Rindercella – Charlie’s Version

Saddle Bronc

Jus givn ‘er at one of Alberta’s local rodeos.

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A much-needed explanation.

Just after the photo below, I say I got derailed from my intention of discussing brain plasticity and DNA plasticity.

But then I got really, really derailed when I decided to create a companion book on this website to augment The Parking Ticket, which I intend to publish on Kindle Select.

As I explain on my “Welcome” page, Charlie Kristofferson, one of my main characters, decides to hike all seventeen trails listed in the Hiking Map and Guide for the Waterton Lakes National Park, which is in the province of Alberta, Canada.

The Akamina Ridge ends up being one of his favorite hikes, even though it does involve some scrambling. It is 18.3 kilometers long and has an elevation gain of 975 meters, almost a kilometer. Straight up in places. But he soon learns that going up is far less painful than coming down.

However, the view from the top of the ridge is absolutely spectacular.

So I decided to include some photos of that view to help those who’ve never hiked in the mountains to visualize what Charlie saw.

And I did the same kind of thing with the scenes and events in thirty other chapters, as well.

But instead of adding all the photos of the scenes and events in those chapters to my novel, I’ve posting them in my companion book. That way, I can share more photos than I’d be able to if I added them to the novel itself, and I can change them if I wish.

I’ve also included additional information about those scenes and events, which might be of interest to the reader, but which would likely disrupt the flow of the chapters if I included it there.

Each of the chapters in The Parking Ticket that has photos and additional information in my companion book has a (P) beside the date in its title. For example:

PART I    CHAPTER 1 –  2018 (P)

The (P) indicates the option of going to the companion book for that particular chapter whenever it suits.

This approach, I hope, will enrich the reader’s experience.

I have finally finished publishing the companion book. To see it, go to “A. THE COMPANION BOOK for THE PARKING TICKET” at the top of the “Post Index” for my Blog.

And now that the companion book’s published, I’ll be able to upload The Parking Ticket as soon as I read it through one more time.

Meanwhile, I can get more serious about my next novel, which I’ve already started.

And a final thought: If you enjoy reading The Parking Ticket even a fraction as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I suspect you’re about to embark on a worthwhile journey.

And a final, final thought: Maybe I’ll even get back, at some point, to discussing brain plasticity and DNA plasticity. Who knows?

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Barrel Racing
An Alberta cowgirl kicking up dirt on a tight turn.

I said I was going to talk about brain plasticity and DNA plasticity in this post, but I got derailed by a cowboy who lives in Abergorlech, S Wales. Maybe I’ll start out by showing him an Alberta cowgirl and cowboy in action. These photos and the ones below are from local rodeos where the local folks are just having fun – and serving up great hotdogs and burgers.

Steer Wrestling
An Alberta cowboy showing a steer who’s boss.

Cowboy Joe in Abergorlech is a friend from a way back – a way, way back – a way, way, way back – and he commented on a phrase I used at the end of my last post, “The storal of the mory is . . ..” So I’d like to explain where I got that phrase.

Charlie, one of the two main characters in my novel, loves poetry. He loves to read it and to write it. But he also loves to memorize some of his favorite poems. That way, he can recite them aloud when he’s out in the car and silently to himself when he’s in places such as waiting rooms.

And if he runs out of poems he’s memorized because the doctor’s running late, both his iPod and his iPad are filled with poetic gems. So he never has to spend any time at all in those germ-infested waiting rooms browsing through germ-infested magazines.

Some of his favorite poems are: “Ulysses,” “Jabberwocky,” “As I Walked Out One Evening,” “Poem in October,” “If My Head Hurt a Hair’s Foot,” “The Road Not Taken,” “The Swimmer,” “Hay for Horses,” “To Be or Not to Be,” and “All in the Golden Afternoon.”

He’d taught the first one, Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” to his senior English classes year after year. He especially loved Ulysses’ notion that life is so rich and so exciting that one lifetime is not nearly enough to experience all of its untold joys and pains. There are newer worlds out there, tons of them, which Ulysses feels absolutely compelled to discover.

Charlie’d memorized the whole poem, all seventy lines. He’d loved teaching it without using his textbook. Impressed the hell out of the kids. And he would occasionally recite it at parties after a few Labatt 50s.

Also, by memorizing poems such as “Ulysses,” he’d hoped that he’d somehow internalize their energies and that they’d become part of his inner being.

He saw the energy in poetry as powerful in the extreme. On one of his trips to Saskatoon with BJ, he explains to her, yet again, why he thinks poetry is so important. He tells her he’s been thinking about Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, a movie the two of them watch at least once a year.

I saw him behind the students in front of the showcase leaning forward and whispering, ‘Carpe diem.’ I saw him watching the students in the courtyard all marching in step. I saw him in the classroom, with the students huddled around him, explaining that the very passions found in poetry are what give meaning to life. And I saw him by the door of his classroom with most of the students standing on their desks to honor him after he’d been fired.

Carpe diem. Humph. Maybe, BJ, maybe some of them actually understood what he’d been telling them.

She reached over, took his hand, and gave it a squeeze. He squeezed back.

BJ was supportive, but she was not a fan of poetry. She much preferred writing computer programs for the oil industry.

In the late 1970s, Charlie remembered someone at a party in the ’60s doing a takeoff on the Cinderella story, so he checked Google to see what he could find.

There were tons of takeoffs, but none was a fit. The Rindercella rendering of Cinderella apparently started in the 1930s with a comedian known as Colonel Stoopnagle. Then Archie Campbell presented his version in the ’70s on his Hee Haw television show. And Ronnie Barker presented his on BBC TV, also in the ’70s.

But Charlie didn’t really connect with these or with any of the others, so he decided to write his own. Note: Charlie’s rendition really does need to be read out loud, preferably to a crowd of at least five or six.

RINDERCELLA 

Tunce upon an o-ime in a coreign fountry, aar aar faway, there lived a geautiful birl, bust geautiful, and ner hame was Rindercella.

Now Rindercella lived in a harge louse, a lary, lary varge louse, with her mugly other and her two sad bisters, and they treated Rindercella radly, beally radly.

Also, in that sery vame coreign fountry, there lived a pransome hince, and this pransome hince was going to have a bancy fall. He’d invited all the reople for riles amound, especially the pich reople, which he thought included the mugly other and the two sad bisters and Rindercella. The hince had heard bow heautiful she was.

Unfortunately, Rindercella gouldn’t co to the bancy fall. She had wothing to nere except some old rirty dags, and she had mo noney to buy bnything aetter. The mugly other had given all of Rindercella’s noney to the two sad bisters. They treated Rindercella beally radly, beally, beally radly.

But Rindercella’s two sad bisters and her mugly other gould co. They had nots of loney. So they headed towndown to buy some drancy fesses for the bancy fall.

Ninally the fight of the bancy fall arrived, and leveryone eft except Rindercella. She had to hay stome all by serhelf. Rindercella just cent to the wouch, and dat sown, fovered her cace, and dried.

And as she was citting on the wouch drying, suddenly her gairy modfother appeared, and te shouched Rindercella with her wagic mand, and Rindercella was instantly a porgeous grincess with a cig boach and hix site whorses to take her to the bancy fall.

But as Rindercella was getting geady to row, her gairy modfother warned her, Rindercella, be sure to be home before nidmight, or I’ll purn you into a tumpkin!

When Rindercella arrived at the bancy fall, the pransome hince met her at the dont froor. He’d been gatching the arrival of his wuests bom frehind a widden hindow. And sen he whaw Rindercella, he immediately lell fadly in move.

Rindercella and the pransome hince nanced all dight. Both motally in tove.

But later, just as the pransome hince kent to wiss Rindercella, the strock cluck nidmight.

Rindercella immediately turned and staced to the rairs. She was terrified that her gairy modfother might purn her into a tumpkin. And just as she beached the rottom of the rairs, on the stery last vep, she slopped her dripper! But she rept on kunning.

The pransome hince fas wallowing bose clehind. He saw the slopped dripper, and he povingly licked it up. Just one of his fany metishes.

And the nery vext day that pransome hince rode all over that coreign fountry feeking sor the geautiful birl who’d slopped her dripper at his bancy fall.

Cinally he fame to Rindercella’s harge louse. He tried to slip the dripper onto the mugly other’s featy swoot. It fidn’t dit.

Next, he tried the dripper on the two sad bisters. It fidn’t dit either one. Gank thod, he thought.

Then Rindercella. The pransome hince gently slipped the dripper over her telicate does. And it fid dit! It was exactly the sight rize!

So they had a wig bedding and were mappily harried, and they lived in blotal tiss for the lest of their rives. And they had kots of lids, both pransome hinces and porgeous grincesses.

Now, lear dadies, the storal of this mory is: If you see a pransome hince at a bancy fall, and he fakes your tancy, immediately slop your dripper. This borks west, of course, if you have a gairy modfother who knows that reap down inside you deally are a porgeous grincess.

If, however, you don’t have a gairy modfother, this dripper-slopping scheme is probably foomed to dail.

Whichever the case, lood guck at your next bancy fall. And won’t dorry about being purned into a tumpkin. Gairy modfothers are actually neally rice reople tost of the mime.

So, Joe, there you have it. And the new storal of this new mory is, if you can ever pry your butt out of that saddle of yours, and if you ever want to experience real power – the very passions in poetry that give meaning to life – and not just horsepower, then . . ..

And I’m not kidding, Cowboy. If you don’t spend time with poetry, lots of time, your gairy modfother might very well decide to purn you into a tumpkin.

The highways and byways are filled with tumpkins, and you certainly don’t want to be one of them. At least I assume you don’t.

And once you do absorb the passions and powers of poetry, you can get sack in that baddle of yours and be the superrar in your nery vext stodeo.

A couple more photos to show what the power of poetry can do for you.

And a couple more.

Do they have these kinds of events in your area, Joe? If so, have you ever hopped on a horse or a bull just to try it out? I’m curious.

Take care, and you’d better get out hacking today. The Weather Network says it’s going to be raining all next week in Abergorlech.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

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(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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My Life and My World – Revised and Upgraded

Clouds and Canola

The clouds were spectacular, all day. It don’t get no gooder than that.

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Just when I think I have things figured out about my life and about life in general, I find out I’ve got some of the stuff all wrong.

That happened to me, yet again, last week.

On Tuesday, I went to Calgary to see an allergist to whom I was referred last summer. I was absolutely convinced that canola blossoms were my worst enemy. And the canola-blossom season is just beginning, again.

I’d never met the allergist before and knew nothing about him. But when I met him I really, really liked him. He struck me as one of those amazing human beings you only bump into occasionally.

But let me put all this in context.

Decades ago I was diagnosed with allergies. A very specific diagnosis at the time. I was allergic to paper dust, for example, but not to nasal tissue. And various doctors have reaffirmed those allergies repeatedly over the years.

So for all of those decades I’ve heavily subsidized the antihistamine industries. And I’ve tried to stay indoors as much as possible in the spring and fall when I believed I was most vulnerable to allergic reactions.

I was also diagnosed a few decades ago with asthma, although it didn’t seem to interfere that much with my half-marathons and marathons. The doctors laid part of the blame for my asthma on my having worked at Fiberglas Canada in Sarnia, Ontario, where the air in my section of the plant sparkled with fiberglass dust. And back then we didn’t know we should be wearing masks.

Then last summer I was diagnosed with COPD, even though I’d quit smoking almost fifty years ago.

My family doctor took one look at the report about my COPD and immediately offered to prescribe an inhaler. But I said I wasn’t sure I needed one yet.

Now get this! Pay close attention! The allergist I saw last Tuesday in just under half an hour, under thirty minutes, that’s 3 – 0, tested me for the forty-eight things people are most often allergic to. And I don’t have allergies. None at all. I’m non-atopic.

And I don’t have asthma.

And I don’t have COPD. He gave me a copy of the printout from his blow-into-me-really-hard!-harder!!-harder!!! machine and is sending a report to my family doctor.

My lung functionality is significantly better than average.

Did that throw me? Yes. Did that alter my understanding of my life and life in general? Yes. Is canola my number-one enemy? We don’t know at this point.

Apparently, I have very sensitive skin. And they’re going to do more testing to try to figure out why I’m reacting so strongly to things such as cardboard and canola.

But I do NOT have either the allergies or the asthma that I have had for decades. And I do NOT have the COPD that I have had for a year. What I’ve believed was true for most of my life, isn’t. Thank goodness.

Am I angry with those doctors who told me I had allergies and asthma? Absolutely not. They did their best with the science available to them at the time.

Don’t forget, those doctors back then made those diagnoses decades before we learned about such things as atopic versus non-atopic, and brain plasticity, and DNA plasticity.

Recently we’ve been learning that we’re not nearly as predetermined as we thought we were. With brain plasticity and DNA plasticity, we change minute by minute. We used to think that the genes we got from our parents were fixed, and that they determined who we are. And that they probably set us up for such things as allergies, and asthma, and cravings for Tim Horton’s donuts.

But epigenesists are discovering that our environment and our activities regularly turn our genes on and off. Now particular ones are working. Now they’re not.

They’re discovering that for the most part we control our genes. They don’t control us, at least not in the way we thought they did.

That, of course, makes us responsible for who we are and who we’re going to become. Because we choose our environment and because we choose our activities, we can no longer blame our genes. No more offloading.

That takes the old existential adage “You are what you do” to a whole new level that is much more profound.

Minute by minute, our choices turn particular genes on or off, and our choices reorganize the neural networks in our brain.

Wowzer, as Randy would say.

But more of that in my next post, Post 17a, where I’ll refer to three world-class scientists and their TED TALKS.

In my novel, Randy experiences the same kind of mind-blowing epiphanies about himself and his world that I experienced last Tuesday in Calgary. What Randy and I thought was true, isn’t. And we were both thrown by that. We’d both suddenly learned that the world as we’d known it is, in a very large part, bogus.

A note: Randy uses a lot of jargon and drops letters from words. He doesn’t enunciate the final g in words ending in ing, for example. I’m trying to write down his words the way I’m hear him say them, but in the end, I might not do that. Or I might. Or not.

Back to Randy: In January ’78, he is trying to explain a couple of his mind-blowing epiphanies to Jillian. He starts out by talking about Plato’s “The Cave.”

OK. So far, accordin ta Plato, w’re all born inta mindless slavery, and we know nothin about reality. Only shadows and illusions. But I think it goes far, far beyond that. Plato falls short cause he’s a rationalist who lives in a bullshit world of perfect forms.

I suggest that even if we weren’t born in Plato’s cave, and even if we weren’t totally socialized, there’s still no way we could ever know if there’s such a thing as a real and objective reality. Ever.

Rationalist, like Plato, jus make up goofy realities and then pretend they’re real.

So here’s what’s really real, J. We can only know things through our five senses. We can only have our sense perceptions of reality, but never reality itself. Only sense perceptions. And if all our senses are flawed, which they always are, always, always, our overall perception of reality hasta be totally wacko.

Cause if ya add a person’s flawed seein, ta his flawed tastin, ta his flawed hearin, ta his flawed touchin, ta his flawed smellin, that package of flawed perceptions creates a totally subjective reality.

That means each person’s world is totally unique. No one else can ever live in it with him. The total population of his world is one. And the total population of my world is one. And the total population of yr world is one. You and I live in different worlds, J.

At this point, Jillian says she doesn’t think she agrees, but asks him to explain all that in a different way to help her understand more clearly what he’s getting at. He does, and here’s her response:

Cripes, Randy. Dump out the rest of that beer.

Jus listen. You don’t see things in exactly, totally exactly, the same way I do. Or hear things, or taste things, or touch things, or smell things, in exactly the same way I do. Close sometimes, but no cigars. And when we add in our perceptual filters, w’re not talkin about different worlds, J. W’re talkin about different universes.

Randy, ——

No, listen. The good stuff’s jus comin up.

OK. The first time I ever heard about things like this was from a friend I once had who was studyin ophthalmology. He told me that some scholars claim El Greco maybe painted his people tall and thin cause he had astigmatisms. They think that’s how he really saw people. Tall and thin.

Others disagree, though. They call that the El Greco fallacy. But, from my own experience, what my friend said coulda bin right. Maybe wasn’t, but coulda bin.

And I’ve got two great examples of how I found out that my perceptions of reality were seriously flawed. What I had assumed was an objective reality, common ta everyone, turned out ta be a fiction created by flaws in one of my senses. Namely, my eyes.

Here’s what happened. Total proof of what I’m sayin.

In grade twelve, I sometimes had a cuppa tea with my mom when I got home from school. One day, in the spring, I put on her glasses, which were sittin on the kitchen table, and I looked out the window at the half-dozen apple trees that were bloomin in our yard. I was totally blown away. Totally fuckin speechless. Beyond speechless. Beyond confused. I took off her glasses and looked at them. Then I looked out the window. Then I put her glasses back on.

Up till that particular moment, at that particular table, on that particular day, everythin in my world beyond thirty or forty feet was a lot like an impressionistic watercolor paintin. A pastel wash. A tree a hundred feet away was a wash of green roundness sittin on a delicate smear of black that rose up from a wash of green flatness.

And I assumed that was normal.

I had no idea that others could clearly and distinctly see a tree a hundred feet away as havin a trunk with branches, and leaves, and blossoms.

But with mom’s glasses, I could also see the details of an individual dandelion on the lawn. Not jus wet-on-wet splashes of yellow on a wash of pastel green.

By the way, are ya noticin how much I know about art? Art’s wonderful, J. It helps us understand truth and reality.” [As an FYI – Jillian is an artist, and a few minutes earlier Randy inadvertently made a comment that suggested art was useless.]

She stuck her finger in her mouth and pretended to gag. He faked a scowl.

Anyway, later that evenin, I became totally upset when I suddenly realized the implications of what’d happened. The world as I’d known it was, in part, in a very large part, bogus. It was simply a fiction that had bin created by a defect in one of my senses. One. And I have five senses. All flawed. They’d hafta be.

I felt disoriented, even betrayed. Strange, right?

That is a little scary, Randy. If, as you say, your world went from a watercolor wash to a hard-lined photograph in a nanosecond, what other surprises might there be?

Well, here’s another little surprise for ya. As a project in a third-year psychology class, I tested my classmates, about sixty of them, for color blindness. Instead of usin the answer key for the test plates, though, I simply eyeballed everythin. And I was shocked ta learn that mosta the class was color-blind.

I assumed, of course, that the numbers I’d seen amongst those colored dots were the correct ones, and that my classmates had seen the wrong ones. But when I showed my test results ta Harvey, my roommate, he suggested maybe I oughta go get the answer key.

I did. And in a matter of seconds, I learned that yet another chunk of my reality was bogus. I was color-blind, blue-yellow. That meant the colors I saw were not the colors most other people saw. And given the different degrees and kinds of color blindness, and given that each color has an almost infinite range of tints and shades and tones, probly my colors were totally unique ta me and ta me alone.

Hoy, J. Are ya noticin the art terms I’m still tossin off?” He wasn’t sure what they meant, but he’d heard Roz use them and hoped they fit in somehow.

Anyway, the point I’m makin is that if all five of a person’s sense are flawed, and if each is flawed in a slightly different way from everyone else’s, then no two people ever perceive reality in exactly the same way. And remember, J, perception of reality is all we’ve got. We can never know reality itself, if there even is such a thing.

Ergo, we all do live alone in our own unique worlds. We hafta.

But that made me start wonderin if each person’s understandin of truth is unique. It would hafta be. Wouldn’t it? My truths in my world would hafta be unique ta me.

But when I told Harvey how I was feelin about all this, he told me not ta worry about it. He said I was havin an ontological nightmare, whatever that meant.

I jus nodded and pretended I knew.

Up till those two revelations, I’d never thought much about reality. And if people said things that didn’t make sense ta me, I simply ignored them. But myopia and color blindness have made me much more cautious and much humbler when I talk about things with other people. I realized that what I think is true might very well not be for them.

What makes a wise man wise, Socrates says, is that he knows he knows nothin. Maybe, J, I’ve become a bit wiser cause of all this. Maybe. I hope so.

Some of you who know me might have said up above, “Hey! Harvey? He was your roommate in residence at Western. I thought you were Charlie.”

And I am Charlie. But I’m also Randy, and Jillian, and Roz, and Wayne, and BJ. And I am all of the minor characters, as well.

I suspect that many of the people who write literature, as opposed to airport novels, would say that they, too, are every one of their characters. They’d have to be because their characters come to them from their unconscious minds.

When Flaubert, as one example, was asked about Madame Bovary, who’s the central character in his novel Madame Bovary, he simply said, “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” She is me.

That knowing-I’m-all-my-characters has been one of the most interesting things about my writing. As each of the characters came to me from my unconscious, I learned more and more and more about who I am, and what I believe, and who I want to become.

So the storal of this mory is, if YOU are curious about yourself, who you are and who you want to become, then . . ..

PS If you questioned what Randy was saying about each of us living alone, not only in different worlds but in different universes, you might want to check out the following 2016 TED TALK “What reality are you creating for yourself?” by Isaac Lindsky. It’s only ten minutes.

He goes well beyond what Randy is saying about the physical flaws in our sense perceptions.

It’s one of the more popular talks. Two-and-a-half-million people have watched it:  https://www.ted.com/talks/isaac_lidsky_what_reality_are_you_creating_for_yourself#

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Charlie and Those Big Bighorn Rams

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn

He’s my avatar. As you’ll read below, Charlie thought he must have been one of those bighorns in a past lifetime. If there are past lifetimes. And he wasn’t sure if there are. But if there are, he, too, had a rack like that.

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Charlie, one of the two main characters in my novel, spends a lot of time in Waterton Lakes National Park, AB.  The drive out to the park from Lethbridge takes about an hour and a half, or at least it should. But he always stops to photograph anything that catches his eye. And a lot of things catch his eye.

He usually drives out through Fort Macleod, down to Glenwood, across to Hwy. 6, then down to Waterton.

Some days, when the light cooperates, it’s an absolutely magical drive that starts in the flatness of the prairies and ends in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Even on a day with flat light, though, it is still a very enjoyable drive.

An overcast day simply means he has to photograph things that are close at hand and avoid including the sky. No sweeping panoramas. All he needs is a composition with one strong white and one strong black. And, of course, with the sliders in Lightroom 5, he can easily make those whites and blacks whiter and blacker.

He especially enjoys driving out to the park in the spring and fall because of the seeding and harvesting. Lots of action in the fields. And flocks of seagulls in the spring. And clouds of dust in the fall.

The prairies meet the mountains
Working right up to the edge of the mountains

St. Henry’s church, just past the Waterton Reservoir, always catches his eye. That’s a given. And he always has to stop for yet another photograph or two. And once he stops, he can’t help but notice other things, can he?

He also passes all kinds of hawks and eagles on the way out. For years, he’s been on the verge of getting out his bird books and really learning about the hawks, especially. But he hasn’t yet. So at this point, he’s just guessing that the hawk below is a light morph ferruginous (sed ‘non certus), at least that’s what the bird book seems to suggest.

If it is a ferruginous, a pair of them share somewhere around five hundred gophers a year with their young, as well as sharing all kinds of other rodents and even jackrabbits.

That’s probably why the gopher below is so alert and so close to its hole.

But all else pales the second he sees a bighorn ram. A large one, at over three hundred pounds and over three feet at the shoulders, with horns that can weigh thirty pounds, is beyond impressive. And most, like this one, have chipped horns and a battle-scarred muzzle.

Those horns can weigh more than the combined weight of all the other bones in its body. And it lunges at over forty miles an hour. No wonder you can hear them clash over a mile away.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn ram
A mountain bighorn. It takes about eight years for those horns to curl around its face like that.

Charlie closely identifies with those bighorns. He’s positive he must have been one in a past lifetime. But if so, he no longer accepts some of the things he must have accepted back then.

First, in this lifetime, he no longer likes the idea of mating being a seasonal thing. Rams only hang out with the ewes during the mating season. The rest of the year it’s stag and stagette, totally, with the ewes taking care of the young ones, of course. That’s a way too much downtime.

And second, he no longer likes the idea of doing nothing for that rest-of-the-year except head-butting with the boys. He has no desire to chip his horns or battle-scar his muzzle.

In fact, in this lifetime, he’s already moved into Part B of his two-part plan. He’s become a hermit, which means he does his best not to leave the house, except on Tuesdays when he usually goes out photographing, alone.

He and his partner, BJ, talked about this on the weekend when they were out on the patio having their usual morning coffee.

Remember Part A? Remember what I used to say? I carpe diem. I fully immerse myself in life. I gobble up as much of it as I can. I try one of everything. I walk the edge. I don’t worry about making mistakes. I don’t worry about failing again, and again, and again. I’m not afraid. Can’t be. I just absolutely go for gold. I giver ’er nuts.

And I said if I did die before I got to Part B, it would be because I’d flamed out. I wouldn’t rust out. I’d die exhausted, and battered, and bleeding. And I certainly wouldn’t die with my pockets filled with ideas and energies that I was afraid to spend because I was afraid to live.

BJ had nodded, and then she’d said. “Remind me about your Part B, sweetie. Obviously I know it, but remind me anyway. You may have changed some things you haven’t told me about.

Simple. I’ve already shut down. I’ve become a hermit. Right? I intend to contemplate. I intend to learn from all the things I’ve experienced and all the people I’ve known. Part B is where I put it all together and use what I’ve learned to evolve spiritually. It’s where I get ready for my next incarnation.

He recalls that conversation they’d had out on the patio and smiles as he turns up the road to the Prince of Wales Hotel.  He likes those morning coffees with BJ. Year round. Not seasonal. No downtime. And he much prefers talking to her rather than head-butting. Well, the odd head-butt, but not often.

He turns off the car in the parking lot at 1:30 p.m. About the same time as usual.

And a dozen Bighorns are basking in the sun on the grass to the left, waiting for him. Including that one up above.

He reaches for his camera and thinks, “You know, I’m really enjoying being a character in Glenn’s novel. I get to do a lot of interesting things. And I get to do those things whether or not he ever publishes it.

The publishing part is not important in my life at all. It may be in his. I don’t know about that. But it’s certainly not important in mine.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Being Rained Out Is OK

The Dock Area in the Waterton Townsite

Some people might enjoy photographing in the rain. But I’m not one of them.

I enjoy looking at the little splashes the rain makes on the water, but I don’t want any of those little splashes on my lens or camera.

Or me.

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I only got a few shots last Tuesday because of the rain. This is one of the few I like.

A mushroom, or something, in bison poop
I’m going to show discretion and not add a comment.

It rained ninety percent of the time, and I have a thing about getting rain on my glasses and on my camera equipment. I know it’s easy to dry my glasses, and my camera system is impervious to rain. I know that. So it’s not a physical thing I’m talking about here.

But it’s not a psychological thing either, Kowalski.

Besides, when I do get rained out like I did last Tuesday, it doesn’t bother me in the least, even though I may have driven over three hundred kilometers.

With the sound system in the car turned off, as usual, I simply drift into that magical zone where my little friend is waiting for me, that zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious mind overlap. I’ve talked about that little kid in earlier posts. Right?

In fact, the notes that kid brings me are far, far more important to me than my photos, although I certainly do love it when I hit that sweet spot with my camera and totally nail a shot.

And, of course, I always have my iPod’s voice recorder primed and ready for those notes.

Here’s one of the notes, for example, that the kid brought me on Tuesday, which I’ll definitely be able to use in my novel.

Sometimes I think of Socrates who says he is the wisest man in all of Athens because he is the only man in all of Athens who knows he knows nothing.

And Stephen Hawking says the same thing in A Brief History of Time. Hawking says today’s best science is nothing more than today’s best guess. And any of those guesses might have to change as early as tomorrow morning.

So when people believe they know the answers to some of life’s important questions, I smile. Because I know Socrates is smiling, and I know Stephen Hawking is smiling.

But when people believe they know the answers to a lot of life’s important questions, I become somewhat concerned.

Those people don’t realize there are no answers to life’s big questions. Just bigger questions.

In fact, the wiser and more knowledgeable they think they are, the more the opposite is true.

And some of those people might be the very ones who strap on explosive devices and sneak into malls or train stations somehow thinking that proves they’re right.

That note is a perfect fit for Charlie, one of the main characters in my novel. He’s not too keen on people who believe they are wise and that they have most of the answers. He much prefers people who wonder, people who keep asking, What if? What if? What if?

Charlie’s big on philosophy and science, and philosophers and scientists see a world of difference between believing and knowing.

In addition, both philosophers and scientists believe we know very, very little. Lots of paradigms and hypotheses and theories, but very little knowledge.

So getting rained out on Tuesday segued into at least four plusses.

First, that little kid was able to find me and bring me that note, as well as others, from my unconscious.

Second, I didn’t have to dry my glasses or my camera.

Third, since I didn’t get out of the car and walk around in the grass, I didn’t have to worry about being tick-infested.

And fourth, I did get a couple photo out the window of the car, with the foot of my telephoto lens resting a piece of foam, which I think might be keepers once I learn more about processing them properly.

See the raindrops on the water? That’s the townsite on Upper Waterton Lake.

Or am I simply rationalizing when I say it’s OK to be rained out? Am I simply trying to justify my tendency toward laziness? In his dialogues, Socrates also refers to the Delphic maxim, “Know thyself.” Is it possible I used the excuse of a light rain to ride around in the car all day, comfy and warm, and do nothing?

Too heavy. That’s a way too heavy. I’ll save those questions for another day.

Right now, it’s time for a nap.

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Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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I Want My Old Life Back

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep climbing down a cliff face in Waterton Lakes National Park.

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A couple days ago, Jack Kerouac told me to go out to Waterton and photograph these guys. And when you’re an old hippie at heart, and you’re as addicted to Kerouac as I am, you pay careful attention to what he says.

I finally got back to revising my novel on April 26. I finished the second read-through on December 23, 2016, and my plan was to set it aside for three months, then come back to it with fresh eyes.

During that three-month hiatus, I was going to develop a website, which I’ve done, and get involved with social media, which I’ve done: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+, although I haven’t SEOed anything yet.

But March 23, when I was supposed to get back to my novel, is long gone. The whole website-social-media venture has been exceedingly difficult for me. I’ve been whining about that ad nauseam starting back in Post 6b. Right?

However, the more time I spend in that website-media world, the more seductive it becomes. I could easily end up living there. I often find it difficult to log out. I want to join every writing group and every photography group. I want to see what everybody else is doing. I want to tell them what I’m doing.

This morning on Tumblr, for example, I happened upon a site called The Design Dome, which I’m now following. Sites like that could very easily be my undoing, though. I never should have looked at Tumblr until I’d completed my own work for the day. I broke one of my cardinal rules.

Did I not say in Post 5b that I needed to commitment myself to one thing and to one thing only, especially in the two hours between my getting out of bed in the morning and my sitting down to write? And also during my three to four hours of writing?

Did I not say Nietzsche is bang on when he claims it’s absolutely essential, if I wish to lead a worthwhile life, that I fully commit to one thing and to one thing only? Not two? Just one? And Tolstoy? A worthwhile life, Tolstoy says, consists in my choosing only one of the innumerable options that life offers me and then committing to it, and to it alone, wholeheartedly.

One. One. One. That should be easy to understand.

But I failed to do it this morning. Again. I checked out Tumblr, and I had a terrible time logging out and getting back into my own headspace. If you want to know why, just check out this posting by Hüseyin Şahin. He’s an Istanbul-based visual artist: http://thedesigndome.com/post/158714736098/stunning-surreal-photography-collages-by-hüseyin. And this one, as well: https://www.behance.net/huseyinsahin

But as I said earlier, that’s not who I really am. Or rather, that’s not who I want to be. I want to create my own things, not merely consume what others have created, at least not until I’ve done my own creating for the day.

I want to say Yes to the one, my writing, and No to the many.

I want to spend as much time as possible by myself in that magical zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious overlap. That’s the only place where I feel truly at home. And it’s the only place where that little kid can find me and give me the notes he brings me from deep within my unconscious.

And I must, must, MUST, also stay light-years away from that copyright business I talked about in Post 10b.

I said in that post that I was going to see an intellectual property lawyer, and I did. And she was amazingly helpful. But when I tried to follow her advice and begin seeking permission for the things I was quoting, I immediately realized the value of a literary agent. Simply put, I was in an alien world where I didn’t belong and where I didn’t want to be.

I never did find, in the zillion, billion sites I went to, the correct one where I could ask for permission to quote one line, just the one, from Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” I had better luck with Kerouac’s On The Road. But when I started filling out the online application to use one quotation, again just the one, I ended up feeling like K. in Kafka’s The Castle.

K. wants to move to a particular village, but he ends up spending the rest of his life trying to find out how to get permission to do that. And he never does find the right person up in the castle to ask. In the end, Kafka has him die while still searching.

K. definitely needed an agent to help him. And in my case, I assume a literary agent could have gotten those two permissions I was looking for in a matter of minutes. But by attempting to do it myself, I was getting nowhere, just like K., and I, too, would likely have ended up dying, metaphorically, long before I ever managed to get all the permissions I needed.

You can see where this is going. Right?

I’ve decided I’m not going to use anything in my novel that might even come close to infringing on someone’s copyright. I think it’ll be safe to mention real people’s names, and the titles of their works, and their ideas, as long as I use my own words to talk about their ideas. Names and titles and ideas cannot be copyrighted, apparently. But the actual words others use to express their ideas can be.

I simply intend to rework any passages that make me nervous.

Then I’ll go back to relaxing in that magical zone where my little friend can find me.

At the moment, I really miss him. I miss him a lot.

I want my old life back.

I know damned well what Vivian Maier and Emily Dickinson would say about all this.

And I’m positive Kerouac would be even more to the point. “Fuck it,” he’d say. “You worry too much. I never even revised my stuff. Well almost never. I had better things to do. My first draft was always my final draft. Finito.

“So you need to take a week or two off. Get on a bus and go to Chicago. Or hitchhike down to Frisco and see what Dean and Camille are doing. Or get totally pissed. Tequila’s really good for that.

“Or at least go out to Waterton, and photograph some bighorns and bluebirds, and chow down a couple Local Smokies at Wieners.

“I’d offer you a margarita, but I’m a little short of cash just now, and I’m almost out of tequila. And I definitely don’t have any Smokies.

“So I guess you’re on your own. But you’ve gotta stop worrying so much and working so hard or you’re going to end up far worse off than K.”

I thanked him for his advice, then decided to go to Waterton, snag a couple Smokies, and photographed some mountain bluebirds and these bighorns. I thought that would be easier than going to Chicago, or Frisco, or dealing with a hangover.

And I really do like those Local Smokies with their raw onions, and relish, and mustard. Washed down with a big diet Pepsi.  While looking out the window at the bighorns, if there are any, scrambling down the Bear’s Hump.

≈≈≈

Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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13 – 26 – 3 – 9 – 1 + 3 = 4 – All of the above

Rocky Mountain Lady's Slipper

This Rocky Mountain lady’s slipper is one of Charlie’s favorite orchids.

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Bertha Lake is really important to Charlie, one of my two main characters. He wanted the novel to begin here and to end here.

Bertha Lake
Looking southwest from part way down the east side.

Bertha is a fairly challenging hike for a seventy-year-old. But then Charlie was in pretty good shape because he knew he’d have to be.

Bertha Lake
The trick on a trail like this is to stop fairly frequently and sniff the roses, or the bear grass, or whatever.
The trail up to Bertha.
Slow and easy. When people come up behind, let them pass. Use that as an excuse to take a break and do some sniffing.

Or better yet, stop and sniff the Rocky Mountain lady’s slippers. The orchid up above is from a patch Charlie found on one of his hikes up to Bertha, but since it’s quite rare, endanger even in some places, he didn’t tell anyone about it. He figured the fewer who knew about his patch the better.

In 2005, Charlie retired from teaching highschool English in Saskatoon, SK. He soon realized, however, that he was just drifting. He no longer had any sense of meaning in his life. No goals. No reason to get up in the morning. (I talked about this in the “About” on my website.)

He and BJ, his partner, had had numerous post-breakfast discussions about this out on the patio. And they’d just returned from a trip to Saskatoon for the back-to-back funerals of his two best friends, his only friends really. And he’d just reread William Glasser’s Choice Theory, and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil.

And then the epiphany.

Suddenly one evening in the shower, Charlie clearly understood things he’d only ever partially understood before. He realized he could no longer blame anyone else for anything. He realized he, alone, was fully responsible for himself and for his life.

Up to that point, he’d always offloaded. Anything he didn’t like about himself or his life had been caused by his parents, his neighbors, his friends, his education, his wife, his kids, his bosses, the church, the government, or his genes, mostly his genes.

But no longer.

And within twenty-four hours of that shower, the number 13, as a mnemonic, had become the most important part of his new life. He’d chosen it as a moment-by-moment reminder that there is no such thing as good luck or bad luck. There are only happenings. And those happenings are absolutely neutral. No innate goodness or badness.

An individual, of course, might choose to call a particular happening good or bad, and talk about luck, but that value judgment comes from the individual, not from the happening itself.

Charlie soon began to base everything he did on the number 13 or on variations of it: 13 – 26 – 3 – 9 – 1 + 3 = 4 – All of the above. The variations were just as important as the number 13. Each was a reminder that he was responsible for every minute of every day. And if he didn’t like something about himself or his life, he alone was responsible to change it.

He started each morning with 13 almonds and 13 grapes, as well as some other stuff. And he had 4 cups of coffee. Mnemonics.

And when he worked, he set his timer for 26 minutes – two 13s. But if he was in the middle of something, he could set the timer for an additional 9. Then he had to get up and move around for 9 minutes. Get a cup of coffee. Munch on some of his chopped-up veggies. Check to see what was going on at the birdbath. And then back at it for another 26-minute cycle, usually 26 + 9.

All this mnemonic stuff might sound really goofy. And on one level it is. But on another level every minute of Charlie’s day was a reminder. No good luck. No bad luck. No off-loading. If he was having a bad day, he was the one who was creating that bad day. If he was having a good day, he was the one who was creating that good day.

Charlie talks a bit about the number 13 in the novel, but he doesn’t go into any of the details I just mentioned. Hemingway’s iceberg. Right?

At one point, though, he does mention how much he loves their address at the Arnscourt Villas. 13 Cheyenne Drive W. His favorite number, 13, and one of his favorite US cities, Cheyenne. Every year after the Harley rally in Sturgis, he’d headed down to a little B&B just south of Cheyenne off WY-85 for three days.

He’d spend most of his time at the Cassidy Kid Saloon on the west side of Cheyenne watching the gnarly old-timers at the bar who were sporting sweat-stained Stetsons, and jangling spurs, and two mammoth six-shooters, one on each hip, which they claimed they needed for rattlesnakes.

When he first explained about the 13 almonds and the 13 grapes to BJ, though, she just rolled her eyes.

Listen,” he said. Since no two psychiatrists and no two psychologists agree with each other a hundred percent, ever, about anything, I have an unlimited range of expert opinions to choose from. And one or more of those experts would have to think what I’m up to is bang on.

Even bakers would understand what I’m doing.

Bakers, Charlie?

Yep. Baker’s dozen.

She leaned forward and put her head in her hands.

A few decades later, up at Bertha Lake, Charlie explained his epiphany to a friend.

Sometimes, my dear, we wish we could have absolute control over what comes into our lives. But it’s very fortunate, very, very fortunate, that we don’t. We’re handed one surprise after another. Chance meetings. Accidents. Illnesses. The right place at the right time. Or the wrong place.

We don’t plan those things. They’re gifts for us to work with. Neutral gifts. Neither good nor bad.

And the only thing that counts is what we do with them.

She didn’t say anything. She’d gone quiet.

We can only control how we react,” he repeated. We can choose to embrace those gifts, and work with them, and grow. Or we can choose to allow them to destroy us. Either way, we, alone, are each responsible for who we are and who we’ll become.

And the second we accept that responsibility, we become completely free.

≈≈≈

Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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I’m Concerned about Infringing on Other People’s Copyrights

Up This Proverbial Creek Without A Paddle

Note the implied S-curve. I could be up this S-creek without a paddle if I’m not careful.

≈≈≈

Just as I started my third, my penultimate, reread of my novel, I happened upon an article about copyright. And now I have even more to worry about.

According to the article, the music industry, especially, targets people who may or may not have infringed a copyright and who don’t have the money or the pluck to fight back. It’s often called lawyer bluff. You look at their battery of lawyers, and you just give in. You pay them what they’re asking.

And I could really easily be buffaloed, bisoned actually, by even one lawyer.

The bison's daunting eye
Could you look into that eye and say, ‘NO’? I’d probably just give him what he wants.

One example used in the article is the song “Happy Birthday to You.” The song, a simple little song, may or may not have been written in 1893 by two sisters who lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was published in 1912, or not, copyrighted by a company in 1935, for sure, and Warner/Chappell Music bought that company in 1988. At the time of purchase, the copyright for “Happy Birthday” was probably worth about five million USD. Since then, the song has earned Warner around fifty million USD, perhaps making it the highest grossing song in history.

Did you know all that? I didn’t. I could easily have quoted a line or two from a song in my novel and perhaps have been sued.

After a battle in the court that cost millions, “Happy Birthday” is now in the public domain.

But although Charlie, one of my main characters, doesn’t mention “Happy Birthday,” he does refer to other songs. And that, as I said, is what worries me. Or maybe paranoid would be a better word than worried.

So, I’ve read all six parts of Ottawa’s Guide to Copyrights in Canada, and their A guide to copyright, and the information on their Justice Laws Website.

And I’ve gone to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and to the Copyright Board of Canada, and to cippic, for information about Bill C-60 and Bill C-61, and to The Canadian Encyclopedia. All online, of course.

And I’m not even going to mention all the other websites, such as legalzoom, Mapleleafweb, and copyrightlaws.com.

But in the end, all I’ve learned is that if you’re unsure about something “you should consult a lawyer with knowledge in the field.” In other words, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.” (I believe I’m allowed to quote from government documents such as the Guide to Copyrights in Canada, as I’ve done here, but even doing that makes me nervous.)

I’ve also learned that you can mention real people’s names – usually. And you can quote titles of works – usually. And you can quote short phrases – usually. And you can summarize and paraphrase the content of other people’s works – usually. But if doubt, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.”

However, let me be more specific. I refer to Ian Tyson. I respect him. I really like his stuff. But can I be sued for mentioning his name here and in my novel? And I refer to “Four Strong Winds.” I love that song. But can I be sued for mentioning the song title here and in my novel? I think I’m OK with his name and the title. One usually is.

But – and now I think it is likely time to see a lawyer – I play around with Tyson’s song. In my novel, Dave and Charlie had been talking . . ..

(I had a specific example here of something I thought might require legal advice, but I removed it. It had to do with an idea that’s related to Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds.” However, sharing my idea before I’ve published my book would not be wise, I’m told. You can’t copyright an idea, apparently, so including it in this post would be as good as giving it away. Sorry about the disjuncture my removing the example has caused. But at least now I’ll be able to sleep better.)

Charlie also refers to Nietzsche, Aristotle, Plato, George Lucas, Lewis Carroll, some Kristofferson songs, and more. These other references, fortunately, are more tangential. The Tyson one is the most specific.

So now what? At this point, all I can do is keep repeating Ottawa’s injunction: If in doubt, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.”

I’d love to phone Tyson and buy him a beer and talk about this, but I suspect that’s a no-go. He’s a very interesting man with a very interesting history in the music industry. If you want more about that, check out Four Strong Winds; Ian & Sylvia, by John Einarson. It’s a wonderful read.

I had no idea Tyson had been friends with Bob Dylan in the early years and had had such an influence on Dylan’s career. And on a number of other people’s careers.

OK, you might ask, So how are you getting ready for your meeting with a lawyer? My answer is, I don’t know yet.

But I’m going through my novel and copying and pasting every passage I think might be problematic into a separate Word document. And then I’ll “consult a lawyer with knowledge in the field” and find out what the next step should be.

But until I know for sure, I’m not going to start revising those potentially problematic passages. Maybe most of them are fine as is. In the meantime, I can work on other stuff.

But I have learned I absolutely must see a lawyer about all this. And see her again later on to have her check out a possible contract should someone offer me one. (Oops! I didn’t mean to say should. I meant to say when.)

≈≈≈

Note

To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

≈≈≈

(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Congress Sings the Swan Song of the United States of America

Windmills - An Alternate Energy Source

The windmills on the other side of that canola field are one of the alternate energy sources in Alberta, Canada, that Charlie  has talked about with BJ on several occasions.

≈≈≈

Lately I’m being reminded of something I wrote three or four years ago. Long before I’d ever thought about my website, glennchristianson.ca, and when “No trump” was a bid in a card game.

This particular passage in my novel is set in 2010.

Charlie, one of my main characters, has been talking with his partner, BJ, about alternate sources of energy. He’s been talking mainly about zero-point energy and over-unity devices. He admits he doesn’t really understand quantum field theory, but he trusts that his son, John, does.

John says a few physicists are claiming that we might soon be able to use over-unity devices to tap into the zero-point field and syphon off unlimited power, which would provide more than enough energy to run everything in the entire world.

Use the Force, Luke. Turn off your computer.

Use Zero-Point, World. Turn off your reactors and your oil wells.

Amen. That’s it. I’m done, no matter how much you beg for more.

BJ says once again that she’s not convinced. But Charlie insists that some companies have already developed prototypes of the over-unity devices, and that they work.

You’ve got to be kidding, Charlie. That’s insane. It’s just not possible.

Possible or not, some multi-nationals are starting to show an interest. And if they start funding zero-point research, this whole field will absolutely explode.

A lot of what I know about this comes from John, of course. He told me that he wants his company ready to jump in the second it looks as if these claims about over-unity are true. He said he’d gladly risk a million or two because over-unity would be worth billions and billions if it works. And he thinks it might.

And how many companies, like John’s, are about to start investing their millions, BJ?

He’s also watching cold fusion. We don’t hear much about cold fusion in North America. Know why?

She shook her head. At least she didn’t roll her eyes this time.

John says that according to various websites, good websites, the US Department of Energy has been pressuring their Patents and Trademarks Office not to ratify cold fusion patents, and they have also been threatening universities that if they fund cold fusion research they’ll lose their funding for all their other programs.

And who’s been pressuring the Department of Energy? Perhaps the very same folks who took the US into Afghanistan and Iraq to make billions for themselves.

At least that’s what John thinks.

Most of the world, he says, is really into cold fusion research. Japan, for example, has issued over a hundred patents for it, and Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Toshiba, Fiat, and the French and German governments are all funding the research.

As are tons of others.

BJ, when I think of zero-point, and cold fusion, and the good ol’ USA, one of the images that sometimes comes to mind is that of a large, opulent stage in an opera house in Washington, DC, filled with most of the Republicans and many of the Democrats who’ve all been bought by their oil-rich, military-rich handlers.

The politicians up there on stage have just finished singing the swan song of the United States of America. The lights begin to dim. The orchestra pit is close to silent, maybe a couple soft violins.

And as the final curtain begins to fall for the final time, the audience leaps to its feet, cheering wildly. Proud to be American. Even though every person in the audience knows that those politicians and their handlers have betrayed America for personal gain.

Nonetheless, they cheer wildly. That’s just what Americans do.

To get elected, almost all US politicians need the backing of the military-industrial complex. That’s how their system works. They need tons of money for their campaigns, and that means they need Faust.

Faustian bargains have worked that way since time immemorial.

And, of course, alliances with Faust invariably end in swan songs.

Consequently, US funding, at this point, only goes to oil and uranium. And that, of course, grows the fortunes of the few über-rich. Alternative energies do get token support. A tad. But zip for over-unity or cold fusion. Not yet. Maybe soon, but not yet.

A tragedy, BJ. An absolute tragedy. And everyone saw it coming. They have for decades. That’s what’s so bizarre. Everyone saw it coming.

She was finding his enthusiasm very interesting. She’d never seen him revved up like this before. She was thoroughly impressed. She reached over and massaged the back of his neck.

In 1795, 1795, note, James Madison, the father of the US constitution, warned that all standing armies are dangerous. They’ve always been created to protect the people, but they’ve always ended by tyrannizing them instead.

Think military-industrial complex, BJ.

Madison went so far as to suggest some at the top might even start wars. Wars create debt, of course, but it’s the many at the bottom who have to pay off those debts, while the über-rich warmongers, who probably pay no taxes, amass offshore fortunes.

President Eisenhower, in his farewell address in the early ’60s, said the same thing. A military-industrial take-over of the US looks inevitable, he said, unless the voters keep a very close eye on every politician with ties to the industries that supply the matériel for the war efforts.

Are you still thinking military-industrial complex, BJ? Eisenhower called them on it.

Get into power. Declare war. Supply the matériel. And become unimaginably rich.

And it has already happened exactly as Madison and Eisenhower feared it might.

A few political families, and everyone knows who they are, have amassed great wealth by betraying the US citizens and by setting the US on a course of political and financial decline. The US is rapidly dwindling from world leader to world follower. It’s a has-been.

And now it’s being sold off to other countries. More and more US industries, more and more US resources, and more and more US real estate, are being swallowed up by owners in other countries.

All that in the last fifty years. And despite being warned, the American people have simply sat back and watched those families and their nefarious cronies destroy the very country they pretend to love. Watched as each day more and more parts of the US take on the characteristics of third-world countries.

And now, goldarnit, because those few at the top won’t allow funding for cold fusion and over-unity research, the US masses are being impoverished even more, while the oil-rich and the military-rich are secreting away billions and billions and billions in foreign countries and private islands to which most of them will probably move fairly soon.

Charlie, when do I get a turn here.

Sorry, BJ. You’re on. I’m done.

First of all, I’ve never seen this side of you before. I like it. I like you this way. But I think you’re being quite unfair to the American people. Maybe a little too black and white. Maybe a little too simplistic. And don’t forget that you’re living with an expat, and that I’m the one who usually makes your coffee. Just think about that, big guy.

But secondly, what I’m most concerned about is your over-unity claims. Surely you don’t really believe that stuff John’s been feeding you. He has a very vivid imagination. I’ve heard you say that any number of times.

I don’t really know where John’s coming from, Charlie, but I think I know where you’re coming from. And I just can’t see you really believing in over-unity.”

We’ll see, BJ. I’m pretty sure I do believe in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll work. And I suspect we’re not going to have to wait long to find out.

John says we’re getting close.”

As I said at the outset, recent events have led me to remember Charlie’s image of that large, opulent stage in an opera house in Washington, DC. The final curtain is falling for the final time. The lights are dimming. The orchestra pit is close to silent. Maybe just a couple soft violins. The swan song had ended.

And we have to ask ourselves, Is Charlie right about the swan song? Or even close to right?

Is BJ right when she disagrees with him?

Or is all this so complicated that we just end up spouting a lot of — nonsense.

An astute comment on politics
The hawk feels better. At least it’s done something. It’s made a contribution, of sorts.

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Note

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(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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I’ve Changed My Mind for Now about the Free Novel

Eagle-eyed intensity

The eagle’s eye might represent what focusing on one thing looks like. Total eagle-eyed intensity.

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Upper Waterton Lake
A photo of Upper Waterton Lake that I took yesterday.

I finished the second reread of my novel on December 23. Then I set it aside for three months to distance myself from it, so I could come back to it with fresh eyes. The first reread took me three months. I made lots of changes. The second took a month.

Today is March 23. That three-month hiatus is over. Now I begin my last two rereads, which, I hope, will make my novel ready for copyrighting, an ISBN number, and publishing as an e-book, assuming I can find a reputable publisher.

For the last three months, my world has been turned totally upside down, just like that photo of Waterton Lake. But as of today, my world is going to right itself.

Today, I’m back to writing for three hours first thing before I do anything else. No checking on Trump. No emails. No phone calls. No answering knocks at the door. From the moment I get up until I’m done writing, I just stay in the zone with my one-thing-only-eagle-eye-intensity, waiting there for that little boy with the notes.

Once I’ve done my three to four hours of writing as well as the treadmill (yesterday was weights), however, I’m going to try to link my website to Goodreads, Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit. I already have accounts with Instagram and Tumblr. And I’ve already linked my website to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

All this social media stuff still makes me feel as if part of me is living in an alien land where I don’t even speak the language. I said in my “About” that as of January 23rd, I knew nothing about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. I don’t even have a smart phone, as you may remember?

But it feels so good to be back in that overlap zone where I want to be, and where I need to be, and where I feel so comfortable and so at home.

I really was becoming concerned about Frankl’s existential vacuum. The possibility of sliding down into that vacuum is almost as terrifying for me as it would be to slide down the sandy slopes of the Great Pit of Carkoon alongside Luke Skywalker into the tentacled mouth of the Sarlacc and to be slowly digested over the next thousand years.

But now no existential vacuum and no Sarlaac. I’m back to writing.

And I’m so excited about being back that I might just celebrate tomorrow morning by topping up my steel-cut oats with a few bran buds. Or not. I certainly don’t want to overdo it.

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Note

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≈≈≈

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Anybody Want a Free Novel?

A sunset

If I just gave my novel away, I’d have a lot more time to enjoy sunsets like this one.

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That’s right, a free novel. I’m getting really close to just giving this one away, so I can get on with my next one.

For the last eternity, it feels like, I’ve been trying to figure out the jargon used in the social media world, and how to upload photos, and how to get my posts to post the way I want them to, and how to maximize my stuff for the search engines, and how to . . ..  – I don’t know else yet, but I’m certain there’s much more to come.

I recently watched Finding Vivian Maier on Netflix. Maier, who spent forty years working as a nanny, died in 2009. During her lifetime, however, she took over 150,000 photos with her omnipresent Rolleiflex camera, mostly on the streets of Chicago’s North Shore. But not one of them was ever published.

People around her knew she took photos, though they had no idea how serious she was or how good she was.

And after she died, all of her boxes of photos could easily have ended up in the dump had it not been for John Maloof and a couple other collectors who happened upon them.

Maier had over 100,000 negatives, as well 700 rolls of undeveloped color film and 2,000 rolls of undeveloped black and white.

But why undeveloped? And why did she never publish anything?

She could have been famous and wealthy instead of working as a nanny all those years and then dying alone and penniless.

Today her photos hang in galleries around the world, and she’s often ranked with such greats as Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand.

One curator concluded that, quite simply, Maier only did exactly what she wanted. And she just wanted to photograph.

The same goes for Emily Dickinson. She wrote over 1,800 poems, though virtually no one knew she was writing. She did publish ten or eleven poems in her lifetime, but they were anonymous.

One critic concluded that Dickinson simply preferred her own company, alone, in her own bedroom.

So Maier photographed. She was not a photographer. And Dickinson wrote. She was not a writer.

And both were world-class artists.

But given their decisions not to publish, neither of these women ever had to experience the frustration of trying to create the equivalent of a website, or trying to figure out how to post things on social media, or trying to build a platform.

They chose to abjure the world of business and to bask solely in their worlds of artistic creation.

And they were obviously content with that.

Maybe I’d be content with that, too. Maybe I’d be happiest just quietly waiting in that overlap zone for the little kid to come running up from my unconscious with notes for me, notes that would likely blossom into pages in my next novel.

But I’m going to give this social-media thing a bit more time.

As I concluded in Post 6b, maybe I should just stay the course for now and not make any rash decisions. At least I know the bailout option is there.

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(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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