Friday, April 24, 2015

Guns Sequester and War

When it comes to guns there are it seems 3 different arguments. One is You can't have my guns. Two is taking all of the guns away and the third is more of a metaphor postulating off of the first which is knives, cars and booze kill people so should we outlaw those as well?

I argue that all three of them are loose, loose loose. Because all 3 arguments are long held beliefs that have become so intractable as to nullify any reasonable discussion before it takes place.

When Sandy Hook happened, I thought at the time was it was long overdue for a national discussion on the senseless violence committed by deranged madmen.

What happened instead was all three common arguments ground the discussion to a halt.

There is a movement by the left to curtail the sale and distribution of large capacity magazines. Plus a federal wait time and background check on all gun sales. Both public and private. The problem is, while well meaning, will probably not stop by and large the mass killings that take place on what seems like a weekly basis.

Taking firearms is not going to do anything other than to make law abiding citizens criminals. Plus it will do nothing other than to fracture America even more than it does now.

Now, after careful thought and a little light reading and watching all 3 news networks I would propose this.

By far the mass killers today are white males who have become isolated and disfranchised. And arguably mentally ill. Because lets face it anyone who decides to take an arsenal into a crowded area and start mowing down bodies probably doesn't have the best grip on reality.

That said here in America, we have national campaigns for ED, smoking, cancer, click or ticket, 55 saves lives and the newest buzz word campaign bullying. But nowhere do we have a national campaign for reaching to those white males who need help with reality.

Better said is this. How much more effective would it be for the NRA and the government to come out together and hammer home on TV and print ads taking up of arms and mowing down your neighbors or coworkers is never a good idea and for that matter neither is an option in the first place.

How many mass shootings would be carried out if these 2 powerful bully pulpits were to come together and agree to enter a national campaign about talking to those white males about ceasing the mass violence they think will both serve their personal interests and carve out their names in a national spotlight and a footnote in the history books.

What if the media were convinced to not give them any coverage. How about we not cover it for days and months on end? Instead it gets a simple 15 second blurb and then moving on?? How detered would these would be gunman be if they knew their names would never see the light of day on a scrolling ticker or their names plastered all over the evening news.

Maybe it doesn't stop any but maybe it stops more than a few if we start looking after ourselves and stop hoping the government will save us.

I heard this on a podcast the other day I've never heard of or thought of before.

Adam Carolla is now the owner of some guns that were given to him by his father in law. He had a good point which is this. We hear all the time of the kid sneaking into his house only to be gunned down by accident or the spouse or kids who get shot by accident.

So the first 2 rounds in both his shotgun and 9mm pistol are non-lethal rounds. His theory is this. The life altering rounds are just a pump or a trigger pull away. So hopefully when his kids are sneaking in or the maid comes early nobody gets killed by accident. And maybe even the wayward junkie gets scared away instead of getting killed. Something to think about.

Sequester, fiscal cliff, debt ceiling. 3 ways to say what we have representing us is both defunct and horribly broken beyond all repair. We have now reached a point in time where no matter what each side of the aisle says the other is going to take issue with it.

If the President says the sky is blue the GOP is going to counter with its gray skies and raining. There is no doubt a financial issue we must face and fix. However, those in charge have grown so far apart that any hope of a reasonable compromise is not ever going to be an option for the next 4 years. In a word, we are Fucked.

Obamacare is 20,000 pages and nobody really knows what's in it. But there is a general agreement we are all going to pay a lot more for what those of already have and give more for those who have less.

The President has not submitted a budget ever and the Senate by law is supposed to do one and has not done so in the last 4 years.

The Congress has submit one but the Senate won't vote on it. Here's what I say if the President won't submit one, then its up to the Congress and the Senate to work one out and they submit it for approval.

Why is it the people we elect seem to have no sense of responsibility? Why is it they think their job is to work on getting reelected instead of governing??  This is one of those things that the more you ponder the more irritated you get.

I do know this I blame a large part on the Tea Party. 86 members who effectively hold the government hostage. I wonder if any of them with all of their education remember the part where the Fathers compromised over every detail of the newly formed government? Maybe part of our vetting process should be to get them to take a history course on how we were founded in the first place.

Finally, North Korea has decided that the treaty signed eons ago is no longer valid and they have plans on nuking the west coast.

How come this is not a leading story?? Why are we given air time to stories like the that broad in AZ or the boys in OH. They are not national stories.

Maybe one of the first things we need to do is overhaul the 4th estate. I so don't care about celebrities in the news or local stories that capture the national spotlight. On a slow news day how about we concentrate on the real issues we face and leave the bullshit stories to local fluff anchors.

It's no wonder the rest of the world laughs at us for the way we conduct ourselves. I know there is a conclave going on but does this really meet the standard of news?? When I got up this morning all of the news outlets had pictures or rather live feeds from Rome. Their cameras focused squarely on a smoke stack.

I know there are 1.2 Billion Catholics in the world, but I'm pretty sure a live feed of a smoke stack is not news.

I don't think I'm asking much just a little more careful thought into what passes for real news.

Habitual Creatures

I am a creature of habit. When I am on the road I do pretty much the same things on the same days. Monday is unpacking of the suitcase and placing the DND door tag on my door. Tuesday is email clean up. Wednesday's it's expenses and timesheets. Thursday is laundry, packing and FedEx. And Friday is checking out, going to FedEx and then heading home. And when possible to write my blog every night. (This slide a little bit, but not by much)

Now the only difference in this routine is if I am out over a weekend, then laundry moves to Sunday as do the expenses. However Monday and Tuesday stay the same.

Because I have become OCD about this routine if I am unable to complete any of these tasks on the assigned day my entire week is wrecked.

Now I don't want to come across as a modern day rain man, but it's the habits we form day to day that turn into routines. Routines provide a built insanity check.

If I miss my expenses on Wednesday then it's 2 weeks before they get done. When it becomes two weeks, then the job from last week is not closed out and it just sits around in my head until I get it done. And if you've been keeping track, then you know my head starts to become congested and when that happens, I start to obsess and when I obsess I get irritable. Because the one thing the shrink has gotten through to me is I need to empty ye ole noggin out daily. Don't let things linger.

When I don't get the laundry done that means I go into next week with a suitcase full of dirty laundry and nothing to clean to where the next week. Which means now my week is screwed up because now I have to do laundry twice in the same week.

When I write I listen to the same playlist on my tablet. Because when I don't, then I lose focus and can't take out the trash. I also write pretty much at the same time every night. I do this because when I go to bed, my head is empty.

I have also come to recognize living in a hotel room is a lot like being homeless or like the college kid that backpacks across Europe. It's a very vagabond lifestyle that lends itself to knowing everything in life is temporary. The place where you lay your head at night belongs to someone else. But it's also why I set my room up the same way all the time. It's the illusion of permanency. When you go long periods of time where nothing stays the same day to day your soul loses just a little bit of it.

I hate changing hotel rooms and will frequently and willingly drive up to 2 hours at a job site just so I can have a small amount of normalcy and permanence. Nothing empties the tank faster than changing hotel rooms everyday. Because every day you are not aloud the ability to set up your little bit of normalcy your sanity suffers for it.

Most road warriors I know hold firmly to this belief. In fact, when I return to a city I have spent time in I always return to the same hotel. Because it's familiar. Granted its an empty shell of a home, but when your life resides in a suitcase you take your heart where you can find it.

I like hotels that are located away from downtown's and airports. I prefer hotels in the burbs surrounded by restaurants and people who have a permanent existence in the area. Downtown and airports feel very temporary and not at all like the virtual home you are creating for yourself weekly.

I prefer the Holiday Inn chains for a couple of reasons. 1st it's a national chain and I can find one just about everywhere I go. Second their rooms are pretty much all the same. The beds have the same blankets and the pillows are all the same.

In fact, when I sleep at night I put a pillow on each side of me. Because it gives the illusion I am sleeping next to my wife. Now hear me out on this I promise it's not as crazy as it sounds. When you sleep next to someone their bodies give off heat. Your body warms up the pillows and because its soft and now warm it feel like someone is sleeping snuggled up next to you. You see?? It provides the illusion you have a normal life.

I won't buy gas if it means I have to make a left hand turn. Because that means it is out of the way. Thus becoming a hassle. In fact, for the most part I buy gas at the same stations every day. And I have favorites. i like the Kum and Go, Quicktrip and Flying J. Loves is another one and you get the point.

Life is all about the habits we create without them we are just rudderless ships afloat in a sea of insanity.

Now I must sign off. My laundry is done and I have an early flight. Which reminds me, the other travel habit I have is this.

I never break the 2 hour window before a flight. Because you never know what security is going to be like or if traffic is going to be a wreck. Plus, I hate the stress of having to be in a hurry to make a flight I would much refer to get the airport with plenty of time to spare,

Cooling my heels in a Delta Sky lounge or just hanging out at the gate. Either way I know in mere minutes the stress of the week is just minutes away from falling away from my shoulders. And hours away from a temporary respite from the road.

To the waiting arms of my wife and kids. Their laughter and smiles recharging my batteries giving me hope of a day on the horizon where normal is just that normal. Knowing I am one day closer to spending the rest of my day resting comfortably in their warm embrace.

I don't want to do this forever and after nearly 25 years of suitcases, hundred of thousands of miles, and so many sites and countries that they have all started to melt together, I have earned a time when my home is more than stop over to another town, another state, another highway.

Because with each passing week when the time comes to say goodbye gets harder and harder to do.

The road is a jealous mistress. She's never so far away that she can't just reach out and take me away from the things that have become so much more important.

Robbing me of a life we all want. Robbing me of a chance to see my kids grow tall and strong. Robbing my wife of a husband that stands with her and not at a telephone length away.

Till next week I will bid you adieu. 

Razorback Heights

Arkansas is a study in contrasts. Its thickly wooded rolling hills in the north combined with the flowing rice fields and duck blinds in the south make a stark contrast in both physicality and lifestyles.

Northern Arkansas is covered with dense ground foliage and large trees. The ground rises and falls like an annoyed sea that is being driven by a stiff breeze. The blacktopped roads bending to meet the contours of its rolling backdrop. Whitetail deer are in abundance as are the predatory birds circling overhead looking for its next meal.

Small village like towns dot the horizon. Its inhabitants are close knit and keep visitors at bay. Their Main streets are littered with boarded up windows. Its store owners having thrown in the towel in defeat. It's a place where pickup trucks and camouflage are the norm. Handguns and firearms are like a religion.  Southern Baptist churches are where they find their Gods on Sunday mornings.

Mobile homes are the constant choice of dwelling. Usually nestled up against sprawling mansion like homes. Poverty is everywhere. EBT a more common form of payment than cash or credit cards.

Fiercely independent and prideful of both their heritage and the University of Arkansas Football team the people of the north live simple and unencumbered lives. Libertarian cities like New York and LA are viewed with both a loathing and a plague like disdain.

Whiskey and beer are for men and wine is for pussies. The word Democrat is viewed as not only a filthy word, but a compromised mental state.

They are not progressive. Color and sexual orientation are not abstract ideas, but a blight on the human condition.

Like the southern part of the state low end and dead end jobs are the norm rather than the exception. Hillbilly heroin and pot the 2 leading choices of pharmacological pursuits. One of those places where the 21st century passed by and kept right on moving. So stuck they are in the mire of low paying jobs and vacant aspirations that the very idea of moving upwards and onward is so far removed from possibility as to not even to be considered in the first place.

When you think of rednecks and hillbillies think Arkansas. And because it's the home to Walmart you can find one virtually every mile.

It's depressing and gut wrenching.

The one high spot is the Mexican food. Northern Arkansas is home to some of the best south of the border food I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Almost every town has at least one. And all of them are family owned and operated. The chips and salsa are home made. The menus, although typical are filled with mouth watering portions portions. Each platter made on the spot and never pre-cooked or pre-packaged.

Little Rock is considered a liberal stronghold. Even though it's not. Crime, drugs and gangs is what both the north and the south think of when Little Rock is mentioned.

But Little Rock is a large little town. In Arkansas all roads lead to Little Rock. And although its plagued by the same issues other cities face, it's no different than a thousand other cities all across this land.

Ironically the Clinton library looks a lot like a mobile home. Set back off the highway, it sets up on what appears to be stilts. And although you can see it from the road only small and inconsequential signs point the way.

Southern Arkansas however, is wildly different than its neighbors to the north.

South of Little Rock is the home of the world's largest supply of rice and duck hunting. Outside of Stuttgart you will find large road side billboards proclaiming its dominance in both rice production and duck population.

And I must say they are not telling a lie. All over the southern part of the state vast oceans of rice rise up. Its stagnant water, giving both a home and a birthplace to the large mosquito population in the world. During the summer months you can't drive without your windshield getting pummeled by these blood sucking creatures. So bad are the mosquitoes at night that if you're running low on windshield cleaner you're going to have severe visibility issues.

It's also the home of some of the largest bird population. They sit up high and soar overhead feeding on insects and small rodents.

Large mounds of earthen dams are created to hold the water. The fields of rice go for miles. And in the winter months those same rice fields are drained and used as duck blinds.

Down south the towns are more vibrant the unemployment rate falling off sharply due to the large rice producing factories. Housing is more expensive and where in the north vast numbers of trailer parks and dilapidated mobile homes are common. The south has large sprawling horse ranches.

The one thing both have in common are the long stretches of  highway. Giving me the quiet solitude I desire. My podcast and music pouring from the speakers giving my mind time to just wander or shut down. I do love that about Arkansas.

The endless miles falling away from my tires. The next horizon coming up quick. Feeding my need to see the other side. This is when I am most at home. And while I have a destination I am heading to it still gives me that endless fascination of where the road may take me. Happy in the knowledge there are miles to go. Roads I've never seen and horizons I still chase. 

Once More into the Breach

It starts the night before. An anticipation of of new horizons. And as Shakespeare wrote "Once more into the breach. My friends Once more".

On Sunday night I begin counting the hours. I am filled with both exhilaration and remorse. Excitement and guilt tearing away at my soul. I'm almost giddy with the knowledge a plane will lift towards the heavens. Cruising at 30,000 feet and speeding like a bullet towards my next adventure.

Riddled with guilt and gut churning remorse I will again leave the ones who mean the most to me. The sadness, my kids feel chewing a hole through the middle of my soul. I want to stay. The resolve on my wife's face, tears me in half. I know I'm letting them down every time I must go away. Days lost and precious time that I will never recover. Knowing when I come home, I will again miss many firsts. Wishing I could stay.

As I approach security with boarding pass in hand all i want to do is turn and run back to their waiting and eager arms. Strengthened by their smiles and giddy laughter. Lifted on high by their love.

But I know I must go. The gears in my head and heart turning over until my outward appearance is one of fortitude and strength. My inner armor comes up my energy starts to rise. Because until I come home, I will need all of my resolve. Because out there in the world if it detects even a hint of weakness, it'll grind you down. Chew you up and spit you out.

And once my armor is in place and my saddest is compartmentalized to a place that is now unreachable I can march on. Do the things that need to be done.

But when it's time to return my emotions start to bubble back to the surface. I can feel the pull of home. My life and alter ego begin to emerge. My only regret is having to pack and head to FedEx. Man, I hate to pack.

When I am at home, I am different. The days away start to slough off All of the shit I've had to deal with start to become a distant memory.

The laughter and hugs my kids give me begin to rebuild me. No longer am I the creature who roams the road. Now I'm a father and a husband. This feels better than the time on the road. I crave and yearn and live for every moment. Storing up the minute by minute memories because I know Sunday is just around the corner.

I never want to leave. I love taking them to school. Tucking them in at night. Seeing their faces first thing in the morning. Their energy knows no bounds. And all I want to do is love them and hold them.

But there is also my wife. Whom I adore and love beyond all measure. It takes time, but we start to reconnect slowly at first and then it speeds up. And I never want to be away from her again because I know I'm losing precious time with her too.

Both of us are all too aware of the constant ticking of the clock. I will the seconds to slow down. I want them to stop. To live a lifetime in the short hours we have left. I can see the strain and stress my time away has caused. But worse still I can see the stress of my impending departure is causing her. And I am again filled with grief and guilt.

Oh, how I want to stay home. But the pull of that distant horizon calls out to me. It starts as a whisper and just gets louder the closer to Monday morning gets. I am driven mad by the constant pull of two lives. Each of them are so different and demand so much of me. My heart's at home my head is out there roaming.

I wish I could make it different. The demons that live in all of us. Only you can decide the outcome. Mentally tough and force of will are the tools you must have at hand to make it through to the other side.

I have always said the road is a jealous mistress. Demanding on your time and energy. It's tough to keep her at bay.

But living a lifetime in a few days is just robbing my family of precious time. It's not fair to them. And the worst guilt of all is knowing they suffer more than I do when I am gone.

However, tomorrow it's a travel day. And when I get up I'll start counting the minutes until I'm home.

But between now and then there is still much to do. So until then I'll see you on the other side.

The Valley

live in South Dakota. I grew up in Colorado. In both places it is normal for it to be both cold, windy and at times snowy.

When I was growing up there was no such thing as a snow day. In fact the mere idea of staying home because school was cancelled because of poor road conditions was so far from consideration that when we moved to the panhandle of TX in 1986 I was both floored and overjoyed a light dusting of snow could shut down not only the school system but the entire town.

But that was in my youth and in a time when you were expected as a person to persevere and overcome all of the obstacles mother nature threw at you.

Today's world is much different from my youth. Gone for the most part are truck stop dinners and family owned grocery stores.

On most street corners you will find strip malls full of store front modern conveniences. Lost to the sands of time are locally owned and operated eateries and merchandise stores. Greasy spoons have been replaced with brick and mortar restaurants. 2 for 1 beer bucket specials and flashy multi page menus covered in glossy hard covered book covers. Dinner and lunch items come with plates filled with enough food to feed a family of 6.

Large retail chain outlet stores have taken the place of family owned stores. The profits carted away in 18 wheel dump truck leaving in its wake economic fatigue and despair.

This is not to say that it's all bad, but in my youth going to sears roebuck for school clothes were for the rich and entitled. Growing up in the Grand Mesa Valley a dollar was not meant to be squandered.

The hard top adobe dessert a constant reminder that weakness and a lack of fortitude would not only grind you down to the nub. Both feed on your bones.

In the early 80's Exxon Valdez pulled up states in the dead of night and left in its wake broken dreams and unemployment that would rival the great depression.

The high adobe desert of my youth was a hard and unforgiving blight on the American dream. Growing up we came to understand the value of hard work and the internal fortitude of perusing goals until we ran them to the ground. But it would not be until much later in life I would understand  the tough economic times that valley posed on its inhabitants.

My youth was spent on the hard top adobe dessert or at the corner park playing tackle football with my friends. We rode our bikes in packs all over town. Dirt trails and bike jumps were our playgrounds. The best toy we had was our imagination.

And while my parents fought and struggled with the realities of the times. My brother and I grew up oblivious. Happy in the fact our home was warm and our needs were met. The hard scrabble hard top adobe dessert would not only not break us, but hardened our resolve and inner fortitude. The play is hard taking no prisoners life style my friends and I lived by would serve us well later on.

The Grand Mesa Valley is surrounded on 3 sides by towering monolithic mountain tops. The adobe bookcliffs stand high and naked of vegetation to the north. West of our valley stands the grand daddy of my youth. The Grand Mesa mountains served our family as a second home in the form of campgrounds. Surrounded by sky high evergreen trees, rocks and boulders. The ground covered in leafy green plants and dirt colored scrub brush. I can still hear the stillness and feel the wind. Feeling like those mountains that surrounded us were a living and breathing being. Watching and waiting. Looking for the respect it deserved.

Often my Dad would load us up in a Scout II International its faded body an ugly urine like yellow. It's hard top was a burnt orange. A persistent squeak coming from the left rear. My father always swore was not there. The undercarriage was hard and unyielding. Its shocks were so stiff that after long drives your kidneys would ache as if they had been rabbit punched by the heavy weight champ himself.

Going to mountains in that Scout was like a vacation. A 1970's version of a modern day Humvee. My father always drove with one hand on the wheel and the other on the stick shift. His feet and hands comely working the gears. When we took that scout off road there was always a sense of adventure close at hand. Its 4 wheels, climbing and digging forces its will upon the ground. We moved along until the road became too rough for 2 wheel drive.

My father would work the gears down until were stopped. And then the moment would arrive the time we all waited for on these outings. I can still see him looking out at the road ahead his mind working out the route. He sits for a moment his eyes hooded by dark sunglasses my fathers ball cap sitting high on his forehead. And with quiet deliberation he's outside walking to the front. Bending over he turns the drivers side hub in. His body unbending and with determination, he moves to the passenger side and turns in that hub in.

He stands tall and turning with deliberation he climbs back in the drivers side. Wheel in one hand and the stick in the other my father and the scout become one. Its yellowed body, giving way to his commands. Steady and strong we march on.

Jostled from side to side the wheels moving with purpose the low end torque clawing and scratching away until the hard packed ground and deep mud give way. And when the hard road was conquered, he would stop and with pride he'd get out and turn the hubs out. Another road conquered our adventure over that same scout would deliver us back home safe and secure.

To the south the Colorado National Monument stands tall. Watching over the valley that lives in its shadow. It's red dirt and coke oven monuments are just as tall and hard and foreboding as they were when they were created. But for me and the kids I grew up with they were weekend playgrounds.

Holding our BB guns across our handle bars we would ride across the river. Once we crossed over my childhood best friend Scott and I would leave the blacktop and ride our bikes across the adobe flat top desert. We'd ride and climb 500 feet across scrub brush and across the hard abode clay. And when we reached the base of those high and imposing rocks we'd leave our bikes at the base and rock climb till we got high enough and we could climb no further.

Moving until we found a cave or an overhang that would protect us from the elements. Our backpacks filled with jerky and bread. War time canteens secured around our waists from army web belts.

At night we would build small campfires, its heat keeping us warm. In the morning we would rise early and explore the rocks and the surrounding canyons. Running and gunning. In our minds, we were soldiers fighting the good fight.

When the sun started to make its afternoon decent Scott and I would pack up and start the ride back home.

I miss those times and wish my kids could do the same. But it's a new world and gone are those days when children were free to roam and play. Where their energies and imaginations are fueled by their youth.

Someday when we are free of the fear of letting go and letting children find themselves, maybe then they can go back to a time when the mountains and rock climbing aren't filled with bogey men and evil.

Where Are All The Outlets?

When I write the great American novel on Road Warriors I'm going to include a chapter on outlets. Reading, writing, music, movies, TV, exercise, long walks and possibly sleeping in. With the option of sex and booze thrown in just for good measure. And when I say booze I really mean wine. Sex with your significant other not the bar room kind or the pay by the hour type either.

Everyone needs an outlet for stress, motivate or just to realign your thinking. Whereas I prefer reading, writing (or in this case blogging) and walking. Others need the visceral punishment of exercise. Music and movies are good distractions for a short period of time TV can be an endless loop of brain candy.

But for me, it's the writing. The purity of getting one's thoughts out. Anything from the mundane to the particular. Give you an example.

Chips or potato chips. There should a store dedicated to nothing but good solid chips. For me the kettle chips in various flavors are what I prefer. However, finding a good bag of chips is sometimes impossible. You learn which stores carry your particular brand, but sometimes even those are stale. Tonight I chose a good bag of barbecue chips. The generic kind from 7 Eleven. They're good not wanted, but still after a few its just what I wanted. Their crisp and crunchy. Just the right amount of flavor with a perky orange / brown coloring.

Nothing beats donuts in the morning. For me the perfect breakfast is donuts and coffee. But not just any kind of coffee. It has to be that chic kind. Mocha or in my case mint mocha. And for that matter, I have discovered the blended coffee is the best. I don't know why, but since I have discovered it, I love the grape blended coffee. Never in a million years would I have thought coffee blended with ice would be a good idea. But turns out, it's pretty good.

Someday I'm going to petition the part of government that oversees the 4 food groups. It is my firm belief the bacon cheeseburger with tomatoes, lettuce and pickles plus mustard and ketchup be declared an official food group. With the option of fries or those thinly sliced potato chips that are deep fat fried. That's the trailer park with me. If you presented me with the option of the finest cut of steak prepared any way I wanted I would go for the ground chuck variety. Nothing beats a good burger. And not the fast food kind either. Although if you counted 5 Guys or Steak and Shake this would be OK with me.

Nope the best burger ever made comes from blue collar joints. The kind of place where the smell of grease permeates the air. A place where the smell of grease and stale cigarettes is so thick you could reach out and touch it. Those places where working men congregate in the early morning hours for coffee and eggs. If you ever find yourself in a place where you've never been before and your stomach is telling its time to forage for grub. Start looking for cop cars, farmers' trucks and telephone bucket trucks. Inside you find great food and good prices. But I caution you to consider your heart before partaking from their menus. The food is bountiful but layered is grease and fat.

How come the best TV these days are found on networks that are not part of the big three?? When I watch TV these days its on networks not found in the days of old. USA, TNT, TBS and FX are the homes of my favorite shows. And isn't great all of those networks can be watched online?? At my convenience.

And speaking of wine, a good full bodied wine has I fear made me a snob. A few months ago I tried a bottle of Mangria. From that day on wine is now my favorite booze of choice. Now I have not been a been a big drinker for many many years. Having drank myself to oblivion when I was younger. I lost the zeal for the spirits that come in both a bottle and a can. But now I do find myself liking the wine.

A full bodied red wine. Particularly the Merlot or the blended reds. The thing about wine is it not meant to be guzzled like a beer. But rather to be enjoyed one sip at a time. Now there are a lot of things I don't know about wine. For instance, there are wines meant to be chilled and wines meant to be drunk at room temperature.

It is also meant to be taken with a meal. Because what they say is true. Wine taken with a meal brings out the flavors in food I never knew existed. A burger with wine is like having it for the very first time. Oh yes, I love me some wine.

The best on the road job I can think of would be in an exotic locale with my wife in tow. Nothing would be better than to take by beloved with me and turn it into a working vacation. But the job would have to be one where working would be an afterthought to spend time with my wife.

Think about it. There would be a beach, an ocean a good room and lots of quality time together. I can't think of anything better for the road warrior than an all expenses paid working vacation.

Next to it would be the ability to take all of the kids someplace fun. Where again, not a lot of work taking place, but a lot of fun watching them discover new lands and new adventures. Seeing them discover a world out there they never knew existed.

The nice thing about metropolitan cities are the metroplexes. The kind of movie houses where the screens are 4 stories high. The smell of butter covered popcorn saturates the air. If I could make a dessert food king of the mountain it would have to be the big bucket of popcorn. The kind that is meant to be shared with someone because to order one for yourself is just glutenous not to mention overkill. The speakers spitting out sound that surrounds you. Where the sounds of action movies resonate deep in your chest. The score moves your emotions all over the road. (Pun not intended).

Books nowadays are designed to be read on personal electronic devices. Movies and music are also the places for partaking in personal enjoyment, but having the ability to place a dozen books on my tablet is truly the best. The drawback, of course, being the battery and also not having the ability to read them during take off and landing.

And of course the other thing about books on a tablet or your phone is it keeps them from taking up space. Also, there is the weight factor in your luggage.

Yes a chapter on outlets in my great American novel is definitely going to be included.

But it's late and I could go on for a while. Besides that it's now time for my other outlet and that is sleep. Time for my CPAP to take me to dreamland.

Night night.

I am a Moth to the Flame

Being stuck in Florida for a weekend has some advantages. It's probably not going to snow and since its February I'm pretty sure hurricanes aren't going to be a problem. It's probably not going to freeze or require the use of a coat or a jacket for that matter.

Pretty sure there's a beach nearby and both an ocean and a gulf. There's lots of places to take go for a walk and there will be a time for introspection should the need arise.

The problem with being stranded anyplace for a weekend means another couple of days of quality lost time with family and friends.

Last year I was out 189 days, which was the first time I haven't broken 200 days. My record is 300. My average year is around 220 days.

There are many times when one more hour on the road is more than I can stand. But there are days when the road beckons. When the distance horizon calls out to me demanding to meet. Pulling towards the next horizon. Many times when the hum of wheels on the pavement is a birding lullaby that drags me forward the brake pedal never a thought. The radio on or off. Windows down and fresh air lapping against my face the smells of smog and exhaust are almost like a drug.

When the smell of fresh cut grass from roadside workers filters across my nose, reminding of my own lawn and the tending that it requires. Lost in my own head my thoughts ping ponging from one thought to the next. Subjects coming and going my synapses firing. My eyes covered with images and the road in front of me is just background noise.

My GPS is on but I'm not really watching it. My exit goes by I am only faintly aware I've missed it. I am consumed with random thoughts or working a problem from front to back. The highway and the cars around me filtered from my eyes. I am carried away to other distant places and long forgotten times.

If you're watching you to see the cascading memories filter across my brow occasionally making it past my eyes. The emotions playing across my face. A smile, a frown mixed with bursts of laughter. Conversations only I can hear replaying on a loop.

When I'm near a downtown I see exits I've seen elsewhere. Attractions the locals think are unique to their little hamlet unaware the same places exist everywhere else the names different but the concept the same.

Blue collar bars and gentleman's clubs. Cities bathed in a neon hue. Pick up joints and playgrounds. Downtown concerts and art galleries. Moths to the flame. Young and old running about in 4-wheeled metal coffins, their windows up lost in their own worlds.

All of it, I've seen in a thousand cities and blue collar towns. Working women in sling back heels and mini skirts their worlds apart from the passing cars. Boys in the hood standing on street corners. Living and working in an underground economy. Despair and thousand yard stares.

Men in buttoned down suits walking on the promenade. Their hands filled with phones and briefcases, each of them move up and out in the world. Their worlds consumed with thoughts of power and politics.

Main street and MLK Blvd every city has them. Traffic jams and parking garages are the big city drive. Sports talk radio and techno mix radio stations filling the same dead air with the same nasally drowned out disk jockeys. Irritating morning zoos.

It's 8 to 5 and its a grind. But for the road warrior its 24/7. 365 our grinds never stop. Hotels and motels. Drive through fast food. Morning, noon and night the road warrior never stops. Airports and rental cars we navigate the world easily. Passports for foreign lands and different time zones. Every week our grind never stops.

When I come through the door, I am filled with overwhelming pride and joy. My kids are bigger, stronger and more happy than the last time I saw them. My wife more beautiful than I remember. And for a few hours there is just us. We are a family again and I never want to leave. My conscience is riddled with guilt over not spending the needed time at home. Sadness descend Saturday afternoon because I know my precious time at home is drawing to a close. Soon I am going to have to prepare them again for my Monday morning departure.

And when I do I hurt inside as their little faces drop and smiles fade. I live for them and tell myself I am providing a better life for their future. I always wonder at what cost. God, how I hate the road. And in that moment all I want to do is chuck it and fuck it. At this moment I regret ever starting down the life of a road warrior. Because now I fear there is no turning back. I watch my kids grow up in cell phone pictures and I hate myself for it.

My attention turns to the woman I love and who I am unquestionably devoted to. So thankful I am for her entry into my life. 10 years pass and I can't remember a time when she wasn't a part of my life. So good and pure that I feel naked and exposed. A sense of failure and dread overcome me. I know my time away takes a toll on her. And I love her all the more for all that she does. I stand in wonder and admiration because I know she is stronger, tougher and better than I. How she does it, I will never know because she grinds is 24/7 365. My heart burst with pride because she does so much. Our kids a reflection of all that she is. I know I don't deserve her, but am so grateful she stands with me. Beside me she lifts my spirits gives me the strength I need. I move to embrace her. To hold her and love her. I never want to let go.

On weekends we cram 7 days into 48 hours. It's time to decompress, but not too much because the road starts to beckon the rush of that unseen horizon starts to pull like a magnet. I am again a moth to the flame.


Hyperbole aside, it is time for those of us who spend vast sums of time in the vacuum sealed metal cylinders to unite against the man. Who in this case happens to be the airline industry.

If at any time as a law abiding citizen you wonder what it is like to be in an environment where just your presence means you must be guilty of something. Just go to the airport some time ticket in hand with not a care in the world. Upon entering the airport you will notice a few things.

The first thing you notice are dower faced TSA agents who scowl at the public they are sworn to protect. They will look at you as if your presence is an admission of guilt. Or that you have ill will in your heart with the intent of nefarious purposes.

The second thing you will notice are the haggard and often ill tempered ticket agents. They are ill tempered because all day they are subjected to the same inane questions and upset public whose complaints range from seat assignments to delayed flights or cancelled flights. Missed connections and lost luggage. Anger abounds over high priced nickel and dime price gouging for overweight fees and luggage fees.

But don't blame them, they are just subject to the rules of their employer. I know it's easy to take it out on them, but seriously save your disdain and anger for the next step in air travel.

The real fun begins when it's time to go through the metal detector or as we know it today the body scanner. Thanks to ill tempered middle eastern gents when you go through security you for fit any and all rights. The Constitution stops at here.

When going through security anything over 3oz is evil and must be thrown away. This includes the water bottle purchased at the convenience stores in the airport even if they are not open.

After you've removed all of the metal and computers and cpap machines it time to remove your shoes and walk across a patch of carpet that has never seen soap and water. And if you're lucky and are not subjected to a very personal pat down you may collect your things and move on to the gate for boarding.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be stuffed into pig intestines to make sausage you will get your chance.

Because when it's time to board and if your the 10th person on a flight, you might as well kiss your leg space good bye. Because by the time you board all of the over head space will be taken by roller boards. What a roller board you ask? Well, let me enlighten you. A roller board is a fancy name for a suitcase that has wheels and can be taken on board and placed in the overhead space. If you're lucky and on a plane that is larger than an envelope the overhead can accommodate 2 maybe 3 roller boards. But usually one will do it. Turned sideways so the overhead door can close.

And after all of that it's time to share your personal space with somewhere between 50 and 300 of your closest strangers.

Trust me air travel is not for the weak or timid.

Give you an example. A few weeks back, I was flying home. I was delayed in DFW to the point I knew I would miss my connection in MSP. But being a 100k flyer I was booked on the next flight home, which because the next day was a Saturday I would not be home until early afternoon.

But when I landed in MSP my flight home was delayed also. Now being a frequent flier I was not concerned because I had my ticket in hand. But when I got ready to board my seat had been given away. Needless to say the next 30 minutes I fought and fought to get on the plane. It took me telling them my status with the airline to get on the plane.

Now I have a gift. I can sleep on any plane for the entirety of the flight. Usually I wake up just in time for landing. And this flight was no exception. Except this time when I woke up instead of getting ready to land i find out the plane was turning around and returning back to MSP. Why you ask? Good question. Because the pilots didn't bother to get a weather report from my home own airport.

Now everyone on the plane knew it was clear skies and 32 degrees with no wind or weather. Hell, even the pilots knew that, but because they couldn't get a hold of the tower they had to turn around. Why couldn't they get a hold of the tower?? Because the tower personnel goes home at 10pm.

But rest assured I was not worried because I still had a ticket for the first flight out which still put me home early enough to still enjoy the weekend. But when we landed I find out that a ticket had been cancelled and now instead of getting home at 1pm I now won't get home until 4pm. Weekend shot.

Only upside, I got a free of charge hotel room.

Not for the timid or the weak.

Road warriors UNITE!!

So You Wanna?

"So you want to"? Those immortal words scribed for eternity would be the way I queried my then girlfriend Sonya for her hand in marriage. Mind you it was not on my knees and I did not have a 10ct ring as my proffer of love and unending devotion. But at my desk... on the phone... and at work. I am nothing if not a romantic at heart.

Her response "well, I guess". Alas, our story of courtship and vows of marriage would not ever be an entry into the annals of romance. But the point is I asked and she said yes and that's all that matters.

10 years and 4 kids later we have a love that is deeper and stronger than it was before or after. And to be fair, she is the one who has had to carry the larger portion. Because while I have a jet set life at work. She quietly carries the torch of mother and wife.

Sonya you are the grounding and the guiding force that both completes me and makes me whole. Never have I ever had a right to be as happy as I am now. There was a time when not only had I forsaken love, but also the idea that I would ever be happy.

You saved me from a life of painful loneliness and permanent despair. For without you and the love you have unabashedly given me, I would be an emotionally crippled man. Your love breathed new life into me where there were none. I love you my dear sweet and lovely wife.

I met my wife in December of '02 via my best friend Sean. The invite came in the form of an offer to stay with him and his then wife Mandy. Now to be fair the last thing I wanted to do was to pack a bag and drive 5 hours to Wyoming. I had just completed a record 300 days on the road and had just broken free from the last wife.

Broken and depressed sitting on my couch in my new apartment, I was determined to spend the next 2 weeks on my couch watching TV and doing absolutely nothing.

When Sean called to ask me to spend Christmas in WY my first response was "NO"! Sean not given to the subtleties of a firm no thank you, pressed on for a firm commitment of yes.

After several back and forth's I devised a devious plan to get him off my back and my back to my TV.

 I came at him with this. "I'll do it if you set me up on a date". Now to be fair, 3 days of Christmas I had the odds with me. Because who wants to be set up on a blind date 3 days from Christmas? As an added bonus I tossed in the obligatory case of beer wager.

10 minutes later a romance was born and 3 weeks later a marriage was consummated  And 10 years later here we are happy and more in love than the day we were married.

The day we got married is a story for another time. But today, it's our 10th year as Mr. and Mrs. Fedler.

I wish I were home to spend our 10 year anniversary with you. But know you have been in my thoughts all day. I love you Sonya.

So raise your glasses in salute to the best wife, lover and friend a husband could ever hope to find.

Happy anniversary!

You Think My Ride Makes Look Sexy?

A century old tradition followed every weekend by young men and women. Gone are the poodle skirts and fedoras. Missing are the Alan Ladd and Bogey cool. Temptress seductress like Bacall and Bergman driven to obscurity of silhouetted pieces of discarded 20mm film.

It's Saturday night and all across the land far and wide young men are washing and waxing their rides. Jeans are getting pressed and shirts are getting starched.

Beard stubble is trimmed neat and close.

Rolling down the boulevard. Windows down with music blaring. 20 something's and 4 to a car. It's Saturday night. Looking tough and riding high. In search of a good time. Beer buckets and bar back shots. The hunt is afoot. They are the hunters. The ladies are their prey.

Women young and full of life. War paint on. The one of a kind outfit picked out and clings just so. Hair up and hair down, awash in spray.

Windows up and music on high.

They are the hunters and young men are their prey. Looking for that Mr. / Mrs degree.

Honky-tonks and corner bars. Hip Hop clubs or disco techs. This is the ground where they hunt. But dark bedrooms and soft beds this is where they will fight.

It's late the music is hot and the dance floor is full. The hunters mark their prey. Circling for the kill they move in.

Bodies close. Hands touch and loins ache. Lips meet. Passion cries out. The hunt is over. Their prey consumed.

Sunday morning as the sun clears the horizon. The beer back promises start to fade. It's been a hard fought battle, neither giving up or going down without a clear cut victor being declared. Sleep comes in the form of sweaty sheets and tangled hair. Cigarette and whiskey smell mingles together with cologne and perfume.

It's Saturday night.

Later, when the booze has faded and the odor of stale cigarettes interwoven between cologne and perfume remains and their sweat covers their bodies like a blanket. Their desires sated. Deep slumber they will share.

For those hours they have it all. Love and gray haired aspirations. Of kids and picket fences. A couple is formed and a bond is forged. A spell has been cast. Their futures bright while they sleep. Right now they have it all.

Legs and arms akimbo. Intertwining dreams they hold each other close. Because at this moment this is how it's supposed to be.

The hours pass. The future that burned so hot and bright last night started to dim. Their slumber begins to fade taking their burning future with it.

They awake and mark their time. A silent acknowledgment of their past and failing future passes from eye to eye.

Each of them losing just a little bit to the other as they wake.

A smile. A kiss. A promise to call. Maybe they will and maybe they won't.

The war is lost. The battlefield cleared its time to move on.

It's Saturday night!

Honey Could You Take Out The Trash?

Ugh... Monday's in my house are trash day. But for me everyday is trash day. And by trash day I mean the constant removal of junk from my frontal lobe. The emptying out of the daily diarrhea that fills my soul and then by extension my head.

The problem with any occupation where you spend time separated from the familiar backdrop of life is you have no place to take out your garbage. Everyone needs a garbage shoot where at the end of the day you take all of the corrosive junk that builds up over the course of the day and just exfoliate it from your soul.

The waitress who doesn't bother to know the items on the menu. The clerk behind the counter who insists on  both reviewing your order, but also feels compelled to dig into how your day is going. Or there are also the day to day occupation items that just continue to dig underneath your skin for no apparent reason other than its some inexpiable policy that resides in a dusty book and serves no real purpose but must be enforced at all costs!

Hundreds of little things and some big that if not dug from your psyche will just fester and rot until it comes out really bad ways.

I have some garbage that has festered for a while now and to be honest has short circuited by the ability to move forward. And while I would love nothing better than to just let it all out here... Ugh... I can't.

So I will have to keep it generic and in no specific way. But it needs to come out. Desperately. For the carrot has been dangled. A subtle offer has been implied. A tiny light exposes a reflection of redemption and a way out. Markers showing benchmarks I can hit. A chance, a hope, the smallest sliver of good in a tunnel of darkness.  I think to myself at that moment "I can make it".

But if I am tasting the carrot I first have to remove the junk from the trunk.

So here goes. In this trash bag I place the repugnant adjectives placed on virtual paper which describes me (and I am paraphrasing here) as a colossal DICK.

Next up is the shattered confidence that went along with the colossal DICK adjectives. (Picked up some yesterday to replace the confidence I used to have)

Followed by the self loathing and determined flogging of being painted as a failure. (Shrink told me if all of her patients were like me she would be broke. i.e. nothing wrong with me)

In next goes the feeling of helplessness. Almost nothing is worse than the feeling of no hope. A futile struggle ending in destruction and failure. Hardest pill to swallow, but the easiest thing to dump in this bag.

One thing I will keep is a little bit of insider knowledge I was ready to chuck. "Being right and being nice are not mutually exclusive". Pissed at the time it was shared and really wanted to ceremoniously chuck. But one of those things that struck a nerve. Not garbage, but a little nugget worthy of a place on the mantel. So as not to forget.

It's almost full. Those few items take up a lot of space. And even though they are in my mental garbage bag there will be remnants I'm going to have to really scrub out. I have an item I keep in my in box as a constant reminder. But now, maybe it's time to move it to a folder. Maybe that little reminder is what keeps it alive for me.

Festering. A slow burn to my future adjudication. Time to just let that go. I wrote yesterday words have no weight, take up no space. They are neither sharp nor blunt and can only inflict as much damage as you allow them to.

The pain words can cause are only to you. No one else feels it. Its effect can only be as permanent as you allow them to be. The damage it creates visible only to you. How you heal from them depends on how far you allow the hook to go. And when the hook is set deep. The mentally weak never recover. But the strong minded find a way to blunt the sharp edges. We find a way to extricate it from our souls and our psyches.

I've really let this hook go for way too long. Rusted and brittle the edges have become the sharp and painful. The barb slides out out easily and with no pain. RELIEF that it is gone from my gut.

The reborn always come back tougher. More seasoned our skins just a little thicker. But best of all smarter than before.

When the die is cast and hooks with sharp barbs come my way again, I'll know them and they will know me. Each of us staying at a respectful distance. Recognizing in each other the struggle and the pain that comes from the fight and the damage we cause in those around us.

And with that I haul my bag of trash over the gunnels watching it sink and not the least bit sorry to see it go.

Tomorrow when the sun breaks over the horizon, I will start back up the road. Seeking out new challenges yearning for the next difficulty I will have to overcome.

Stronger. Wiser. And just a little bit less afraid of the future.


Handle Pit Vipers With Care

Pit Vipers are venomous snakes found in the hot climates in the deep south. Or if you prefer its more well known cousin the rattle snake, copperheads or diamond backs.

Its lesser known cousins are larger in size, but with a major difference. They won't kill you.

They will, however kill your career.

I am of course speaking of the sycophants in the business world where the weapon of choice is the pen or in modern times the omnipotent email.

Where pit vipers tend to play fairly by announcing themselves with the ever so ominous rattle of its tail. Its larger cousin will often times neither announce nor advertise they are dangerous. They will instead announce themselves to others with the aforementioned email system.

And when they do strike it will not be direct nor will it leave marks on your person letting you know you have been bitten.

The strike will come in the form of a largely innocuous, well thought out correspondence to someone who looms above you. Who for all intense and purposes controls your means of financial support and well being.

I am of course talking about the boss who is the recipient and some disgruntled small minded individual who feels has been wronged, slighted, embarrassed, insulted or for lack of a better term is just a dick, is the sponsor of the omnipotent email.

Gone are the days when a disagreement was settled face to face. Gone are the days when slights or insults were handled in a manner that inflicted neither harm nor long term damage to either party.

Instead, we now have a society that is built on the long arm of and impersonal social media or the aforementioned email system.

Today it is not the days of the pen being mightier than the sword. Today its the keyboard and computer screen that is the mightiest of them all.

Schoolyard angst and fisticuffs on the playground have now been replaced by on-line bullying. And for the record I have come to loath the word bully. I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around someone being tormented by Facebook posts or tweets.

Yesterday people took responsibility for their actions and owned up to their misdeeds. Today we have support groups for everyone who has ever had their feelings hurt. We encourage and support those who cry foul and seek pity and sympathy for their hurt feelings. And for the inflictee of said harm there is a rehab or psychotherapy in your very near future.

And while I'm at it, let me share this. I have a theory about words.

It goes like this: words have no weight or value. They are neither sharp nor blunt. The damage they inflict are only as severe as you allow them to be. If you place no weight or value, then they lose their destructive force.

In the world of social media, words are now inflicting more harm than ever before. The wrong phrase can short circuit your career to the ground faster than lightning can find its natural earthen ground.

Viral videos have become a plague. On a slow news day a YouTube video will get more coverage than what by most peoples standards is considered real news and reality TV has dumbed down our society to the point Honey Boo Boo is considered a star.

Freedom of speech is now longer free. It costs and in some cases it bankrupts. So while guns and religion are the items we argue over. Speech has never fought for but rather against.

I wonder if today those brilliant men who forged our nation ever envisioned a day when the very first thing that is a guaranteed right has been reduced to the most horrible of terms of being POLITICALLY CORRECT.

It's sad really the phrase they used which was beautiful, lyrical and musical to the ear is no longer any of those things.

I love words and all that can be done with them. Too bad they can only be used in a manner that is the least offensive to the smallest audience.

So remember for your own sake, when you are dealing with pit vipers handle them with care.