested. Plus it is really hard to get involved in something when you are way behind in information. How can you argue with your friends about which series is the best when you haven’t seen all of the seasons several times and have them on tape with no commercials?

I was scared… Scared of true geekdom, additional alienation in school, of the work it would take to become a true fan, and most of all I was afraid that someday in the heat of the moment I might cuss at someone in Klingon instead of good old American profanity. Needless to say all of my fears washed away when David sat me down with 7 VHS tapes filled to the brim with Star Trek DS9. Cisco, Kiera, Otto, Quark, Jake, Chief O’Brian, Kai Winn, Gul Dukot, Changelings and other Dominion types soon became good friends of mine.

I was happy, but trouble was on the horizon. Unbenonced to me Dave was a true card carrying ‘Trekker’, literally, he was a member of the Bakersfield chapter of the Star Trek club, and due to the upcoming series Star Trek Voyager I would soon become a member too.

If you have never seen a group of 20 plus Trekkers together in one place, it is truly a sight to behold. A generally reclusive bunch, Trekkers really come out of their shells when they have numbers on their side. The gathering for the first episode of the new series was a gamers’ paradise. Role playing, card games, and three level chess were all in effect when we walked in the door. David split off immediately to show off his skills in the Star Trek card game. He was always good at anything that was strategy based.

I was introduced to the leader of the group, an older lady with short almost white hair, a firm handshake, and a black belt in Judo, in full Star Trek garb. I met a lot of people that day, but the one that later truly blew my mind was Gabriel. This guy was off the charts in geekery. That day at the meeting he was presented with a full Star Trek uniform and his eyes lit up like an imploding sun. He ran off immediately to change in the bathroom. When he emerged he withdrew his tri-corder and ran a quick sweep of the Toastido chips to make sure everything was in order. He was just one year younger than Dave and me so it made sense that we would all become friends. Just to make the final point about what a sold out Trekker he was, he was actually in the documentary film “Trekkies’ .

As the weeks went on David and I spent more and more time together, in my high school years I practically lived at his house. After the meeting I attended Gabriel started coming over on a regular basis too. To be honest, I was a little jealous because Gabriel and David had way more in common. They were both computer junkies, and the current obsession for David was 3D graphic creation and rendering. It turns out that Gabriel, who was home schooled, was almost an expert. At the age of 12 while I was playing guns in the front yard with my friends, arguing over who shot who first, Gabriel was creating short films using graphics he created from scratch. This was before Pixar and as far as we were concerned it was almost cutting edge.

As the weeks went on I realized how much I did not like this guy. I know now that I was just afraid he was going to steal Dave from me. They had way more in common, and let’s face it… I was a computer retard, while they were essentially computer gods. Dave seemed to be spending more and more time in his room with Gabriel plugging away at creating some computer graphics. The norm was for David to be at my side, or as an adversary across the huge role playing and multi purpose table we had built. Being surrounded by all of my other friends was not enough! I wanted Dave’s attention. All of these feelings came to a head in a situation that pretty much changed me forever, and also solidified Dave, in my mind, as one of the best and true hearted people I would ever have the privilege to know in my life.

One of the many days the whole role playing gang was at David’s house, hold up in the garage, rolling away handfuls of six sided die trying to determine the fate of our characters, Gabriel interrupted David and I to show us something.

Note: For those of you who know me… To understand the rest of this story you must know that at that time in my life I was not the startling vision of kind hearted speech that I am today. For those of you who do not know me, I was then, still am today, and will forever more be a huge jerkoff.

David and I followed Gabriel through the maze of David’s house to the dungeon (Dave’s Room). Gabriel hit a few keys on the computer, jiggled the mouse and one of the most amazing things I had ever seen in my life appeared. I had heard a lot of talk out of Gabriel about his movies and 3D creations, but I had some idea in my head that it was a bunch of stick figure drawings. I could not have been more wrong! Before me was an original creation of Gabriel’s, a 5 minute story of two starships, full of amazing colors and affects that completely took me by surprise. Expectations change your view of things. Since I was expecting something fairly simple this movie was beyond comprehension to me. Gabriel was truly someone with a lot of talent.

After the movie ended with the two ships flying off into the light of a star, one of them swaying to and fro, I turned to Gabriel, and in classic Richard fashion proceeded to make a huge fool of myself. I said, “Gabe… I do not like you… But that was amazing!” In my mind this was a very high compliment. When your enemies have to bow down and pay homage to your superhuman skills you know you are truly being complimented. I thought adding the part about not liking him would actually increase the value of the sincere compliment I was trying to pay him.

Gabriel was not well socialized and was very used to dealing with jokes at his expense and general adversity from people his age. There was a silence for about 25 seconds then Gabriel graciously said thank you, and extended his hand to shake the one I offered after the extremely insulting compliment. I was still oblivious to the fact that I was making a colossal fool of myself. I left the room and David found me in the kitchen a few minutes later. He did not look happy.

“Why did you say that?” David questioned in as harsh a tone as I had ever heard from him. I could tell he was mad and that there was something wrong, but I could not understand what. “What?” I said, “I really liked it!” Then why did you have to say you didn’t like him.” I looked blankly at David for a moment and then it hit me… There in David’s kitchen with a piece of bread in my hand, taquitos in the microwave humming away, a chameleon staring at me from its cage, and Dave looking as stern as ever I realized for the first time in my near adult life one fact that I still commonly have to refer to in many situations….

I don’t have to say everything I think of! When a word or a thought is rolling around in my head I actually have a choice whether or not I want to let it out.

Gabriel and I never really became friends but we did hang out a lot, and I respected him., I never told him again how I felt about him unless it was good. From what I hear he has gone on to do great things in graphics and animation, and was trying to do a Star Trek movie. Dave is still one of my best friends despite my complete inability to exhibit tact or understand nonverbal cues from others. I never became a full blown Trekker but till this day I try to watch reruns of NG and DS9 at least a couple days a week. .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SexEd Ambiguity

In 2002 I was working for Clinica Sierra Vista as a ‘Sex Ed Teacher’. I have always said it was one of the most fulfilling positions I have ever held, and would do it again if it paid better. I was hired due to my experience leading the junior high group at my church, and my solid personal goals. The other two in class teachers were more than twice my age. I was really excited to do it because I thought the piddley $13.00 per hour would allow me to work fewer hours and get some more college courses completed.

Junior high kids reacted really well to me, and I liked working with them. Most people do not realize, or cannot remember, what an odd and confusing experience being a preteen is. I always try to keep it in the forefront of my mind because it gives me perspective for today. Your body is growing at an alarming rate, hair is growing is funny places, and the girls that you used to chase suddenly start letting you catch them. I think the kids mostly liked me because I said the word penis in class so much. In fact, I used to start the very first class after the teacher introduced me by letting almost a minute of silence go by, me staring at them and them staring at me, both of us blinking the uncomfortable minute away, then muttering the ‘penis’ in a very low tone. After giving them another 10 seconds to realize what just transpired, then say it again with a little more confidence. We would start the first day by yelling penis, vagina, scrotum and breasts over and over again.

What makes someone qualified to teach sex education? I am still not sure, I think it has more to do with being able to handle the performance anxiety than anything else. It also could have to do with the ability to deal with the smell and maintain order in the class. I don’t know any nice way to say this… Junior high kids stink to high heaven. Their hormones have just kicked into high gear. They run around for fun and play all kinds of sports. They are usually too young to know what deodorant is and usually had my class right after a recess. They are stinky, unkempt little whelps, and I loved them for it. As for keeping order, I had an ingenious system of pitting them against each other military style. Right at the beginning of the class I would pick out the smart mouthed trouble makers, and take pride in making the class hate and disdain them. Well however I was qualified, I loved it!

We did classes for 6 weeks at several schools. After completing the first program, I was feeling good. I got to the second school and ripped right into the material with the kids. In the second week of the program something happened that pretty much changed me forever. I was fielding miscellaneous questions from the class, and in my usual style letting the kids do most of the answering to see how much they had absorbed.

One kid in the last seat of the center row had been real quiet for the first two weeks. I could tell that the kid, with a very round figure, budding breasts, and chin length jet black hair, was one of the outcasts of its class. In a very short encounter with the kid I realized that its breath was repugnant, and it had extreme body odor. As a life long do-gooder my heart leapt with the chance to help the kid look smart when its chubby hand reluctantly swayed up into the air to ask a question. I pointed to the kid, “YES you! Little lady in the back row.” A slight chuckle rolled through the class. The reluctant junior higher asked, “Mr. B…Why are vaginas so wet?” I replied, “Very good question!” Since the class had not covered the topic yet and I did not want to give another kid in the class the chance to demean the kid with a smarmy response I answered it for the class. I rattled my answer out quickly with clinical information, and a little joke at the end. Then to seal my fate I said, “Thank you for that question miss… What was your name?” The kid looked infuriated and stifled laughter started fill the room. ‘Little Miss Backrow’ stood up from its chair, face fierce red, arms locked at its side, hands balled into fists, and face puckered with anger and embarrassment, and half shouted, “My name is Jaime, and I am a boy!”

Chaos ensued. I was almost knocked off my feet. I wanted to reply, to do something, but for almost a minute I just swayed on unsteady legs in front of an out of control class. The insidious laughter was deafening. I glanced to my left at the Phys-Ed teacher at his desk, newspaper drooping and saw the same shocked expression on his face, wide eyed horror to be more exact. The kids were not just laughing at Jaime, they were also laughing at me. One thing I have learned about the evil junior high mind is that it loves to see authority figures fall flat on their faces.

It was only the second week of class. I had to spend 4 more weeks with this class and with that pour little kid that I just insulted in the worst way. Later that day after lunch, and before my next class Jaime came to see me. We both sat dejected on the rot iron steps to the P.E. bungalow. I said, “I am so sorry. I would never have done that on purpose.” Apparently Jaime had been doing some soul searching too and said, “I told my mom I did not want this hair cut. I wanted a cool surfer cut, but she really wanted me to have this. I think they call it a mushroom.” As the other kids played on football field, we just sat there in silence.

I saw Jaime one year later at the county fair. He shouted, “Mr. B!” across the crowded lane of people. I recognized him immediately, but he had floored me once again. He got his surfer cut alright! He also grew several inches, lost 30 lbs, put on some muscle, and had a girl on his arm to seal the deal. We chatted a bit, and he told me how my mistake in class had given him the motivation to stand up to his mom, and try out for the football team. All of this in the name of asserting his manhood. Sometimes good stuff comes from our mistakes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Art solves Crime

In 1999 I was working for a sober living facility in one of my first accounting/IT positions. I accepted rents from crazies, dealt with Housing Authority payments and reconciliations, social workers, and loyally served the Manager Ethan.

Most of the people living at this facility have broken brains, addictions, and are generally nuts. We had recently received a new tenant named Eli. He was in his early 40’s schizophrenic, overweight, greasy, fro headed, and a convicted rapist to boot. Eli was a very quiet resident who enjoyed sitting in the shade in corner of the complex working away on his sketch pad. He took it everywhere and always seemed to be drawing. He had been skulking about the community for about a month when Jennifer moved in. I am not totally sure what her deal was, but she definitely used drugs, and was very flighty. However, she was good looking, early 20’s, long blond hair, big bright smile, and a sunny disposition.

From the day Jennifer moved in Eli started following her around the complex and trying to talk to her. The manager directly above me, Ethan, was smitten by the girl as well so he was very alert of the freaky Puerto Rican keeping his watchful eye on the young lady.

Ethan and I were both on call on the weekends, but normally I did not get called in because Ethan was almost always available. This community, as you can imagine, had problems with drugs, fights, shootings, and even a couple of deaths in the 18 months I worked there. Every morning I would read through the security reports while I was getting my coffee. Stabbings, shouting matches, altercations of all types, residents arrested for drugs, theft, and even prostitution. It was a generally exciting place to work.

Ethan had notice that Jennifer had not been around for the entire day Friday. He flipped through the security cameras over and over again throughout the day, looking for the beauty strolling through the community, or going into the shared recreation area. Alas, all day he did not see her. Near the end of my shift he called her social worker and reported that she had not been seen and did not respond when he went to her door. Eli also had not been seen all day.

Saturday night at about 9pm I received a call from the police saying that they needed someone to come down and open up the office and talk to them about a missing girl. After the call from Ethan on Friday Jennifer’s social worker called her parents, who after the waiting period called the police and reported her missing. The police informed me over the phone that they were at the community waiting for me, they had a witness that they needed to interview, and needed to let me know what was going on. I burned up the road, thinking the whole time, “Witness? What would they have a witness to?” When I arrived the police officers were standing out front… next to Eli.

I opened the front door and showed them to a private room. One officer went into the room with Eli and the other one stayed in the hallway to update me. He informed me that they were following up on a missing person’s case (I thought that they had been responding very quickly to a process that police rarely follow up on diligently). Eli sought the officers out when they arrived at the arrived at the complex. I also thought this was strange because he does not speak English very well, and had only said 3 words to me in a little over a month. The officer continued to tell me about the other residents he had spoken with saying that the last person they saw her with was Eli. Apparently they had walked out of the complex together early Friday morning. At this point the other officer opened the door and said that I should hear what he was saying. Eli was telling the story in his own words.

I don’t know what kind of accent he had, but it must have been Puerto Rican. He spoke evenly but had great trouble pronouncing English words. This was his story…
“Me and Jennifer were good friends. We went to get something to drink from the store. I was gonna buy her something. She is very nice…. (pause and stares off over his shoulder at a blank wall, shakes his head and returns to the story) We walked about 10 blocks to the market, I got a beer and I bought her a coke. I stopped just outside the door to talk to a friend of mine, and she continued walking. When I was done talking to Fred I saw her next to a semi talking to a man. I ran to catch up with her but she was pulled into the truck and it drove away real quick.”

The officers looked at each other with skepticism then looked at me. I whispered to the one nearest me that he has a record for rape, and is schitzo. The officer nodded, and asked Eli if he could describe the man or the vehicle. Eli said that he could do better than that… He could draw them a picture. The cops thought that was a good idea and left him in the room furiously working on the sketch that would put all the pieces together.

The officers and I chatted in the hallway and they stated that they did not believe him. He most likely raped and killed her. In the middle of this conversation Ethan showed up. He looked pretty frantic. He clearly liked the girl more than he had let on earlier in the week. While Ethan spoke with the officers I talked to our security guard, and read his reports for Friday night.

Finally after almost an hour Eli signaled that he was done. We all piled into the room. One of the officers stepped behind Eli to look at the sketch. The look on his face was puzzling to me. The situation was so serious and he appeared to be smiling. Was it so good that he thought it cracked the case? Was it a criminal he recognized? Was it a picture of Eli raping and killing the poor girl. The officer said thank you, took the sketch from the pad and told Eli he could go back to his apartment. Eli edged past the officers nervously, staring off over his shoulder and skulked out of the building. When he was gone the officer showed the rest of us the drawing. This is an actual copy of the drawing... before the police left with it I asked if I could make a copy.

The next Tuesday we found out from her parents that Jennifer had gotten into the truck willingly and paid her way to the coast with sexual favors, and eventually called her parents to pick her up in San Diego. Ethan was heart broken. Jennifer never came back to live at the complex. Eli was so happy that he was able to help the police, and walked around the complex telling everyone that he was working for the cops helping them crack cases with his expert art skills. No one else in the complex had ever seen one of his drawings. He never showed his art pad to anyone else.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Living on the interest

If you put $1 million in a regular bank account with average interest you would get a return of around $50k per yer and could probably live on it without even touching the principle. I decided I wanted to accomplish this goal shortly after reading Dave Ramsey’s ‘Total Money Makeover’ and realized that it is possible. Currently I am 2% there. However, the first 1% was the really hard part. The first $10k took me 7 years to save and the second $10k only took me 1 year to save. It is all down hill from here. However, I now know that when I get close to this goal I am definately going to change it to be an even higher number. Just to see how much I can do.

The original idea...

One day I was watching the movie Fight Club for like the 10th time and during the scene where Brad Pitt takes his hands off the wheel of the limo and lets it drift across lanes of traffic he yells, “Say one thing you wanted to do before you die!” One man shouts in reply, “Read a book!”, the other shouts, “Paint a self-portrait!” after this caught up in the moment I randomly exclaimed, “Punch a Giraffe!”

Originally, it was just some random thing that i said. But now I have actually fleshed out the idea. Travel to Africa, climb a tree wait for a giraffe to stick it’s big dopey face to get some food and WHAP!, right in the kisser. I have since imagined that there is a one in a billion chance that I might just knock him out cold. Then the ground would shake as the majestic beast crumples to the hard packed earth, a huge mass of limp gangly limbs. I can only hope.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Freemdom Sandwich

Freedom Sandwich
This occurred in the fall of 1998

In high school I had become friends with a Biology Teacher named Mr. Hanley. I took his class in my sophomore year and then acted as a teacher’s aide for my junior and senior years. As his student I learned a lot, but not necessarily about biology. His main agenda was always to free our minds through his teaching. The classroom was very large, but only half of it had the standard black veneer toped 300 lb lab tables. The other half was full of cages with animals of all types; opossums, monitor lizards, lab rats, hissing cockroaches, a six foot iguana named Iggy with a horrible temperament, and partially bald white cockatoo with a nervous condition that caused him to pluck his own feathers. The floors were dirty, literally, not filthy, just had all kinds of debris on them. The smell of the classroom was sometimes very overwhelming, different animals, their food, their waste, and not to mention all of the filthy teenagers covering in overflowing hormones.

Mr. Hanley was on the outside of the group when it came to other teachers. He probably preferred it that way. As a highly exuberant and excitable individual, generally charismatic with students, outspoken, and totally in your face he was certainly not well liked by his peers. Does this sound like the average teacher? Later I learned he also did not get along with the administrators or the principle. Some kids absolutely loved his class because there was not a lot of homework; he prepped students for tests extensively, and did lots of exciting demonstrations in the class to solidify important principles. Explosions, potato guns, arcing electricity, and movies were a common occurrence in his class.

His class was not straight forward because he was not teaching us biology… he was teaching us about just biology. He was using his biology class to help us think critically about life and to question societal norms. After my time as a student in his class I continued to work as his aide because I admired him, and wanted the easy credits. It was not as easy as I thought. It was not hard work, but it was a great responsibility to feed animals and clean their cages everyday. When Mr. Hanley accepted my friend David and I as his aides I chose to care for the reptiles rather than the mammals because Mr. Hanley always said that mammals were filthy. His influence over me at this time was already evident. I played mother to the relatively clean and efficient reptiles for two years, while David was scraping up piles of mammal dung and urine. Hanley was right, reptiles are cleaner, but what he was really telling me was that human mammals were filthy.

After high school I stayed in contact with Mr. Hanley because I thought he was a powerful thinker and a real character to boot. The fall after my graduation form high school I went to see Mr. Hanley to chat and to catch up a bit. He said hi and in usual Hanley fashion he seemed almost frantic, typing on the keyboard quickly here, stuffing something in his pocket there, walking form corner to corner in the classroom moving items, feeding and animal and talking to me the whole time.

He turned and made eye contact for a short moment and said, “Walk with me, I have some stuff to do.” I followed him out of the classroom, around the corner to the right, down a dark hallway, and through the teachers lounge to an enclosed garden area. He spilled out some explanation about the plants being prehistoric and how he planted them right under the teacher’s nose because of the perfect environment of the enclosed area.

After he finished I followed him out the gate to the trash collection area behind the cafeteria. He stopped his explanation in the middle of a sentence, looked me in the face and said, “What day of the week is it?” I replied, “Thursday.” He said, mostly under his breath, “Sandwich day.” He promptly walked the short distance across the lot to a 3 yard dumpster and half hung over the side. He moved a couple of bags around and ripped one large black plastic bag open. “Payday!” he exclaimed. I heard the crinkling of stiff plastic packages as he pulled 3 prepackaged sandwiches out of the bag and handed them backwards to me. Trying to be helpful I received, and held them gingerly, thinking about how dirty they must be. He took three more out and turned to back to the classroom.

As we walked he took the other sandwiches from me, opened one packages and started taking large bites out of the mixed meat hoagie, all the while still talking about prehistoric plants. Just before we reached the dark hallway again he abruptly stopped and said, “I am so rude. Would you like a sandwich?” He held out the one of the packages, while cradling the other 5 in his left arm. I reached out to take it because it was a gift from someone that I respected, but intended to carry it around and through it away after I got home. With my right hand still grasping the sandwich, face to face with me he must have seen something in my posture or eyes that told him exactly what I was thinking. A man like Hanley must have seen it a million times.

He said, “You see the school regulations say that the cafeteria workers must throw away any food that has an abnormal package. They put them all in a large black trash bag and through them out at the end of the day. The bag is on top of the pile, separated from the rest of the trash by another bag, and they are still prepackaged, just abnormally. I don’t know many people who would go looking through the trash for them, but they are quite good.” What he was really saying to me was, “Don’t be like all those other small thinkers who just say everything inside a trash can is filthy, chewed up, sticky waste. The sandwiches are fine, there is nothing wrong with them, but they are cast aside because of some wasteful government regulation. If you don’t eat it then you cannot see past the bull crap and you are just like the morons that make up the school administration.”

As all of the implications raced through my mind I hesitantly opened the package and exposed the contents. I was hungry. I took my first bite, and he smiled, turned, and walked back to the classroom with me close behind.

I ate that sandwich and it changed the way I looked at the world forever. It tasted sooo good. It tasted like freedom!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bum Rush!

This event occured in early 2002
I was on my way home from work during tax season late at night... about 11pm. I stopped at a gas station downtown. Bakersfield does not have a lot of homeless, but we live in the valley where meth was invented. So while we do not have a lot of unkept masses miandering around infront of the local quikee mart, we do have a lot of generally cracked out individual cleaning their mobile homes in the middle of the night, and twitching about to and fro in public spaces.

I pulled up the a very large gassing station downtown... I think it has something like 22 pumps. There were maybe 3 other cars gasing up. This particular station did not take credit cards so I got out of my car with a 20 dollar bill in my hand and made a b-line towards the store where you pay. I had a 20 in my hand a pocket with about $200 in it, and a center console full of shiny change.

I saw the young gentleman as I was pulling up. He was making a request of the patron at the pump accross from me. He looked like he was in his early 20's, clearly was not there to get gas, and was slightly dirty. With a ciggy hanging out of the corner of his mouth he counted the change he just received and stuffed down into his cargo pants. As I was making my way accross the expansive parking lot to pay for my gas with a $20 in my hand the young man approached me.

As he came to within 3 feet of me I recognized him. I knew him but I did not know where I knew him from. I am pretty sure it was high school, but could not really place him. The dialogue that ensued went a little something like this.
Bum: "Hey can you spare some change?"
Richard: "I don't have and change, how much do you need?"
I had a couple singles in my back pocket that I was willing to give him if he seemed nice enough. Then a funny thing happened.... I had the hand with the $20 in it held about stomach level in front of me. He looked down at it then looked up at me, smiled what I can only describe as a slightly evil smug smile.
Bum: "How about $20...", then took a step closer to me, one eye squinting a little bit from the smoke in the corner of his mouth.

I started to chuckle a little bit. I had 5 inches and at least 30 pounds on this guy. Plus I could clearly beat this guy to bloody pulp and break all of his bones if I needed to. I was not scared at all, I was actually very amused by his very weak attempt at intimidation and robbery. That is why I chuckled. I did not laugh in his face, I was still trying to show him a little respect. I don't ever try to treat anyone as less than human. But now I was feeling a little insulted. He didn't even give the robbery an honest try.

I had never really stopped moving forward, and since this exchange occured in the matter of a few seconds I was able to keep my momentum and just slightly turn my body and move past him. I made my way to the store, paid for the gas, and went back to fuel up.

I stood there for about 4 minutes while the nozzle automatically shot about $20 worth of gas into my tank. As I stood their waiting I notice that the kid had moved to a location in the darkness about 20 yards behind the pump I was standing at. He was smoking and I could see the cherry of his cigarette glow every 20 seconds or so. I did not pay any attention to him and started to think about the hurmerous encounter from a few minutes ago.... Did he really think that would work. Who knows what goes on in the minds of meth heads? Really!?

As the pump snapped the automatic lock off, and I reached for the nozzle to replace it and get on my way I heard rapid footsteps. I looked up just as the young man was coming around the gas pump, he threw what I can only describe as one of the weakest strikes I have ever encoutered from an adult . He hit me in right cheek and did no damage. I was shocked of course by this unprovoked attack, and just stood there for about 30 seconds completely stunned while I watched him turn and run away. As he got to the main street and crossed it without looking ,a car skidded to a stop half sideways barely missing the young man.

The 40 something mexican patron accross the lane from me started laughing. I looked at him standing next to SUV half bent over in laughter... I said, "Did you see that?" He repleid between his laughter, "You got punked homes!" I wanted to beat him down right then. What kind of adult acts like that. This was a potentially dangerous situation, any real adult would have recognized that and acted appropriately.

I can only remember thinking that I should have beat the kid down, called the police, jumped in my car and torn off after him. What did I do? I just got back in my car, still very shocked, and as the anger started to set in I drove home. My wife had the nerve to get angry at me for letting him get that close to me. "What if he had a knife or something?"

1 week later I was driving through downtown and saw him walking down the street......