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Just what the world needs…another blogger.

If there is one thing that the internet needs it is another blog.  There’s just not enough traffic out here in www. land.  Not enough guys and gals out here who think that it is their duty to spout off about every little thing that bounces around in their brainpan. We bloggers are so clever and we have some really important things to share with the world.

Don’t believe me?  Just do a quick and random search of the blogs that are out there. We bloggers have made available to you great sites where you can get delicious recipes for flavorful dishes from around this crazy world of ours.  Little cozy corners of cyberspace where you can research just about anything that might interest you; sports, music and literature are just a few things that come to mind.  There are blog sites where you can look up symptoms and then minutes later jump to the conclusion that you are dying from a rare disease only transferable through anal sex with a 1000 year old house fly from New Delhi.

So many blogs that have educational value; such as “How to tune your Hurdy Gurdy”.(this is what a Hurdy Gurdy looks like by the way)

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There are blogs where you can research how to build bombs. Not simple bomb making stuff either, but really complicated bomb making stuff with fancy explosives, detonators, timers, all that cool jazz. After visiting these sorts of sites you will be visited by members of law enforcement, and you should be! There’s no reason to be researching that kind of stuff.

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There are also some very cool places which to land where you can learn to cook Meth. Visit one of these sites and you’ll probably get a visit from law enforcement.

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There are sites for White Supremacists.

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And sites for people who think white people are the source of all the trouble in the world.

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Then there are sites for people who have just had about enough of all of it and simply want to live in peace.

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There are sites where you can read heart warming testimonials on the latest in sex-toy technology.

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But all joking aside, there’s no limit to what you can find out here, there’s something for everyone and I hope that some people can find some entertainment here on my site.

If you’re an intellectual looking to do some mental exercising, then this will not be the place for you. If you’re a political type looking for multiple pages that help strengthen your belief that your way is the best and everyone else is wrong, then you definitely won’t be coming back. If you’re an over zealous religious type, then I’m surprised you’ve made it this far down the page to be honest.

But please don’t judge a blog by its cover. I plan on doing a bit more on this blog than indulging in sophomoric humor that only I find funny. Sure, there will be plenty of that, but from time to time you just might find something of substance.

There will be observations, short stories, and the airing of my grievances and some expressions of my gratitude.

And in no time at all this blog site will find a resting place alongside all of the other blog sites in the vast electronic graveyard of the internet.

Until then, I hope you find something on here worthwhile. If you do, feel free to share it, if you don’t, then good luck in your search for something more your speed.

 

 

 

 

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Memorial Day

Where Memorial Day sits as far as the Holy Trinity of Patriotic American Holidays is concerned  would depend on who you ask. Of course these holidays mean a great deal to many people for a number of reasons. I’m not here to sneer but only to point out something that has never sat well with me and that is the “Front Porch Patriotism” of it all from fanatical nationalistic types who seem to think that there is something glorious about this whole murdering and dying for one’s country business. From where I am sitting there hasn’t been a real war worth fighting since the second world war. What we’ve seen since then has never really involved young American’s fighting to keep our country “safe”. This isn’t meant to be a slap in the face for those who have lost their beloved family members in such a fashion, quite the contrary actually, it doesn’t sit well with me, none of it.  I could devote the rest of my days to compiling volumes of text on the men and women in the city of Chicago alone who have come back from these skirmishes and who have absolutely no quality of life whatsoever. We honor the dead in our country more than we take care of the living, and why not, it’s certainly less work and the price of a little plastic flag made in China and a few flowers is an easy enough cost to cover, getting out and repairing veteran’s lives is another story altogether. Yes, yes, I know all about the difference between the Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and I would not have even veered off into this rant if it weren’t for the fact that on Veteran’s Day I see very little being done. So, where am I going with this? Not sure, these National Holidays always have a strange effect on me. I suppose I would be happy if the majority just stuck to their grilling, their ballgames, and the trips to beach and spared me the lectures on the glory of war and the nobility of murdering and dying. The people I know who have lost those closest to them in the conflicts of recent years are too damaged for this false bravado and rabid patriotism. The people I know who survived the horrors of war are too shattered to talk about it and just want to be left alone.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”, it’s one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

“I believe that all the people who stand to profit by a war and who help provoke it should be shot on the first day it starts by accredited representatives of the loyal citizens of their country who will fight it.”

Have a peaceful and safe Memorial Day.

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Writer’s Block vs. Lack of Inspiration

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One of the recent questions I was asked on my Goodreads author page was “How do I get inspired to write”, this was not as easy of a question to answer as the “How do I deal with Writer’s Block” one that had been presented to me a couple of months ago.

I think some people confuse the two. With myself, Writer’s Block has only ever come into play when I’m working on a story, sitting down to write is seldom the problem. The problem is more often than not the lack of inspiration, the inspiration necessary to write something “meaningful”. I can write snarky social media posts all day long, I can pen a letter to a friend, I can even return to one of dozens of dusty and neglected journals I keep, but being inspired and harnessing something that can only be described as other-worldly is a different animal.

Inspired, to me, is when I am in that zone where my fingers are following an inaudible rhythm and punching away at the keys. When inspired there is no need to look up words in order to make a sentence more appealing, there is no need to think about where the scene is going, and I never have to consider what it is that I am “trying to say”.

How do I know if I’ve been paid a visit by the muse and have been left inspired? Simple, I go back and read something and wonder, “How the hell did I weave those sentences together so perfectly?” I realize that I was able to tap into something special and mustered up the talent to articulate it so that strangers may be able to recognize something special as well. That’s the mystery of the craft.

Yes, writing, like any craft, takes hard work that’s grounded in the real world, but that reality has very little to do with “being inspired”.

Thanks for reading.

A bit of gratitude for John Perry.

 

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Some good things we “keep for ourselves”.  Little memories of place and time and the experience of something extremely personal. A bookmark of sorts that gets tucked in safely between pages that may be joyful or sorrowful, sometimes it’s just a happening in between the mundane and boring filler of life. Sometimes we keep our interactions with other people private, even the slightest interactions like a glance on the bus, a smile exchanged, or a simple act of kindness. In my case it may be a form of superstition; that if I were to share one of these moments that it would lose it’s luster, that somehow it would not be as special. I think that may be a bit selfish since the story of a kind act can often lead to the inspiration of a new kind act? It certainly could not hurt.

When John Perry Barlow died there was the initial rush of condolences and stories that are inevitable when a man who lived as full of a life as he shakes off the mortal coil. The internet – a very big part of his life – buzzed about his passing and although tempted to share a little story about my interaction with this interesting fellow, I opted to keep it to myself. Until now I have only told a handful of people about a late night conversation I had with him.

First, I’ll quickly explain how a dialogue was struck up with him in the first place.  Back in 1996 I bought my first PC and dove into the internet head first. One of the most interesting things I came across in those early days was his piece, “A Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace” and his thoughts on the sudden death of Dr. Cynthia Horner – his friend and lover who had planned to marry.  Of course, Barlow had been on my radar for many years prior given that he penned Grateful Dead songs and was an integral part of GD lore, but when I came across his piece on the worldwide web and saw that he had publicly posted his contact info I decided to write to him. He responded within a day or so and thus began a sort of modern-day pen pal relationship. Grateful Dead music had maybe been mentioned once early on but  maybe I thought it an incredible waste of an opportunity or maybe I feared it would be a bit tired a conversation for him. Either way, our exchanges were often lighthearted and humorous but from time to time the subject matter was heavy, and Barlow was real good at “heavy”, real good at it.

Forward to the year 2000. No, planes didn’t fall out of the sky, world markets didn’t crash, and every other ridiculous speculation about what would happen when we crossed a make-believe threshold went up in smoke. Another thing that had begun to go up in smoke was my personal well-being.  A decade of fast living was laid out behind me and at probably the most inopportune time I was on the verge of becoming a father. When the mother of the child was just on the verge of passing the three-month mark she created an elaborate plan and left town to have an abortion. It should be mentioned that we later made peace and parted ways permanently on a far more amicable level. But at the time it was not so amicable, I was extremely angry, yes, but the anger was merely a byproduct of the hurt.

I had went on a bender that lasted a couple of weeks and when my body was as tired as my mind I had looked at an email that John Perry had sent with a his contact info under his electronic signature along with the following quote from Louie Armstrong “With a trombone you can say anything, but with words you must be careful.”

Well, I didn’t give much thought to the fact that it was 3am in the midwest and 4am on the east coast where John had been snoozing. When he answered the phone he was not the least bit irritated, in fact, he asked if I could allow him a minute. I heard him climb to his feet and make his way to what sounded like a sink where water ran for a moment and then the sound of what was probably coffee being brewed.

The details of what had been troubling me were run down rather quickly and the conversation did not hover around the fractured, now destroyed romantic relationship, but more around the question of how I could be grieving so hard.

“A member of your family has died Robert, your reaction is not surprising. What you need to try to do is heal and forgive.”

We talked about God and how he “believed”, if I remember correctly he said that he had two choices, one was to believe that the world ( the universe ) was random, chaotic, and vicious to its core or he could believe that there was purpose – greater purpose – tied to all this loss and pain. The only weapon against any of it was “love”. Now if anyone has ever read anything written by Barlow or had ever heard him speak you will know that I am not doing the man justice. He was eloquent, but most notably, he was kind. Kind to a “stranger” in the middle of the night, a stranger that was not going to find solace in his friends or his family.

About a week later, in an email, I expressed my embarrassment and apologized. He responded quickly and said that there was absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. He then told a story about a Wild Turkey fueled adventure of his, “Now that was embarrassing.” he said.

So there you have it. My JPB story in a nutshell, most of it I still am choosing to keep for myself but I think the most important aspect of the story has been shared. From what I understand this sort of thing was par for the course when it came to Barlow. Hundreds, if  not thousands of stories like this flooded the internet when news of his passing broke.

One of the things I have tried to do as I have gotten older is make myself available to others when they need to talk. That’s not an easy task for a fellow like myself as I am admittedly growing more self-centered and am stingy with my time as the years roll by, but I do make a sincere effort. At the end of it all what will matter most? What I think love is, what I say love is, or how I practice it? I believe that the words won’t mean squat, what I perceive love to be won’t matter much either – the world doesn’t really need another blowhard pontificating about what love is – but the world wouldn’t be worse a place if we all – if even only once in our lives – made ourselves available to a stranger who may only need to speak to someone.

So there you have it, a short expression of gratitude and what I view as being an example of what’s at the core of true friendship and compassion; the willingness to be that person who answers the phone in the middle of the night to offer up some consolation to a fellow traveler.

Thanks for reading!

JPB’s 25 Principles for  Adult Behavior

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Read John Perry’s Obituary.